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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Canoe the Rio Grande in Search of Bald Eagles

LAS CRUCES - You can canoe down the Rio Grande near Albuquerque in search of bald eagles as part of the Rio Grande Nature Center's third annual Winter Bird and Bat Festival, Jan. 22-24. The event is co sponsored by Hawks Aloft and Hawk Watch International, two environmental groups which work to protect and increase knowledge about raptors.

"This festival presents a rare opportunity to see eagles, falcons and other birds of prey in their natural habitats and to hear a host of experts showing and discussing raptors and bats," said Mike Cook with New Mexico State University's Rural Economic Development Through Tourism (REDTT) project.

REDTT, a project of NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service , promotes agriculture through tourism.

Festival activities begin with a benefit dinner at 6:30 p.m. Jan.22 at the El Pinto restaurant in Albuquerque. A presentation will be made by whooping crane expert Kent Clegg. Groups will begin canoeing the Rio Grande in search of bald eagles early in the morning on Jan. 23, as part of Hawks Aloft's annual raptor survey. Participants must have their own canoes. Canoers will meet in the Open Space parking lot under Alameda Bridge in Albuquerque at 7:30 a.m. and travel to the Rio Grande north of Corrales, where canoes will be put in the water. The free canoe trip will take approximately three hours to complete.

Speakers and children's programs also will be available Jan. 23 at the Rio Grande Nature Center. Adult programs will include the formation and wildlife of the Sandia Mountains, bat acoustics, winter waterfowl and hawks in the winter.

Children's programs will include a live bat presentation, the Junior Duck Stamps program and a Hawks Aloft presentation and demonstration.

There will be a field trip to the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, 16 miles south of Socorro, the morning of Jan. 24. Reservations must be made in advance by calling the nature center and participants will depart the center at 9 a.m.

For more information about the Winter Bird and Bat Festival, call the Rio Grande Nature Center at (505) 344-7240. You can also contact REDTT at (505) 646-8009 or visit REDTT's new web site at www.nmsu.edu/~redtt.