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Hasta los Pájaros Hablan Maya

06 february 2023
4 min. de lectura


Do birds speak Mayan? Certainly, I asked myself this question ever since my Chichí (grandmother) told me about “Ts’apin” (or Gray Jumper), a little bird that shines a lot in summer for its beautiful song. As she does so, she appears to say “Chuuke ch’íich’o, Juan,” which in Spanish means “catch the bird, Juan.” A little ironic, yes, but you have to listen to this wonderful bird “speaking” Mayan; I promise you that your perspective on birdsong will completely change (for the better, of course).

Just like my Chichí, most Yucatecans of that age know what I'm talking about; like Don Pil, a retired cornfield worker with sufficient knowledge of the mountain, since he has explored it since he was a child. He tells us about certain birds that tell us one or another phrase in Mayan. For example, the “Beech'” (quail in Spanish), which in its song says “Yaaba P’aax” (you have many debts). When you see it, don't lose sight of it; Maybe it's time to take care of your money. Now if you hear the chachalacas tell you “Jooykepech” (you're lazy), be Xuux (attentive), because it could be a sign to take advantage of your day.  


Tordo CantorA friendlier song is that of the Pich (Singing Thrush), because it tells us “pichculín, pichculín”. I know that right now it may sound a little confusing and insignificant, but here it goes: many Yucatecan grandmothers say this to their children and grandchildren; It is a quite peculiar way of speaking to them with love and affection.

The famous Xkokolché (Nightingale) is not far behind; Among his beautiful songs there is also the one that says “Éul”, like that, but at length, simulating the name of a person, as if he were speaking to Don Éul; At least, that is what Don Pil tells us and what has been transmitted to him from generation to generation.

There is no doubt that nature is impressive; Now let's combine that fact with how observant our grandparents and their ancestors were. The Mayans truly had an amazing connection with the life and environment around them; All they had to do was pay attention and a little imagination to come up with the interpretation.

Take note of these phrases and their authors with wings, so that when you go out birding in the Yucatecan mountains you can easily identify them; Who knows, maybe you too can interpret what they say with their songs. And if you need a little guidance to explore and learn more about birds, here are some contacts:


Xocén Birding Trail

IG: xocenbirdingtrail  


Ichi Tours

IG: ichitours  


Bioparque Pakal Kaax

IG: bioparque_pakal_kaax  


Cardenales Birding Tours

IG: cardenalesbirding  




Fernanda Pacheco

Author: Fernanda Pacheco

Por Fernanda Pacheco Turismóloga yucateca, incursionado al mundo fascinante de los escritores y creación de contenido. Dispuesta a mostrarle al mundo la pureza de Yucatán.

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