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Monday, August 23, 2010

Prehispanic Birding at Uxmal

With one day to spend in Merida before catching a bus down to Villahermosa, we took a shuttle bus out to the Mayan ruins at Kabah and Uxmal. By the time you can get there, and the ruins open, it is already hot, so birding was a bit tough, but lots of cool stuff anyway. The most visible birds at Kabah are hundreds of Cave Swallows nesting in the ruins. Yucatan Woodpecker, Rose-throated Becard, and Blue-crowned Motmot were some of the more fun birds there.

At Uxmal, several Vaux's Swifts were flying overhead with the Cave Swallows. Yellow-faced Grassquits, Tropical Mockingbirds, and Black-headed Saltators were flying around, and Bronzed Cowbirds were marching across the ground in the shade. It was probably pushing 100 degrees and very humid, so birding was a bit tough--next time would be good to have our own car so we can at least drive out there early in the morning and bird the area nearby before the ruins open.

Of course the high point of the visit wasn't live birds, but Itzamna, the bird masked principle Mayan deity. Lots of Itzamna masks all over, especially at Kabah.

This bird face mask is interesting--the two tufts above bring to mind Great Horned Owl, but perhaps also Harpy Eagle?

These are more Itzamna bird masks, the curving thing is a nose/beak (top one is broken), with eye to the side, and mouth below.

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