Hawks Aloft works to conserve indigenous wild birds through avian research, education & cooperation with others. We are based in Albuquerque, NM.
www.hawksaloft.org 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
So, who is this masked bird? Meet the Hooded Oriole, whose English name refers to the male’s head and neck plumage that ranges from bold orange—not unlike that of the male Bullock’s and Baltimore Orioles—to bright yellow. Fun fact: this neotropical migrant’s Spanish name is “Turpial Enmascarado,” or, alternatively, “turpial de garganta negra”—“black-throated oriole.” Fun fact #2: Venezuela’s national bird, the Venezuelan Troupial, looks quite similar to our Hooded Oriole but sports a full black hood!
Hooded Orioles winter in southern Mexico and Guatemala; their breeding range covers parts of the southwestern U.S. including the “Boot-heel” of New Mexico. Thank you Nate Gowan for the photo.
Catching some rays with his solar panel! Do you have a Greater Roadrunner that frequents your back yard?
The female Bullock’s Oriole’s colors are somewhat subdued compared to the male’s, although she’s an even more prolific singer than he, especially near their nest site. She selects the nest site, not necessarily within her mate’s advertising territory, and does most of the work of weaving the gourd-shaped nest. The male may help out by bringing fibrous building materials such as hair, twine, grasses, and wool, followed by soft feathers and cottonwood or willow “cotton” with which they'll line the inside of the nest. The finished nest will hang from a high branch that's too flexible for a predator to attempt a landing. Thank you Alan Murphy for the photo.
Such a beautiful Mississippi Kite. He survived his round trip migration to Central America, and had returned to his nesting grounds Valencia Country along with his mate. They almost certainly had already begun nesting. But as he flew over Tome, New Mexico, someone shot him in the right wing, shattering his ulna. His mate will no longer have his support and their 2022 nest will fail, producing no young this year. Stupid, stupid People! Shooting a bird that only eats insects!
Thank you Chellye Porter for your excellent nursing and Dr. Ray Hudgell of Petroglyph Animal Hospital for letting him sleep forever, no longer in pain.
This male Bullock’s Oriole is posing nicely for our photographer—for the moment at least. But if a caterpillar happened to be crawling along a nearby branch, the bird just might be hanging upside down to catch it—perhaps as a flamboyant display in keeping with his flame-orange plumage. That brilliant plumage is characteristic of the various neotropical migrant species that may be showing up in your yard and, possibly, raiding your hummingbird feeders. Besides insects, Bullock’s Orioles feed on fruit and nectar (natural and human-prepared); you may be able to attract them to your backyard by putting out orange halves topped with jelly. Having migrated to their breeding grounds in the western U.S. from the New World tropics, they’re sure to be in search of energy-rich sugars. Away from your backyard, they can be seen—and heard—in open riparian woodlands, especially where cottonwoods are plentiful. Both sexes sing, alternately whistling and chattering. Thank you Alan Murphy for the photo.
You might very well encounter one of these handsome little blackbirds at your hummingbird feeder! Meet the Scott’s Oriole, who feeds on fruit, insects, and even small lizards as well as natural and human-prepared nectar. These birds breed in parts of the southwestern U.S and northern Mexico; some will have wintered as far south as Oaxaca, where they feast on Monarch butterflies. Watch this space in the coming days as we feature more Oriole species and other neotropic migrants: birds that migrate to their breeding grounds from the New World tropic zone in southern Mexico, Central America, and South America. Thank you Larry Rimer for the photo.
We just love our avian ambassadors! Beauty, the Turkey Vulture, and Idaho, the Swainson's Hawk, have been cagemates for several years, getting along well. What would you write as a caption for this photo?
Meanwhile, the Golden Eagle chick is growing up out in McKinley County where Larry Rimer monitors these nests. This photo was taken from a distance so as to not unduly disturb them.
Live mealworms make a great snack for your backyard birds, like this Curve-billed Thrasher with an offering for their fledgling of this year. Economical prices for mealworms can be found at Rainbow Mealworms. I buy 5000 at a time, for $22, and then keep them in a tub with wheat bran in my refrigerator.
Watershed Conservation Awareness:
Pictured here are 5th graders at Kit Carson Elementary School learning about the importance of our watershed through our Living with the Landscape (LWL) program. LWL connects children to the wonders of the natural world through in-class presentations of birds of prey, conservation projects, hands-on activities, and year-end field trips. We are now accepting applications for the 2022-2023 school year. For more information email [email protected]. Thank you to our amazing sponsors that make this programming possible: PNM Resources Foundation, Nusenda Foundation, Albuquerque Community Foundation and McCaughin Mountain Family Foundation.
Check out these students at Kit Carson Elementary School, who had an awesome time building and painting birdhouses to place around school grounds for small cavity nesting birds like sparrows, finches and wrens! This activity is part of our Living with the Landscape (LWL) education program! We are now accepting applications for next year's LWL program, which connects children to the wonders of the natural world through in-class presentations of birds of prey, conservation projects, hands-on activities, and year-end field trips. Applications for the 2022-2023 school year are due June 15th. For more information email [email protected] you to our amazing sponsors that make this programming possible: PNM Resources Foundation, Nusenda Foundation, Albuquerque Community Foundation and McCaughin Mountain Family Foundation.
Black-chinned Hummingbirds nest in the smallest of spaces. In fact, their tiny nests securely snuggle the two eggs (normal clutch size) in a nest of fine grasses and spider web silk. This ingenious building material allows the nest to grow as the babies grow.
This is an amazing story - Read through to the end.
Students were thrilled to make and decorate bird houses at Emerson Elementary School last week. While the birdhouses were being assembled, our educators discussed our past visits with the students. We were impressed by the amount of knowledge the students had retained about Raptors and why they are important for our ecosystem! Way to go, Emerson students and shout out to our sponsors that make this possible: PNM Resources Foundation, Nusenda Foundation, Albuquerque Community Foundation and
McCaughin Mountain Family Foundation. Thank you!
Kit Carson Elementary School nest box installation:
As we near the end of the school year, our 4th and 5th grade students continue their conservation projects with our Living with the Landscape program. Students had the opportunity to sign this nest box that was installed by PNM’s line crew @https://www.facebook.com/PNMelectric.
Students can now enjoy viewing this nest box from their campus, and hopefully a cavity nesting raptor will utilize it next year! This is made possible through our sponsorship with: PNM Resources Foundation, Nusenda Foundation, Albuquerque Community Foundation and McCaughin Mountain Family Foundation. Thank you!
Making Pine Cone Bird Feeders:
This past school semester, the Hawks Aloft education team had the honor of being invited to participate in Emerson Elementary School's Genius Hour. Genius Hour comes at the end of each school day and is a program that allows students to choose STEAM activities that suit their interests and goals. This week we made biodegradable pine cone bird feeders that the kids took home in order to encourage birds to visit their yard! Thank you to our sponsors for making this possible: PNM Resources Foundation, Nusenda Foundation, Albuquerque Community Foundation and McCaughin Mountain Family Foundation!
We are proud to offer Living with the Landscape, our flagship education program, to Title-1 elementary schools in the Albuquerque area completely free of charge. This year-long program connects children to the wonders of the natural world through in-class presentations of birds of prey, conservation projects, hands-on activities, and year-end field trips. Every grade level at the schools selected through our application process receives a minimum of two classroom visits from Hawks Aloft educators and our live education birds. These classroom visits are aligned to help meet New Mexico science standards.
Applications for the 2022-2023 school year are due June 15th. Applications can be returned in a word document or PDF format to [email protected].
Described by 19th-century ornithologist Alexander Wilson as “vigorous-winged” in contrast to other large raptors that need to conserve energy, Ospreys will soar on thermals when they can, but are less dependent on these columns of warm air than eagles or buteo (soaring) hawks. In direct flight their wingbeats are slow, stiff and shallow—“almost mechanical” according to ornithologist Pete Dunne—and interspersed with brief glides. They’ve been known to fly as late as nightfall, after the more thermal-dependent raptors have gone to roost.
Our photographer has captured this Osprey in a glide, with its wings bowed—i.e., bent at the wrist in a pronounced “M” shape—appearing less like a small eagle and more like a giant gull. Thank you Doug Brown for the photo.
Parent and child. A female Osprey will lay up to four eggs in a given nesting season; as with all raptors, some degree of chick mortality is practically inevitable. The youngster on the right—possibly a sole survivor or, more optimistically, just the last to fledge—is easily identifiable as a juvenile by the orange irises of its eyes in contrast to the yellow irises of the adults, along with its white-tipped dorsal feathers and buffy underside. You can see the parent bird’s solid brown upperwings as well as the brown streaking on its chest (you may want to zoom in on the photo). Because this streaking is heavier in females than in males, it's a fairly safe guess that we’re looking at the mother bird. Thank you Doug Brown for the photo.
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