More Tributes to Ryan Beaulieu
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Date:    Sun, 28 Aug 2005 11:04:27 EDT
From: Patricia Snider
Subject: Dreadful News to Report

I have very bad news to report.  There was an accident near Roswell when Ryan Beaulieu and Raymond VanBuskirk, two of our teen birders, swerved to avoid a deer.  The car rolled and Ryan was killed instantly.  Raymond is in bad condition in a Roswell hospital and needs our prayers.  More news later on services.
Pat Snider


A Memorial service-- a celebration of Ryan's life-- was held on Friday, September 2nd at 6 pm
 at the Rio Grande Nature Center.

Pat Snider reported that the ceremony was very impressive. There were over 500 in attendance. The service began a half hour late, because there were still so many cars coming in at 6.  Volunteers had to go out to set up a whole new section of seats.
"The music was great, too.  A wonderful rendition of Ave Maria, the Moonlight Sonata, and a thing called the Irish Wedding Dance, which Ryan had changed the name to Italian Bird Dance. And it did sound like a bird hopping around.  Even a roadrunner attended, sitting on a stump nearby for a long time.
"Lee Hopwood's eulogy was humorous, but also brought tears.  Told how Raymond had hired himself to the seed place.  Nancy and Steve (Cox) talked about the banding experiences of both boys..."

Pat said that Celestyn's talk was very warm, and "Beth Hurst-Waitz made a very dramatic presentation.  She even fell on her back to show how Ryan behaved when he saw a new bird.  She was as hyper as they all say Ryan was... Everyone was humorous, as the way Ryan would have enjoyed it...
"Raymond was there in a wheelchair.  And Jerry Oldenettel was very dressed up. tie and all.  I had not seen him in sartorial spendor before and do not expect to see it again...
"And this is very fanciful on my part, but several mentioned how Ryan was now a spirit above his beloved earth.  Each time they said that, a wind would blow over us.  It was almost as if Ryan's spirit was speaking to us."

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Nancy Cox provided this description:

Hi Ken,

The service for Ryan was really beautiful.  The music, the wonderful words, the amazing number of attendees (over 600 people), the Greater Roadrunner sitting on the sideline, swallows in the air, Black Phoebe checking out the tent the next day.

Gene Romero of the Crest House and Lee Hopwood (Wild Bird Center) each supplied over 100 of the Audubon Birds (with real bird calls).  These were given out at the service.  They were used for applause and everyone got to keep theirs in Ryan's memory.  Lee attached a ribbon with Ryan's year of birth and death.

The Rio Grande Bird Research crew banded a Gray Vireo for the first time at the Nature Center while Ryan's mom Eileen was there on Saturday.  This was special in the fact that the photo that she loved the most of Ryan is one in which he is holding a Gray Vireo that they banded on Sandia National Labs banding site.  This photo was used to make a memorial bookmark.

Raymond and his mom came out to the banding station at the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park today.  He is able to walk but slowly and carefully.  He is still as eager as ever to be around birds.  In fact, when he heard about an Eastern Wood-Pewee being seen in Melrose, he started trying to convince his mom that he was well enough to have her drive him there tomorrow.  I think he succeeded.  He is a very persuasive young man.  He said he had to "chase this bird for Ryan".

It was great to see him up and about today.  He even managed to be the first to see the first Ring-necked Duck on the wetland ponds this fall.  He also released a banded Clay-colored Sparrow for us.  He later kissed and released a Wilson's Warbler for Ryan.


Here are links to a beautiful poster that was displayed at the service, and a copy of the program, courtesy of Laurel Ladwig. 
(Adobe Acrobat reader required)



Update on Raymond's condition:

August 30, 2005.  Beth Hurst-Waitz provided this update after visiting Raymond in the hospital in Roswell all day Sunday (August 28th).  Celestyn Brozek and Beth arrived at the hospital in Roswell about 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning and got back Sunday night about 10:00.  Steve Cox came Sunday morning.  Jerry Oldenettel came Sunday afternoon.  She said that all of Raymond's family members were there.

"Raymond was in three different hospital rooms while we were there, asked about his friend Ryan, and improved so much physically that it was like watching a makeover dramatization.  He appreciates all the care and support all of you are expressing.  He himself asked about lots of people, lots of things, and he initiated phone calls to many... 

"Raymond was interactive, sitting up in bed, being introduced back to food, gradually sharing and assimilating, limited ambulating.  He has scalp injuries, but no traumatic brain injury.  His left wrist/arm had a very bad break which has been repaired.  He has literally a hole in his left elbow where there is no tissue left at all... 

"In the afternoon Steve Cox drove (some of Raymond's relatives) and me to the State Police headquarters.  The report will not be available for another week.

"Then we went to the salvage yard where the vehicle is.  Steve retrieved all personal belongings of the boys.  Folks, it's what the police call a "clean" car -- filled with empty water bottles, not beer bottles.  A pizza box, not drugs.  The car gives silent and unrefutable evidence that Ryan never suffered; that he was indeed killed instantly.  Since some of you may have heard the reports that the boys were in the vehicle for two hours before rescue came, I send this news so that you will know that Ryan did not suffer.

"The other news I want to share is that Raymond was blessed with "accident amnesia," I'll call it:  Until help did come to the side of the vehicle in the form of a man whose name we still don't know (it will be on the police report), Raymond did not have awareness/consciousness that Ryan was in the vehicle; until the man came and he heard the words, "There's another person in the vehicle," he thought that he was alone.  He has been assured that Ryan didn't suffer and that he couldn't have done anything to help him."

Nancy Cox wrote (August 29, 2005):

Raymond is now back home.  His boss, Lee, was there visiting him when I called her.  We are all so glad that he is alive and will be able to attend the service.
[Raymond did attend, in a wheelchair-- Ken]

Lee Hopwood of Wild Bird Center provided this good news (September 29, 2005):

Raymond returned to work yesterday, 9/28/05, at the Wild Bird Center. His first day back was sad and sweet. We laughed a little and cried some too. We  talked of the wonderful times we had in the store with Ryan - the three of us, and 'rubberband incidents' - a favorite of ours to pass the time when things are slow. Raymond is healing well physically and his spirit is slowly healing too.  Thanks for the web site and the wonderful tribute to Ryan.  Lee

Nancy Cox reports (October 8, 2005):

...Raymond is very much committed to continuing the Rosy-Finch banding project for Ryan.  He and Steve [Cox] went yesterday to get solenoids for trying another trapping method.  Ryan's dad, Dana, is also wanting to help finance transmitters for the Rosies to try to find out where the Rosies are when they are not at the Crest.

Raymond is now undergoing a lot of physical therapy but is making great progress.  His eyes are back to normal (they had been very red).  He is out birding this week-end with Christopher Rustay and Michael Hilchey (another teenage birder).  He called us today to let us know that he did get the Varied Thrush at Melrose.  They also had a Palm Warbler. ..

"People wondered how I could keep doing this after the accident," Raymond says, fingering a tiny band. "How could I not?"
[Link to Full Text of Albuquerque Journal article with beautiful photos of Raymond and Ryan]

E-mails and news items:

You are invited to contribute your memories and photos.  Please e-mail them to Ken and Mary Lou <rosyfinch [at]>

Date:    Sun, 28 Aug 2005 19:41:23 -0400
From: Ken Schneider
Subject: Dreadful News

Pat, this is absolutely so tragic.  We are heartsick.

At my age when I  see a subject line such as this I expect the news to be about one of my peers.  Ryan was so contagiously exuberant.  When quite young, he often joined Mary Lou and me on the weekend walks at the Nature Center, and so impressed us with his knowledge and powers of observation. 

I remember when he first got his drivers license he called me late one evening to go owling in the Sandias.  I was already in my pj's but could not refuse.  He and Raymond met me on the Crest Road and we went on to have a wonderful evening that included their getting great videos of a Northern Saw-whet Owl at Tree Spring.  [Ryan called the bird in, and he and Raymond crept towards it, bracketing it with their flashlights.  Only after the owl finally departed was the silence of the night pierced by their whooping and hollering and high-fives at a new "lifer" for Raymond].

Ryan provided boundless energy to the Sandia Crest rosy-finch project and developed a five year plan for the banding program.  I foresaw his role in some day hosting a  rosy-finch festival that would attract researchers and birders from all over to share their knowledge of these species.

May Ryan's spirit fly with the Rosies on snow swept summits.

= = = = = = = =

Just got this from Nancy and Steve Cox, with whom the boys have banded.  They were going to see Ryan's parents.  Nancy commented that they kissed the birds they banded today, because that is what Ryan always did as he released them.
Pat Snider
Hi Pat,

We just got word that Raymond is going in for surgery on his arm and wrist.  He had many wounds on his head but does not appear to have neurological problems.  He is in the hospital in Roswell but might be transferred to Albuquerque tomorrow. 


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Date:    Sun, 28 Aug 2005 11:50:13 -0700
From:    John Green
Subject: Re: Dreadful News to Report

That is terrible news.  Ryan and Raymond cheerfully provided me with helpful information on seeing the Sandia Crest Rosy-Finches this past winter and on finding a Northern Pygmy-owl.  I had invited them to bird with me if they ever came out to Southern California.

Ryan will be greatly missed.  My heart goes out to their families, and I'll be hoping for Raymond's recovery.

John Green
Riverside, CA

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Date:    Sun, 28 Aug 2005 21:27:25 -0700
From:    Helen Snyder
Subject: Re: Dreadful news

What sad news this is. I only met the pair once, on the Portal Christmas count last year, but it was memorable. I had so much fun on an after-hours owling trip that I wrote it up for this list, repeated below.

Posted Jan. 4 2005:

The highlight of the day for me was a social one that came after the count wrap-up. I went on an impromptu owling expedition till midnight with a couple of teenage birders, Ryan and Raymond, who'd come down from Albuquerque with Chris Rustay.

It was lots of fun to be with  two people who were totally enthusiastic and absorbed by the job at hand. They were good at calling owls, and each new find was celebrated with high fives and yelps of joy. We hooted up a Long-eared Owl in Turkey Creek, tried for Spotted and Saw-whet, and around 11 pm had a mountain lion cross the road in the headlights (#8 lifetime for me, and the second in a week).

Even better was that three miles farther down, a little bobcat came into view sitting upright in the road like the Energizer bunny. Ryan had never seen one before, so that made for an extra-long round of high fives.

It was fun to be drawn back into that live-for-the-moment stage of life, which tonight included their initial plan to drive to Rustler Park on tank of gas (in Arnold Moorehouse's borrowed jeep) with an upcoming 5:30 am departure on the Peloncillo count for the next day. After a certain amount of nervous fretting by me, the Rustler extension was aborted and after we got back around midnight I emptied all my spare gas cans into the jeep in gratitude to Arnold for having trusted two teenage boys with his keys. Ryan and Raymond certain have a bright future in birding and hopefully research.

Helen Snyder

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Date: August 29, 2005
From: Surfbirds

NM Rosyfinch Researcher killed in car crash

Ryan Beaulieu, a regular contributor to Surfbirds, was killed in a car crash near Roswell, NM when the car that he and Raymond VanBuskirk were driving in, swerved to avoid a deer. Raymond (who's condition is unknown) is in hospital. Ryan was an enthusiastic teen birder and helped to put the Sandia Crest, NM Rosyfinches on the ornithological map. Both Ryan and Raymond pioneered the Rosyfinch banding and research program. The birding world wishes to extend its sympathy to Ryan's family.
Posted by Surfbirds at August 29, 2005 07:12 AM

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Date: Monday, August 29, 2005
From:  Jonathan Batkin

I visited Raymond in the hospital in Roswell last night, and I thought people would want an update on his condition.

Raymond had just come out of surgery for his broken left wrist, but he was alert, recognized me, and communicated clearly.  His mother, Connie, said he may be released from the hospital today.  I may have misunderstood, but the implication was that he might go home, rather than to another hospital...

I am at a total loss for words to describe my feelings, and I knew Ryan for only fifteen months.

= = = = = = = =
Date: August 29, 2005
Gene Romero [Resident Manager]
          Sandia Crest House


This is truly a tragedy, just last week Ryan and Raymond were up to see me and we discussed where the birds roosted.  They were going to get a grant to find out where they roosted and were truly excited about the project.  Ryan was so exuberant about his new dorm room and as usual, full of life and excitement.  When I think about these boys I think of them as top notch.  I was proud to call him friend.  We at Sandia Crest house would like to memorilize Ryan in some fashion.  Any ideas out there would be appreciated.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.  Could you please let me know if and when Raymond will be in Albuquerque, I would like to visit him in the hospital personally.  Do you know when and where the services will be, I can't seem to find it in the paper.
= = = = = = = =

May Ryan's spirit fly with the Rosies on snow swept summits

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Date: August 29, 2005
From: Narca and Alan

Thank you, Ken and Mary Lou, for setting up this website.

Alan and I have been very impressed with all of the cadre of young New Mexico birders, and are quite fond of them. We first met Ryan and Raymond when they came with Christopher Rustay, Andrew Rominger, and Nick Pederson, and joined us for a day of hiking to Aspen Spring in the Animas Mountains. The fellows' sharp eyes spotted two Ridge-nosed Rattlesnakes, quite a remarkable total for this difficult-to-find snake. (In the 12 previous years, I had only seen one.) Many of their hoped-for birds cooperated that day, with a juvenile Yellow-eyed Junco being perhaps the highlight. Ryan and Raymond were equally excited by the butterflies--especially a Moon-marked Skipper and several Dull Firetips. For me, however, the highlight was sharing the day with these eager and bright young birders, who bring such fresh passion to birding. In addition to being a compassionate young man and a thoroughly enjoyable companion, Ryan was well on his way to being a first-class biologist. We'll miss Ryan very much indeed, and would like for Raymond and his other friends to know that we're standing with you. You guys are a treasure.

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Date: August 29, 2005
From: Pat Snider
Subject: Notes on Ryan and Raymond received today:

From C.J. Grimes of the El Mor
ro NM:

After such a great weekend of birding in SE AZ, I was pretty bummed out when I got online this morning and read the news about Ryan. I hadn't met him but I still feel the loss as a member of the online birding community. He was a rare bird indeed.

From Carl Lundblad of the Nature Conservancy living in Las Cruces:

In the few moments between the time I read your subject line and the time I opened the message my mind briefly raced trying to speculate about what could be so dreadful as to warrant such an ominous title. It turned out to be much worse than anything I imagined during those few moments!! Ryan was such a fantastic kid and an Incredible birder, as is Raymond. Their amazing skill at finding and identifying birds has inspired me. I should consider myself very fortunate if I ever am as good as they in their teen years.

This is indeed a huge tragedy for all of us and for the entire birding/ornithological community. Ryan had such a bright future ahead of him (I'd not seen him since he graduated and never had a chance to congratulate him). Although I did not know him as well as many of you this has deeply saddened me. I'm sure I'm just echoing the sentiments of so many today. Do you have any additional information about Raymond's condition??

And also from Arizona:

I am very sorry to you and the families of these two young birders. It is truly tragic. Sonja Macys., Executive Director, Tucson Audubon Society.

From Rebecca Gracey of the Thursday Birders, who has birded with both boys/young men:

Dear Pat, I appreciate your keeping me informed. I forwarded your emails on to many of the Thursday Birders and to Hart. It is so tragic to think of Ryan being gone. He had such promise.

From Linda Mowbray of the Sangre de Cristo Audubon in Santa Fe:

Oh, Pat! How sad. That's just the kind of phone call every parent dreads....and they are such nice kids, hooked on something that seems so positive. There just are no guarantees and life certainly isn't fair. Linda

From Cathy Pasterczyk:

Pat,  Please let us know if there is anything we can do for Raymond or for either family.
Cathy Pasterczyk
Albuquerque, NM
505-710-1468 cell
505-844-7578 work

From Steve West of Carlsbad, whom I have known since he was a young birder himself at 14.  He is a biology high school teacher:

Thanks for letting me know Pat. I can't even digest this, it doesn't seem possible. Please keep me posted. I have a friend coming down from Roswell to go to the Guads. I may call him and instead go to Roswell. I don't know what to do. This is terrible.

From Mary Lou Arthur of the Thursday Birders and Central Audubon:

Dear Pat,
This is so sad and I appreciate so very much you sharing this with me. Ryan's family is in my prayers and for Raymond's recovery and his family,too. How tragic!!!
Mary Lou

From Pat Snider:

I first heard about it from Chris Rustay, who had been advised by Beth Hurst-Waite, prez of the local Central Audubon chapter.
Also talked to Jerry Oldenettel who had just birded with the boys and was totally shocked.  He was planning to see Raymond in the Roswell hospital.  Haven't heard if he got there.  Also had a chat with Hart Schwarz, who was shocked as we all are.

Pat Snider

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Date: August 29, 2005
From: Cheri Orwig

Ken, thank you for setting up the website in memory of Ryan.   It is hard to believe that so much boundless enthusiam and energy has been permanently quieted.   One can't quite comprehend it. 
I hope you and Mary Lou are doing well and surviving this storm season unscathed.  I sure did miss you Wednesday walks in the Sandias this summer.   I never see a Plumbeous Vireo without thinking of you.
Cheri Orwig

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Date: August 30, 2005
From: Fran Lusso and Dave Weaver [Coordinators of the Rosy-Finch feeding project]

Thank you Ken for providing the website for Ryan.  Dave and I were shocked to hear the news.  What a tragic loss and what a terrible experience for Raymond to endure.  We only met Raymond and Ryan last year when we took over filling the Rosy Finch feeding stations at the Crest.  We were impressed with the basic goodness of both boys and their contagious enthusiasm for birding and nature.  Their maturity during some stressful times demonstrated that they were wise beyond their years.  We send our sincerest condolences to Ryan's family and wish Raymond a speedy recovery.  We hope he will soon be back in the forests and up at the Crest this winter doing what he and Ryan loved.

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Date: August 30, 2005
From: Liza Marquez

Ryan will certainly be missed by all who he touched, and he will be sailing with his rosy finches on every journey.

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Date: August 30, 2005
Maria A. Hessman

As an extended family member of Ryan's family I would like to thank you for the wonderful tribute you have on your website. Would you let me know if a memorial or something is established having to do with Ryan's passion?  I would let the rest of Ryan's extended family know and we would most likely be happy to contribute to it. 

There is a time and a season and a place for everything under the heavens. We may never know the answer to the reason for his absence but he made his mark upon this Earth in his short time here. Perhaps his purpose was to inspire other young people to share his love and interest in nature and in particular birds. In this day and age of news headlines of teens in trouble it is so heartening to know there are young people out there doing worthy things with their time. Fly free and far, Ryan. We love you.

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Date: August 30, 2005
Robert Munro     

I started birding only a few years ago and was lucky enough to meet Ryan. He was always kind enough to help me learn and so enthusiastic that I couldn’t help but get the birding bug. He had such a friendly demeanor and he was such an insightful birder that without any prior experience I hired him to be a salesman for me at one of the Rowland’s garden centers.  He was so knowledgeable that I had him as a speaker at a bird seminar we had after close one evening.  We will all miss him. My prayers go out to his family and to Raymond.

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Date: August 30, 2005
From: Celestyn Brozek

We are speechless because of His passing.  Every place, every bird reminds me of Him.  It was so great of you to set up the internet site.

[A note from Rob Yaksich of RGNC clarifies that the starting time for Ryan's Memorial gathering is 6:00 PM, not 7:00 as earlier stated:    Hi everyone - Ryan's stepdad and godmother just left here (RGNC), and the celebration for Ryan's life will be here at the park in the outdoor classroom this Friday, 9/2, at 6:00pm. We'll have directional signs out, and we hope to have some volunteers to help with parking.]                                   

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Date: August 31, 2005
From: Hannah Porter

This is an unbelievable tragedy. I've known Ryan for years and years. We birded together and learned so much from each other. He had an exceptionally bright future, and an amazing talent for birding and nature in general. I'll never forget his great enthusiasm for birds and for life. I wish the days where we would go banding together, argue over who could release what bird, and who had a better life list had never ended.  My thoughts and sympathy go out to his family. Ryan will be missed by so many.
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Date: August 31, 2005
From: Wendy Chavez

Hello.  I saw your tribute to Ryan and I thank you because his birdwatching side I never got a chance to know.  I babysat for him when he was around 8 years old.  I had been out of touch with him but kept in touch with his mom and knew what a wonderful boy he had become.  Our moms have been friends for over 20 years.  I can't imagine what this loss feels like for someone who is blood to Ryan because I feel it in my soul.  He was such a good boy with so much life and happiness to share.  I'm saddened to think that I'll never see him again.  Thank you for contributing to the memory that he will leave on our hearts forever.  This world will be less without you Ryan!  
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Date: August 31, 2005
From: Nancy Cox

Hi Ken,
Steve and I have been enjoying reading all the tributes to Ryan.  It is impressive that someone so young has been able to have such an impact on so many people.  You only had to meet Ryan once to know he was a great person.  He was on campus for only one week and many of the students that met him in that short time have expressed an interest in attending the memorial service for him...

Thanks again, Ken.

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Date: August 31, 2005
Laurel Ladwig

Dear Ken and Mary Lou,
Thank you so much for creating such a beautiful web page in tribute to such a beautiful and exuberant soul.  I can't believe he is gone.  Ryan always was and will remain an inspiration to me.  I am so grateful that this tragic accident did not take Raymond from us as well.

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Date: August 31, 2005
From: Lee Hopwood and Nicki Love, Owners of Wild Bird Center Westside

Ken and Mary Lou,
Thank you so much for this tribute to Ryan. Ryan has worked at the Wild Bird Center for the last year and brightened our store with his infectious smile and energy for birding. We talked about birds that day, and everyday, and I remember thinking to myself, 'everytime he opens his mouth I learn something new about birds'! It amazed me. He had become my mentor and my anchor in birding and I thank him so much for sharing this year of his brief life with me. Just last Friday (August 26th) Ryan, Raymond and I closed the store together laughing, huggng and joking as we always did, saying goodnight as we locked-up and telling each other to "be careful out there", knowing they would be chasing birds somewhere over the weekend. Ryan will continue chasing birds in higher elevations.

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Date: August 31, 2005
From: Molly McGrane, Sunwest Silver Co., Inc. (Parent Company of Sandia Crest House)

I just wanted to let you know how much this has effected Gene [Gene Romero, Resident Manager of Crest House] and his son, who was a friend of Ryan's.  There was a memorial at St Pius on Friday night which was attended by over 200 people, Ryan was well loved.  I know Gene wants to do what ever he can to keep the memory of Ryan alive in the birding world and will accomodate any ideas.  Thank you for keeping him in the loop via these emails and although I only met Ryan once know that [Gene] has instilled a love of Ryan in my own heart.  I truely believe this dedicated young man was bound to make a difference in the world.  He will be sorely missed and needs to be remembered.
Thank you again.

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Date: August 31, 2005
From: Ann from Ohio
 I'm so sorry about Ryan's death. I saw the posting on the web. Ryan must have been an amazing young man. During my trip research, I chanced upon a newsletter article he had written about a "big-day".  His writing showed such enthusiasm. I'm glad his friends at the RGNC are "kissing the birds". I certainly hope Raymond, the other young teen, has a full-recovery.
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Date: August 31, 2005
From: Leigh Johnson

My situation is complicated, although I never met Ryan in person I can say with absolute certainty that he more than touched my life. He was friend, confidant, and more. I talked with him, on a nearly daily basis on AIM, and on occasion over the phone. He was good at giving advice when needed, but more often was able to just listen and comfort in a way that many people simply cannot do. We shared many aspects of our life, often sending photos of relevant places and events that added to the feeling of familiarity we had soon developed. He seemed to understand me on a level that few do, and we both felt that we were kindred souls, similar spirits. He once told me that he felt he could be comfortable telling me anything. A huge compliment, especially when you feel that close to, and can so fully trust someone you've never met face-to-face.
He was passionate, brilliant, caring, intelligent and soulful. I would come home in the afternoon looking forward to the hours we often spent talking about anything and everything that flitted across our minds. It was only in the last few weeks that we hadn't been keeping correspondence, I had been busy moving for college, as had he, and we had temporarily lost touch. When I received the news, it was with horror and disbelief. How could someone that important to me be suddenly gone, and why? A question I'm sure many people are asking themselves as well.
I cannot afford to go to the memorial but I am planning to go camping Friday night, and birding Saturday morning in his memory. I also want to plan a trip to New Mexico so that I may see the Sandia Rosy-Finches that he so adored. That will be the best form of closure I can hope to gain, to see in full splendor the birds he saw with his own eyes and loved with his whole heart.
Ryan you are loved and missed, always and forever.

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Date: August 31, 2005
From: Steve Cox

I am forwarding this from Mike Ramos, an artist and birder, who unfortunately moved out of NM.

Dear Nancy & Steve,
  I just learned the awful news about Ryan. I hope the both of you are doing as well as possible under the circumstances. It's not fair - he was such a bright light. We had so much fun birding together and he and Raymond sharply reminded me of why I was attracted to birds in the first place. They unselfconsciously expressed that excitement and exuberance most of us older ones had half forgotten or couldn't remember.

One of those seemingly inexplicable and senseless ends to a life that was so meaningful. I know he touched all of us who knew him. That was obvious enough from all the raised eyebrows and grins whenever the subject of Raymond and Ryan came up.
  Best Regards,

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Date: August 31, 2005
From: Nancy Cox

Hi Ken,

Steve and I visited with Raymond a few hours ago.  He has to have another operation on his arm tomorrow.  It should be just an hour but they hope to fix his arm.  He looks much better than he did when Steve first saw him in Roswell.
Someone had brought him a print out of your website (his computer is down right now) and according to his grandmother, he is enjoying reading all the tributes to Ryan.

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Date: August 31, 2005
From: Rob Yaksich

Hi Ken and MaryLou - NM isn't the same without you both here, and it won't be the same for quite some time without Ryan around. I saw him just two weeks ago when he brought in an injured prairie rattler to the WIldlife Rescue Clinic. What a man - loved ALL of God's creatures! Thanks for this beautiful memorial to a short but dazzling life.

Hope to see you out this way soon.

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Date: September 1, 2005
From: Annemarie Rader

I worked with Ryan at Sandia Labs.  Although I knew him a very short time, he touched me so deeply!
Always smiling, always happy!  Even just to think of him would make me smile!
I loved Ryan like a nephew.  He was a beautiful person inside and out.  I will miss him so very much!
I know Ryan is in heaven, because he was an angel here on earth!
My thoughts and prayers are with his family,

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Date: September 2, 2005
From: Valerie Boman, Chandler AZ

Regarding the link to the memorial page for Ryan...

I didn't know Ryan....
I don't personally know anyone who did.....

but he obviously touched a lot of people...

I thank the fellow birders that put together this beautiful site in Ryan's
memory.  What a wonderful young man he must have been.  It sounds to me like
he would be the kind of young man we'd love for our children to become.

I was really touched by this memorial, and read every word of it.

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Date: September 3, 2005
From: Paul McConnell, Albuquerque

The beautiful memorial for Ryan – the amazing number of good people who attended: friends of the family, classmates, the birding community; the tears and laughter – befit this wonderful young man. One person said “he lived more in 17 years than most do in 70”.

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Date: September 3, 2005
From: James M. Mosley, Firefighter II/EMT-Intermediate, LAFD Fire Station 3

Having meet Ryan at the Wild Bird Center westside it became clearly obvious that I was in the presence of someone special. Whenever I had the opportunity to talk to Ryan his enthusiasm and passion was inspiring. Asking him the question one time about how can you tell the difference between a Cooper's and Sharp Shinned hawks was an hour I will not forget. Ryan taught me a lot about birding and I thank him for that. Also I am thankful to have the opportunity to meet someone who was truly a gift from God. 

= = = = = = = =
Date: September 4, 2005
From: Laurel Ladwig

Hi Ken,
Thank you for creating and maintaining the website. Many people have mentioned how wonderful it is.
I went to the RGNC to help Steve and Nancy band birds yesterday and today and kissed a Black-capped Chickadee, many Wilsons Warblers, Orange-crowned and MacGillivary's Warblers, and a Downy Woodpecker for Ryan. Raymond was there today and looks great. He was trying to get his mom to drive him out to the Melrose Trap! :o)

= = = = = = = =
Date: September 7, 2005
From: Sei Tokuda

Ken and Mary Lou:

Thanks for those beautiful thoughts about Ryan.  I, too, have similar great memories.  Thank you for giving so much time to the boys.  You will always be part of their lives.

I was in Hawaii when the tragedy occurred and also missed the memorial service.  It was such a shock to learn of the tragedy.


= = = = = = = =
Date: September 10, 2005
From: Joan E. Day-Martin

Ken & Mary Lou,

I have attached a photo that was taken by Celestyn Brozek and have his permission to share the photo with eveyone that loved Ryan.

My memories of Ryan shall remain filled with his enthusiastic love for the hummingbirds when he would come and visit my home. Along with his side kick Raymond, they were always so full of life and energy and excitement for all living things, it would have been impossible to not be affected by the enchanted shooting sparks they created together.

Their last visit here to Lake Roberts, Ryan sat out front working a hummingbird trap for me while Raymond worked a trap out back...I sat in the middle of them and listened in stereo to them commuicate with Pygmy Owl calls with the hope of the magical appearance of a White-eared hummingbird. We all settled to be happy with the Magnificent hummingbird that day.
Surely coaxed in with their calls.

Many other memories, many other thoughts...

Ryan will always be remembered, and even though he can no longer be reached out and touched- or seen, his sparks that left their marks in my life will always remain.

= = = = = = = =
Date: September 11, 2005
From: Mary Pat Day

Dear Ken,

I just returned home after months abroad only to read to the sad news of Ryan and Raymonds accident. Ryan had such a curiosity and enthusiasm for life, it was infectious to be with him. One always knew where Ryan was by his constant owl calls. Ryan lived life fully, and with great joy.  He accomplished a great deal in his short time with us, and I hope there is a garden of happiness awaiting him.

My last memory of being with the two of them, together, was at the small store in Animas after a day mud and rain on the Pelloncillo winter CBC. Neither Ryan or Raymonds cell phones were able to get service, nor was there a pay phone. Being the worry wart mom I am, I asked the clerk if I could use the store 's phone to make long distance calls with my phone card, she agreed. I then got both Raymond and Ryan to call home and let their mothers know where they were and what time they would be home. Once the calls were complete it was time for us to part, and it was with warm embraces and much laughter we said our goodbyes.

Tonight in paying tribute to Ryan I find myself thinking of this Irish prayer.

"Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears,
but laugh and talk to me as though I were beside you.
I loved you so , Twas heaven here with you"

My heart goes out to Ryan's family and friends, and I pray for Raymond's speedy recovery.

= = = = = = = =
Date: September 22, 2005
From: Elizabeth Campbell, Taos Business Alliance

Ryan's poem touched me.

While searching the Internet for my boss and finding the Central New Mexico Audubon Society, I saw with sadness the story about your beloved Ryan.  When I read the poem "Listen! Can you Hear?" I started to cry.  My daughter is only a year younger than this young man and it hit me hard, the tragic loss of such a young and obviously dedicated and wonderful person.  Please accept my sincere condolences for the loss of this way too young of a life. 

= = = = = = = =
Date: November 2, 2005
From: Kelly Coyne   

I don't know many of you because I live in Florida.  But I had the pleasure of spending a week with Ryan at Audubon's Coastal Maine Bird Studies camp.  And in that week I grew to know and love him.  I loved him in a way that I don’t love many.  He was truly an influence in my life and opened up new doors for me.  I just now found out about this horrible tragedy.  And I am just heartbroken.  Here's a picture of the two of us.  The best time of my life. 

= = = = = = = =
Date: November 7, 2005
From: Scott Streit, San Diego, CA

I am very saddened to hear of Ryan's passing.  I met both Ryan and Raymond last November (2004) on the Sandia Crest while trying to photograph the Rosy Finches. Ryan seemed like a very energetic person with great enthusiasm for birds. He took the time to look at some of my photos and help me identify the Rosy Finches that I photographed. My heart goes out to Ryan's family and I hope that Raymond is doing well.

= = = = = = = =
Date: November 17, 2005
From: Lee Hopwood and Niki Love, Owners/Wild Bird Center

Ken and Mary Lou,
We are very excited about the return of the Rosy Finch to the crest - I feel both joy and sadness to start this year of research. Our joy for the Rosy Finch and what they represent in honor of Ryan and our sadness of missing him so much.
Ryan had wanted to replace the feeders at the Crest House with a recycled long lasting feeder. He would ask me, "Can, I - I mean can we - the you part of we, put up new feeders this year? can I, can I.?" We had a plan to place 2 new feeders with seed catch trays made from recycled milk jugs at the 2 feeder stations at the crest. Ryan selected the feeders he wanted to be used. I have put these feeder sets together with a plaque on each that reads (click to see image):

In Memory of
Ryan David Beaulieu
your friends at the
Wild Bird Center Westside

Raymond will be helping us to place these feeders in their new homes on the first banding day of Rosy Finch planned for Sunday, November 27, 2005.  We will keep these feeders full of seed and keep Ryan in our hearts, always.

= = = = = = = =
Date: November 18, 2005
From: Hans Spiecker, Chicago, IL

Hello Ken,
I just chanced to see the memorial page and was shocked to read of Ryan’s passing!  The short meeting we had atop Sandia Crest was memorable indeed.  The birding world will miss what this man contributed and his great potential to contribute in the future.

I am pleased I was able to contribute a few photos to the memorial and only wish I had been able to do more.

Sincerely, Hans

= = = = = = = =
Date: November 27, 2005
From: Nancy Cox

We had an awesome day of banding at the Sandia Crest today.  The Rosy-Finches did not give us much of a break.  We had banded 69 by 1:45.  We decided that we couldn't stop there so 1/2 hour later we caught #70.  It was our best single day of banding up at the Crest House.  We banded a total of 65 Black Rosy-Finches, 5 Gray-crowned and 1 Brown-capped.  We only had one same day repeat, which means there could be hundreds of Rosy-Finches.  We were a little disappointed in that we did not have any previous year recaptures, even though Raymond did see one banded Rosy-Finch before we started.

Lee and Nicki put up the new feeders in Ryan's honor with Michael Hilchey's help.  The plaques on the feeders are very beautiful.  I encourage those who weren't there today to come up and see them.

We all felt both Ryan's absence but also his presence.  There was fresh snow and lots of Rosy-Finches swirling around.  We also had many of  Ryan's friends and family.

Thanks everyone for your help today.  As soon as Raymond approves the proposed schedule for the Crest banding we will send it out.

Nancy adds,

Hi Ken,
I had not wanted to send my eulogy until I saw Rhayna to get her name spelled correctly.  She was up today to watch the Rosy-Finch banding.  She is another teenager who knew Ryan.  I am now attaching my eulogy and Steve's.

There were definitely a lot of tears today but a lot of laughter too.

[Nancy and Steve's eulogies are linked to the Memorial Service Reflections above.  Ken]

= = = = = = = =
Date: December 6, 2005
Lisa Meacham, Austin, Texas

Dear Ken and Mary Lou,
I just got an email from my birding friend, Jean Martin, about Ryan's death.  I am just so utterly sad ... Jean and I met you, Ken and Ryan when we traveled from Austin, Texas to Sandia Crest almost two years ago to see the rosy finches.  Ryan was there, doing some banding I believe, and we chatted with him.  I remember him well -- he was at that time only 15, but mature beyond his years and obviously extremely intelligent.  He was so enthusiastic about birding, and I remember thinking how lucky the birding world was to have him be so involved and so passionate about birds at such a young age.
Ryan really made an impression on me even in the short time I was around him, and I am so saddened by his death.  I felt when I met him that he was a young man who would really make a difference in the world, on behalf of nature -- but then he had already done that in his short time on this earth that he obviously loved so much.

= = = = = = = =
Subject: I had a sweet visit from Ryan
From: Lee Hopwood
Date: August 25, 2006

Saturday, August 19th was a bitter sweet day. The Wild Bird Center was moved in to our new space and the shopping center was having the big to-do over it. Hawks aloft was at the store with Hawks, falcons, owls, and lots of fun with community participation. Food was everywhere as well as music from two groups and a trio of neck, back and shoulder rubbers from the sports and wellness clinic. There were puppies and kittens being adopted to good familias by Humane Association in the parking lot. It was all good  - all day. Except I didn't have my Ryan to laugh and play with at what was surly our celebration of the end of those hard years and the beginning of softer years for the Wild Bird Center. I could imagine him running from one end of the center to the other, taking in all the activities, food, coffee and fruits. Laughing in his big smiling floppy hair laughing way, shouting out "OLA Lee! This is sweet!!!"

I missed his presence strongly that day....

I awoke on Sunday from a dream and in my dream a woman and a young man came into a room and walked toward me. As they got closer I could see it was Eileen and Ryan. I jumped up and ran to them and hugged Ryan for as long as I could, He was smiling and laughing, He said a brief Ola, Lee. Then smiled and laughed more. I got confused and though he had been sent to the war and asked him about his 'leave' and he didn't seem to mind the questions beacucse he didn't answer them. It somehow became clear to me that he needed to go get his car. I walked with him and he began to fall asleep, he was leaning on me and falling into deeper sleep. I then laid his head on my shoulder and picked him up to carry him, I said to him, Ryan, you're awfully light for such a long tall fellow...and we walked a while before I woke up.

It was all good, having a visit from my friend Ryan on this special day. I am so glad he can to share it with me.

Lee Hopwood


Date: September 1, 2005
From: Dana Beaulieu
         Ryan’s Dad

On behalf of Ryan’s entire family we would like to thank you for your kind and heartfelt words expressed about our son Ryan. He looked at many of you as his extended family. We deeply appreciate the mentorship and friendship you have given him over the years and are grateful there were so many wonderful people who helped mold him into such a fine young man. Moreover, knowing that he touched so many people makes us very proud to have had him as our son.  We love him and will miss him deeply. Ryan’s spirit will continue to live within us. We pray for Raymond’s speedy recovery and look forward to the continuation of the Rosy Finch project.
= = = = = = = =
Date: September 2, 2005
From: Melissa Leyba

Ryan was my stepbrother for more than half of his short life. I had the privilege of watching him grow from an energetic child, (sometimes too energetic!) into a wonderful young man. When I was 16, my mother threw me a great big party with lots of friends, family, and gifts. I could not tell you what any of those gifts were: except for one. It was Ryan's gift, and it was a bouquet of roses that he had picked himself. He was so proud standing there with them in his arms. It was then that I saw a glimpse of the simplicity of life that he loved. We can all learn something from Ryan. I truliy believe that he was here to teach us things that even men who live to a ripe old age may never comprehend. Here are a few of the precious things Ryan taught me.
                        1. Love the Lord, the Earth and all its creations
                        2. Never judge anyone despite their imperfections
                        3. Bread with only ketchup isn't as gross as it sounds
                        4. Love unconditionally with your whole heart
                        5. Be yourself
                        6. Never say goodbye without an "I love you"
                        7. Never miss an oppurtunity to laugh
                        8. Walk off the beaten path but tread lightly
                        9. Patience is a virtue
                       10. Never take anyone or anything for granted
                       11. Saturday nights are great for MAD TV and Sunday mornings
                            are good for chocolate chip pancakes with lots of syrup
                       12. Forgive and forget
                       13. Giving is better than receiving
                       14. Never miss a chance to make someone feel special
                       15. Follow your dreams
                       16. Be humble and sincere
                       17. Take time to stop and smell the roses, listen to the birds sing,
                             watch the sun rise and appreciate the simple things in life
I will miss your hugs and kisses, your smile and your laugh. Spread your wings and fly. Until we meet again.
I love you.
            Your big sis, MELISSA

= = = = = = = =
                               Fly,fly little wing
                               Far beyond imagining
                               The softest cloud, the whitest dove
                               Upon the wind of heaven's love
                               Past the planets and the stars
                               Leave this lonely world of ours
                               Escape the sorrow and the pain
                               And fly again
                               Fly, fly precious one
                               Your endless journey has begun
                               Take your gentle happiness
                               Far too beautiful for this
                               Cross over to the other shore
                               There is peace forevermore
                               But hold this memory bittersweet
                               Until we meet
                               Fly, fly do not fear
                               Don't waste a breath, don't shed a tear
                               Your heart is pure,your soul is free
                               Be on your way don't wait for me
                               Above the universe you'll climb
                               On beyond the hands of time
                               The moon will rise, the sun will set
                               But I won't forget
                               Fly, fly little wing
                               Fly where only angels sing
                               Fly away, the time is right
                               Go now, find the light
                                                       ~ Celine Dion

= = = = = = = =
Date: September 9, 2005
From: Sheena Hawkins

Ryan was a big part of my life for about 10 years, we were step brother and sister. Within this short amount of time we created and shared so many wonderful moments, that are now memories treasured in my heart. I will never forget the times we went camping and you always managed to lose a shoe or an article of clothing. How you always found so many ways to make me laugh and bring a smile to my face when I was down. You taught me that beauty lies within the eye of the beholder, treat everyone how you want to be treated, but take nothing for granted! Life's too short and you have to enjoy every moment as if it's your last. You were true to your word Ryan, and how you treated things in life- I admired you so much. Everyone could learn so much from you. Words can't even explain how much you meant to me and how much I loved you!!! I'm just so grateful to God for bringing you in my life. You are now my Angel and I will be with you now more than ever when I......

~walk barefoot on the sand

~hear the birds sing

~dig for sand dollars

~ride a dirtbike

~listen to Ozzy

~build tents in our living room

~go fishing at a ditch

~eat lemon pepper, bread with ketchup, and cocoa

~watch, "Titanic" and "Liar, Liar"

~spend time with Dylan

                                          I love u Ry-Ry until we meet...
                                                Sheena Hawkins
= = = = = = = =

Date: October 6, 2005
From: Eileen Beaulieu (Ryan's Mom)

Ken and Mary Lou, I'm finally at a point where I can thank you for what you have done honor my dear son Ryan.  The memorial page that you established to honor Ryan’s memory will provide me solace for the rest of my journey ahead.  You have given me the most incredible gift a parent could receive.

Although Ryan's passing is the most difficult thing I have ever experienced, it has allowed me to see and feel the incredible kindness and love that lies within humankind.  I attribute this to the amazing people that he met through his love of birding, the person that he turned out to be and to something greater than all of us.  Ryan would have loved what you did to ensure the Rosy Finches are remembered through him.  I could go on and on about Ryan, but I don't need too, you knew him and for this I am blessed.  You are a person filled with God's grace and you helped Ryan find his life's passion.  Words are just not enough to express my gratitude. 

Thank you

Eileen Beaulieu
= = = = = = = =

Date: December 15, 2005
From: Eileen Beaulieu (Ryan's Mom)
Subject: Crest House Feeder Bird Book Dedicated to Ryan

This is beautiful!  I can't possibly thank you and Mary Lou enough for all you've done for our family.  I went to see the Rosy Finch project this past was too overwhelming to stay....I miss Ryan's presence and the pure joy he felt when he was participating in the project.  He was at his happiest when he was with his fellow Rosy mates at the Crest House.  I hope to someday soon go back and enjoy them as much as he did....I must say it is the place where I feel his presence the strongest.

Your friend always

Eileen Beaulieu

= = = = = = = =
Date: Sept 23, 2006
From: Dana Beaulieu, Ryan’s Dad

Hello All,

It looks like Ryan has been very busy visiting people to let them know his spirit still lives on. I spent most of the summer on the east coast on an assignment for Intel. During my stay, my brother led a sweat lodge ceremony in Maine at his cabin to honor Ryan. This was one of Ryan’s favorite places to bird on family vacations. Before I describe Ryan’s visit, I need to give you some background information.

A few years ago Ryan was birding at the cabin. It was just getting dark and a group of us were sitting around a campfire relaxing. When out of the night, we heard a blood curdling scream “Daaad, Daaaad, Dad!” Realizing it was Ryan, my heart just about stopped. Just then, Ryan came running around the corner of the cabin. We all burst into laughter. All you could see was the white of Ryan’s eyes. The rest of his body was covered in black mud. Apparently the mosquitoes had been eating him alive and rather than cutting his birding short, he had covered himself with mud.  Ryan, hyperventilating with all the dramatic animations we are so familiar with,  went on to explain that he had tracked an owl most of the day and had just found the nest,  full of babies. Dylan and I still laugh today when rembering that night.

Just prior to entering the sweat lodge, I looked down and lying on the ground was a beautiful owl feather.  Remembering the baby owl story above, I new instantly that Ryan had left it for me as a sign to let me know he was ok. (Some of you may know that on the day of Ryan’s death he had left us a feather then also).  In the sweat, Ryan’s presence was so strong it could not be ignored. He let my brother and I know he was happy and free. He still has the same smile and is full of radiant enery.

Ryan's Dad

= = = = = = = =
Date: September 5, 2007
From: Eileen Beaulieu

Good morning Ken and Mary Lou,

I hope this note finds both of you doing well.  We just past the second anniversary of Ryan's death and I must say it took the wind out of my sails even more than the first anniversary did.  My brother David Burke wrote the attached song in remembrance of Ryan and gave it to me as a gift on the day of Ryan's second anniversary. 

My family went to the Rio Grande Nature Center and spent the day enjoying its beauty and thinking about Ryan's life.  We went over to the blind where he enjoyed banding on Saturday and Sunday mornings with Steve and Nancy and placed some flowers and messages to him on the table that they use.  It was very emotional.  The afternoon ended under the beautiful Cottonwood trees where his memorial was held.  This is where his Uncle David took out the song and read it to all of us.  We could not stop crying.

If your time permits, I would love to share it on Ryan's web site.  There hasn't been a new posting for a while and I think this one would give those of us who look at it often something new to smile about.

                       Thinking of you


NOTE: The song, "New Mexico Son," can be viewed on Ryan's Memorial page.

= = = = = = = =
Date: December 20, 2007
Message from Grace Morgan (Ryan's Cousin from Ireland)

I first met my cousin Ryan when I landed in Albuquerque in August 1992. It was my first visit to the US, I was 24 and on a whirlwind tour to meet as many of the family as possible while enroute to a conference in Utah. It was a very busy trip but Ryan stole my heart at once.  He was just a few weeks short of his fifth birthday and as sweet and loving a child as you could ever meet.  When I emerged at arrivals Eileen, Mirella, David, Dana and I started to make our introductions when I felt a small hand take mine and a sweet voice say, “Hi Cousin, I love your braids!” (I wore my hair in plaits then).  He was natural, loving, sincere, thoughtful and my deepest memory of that month-long trip to America.  I talked of him often when I got back home and I had lots of lovely photographs, many taken by him, all in focus.

When Eileen told me that all the family in Albuquerque would be visiting Ireland and Italy in August 2005, I couldn’t wait to meet him again, but I had to remember that 13 years had passed and he was now 17. So he was no longer a sweet 4-year old, instead he had grown into a beautiful young man, with a dazzling smile and indefinable star quality.  We were all drawn to him and although our visit (from the North) only lasted a few hours we had a great time and felt really close.  Just two weeks later we got the awful news of his car accident, the family in Ireland, North and South, were devastated, we had expected to see him again in Ireland many times, and although we were far away from the family in New Mexico we were in deep grief.  In the two years that have passed I have often asked why was he taken so young? - but I don’t have an answer.  Earlier this year some of the family in Ireland were privileged to be able to scatter some of his remains at the Cliffs of Mohir and at the family grave in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, and both occasions, although very sad, were also very peaceful and certainly gave me a sense of solace.  Ryan was a bright light when he was here on Earth and I believe his light still shines.

= = = = = = = =
Date: January 29, 2008
From: Eileen Beaulieu (Ryan's Mom)

Good afternoon Ken and Mary Lou,

I hope you're both doing well and that your grandbabies and children are healthy and grand!

This year’s Rosy finch project seems to be going extremely well.  I’m so happy for them!  It was exciting to hear there were recaptures last weekend from the 2005 winter season, perhaps Ryan has been around?  We've had a number of synchronicities occur during the past week and attribute them to him.  Ryan's step dad Ray said just this morning,  “You never's probably amazing what we are not aware of or capable of perceiving.” 

Jennifer's Letter to Eileen JAN 2008The attached letter came in the mail yesterday and it made me feel so wonderful, I just had to share it with you and ask if you wouldn’t mind putting it on Ryan’s web site.  Jenny is a young lady that he had a crush on when he was 16.  They sort of dated and he was very smitten with her.  I wish I could convey to her how my heart felt when I opened the letter and read it.  I reread it several times because it meant so much to know he was still affecting her life and that she cared enough to let me know.  The letter is sweet and wonderful.  As you know, we never forget our children they are alive in us perhaps even more when we lose them.  When a parent, who has lost a child, as you and I have, is sent a message such as the one she sent, it means so much to know our child is still remembered and continues to have an affect on others lives.

Thank you.  

Your friend always


[Click on Thumbnail to read Jennifer's letter.   I cannot help but think that the Brown-capped Rosy-Finch that was recaptured just the day before, from the winter of 2004-2005, may have been banded by Ryan-- and, as was his habit, he kissed it before it lofted from his hand. Up, away into the blue sky, with Ryan thinking"Their pink is like no other pink you've ever seen. And I love how they come down in this huge, swirling flock and just the whole living-on-top of the mountain thing."  Ken]

= = = = = = = =
Date: February 26, 2008
From: Eileen Beaulieu

Good morning Ken & Mary Lou,

Ryan Beaulieu at 11 years of ageI'm enclosing a dear note and picture (Ryan is 11 years old and is seated in the front row) that I received from Helen Haskell.  She is such a sweet lady and made a lasting impression on Ryan.  He enjoyed having her as his camp teacher at several New Mexico Natural History Museum Camps.  He attended these during his elementary school years. He considered her a mentor and good friend.  I credit Helen for encouraging his love of birds and nature early in his life's journey.

Thank you for keeping Ryan's memory alive and allowing me to continue to share his legacy.

A good day you shall have! (Ryan started signing his emails using this closing and I like to use it when writing to his special friends)


= = = = = = = =
Date: August 23, 2008
From: Eileen Beaulieu

Hello Ken and Mary Lou, hope this note finds you both doing well.  I am writing to ask you to please post the attached letter to Ryan's web-site.  Next Wednesday will be the third anniversary of his death and I thought it would be nice to see a new posting and this one seemed very appropriate.  I'm planning to spend the day visiting some of his favorite spots.  Thank you so very much.
Thinking of you

= = = = =  = = = = = =  = = = = = =

Cole Wolf, another expert young bird researcher, artist, and one of Ryan’s close friends, was awarded the 2008 Ryan Beaulieu Memorial Youth scholarship. Eileen enclosed the following report from Cole, describing his experience at the Maine Audubon Youth Birding Camp. Ken

    I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the 2008 Ryan Beaulieu Memorial Youth Scholarship; I used the scholarship to attend Maine Audubon’s Youth Birding Camp on Hog Island, ME.

    Hog Island is a private sanctuary owned by Maine Audubon located off the state’s southern coast. I spent five nights on the island with eleven other teens interested in birds and nature.  On the morning bird walks around the island we heard dozens of Black-throated Green Warblers and Northern Parulas along with the occasional Blackburnian Warbler. White-throated Sparrows were also common. Common Loons, Black Guillemots, and groups of Common Eiders were often seen from shore. Unfortunately our group missed the Ruffed Grouse that wandered into camp one morning. On the final morning our leaders set up mist nets; we banded a Carolina Wren and several Purple Finches. Besides birds we also saw a Porcupine and several Garter Snakes on the island.

    Although we stayed on Hog Island, during the day we usually went birding elsewhere. Several times we spent mornings on the mainland looking for warblers and other woodland birds. I saw fifteen species of wood-warblers during the camp, including Canada, Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, and Pine. Besides the many warblers we saw Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue-headed Vireo, and Baltimore Oriole. We also spent time in marshy habitats and had birds like Black Duck, Alder Flycatcher, Swamp Sparrow, and Bobolink. One of the most memorable experiences of the trip was having lunch overlooking a Bobolink colony. There were at least four pairs in the fields around us and the males sang and displayed almost constantly.

    Of course we also visited Maine’s most famous birding locations: Eastern Egg Rock and Acadia National Park. Eastern Egg Rock is one of the sites where Atlantic Puffins have been reintroduced to Maine. Although it was a foggy day, we still managed to see dozens of Puffins and Guillemots. We also saw four species of terns: Common, Arctic, Roseate, and Black. Though Black Terns are common in New Mexico, the species is endangered in Maine and had never before been recorded at Eastern Egg Rock.  On the trip back we got close-up looks at all three species of Scoters.

    We spent a full day at Acadia National Park. Besides spectacular scenery, highlights included the only Northern Gannet of the trip, a family of Peregrine Falcons, several Least Flycatchers, and a singing Veery.

    I would like to thank the Ryan Beaulieu Memorial Fund for paying to send me to Hog Island. I would also like to thank CNMAS’s Education and Scholarships committee for selecting me to receive the scholarship. It was a very memorable experience and I saw lots of great birds. I encourage you to donate to the Ryan Fund; it makes experiences like mine possible.
= = = = = = =

Card from Bill TalbotDate: September 25, 2012
Eileen Beaulieu

Ken, I hope this note finds you and Mary Lou doing well.

It is hard to believe we recently passed our seventh year without Ryan and last Friday would have been his 25th birthday.  So much has happened on this blessed earth since he left us yet for me time stands still and he is still seventeen.  His brother Dylan, is now a senior in high school and the same age as Ryan when he passed.  Dylan is a remarkable person with very different life interests.  He is filled with the love for life that Ryan expressed and he is a young man with much integrity.  I'm so proud to have had two such wonderful sons as Dylan and Ryan.  It's been some time since we posted anything on Ryan's web site. When I received the enclosed card from Bill Talbot my spirit was lifted to have such kind words said about Ryan that I felt it would touch all who loved Ryan to share it on his web site.  If your time permits, would you please post it on the web site?  It would be so appreciated.

Ryan's step dad Ray and I hiked the Sandias on Friday as a way of celebrating Ryan's life and his birthday.  The weather was fabulous and we were strengthened by the beauty of these special mountains.

All my best to you and Mary Lou

Your friend always


Date: Aug. 30, 2005
Ollie Reed Jr.
The Albuquerque Tribune


I have absolutely no objection to your using my Rosy-Finch article as part of the tribute to Ryan. I feel privileged to be able to contribute to the tribute in some way. I only talked to Ryan that one time on the phone, but it was inspiring to speak with  a young man so enthusiastic about birds. His death is an awful thing, a loss not just for his family and friends but for our community at large. He was lucky to have lived his short life with passion and purpose.

Rugged and rosy

By Ollie Reed Jr.
Tribune Reporter
December 31, 2004

Earlier this week, Albuquerque wildlife biologist Steve Cox met a man who had flown in from San Diego, rented a car and driven to the Sandia Crest just to see rosy finches, birds about the size of sparrows.

"He saw all three species of rosy finches - the gray-crowned, the brown-capped and the black," Cox said. "Then he drove back to the airport, got on a plane and flew back to San Diego."

Sandia Crest has become a destination spot for birders because as many as 100 to 150 rosy finches are wintering there.

Because of their preference for high, rugged, remote places, rosy finches are usually hard-to-find birds, what dedicated bird-watchers call "life birds" because you might only see them once in your life.

"They breed in remote areas, usually above the timber line, and are just hard to find," Cox said. "But it's a fairly easy drive up to the Crest. I wouldn't be surprised if there were not some people up there every day looking for rosy finches. There have been people there from foreign countries."

Cox is president of Rio Grande Bird Research, a nonprofit organization that primarily does research on smaller birds in New Mexico.

The organization is in its second season of banding Sandia Crest rosy finches to determine if the same individual birds return to the Crest year after year, research known as a site-fidelity study.

"Rosy finches have been seen at Sandia Crest for years but usually sporadically," Cox said. "People would go up there looking for them but would not be guaranteed to see them."

In 2002, however, the Audubon Society put bird feeders near the Sandia Crest House restaurant and gift shop. Now, birders can sit in the comfort of the Crest House and watch rosy finches swarm around the feeders just outside.

"It's kind of fascinating to watch them as they come into the feeders," Cox said. "They will come in and perch on the top of the higher trees. Then they will work themselves down through the branches. Then, sort of en masse, they'll land on the feeders, feed quickly and fly away."

Cox said Rio Grande Bird Research's rosy finch project was inspired by two Albuquerque high school students, Ryan Beaulieu, 18, a senior at St. Pius X, and Raymond VanBuskirk, 14, a freshman at Eldorado.

Cox said he agreed to support the project as long as Beaulieu and VanBuskirk did much of the work - building the traps needed to safely collect the birds for banding and later distributing information gathered to the New Mexico Ornithological Society and other interested groups and agencies.

Beaulieu and VanBuskirk agreed and are at Sandia Crest at least every other week to capture, band and release birds. For each bird caught, they record information such as age, sex, weight, overall condition, fat, muscle mass, wing and tail measurements, and the conditions of the feathers.

Last winter, the program banded 29 birds. So far this year, 62 have been banded.

Only one of the birds banded a year ago has been retrieved so far this year, but Cox said that is to be expected because such a small sample was banded last season. He said the overall project could last five years.

Rosy finches will winter at the crest until the first or middle part of March - depending on how long the snow lasts.

Despite what their name might suggest, rosy finches aren't sissy birds. They love the cold. They like the frigid, high reaches of mountain ranges.

Altitude that might make some birds dizzy just makes rosy finches amorous. They prefer breeding at more than 10,000 feet.

And their idea of flying south for the winter is leaving the snow-covered mountains of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming or Colorado for the snow-covered mountains of New Mexico.

Beaulieu said he fell in love with these birds when he went to the crest several winters ago to have a look at them.

"I love their color and their behavior," he said. "Their pink is like no other pink you've ever seen. And I love how they come down in this huge, swirling flock and just the whole living-on-top of the mountain thing."
2005 The Albuquerque Tribune

Albuquerque Journal Article Sent courtesy of  Toby Smith

"People wondered how I could keep doing this after the accident," Raymond says, fingering a tiny band. "How could I not?"
[Link to Full Text with beautiful photos of Raymond and Ryan]

Banding Brothers:
Tragic Accident Makes Young Friend More Committed to Bird Project

By Toby Smith
Journal Staff Writer

    One breezy Sunday morning last month, Raymond VanBuskirk sat in a back corner of the Sandia Crest House. As he held a tiny bird in one hand, he attached an even tinier band to the bird's right leg.
    Just 16, VanBuskirk appeared too young to be banding, though he started at age 12. He has always been precocious when it comes to birds. That's particularly true with this species, a rosy-finch.
    In winter, while most birds flee to warmer, low-lying retreats, the rosy-finch prefers high, cold climes, a chief one being Sandia Peak.
    VanBuskirk began banding rosy-finches three years ago with his friend, Ryan Beaulieu, to track how many were returning from previous years. The endeavor became much more than a science project. It became a passion.
    "Raymond and Ryan," says Nancy Cox, a longtime Albuquerque birder, "fell in love with those birds."
    The rosy-finch project, says Nancy's husband, Steve Cox, may ultimately yield important data. The project is among the first of its kind in the country.
    This is the first winter Ryan isn't a part of it. Last August, while on a birding trip with Raymond, 17-year-old Ryan died in a car accident.
    Now Raymond, although devastated by the loss, is determined to carry on for his best friend.
Not the standard
    Bird-watchers, at least in some stereotypes, are senior citizens with time on their hands.
    Maybe that's why Raymond and Ryan stood out.
    Raymond and Ryan, Ryan and Raymond. It was easy to mix them up. Tow-headed, full of energy, they seemed about as far removed from conventional birders as you can get.
    "It didn't matter if you were 9 or 90, Raymond and Ryan wanted to share what they knew about birds, which was a lot," says Lee Hopwood.
    Both teens worked at Hopwood's store, the Wild Bird Center Westside. "They were hilarious," remembers Hopwood. "They'd have bird-calling contests. Then they'd walk like a certain bird, strut about the store. It was the most fun I've ever had."
    Their youthful verve and superb identification skills were, among other attributes, why the New Mexico birding community was devastated over Ryan's death.
    And why birders worried so much about Raymond.
Weekend trip
    Last August, Ryan had just begun his freshman year at the University of New Mexico. Raymond, then 15, was a sophomore at Eldorado High School.
    They decided to take a trip— the sort of weekend they had gone on many times before— to woodlands across the state.
    This time, Raymond, who had recently earned his driver's license, was behind the wheel of his Jeep Grand Cherokee. After picking up Ryan at his dorm on a late Friday afternoon, the two headed off.
    "I gave up a party to do this weekend," Ryan told his friend as they drove to southeastern New Mexico in search of an aplomado falcon.
    Though Ryan was two-and-a-half years older than Raymond, their age difference mattered little. As boys, they had tried soccer, but once they found birding, other interests dimmed.
    They argued about birds, laughed at their obsession, learned from each other.
    "Some people at school thought birding was stupid," Raymond says. "Ryan taught me not to pay any attention."
    Brothers. That's what Raymond's mother, Connie VanBuskirk, sensed. "They were like brothers."
An odd pair
    Once on Interstate 25 that Friday, the two listened to Green Day CDs and talked about girls. They talked trash— "Like who had seen the most birds the weekend before," Raymond recalls.
    Oddly, five or six years before, when they met during a Central New Mexico Audubon Society outing to the Las Vegas Wildlife Refuge, intense dislike filled the air.
    Ryan was too loud, too jumpy, thought Raymond. Raymond was too calm, too snobby, decided Ryan.
    Later, they participated in a bird count along the Rio Grande bosque. Mention of a pinkish, hard-to-see bird that day pulled them together.
    There are three species of rosy-finch: black, brown-capped and gray-crowned. What distinguishes the three from species, besides some pink feathers, what brings birders from around the world to Sandia Crest, is that all three species live in mountainous elevations their entire lives.
    Ryan had seen rosy-finches at the crest. He got Raymond to go there with him, where the birds are seen from November to early April. That sighting changed Raymond forever.
    Soon, the teens told Steve and Nancy Cox they wanted to do a banding project with rosy-finches. They wanted to find how many of the birds came back to the Sandias each winter after summering in high, northern regions.
    With the Coxes, and with birders Ken Schneider and Beth Hurst-Waitz advising, Raymond and Ryan drew up a proposal, gained permission from various governmental groups to band the birds, built traps and waited.
Tragic turn
    Raymond and Ryan spent that August Friday night in a Las Cruces motel and arose early the following morning. An aplomado falcon, usually seen in northern Mexico, had been sighted near Carlsbad.
    On Saturday, the pair left for Carlsbad, where they met up with Jerry Oldenettel, a retiree always on the lookout for seldom-seen birds. Oldenettel didn't see an aplomado falcon that weekend, nor did the teens.
    Late in the day, Oldenettel told Raymond and Ryan he was staying the night in Carlsbad, then getting up early and driving home to Socorro.   Raymond and Ryan had other ideas. On Sunday, they wanted to be at the popular Melrose trap, east of Fort Sumner, for the beginning of migration. Their aim was to spend Saturday night in Fort Sumner.
    About 8 p.m., the two stopped in Roswell and bought snacks. Thirty miles from Roswell, Raymond turned onto N.M. 20, the cutoff to Fort Sumner.
    It was about 9 p.m. when Raymond saw the deer crossing the highway.He swerved— not a lot, he says, but enough to send the Jeep onto a gravel shoulder. When Raymond overcorrected, the Jeep was airborne...The Jeep slammed into the ground and rolled three or four times. It came to rest in a pitch-black field.
    The impact knocked out Raymond. When he awakened, pinned inside the Jeep, he found he was 50 or so feet from the highway.
    Traffic is usually scarce on N.M. 20, and at night even more so. His headlights weren't working. No one stopped.
    After about three hours, Raymond, exhausted and in great pain, suddenly saw a flashlight beam move about the interior of the Jeep.
    A motorist happened to glimpse the wreck. Through the window, the motorist put a blanket on top of Raymond. "Don't go to sleep," the stranger urged. He then asked for Raymond's phone number and called Raymond's mother.
    Eventually, paramedics from Roswell arrived. As emergency workers cut off Raymond's door, he heard the whispers he hadn't wanted to hear.
    Ryan was gone.
Continuing on
    Raymond spent three days in the ICU at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center. A severe gash on his head had caused his skull to swell. His left wrist required two surgeries.
    The weekend after the accident, Raymond knew he had to go birding. Had to go to the Melrose trap.
    Connie VanBuskirk took her son— in a wheelchair. Bandages swaddled his head, a cast covered his arm. In the big stand of trees, he saw what he wanted: a great-crested flycatcher.
    Now, aided by grief counseling, the healing continues.
    In December, Ryan's mother, Eileen Beaulieu, journeyed to the crest to observe the banding project. Being there was difficult, and she left quickly, but not before hugging Raymond.
    Raymond's mother attends banding sessions when she can. Still, she says, "It's never easy. We all miss Ryan."
    No one knows that better than her son. "People wondered how I could keep doing this after the accident," Raymond says, fingering a tiny band. "How could I not?"

2006 Albuquerque Journal; used with permission.

Front Cover Bird Book dedicated to Ryan
 Bird book published in Ryan's Memory on Sale at
Sandia Crest House Gift Shop.

(Introduction and dedication by Ken Schneider, who has no financial interest in this publication)
Bird Book Dedicated to Ryan Rear Cover
View Front Cover          View Back Cover
Return to Rosy Finches at Sandia Crest, New Mexico