New Decade = New Directions:
Celebrating our Donors and Volunteers!
by Gail Garber,
Executive Director

It was 2010 when we set up the Hawks Aloft Facebook page. Back then, we had not yet developed critical relationships with our cadre of dedicated photographers that provide the incredible images that grace all of our publications. With few photographs in our library, our posts were limited and not very engaging. Ten years later, our photo library boasts well over 250,000 high resolution images and if a circumstance arises where I need imagery of a particular species, all I have to do is put the word out and our photographers share more images--each of amazing quality! 

Little did we know of the changes the decade would bring in many arenas, particularly the explosion of social media and the information overload that sometimes besieges us in 2020. We also didn’t know how important communicating with our online family would become. Today, thanks in large part to our very active Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds, as well as this monthly online newsletter, the Hawks Aloft family has grown to include members far beyond the borders of the United States. We post something virtually every day, with multiple posts on some days. All are meant to educate our followers about avian issues not just in New Mexico, but worldwide.

Perhaps, because of the diversity of our many projects, there truly is something for everyone at Hawks Aloft, enabling each volunteer to pursue their passion while contributing to avian research, conservation education, or raptor rescue. Kudos to each of you!

Our educators are in the classroom four days a week throughout the school year, serving elementary schools in nearly every neighborhood. While we appreciate the corporate support from PNM Resources Foundation and Coca Cola Foundation, it is your generous donations that keep these programs going and also enable us to reach out to ever greater audiences.

We’ve done raptor rescues and mitigation since our inception in 1994, because even though raptor rescue was not part of our mission, rescue calls arrived. Formalized in 2014 with a dedicated Raptor Rescue Hotline (505-999-7740) this program has seen exponential growth with a statewide network of rehabilitation centers, veterinarians, drivers, triage specialists, overnighters and more. 

As members and donors, you are generous to Hawks Aloft. Thank you! Without you, we would not exist.  As federal support for all research studies has been cut by more than 75% by the current administration, it is you, our volunteers, members, and donors that enable us to continue this very important work.  

In spite of the current reductions in federal funding, we remain hopeful that federal funding will improve in 2021. Until then, we seek alternative funding through crowdfunding, social media, and private foundations. We rely on your generosity as members and donors. We promise not to inundate you with frequent requests, however, we hope you will remember us as you are able to throughout the year. Thank you for being there for us these past 26 years! We look forward to working with you in the years to come!

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Image by Alan Murphy.
Dr. Christine Fiorello, DVM, holds one of our first intakes of 2020, a Great Horned Owl that was impaled by a barbed wire fence. Image by Maggie Stein.

Who Won the Quilt?

And the winner is ...

Joyce Auer of Arlee, Montana! Congratulations Joyce!

Joyce bought her raffle ticket at  International Quilt Festival  2019 in a class with Gail Garber. She went home and told her friends that she was going to WIN the quilt, not really expecting to do so! It took us a while to connect, but we are thrilled that the quilt is going to a good home!

Congratulations Joyce!

FYI, Work has already begun on the 2020 Raffle Quilt!

Remembering Cedar
by Maggie Stein, Educator and Outreach Coordinator

Our staff and volunteers provide exceptional care to our education birds, incorporating everything from specialized diets and medication to customized mews and consistent vet visits to ensure they are in good health. We are very fortunate to have our Avian ambassadors live long and healthy lives with us.

Of course as it is for any animal rescue, the Hawks Aloft community still deals with the loss of both rescue birds and education birds at times. With that, it is sad to say that Cedar, our beloved Long-eared Owl, passed away at the end of 2019.

Cedar was rescued from Rio Rancho with a right humerus fracture that made him unable to fly. This injury was most likely from vehicular impact which is a very common cause for owl rescues. He was found in a highly populated area of Rio Rancho, which is a very odd place to find a Long-eared Owl because they tend to stay in heavily forested areas to avoid humans. We guess that he might have gotten lost during his migration flight. Whatever the reason, Cedar was lovingly cared for in by Lisa Morgan, our Raptor Rescue Coordinator. He lived a spoiled life along with the other education birds that Lisa houses. He was a huge asset to our education programs and logged over one hundred hours of outreach programs in 2019. He will be sorely missed.

Photo of Cedar by Doug Brown

A Slow Start to the Winter Field Season, by Trevor Fetz, Lead Avian Biologist

Bird numbers during the first month of the winter 2020 field season for the Middle Rio Grande Songbird Study were generally low. Numbers appeared to be lower than normal at a vast majority of the 49 transects were are surveying this winter and numbers also appeared to be lower than normal for a majority of species. One likely factor in the low numbers is the lack of available berries for food.

Many wintering species flock to the bosque in large numbers to forage on berries, especially Russian olive and New Mexico olive. But, berry availability throughout the study area was limited by a combination of poor crops in some areas and depleted crops in other areas. The earlier depletion of berry crops in the bosque was something we began noticing during the drought years in the early 2010's and seems to be increasing. We can only speculate as to why Russian olive and New Mexico olive berry crops are being depleted earlier, but one possible explanation is the lack of other viable food sources. A number of sites that supported large berry crops at the end of the summer were depleted by the time we began winter surveys in December. Berry-loving species such as Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Hermit Thrush were among the species that we detected in substantially below-average numbers during December. But, most noticeable was the lack of American Robins. Normally, we would be approaching 1,000 robin detections by the end of December and during irruption years the detections can be more than double that by the end of December. But, so far this winter we have recorded fewer than 10 robins across all transects.

Several sparrow species were among a limited number of species documented at normal to above average densities during December. White-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Junco were all present in strong numbers and at some transects have represented a vast majority of our total detections. Pine Siskin also have been present in high numbers so far this winter. This is the first time in about 10 years we have documented large numbers of Pine Siskin in the bosque. My most interesting sightings during December included a Pacific Wren in Corrales, a Brown Thrasher in Corrales, and a Fox Sparrow in Albuquerque. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the winter field season plays out, but I'm hoping for improved bird numbers. 

Cedar Waxwing image by Tony Giancola
Owls of New Mexico!

We are pleased to introduce our brand new T-shirt, featuring images of our Avian Ambassadors and nearly every single species of owl that might be found in our state. Designed by Scott Lowry, this unique T-shirt is the perfect gift for a loved one during the holidays. After all, whoooo doesn't love owls?!

The shirt comes in both long and short sleeves. All shirts are $30 and can be ordered on our website or can be picked up at the office. Ladies sizes are available in short sleeves; all long-sleeved shirts are unisex, and we also have youth sizes in short sleeves.

December Programs by Amelia Thompson, Educator

December is a shorter month for education programs at Hawks Aloft, but we were lucky enough to be invited to participate in the Rio Gallinas School for Ecology and the Arts Celebration of Learning. Maggie and I have been visiting the students at Rio Gallinas over the past few months, and one of the teachers, Ms. Dobson, wanted to present Hawks Aloft at their winter showcase so that parents and family members could see what they have been learning. We brought Cricket, our Flammulated Owl, who was adopted by Ms. Dobson’s class, and Beauty, our Turkey Vulture, who got to be the star of the show, taking the stage so the whole school could learn about her species. Maggie held her on stage while I told her story--how she was kept as an illegal pet before she was confiscated and placed with Hawks Aloft. We presented Beauty between two of the skits the students put on. When we finished, it turned out the students weren't quite ready, so to kill time, Maggie suggested I tell a vulture themed joke. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

A vulture gets on a plane carrying two dead raccoons in his beak. The airline steward says: “I’m sorry sir, only one carrion per person.”
Ms. Dobson’s students put on a great little play about Broad-winged Hawks and migration. Each student dressed up in handmade paper wings and presented facts about Broad-winged Hawks, migration, and raptors in general. In addition to the skits, there was student artwork on display describing what they have learned about raptors during our visits. It is always great to see the ways in which the students use the knowledge that they have gained from having Hawks Aloft.
I enjoyed a nice visit with my family for the holidays but am looking forward to school starting again. I can’t wait to get back into the classroom to do presentations! I will also be starting classes this year to get my teaching license. It should be a busy semester for me and all of us at Hawks Aloft!

Images from Rio Gallinas by Amelia Thompson
Raptor Rescue Intakes 2019
and the Call Log Too!

We never know what calls will arrive on any given day, the location of the injured bird, the severity of the injury, or the species. Sometimes, the bird doesn't need to be rescued at all -- a worried homeowner just needs some reassurance that the bird on the ground is probably just a fledgling and should be left alone so it's parents can care for it.

In addition to the intakes that came directly to Hawks Aloft, we fielded 373 calls. Some of these went directly to one of our partner rehabilitation facilities, some perished before rescue, and others didn't actually require a rescue.

One of our more unusual rescues was a Great Blue Heron completely entangled by fishing line at Shady Lakes. Larry Rimer took the call, wading into the shallow lake to rescue the hapless heron. These species are known for suffering stress myopathy from capture and care in captivity and often suffer greatly. Larry rushed the bird to Petroglpyh Animal Hospital where Dr. Ray Hudgell, DVM, used their endoscope to remove the hook and fishing lure from the birds's esophagus. Once recovered from the anesthesia, Dr. Ray felt an immediate release would give the bird the best chance for survival. And so it was that late on that September afternoon, Larry and Kim Rimer set this bird free along the banks of the Rio Grande.

Cooper's Hawk was the most commonly rescued species followed by Great Horned Owl. Most of the Barn Owls rescued were nestlings.

There's never a dull moment! Thank you to all who work on this effort.

Images by Larry Rimer and Dr. Ray Hudgell
Introducing Our Newest Adventure!
BRAZIL: Wildlife of the Pantanal
& Amazon Rainforest
With Hawks Aloft & Holbrook Travel
November 5 – 14, 2020

Located in west-central Brazil, the Pantanal is the world’s largest freshwater wetland and one of the most biodiverse, productive habitats in the Western Hemisphere. It harbors a world-record 82 species or large birds including Hyacinth Macaw, Jabiru, Toco Toucan, Greater Rhea, Scarlet Macaw as well as coatimundi, tapirs, and giant river otters.

Perhaps, however; no other animal is as beautiful and dramatic as the jaguar. Embark on this exceptional adventure providing opportunities for close range observation of abundant wildlife and the majestic jaguar. 

We will spend our final days of the trip in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, immersed in the dense tropical forest that is home to the highest concentration of birds species, with over 1,500 described species of rainforest birds. It is home to the Harpy Eagle, Bare-faced Currasow, King Vulture, Hoatzin, Plum-throated Cotinga, Spectacled Owl and much more.  The Amazon is also home to about 430 species of mammal, with more still to be discovered. Among the monkey species that could be seen are: Howler, Spider, Capuchin, Tamarin, Squirrel, Woolly, Uakari, Titi, Marmosets, and Night Monkeys, also called owl monkeys. Of course, aquatic life abounds in this habitat as well as the Pantanal.

Trip Highlights
  • Embark on several boat rides in search of the jaguars that roam freely in the Pantanal
  • Venture on outdoor activities to seek out tapids, ocelots, monkeys, Hyacinth Macaws, and mixed species flocks
  • Watch for birds and mammals from the Pantanal’s only mobile canopy towers, strategically located near fruiting trees
  • Listen to experts to learn more about the biology and conservation of the jaguar and the giant otter
  • Journey to the Amazon to observe the wildlife of one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet

Only 6 spots remain!

Adopt-A-Raptor Today!
Help support our non-releasable raptors through our Adopt-a-Raptor program. Hawks Aloft houses and cares for 28 permanently disabled raptors (and one corvid!). Our Avian Ambassadors travel throughout the Southwest, helping us to educate the public about how to help protect these beautiful animals. We provide them with top-quality housing, food, and medical care for their entire lives. It costs an average of $2000/mo. just for their food. When you adopt a raptor, you help feed our birds, make home improvements, and provide veterinary care for one avian ambassador of your choice. Prices range from $35-$100 depending on the species.   

 Click here to Adopt a Raptor  such as Ferrug, our 24-year-old Ferruginous Hawk, photographed here by Keith Bauer. When you adopt a Hawks Aloft raptor you will receive:  

  • A one-year Hawks Aloft membership 
  • An Adoption Certificate 
  • An information sheet about the individual bird you have adopted 
  • Exclusive access to video updates about your bird 
  • Your choice of: 
A professional 8×10 photo of your bird, or  
A stuffed Audubon Bird with realistic vocalizations  
Support Hawks Aloft by Shopping at Smith's!

Many of you have long been Hawks Aloft supporters, and a good number of you have also been longtime Smith’s shoppers. For those not in the know, the grocery chain has a program that provides a small kick-back quarterly to nonprofits when their supporters link their shopper’s cards to the organization.

The company recently changed their policies regarding the program—so even if you’ve signed up in the past, you may need to do it again! The good news is that it is easy to do.

1)      Go to Smith's Foods
2)      Either create an account or sign-in to an existing one
3)      Once logged in, click on “Account Summary” on the left sidebar
4)      From there, scroll down to “Inspiring Donations Program” and click “Enroll”
5)      A searchable list will come up, you can either search for “Hawks Aloft” or enter our ID number for the program, GL430
6)      Shop using your card and now that every time you do so, you help out Hawks Aloft!

We appreciate your ongoing support in this, and so many other capacities!
*Check out intakes and thank-you's after the Photographer's Gallery*
Photographers Monthly Gallery
Editor's Choice
Featuring our National Bird
The Bald Eagle

We thank all the photographers who generously donate their images to Hawks Aloft. Follow us on Facebook to view more amazing images by these fine photographers, and others as well. Currently we are focusing on Bald Eagles and will do so for the next couple of weeks.

  1. Adult Bald Eagle carrying unidentified prey. Image by Kristin Brown
  2. Communal roost for Bald Eagles, Haines, AK. Image by Keith Bauer
  3. Adult Bald Eagle, readying for take-off. Image by Larry Rimer.
  4. Subadult Bald Eagle, one of a breeding pair already nest-building at Chatfield Reservoir, Colorado. Image by Tony Giancola
  5. Bald Eagle flying in a snow storm. Image by Doug Brown.

Thank You to our December Donors!

Joseph Alcorn
Angela Anderson
Rex Anderson
Arthur & Catherine Arenholz
Nancy Arseneault
Nancy Bart
Bennie Blackwell
Charles Brandt
William Brennan
Tracy Brooks
Cheryl Cathcart
Mary Chappelle
Niels Chapman
Julie Clark
Carter Cherry
Paul Gary Conover
Dominic Del Bovo
Vickie Dern
David Dewitt
Frank Dobrushken
Sheila Doucette
Ken Duckert
Patricia Folsom
Dana Gebel
Rhonda Geddis
Mollie Gilliam
Nancy & Bryan Hall
Sarah Hamilton
Dale & Patty Harrington
Lynn Harris
Barbara Hawkins
Victorie Heart
Jan Henderson
Lois Herrmann
Donna Hilland
Gerald Hobart
Claudette Horn
Melissa Howard
Susan Hunter
Sherri Jordan
Maggie Keil
Ann King
Rebecca Kraimer
Laura Kuster
Paul Leger
Bonnie Long
Anthony Lopez
Richard Lutz
Douglas Maahs
Brandt Magic
Thomas McGill
Sally McGrath
Malinda Marker
Oscar Martinez
Susan Metcalfe
Tony Mistretta
Peggy Norton
Hanelore Nunn
Lynne Ostergren
Miguel Palaviccini
Meg Peterson
Eric Purington
Beverly Quinlan
Mary Raje
Tracey Raymo
Hildegard Reiser
Ann Rhodes
Jeanette Rich
Mary Richardson
Linda Rogers
June Rohla
Patti Rosin
Donna Royer
Sami Sanborn
Allison Schacht
Steven Siegel
Carol Siemens
Bari Lee Silver
Carol Spangler
Thomas Stewart
Virginia Sunderland
Denise Suttle
Tony Thomas
Nancy Thonen
Alwyn VanderWalt
Ronald Villotti
Andrea Volenec
Laura Warner
Judith Williams
Nancy Wilson
Drena Welty
Matt Zmuda
Our Veterinarians and Rehabilitators

Acequia Animal Hospital

Kariana Atkinson, DVM

Mary & Ed Chappelle

Linda Contos, DVM

Cottonwood Rehabilitation Center

Desert Willow Wildlife
Rehabilitation Center

Eye Care for Animals

Christine Fiorello, DVM

Tim Fitzpatrick, DVM

High Desert Veterinary Care

Ray Hudgell, DVM

Gavin Kennard, DVM, DACVO

Daniel Levenson, DVM

Sherry McDaniel

Mike Melloy, DVM

Lisa Morgan

New Mexico Wildlife Center

Bob Peiffer, DVM, PhD

Petroglyph Animal Hospital

Kathleen Ramsay, DVM

Santa Fe Raptor Center

Southwest Veterinary Medical Center

Samantha Uhrig, DVM

VCA West Side

Ventana Animal Clinic

Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico

Raptor Rescue Team

Nirankar Ambriz
Victoria Ambriz
Daniel Archuleta
Mary Bruesch
Ed Chappelle
Mary Chappelle
Joanne Dahringer
Shannon Harrison
Ty Horak
Denise Inight
Evelyn McGarry
Sherry McDaniel
Arlette Miller
Julie Morales
Eliane Notah
Chellye Porter
Amanda Rael
Larry Rimer
James Robinson
Anita Sisk
Bruce Sisk
Kris Thackrah
Davedda Thomas
Tony Thomas
Earl Williams
Frank Wilson
December 2019 Call Log & Intakes

Swainson's Hawk: Imprinted

Northern Goshawk: Window strike. Head trauma, possible WNV

Red-tailed Hawk: Hit by car. Head trauma

Cooper's Hawk: Head trauma

Great Horned Owl: Hit by car. Head trauma

Great Horned Owl: Hit by car. Head trauma

Cooper's Hawk: Hit by car. Internal injuries

American Kestrel: Wing fracture

American Kestrel: Wing fracture

And Thank You to Our Corporate Donors:
Amazon Smile Foundation
Avangrid Renewables
Benevitty Fund
The Binky Foundation
Central New Mexico Audubon Society
Charles Schwab
Coca-Cola Foundation
Farmers Electric Cooperative
Four Corners Bird Club
Gathering of Nations
Holbrook Travel
Intel Corporation 
Kroger Company
Land of Enchantment Wildlife Foundation
McFarland Cascade
Nichols Ranch
PNM Resources Foundation
Peabody Natural Resources Company
Sonepar USA
Summit Construction
Summit Line Construction
Tetra Tech
The Verdes Foundation
Wild Birds Unlimited
Wildside Nature Tours
Womack Wealth Management
Who We Are

Gail Garber, Executive Director
Trevor Fetz, Lead Avian Biologist
David Buckley, Avian Surveyor
Maggie Grimason, Senior Editor
Sue Harrelson, Project Manager, Taos Gorge Raptor Study
Evelyn McGarry , East Mountain Representative
Arlette Miller , Raptor Rescue Dispatcher
Lisa Morgan, Raptor Rescue Coordinator
Jill Morris, Office Manager
John Stanek, Avian Surveyor
Maggie Stein, Education and Outreach Coordinator
Amelia Thompson , Educator

Our Board of Directors

Alwyn VanderWalt Chair

Dagny Cosby, Vice-chair

Terry Edwards, Treasurer

Mary Chappelle , Secretary

Carter Cherry, Director