Sunday, September 4, 2016

Muyil Part II: Rediscovering the Ivory-billed; Plus Red-throated Ant Tanager and Blue Bunting

[April 2016. Mayan Ruins at Muyil]

Located near the Sian Ka'an lagoon ("Where the Sky is Born" in Mayan), Muyil is one of the most ancient sites of the Mayan civilization dating to 350 BCE. And, while the Pyramids still stand, they are but a hollow reminder of what must have been a thriving outpost of human civilization 2000 years ago.

But, with the humans gone, the jungle has reasserted itself and this means that an amazing assortment of birdlife can now be found here; species such as:

  • Blue Bunting
  • Red-throated Ant-tanager
  • Ivory-billed Woodcreeper
  • Yellow-throated Euphonia
  • Black-headed Trogon
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Rose-throated Becard

We start with the Bunting:



Living in the US, we are blessed with a wealth of Buntings (Varied Bunting, Snow Bunting, Painted Bunting, Indigo Bunting, and Lazuli Bunting) but the diversity continues south of the border as well.




This stunning species is a midnight blue with turquoise highlights on the crown, face and shoulders. Blue Bunting is a rare vagrant to Southern Texas so the best chances of observing one will require a trip to Mexico.

Ants are a phenomenon in the American tropics and a whole ecosystem of ant specialists have evolved around them -- including this Red-throated Ant tanager:




These birds will follow army ants and other insects. They are found by the forest edge (hence the low lighting in the photo's):


While the reader is unlikely to come across an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a close namesake -- the Ivory-billed Woodcreeper is probably the next best thing:



This huge woodcreeper feeds on insects on tree trunks much like our Brown Treecreeper.

Yellow-throated Euphonia, like others in the family, is a bright songbird of the tropics:



Finally, Black-headed Trogon:


Great Kiskadee:


and the Becard:




Man overestimates his ability to mold Nature to his whims -- many ancient civilizations have come and gone yet each was convinced of their invincibility in their heyday. 

What remains after these countless ups and downs is something far more enduring -- the incredible diversity of Nature and the resilience of life in adapting to the changing environment. A fact that is so well underscored by iconic species such as the Ivory-billed Woodcreeer and the Red-throated Ant-tanager profiled here.

1 comment:

  1. With relative civility of the here and now, and perhaps especially in a fictitious world, one might otherwise cause great harm for such good views of the creatures presented here.

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