During the planning of your visit to Yucatán, you probably researched the weather to prepare adequately for your trip, and you may have realized that you are arriving during the rainy season. We have two easily distinguishable seasons here: the months of June through October that are rainy, and the months of November through May that are dry. Like you, the Maya would also pay attention to weather changes.
During a friendly chat, don Ceferino (RIP), from Kambul, asked my dad if he knows “Who can tell us how much it will rain? What type of career or job is needed in order to know what type of rain we will have?” while at the same time sharing that “the birds tell us when it will rain, even when there is no school where you can learn this, they teach us.”
The bird he refers to, known as “yuya” (with an orange head and chest and black and white wings), takes advantage of the drought season to find dry little branches, threads, and hay in the jungle to start weaving its nest with much patience. Its nest is a privileged home that is the object of greed for many other birds who, at times, steal their nests; for example the cenzontle that imitates the songs of other birds.
The peculiarity of the yuya’s nest is that it hangs and swings with the wind, and its length is determined according to the rain prediction. The long nests can measure up to 80 centimeters and they indicate that there will be little rain, therefore, there is no danger of falling. The short nests of approximately 40 centimeters indicate that there will be a lot of rain, so the yuya makes them smaller so there is less chance of falling during heavy rains.
The length is not all that the yuya’s nest tells us: if you find a nest that looks frayed, don’t think it is due to deterioration or damage; like don Ceferino, the Maya know that those nests indicate there will be heavy storms and hurricanes. The open spaces between the nests’ weavings allow the flow of rain and wind so that their impact don’t damage the nest and the precious little eggs.
If you notice hanging birds’ nests during your visit, ask a Maya person to explain its meaning to you. You will notice there is a lot of respect, pride, and willingness to share knowledge, and you will learn from an ancient culture without the need for modern technology.
Editorial by Andrea Medina and Alejandro Medina Riancho
Photos by Cherie Pittillo for Yucatán Today’s use
Read more about the birds of Yucatán:
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