Jul 142013

Bear Canyon Arroyo would seem an ideal wildlife corridor between the Sandias and Rio Grande.

» State should move in to help black bear survive in Sandias | ABQ Journal By Harrison H. Schmitt / Former U.S. Senator on Sun, Jul 14, 2013

For thousands of years, bears could migrate from the Sandias into the Rio Grande valley for water and alternate food sources.

Today, when bears try to do this, they find our homes, commerce, fences and streets between the mountains and the river. The bears also encounter excited, unprepared homeowners.

Some residents contact wildlife officials to remove the bears, unknowingly giving a possible death sentence to these hungry and thirsty foragers.

The remarkable black bear, prominent figure of Native American lore, is a tri-athlete in its own right. These animals can turn on a dime and run at incredible speeds, climb trees with little exertion and swim effortlessly in lakes and rivers. The giant paws can carry its large mass silently through the night with little or no trace. …

As a friend pointed out, “The state that saved Smokey Bear should now come to the rescue of his relatives.”

I live at the base of the Sandias at the edge of Black Bear country. Our family wants the state animal to stay healthy and survive for coming generations. New Mexicans will have heavy hearts if the Sandia Mountain black bear population disappears due to inaction and lack of perspective and common sense.

The governor and other state officials need to act and act quickly. Time is running out for the bears.

» State should move in to help black bear survive in Sandias | ABQ Journal

 Posted by at 8:39 am
Jun 012013

We camped near Santa Fe in a great little campground near the bottom of the ski basin road. Black Canyon CG has paved sites with great separation, clean outhouses, no hook-ups. It’s barely an hour from Albuquerque and near 8500 feet. There is a good trail out out of the campground and another to Hyde Park CG. There were lots of birds, lots of hummingbirds, even one magnificent hummingbird (twice the size of more common hummingbirds). See 20 photos.

our camper rig in site #14

hanging out at camp


Black Canyon Park Service webpage

CG details, site map, and reservations

 Posted by at 7:32 pm
Apr 102013

You should read the entire blog entry, which strengthens my conviction that this pipeline — and the strip-mining that goes with it — must be stopped. Canada, how could you even consider this? peace, mjh

10,000 Birds | What does the Keystone XL Pipeline have to do with Birds?

All four major flyways in North America — the aerial migration routes traveled by billions of birds each year — converge in one spot in Canada’s boreal forest, the Peace-Athabasca Delta in northeastern Alberta.  More than 1 million birds, including tundra swans, snow geese and countless ducks, stop to rest and gather strength in these undisturbed wetlands each autumn.  For many waterfowl, this area is their only nesting ground2.

Birds and Tars Sands Oil Map

About three billion birds fly north to the Boreal Forest each spring to build nests and lay eggs. These birds arrive in the Boreal Forest after spending the winter in South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States. From the Boreal Forest Fact Sheet:

  • 325 bird species – that’s almost half of all the bird species in North America! – depend on the Boreal Forest.
  • About 3 billion of North America’s landbirds, 26 million of its waterfowl, and 7 million of its shorebirds breed here.
  • There are nearly 100 species of which 50% or more of the entire population breeds in the Boreal Forest.
  • Up to 5 billion birds – adults and their new babies – migrate south from the Boreal Forest each fall.

Back in 2008, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) wrote a report titled “Danger in the Nursery: Impact on Birds of Tar Sands Oil Development in Canada’s Boreal Forest” which covers various ways tar sand development affects bird populations including:

  • Habitat loss
  • Trailings ponds and oiled birds
  • Fragmentation of habitat from drilling
  • Water withdrawals
  • Air and water toxins
  • High emissions and climate change

10,000 Birds | What does the Keystone XL Pipeline have to do with Birds?

 Posted by at 1:03 pm
Mar 132013

Monarchs are on the move, but not yet en masse. We saw our first mourning cloak and cabbage white of the season today in Albuquerque. peace, mjh

Monarch Butterfly Migration Update | Journey North News

Population at Record Low
Mexican officials announced on Thursday that this winter’s population hit a record-low, with butterflies covering only 1.19 hectares. There were twice as many monarchs last year.

Monarch Butterfly Migration Update | Journey North News

 Posted by at 11:09 pm
Mar 052013

If you’re in the market for a photographic birding guide, check out the new guides from Lillian and Don Stokes.

I have The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America put out a few years ago. I like it a lot, although I was slightly disappointed that those photos aren’t nearly as dramatic as photos you’ll see on the Stokes blog. That may be different in the new guides. Be aware that there is an older version of the Western guide you don’t want — get the 2013 versions. peace, mjh 

To see the quality of Lillian Stokes’ photos, start by looking at the photos at the following link:

STOKES BIRDING BLOG: Swallow-tailed Kites have returned!

Then, check out:

Birding Is Fun!: The 10 Most Beautiful Birds

Finally, see the very detailed review of the books at the following link.

10,000 Birds | The New Stokes Field Guides to Birds, Eastern Region & Western Region: A Review of Two Books

I think these field guides will be a valuable asset to many birders’ field kits and libraries, especially if they have not yet invested in a photographic guide. Beginning and intermediate birders will find the abundance of clear, well-printed photographs of male and female birds, juvenile and adult, perched and flying, extremely helpful in the field, and the emphasis on shape a good teaching tool….

10,000 Birds | The New Stokes Field Guides to Birds, Eastern Region & Western Region: A Review of Two Books

 Posted by at 11:01 am
Feb 272013

We knew others feed roadrunners. A neighbor feeds Spam or Vienna wieners to his pair, who could be Spike’s parents. They nest as close to his door as they can get and don’t roam far. Another neighbor fed “her” roadrunners raw chicken. But, we assumed we were the only ones foolish enough to pay for mice to feed to roadrunners — until we met Sam at Hawks Aloft. She has been feeding roadrunners for over 15 years. She believes Hot Lips, the crossbilled roadrunner, was over 20 years old. Roady lost a big part of his upper bill over 5 years ago, but with Sam’s help, Roady has raised several broods. Sam says she has hundreds of roadrunner grandbabies. Thankfully, she doesn’t have to feed them all store-bought mice. Even so, our rough guestimate of Sam’s running tab has us thinking twice. If Spike outlives us, do we have to provide for her? Maybe she’ll like Spam now and then. She gobbled up the mealworms we bought today.

Spike the Roadrunner

 Posted by at 2:25 pm
Jan 302013

Merri notes, “After reading Judy Liddell’s bird report for the Estancia Basin, we headed to Clements Road just south of I-40 and just outside of Estancia. Wide-open ranches dominate the landscape out there. Driving and walking down dirt roads, we saw more than TWENTY ferruginous hawks, 4 rough-legged hawks, 2 red-tails, 2 golden eagles, some kestrels, a merlin, 2 shrikes, tons of horned lark, and 30+ antelope. We walked across ranch land and down a country road.”

I’ll add that we had never knowingly seen ferruginous nor rough-legged hawks, making these lifers for us both. In fact, we saw so many of each in so many poses that it was a field-lesson. It made for a beautiful day trip.

After seeing all those hawks on our main walks of the day, we looked for Cienega Draw on Willow Lake Rd, which seem to me imaginative, not descriptive, in this oh-so dry landscape. That detour did take us past the Thunder Chicken Ranch, a great name for an ostrich farm.

We drove farther south toward the two large-ish lakes that appear on the map south of the correctional facility. One lake was full of snow — surprising with the temp above 50 — but no liquid. Before we got to the second lake, a Cadillac Esplanade pulled up next to us. The woman driving asked if we were lost. No, I said, we’re bird-watching and thought the lakes might have something. She seemed surprised, then said sometimes they see cranes. I said I thought this was a public road and she said, yes, a little farther until the gate to the Wrye Ranch, which we saw the northern edge of at Clements Rd — quite a large spread. She drove on and immediately after her Mr Wrye stopped in his truck, "You need help?" he asked and I said, no, we’re just out for a drive. They were polite and offering help is neighborly but they were likely suspicious of strangers on "their" road. After they passed, we went on to the gate and turned around. If there is a second lake, it is behind a very high berm on the south side of the road.

Returning to pavement, we stopped where cottonwoods bordered what may have once been a house, now just some rubble. Mer saw a bird land. She got out and took photos of a merlin, yet another bird of prey to end our day. peace, mjh

PS- I recommend Judy Liddell’s blog, It’s a Bird Thing…, as well as her book, Birding Hot Spots of Central New Mexico. If you can’t join her on a weekly birding trip, you can walk in her footsteps, as we have several times.

PPS- Real birders or twitchers (in Great Britain) keep lots of lists, including at least one Life List. I’m a bird watcher, not a birder. My Life List only includes birds I’ve photographed.

 Posted by at 8:37 pm
Jan 292013

Spike says, “Keep your cat indoors.”

Roaming cats kill up to 3.7B birds annually

Cats that live in the wild or indoor pets allowed to roam outdoors kill from 1.4 billion to as many as 3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year, says a new study that escalates a decades-old debate over the feline threat to native animals.

The estimates are much higher than the hundreds of millions of annual bird deaths previously attributed to cats. The study also says that from 6.9 billion to as many as 20.7 billion mammals — mainly mice, shrews, rabbits and voles — are killed by cats annually in the Lower 48. The report is scheduled to be published Tuesday in Nature Communications.

“I was stunned,” said ornithologist Peter Marra of the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute. He and Smithsonian colleague Scott Loss, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Tom Will conducted the study.

Roaming cats kill up to 3.7B birds annually

 Posted by at 1:13 pm
Jan 282013

We wiped out the elk and wolves in this area. Then we brought back elk. Time to let the wolves restore balance, just as they have done in Yellowstone.

Grand Canyon elk go from attraction to menace

Elk, once a rare sight at the national park, now regularly jam up the park’s roads, graze on hotel lawns and aren’t too shy about displaying their power, provoked or not. They’ve broken bones and caused eye injuries in the most serious circumstances, and give chase to the unsuspecting. …

Elk brought in by train from Yellowstone National Park helped re-establish the Arizona populations after the state’s native elk became extinct around 1900.

They’re now too close to the Grand Canyon’s most popular areas for comfort.

Grand Canyon elk go from attraction to menace

Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project – Home

A Wolf Awareness Relay Hike in the path of natural dispersal from the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area to the Grand Canyon

paseo-del-lobo-trail-map-2-thumbThe Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project is excited to host our second wolf advocacy campaign relay hike from July to October 2013 that will follow a natural dispersal corridor, connecting the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (where Mexican gray wolves currently live) to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon (where we are advocating for their return). Mexican wolves are capable of traversing hundreds of miles, and need room to roam in order to establish a metapopulation structure to preserve remaining genetic diversity.

Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project – Home

 Posted by at 7:24 am
Jan 262013

Spike shows off his tailWe’ve been interacting with Spike the roadrunner for about 6 months. We see him almost daily. He’s not a pet – he’s leery of us, as he should be – but we know each other.

Spike has recently started calling, a sound we’ve never heard before. We’re familiar with the roadrunner call that sounds much like a mourning dove only more mournful. This call is a loud whoop. You can hear it in the first short video. I took the second video immediately after the call.



Spike in the rainIt’s warm and rainy in Albuquerque today – to call that unusual is tragic understatement. Spike has hunkered down on his rock in the front yard in a pose that reminds me of green herons or black-crowned night herons – no neck.

 Posted by at 1:07 pm  Tagged with:
Jan 052013

National Bird Day – Homepage

Why National Bird Day?

  • The beauty, songs, and flight of birds have long been sources of human inspiration.
  • Today, nearly 12 percent of the world’s 9,800 bird species may face extinction within the next century, including nearly one-third of the world’s 330 parrot species.
  • Birds are sentinel species whose plight serves as barometer of ecosystem health and alert system for detecting global environmental ills.
  • Many of the world’s parrots and songbirds are threatened with extinction due to pressures from the illegal pet trade, disease, and habitat loss.
  • Public awareness and education about the physical and behavioral needs of birds can go far in improving the welfare of the millions of birds kept in captivity.
  • The survival and well-being of the world’s birds depends upon public education and support for conservation.

This is the reason for National Bird Day. Join us!

National Bird Day – Homepage

 Posted by at 2:30 pm
Nov 212012

ABQJournal Online » UPDATED: Coyote Hunt’s Final Tally Is 39

The statewide hunt, sponsored by Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas, took a total of 39 coyotes and was mostly without incident, reported Rick Gross, an employee of Gunhawk.

Gross said the winning team killed 11 coyotes over the weekend. He said the store was not releasing the name of the winners.

“We got back teams with a lot of ones and zeros,” he said. “All the hides will be used; none of the carcasses were just left.”

During the run-up to the hunt, Gross said he learned that people thought the contest would result in the killing of “thousands upon thousands of coyotes. I estimated maybe 200 at the beginning.”

ABQJournal Online » UPDATED: Coyote Hunt’s Final Tally Is 39

 Posted by at 2:18 pm