April 12, 2013 in Blog
Even though the weather isn’t exactly shorts-and-t-shirt temps yet, spring is definitely in the air, as the wildlife (particularly the birds and bugs) have awakened from winter and are busily doing what they do. Combined with the spectacular scenery of southern New Mexico, the local critters make hiking the Sacramento Mountain trails a key activity, should you vacation in Cloudcroft in the spring and summer.
From a variety of over 200 different birds (like the pygmy nuthatch robin and several types of finches) to deer, raccoons, skunks, and even bears, you’re likely to encounter many furry and feathered acquaintances. While you should never feed the wildlife (they’re pretty good at finding their own food, despite what they might try to get you to believe), keep your distance and take a picture.
One particular creature you’ll want to capture on film or digital memory is wildlife. The checkerspot is endemic to a single patch of forest, about 30 miles square; this is the only place in the world where this butterfly lives. Like most butterflies, this one feeds on and pollinates plants, and it’s partial to sneezeweed. However, it only lays eggs on the New Mexico penstemon, which only grows in the Sacramento and Capitan mountains. In other words, Cloudcroft is basically the only place where you can see these rare insects.
As you may imagine, these butterflies are in danger of extinction, and Otero County has created a conservation program with the Fish and Wildlife Service to help the species continue and thrive. As such, you should be aware while you’re tramping through the meadows and forests around Cloudcroft that you could encounter an endangered species. Be careful not to harm them, but should you find one landing on your shoulder or resting on a flower (the checkerspot has a beautiful orange, brown, and white pattern on its wings), be sure to snap a pic. If you use Instagram, tag it with #checkerspotbutterfly and #cloudcroft—we love seeing pictures of the things that make living here really special!