The Monte Vista Crane Festival is the only event where we have such a generous booth space where we can perch most of our birds atop their travel boxes. A few years ago we discovered that the larger hawks, along with Beauty the Turkey Vulture, preferred to perch together in the middle of our large space, almost as if they'd formed a little "bird club" of their own. One of the most humorous sights was seeing Beauty trying to "sun" herself under the bright lights overhead. It's hard to explain to a vulture that bright light is not the same as sunlight. Photos by Gail Garber.
Hawks Aloft, Inc.
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Hawks Aloft, Inc.
Hawks Aloft, Inc.
(Redtail and Swainsons Hawks in the back).
Hawks Aloft, Inc.
This guy had so much personality! 😁🦉💜
Hawks Aloft works to conserve indigenous wild birds through conservation education, avian research, and raptor rescue. Hawks Aloft, Inc.
- The Santa Fe Railyard concert series wraps up tonight with Eli Paperboy Reed and JJ and the Hooligans
- Start your day tomorrow (Saturday) at the City of Albuquerque Open Space Neighborhood Nature Festival, jamming with Recycleman, Big Daddy, Pop Fizz, Hawks Aloft, Inc. and more, from 9 to noon in Phil Chacon Park
- Enjoy the final Santa Fe Railyard movie with an early screening of Dune (starting at 7 pm) on Saturday night
Plus we have two sold out concerts on Sunday with from Steve Earle & The Dukes at the Lensic Performing Arts Center and Chris Dracup:Funk of the West and The chill House Band with Hillary Smith
Info on all our shows can be found at http://www.ampconcerts.org
This month will also feature music from Lara Manzanares from 10:30 to 11:30 am.
Come explore a new part of town, enjoy some free paletas and we'll point you to some great neighborhood places for lunch :)
Join Hawks Aloft, Inc.'s conservation education team manage their “Living with the Landscape” education program, a school-year-long program that serves every student and teacher in participating low-income schools in the Albuquerque area. The program includes classroom presentations that focuses on conservation issues, such as watershed management, habitat fragmentation, and fire ecology. https://ecojobs.com/job/hawks-aloft-inc-albuquerque-nm-education-and-outreach-coordinator/
🌿 Learn more about this position & find more green job opportunities on Ecojobs.com! 🌿
➡️ HIRING? Share your jobs with us: Ecojobs.com/post-a-job/ ⬅️
Hawks Aloft, Inc. works to preserve New Mexico’s wildlife and unique landscapes for many generations to come. With their Living with the Landscape program, funded by Nusenda's Community Rewards, fifth grade students at Lew Wallace and Kit Carson elementary schools, worked in teams to build bird houses that were installed on their school grounds. Students also undertook school beautification projects, planting perennials, herbs and flowering bulbs, creating pollinator gardens. As the finale, PNM Line Crews came out to these two schools and hung American Kestrel or Western Screech-Owl nest boxes on utility poles at the school.
"Thank you for funding this incredible program. We couldn't do it without your help." - Gail Garber, Executive Director at
Hawks Aloft, Inc.
Learn more about our community impact at nusendafoundation.org/community-rewards.
Guidestar (now Candid) is one of the industry leaders in gathering information about non-profit organizations and communicating to donors that a non-profit is established and is in good financial standing. We are excited to share that Hawks Aloft has earned the 2022 Platinum Seal of Transparency. You can support our work in conservation, education, and raptor rescue with trust and confidence. You can view our Candid non-profit profile here: https://www.guidestar.org/profile/85-0418661
Hawks Aloft works to conserve indigenous wild birds through conservation education, avian research, raptor rescue and collaboration with others.
Hawks Aloft is a non-profit corporation based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our initial work was primarily raptor education, and that work continues to this day, an essential component of our mission. We also conduct avian research and monitoring throughout the state and actively work to protect wildlife and their habitats. In addition to our staff of scientists and educators, we rely on our many vounteers, all working together for avian conservation.
Operating as usual
Our Avian Ambassadors are always the biggest hit at the Monte Vista Crane Festival. Each is permanently non-releasable due to some injury that will never heal well enough for survival in the wild. Shown here are Taken, the human-imprinted Swainson's Hawk, Azulito (Little Blue), the American Kestrel with a wing injury, and Dulcita, the Great Horned Owl with a vestibular injury that makes her a little "off-balance." Photos by Renee Robillard and Gail Garber.
Of course, for us humans that staff the outreach booth at the Monte Vista Crane Festival, one of the real treats is sharing our hotel rooms with the Avian Ambassadors of Hawks Aloft. Shown here are Harlan the Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk, Lilla the Western (Calurus) Red-tailed Hawk and Idaho, the rufous-morph Swainson's Hawk, perched on top of their travel boxes in the room I shared with Chellye Porter.
Suddenly, every single bird - Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese, Mallards, and Pintail Ducks - took flight just as the storm closed in. I looked up to see ... an adult Bald Eagle high above! But, it appeared that he/she didn't catch dinner while we watched.
Can you see me? Great Horned Owls, with their masterful camouflage, are so well hidden on the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge that one of our first tasks on arrival is to scout out historic locations in hopes of finding an active nest. This year, we were lucky to locate three different nests, all of them on the refuge. But unless you were in the right place at the right time, you might never have seen them. Photos by Gail Garber.
It had been three years since we last participated in the Vista Crane Festival. We were there in 2020 when we first heard of a strange new virus, with little idea of how it would turn our world upside down. This is our all-time favorite event, due in large part to the wonderful people that visit our booth and to the very warm welcome from the community. Thank you Robillard for these photos.
Several of you correctly guessed the ID on the feathers post yesterday. It was indeed, a Barn Owl, or more correctly, our Barn Owl Avian Ambassador, Celeste, so named because of the highly nocturnal nature of this species. Barn Owls can hunt in near total darkness, using their hearing to triangulate the location of their prey. Another cool fact about Barn Owls is that the pellets they cast (with undigestable prey remains) are coated with a black gelatinous substance unlike all other raptors. Thank you Larry Rimer for this photo.
Good Morning Friends! Who Am I?
Once the breeding and nesting cycle is completed, the Belted Kingfisher pair separates, and each parent spends the rest of the year alone. In the next breeding season, they will choose a new mate to parent young with. Next time you make a trip to a lake, pond, or other open body of water, make sure to keep an eye out (and an ear open) for Belted Kingfishers!
Thank you, Doug Brown Photography , for the photo.
We are looking for donated pine cones for one of our conservation projects for elementary schools. They will be used to make pine cone bird feeders with peanut butter and bird seed. Please contact us if you have a yard full of pinecones that need to be collected. Or, if you would like to drop them off at our office, please call 505-828-9455! Thanks so much!
Juvenile Belted Kingfishers stay with their parents for approximately three weeks after fledging. The parents continue to feed their young while teaching them to fish for themselves. Juveniles are taught to fly, dive, and even hover over a body of water looking for their next meal.
Thank you, Doug Brown Photography, for the photo.
Young Belted Kingfishers have strong stomach acids that allow them to digest the bones and scales of their prey. When the young reach adulthood, the chemistry of those acids changes so that they can produce pellets. Scientists dissect the pellets to get an accurate picture of what the species is eating.
Thank you Alan Murphy Photography for the photo.
Belted Kingfishers make their nests on the banks of a waterway close to their territory. The nest has a room at the end of a tunnel that can be up to 8 feet long. The tunnel angles upward to prevent water from touching either their eggs or their young. The male and female kingfishers work together to construct this marvel.
Thank you, Tony Giancola, for the photo.
Once they’ve caught their prey, often fish, they perch on a branch and hit the fish repeatedly on it to subdue it. Then, they swallow the unfortunate victim whole. If the fish is larger than the kingfisher’s body, it will swallow it halfway and let its stomach acids break it down, before swallowing the other half.
Thank you, Doug Brown, for the photo.
Expert divers, Belted Kingfishers have several adaptations that help them navigate the water. When diving headfirst, their long, slender bill breaks the surface tension of the water before their bullet-like body. They have a translucent nictating membrane that protects their eyes from debris when under the water. They also have two foveae, the area where sight is sharpest, in their eyes. One is better adapted to sight above the water and the other is superior under the surface.
Thank you, Alan Murphy Photography, for the photo.
Unlike the majority of bird species, Belted Kingfisher females, pictured here, are more ornamental than the males. The females have the characteristic reddish brown “belt” under their chests. A possible explanation might be that when males are defending territories if they see the chestnut band they will know not to attack.
Thank you, Doug Brown, for the photo.
Mama Great Horned Owl has been sitting on this nest since the end of January. Are there babies under her that she is keeping hidden?
When walking near a lake or pond in North America, you will probably hear the Belted Kingfisher before you see it. A cousin of the Australian Kookaburra, they have a loud, rattling call that is unique to the Kingfisher family group. They are often perched high in a tree, watching and waiting above the water to dive for their prey.
Thank you, Doug Brown, for the photo.
Way too cute! That is all. Thank you, Larry Rimer, for this partial headshot of a fledgling Great Horned Owl.
It’s getting to be that time of year! Our Raptor Rescue team recently took a call from a staffer at Los Lunas Open Space, where local firemen had just delivered a little owl that had been found hopping around on the ground and being harassed by crows. The baby didn’t seem to be injured—just fallen (or blown) out of its nest. Rescue dispatcher Evelyn McGarry advised the firemen to re-nest him if possible, or relocate him to a nearby tree. With any luck, this little Great Horned Owlet has been reunited with his parents and siblings and will be better prepared for his next trip out of the nest!
Proud foster mom Dulcita poses with another of her success stories. This big kid came to Hawks Aloft on April 3, 2020 as a tiny, fluffy nestling. By May 7 it was beginning to explore its surroundings and digging into the frozen-and-thawed mice that landed on the ledge in its mews, courtesy of its human caregiver Lisa Morgan. Eventually, and with a little more maturity, the now-fledgling moved up to “mouse school,” where it could learn to hunt while honing its flight skills in a much bigger flight cage!
Not all babies make it to adulthood without outside help. Back in 2019, the Great Horned Owlet on the left was found in southern New Mexico and taken to the Alameda Park Zoo in Alamogordo, where staffers notified Hawks Aloft via our Raptor Rescue hotline. Our volunteers transported the baby to rehabber Lisa Morgan, who placed him with our devoted foster mom Dulcita--herself a beneficiary of our rescue program! Like all of our Avian Ambassadors, Dulcita is non-releasable due to a permanent injury. As you can see from our photo, she has poor balance (and poor spatial awareness as well), resulting from a car strike. Happily for us all, this does not disqualify her from a job that she loves: fostering rescued babies and raising them to maturity and, we hope, eventual release.
These two youngsters look just about ready to fledge, if they haven’t done so already. And no, this is not some rare color-morph of Great Horned Owl—but isn’t the lighting lovely? Thank you, David Powell, for the photo.
Daring the photographer to point that oversized gadget at him? This youngster is in full defensive posture, trying to impress on his human adversary that he is big and tough and not going to take it! Young Great Horned Owls don’t always wait till they’re ready to fly before leaving the nest; in fact, they may be on the ground at two weeks of age. Their parents needn’t worry; the babies are already adept at climbing and can get themselves back up into the nest tree to be fed. Thank you, Larry Rimer, for the photo.
Daring the photographer to point that oversized gadget at him? This youngster is in full defensive posture, trying to impress on his human adversary that he is big and tough and not going to take it! Young Great Horned Owls don’t always wait till they’re ready to fly before leaving the nest; in fact, they may be on the ground at two weeks of age. Their parents needn’t worry; the babies are already expert climbers and can get themselves back up into the nest tree to be fed. Thank you, Larry Rimer, for the photo.
Three new Great Horned Owl mouths to feed on the Albuquerque Academy campus! Mom—or Dad—is focusing on the two younger nestlings, still blind and helpless with their upturned slate-gray bills and pink gapes. Their older sibling appears to be looking forward to fledging: there’s still a fair amount of natal down to lose, but notice the beginnings of ear tufts and rictal bristles (specialized facial feathers that serve as sensory organs), along with its grown-up black bill. Thank you, Doug Brown Photography , for the photo.
From the field:
Nothing like a Western Bluebird to brighten up a cloudy day. Thanks Nate Gowan for this photo from the Willow Creek Open Space in Rio Rancho.
Just last year, this was a failed Common Raven nest. Our photographer, having noted this year that it would be a perfect nesting spot for Great Horned Owls, walked cautiously around the nest tree to see if anyone might have moved in. The only giveaway was a slight movement of tail feathers, viewed through binoculars. Talk about camouflage! Thank you, Nate Gowan, for the photo.
Cavity-nest options also include human-built structures such as abandoned buildings, of which this appears to be an example. For something closer to home, you might want to consider putting up a nest box! This will require some planning so that you’ll be able to attract a mated pair in time for the breeding season. You will find helpful information on the “NestWatch” website from the Cornell Laboratories of Ornithology. Thank you, David Powell, for the photo.
Yet another gunshot victim from Valencia County! This beautiful adult Red-tailed Hawk was shot, not once but twice with two different guns! Amazingly she has survived so far although her ultimate release is uncertain. How do we know that? Two very different shells were removed from her body! Thank you Carol Jeanne for these photos, and thank you Christine Fiorello, Linda Contos and Acequia Animal Hospital for her care!
Hollow trees are not the only options for cavity nesting. While Great Horned Owls generally prefer stick nests—especially ready-made ones found in trees and appropriated from other species—they may also settle down in a small cave or on a cliff ledge. Absent any evidence of stick-nest construction, we might venture a guess that one of the parent birds has created a scrape nest on the ledge, possibly lining it with available plant material, soft fur or feathers from their prey, or even trampled pellets! Thank you, Doug Brown Photography, for the photo.
Great Horned Owls are not overly particular when choosing a nest site. They’re secondary nest users; i.e., they may take over an existing, and not necessarily abandoned, nest built by another species—avian or mammalian! This lucky female and her mate probably didn’t have to evict any prior tenants from this camouflage-providing nest site in Corrales, NM, where they took over a cozy cavity in a broken-off cottonwood trunk about five years ago. She has been incubating this year’s clutch since January 31. Thank you, Gail Garber, for the photo.
As with the so-called “eared” owls, natural selection has provided the Great Horned Owl with a repertoire of visual-communication strategies. By raising and lowering their “ear tufts,” owl pairs or families may be better able to keep track of one another in dense woodlands; tufts can also give notice that the bird is not to be trifled with. Small wonder, perhaps, that the Great Horned Owl is called “Búho real” (royal owl) in at least one dialect of Mexican Spanish, and “Grand duc d’Amérique” in French!
While “ear tufts” is known to be a misnomer, it’s also been suggested that the tufts may enhance the owl’s acuteness of hearing by increasing the sound-reflecting surface that consists largely of its facial disk. Thank you, Larry Rimer, for the photo.
If this Great Horned Owl were to scoot over and stand against the trunk of the cottonwood, it might become invisible—or at least harder to discern, as its plumage is adapted to mimic color and texture of the cottonwood’s bark. Natural selection thinks of everything! Thank you, Larry Rimer, for the photo.
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