New Mexico Snakes — recognizing the poisonous ones and controlling them around homes

Technorati Tags: wildlife,snakes Snakes are perhaps the most feared and hated animals in New Mexico, but people’s fear of snakes comes from lack of understanding and superstition. Snakes are not mysterious at all, and these fascinating creatures don’t deserve the anxiety many people feel about them. Of the 46 snake species found in New Mexico, only 8 are poisonous and potentially dangerous, including 7 species of rattlesnakes and a coral snake. There are many benefits from having some snakes around […] Read more »

Kit Fox

Technorati Tags: fox,kit fox,wildlife Driving up the east side of San Augustín Pass one morning, I spotted a small, buff-colored animal with large, pointed ears lying dead on the pavement. Richard stopped the car and I walked back to see what it was. The animal was almost delicate and about the size of a house cat, with dense, buff-colored fur and a long, bushy tail tipped with black. That generous brush of a tail; the large, pointed ears; doglike face; […] Read more »

Kingfishers

Technorati Tags: birds,animals,wildlife While jogging down the irrigation ditchbank one afternoon, I heard a loud, rattling call. A not-quite-crow-sized bird flew up from a perch above the ditch with strong, precise wingbeats, headed downstream. Its distinctive silhouette included a daggerlike bill and a ragged crest atop a big head. Its plumage was sober blue above and pure white below. A wide blue-gray stripe crossed its chest. The clattering call, which sounds like a loud wooden rattle, and the unique silhouette […] Read more »

Birds — evaporative cooling

Technorati Tags: birds,wildlife One searingly hot summer afternoon, I spotted a thrasher standing quite still on the ground in the shade of a small tree. The thrasher’s long curved bill was open and its wings slightly spread. At first I thought that it was sick. But then I noticed a plump white-winged dove perched on a branch overhead. It too held its mouth wide open; as I watched, I could see the skin of its throat pulsating rapidly. Neither bird […] Read more »

Nighthawks

Technorati Tags: nighthawks,animals,wildlife One evening in early May, I set out on a walk along the irrigation ditch at dusk. As I turned the corner onto the ditch road, I saw a cloud of birds flying back and forth, skimming low over the water, fluttering up over the road, then turning and flying back down the ditch like swimmers executing graceful laps. I walked closer. Undisturbed by my presence, dozens of birds navigated the crowded air over the ditch, looping […] Read more »

Great horned owls

Technorati Tags: owls,animals,wildlife Last Saturday, I went birdwatching at the Home Depot store in Las Cruces. We pulled into the store parking lot and headed for the garden section, strolling past potted tomatoes and chile peppers, roses and columbines, and then down an aisle of storage shelves towering high over our heads. There, atop a pallet of bagged decorative gravel, on a shelf about twenty feet up, was what we¹d come to see: a great horned owl nest. I saw […] Read more »

Windscorpions — don’t be fooled by their looks

Technorati Tags: windscorpions,animals,wildlife Southern New Mexicans have been terrorized by windscorpions. Many even think they look like miniature aberrations brought forth directly from their worst nightmare. Because of their fierce appearance, many myths have sprung up about them over the years. These myths include certain death if bitten, all the way to your mother-in-law suddenly hating you if you have the audacity to touch one. Southern New Mexicans also have a unique name they call these creatures: “Children of the […] Read more »

Whiptail lizards

Technorati Tags: lizards,animals,wildlife One spring, we raised the cement block wall that encloses our yard. Soon after the builders had finished, I saw the first lizard of the year, stretched out in the sun on the vertical face of the wall as if gravity had no hold on her slight body. I borrowed Richard’s binoculars for a closer view. Just about five inches long, the lagartija (little lizard) was faded brown all over, and marked head to tail with cream-colored […] Read more »

Vultures

Technorati Tags: Vultures,animals,wildlife While riding my bike to Mesilla Park, just outside Las Cruces, one afternoon, I glanced up at the sky and skidded to a stop, head tilted upwards in astonishment. Just above the tops of the mulberry trees, the air was filled with huge, silent black birds with bare, wrinkled heads and wings held stiffly in a V as they teetered on the air currents - turkey vultures. I watched the flock of about 40 birds as they […] Read more »

The ‘roons of Artesia - are they dangerous?

Technorati Tags: Vinegarones,animals,wildlife It was one hot Artesian summer night, so no sheets or blankets were anywhere in evidence. Don’t believe in air conditioning. In any given year, I might kick on the swamp cooler for a couple of hours, maybe six times total, during the warmer months. Quite frankly, I get angry when it goes under 80°F. I was sound asleep on my floor mounted mattress (never mind why it was there) when something crawled, tickling slightly, across my […] Read more »