Winged wildlife explained at nature center
On August 2 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the Friends of the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park will present Summer Wings, its tenth annual festival celebrating New Mexico’s small but spectacular wildlife: hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, and bees.
Events will include early-morning bird and nature walks, hands-on collection and release of dragonflies, children’s craft activities, bird identification with the New Mexico Audubon Society, a raffle with prizes, and live birds from Wildlife Rescue to examine close-up.
Noted photographers will offer images of winged animals, birds, and insects for sale. Dick Fagerland (“the Bug Man”) and Joan Day-Martin, New Mexico’s only certified hummingbird bander, are part of the speaker lineup for the event. Also, Day-Martin and her helpers will net-capture, band, weigh, measure, and release hummingbirds throughout the day.
The free all-day event will be held at the Nature Center, 2901 Candelaria NW, in Albuquerque. For further information, call 344-7240.
A beauty at Rainbow Valley Llamas
Invierno and Salsa score big-time in competition
Invierno and Salsa are two seven-year-old llamas who learned to drive a cart at the age of two. Invierno is a white llama who usually sports a gray saddle. His name means winter because of his color and the season in which he was born. He is an ALSA champion, a national champion, and a show champion. Salsa is a reddish brown llama with reverse Appy markings underneath.
These two buddies are wilderness pack llamas and are certified Pet Partners with the Delta Society. They are certified to visit schools, nursing homes, and other public events. They both are qualified to participate in the National Llama Show for the third consecutive year.
The team of Invierno and Salsa has driven in ten llama shows, winning first place at the prestigious Estes Park Llama Show this past summer. They have driven in many parades, including the Corrales Harvest Festival and the Bernalillo Nighttime Christmas Parade where they wore Christmas lights and pulled an illuminated cart. They also have given rides to children at Carrey Tingley Children’s Hospital for the last two years. They raised over $400 for the Wildlife West Wild Animal Park in Edgewood by giving cart rides for donations at the park’s open house.
Invierno and Salsa have helped and will continue to help homeless animals, too. Watermelon Mountain Ranch has invited them to give cart rides to help attract attention at pet adoptathons and to give the children something to do at these events. They have been at the PetSmart adoptathon in Albuquerque for the last two years.
Invierno and Salsa teach other llamas to pull a cart the same way that they learned. A new llama is hitched in a triple hitch between the two. The new llama quickly learns from the experienced llamas. After a short trip of about a half mile the new llama goes out in a double hitch with one of the experienced llamas. With the experience of these two short trips, the new llama is usually ready to pull the cart himself or as part of a team with another new llama trained in the same fashion. There is always a walker ready to direct the team.
Llamas learn word commands in a few tries. Light tweaks of the lines tell the llamas which way to go. There is no ground driving necessary, and the llamas learn the feel and placement of the cart behind them from the very beginning. They know to make turns to accommodate the cart. Placitas last saw Invierno and Salsa giving cart rides at Placitas Appreciation Day at Homestead Village Shopping Center. Water was kindly donated by the Pinon Café.
Llama owner and breeder Mary Summers loves Invierno, Salsa, and the rest of her llamas as pets as well as pack animals. She said, “Llamas take less than five minutes a day to care for. They have an expressive body language and dance happily when fed. They vocalizes quietly to let you know how they feel but don’t make noise that would bother you or your neighbors. Llamas have a charming personality and identify closely with your moods.”
According to Mary and her husband Reid Langerman, who cotrains, -owns, and -cares for their llamas, llamas costs less to feed than a big dog. Reid says, “They are a vegetarian animal which eats low on the food chain. As a pet, they are incredibly healthy, so vet bills are low to nonexistent. A llama will live long enough to grow up with its owner’s children, generally eighteen to twenty-five-plus plus years and even smells pretty good without ever having had a bath. This pet sheds about once a year, if at all.”
Mary and Reid own the llama farm called Rainbow Valley Llamas in Placitas and offer catered llama pack trips to the public in addition to their breeding and public service work. For further information about the llamas or public services that Mary and Reid offer, or to visit the llamas in Placitas, call Mary or Reid at 867-1105.