Hawks Aloft Inc.
PO Box 10028
Albuquerque, NM 87184
Phone: 505 828-9455
Fax: 505 828-9769
E-Mail: gail@hawksaloft.org

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Hawks Aloft Blog

Blog Topic: Birding tours

Monte Vista Festival of the Crane 2013

Education birds on display at the Monte Vista Festival of the Cranes 2013

Education birds on display at the Monte Vista Festival of the Cranes 2013

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the lack of posts the past three months!  Our website was attacked by malware and it took a Herculean effort to rid the pest from our website.  Don’t worry, you were not in danger of contagion!   Thanks to Michele Hymel, Eugene Rooney, Rick Valles, and the services of Sucuri Monitoring Systems for all their work.  All of our sites are now monitoring regularly and offensive material removed immediately. 

One of our most favored events is the Festival of the Cranes in Monte Vista, Colorado in the heart of the San Luis Valley.  The National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding open fields provide critical stopover habitat for cranes on their spring and fall migrations.  And, each year on the second weekend in March, we bring a cadre of our educational ambassadors to display at the sumptuous space that they provide for us. It is only here, where we are the only bird group, that we have the luxury of displaying 10 or more birds at one time.

Big birds all lined up!  Ferruginous Hawk, ruphous morph Red-tailed Hawk, Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk, and Rough-legged Hawk.

Big birds all lined up! Ferruginous Hawk, ruphous morph Red-tailed Hawk, Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk, and Rough-legged Hawk.

The other wonderful thing about all this space is that even our more nervous birds sit calmly atop their display boxes because there is adequate distance  between them and the viewers.  Most of them are happy to perch all day long in this indoor environment.

Harlan, our Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk made his debut at this event in 2013.

Harlan, our Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk made his debut at this event in 2013.  Image by Mike Quaintance.

During the summer of 2012, we were thrilled to receive a non-releasable Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk from the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, OR.  Already an adult when he was injured, this event is perfect for the nervous fellow.  Harlan’s Hawks are mostly found nesting in the far north and are generally only found this far south during the winter months.  They are classified as a subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk although there is controversy over this matter and some people believe they should be elevated to a full and separate species.

Quemado, our light-morph Red-tailed Hawk was injured when he contacted live electric lines as a juvenile.  He is one of only a handful of birds to survive this type of injury.

Quemado, our light-morph Red-tailed Hawk, was injured when he contacted live electric lines as a juvenile. He is one of only a handful of birds to survive this type of injury.  Image by Mike Quaintance.

Perhaps it was the electrical current that coursed through his body, resulting in the loss of his left wingtip and a toe on his right foot, that makes Quemado (which means burned in Spanish) so nervous.  This beautiful male Red-tailed Hawk WILL NOT sit on a gloved hand for any reason. However, in this arena and many others, he sits contentedly all day long.

Ferrug, our 16 year old male Ferruginous Hawk, is another one of our nervous Nellie types.

Ferrug, our 16 year old male Ferruginous Hawk, is another one of our nervous Nellie types.  Image by Mike Quaintance.

He was found on Rowe Mesa, near Santa Fe New Mexico, alongside a dirt road.  He had suffered a broken wing that was not repairable.  We have never solved the mystery of how it came to be that our Ferrug was struck by one vehicle on a small, two-track rural road where it’s not easy to travel more than 25 MPH and then rescued by another.  He’s not talking either!  A valued member of our education team, he is the only educational  Ferruginous Hawk in New Mexico that we know of.

The Hawks Aloft Team (l-r): Gena Esposito, Education and Outreach Coordinator, Chuck Brandt, co-founder and volunteer, Chellye Porter, volunteer, Lizzie Roberts, educator, Maurice Mackey, volunteer, and Erin Greenlee, Ornithologist.

The Hawks Aloft Team (l-r): Gena Esposito, Education and Outreach Coordinator, Chuck Brandt, co-founder and volunteer, Chellye Porter, volunteer, Lizzie Roberts, educator, Maurice Mackey, volunteer, and Erin Greenlee, Ornithologist.

Here are the human members of our 2013 Monte Vista Crane Festival Team and some of our smaller educational ambassadors (l-r),  female American Kestrel, Burrowing Owl and Eastern Screech-Owl.  Not shown are Ty Sutherland and Mariah Oeser, who drove up early Saturday morning in a snowstorm and then drove back home on snow and icy roads  on Sunday morning. We couldn’t do it without you guys!

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

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Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

As the first rays of the sun crest the hills to the east, Sandhill Cranes and light geese (Snow Goose and Ross’ Goose) burst into flight.  Perhaps a hunting Bald Eagle is within their view, or maybe they just decided to move to feeding grounds at the same time.  The cranes arrive along the Middle Rio Grande and at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge  in October and stay as late as March.  The wildlife viewing during this time is unparalleled.

Image by Keith Bauer

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Return of the Sandhill Crane and a Festival too!

Sandhill Crane. Image by Doug Brown

You can hear them long before you can see them.  Here in New Mexico, their cacophony heralds the onset of autumn.

Sandhill Crane, image by David Powell

Thousands of these special birds winter along the river in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. It is common to see them anywhere between Bernalillo and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

Sandhill Crane image by Doug Brown

Bosque del Apache NWR holds their annual Festival of the Cranes from November 11-18, 2012.  Each day of the event features tours, presentations, and a wealth of knowledge of local birds, but also interesting subjects such as New Mexico geology, historic sites and much more.  It all wraps up on the weekend of November 17 and 18, with several booths and an art show at the refuge.

Sandhill Crane image by Doug Brown

Perhaps, if you are lucky, you will be able to view some amazing behaviors by the incredible cranes.  Hawks Aloft is presenting talks and tours Tuesday-Friday and will have an outreach booth on Saturday and Sunday.  We also will staff one of the observation decks at the refuge on those days!  Please join us!

 

 

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Red-billed Gull

Red-billed Gull © Charles Cummings
No reproduction of any kind without written permission.

Red-billed gull or tarāpunga (Larus novaehollandiae)

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Variable Oystercatcher

Variable Oystercatcher © Charles Cummings
No reproduction of any kind without written permission.

This variable oystercatcher/tōrea-pango (Haematopus unicolor) was photographed on Stewart Island, New Zealand. More on oystercatchers. Chatham Island oystercatchers.

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Fiordland Crested Penguin

Fiordland Crested Penguin © Charles Cummings
No reproduction of any kind without written permission.

Fiordland crested penguin/tawaki (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus)

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Stitchbird

Stitchbird © Charles Cummings
No reproduction of any kind without written permission.

Stitchbird or hihi in Maori (Notiomystis cincta) is one of the rarest birds in New Zealand. And, one of the birders on the Hawks Aloft tour captured this shot!

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Sirocco, the famous kākāpō

Sirocco, the famous kākāpō © Gail Garber
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Sirocco, the famous human-imprinted kākāpō (Strigops habroptila), seen at Zealandia by the Hawks Aloft bird tour. Sirocco is now the champion bird for the New Zealand Kakapo Recovery program and a conservation superstar with his own Facebook page and Twitter feed.

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Young kākā at Zealandia

Young kākā at Zealandia - © Gail Garber
No reproduction of any kind without written permission.

The Hawks Aloft birders saw this young kākā at a feeder. The kākā (Nestor meridionalis) is a large parrot belonging to the nestorinae family.

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Southern or Australasian Gannet

Southern or Australasian Gannet - © Gail Garber
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Australasian Gannet or Tākapu (Morus serrator)
More here.

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