Help Build a Winter Home for Beauty!

Brrr! New Mexico in winter is no place for a sun-loving Turkey Vulture. In fact, the entire population leaves our state for warmer climes about September and doesn’t return until mid-March. Their bare-skinned heads leak body heat and make thermoregulation a real challenge when the temperature drops below 50 degrees.  

When Beauty, our beloved Turkey Vulture, unceremoniously arrived at our office in January 2018, we were at first incredulous that any vulture would be this far north, but upon learning her backstory, we welcomed her into our cadre of Avian Ambassadors. Surely, it couldn’t be that hard to care for the large, very friendly black bird with the ratty-tatty feathers. That is, until we saw her shiver! And shiver mightily she did! With her whole body in motion, it was clear that she was not at all cold tolerant. 

We provided perch heaters and heat lamps but the shivering didn’t go away. Finally, we moved her indoors, where she happily coexisted with the two dogs belonging to our executive director, Gail Garber. It became clear that Beauty had been an indoor bird, at least in winter, and that she seemed to think she was a DOG! Obviously imprinted, she slept with the dogs, played with their toys, and all was well – except for one thing! Excrement! Never-ending-cleaning! Beauty indoors worked well only for her and the dogs, not the human resident of the dwelling. It is not a viable long-term solution to her winter housing situation.

We’ve drawn up the plans, found the materials, solicited volunteers and are ready to build a Winter Greenhouse Home for Ms. Beauty, the imprinted vulture. It will be attached to the side of our director’s house with full east-facing insulated windows as well as a hard-wired heat source to ensure that it never gets colder than 50 degrees! 

But, we need your help to buy the materials and construct the heated greenhouse.  We estimate the total cost to be about $2,000. 

Please donate to our special “Beauty in Winter” mini-fundraiser so our most precious vulture (a charmer to all she meets) is comfortable throughout the long cold winter ahead.  

Beauty Videos

Above images by Kristin Brown and Gail Garber

Species in Peril, by Maggie Grimason, Senior Editor

A new report in the journal Science, which was later amplified with coverage in the New York Times and other outlets, has something scary to share. After decades of research (increasingly reliable as studies make use of high-resolution radars and the like to track migration) researchers have estimated the disappearance of 2.9 billion birds in the U.S. and Canada since 1970. Even the ornithologists on the study were surprised by the magnitude of the loss—which extended across the more than 300 species studied.

Habitat loss was considered a primary cause of this expansive decline in bird population, as was the overarching effects of climate change, use of insecticides and pesticides, and the impact of feral and domestic cats. The most significant losses were counted among some common North American birds, such as the Red-winged Blackbird, which declined by 92 million. “There are the birds we all know and love, part of the bird life that makes North America live, colorful, and filled with song every spring,” authors of the New York Times article John W. Fitzpatrick and Peter P. Marra wrote.

Birds aren’t the only animals suffering—amphibians and fish numbers have also notably been reduced. A recent report from the United Nations underlines this broad species loss, saying that one million animal and plant species face extinction. That’s more than ever before in human history.

Read the full New York Times article here , or the U.N. report here . A more local eye on species loss comes in the form of an expansive art exhibition at 516 Arts in downtown Albuquerque. This exhibition, curated by Josie Lopez and Subhankar Banerjee, Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande , is part of an ongoing series of inquiries into what Banerjee calls “species annihilation” in the Southwest and well beyond. The show runs through Dec. 28. 

Image from Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande, by artist Suzi Davidoff, "Simplified World/Aplomada Falcon and Grasses," 2017, charcoal, gesso, map, 50 x 68 x 3 inches

Free Again! 

It’s that time of year, when we get to celebrate the successes in rehabilitation by returning birds back to the wild. One of our most moving stories for 2019 involves Avangrid Renewables and a young man named Carson Dismuke. 

Avangrid Renewables funded the year-long Living with the Landscape program at South Mountain Elementary School in Edgewood, NM, also known as the East Mountain area, learning about birds, habitat, and ecology. When the family barn blew down, exposing five nestling Barn Owls in a fierce windstorm on Memorial Day weekend, Carson knew just what to do. He and his stepdad called the Raptor Rescue Hotline (505-999-7740) and Evelyn McGarry responded, collecting the little fluff bundles.

The owlets spent their early months eating and growing with our foster Barn Owl, Luna, at the facility of longtime volunteer, Chellye Porter until they ‘fledged’. They then moved to the Santa Fe Raptor Center to attend “mouse school,” where they learned to fly and hunt for food on their own. On September 24, 2019, Evelyn retrieved the owls and joined by Maggie Stein, Dianne Rossbach, they returned with the owls to the farm where Carson found them. Evelyn reports that she was thrilled that Carson would see his part in the rescue come full circle with the release of these owls. 

Colorado Red-tailed Hawk!

You might also remember the Red-tailed Hawk that was hit by a truck and got trapped in the grill back in July. With severe head trauma it was not clear if he would survive. Treated by Dr. Kariana Atkinson at Petroglyph Animal Hospital and later transferred to our friends at New Mexico Wildlife Center for continuing rehab, this amazing hawk made a full recovery and is once again flying free!

Images by Maggie Stein
New Owl Study Coming Soon
by Trevor Fetz, Lead Avian Biologist

With the summer field season completed, I transitioned from being in the field every day to staring at a computer screen most of the time. Data entry, data analysis, and article writing for the upcoming Aloft magazine consumed most of my time during September.

The most interesting news for the month is that we will be starting an owl community study on the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) in 2020. The impetus for the study was a request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for VCNP to conduct Mexican Spotted Owl (MSOW) surveys, since the last surveys there were conducted in 2009. But, no MSOW have ever been observed on the VCNP and Bob Parmenter, the VCNP Division Chief for Science and Resource Stewardship, wanted to conduct an owl community study to document all species present.

In addition to the potential presence of MSOW, there are seven other owls known to occur on the VCNP: Flammulated Owl, Boreal Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Western Screech-Owl, Long-eared Owl, and Great Horned Owl. After getting approval from the USFWS and in order to meet MSOW protocol, it was decided we will survey for MSOW first. If no MSOW are detected at a given call point, we will then survey for the other owl species in increasing order of size from smallest to largest. Unfortunately, we will not be surveying for Boreal Owl, because their habitat on the VCNP is not accessible and the time of year when they are responsive is not concurrent with the other species. Additionally, because Great Horned Owl is a potential predator of MSOW, we will not actively call for them. But, Great Horned Owl readily responds to other owl calls and we will record their detections opportunistically.

I met with Bob Parmenter in September and we plotted locations on the VCNP where he is interested in placing owl call points. In October, Gail and I will visit the VCNP to evaluate these potential call points in terms of both habitat suitability and accessibility. Having very little experience on the VCNP, I'm looking forward to seeing this unique area in person.

Mexican Spotted Owl image by Larry Rimer
In one session:

(Session 1 has been canceled)

Each session ($60) will include expert guidance from renowned photographers Doug and Kristin Brown, Keith Bauer, and Larry Rimer. Subjects will include a host of permanently injured hawks, falcons, and owls in the care of Hawks Aloft. Click here to register for either or both sessions!
T-shirt Fire Sale!
OK! So there wasn't a fire, thankfully! We have inventory that we need to sell and you can get a great deal on some of our past-year T-shirts – all on sale for $15 each…that’s half off!
We have cream-colored shirts in long and short sleeve.
Women's (runs small) M,L, and XL. 
Men’s: 2XL and 3XL only. 
Women’s: L and XL
Men’s: 2X
25th Anniversary shirts (Teal)
Short Sleeve:
Women’s XL, 2XL, and 3XL
25 th Anniversary shirts (Sky Blue)
Short Sleeve:
Men's: M, L, XL, 2XL

Get them while you can!
A flat $8 shipping fee will be required, BUT, we will throw in a free Hawks Aloft Coffee mug! You can't beat that!
If you would like to order any of these, give us a call at 505-828-9455 (or stop by the office between 9 am - 1 pm weekdays. Save on shipping). 

You can also send us an email at .
Happy Shopping!
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!

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.

A New Year for LWL By Maggie Stein, Education and Outreach Coordinator

Living with the Landscape (LWL) is a multi-visit elementary school education program. Every grade in selected schools participates in two to four classroom visits throughout the year. These visits include two of our education birds as special guests in the classroom. Topics covered range from migration and raptor biology to watersheds, fire ecology, and more. Fourth and fifth graders go on a field trip to a nearby natural area and fifth graders also participate in a conservation project on their school's campus. This year, the students are building bird houses for their campus! The hands-on learning resonates with the students and encourages kids to make environmentally conscious decisions in their lives.

Each year, dozens of Title 1 (low-income demographic) schools apply for this grant-funded program. Four different elementary schools (Bellehaven, Pajarito, Navajo, and Armijo) are participating in the Living with the Landscape program this year. This program is unique because it brings nature and wildlife to the classroom. Students get a brand new experience of environmental learning in a STEM-oriented way right at their school!

These kids are so much fun to work with! Their enthusiasm and excitement are endless! They share stories of encounters they’ve had with wild birds and retain much information from previous visits. They are curious and ask all sorts of questions like: “If vultures have such a good sense of smell, can they smell fear?” The faculty and staff are always welcoming and excited for our visits. Living with the Landscape is one of the most important ways Hawks Aloft gives back to the community and teaches some of the youngest citizens of Albuquerque about the importance of birds of prey. 

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 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
Tony Giancola

Tony fell into bird photography mostly by chance. In 2001, he spotted three young Cooper’s Hawks playing in Alvarado Park, and stopped to take a few photos with a point-and-shoot camera. He says,

"ver the last 18 years I’ve upgraded my camera several times, and learned to identify a lot of species, thought never enough. I’ve also branched to non-avian subjects.. After almost 40 years, I recently moved to the Denver area where I am learning the difference that abundant water makes, finding new species and missing others (particularly roadrunners)"

  1. Snowy Egret
  2. Groove-billed Ani
  3. Gambel's/Scaled Quail hubrid - Located by sound at Mariposa Basin Park, Albuquerque 2018. With lots of Gambel’s around, it sounded wrong, and took several weeks to track it down and get a decent enough picture to be sure it was a hybrid. Located again in 2019 (by sound first again)
  4. Cattle Egret
  5. Red Fox
Thank You to our September Donors!

Charles Brandt

Niels Chapman

Susan Gellert

Allison Schacht

Dianne Schlies

Robert Willis

Raptor Rescue Team

Nirankar Ambriz

Victoria Ambriz

Daniel Archuleta

Mary Bruesch

Ed Chappelle

Mary Chappelle

Joanne Dahringer

Shannon Harrison

Ty Horak

Denise Inight

Arlette Miller

Sherry McDaniel

Evelyn McGarry

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
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

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

Ventana Animal Clinic

Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico

September 2019 Call Log & Intakes

Greater Roadrunner - Nestling in road

Burrowing Owl - Wing injury

Barn Owl - Emaciated/possible poisoning

Mississippi Kite - Wing injury

Cooper's Hawk - Wing injury

Cooper's Hawk - Hit by car

Barn Owl - Wing injury

Cooper's Hawk - Emaciated/wing injury

Cooper's Hawk - Possible poisoning

Cooper's Hawk - Dead on arrival

American Kestrel - Hit by car

American Kestrel - Wing injury

Cooper's Hawk - Wing injury

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 Coordinator
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
Raymond Van Buskirk , Avian Surveyor

Our Board of Directors

Alwyn VanderWalt Chair

Mary Chappelle, Vice-chair

Terry Edwards, Treasurer

Sarah Beans , Secretary

Dagny Cosby, Board Member

Carter Cherry, Board Member