Change is in the Air, by Gail Garber, Executive Director

Some early migrants have already settled in for the winter along the Middle Rio Grande. We locals thrill to their bugling calls, a signal that winter is soon to follow. Like the arriving Sandhill Cranes, you probably noticed the very different format for this issue of the HAI Flier. We've switched to a different platform and we ask for your patience as we learn the new software.

Aloft magazine will be in your mailbox (if you are a paid member) before the next issue of the Flier arrives in early December. This issue details the decline in avian density in the Corrales bosque, largely due to management actions. One of the species in trouble is the Lazuli Bunting, a tiny songbird captured in song by Alan Murphy.

Look for us at Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, the week of November 13. We'll be leading raptor tours of the refuge, giving presentations, staffing an observation deck and an outreach booth, along with our live hawks, falcons and owls. See you there!

Sandhill Crane in Flight. Image by Doug Brown.
The Office Season Continues,
by Trevor Fetz, Lead Avian Biologist

October is the middle of the "fall office season." Fortunately, I was able to escape into the field on a few mornings to conduct transect maintenance in preparation for the MRGSS winter field season that begins in December. The high flows in the Rio Grande during May and June helped spur substantial vegetation growth on a number of transects, making reclamation of our trails a necessity. Two invasive weeds, kochia ( Kochia scoparia) and Russian thistle ( Salsola tragus) wreaked particular havoc on many of our trails. In some places, the kochia is close to six feet tall. The proliferation of weeds is the one downside to the high flows from earlier in the year. Overall, however, the high flows were beneficial to the bosque ecosystem and facilitated rapid growth among desirable native plants. The conditions in the bosque this year are far different than the conditions during the drought years of 2010-2014. During those years, trail maintenance was unnecessary because nothing was growing--neither weeds or woody vegetation.
Bird activity during my forays was generally strong. In early October, neotropical migrants were still moving through in large numbers and wintering species were also moving in. Most notable was the presence of large numbers of Steller's Jays. In one case, a flock of more than 20 jays was moving through the bosque near Alameda Boulevard. I continued to encounter Steller's Jays everywhere I went during October, and it will be interesting to see if they are still in the bosque once the winter field season arrives. The species generally doesn't show up in the bosque in numbers, as we have only encountered multiple individuals during winter surveys in 3 of the first 14 years of the study. Also present in the bosque during October were large numbers of Pine Siskin. Pine Siskin frequent the bosque much more regularly than Steller's Jays, especially in areas with large sunflower crops. But, there have also been a number of winters when Pine Siskin were virtually absent from our transects. The influx of Steller's Jay and Pine Siskin suggests that food resources, particularly the seeds of conifer cones, may be low in the higher elevation forests where these species normally reside. If that is the case, other montane species that rely on similar foraging resources may also appear in the bosque this winter.  

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 Aspen, our Northern Saw-whet Owl, photographed here by Doug Brown.  
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  
Click here to learn more about our Avian Ambassadors

A Turkey Timeline,
by Angela Green, Office Manager

Thanksgiving is coming soon, and it got me thinking about the remarkable conservation success story of the turkey in America.

The Wild Turkey ( Meleagris gallopavo ) was first domesticated in Mexico over 2,000 years ago, and the indigenous peoples of North America soon followed suit. When Europeans arrived in the early 1500s, they found turkey meat to be so tasty that they shipped turkeys back to Europe. Turkey became such a popular food item in Europe that when the Mayflower landed in the Americas, European turkeys were on board. The enthusiasm rubbed off on the founding fathers, too. In fact, Benjamin Franklin was so taken with the Wild Turkey that he championed this uncanny bird as a candidate for the national bird of the United States.

Unfortunately, by 1900, turkey meat's popularity had grown to the point where the species was nearly hunted to extinction. It wasn’t until the 1940s that conservation efforts were put in place to bring the population back. After much trial and error over the decades, success was realized, and there are now an estimated seven million Wild Turkeys in the United States. Turkeys are found in such abundance these days that many communities consider them to be a nuisance.

Given this history, I believe we are fortunate that this extraordinary bird is no longer scarce in our country.

Wild Turkey. Image by Doug Brown.
Burrowing Owl by Larry Rimer
Owls in October, by Amanda Schluter, Field Biologist

Fall is in full bloom, with its shorter days and longer nights. My family and I spent three lovely days and two very cold nights camping in the Jemez Mountains outside of Cuba recently. Our trip coincided with the changing aspen foliage which made for some beautiful scenery. But, after one particularly cold night, we decided that this would likely be our last camping trip this year.

I also assisted Gail Garber and Julia Davis with educational presentations for adult audiences. While the outline of the programs was similar to what we teach at schools, the information was more complex. Despite the audience’s age, the educational owls are a big hit. Most people can identify an owl even if they do not know the particular species; this is not always the case for falcons or hawks. With owls' large eyes, disk-shaped face, and nocturnal habits, they stand out in the animal world and have fascinated humans for centuries.

In ancient Greece, the Little Owl ( Athene noctua) represented wisdom by accompanying Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom. The owl was protected in the city of Acropolis and lived there in great numbers. Owls were viewed as protectors of Greek armies and, if seen before battle it was believed to forecast victory. In Indian culture, the Hindu Goddess of Wisdom, Lakshmi, is associated with Barn Owls. In southern India, a hooting owl can mean good or bad fortune depending on the number of hoots.

The belief that witches could transform into owls began in ancient Rome and persisted throughout medieval times. In other parts of the world, it was believed that owls acted as messengers to witches or hooted when a witch approached. Owl eggs were also for a time believed to treat alcoholism or were at tiems cooked until they turned to ash then used in potions to improve eyesight. Because owls are nocturnal, many European and Native American cultures associate them with death, as is the case in Navajo culture.

While some Native American tribes associate owls with death, others hold owls as sacred and protected creatures. The Hopi believe the Burrowing Owl is Ko’ko, the God of the Dead, which guards the fires and tends all things underground, like growing plants. The Kwakiutl people of the Pacific Northwest believe that owls are the external souls of people.

One of my favorite legends, about the Northern Saw-whet Owl, comes from the Montagnais people in Quebec. It was said that once upon a time the Saw-whet Owl was the largest in the world and had a very proud voice. One day the Saw-whet Owl tried to imitate the roar of the great waterfall, and this offended the Great Spirit. To teach the Saw-whet Owl a lesson, the Great Spirit turned it into a tiny owl with a song that “sounded like dripping water.”

Like black cats and bats, owls are often associated with witches and bad omens. It was encouraging to learn that there are just as many cultures that view owls as sacred animals that should be protected. Learning about other culture's beliefs regarding owls is interesting but it is important that it does not lead to the harm of these magnificent creatures. Owls are important predators that keep an ecosystem in balance by controlling the populations of prey like mice and other rodents.

Burrowing Owl. Image by Larry Rimer.

Owls and Crows, by Julia Davis, Education Coordinator

Over the past three years, working with schools in New Mexico, I have gained a lot of knowledge and awareness about different cultures from students, parents, and teachers. Growing up in a traditional Christian family in Pennsylvania introduced me to my own set of stories and superstitions growing up. For example, I remember growing up feeling irrationally frightened of snakes, because of the creation story in the bible where the devil appears as a snake.

Here in Albuquerque, I was talking with some students in class who are Navajo about the different reasons why they choose to not see owls and also crows. One student told me that to look in an owl’s eyes could cause him to pass out, another student expressed that owls and crows are shape-shifting medicine men and women who use their skills to cause harm to people. When I started working with Hawks Aloft, I knew about owls being taboo in some cultures, but I just recently found out that some Navajo people also choose not to see crows, as well as mice and coyotes. Owls, crows, mice, and coyotes in some Navajo stories are considered the helpers of witches and evil spirits.

I am far from an expert when it comes to appropriately presenting this information and its complexity, but the little that I do know helps me when it comes to scheduling school programs. It adds another level of complexity to organizing school programs, but it is worth the effort, as I have learned so much about other people's ways of viewing the world. After all, we have all been brought up with our own stories, beliefs, and superstitions and it is important to be aware and respect that about each other.

Looking forward to the month of November, we will be attending Bosque del Apache for the Festival of the Cranes. I hope you all plan to join us there! For more information follow this link: . Hawks Aloft will be there throughout the week leading bird tours, presenting programs, and staffing a booth on Saturday and Sunday.

Image of Indigo, an American Crow, by Doug Brown

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, December 9
10:00 a.m. – Noon
Saturday, January 13
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
LA Field Journal,
by Maggie Grimason, Senior Editor and Educator

Some may believe that the most avian life you’ll find in densely populated urban centers like Los Angeles are the ubiquitous Rock Doves (AKA pigeons) that hop about nearly every city, punctuated by the occasional sighting of a crow or House Sparrow.

Walking around LA during a recent week-long stint in the big city (in which I really did walk, though the city is clearly designed for motorists) revealed a surprising abundance of birds overhead, singing in the fruit trees and balancing on electrical wires.

During an evening stroll around the neighborhood of Echo Park’s lake (which shares the same name) I saw American Coots gliding across the water, their yellow bills standing out in the dusky light. And there were many more surprise sightings to come. With LA’s diversity of local habitats—ocean, shore, desert, backyards, lakes, foothills—it’s no wonder that the list of birds who make their homes throughout the United States’ second largest city include at various points in the year Cliff Swallows, Cedar Waxwings, Black Pheobes, grackles, an occasional Snowy Egret, mallards and more.

Keeping an eye trained on the sky, water, and greenery around me during my recent visit LA—a city that is more than triple the population of Albuquerque—served as a sweet reminder of the persistence and resilience of nature. Even in that sprawling, sometimes smoggy metropolis, birds carve out space for themselves, not just enduring, but thriving where even we humans wouldn’t expect them to.

American Coot territorial battle. Image by Doug Brown.
Amazon Adventure with Hawks Aloft and Wildside Nature Tours!
Birding, photography, fun and relaxation, all from our 165 foot deluxe riverboat! A host of leaders for your trip will include Kevin Loughlin, bird photographer and owner of Wildside; Edison Buenano, South America’s top birding guide; Gail Garber, Director of Hawks Aloft,plus two local naturalist guides.

Our cruise will include afternoon lectures on birds, wildlife and photography. We enjoy multiple excursions by motorized skiff each day, designed to reveal the incredible wildlife that calls the rain forest home and with any luck we’ll spot sloths, monkeys, toucans, macaws, pink dolphins and so much more!

The cuisine on-board is regional and provides a unique and delicious window into local culture. Gain a rare glimpse of how life ‘on the river’ is lived and experience the magic of the Amazon on this once-in-a-lifetime riverboat adventure.

Focus and Highlights:
The Peruvian Amazon offers fantastic birds, monkeys, sloths, frogs and other great wildlife. We will explore rivers, creeks and forest trails in search of all we can find! On board the ship we will offer daily lectures on birds, wildlife, photography, art and the local culture.

Photo by Kevin McLoughlin
Upcoming Events - Please Join Us!
Wednesday, November 8
Mountain View Elementary School
8:00 – 11:15 a.m.
Living with the Landscape
Thursday, November 9
Matheson Park Elementary School
9:00 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
Living with the Landscape
Thursday, November 9
Route 66 Elementary School
3:15 – 4:15 p.m.
Single Visit Birds of Prey
Friday, November 10
Matheson Park Elementary School
9 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
Living with the Landscape

Saturday, November 11
Valle de Oro NWR – Music and Migration
1 – 4 p.m.
Education Outreach Booth

 Tuesday, November 14
Lowell Elementary School
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Living with the Landscape
Tuesday, November 14
Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge
8:45 – 11:30 a.m.
Festival of the Cranes Raptor ID Tour
Tuesday, November 14
Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge
1 – 2:30 p.m.
Festival of the Cranes Raptor ID Tour
Wednesday, November 15
Loma Colorado Library
2:30 – 4 p.m.
Single Visit Birds of Prey
Wednesday, November 15
Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge
8:45 – 11:30 a.m.
Festival of the Cranes Raptor ID Tour
Friday, November 17
Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge
1 – 2:30 p.m.
Festival of the Cranes All About Owls
Saturday, November 18
Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge
1-2:30 p.m.
Festival of the Cranes Life and Times of New Mexico Raptors
Wednesday, November 29
Mountain View Elementary School
8 a.m. – 1:50 p.m.
Mountain View Elementary School
Thank you to our October Donors!

Albuquerque Community Foundation

Linda Barker

Charles Brandt

Niels Chapman

Nancy Hall

Kelly Haller

Judy Knapp

Dave Parsons

Ed Rodgers

Andrew Torre

Michelle Trumfio

Wild Birds Unlimited

October's Rescue Intakes

Barn Owl – Hit by vehicle

American Kestrel – Emaciation

Cooper’s Hawk – Possible wrist injury?

Ferruginous Hawk – Pelvic/Spinal cord injury

Red-tailed Hawk – Covered in unknown substance/tbd

Thank you to Last Month's Volunteers!

Mary Bruesch – Mews Cleaning

Dagny Cosby – Outreach

Karen Kennedy – Outreach

Bruce Sisk – Outreach

Anita Sisk – Outreach

Dianne Rossbach – Outreach

Evelyn McGarry - Mews Cleaning, Outreach

Arlette Miller – Mews Cleaning, Outreach

Marnie Rehn – Mews Cleaning
Photographers Monthly Gallery - David Powell

We extend a huge thanks to David Powell, a very longtime volunteer! It was David who introduced us to the world of high quality photography, introducing Hawks Aloft to his fellow photographers at the Enchanted Lens Camera Club. Over the years, David has provided us with numerous images, printed notecards for sale, and more! He prints all of the images we use for our Adopt-a-Raptor program! In short, he is indispensable even though he and his wife, Sandy, moved to North Carolina a few years ago. We think you will enjoy these images of eastern species.

Images in Order below (top to bottom): Razorrbill, a large Atlantic seabird, Common Tern, Atlantic Puffin, and Eastern Bluebird.

Who We Are

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

Carter Cherry, Chair
Mary Chappelle, Vice Chair
Elizabeth A. Farr, Treasurer
Nancy Brakensiek, Secretary
Terry Edwards, Financial Advisor
Jim Findley, Emeritus