Tag: Central America

The Yellow-billed Cacique marks the time

Until recently when many Mopan began using wristwatches, birds played a crucial role in marking time. Even today when watches are more commonly seen, many birds are still a valued resource for knowing the time of day. For example, the Yellow-billed Casique (Amblycercus holosericeus) (known as otz, otz otz, or ootz ootz) is said to […]

Bird stories, Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)

In the religion of the Mayas of Yucatan the great god of light was Itsamna, one of whose titles was The Lord, the Eye of the Day, a truly picturesque description of the sun. A temple at Itzmal was consecrated to him under the double name Eye of Day-Bird of Fire. In time of pestilence, […]

Bird stories, Clay-colored Robin (Turdus grayi)

The song of the k’ok’ota’, or Clay-colored Robin (Turdus grayi) when heard in the morning is a sign that the milpa (corn field) is flowering. However, if it is sitting in a tree when it sings, it means rain is forthcoming. The Q’eqchi’ of Belize have a similar tradition for the Clay-colored Robin, or k’ook’ob, […]

Bird stories, the Plain and Black Chachalaca

In Mopan Maya folklore the call of the Black Chachalaca (Penelopina nigra) is said to indicate it will rain soon. In the Mayan writings, there frequently occur representations of a bird that was evidently used for sacrificial purposes. It is shown with erectile head feathers and a ring of circular marks about the eye,it probably […]

Bird stories, Blue-black Grassquit and Blue-crowned Motmot

The Ch‘ol Maya believe the pich, identified by informants as variously the Melodious Blackbird (Dives dives) or Blue-black Grassquit (Volatinia jacarina), are said to sing to signal to a traveler that someone is ahead on the road. Hull, K. & Fergus, R. AN ETHNOORNITHOLOGICAL APPROACH TO HUMAN-BIRD RELATIONS AMONG THE MOPAN MAYA OF BELIZE. 2009. […]

Bird stories, Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) known as xoch’, which is described as a nocturnal bird, white, size of buzzard or heron, the animal counterpart of witches, sign of death. The Jews believe that their cry causes the death of young children; so, in order to prevent this, they pour a vessel of water out into […]