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NATURE

The Day I Bought an Ostrich Egg

Ostriches lay the largest eggs in nature
Ostriches lay the largest eggs in nature

It was a Wednesday. As Circulation Manager I occasionally cover the routes of absent drivers, and this particular week I drove down Isleta Blvd. to Los Lunas. Knowing that a friend's birthday party was that night, I determined to keep an eye peeled for the kind of unique weirdness one finds while delivering the Alibi.

Almost immediately, the perfect gift jumped out at me from a sign in front of a bait shop: ostrich eggs. Who wouldn't want an ostrich egg?

My partner and I went in and asked to see one. As we were waiting we asked how many ostriches the guy had. Just one. I wanted to know if they were mean. Only the males. In fact, he said, the female behind the store was so mellow, the guy could pet her and lead her around and such. He went on to explain that as long as he keeps her happy, she'll lay an egg every two days! Without a male to give her attention, this state of well being is achieved first with a back massage and then the insertion of a length of pvc pipe into... you get the picture. Twenty dollars later, we walked out with our own ostrich egg, which could feed at least 6 people.

The egg was a hit at the party, but unfortunately no one seemed to have time to drain and cook the damn thing. A week later it was ultimately returned to ME, and I have now brought it to the Alibi kitchen in hopes someone else will adopt it/eat it.

Nature

The Belen Marsh

A really cool short trip south of Albuquerque

Snowy Egrets sit in the Belen Marsh at dusk.
John Bear
Snowy Egrets sit in the Belen Marsh at dusk.

The jewel of the City of Belen is nestled behind a Taco Bell.

It’s the Belen Marsh, an accidentally made salty wetland where nearly 100 species of birds come to entertain bored photojournalists.

Legend has it the Belen Marsh was created when road crews dug out a large amount of earth to build a freeway bypass. They ended up hitting the water table and brackish water filled the hole in the ground, forming an ideal place for shorebirds to hang out.

Many amazing birds can be found in the marsh: Snowy Egrets, Ibis, Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, Kill Deer and a bizarre duck called Ruddy which has a turquoise bill. There are also muskrats in a nearby irrigation canal and a clutch of burrow owls is roosting in a nearby field. It’s a great place to take children who will find the large shorebirds reminiscent of dinosaurs.

The marsh has, unfortunately, been used as a dumping ground, but a local environmental organization has gone out and cleaned up some of the wreckage. It sits on private property so it is probably wise to stay on the street, unless, of course, you are daring.

It has been a source of contention, as one group wants to see the marsh drained and filled to make way for a parking lot. Another wants it left alone as it is a unique miniature ecosystem.

To get to the marsh, take I-25 south to the first Belen exit. Head east. Once you see the Taco Bell, take a right. It is to your left. It’s buggy down there so bring mosquito repellent. A camera wouldn’t hurt either, and it’s a good place to practice taking action shots. Those birds move.
Enjoy. And hurry before some oil company comes along and starts drilling and there are no more birds to enjoy. It could happen.

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