In Search of Raptor Nesting Habitat
By Gail Garber, Executive Director
Have you ever wondered just how hard it is to locate a raptor nest in a vast, mostly unpopulated, mostly roadless area? We've been monitoring nesting raptors, Common Ravens and a few other species of special concern on the buffer zone that surrounds the El Segundo coal mine for many years. The study helps to measure the impacts of the mining activity on these nesting species including Ferruginous and Red-tailed Hawk, Burrowing Owl, Prairie Falcon, American Kestrel, Burrowing and Long-eared Owl, and more.
In the vast expanse of private and public lands, nests are widely scattered and very challenging to locate and then monitor nesting success. Larry Rimer, the project manager for this study, has spent many long days in the field, traveling rutted, bumpy two-track dirt roads. One particularly challenging part of the study area is inaccessible even by 4WD, high clearance vehicle. It's an area where we know that there is raptor activity but were unable to definitively locate nests.
In early July, we reached out to
LightHawk Conservation Flying
, to request their help to possibly conduct an aerial survey of the study area to determine what we had missed on the ground and received an almost immediate response from Esther Duke, Western Program Manager, who helped to locate our volunteer pilot, Jim Grady, who happens to have a sweet little 1953 red and white Cessna 180. Many thanks to Audrey Ek-Psomas, who coordinated all the details for the flight. Many thank also to Chad Gaines of
for coordinating access and permissions to fly.
Thus it was that in mid-August three of us, Larry, Steve Elkins (photographer) and myself, set out from Double Eagle airport with Jim Grady to fly transects throughout the area. Seeing the landscape below from the air reinforces the majesty that is New Mexico, from the vibrant green forests of the highlands to the volcanic plugs scattered across the desert. If you notice the little green dots down below, those are the pinyon and juniper trees that might hold raptors nests while the rocky crags are home to eagles. Although it was late in the season, we did locate nests like the eagle nest shown here, as well as seeing Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, and Red-tailed Hawk in flight within their natal territories.
We hope to repeat this survey in the spring when females will be incubating and we also hope to utilize our new partnership with LightHawk for other research projects! Thank you, Steve Elkins for the amazing photography!
Meet Maggie Stein,
Education and Outreach Coordinator
My love for wildlife caught hold as I was growing up in northeast Georgia. I would spend my time sitting in our tree house, catching bugs and trying to befriend squirrels. I started taking riding lessons, and it was through horses and my time as a working student that I discovered my love for teaching.
I went on to attend school at Texas State University, where I was a member of the equestrian team and graduated with a geography degree focused on resource and environmental studies. Right after graduation, I worked at a children’s museum in Austin, TX as a lead educator. From there, I moved to coastal North Carolina and worked at Sound to Sea environmental program, where we taught kids about coastal environments through place-based learning. It was at this program that I had the privilege to work with raptors for the first time. After that, I moved back to Georgia to become a barn manager for White Flower Farm.
When not working, I can be found going on outdoor adventures with my dog, out at the barn, or melted into my couch. I am very excited to be joining the Hawks Aloft team and to learn more about New Mexico!
We are excited to welcome Maggie Stein to the Hawks Aloft Team as our education and outreach coordinator.
Maggie holds Jemez, our educational Mexican Spotted Owl.
The End of the Summer Field Season, by Trevor Fetz, Lead Avian Biologist
The end of August also brought the end of the summer field season for the Middle Rio Grande Songbird Study (MRGSS). The high flow levels in the Rio Grande during the first half of the field season made for very difficult survey conditions. Many of our sites were at least partially submerged throughout June, with some being inaccessible until early July and a handful inaccessible until mid-July. The wet conditions also resulted in greater than normal vegetation growth, which further hampered survey efforts (and increased mosquito loads). I am grateful for the hard work put in by all of the MRGSS summer surveyors: David Buckley, Greg Finkelberg, Gail Garber, Mike Hill and Raymond VanBuskirk. All of them had sites impacted by the high flow levels. And, although it was a challenge for us to complete all surveys by the end of August, we managed to finish everything on time.
August was an exciting month in the bosque, as fall migration was in full swing. Migrant warblers are always the most anticipated arrivals and numbers were particularly strong this past month. The timing of fall migrants arriving in the bosque is variable between years, and heavy warbler movements were relatively early this year and in much higher numbers than any recent years. Wilson's Warbler, Yellow Warbler, and MacGillivray's Warbler were the most common species. But, there also were good numbers of Virginia's Warbler and Orange-crowned Warbler and a few Townsend's Warblers. Wilson’s, MacGillivray’s, and Virginia’s Warblers are all New Mexico Avian Conservation Partners species of concern, so it was nice to see them moving through the bosque in relatively large numbers. My most interesting detections during August included Northern Parula, Nashville Warbler, and Black-throated Gray Warbler. This was the first time in more than five years that we have documented any of those three species during MRGSS surveys.
ellow Warbler image by Kristin Brown.
In two sessions:
Session one: 2:15-3:45pm
Session two: 4:30-6pm
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!
Meet the Dream Team
Kudos to this remarkable team that shows up every Monday morning (afternoons during the winter) to rake, scrub, poke, prod, and hose off all the detritus that our educational raptors and a few rehab birds scatter throughout their flight cages. And they do it with great cheer and wonderful spirit. The above photo was taken on Labor Day, one not normally associated with cleaning! Afterwards, we celebrated the arrival of Maggie Stein, our new education and outreach coordinator.
(L-R) Evelyn McGarry (East Mountain Representative), Arlette Miller (Raptor Rescue Dispatcher), Maggie Setin, Dianne Rosine, Sean Geary, Jack Klocek, Shawn Klocek and Mary Bruesh!
Thanks to you all!
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 6 spots remain!
Summer's End, by Greg Finkelberg, Field Technician
The end of August brings our summer songbird surveys to an end. While I love birding, I am happy to get a break from surveying 5-6 days per week, and eventually start birding for fun again.
August brought many of the migratory species back down from the mountains and, unlike earlier in the summer, most birds have stopped singing. This makes surveying even more challenging when several warbler species are migrating at the same time. Warblers are one of the more challenging bird groups to identify (in my personal experience), as they are small, quick, and typically occupy dense woody vegetation. Furthermore, they are only making single note “chip” noises right now, if they make any sound at all.
My personal favorite is the Wilson’s Warbler. They have a yellow underside like many of the local warbler species; however, the males have a characteristic black “hat” on top of their head. They have a relatively distinct call as well, so identifying Wilson’s Warblers is good practice for intermediate birders like myself. Some of the other migratory species I’ve been seeing this past month include Broad-tailed, Calliope, and Rufous hummingbirds, as well as certain sparrow species down at La Joya State Game Refuge.
Now that my summer position has concluded, I look forward to moving back to my hometown of Phoenix. This was truly a fantastic experience and I learned a great deal about southwestern songbirds. I hope to continue working with birds in the future.
Thank you Greg, for spending your summer with us counting birds and more birds. Good luck in all your future endeavors!
Wilson's Warbler image by Keith Bauer.
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.
The First Annual HAI Yard Sale: A Success! By Jill Morris, Office Manager
We were so busy, we neglected to get pictures of the actual sale which was held in our back parking lot on Friday and Saturday, August 23 and 24th.
Thank you SO much to all our donors! Items came from near and far. Our office was packed to the gills! Among many houseware items, Christmas items, toys, small appliances and décor, we also had a King bed frame, a twin bedroom set with dresser, bicycles, large shelving unit, and stereo system.
We had a good turn out and thanks to our tireless volunteers, Arlette M., Mary B., Patti S. & Rebecca E., all went smoothly and we made a profit of $800!
My husband, Clark deserves recognition for making and placing all the signs for the sale. Also, thank you to Southwest Productions for opening their warehouse to us and donating two truckloads of stuff and loaning us many tables.
Our poor office has made a full recovery and all the leftover items were donated to a women's shelter and Good Will.
As well as passing on useful items, and making some money, we were also able to tell our neighbors a little bit about who we are and what we do, so we were able to spread awareness as well...Yay!
Thank you all, and we'll see you at the next one!
Discover the Darien
& Canal Zone of Panama
with Hawks Aloft and Canopy Family!
November 9-18, 2019
This trip is full.
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
This month we feature the work of Keith Bauer, an Albuquerque photographer who enjoys getting out to find what nature has to offer. He’s an avid nature photographer, photographic instructor and workshop leader. His next workshop in South America will provide the participants an opportunity to see and photograph some of Chile’s amazing landscapes, culture and wildlife. To see more of his work visit
Keith will be helping photographers grow at the Birds of Prey workshop hosted by Hawks Aloft on October 19th. Be sure to sign up early as this popular event will fill quickly.
- Great Spangled Fritillary
- Moose, photographed in Grand Teton National Park. These two bulls were among a total of 18 in the same vicinity on the same day.
- Bald Eagle, photographed in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park.
- Blue Darter
- Female Black-chinned Hummingbird with back / rim light
Thank You to our August Donors!
Raptor Rescue Team
Our Veterinarians and Rehabilitators
Kariana Atkinson, DVM
Mary & Ed Chappelle
Linda Contos, DVM
Cottonwood Rehabilitation Center
Desert Willow Wildlife
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
Field Survey Teams
August 2019 Call Log & Intakes
Cooper's Hawk: Imprinted
Cooper's Hawk: DOA
Swainson's Hawk: DOA
Cooper's Hawk: Emaciation
Cooper's Hawk: Birdknapped
Northern Harrier: Emaciation
Western Screech Owl: DOA
Cooper's Hawk: Right wing fracture/emaciation
Cooper's Hawk: Left leg fracture
Cooper's Hawk: Hit by car
Cooper's Hawk: Right wing fracture
Cooper's Hawk: Right wing fracture
Cooper's Hawk: Hit window
Swainson's Hawk: Illness (Trichomonas)
Cooper's Hawk: Hit window
Swainson's Hawk: Hit by car
Cooper's Hawk: Emaciated
Common Raven: Right wing fracture
Swainson's Hawk: Hit by car
Swainson's Hawk: Emaciation
Cooper's Hawk: Leg injury/emaciation
Cooper's Hawk: Shoulder girdle fracture
Golden Eagle: Unknown
Common Nighthawk: Right wing fracture
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
6715 Eagle Rock Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113
Who We Are
Lead Avian Biologist
Project Manager, Taos Gorge Raptor Study Coordinator
, East Mountain Representative
, Raptor Rescue Dispatcher
Raptor Rescue Coordinator
Maggie Stein, Education and Outreach Coordinator
Raymond Van Buskirk
, Avian Surveyor
Our Board of Directors