Unsettling Times and Thank you's!
by Gail Garber,
As the sun rises each morning, some dawns are gifted with glorious color, while other morns merely lighten with little fanfare, and the day simply proceeds. Since the arrival of COVID-19, there have been few causes for celebration.
It seems as if it was a year ago, but in reality, it has only been thirty days -- thirty very long days! On Saturday, April 4, Jill Morris and I met at the Hawks Aloft office to submit our Payroll Protection Plan on the second possible day of enrollment. We wanted to be sure to be the first ones to apply since news reports already forecasted initial funds to run out. But, as is the case with new-to-everyone technology, there was a critical error in that application that we didn't know of for several days. The following week, when I checked with the bank to see if we were in their system, I was given an affirmative but only that. I kept on top of it and by April 13, I was connected to Denise
L'Esperance, Vice President and Senior Banking Center Manager at Bank of Albuquerque. It took only a few minutes to figure out where we had initially gone wrong -- an incorrect answer to a question.
From there, Denise and Yolanda Montano-Lovato, Vice President and Consumer Area Manager, held our hands every step of the way, walking us through the complex applications and detailed supporting documents. Sadly, by April 14, when we submitted our final proposal, the 350 billion in the first round was already gone. Instead of freak-out time, Denise was calm, cool, and collected. She encouraged us to continue our efforts so that when the second round of funding was awarded, we would be first in line. From there, our bankers have maintained constant contact, even at nights and on weekends, ensuring that no road block impeded our application. Today, I am pleased to tell you that we have received eight weeks of payroll, rent, and utilities funding from the PPP.
For this, we sincerely thank everyone at Bank of Albuquerque for their help and guidance! I am not sure we would have managed without their help.
We also thank my daughter, Christi Garber,
Senior Vice President Tax at Hamilton Insurance Group
, New York City area. Because of her work, she had knowledge of the language, timelines, and funding amounts before it was publicly announced, thus making sure that her mom was in the know and did not miss any deadlines. Thanks to Christi, we also applied for and received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance that covered one payroll.
On March 17, we received a message from The Albuquerque Community Foundation and the United Way of Central New Mexico. They had teamed up on a joint venture to deploy an Emergency Action Fund to provide short-term, unrestricted funding to support operations of organizations that were struggling with immediate lost revenue and non-recoverable expenses due to COVID-19. We applied and received funding on April 8, a very fast turn-around. We thank these local foundations for their early support in our community.
Finally, we thank YOU!
Your generosity and support in these difficult times means the world to us! I especially thank everyone who donated to "Gail's Birthday Fundraiser for Hawks Aloft" on Facebook. It generated $2,740, enough to pay April's food bill for the birds! We thank everyone who donated directly through our website, mailed checks, and dropped off cash! You all are such an important members of the Hawks Aloft family!
In this time of Covid-19, our lives have changed immeasurably. One of my personal pastimes these last weeks has been mask-making -- for our staff, our volunteers, and our donors. If you made a donation and would like a mask of your own, please
reach out to me.
So far, the official Hawks Aloft masks have featured owl fabric, although I am about to run out of that. Never fear: there is back up feather fabric, Red-tailed Hawk fabric, New Zealand bird fabric, and more. Did I tell you that I am a quilter?
Bosque del Apache NWR at sunrise. Image by Keith Bauer.
The Valles Caldera Owl Study Begins
By Dr. Trevor Fetz, Senior Research Biologist
Much of my time during April was spent making preparations for the Valles Caldera Owl Community Study, which will begin in May. The impetus for the study was a request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) to conduct Mexican Spotted Owl (MSOW) surveys, since the last surveys there occurred in 2009. USFWS is particularly interested in surveys in and around potential MSOW habitat where VCNP is planning to conduct restoration work over the next few years. But no MSOW sightings have ever been confirmed on VCNP, so it will be interesting to see if we find any.
The MSOW surveys are only one part of this project. The other part is to survey for other owl species on VCNP in order to provide a measure of their abundance. In following with MSOW survey protocol, surveys for other owl species will only occur after MSOW survey protocol has been met and only at points where no MSOW are detected. There are seven owl species known to occur on VCNP, and we will actively survey for five of those. In increasing order of size, we will call for Flammulated Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Western Screech-Owl, and Long-eared Owl. Great Horned Owl also is found on VCNP but because it is a potential predator of MSOW, it would violate MSOW protocol to call for that species. We will still document all Great Horned Owls we detect, as they regularly respond to the vocalizations of other owl species. The seventh owl species, Boreal Owl is known to occur on VCNP only at the highest elevations on Redondo Peak. But, the subalpine habitat occupied by Boreal Owl is not accessible, so we will not actively survey for that species.
In late April, I made a visit to VCNP with Mark Peyton, VCNP Biologist, and Chuck Hathcock, Wildlife Biologist for Los Alamos National Laboratory, to evaluate potential MSOW habitat and establish owl calling points. Mark has an intimate knowledge of VCNP and Chuck has extensive experience surveying for MSOW in northern New Mexico, so having their expertise on hand was extremely valuable. I'm planning to make one more visit to VCNP with Mark in early May to establish the rest of our calling points, and surveys will begin shortly after that. Brian Dykstra and Brent Thompson, both of whom are experienced MSOW surveyors, will conduct a majority of the surveys. John Stanek, Susan Harrelson, Roger Grimshaw, and I will also conduct surveys. I'm looking forward to seeing what we find.
Mexican Spotted Owl, image by Larry Rimer.
Join Us Every Monday on Facebook Live!
Monday at 11am on Facebook Live, staff educators Maggie Stein and Amelia Thompson present different Avian Ambassadors and educational concepts.
Join us this Monday (05/11) at 11am to meet a selection of grassland species.
Welcome to Our Newest Board Members!
Patti Rosin and Christine Fiorello, DVM
Please join us in welcoming two extraordinary women as directors of our organization. Both Patti and Dr. Chris have volunteered their services to Hawks Aloft for the past two years or more. They have been instrumental in their fields of expertise, education and veterinary medicine respectively. We know you will enjoy meeting them as much as we are excited to work with them in management roles for the coming years.
Patti has immersed herself in all things Hawks Aloft, from outreach events, school programs, and curriculum development to manning the Raptor Rescue Hotline and cage cleaning. She traveled with us to Panama last November where several of us got to know her really well! There’s nothing like hiking through hot, humid lowland rainforest and squelching muck interspersed with brutal, unrelenting sunshine, all in the hope of seeing a Harpy Eagle and her nestling. Seeing that majestic bird and hearing her scream at two other avian interlopers was a bonding experience like no other.
Dr. Chris, as we fondly call her, was instrumental in bringing two new-to-us local veterinary clinics on board: Acequia Animal Hospital and VCA West Mesa. Both of these facilities treat the rescued birds that come to us as well as our Avian Ambassadors. When Luna, our foster Barn Owl got into a fight with a wild Barn Owl again this spring and managed to break his toe (AGAIN!), Dr. Chris patiently worked with him and his caretaker, Chellye Porter to set the foot and keep the wraps firmly attached despite his constant efforts to undo their efforts.
Patti’s background is in education, focusing mostly on elementary students. She taught first grade for APS and also oversaw the Children’s Ministry at First United Methodist Church for many years. She has served on a variety of boards in the past. Through that service she came to appreciate the value of mission statements, guiding documents, board structure, and, the expertise and wisdom of others. While raising her three children, she managed a law office, and is now retired from paid work.
Christine Fiorello received her DVM from Tufts University. As a student, she worked at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic, where she gained experience in raptor medicine and rehabilitation. After an internship at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, she pursued a PhD in disease ecology from Columbia University, studying domestic and wild carnivores in Bolivia. She then completed a wildlife & zoological medicine residency at the University of Florida, becoming board-certified in 2006. Dr. Fiorello has worked in zoos and academia, and has extensive experience with a wide variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles in both in the U.S. and Latin America. She has special expertise in the rescue and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife, which is fortunately something she rarely needs here in New Mexico’s high desert environment!
Painting with Vultures, by Amelia Thompson, Educator
In the beginning of April, Maggie S. and I were talking about my experiences painting with different animals when I worked at the ABQ Biopark. I have done painting with apes, lizards, snakes, ferrets, and hedgehogs. The zoo sold those paintings to help raise money. We began to wonder if we could do any painting with our education birds.
Most of our birds are perching birds and would not be interested in walking around on a canvas, but we immediately thought that Beauty, our human-imprinted Turkey Vulture, might make a good painter. I offered up my dining room as a good painting spot because it is a relatively open area and easy to clean. Beauty has spent time in my home, so she is comfortable there as well.
Those of you who have been following Beauty’s story know that in early winter of 2019 we put greenhouse material on our outdoor mews so that she could be protected from the cold. Turkey Vultures are migratory birds and therefore are not accustomed to New Mexico winters. But with temperatures warming up in the beginning of April, it was time to remove the protective material—but less than a week later there was a snowstorm. Beauty had to come stay inside at my house for a few days, which offered the perfect time to try painting with her.
How do you paint with a Turkey Vulture? First, you put down plastic tablecloths on the floor. Then, you put kid-safe, washable paint and canvas down and hope that she will step on the paint and then, the canvas. We weren’t sure if Beauty would be afraid of the paint and canvas so we let her investigate everything on her own. This involved her sticking her face in the paint and getting some blue on her beak. But she showed no signs of fear and happily walked in the paint and then walked all over everything but the canvas. Eventually we figured out that if we put her and the paint in the center of a bunch of canvas, we could get a few good footprints.
Finally, we had to wash the paint off of Beauty. We put her in my bathtub with some warm water and then used a spray bottle to get as much of the paint off of her legs, beak, and tail feathers as possible. I’ve had a few different animals in my bathtub (mostly reptiles), but this was my first Turkey Vulture!
The artwork we made with Beauty this time around was mostly practice art. We hope to try painting with her again and to be able to sell those paintings to help raise money to feed our education birds.
Image by Amelia Thompson
The Hawks Aloft 2020 Raffle Quilt!
90" x 90"
Get your tickets now! $1 each or 6/$5.
We'll draw the wining ticket on December 5, 2020
Thank you to everyone who worked on this year's quilt!
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.
How We Are Adapting, by Maggie Stein, Education and Outreach Coordinator
March, April, and May are usually some of the busiest months for our Education and Outreach programs. If the world was running as expected, we would be in the middle of taking the 4th and 5th graders who participated in this year’s Living with the Landscape program out on their long-awaited field trips. We had a total of eight field trips planned to the Bachechi Open Space in Albuquerque, a location relatively near their schools that students could hopefully return to at a later date with their families. Sadly, those field trips are not able to happen this year.
Although we are extremely disappointed to miss these outings with the students we have been lucky enough to get to know throughout the year, we continue to move forward to make the best of things.
To start, we have been revamping the Living with the Landscape curriculum and tweaking the flow of the program. It is very exciting to use this time to add in-depth student packets tailored to each age group and interactive stations to specific activities. Additionally, our learning materials for activities are being updated. We are very thankful to have our knowledgeable staff and volunteers to help with this! Many of our volunteers are retired teachers or leaders for youth organizations such as FFA.
We have been having weekly team Zoom meetings with our education staff and volunteers. These meetings have been a great way for everyone who usually works in the classrooms with Hawks Aloft to stay connected. We miss seeing our volunteers in person every week! But, for now, with social distancing in place, only staff (Amelia and me!) clean cages.
We also are working on scripts for a planned filming of formal educational videos! At a later date when it is safe to gather again, we will put together videos, with the help of a videographer, that will feature different types of topics, such as birding for kids, introductions to our education birds, species in New Mexico, and more. These videos will be featured on different platforms, such as our website and Facebook page.
Amelia and I have also been hosting Facebook live videos at the office on Mondays at 11 am. During these videos we have showcased three or four of our education birds and answered questions about them. If you have not seen the videos, you should definitely check them out. Our upcoming Facebook live video will be featuring grassland birds, including Swainson's Hawk, Burrowing Owl and our American Crow, Indigo
We are teaming up with multiple outlets to host private Zoom and Google Meets for students and the public! These programs are about 30-40 minutes long and feature three education birds. So far, we've met with 3rd grade students from Blanco Elementary and have upcoming programs with Route 66 Elementary School in the East Mountains through Google Meets, and a Zoom public workshop scheduled for May 23 in collaboration with Bachechi Open Space caretakers.
Contact us at
if you or a teacher you know are interested in scheduling a virtual program with us!
Beauty the Turkey Vulture and educator Amelia Thompson leading a virtual session. Images by Maggie Stein
Welcome Brian Dykstra,
Our New Biologist!
Brian's interest in nature and wildlife began while growing up on the family farm in Michigan with walks in the woods, where he would often see deer, songbirds, and other wildlife. After high school, he enrolled in Michigan Technological University’s Forestry Program and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Forest Management. In the early `90s, after several seasonal jobs with the U.S. Forest Service, he returned to school to study wildlife management and ecology at South Dakota State University. His graduate work entailed studying songbird community dynamics in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming. He's been a birder ever since.
In 1995, he moved to Arizona to work as a wildlife biologist. During 17 years working along the Mogollon Rim, he coordinated yearly Mexican Spotted Owl and Northern Goshawk surveys, and conducted riparian songbird surveys. He finished his Forest Service career in 2018 after 6 years as the Southwestern Region’s Wildlife Program Leader. In that position, he was fortunate to serve as the region’s Avian Coordinator and a steering committee member of the New Mexico Avian Conservation Partners Committee. He'll be headed "back to the woods” to work on owl and songbird surveys for Hawks Aloft.
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 2 spots remain!
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 Sunny, our adult male Prairie Falcon. He was found by hikers in the Organ Mountains with severe damage to one wing necessitating an amputation at the wrist. He is named Sunny to highlight the malar markings that give him an extra later of sunshading as well as the diurnal habits of the species. 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
(if available for that species)
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
Featuring: Larry Rimer
The Mighty Swainson's Hawk
Larry writes, "It's impossible to pick a favorite bird, but raptors rank right up there and within that impressive category is the incredible Swainson's Hawk. A summer resident in NM, I have had many opportunities to watch them raise their young and teach them how to hunt for many things, among those, bats on the Armendaris ranch. Such impressive fliers, catching them in mid-air and then eating them in flight. An even more impressive feat is their migration path every fall all the way to the Pampas of South America in Argentina where they feast on locust (they are known as the locust hawk there). It’s a fantastic treat to see them in the wild and up close, as Hawks Aloft now has two Swainson's Hawks they treat the public to viewing in their education programs.
Larry Rimer is a long-time, integral part of Hawks Aloft. He has worked on numerous projects and is the current manager of the Raptor Monitoring Study at El Segundo Mine, owned by Peabody Energy. Larry also is our go-to photographer for specials projects and images of our Avian Ambassadors.
- Swainson's Hawk flying through the emergent free-tailed bats at the Armendaris Bat Caves.
- Swainson's Hawk dining on bat tartare.
- Stretching for take-off.
- Adult Swainson's Hawk hunting bats.
- The young, human-imprinted Swainson's Hawk that arrived at Hawks Aloft in December 2019. We will soon apply to add this young bird to our cadre of Avian Ambassadors, replacing a soon-to-be retired male Swainson's Hawk.
Thank You to our April Donors!
Mary & Ed Chappelle
Melody Butler Griego
Dale & Patty Harrington
Kathleen "Kass" McMahon
Bari Lee Silver
Victoria & Brad Stamm
Our Veterinarians and Rehabilitators
Acequia Animal Hospital
Kariana Atkinson, DVM
Mary & Ed Chappelle
Linda Contos, DVM
Desert Willow Wildlife
Eye Care for Animals
Christine Fiorello, DVM
Tim Fitzpatrick, DVM
High Desert Veterinary Care
Ray Hudgell, DVM
Gavin Kennard, DVM, DACVO
Daniel Levenson, DVM
Mike Melloy, DVM
New Mexico Wildlife Center
Bob Peiffer, DVM, PhD
Petroglyph Animal Hospital
Santa Fe Raptor Center
Southwest Veterinary Medical Center
Samantha Uhrig, DVM
VCA West Side
Ventana Animal Clinic
Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico
April 2020 Call Log & Intakes
In April we received a total of 21 calls to our Raptor Rescue hotline.
* Great Horned Owlet: Fell from nest.
* Great Horned Owlet: Fell from nest.
* Red-tailed Hawk: Eye injury. Failure to thrive.
* Peregrine Falcon: DOA. (Wing injury, emaciation).
* Cooper's Hawk: Wing injury
* Cooper's Hawk: Hit by car. Internal injuries
* Great Horned Owl: DOA. Hit by car.
* Golden Eagle: Gunshot.
* Western Screech Owl: Hit by car. Head trauma.
Raptor Rescue Team
And Thank You to Our Corporate Donors:
Albuquerque Community Foundation
Amazon Smile Foundation
Central New Mexico Audubon Society
Farmers Electric Cooperative
Four Corners Bird Club
Gathering of Nations
Land of Enchantment Wildlife Foundation
PayPal Giving Fund
PNM Resources Foundation
Peabody Natural Resources Company
The Verdes Foundation
Wild Birds Unlimited
Wildside Nature Tours
Womack Wealth Management
6715 Eagle Rock Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113
Who We Are
Lead Avian Biologist
Brian Dykstra, Biologist
Project Manager, Taos Gorge Raptor Study
Jerry Hobart, Project Manager, Raptor Driving Surveys
, East Mountain Representative
, Raptor Rescue Dispatcher
Raptor Rescue Coordinator
Larry Rimer, Project Manager,
El Segundo Raptor Study
Education and Outreach Coordinator
Our Board of Directors
Christine Fiorello, DVM,
Patti Rosin, Director