Greetings Bird Friends,
You know, I’m not just about birds (well almost!) and Southwest New Mexico offers up other things of interest besides birds (hard to believe, I know). The area known as the Gila National Forest and Wilderness Area is rich in geology and archeology.
Especially fascinating are the Gila (Hee-La) cliff dwellings. The dwellings were inhabited for only about 30-40 years by the branch of the Mogollon (Mo Go Yon) people called the Tularosa Mogollon. The traditional Mogollon lived in S.W. New Mexico from 200 A.D. until the late 1300s and built pit houses and surface pueblos in the mountainous region of SW New Mexico and Mexico. They combined hunting and gathering with limited agriculture, which included what is called the three sisters: corn, beans and squash. For some reason, the Tularosas broke tradition and built inside the caves with rock, mortar and timber. Timber beams found in the cliff dwellings were dated to around the mid 1200s. By 1300, they vanished from the area and no other people appear to have inhabited the area until the Apaches, around 1500. A fascinating story indeed. They did leave behind magnificent samples of pottery and in places pictographs (paintings on walls of the cliffs that represented gods, hunting and scenes from everyday life). These drawings were usually done by finger or a stick that had been dipped in crushed hematite and mixed with water. After almost 1,000 years, some are still brightly colored.
The desert scrub also yields great moths, butterflies, and of course those creepy crawlers: Rattle Snakes, Scorpions and Lizards.
So much to see, so little time. Until next time……Good birding and other stuff!!!
Rick Greenspun (Summering in New Mexico)