Hawks Aloft and Wildside Nature Tours visit the Amazonian Rainforest, by Gail Garber, Executive Director

This is a lengthy article with many images. To read all of the text and see all of the images, click here.

Water, water, everywhere! Our group of 17 called the La Perla riverboat home for 8 days, venturing out in large skiffs to explore the black water tributaries of the Marañon and Yucialli rivers, themselves tributaries of the might Amazon. This trip was scheduled during the rainy season, when the rivers are in flood stage, facilitating access via boat to areas that would otherwise be impossible to reach during the much hotter dry season. Many of us were worried, needlessly, about the copious downpours featured in movies, but only one gentle shower graced our stay for about two hours. Diversity was the norm on this adventure focusing not just on birds, but all wildlife, as well as native customs.

One skiff was dedicated to birding and the other to photography. Of course, my choice was the birding skiff, where Edison Buenaño was our guide. Birding the tropics seems to always to be a challenge due to the huge number of species and the unfamiliar calls, but Edison, native to Ecuador and one of the premier guides in South America, knew each and every vocalization. It was his excellent ear that lead us to see some very unusual birds, like the Hoatzin, a very rare bird indeed. (Image Above by Edison Buenaño)

In all, we tallied about 300 different species, depending on the choice of boat and whether you were looking in the right direction at the right time. The Amazon and its tributaries are home to freshwater dolphins, including t he Amazon River dolphin or Boto, a freshwater dolphin found in the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers of South America. It is the largest river dolphin species in the world and comes in pink and gray . One afternoon, there was an apparent feeding frenzy near the boat that yielded great looks at both pink and gray dolphins. There were numerous sightings of Three-toed Sloths with young, and many species of monkey.

One of the highlights was visiting the local villages where we were treated to a traditional meals before visiting the school. We had brought school supplies to share and some soccer balls, too! The kids regaled us with songs and asked us to sing back to them which caught all of us adult Americans off-guard as we were not expecting that. We all looked at each other dumbfounded; then one of us began singing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." We all chimed with a “moo moo here and a moo moo there – EIEIO!” Luckily there are no recordings of that! 

Read more - Click Here.
Please join us for a one-day symposium to be held in conjunction with courses offered by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. For information about the basic wildlife rehabilitation and pain and wound management classes, please visit the IWRC page . Registration for these courses is now open!

The one-day symposium will be the introductory meeting for the New Mexico Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Alliance. The morning session will include extensive information about the energy sector's efforts to reduce impacts to wildlife. Industries discussed include wind energy, electric utility, solar, and others. Also included will be regulatory presentations about the 30-year eagle rule, laws, and permitting. Participate in a round-table discussion about wildlife rescue in the state of New Mexico and hear a plethora of presentations about rehabilitation, energy development, partnerships, and collaboration. A meet and greet reception will follow the symposium. We hope to see you there!

Registration for the NMWRA Symposium is $25 until 10 March; $35 after 10 March. Please visit the symposium page for more information and to register for the symposium.

Stay tuned for additional details, agenda, and other updates.

Questions? Contact Gail or Katrina. 

Thanks to Aislinn Maestas for these graphics!
The Winter Field Season Comes to a Close, by Trevor Fetz, Lead Avian Biologist.

The end of February brought the end of the winter field season for the Middle Rio Grande Songbird Study (MRGSS). Overall, bird numbers were near normal, but there were some anomalies. The abundance of several of the more common wintering species was well below normal. Yellow-rumped Warbler, which has historically been common to abundant throughout the bosque during winter, was rare or absent at most transects. And, for the second winter in a row, Mourning Dove numbers were very low. Last year, Mourning Dove was virtually absent from the bosque during winter, but was present at higher than normal numbers during summer. Hopefully, that will again be the situation this summer. Both Dark-eyed Junco and White-crowned Sparrow, although common throughout the study area, also were present at substantially lower densities than normal.

In contrast, Steller’s Jay was present at unprecedented numbers throughout the winter field season. Although the species also invaded the bosque during the winters of 2008 and 2014, the numbers detected this winter far exceeded the numbers from 2008 and 2014 combined. Mountain Chickadee also was present at much higher numbers than normal. I had several unusual sightings this winter. A Dusky Flycatcher was present throughout the winter on a transect south of Belen. Two Golden-crowned Kinglets also were present on that transect during a December visit. A Blue Jay was present for several visits (and hanging out with Steller’s Jays) at a transect in Belen. At La Joya, both a Sage Thrasher and a Gray Catbird were present during a January visit. Although the thrasher and catbird were on different transects, both were foraging on Russian olive berries with mixed flocks of sparrows. It was the first winter detection of Sage Thrasher during the 15 years of the MRGSS.

Sage Thrasher image by Trevor Fetz.
Adopt-A-Raptor Today!
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 Flame, our very tiny Flammulated Owl, photographed here by Larry Rimer. 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  
When Rehabilitation Doesn't Work Out ... by Katrina Hucks, Raptor Rescue Coordinator

Sometimes, the world of raptor rescue doesn’t have the ending we hope for. Of course, we all want birds to be released and fly free again. But what happens if they don’t? Some rehabilitation organizations send birds that are found dead or die after they are brought in to museums, where curators create study skins. During my undergrad, I was one of the main individuals who created these study skins for my university’s museum. However, there are other options as well.

At Hawks Aloft, we think it is important to contribute to education and scientific study, but we are also aware of cultural uses for migratory birds. All migratory birds in the United States are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, making possession of birds, feathers, eggs, nests, and other associated items illegal. However, many Native American tribes consider birds sacred and central to religious belief. Repositories exist that collect feathers or carcasses and distribute them to registered tribes. There is both a federal eagle repository and two non-eagle repositories. These repositories send out feathers or other requested parts after an application is sent in, and only one species can be requested at a time. Even though it is unfortunate that these birds have died, they serve a new purpose and get a new life in the religious ceremonies of Native American tribes. In turn, the repositories also reduce the need for take permits from tribes that may have specific requests, and this helps relieve pressures on migratory birds.

Raptor Handling Class

Raptor Handling classes are the perfect time to hone your raptor handling skills. Get to experience one-on-one time with various educational birds, learn their personal stories, and the biology of their species. Become one of our 'expert' handlers at outreach events.
Raptor Handling Class:
Saturday, March 17
10:00 a.m. - Noon
At the Hawks Aloft Office

Saturday, April 14
10:00 a.m. - Noon
At the Hawks Aloft Office

No walk-ins allowed, as we plan the agenda and birds according to registrations and staff availability. Please call 505-828-9455 to reserve your space in the class, or e-mail Julia
New Technology Brings Life to Old Birds, by Maggie Grimason, Senior Editor and Educator

At the end of February, scientists at Harvard University revealed that they had been able to assemble an unprecedented reconstruction of the genome of the Little Bush Moa, a large, flightless bird that went extinct in the late 1200’s, thus disappearing from the planet in its living form nearly 700 years ago.

Using DNA from the bone of a museum specimen, researchers were able to reconstruct what the bird looked like, and more importantly, the structure of its DNA. This is a profound advancement for scientists and businesses hoping to revive extinct species of animals through DNA analysis and hybridizing with still-living creatures in a process dubbed “de-extinction.”

Founders of nonprofit conservation organizations working on de-extinction projects think they may be able to use the egg of the Emu to incubate a Little Bush Moa. Eventually, they aim to resurrect not just the Little Bush Moa, but other birds and mammals like the Passenger Pigeon, the Dodo, and Wooly Mammoth. Eventually, spokespeople from a nonprofit conservation organization called Revive and Restore said, this will just be seen as another form of reintroduction.

What do you think?

Photo credit: J. Erxleben Wikimedia
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!
Guatemala: Birding the Highlands and Lake Atitlán
with Hawks Aloft and Holbrook Travel
January 26 – February 5, 2019
Green and Black Poison Dart Frog. Image by Kristin Brown

Guatemala is a richly diverse cultural center and a lush and vibrant paradise for birders. On this 10-day journey, you'll have the chance to explore a variety of habitats, seek out rare and endemic species, and meet with locals who are part of the Audubon bird-tourism initiative in Santiago Atitlán, a hub of Maya culture.

Here, at high elevations in the heart of Central America, Hawks Aloft is partnering with Holbrook Travel and Flyway Expeditions to bring our friends an experience like no other. We’ll seek out rare and native species in this region of Guatemala, which is nestled in the middle of one of the world’s prime migratory corridors. Birders will also have the opportunity to connect with locals who care about conservation through Audubon’s bird-tourism initiative, Santiago Atitlán. A portion of the proceeds of this excursion will be donated to conservation efforts in Guatemala.
See a detailed description on our website , or check out a full itinerary and register for this epic trip on Holbrook Travel’s website . We can’t wait to experience Guatemala with you!
*Check out an upcoming calendar of events, as well as thank-you's after the Photographer's Gallery*
Photographers Monthly Gallery - Frank Dobrushken

This month, we feature the images of Edison Buenaño , the expert bird guide on our trip to the Amazon rainforest.

A native of Ecuador, Edison knew the vocalizations of each and every species we encountered! It was amazing. Often, he would point out a heard bird long before anyone else had even noticed any call at all. He has a degree in tourism management and a tour guide license for Ecuador and its national parks, but his passion is birding; his knowledge of bird vocalizations is second to none! He also guides in Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, Panamá, Argentina, Guayana, Brazil, Cuba, and the Galapagos. Edison speaks English, French, and Spanish.

Although this trip was sponsored by Hawks Aloft and Wildside Nature Tours , Edison also conducts private and group tours for Sword-billed Expeditions , based in Quito, where he leads bird and photo tours. His life list is amazing, 2,729 species! ... and more lifers are coming soon! We cannot say enough about this young man. Bird with him and you’ll be hooked too.

Images Below:

  1. Black-capped Donacobius
  2. Glass Frog
  3. Chestnut Woodpecker
  4. Great Potoo
Upcoming Events - Please Join Us!
Friday, March 9 – Sunday, March 11
Monte Vista Crane Festival
Community Outreach Booth
Wednesday, March 14
Bel-Air Elementary School
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
LWL Field trip to Elena Gallegos
Thursday, March 15
Matheson Park Elementary School
9 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
Living with the Landscape
Friday, March 16
Matheson Park Elementary School
9 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
Living with the Landscape
Tuesday, March 20
Manzano Day School
1:15 – 3:30 p.m.
Single Visit Birds of Prey
Wednesday, March 21
Mountain View Elementary School
Living with the Landscape
Thursday, March 22
Hodgin Pearl Elementary School
8:15 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Single Visit Birds of Prey
Thank you to our February Donors!

Edward Barengo

Marcia Bloom

Sophia & Donna Borowsky

Charles Brandt

Nelson & Susan Burns

Niels Chapman

Anthony Giancola

Amanda Grigsby

Ondrea Hummel

Charles & Sherri Karaian

Tony Mistretta

Dave Parsons

Daniel Paulsen

Meg Scherch Peterson

Virginia Sunderland

February's Rescue Intakes

Western Screech-Owl – broken wing

Northern Saw-whet Owl – possible predator-related injury

European Starling – broken wing

Red-tailed Hawk – unable to fly

Red-tailed Hawk – missing upper mandible

Red-tailed Hawk – pelvic injury

Great Horned Owl – internal injuries

American Kestrel – head trauma

Sharp-shinned Hawk – possible window strike

Merlin – broken wing

Western Screech-Owl – emaciation

Our Veterinarians and Rehabilitators

Kariana Atkinson, DVM

Linda Contos, DVM

Cottonwood Rehabilitation Center

Mikal Deese, A Wing and a Prayer

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

Sammue Uhrig, DVM

Ventana Animal Clinic

Raptor Rescue Team

Nirankar Ambriz
Donna Borowsky
Sophia Borowsky
Charles Cummings
Julia Davis
Mikal Deese
Tim Florence
Maggie Grimason
Bill Houston
Kaiti King
Jeannine Kinzer
Dean Klassy
Maurice Mackey
Arlette Miller
Lisa Morgan
Chellye Porter
Larry Rimer
Emiliano Salazar
Amanda Schluter
Anita Sisk
Sue Small
Mary Smith

Field Survey Teams

Amanda Schluter
Jeannine Kinzer
Bob Kipp
Everett Ogilivie
Larry Rimer
Tom Ryan
Wendy Brown
Ed Clark
Charles Cummings
Vicki Dern
Trevor Fetz
Gail Garber
Fred Hashimoto
Joan Hashimoto
Kay Jackson
Maurice Mackey
Arlette Miller
Dave Parson
Chellye Porter
Renee Robillard
Allison Schacht
Diana Schlies
Mary Smith
Mary Walsh
Christie Wilcox
Chuck Brandt
Mary Bruesch
Ed Chappelle
Gill Clarke
Roger Grimshaw
Jerry Hobart
Bonnie Long
Donna Royer
Susan Russo
Sam Sanborn
Martin Schelble
Steve Youtsey
Education and Outreach

Sophia Borowsky
David Buckley
Chuck Brandt
Mary Bruesch
Ruth Burstrom
Ed Chappelle
Mary Chappelle
Niels Chapman
Dagny Cosby
Charles Cummings
Rebecca Ezechukwu
Tim Florence
Angela Green
Ava Gutierrez
Bryan and Nancy Hall
Jerry Hobart
Bill Houston
Jennifer Jeffery
Karen Jeffery
Karen Kennedy
Dean Klassy
Kaitlyn King
Jeannine Kinzer
Robert Kipp
Molly Lord
Maurice Mackey
Evelyn McGarry
Arlette Miller
Chellye Porter
Marnie Rehn
Elizabeth Roberts
Dianne Rossbach
Allison Schacht
Rebecca Szymanski
Bruce Sisk
Anita Sisk
Sue Small
Cindy Treme
Who We Are

Gail Garber, Executive Director
Trevor Fetz, Lead Avian Biologist
Julia Davis, Education Coordinator
Angela Green, Office Manager
Maggie Grimason, Senior Editor
Katrina Hucks, Biologist and Raptor Rescue Coordinator
Everett Oglivie, Statistician
Amanda Schluter, Field Biologist
Our Board of Directors

Carter Cherry, Chair
Mary Chappelle, Treasurer
Terry Edwards, Director
Alwyn VanDerwalt , Director
Jim Findley, Emeritus