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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Backyard Birding in Merida

I stole the title from Cherie Pitillo's great column, published twice a month in The Yucatan Times. She has documented 55 species in her yard, and her photographs are way better than mine. (Check out this recent entry.) 

The Yucatan Peninsula hosts some of the greatest avian diversity in the world: 546 species in roughly 76,000 square miles, a little bigger than South Dakota, which has documented around 350 species. For someone who has not done a birding tour and is staying in the middle of a large city, I have been pleased with what I have noticed from the guesthouse terraces and patios and just walking the streets of ordinary neighborhoods (despite the abundance of concrete and lack of obvious greenery, Meridanos being prone to planting their gardens in their back yards, rather than in front where wandering tourists can snoop). Just this morning, with my first cup of coffee, I got to observe white-winged doves building a nest, wild parrots, tropical mockingbirds, at least one hooded warbler, a horde of great kiskadees, the usual grackles, Altamira orioles, some kind of small falcon moving too fast for me to get a positive ID, a hummingbird (no idea of the species as it moved too fast), and a variety of unidentified little brown birds (probably the females who went with some of the various yellow and orange males). From my lawn chair. Still in my bathrobe.

The frustration is that these lusciously beautiful creatures are in the trees, darting in and out among the leaves, most of them grabbing insects, fruit, and seeds and refusing to hold still for pictures, neither my hand nor my camera being good enough to zoom in instantaneously on rapidly moving targets. Sigh.

However, some of the local birds are most cooperative. The other morning, two great-tailed grackles were having quite the contest, it seemed, hopping down the street in front of me, stopping periodically to engage in the handsome-grackle pose. One nearly got himself run over by taking the contest into the street,

but this fellow granted me the best photo-op.

One must love the young, handsome, and self-assured.

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