Posted: Jun 22, 2013 8:01 AM
Updated: Jun 22, 2013 8:01 AM
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Researchers are looking into whether two rare nature sightings in West Texas could indicate other hidden populations in the remote Davis Mountains.
A climate researcher found a spotless comma butterfly in late May about 1,000 miles away from its normal range near Mexico City. Another spotter found two nests of long-eared owls a species seen in Texas but not known to nest there.
Experts aren't sure whether changing climate or other factors prompted the butterfly and the owls to find refuge in the state's Trans Pecos region.
Rich Kostecke of the Nature Conservancy of Texas says it's possible the owls were long-time residents to the mountains. He says they may have been discovered only because the massive 2011 wildfires thinned out foliage that kept the birds under cover.