Now available … Birds of the Yucatán, the first Field Guide to include all 579 birds found in the Yucatán peninsula. Click on the cover below to purchase.
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I'll be happy to use it improve Avibase.
--Denis Lepage, Bird Life International
Birds of the Yucatán / Las aves de Yucatán is the only field guide that contains all 579 species of birds believed to be found in the Yucatán peninsula. Providing full-color photographs of each bird, common names in more than a dozen languages, and links to almost every bird’s call, this book constitutes an authoritative field guide and checklist for birdwatchers everywhere.
Comprehensive and complete, this guide is a must for any birdwatcher.
* All 579 species are included, each illustrated with a full-color photograph
* Photographs are scalable, allowing readers to enlarge images to study details
* Common names are provided in the following languages in addition to English and Spanish: Chinese,
* Links are provided to hear almost every bird's call or song on the Xeno-Canto database
* Comprehensive and highly portable on cell phone, tables, laptops, and computers
* A link to current information on festivals and birdwatching tours to help a birdwatchin trip
* A must for all birdwatchers visiting Mexico
History of Birding in Yucatán
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The first birdwatcher who wrote down his observations about the birds of the peninsula was Diego de Landa, the first bishop. In his book, An Account of the Things of the Yucatan, he devoted a chapter to birds.
The book can be purchased by clicking on the image to the left, and below is an except of his observations.
Of the Birds.
Diego de Landa
This country possesses an abundant number of birds. They are of such great variety that He who gave them as a blessing is much to be praised. They have domestic poultry which they raise in their backyards. They have hens and cocks in great number, although they are troublesome to raise. They have begun to raise Spanish fowl, in great numbers, so that throughout the entire year they have chickens. They raise tame pigeons similar to ours, which breed much. They raise a certain sort of large white duck for their plumage, [originating] I believe in Perú. They pluck the breasts [of these ducks] often, and frequently use these feathers for embroidering their garments.
There are many kinds of birds, and many of them are very handsome. Among these there are two kinds of pretty turtle doves, one being quite small and tame that they raise in their homes. There is a little bird like the nightingale, whose singing is melodious [and sweet], which they call ixyalchamil. It frequents the walls of the houses that have gardens, or trees [nearby]. There is another large and very beautiful bird, of very dark green plumage. [It has] only two long feathers in the tail, and no others, but at the tips they have down on them. It lives in buildings and goes out only in the mornings. There are other birds that are similar in looks and are as mischievous as [our] magpies. These always cry at the passers-by and do not allow them to pass [in peace]. There are many swifts or swallows, though I think they are swifts [martins] since they do not breed in dwellings as do the swallows.
There is another large [bird], of many colors and of great beauty, with a large, strong beak. It always frequents the dry, rotting trees, holding to the bark with its claws and hammering so loudly with the beak that it can be heard a good distance away. It extracts the worms on which it feeds from the decayed wood. These birds carry on [making so many holes] that trees harboring the worms are riddled from top to bottom like a sieve.
There are many field birds that make excellent eating, including three kinds of handsome little pigeons. There are birds similar to Spanish partridges in every way except that their legs are long and red; they are very poor eating. They are[, however,] very tame if raised [in a domesticated setting]. There are many fine quail, somewhat larger than ours, and they make fine meals. They fly but little, and the Maya use dogs to catch them as they perch in the trees, [using] lassos they throw around their necks. It makes for quite delightful sport.
There are many grayish brown, speckled pheasants, of a fair size, but they are not as good to eat as those from Italy. There is one very large bird as big as the turkey, which they call the kambul. It is very beautiful and very bold, and good to eat. Another one, which they call cox, is equally large, walks in a furious [manner], and stirs up things. The males are jet-black all over, with fine crests of little curled feathers, and yellow eyelids, [and very pleasing] to admire. There are many turkeys, which although not of as fine plumage as those here in Spain, are still very attractive. The birds are handsome; they are as large as the [indigenous] birds, and just as good to eat.
The First Peoples hunt all the large ones found in the trees with arrows. They steal their eggs [to have] their hens [hatch the eggs], and they raise [the chicks] in a domesticated [fashion]. There are three or four kinds of large and small parrots, in such flocks that they do much damage to the crops.
There are other nocturnal birds, such as [barn] owls, the red owl [or mochuelo], and nightjars; it is amusing to travel at night with great stretches of the road filled with them taking [to flight as people approach]. They trouble the First Peoples greatly, for they believe these birds are of ill omen, which [is true of] certain other [birds].
There are carnivorous birds that the Spaniards call auras, and the First Peoples call kuch. These are black, with head and breast like the native poultry, and [have] long-hooked beaks. They are very squalid, since they always go among the stables and latrines eating and hunting carrion. It is a known fact that, so far, [none of their] nests have been found, [and it is not known] how they breed. [In consequence] some say they live 200 years or more, and others believe them to be in fact crows. They can smell the dead so that when the First Peoples have shot a deer [with an arrow or spear] and the wounded [animal flees into the forest], one way to locate it is by climbing a tree and looking where these birds are gathering. [Vultures] are sure to find the [dying animal].
There is a great variety of birds of prey: there are small eagles, most handsome goshawks, a great number of hunting birds, and also very fine sparrow hawks, larger than the ones here in Spain. There are lanner falcons, and gerfalcons, and others whose names I do not recall since I am not a falconer. On the sea there is a wonderful multitude of birds of infinite variety, and each is also beautiful in its own way. There are large birds the size of brown ostriches, but they have larger beaks. They keep near the water [where they] hunt fish, and when one is seen they rise in the air and swoop themselves with great force upon the fish. [Pelicans] never strike in vain, and on making the dive continue swimming and swallowing the fish without [chewing it] in any way. There are certain large, lean birds that fly at great height and have forked tails; their fat is an excellent remedy for scars, and for numbness caused from cuts [and wounds].
There are some large ducks that remain under water for a long time catching fish to eat; they are very quick, and have a hook on the beak that they use [when hunting] fish. There are other beautiful little ducks [that are] raised at their homes; these are very tame [and domesticated]; and they are called maxix.
There are many sorts of large and small herons, some white and others brown. In the Laguna de Términos, there are many [birds that] are of a very bright scarlet, [and they look] like powdered cochineal. There are so many sorts of small birds, as well as large, that their numbers and variety are a source of wonderment. It is still more to see them so busy hunting their food along the shore, some entering the incoming waves only to retreat from them [as the waves lap ashore]. Others hunt [for their] food on the beaches or [by stealing it] away [from other birds]. What is most admirable is [to witness] how God has provided for all with His blessing.