Saluting Our Volunteers
By Gail Garber, Executive Director
With only three full time staff, (Trevor, Ellie, and myself), two part-time staff (Jill and Maggie), and four seasonal staff (Sue Harrelson, Raymond Van Buskirk, John Stanek, David Buckley, and Greg Finkelberg), we are stretched about as thin as we could possibly be. In fact, were it not for YOU, our amazing volunteers, we could not be able to even begin to keep up with the many projects of Hawks Aloft. At last count, we have about 70 active volunteers working on projects as diverse as education and outreach, raptor rescue, field research, mews cleaning, photography, graphic design, special events, authoring articles, veterinary care, wildlife rehabilitation, technical support, and so much more! It does indeed take a village to make our organization function!
Two of our research studies are entirely citizen science efforts: Raptor Populations of the Middle Rio Grande and Estancia Valleys began in 1994 and continues today, tracking raptor population trends for 25+ years. Closer to home in the Middle Rio Grande Bosque, our citizen scientists monitor all nesting raptors, an effort that formerly was funded in part by the US Army Corps of Engineers, but is now 100% volunteer run.
The funds for some projects don’t fully cover the cost of the study, yet our volunteers work just as hard, and sometimes harder, than our staff, making certain that no active nest remains undiscovered.
In the classroom, dedicated education volunteers assist with program delivery, presenting education birds, and conducting conservation stations during our field trips. Volunteers are present at every single outreach event; handling birds and interacting with the public. Speaking of birds, our nearly 30 avian ambassadors must have clean accommodations too. Our mews cleaning team is diverse, and it is a great way to begin interacting with our birds, since raptor handling follows each mews cleaning.
Of course, we are always in need of drivers who can transport birds to the nearest veterinary facility or wildlife rehabilitator. If you have a reliable car and enjoy driving, this might be the perfect opportunity for you! Do you love writing? Some of the articles that appear in this online newsletter as well as the annual
Aloft magazine were authored by volunteers, and we all benefit from diverse voices in these publications.
Finally, please consider contributing to our first annual GARAGE SALE, organized by Jill Morris. The event will take place on Friday & Saturday, August 23 and 24. You can drop off your donations at our office between 9 am – noon, Monday through Friday. Please help us make this event a success!
Whatever your interests are, it is likely that there is a fit for you at Hawks Aloft. Just give us a call at 505-828-9455.
THANK YOU ALL!
Image of Larry Rimer and Emmitt Booher, taken by Emmitt Booher.
A Wet Start to the Summer Field Season
by Trevor Fetz, Lead Avian Biologist
The start of the summer field season for the Middle Rio Grande Songbird Study coincided with the highest runoff levels we have seen in the Rio Grande since 2005. While the overbanking throughout the middle Rio Grande is cool to see and highly beneficial to the bosque and its inhabitants, it has made for some very difficult survey conditions. Overbanking has occurred throughout our study area, including some locations that I never expected to see submerged. A handful of our transects were inaccessible for the entire month of June due to high water levels. In other places, I was only able to survey via slow slogs in chest waders through up to waist deep water.
Probably the biggest downside to the high flows is the mosquitoes. The mosquitoes are bad nearly everywhere that overbanking has occurred, and in some places the swarms are just unbearable, even when doused in repellant and wearing a mosquito hood. It is difficult to survey when you are afraid to stop moving for fear of simply being overwhelmed. But, beyond the mosquitoes, surveying in the high flows is a treacherous endeavor. It is impossible to see hazards hidden beneath the muddy water; having a sturdy stick is an absolute necessity in order to probe the area ahead. Submerged debris and particularly soft, muddy substrates that can swallow up a person's feet are significant hazards. But, the greatest hazard is unseen holes carved out by the water that can create drop-offs of 2 to 3 feet or more. Another is the strength of the current. It is difficult to appreciate how strong the current can be, even up to 200 meters from the normal river bank, until stepping into it. Staying upright can be a challenge and trying to walk upstream against the current is exhausting and in some places nearly impossible.
Perhaps the most surprising hazard is high ground that appears to be dry and is covered in grass and other vegetation, but is actually waterlogged. On several occasions I've stepped onto spots of higher ground looking for a reprieve from fast-moving water only to sink down into the mud up above my knee. Had I not been carrying a sturdy stick, I'm not sure how I would have extracted myself. Interestingly, the best footing is often where the current is flowing through and has scoured away any soft soil that might have been present. Muddy pools and edges and "dry" islands are spots where a person can suddenly sink down 2 or 3 feet.
As we begin July, the flow levels are slowly decreasing and soon nearly all of our transects will be accessible. It is somewhat bittersweet watching the water levels decrease, but it will make for much easier survey conditions. Except for the mosquitoes!
Image by Trevor Fetz
Hawks Aloft Garage Sale
by Jill Morris, Office Manager
Friday and Saturday
August 23 & 24
8 am - early afternoon
In the area behind our building
6715 Eagle Rock Rd. NE.
So, you've done your spring cleaning and now you have stuff to get rid of. Where should it all go? How about donating it to Hawks Aloft for our first annual yard sale?
We are asking everyone we know (and everyone
know) to bring in their gently used items to our office before that date. Drop off your treasures between 9 am and 1 pm, Monday - Friday. We also can receive donations by appointment. For larger items, call ahead and we'll see what we can work out.
I have had many yard sales over the years and I love the idea of the things I no longer need getting a second life. I have donated many, many items to thrift stores (which is a fine way to go), but I felt like I couldn't see where the stuff was going or if it was actually getting to the people that might need or want it.
I realized after my first yard sale that there were so many benefits—making some money and de-cluttering my house were good, but not quite as great as seeing a kid’s eyes light up when he found a new toy among the things that my family no longer needed.
Just a few items I remember fondly selling:
Garfield Books #1-50 to a mother whose son not only had a birthday coming up, but was wild about Garfield!
A train table for train sets that had streets and trees painted on to it with a reversible top to a mother who had little money to decorate her kid’s room. She found a way to cram it into her car, and we sent her home with a floor rug to boot.
And a MindStorm Lego Robotics system to a 16-year-old who had seen it advertised on our CraigsList and was so relieved that it hadn’t been sold yet. The set costs around $300 new, and of course, we sent it home with them for a fraction of the price.
These are some of the things what I love about having yard sales—and this time all the effort and money made will go toward helping our birds grow and thrive! What could be better than that?
Baby Birds by the Dozens
Spring means an increase in intakes to our Raptor Rescue Program! One day last week, we received SEVEN birds, all of them juveniles, including four Common Ravens that fledged into an area being painted and arrived with yellow splatters on their fragile feathers. The five Baby Barn Owls were joined by four more, and are eating 45 large mice every day!
Please consider supporting our "Baby Shower" by a donation through our
Hawks Aloft and Politics
Our Mission and also our 501(c)3 status with the Internal Revenue Service precludes political activism. We welcome all who are interested in birds and protecting their habitats and ours, regardless of individual political beliefs.
We ask that you refrain from wearing political attire while participating in all Hawks Aloft activities.
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.
- 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 9 spots remain!
is Coming, by Ellie Althoff, Education Coordinator
Generating over $1,000 in 2018 for Hawks Aloft, Lavender Festival is one of our biggest events of the year! Over 100 local vendors will be in attendance offering lavender themed lotions, plants, teas, and art.
This year, we are extending our time at the festival and will attend both
Saturday, July 20 and Sunday, July 21, 8 am to 3 pm at the Agri-Nature Center (4920 Rio Grande Blvd. NW
! Not only can you expect to see four of our Avian Ambassadors each day, but we will be selling some great merchandise such as t-shirts, stuffed animals, earrings, and books.
What Avian Ambassadors will you see exactly? On Saturday, we have an owl trio with a Great Horned Owl, Flammulated Owl, and Long-eared Owl with our Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk adding some extra flair. If you decide to come on Sunday then you can expect to see two falcons, a Western Screech-Owl, and our famous Turkey Vulture!
For only $8 for adults and $5 for children to get into the festival, pick up great food, shop artisan gifts, and lavender everything. Plus, you get to learn more about a few of our birds. We hope to see you there!
Photo by Gail Garber
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.
Middle Rio Grande Surveys
by Greg Finkelberg
June marked the beginning of our songbird surveys along the Middle Rio Grande. Due to the vast amount of rain and snowmelt flowing into the river, many of our field sites were flooded for most, if not all of June. This has caused us to fall behind on a few of our surveys, which we hope to mostly catch up on by the end of July.
Another consequence of there being so much water is, of course, hordes of mosquitos feasting on us during our surveys. While this is not the best working environment for us, at least the birds have plenty of tasty food flying around.
This being said, the sites I have been able to survey thus far have been going well. In Rio Rancho, there are two juvenile great-horned owls coming from the same nest. They seem to be doing well and have almost shed all of their immature plumage. I have also identified a pair of Eastern bluebirds in the same area. Another notable sighting includes a Willow Flycatcher carrying nesting material in Rio Bravo. This likely means there is a nest nearby; however, the bird seemed reluctant to visit the nest while I was in the area. Yellow-breasted Chats are loving all this water and vegetation. While they are stunningly beautiful birds, I think they get a kick out of confusing me with their countless number of different calls (many of which sound like other species). I have spent 5-10 minutes trying to figure out what bird is making a weird call several times this summer, and it almost always ends up being a chat.
Yellow-breasted Chat image by Doug Brown
Ways to Help
by Jill Morris
In my short time at Hawks Aloft, I have been impressed with the many ways there are for people to help. I am humbled by the actions of our tireless volunteers and those who give a little bit of their time, money, and talent whenever they can.
At Hawks Aloft, we have many ways to donate, such as:
- Regular donations (in the way of money or goods, either as one-time, or recurring monthly donations)
- Memberships (where you get all the perks of membership for a full year)
- our Adopt-A-Raptor program (where you "adopt" one of our permanently injured birds)
- Raptor Rescue donations (which go directly to help feed our education birds which costs more than $2,000.00 each month--just send an email to email@example.com after you make your donation to let us know you'd like it to go toward Raptor Rescue, or mail in a check to: Hawks Aloft, P.O. Box 10028, Albuquerque, NM, 87113)
- Donations made in Honor or in Memory of a loved one (just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org after you make your donation to let us know who you're honoring, or mail in a check with a note to: Hawks Aloft, P.O. Box 10028, Albuquerque, NM, 87113)
- Donations made through United Way (just designate that you would like your donation to go toward Hawks Aloft!)
- Our Facebook page, where we accept donations
- Our GoFundMe page
- Buying our wonderful merchandise such as T-shirts, books, raffle tickets for our quilt, and more!
- And of course, linking your accounts to Hawks Aloft at Amazon Smile, and with your Smith's shopper's card gives us a kickback on all the purchases you make!
I hope you will consider these many, tax-deductible avenues to help our amazing birds and please let us know if you know of any other avenues we should be considering!
Photo of recent donations of some very useful items to Hawks Aloft
Discover the Darien
& Canal Zone of Panama
with Hawks Aloft and Canopy Family!
November 9-18, 2019
Only 4 spots remain!
We are excited to offer our newest adventure destination tour – Discover the
Darien region of Panama
! Darien National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site!
Panama, a biologically and culturally diverse country connects North and South America. It is a haven for wildlife watchers of all kinds, especially birders. The Canopy Family has operated ecotourism lodges in Panama since 1999. Their mission is “to share the nature, history and culture of the Republic of Panamá with passion and enthusiasm, focused on customer satisfaction and guided by the principles of conservation and social responsibility.”
- Look for Harpy Eagles! (as of this writing a new nest has been found with indications that the pair is incubating eggs)
- Visit the Darién region of Panama, a vast roadless area of the eastern part of the country diverse wildlife
- Stay at the Canopy Family’s Canopy Camp
- Explore local culture, including a native Embera village
- Take time to photograph the amazing wildlife that includes not only birds, but a vast array of other wildlife from butterflies to monkeys and reptiles
- Relax and enjoy rainforest-level views from the famous Canopy Tower.
Hawks Aloft has offered trips to Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, and other international destinations at least once a year to experience diverse wildlife and new cultures. Join Hawks Aloft and the Canopy Family on the trip of a lifetime!
Trip limited to 10 participants. (Only 4 spots remain)
Help support our non-releasable raptors through our Adopt-a-Raptor program. Hawks Aloft houses and cares for 25 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.
Either create an account or sign-in to an existing one
Once logged in, click on “Account Summary” on the left sidebar
From there, scroll down to “Inspiring Donations Program” and click “Enroll”
A searchable list will come up, you can either search for “Hawks Aloft” or enter our ID number for the program, GL430
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
Gregory Basco is a professional nature photographer based in Costa Rica. After completing graduate degrees in political science and tropical ecology (his doctoral dissertation focused on the politics of ecotourism in Costa Rica), Greg worked in conservation before turning to photography full-time in 2006. His images have been awarded in the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice competitions and have appeared in numerous magazines and books around the world. His latest major project was the publication of the large format printed book
National Parks of Costa Rica in conjunction with Zona Tropical and Cornell University Press.
His popular e-books include
The Guide to Tropical Nature Photography,
Lightroom for the Nature Photographer, and the upcoming
Flash for the Nature Photographer. Greg is also co-owner of Foto Verde Tours, Costa Rica's first travel company specializing in photographic tourism. Foto Verde Tours focuses on Costa Rica but is expanding its instructional photo workshops throughout Latin America, including Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, and Argentina.
Greg's latest project is a new non-profit organization called the New World Conservation Photography Group which works to provide high quality photography in support of conservation, sustainable development, and ecological research projects in the Americas.
Want to join Greg on a workshop in Latin America?
- Puma (mountain lion) photographed in Patagonia during a recent workshop.The Puma is eating a kill that was a Guanaco.
- Violet-tailed Slyph hummingbird visiting tropical blueberry flowers in a cloud forest, Ecuador
- Red-eyed Tree Frog in lowland rainforest, Costa Rica
- King Vulture
- Night Sky over a small salt lake in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.
Thank You to our June Donors!
Wendy Brown & Ed Clark
Justin & Laura Vail
Sondra Redwood (
of Amy Estelle
Nancy & Bryan Hall
Pam Dymsza for Wild Birds Unlimited (Westside)
Bruce & Anita Sisk
Our Veterinarians and Rehabilitators
Kariana Atkinson, DVM
Mary & Ed Chappelle
Linda Contos, DVM
Cottonwood Rehabilitation Center
Desert Willow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
Eye Care for Animals
Ray Hudgell, DVM
Gavin Kennard, DVM, DACVO
Daniel Levenson, DVM
Mike Melloy, DVM
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
Ventana Animal Clinic
Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico
Of the birds shown below, some of the fledglings were in dangerous situations, or had another trauma that caused them to be rescued.
Common Raven: Fledgling
Great Horned Owl: Caught on barbed wire, euthanized
Red-tailed Hawk: Hit by Car
American Kestrel: Fledgling, head injury
2 Barn Owls: Nestlings
Cooper’s Hawk Nestling
Great Horned Owl Fledgling
Cooper’s Hawk Fledgling
Cooper’s Hawk Fledgling
American Kestrel Fledgling
American Kestrel Fledging, trichomonas
3 Barn Owl Fledglings
Swainson’s Hawk: Hit by Car
Great Horned Owl: Fledgling caught on barbed wire
Cooper’s Hawk Fledgling
American Kestrel Fledgling
4 Common Ravens: Fledged into painting area
Red-tailed Hawk Fledgling: starvation
Barn Owl: Starvation
American Kestrel fledgling: Hit by car
And Thank You to Our Corporate Donors:
Amazon Smile Foundation
The Binky Foundation
Central New Mexico Audubon Society
Farmers Electric Cooperative
Four Corners Bird Club
Gathering of Nations
Land of Enchantment Wildlife Foundation
PNM Resources Foundation
Peabody Natural Resources Company
Summit Line Construction
The Verdes Foundation
Wild Birds Unlimited
Wildside Nature Tours
Womack Wealth Management
Raptor Rescue Team
Field Survey Teams
Education and Outreach
6715 Eagle Rock Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113
Who We Are
Lead Avian Biologist
Project Manager, Taos Gorge Raptor Study Coordinator
, Field Technician
Raymond Van Buskirk
, Avian Surveyor
Our Board of Directors