Our Avian Ambassadors


American Kestrel

Waldo arrived at Hawks Aloft in the fall of 2012, transferred to us by a local rehabilitator. We are unsure of his history, but it is possible that his wing injury was caused by a car strike. He is named after Waldo of the Where’s Waldo books, because he was so incredibly talented at hiding in his flight cage at his initial caretaker’s home. He is still elusive in his mews today. Waldo has fully retired from his Avian Ambassador job and no longer attends public programs. Instead, he is a full-time foster dad to kestrel babies during the nesting season. We are thankful for all your hard work, Waldo! 


American Kestrel

Tula hatched in 2018 and was rescued after falling out of her nest as a nestling. She was held for several days by caring folks in Tularosa, New Mexico. She did not suffer from any long-term physical injuries, but after being kept in captivity during a crucial time of development, she imprinted on humans and thus would not be a good candidate for release into the wild. This means she is bonded to humans for life and identifies with humans rather than with other kestrels—so much so that she can be very aggressive towards other American Kestrels. She is a wonderful Avian Ambassador and enjoys running Gail’s household; rightfully earning her the nickname Princess Tula! 


American Kestrel

Azulito hatched in New Mexico during the nesting season of 2019. He was a fledgling when he was brought in by our Raptor Rescue team after being found with an injured right wing. Veterinarians discovered that he had a fracture, which has since healed, but he still has a permanent droop to that wing. His name translates to “Little Blue” which refers to the slate-blue wings of a male American Kestrel. He is part of a bonded pair with Sparrow.


American Kestrel

Sparrow hatched in the wild in New Mexico during the nesting season of 2019. He was found with a collapsed right eye. It is unknown why his eye is collapsed; it could be a congenital defect, or even the result of an attack or an impact injury. Sparrow is named after one of the most common prey items of wild kestrels, sparrows. American Kestrels were also formerly known as Sparrow Hawks. He is part of a bonded pair with Azulito.

Lady Kiki


Lady Kiki, usually known as just “Kiki,” came to Hawks Aloft from Second Chance for Wildlife in Price, Utah in the Spring of 2014. She is missing her left wingtip, most likely as the result of a car collision. Kiki shares a flight cage with our other Merlin ambassador, Little Richard. The Merlins’ home is specially designed with wide ramps, tree-branch perches, and a tall shelf to increase Kiki’s mobility and comfort. She gets around quite well and is a wonderful Avian Ambassador for Hawks Aloft. She and Little Richard are a bonded pair, although Kiki is clearly the boss, and will scold him loudly with an alarm call if she is not pleased with him.

Little Richard


Little Richard arrived at Hawks Aloft on October 17, 2014. He suffered an impact injury that left him with head trauma and a left-eye injury. His left eye has since collapsed. His name is a nod to Falco columbarius richardsonii, which is the scientific name of his subspecies. Although he is permanently blind in his left eye, Little Richard remains very lively and active! His animated nature keeps the Hawks Aloft educators mindful while traveling with him. He loves Kiki and the rope perch in their mews.


Prairie Falcon

Sunny arrived at Hawks Aloft from southern New Mexico with a badly damaged left wingtip. His wingtip was hanging by a thread and had to be amputated at the last digit by veterinarians. We are not sure how he was injured, but he was discovered by a pair of young hikers in the desert, one of whom was a veterinary technician. The hikers carried Sunny to the safety of a clinic. Sunny is named for his dark malar stripes that shade his eyes in the sun and this diurnal species hunts during daylight hours. Like all falcons, Sunny has incredible head stabilization, which he is very talented at showing off during education programs.

Aguililla (Lilla)

Red-tailed Hawk

Lilla arrived at Hawks Aloft after she was found as a juvenile in the backyard of a local falconer. She had suffered severe trauma to her left eye, along with glaucoma. Veterinarians made the difficult, but essential, decision to surgically remove her eye in order to avoid further complications. She has no problems flying, but would have trouble hunting prey in the wild because hawks depend heavily on their binocular vision. Lilla is a big girl and she is often mistaken for a Golden Eagle when attending outreach events. Her name, Aguililla, translates from Spanish to mean Little Eagle. She lives with Harlan.


Red-tailed Hawk

Harlan came to us from the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon. He was hit by a car as an adult, which resulted in a fracture in his left wing. He is housed with Lilla. Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawks are a relatively rare color morph in New Mexico, and they are often misidentified. Harlan’s tail has just a tiny bit of rust coloration and vertical streaked whitish feathers above.. They are more commonly seen in the northern U.S. and Canada. Harlan is a fantastic foster dad to rescued Red-tailed Hawk babies. He’s such a good dad that he sometimes forgets to feed himself because he is so preoccupied with feeding his babies!


Red-tailed Hawk

Jamaica was rescued from the Los Lunas area in 1989 with a gunshot wound to the head and damage to her right wing. The wing was amputated at the wrist and she cannot fly. She also has damage to her left eye caused by the pellets lodged in her head. She may be able to see light, and some movement, but is essentially blind in that eye. In 2009 and 2010, she began laying and incubating unfertilized eggs, and she still does this despite her old age! She lives with Quemado and is one of our oldest resident birds, and therefore is fully retired. She can be a bit grumpy towards humans, but we love her for it! 


Red-tailed Hawk

Quemado arrived at Hawks Aloft on July 14, 1995 from Kirtland Air Force Base. Witnesses saw the juvenile hawk being harassed and mobbed by American Crows, causing him to fly into a power line and fall to the ground. Most raptors do not survive electrocution, but luckily Quemado was rushed to a rehabilitator and received immediate care. Part of his left wing and the fourth toe on his right foot were removed because of damage caused by the electricity traveling through his body when he hit the power line. As a result, he cannot fly and uses specialized ramps to reach his perches. He is fully retired and lives alongside Jamaica in the biggest mews that Hawks Aloft currently has. His name, Quemado, translates to “burned.”


Red-tailed Hawk

Idaho was hatched in 2014 and was found near Idaho Falls with significant damage to her primary and secondary flight feathers. This damage was caused by exposure to industrial chemicals while she was still a nestling. She is fully flighted but does not grow feathers that have high enough quality to sustain long distance flight. Long distance flight is especially necessary for wild Swainson’s Hawks, as they undertake one of the longest migrations of all American raptors. Idaho is currently housed with our Turkey Vulture, Beauty. Even though Beauty and Idaho are an odd couple of friends, they have very compatible personalities and get along wonderfully!


Swainson’s Hawk

Aires was rescued in 1994 after she was hit by car as a juvenile near Raton, New Mexico. Her impact with the car caused her left eye to collapse. Veterinarians performed surgery to suture her left eyelids closed in order to prevent infection in the eye socket. Because of her injury, she is completely blind on her left side and has difficulty judging distances. Although she has no trouble flying, she would be unable to hunt for her own food due to her inability to judge distance. Aires is a play on Buenos Aires, the largest city in Argentina, the country that is often the final destination for Swainson’s Hawks in their yearly migration. Aires fell ill with West Nile virus in the 2010’s and while she did recover, she is now fully retired as an Education Bird.


Swainson’s Hawk

Commodore was rescued as an adult with a fractured wing. His wing injury was most likely a result of being hit by a car. He found his way to his forever home at Hawks Aloft via a local wildlife rehabilitator, in 2004. Commodore lives with Aires and is partially retired from attending programs. He was given the name Commodore before he arrived at Hawks Aloft, and he is affectionately known as “Commie” by most of the Hawks Aloft staff and volunteers. He was at least two or three years old when he broke his wing. Consequently, he is sometimes more nervous around humans than some of the birds who came to us when they were juveniles.


Swainson’s Hawk

Taken was rescued in December 2019. He was “found” in a driveway in Albuquerque. We received a desperate call on the Raptor Rescue Hotline about a hawk that could not fly. Upon arrival, our rescuers found a Swainson’s Hawk! The entire world population of Swainson’s Hawk migrates to Argentina where they spend the winter. So, you can imagine our surprise at finding a very well fed juvenile Swainson’s Hawk, with absolutely no tail feathers and frayed wing feathers in the middle of winter. In fact, he was so well fed that before he was given his name, volunteers and staff nicknamed him Gordo. We believe someone had kept him in a wire cage, and then decided to “release” him back to the wild. But this young bird’s feathers were in such terrible condition that he could not fly at all. Because of the tragedy of this bird never getting a chance to live in the wild and be free, we gave him a powerful name: Taken. His chance to live free was stolen from him when he was taken from the wild.


Ferruginous Hawk

Ferrug was rescued on Rowe Mesa near Glorieta, New Mexico in the summer of 1996. The ulna and radius were fractured in his right wing, most likely from being hit by a car. Although he was given the best care possible by veterinarians, these injuries did not heal well and resulted in a frozen wrist and elbow. Ferrug is fully retired from attending education programs and lives in a specialized mews with ramps to increase his mobility and ensure that he can access his perches. Ferrug’s injury is one that we understand would make him a candidate for euthanasia by today’s wellness standards for raptors. However, all raptor rescue cases should be considered individually, and our sweet Ferrug continues to have a very high quality of life. 

Cimarron del Norte

Rough-legged Hawk

Cimarron was transferred to Hawks Aloft in January 2007 after being picked up in Roy, New Mexico with very little information about the history of his accident. Examination by veterinarians showed an injury to the elbow joint in his right wing. While Cimarron is still flighted, he does not fly well enough to survive in the wild. His name means “Refugee of the North,” since Rough-legged Hawks are more commonly observed in more northern latitudes; he was probably injured while migrating. Cimarron is fully retired from education programs.


Western Screech Owl

Shadow found his forever home at Hawks Aloft after being transferred from the Santa Fe Raptor Center in 2013. He was found by a maintenance worker blowing leaves in a parking lot. The little owl was unable to fly and was tumbling along with the leaves on the ground. Shadow had an elbow joint injury that has since healed, but he does not fly well enough to survive in the wild. It is possible he was hit by a car, or that he flew into a window hard enough to injure his wing. Western Screech Owls are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. This is when shadows are at their longest—hence the name “Shadow.”


Burrowing Owl

One dark and stormy night in 2019, this Burrowing Owl took shelter from the storm on someone’s roof in Albuquerque. Unfortunately, that roof had a rotating rooftop wind turbine, in which she got trapped. She was caught by her neck and was hanging on the spinning structure that repeatedly hit her left wing during the long and windy night. She was rescued by Lisa Morgan, our Raptor Rescue Coordinator, who responded to the call from the concerned homeowners who heard “something” flapping on their roof overnight. Turbo suffered trauma to her neck and also a fracture of the left wing, rendering her unflighted. She was named Turbo to honor her incredible survival story. Turbo is best friends with our Mississippi Kite, Ruby.


Barn Owl

Celeste came to Hawks Aloft through our very own Raptor Rescue program. She was found in Belen, New Mexico, with a traumatic eye injury, presumably after being hit by a car. She is a fully flighted bird, but is blind in one eye. Although Barn Owls can hunt in complete darkness, Celeste would need to be able to see with both eyes to avoid predators and obstacles she would face in the wild. Celeste is named after the celestial bodies that would guide her in the darkness when hunting. 


Great Horned Owl

Bubba was brought to Wildlife Rescue in 2009 with a broken right wing. He was rehabilitated by Wildlife Rescue and was set to be released back into the wild. Unfortunately, there must have been undetected nerve damage that was causing pain to the wing, and before Bubba could be released he self-amputated his wingtip at the wrist joint. He was transferred to Hawks Aloft in February 2010 to live out his life as an education bird. He is named Bubba after the scientific name for Great Horned Owls: Bubo virginianus. Bubba lives with Aztec.


Great Horned Owl

Dulcita came to us from another wildlife rescue organization in Glorieta, New Mexico. She was hit by a car in 2013 and suffered a vestibular injury.. Because of her injury, Dulcita tends to have poor balance and poor proprioception, or spatial awareness. She was named Dulcita, translating to “little sweety” before she arrived at Hawks Aloft. Dulcita loves raising babies and is our best Great Horned Owl foster mom to rescue chicks.


Mexican Spotted Owl

Jemez was found early one December morning in a snowbank on the side of the road by an employee of Los Alamos labs on his way to work. She was in very critical condition when she arrived at Hawks Aloft, suffering from head trauma and a severe left eye injury. Our rescuers and veterinarians were not sure if she would be able to survive these injuries, but amazingly, on Christmas Eve, she began to show signs of recovering. She is our Christmas Miracle bird! The remainder of her left eye was removed to prevent infection, and she was named Jemez after the Jemez Mountains where she was found. Spotted Owls are a critically threatened species throughout the United States and Mexico.


American Crow

Indigo, an American Crow, was hatched in 2007 and illegally kept as a pet by a woman in Oregon. Not only is it illegal to keep a wild bird as a pet, Indigo was fed an improper diet and confined to a small cage. As a result, she developed permanent metabolic bone disease, and has limited flying ability. She also is aggressive to other birds, including other crows. Indigo was confiscated in 2008 and brought to the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon. She found her way to her forever home with us at Hawks Aloft the following spring. Indigo is the only one of our education birds who is an omnivore, and she eats a highly specialized diet to keep her healthy and to combat symptoms of her bone disease. Her favorite foods are mice, corn, and salmon from her caretaker’s dinner!


Turkey Vulture



Beauty was found in Corona, New Mexico as a nestling. Her rescuers thought she had a chest injury. Unfortunately, instead of bringing the vulture baby to a local wildlife rehabilitator Beauty was kept illegally as a pet by her rescuers. As a result, she is imprinted on humans, meaning she does not recognize that she is a vulture. Instead, she thinks that she belongs with people. Beauty was confiscated at the age of five years  in early 2018 by The US Fish and Wildlife Service, and brought to her forever home here at Hawks Aloft. She gets her name because most of the general public think that vultures are ugly or gross, but we know that Beauty is a gorgeous bird with a fabulous personality. And, as a bonus, the word “beauty” sounds similar to “Buteo,” the name for the genus of soaring hawks, which are known in Great Britain as buzzards—whereas, in North America, vultures are often referred to as buzzards!

Our Gratitude

We graciously thank the many organizations that support our research, education, rescue and rehabilitation work: the Avangrid Foundation, the Albuquerque Community Foundation, Intel, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Forest Service, Peabody Energy, PNM Resources Foundation and Golder Associates.  

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Total # bird species detected in the bosque by our research team
Average # annual phone calls received by the Raptor Rescue Hotline
Average # of people reached annually via our outreach