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  • Day82

    Noisy Early Morning Birds

    March 23 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Mornings are noisy here. The early morning ocean waves are loud. Roosters are loud. Barking dogs are loud and so are the vehicles bouncing along the bumpy road as people head to work. But, from within the jungle, noisy tropical birds make their presence known too.

    By far, the noisiest early morning birds are Chachalacas. They scream - a very loud and shrill scream-type of call, that sounds like their name, chachalaca, as they repeat it over and over. If one bird starts, others chime in, and the squawking will drown out any other noise in the forest. It has been said that they sound like a worn out, old motor trying to start. This chorus usually occurs early in the morning or the evening.

    Almost always heard before it is seen (just a large dark movement in the brush) the Chachalaca is sort of a long-tailed, tropical chicken that lives in the treetops in the jungle. These sandy brown and gray birds with a red patch on their throats, walk along tree branches in the brushy, thorny area around the house to eat flowers, buds, fruits, and seeds. Chachalacas give their loud calls in the early morning and early evening but apparently they also call when a storm is approaching or there is some other change in the weather.

    Also early in the morning, yellow headed parrots leave their roosts that are inland and head to feeding sites near the ocean. Parrots usually fly in pairs and they don’t fly quietly. They scream and yell, calling to their buddies that it is time to come and eat. Their diets vary and are based on what is available in the environment in which they live. On the whole, however, a wild parrot will eat seeds, nut, fruits, vegetables, leafy vegetation, grasses and occasionally insects, fish and seafood.

    We noticed that many stores and a few restaurants in Troncones have parrot watchdogs. If a customer enters the store, the parrots sound the alarm and the shopkeeper comes running. I think that there is a law regarding keeping parrots, but who is around to enforce laws in a little, sleepy, off the beaten track village?

    Another loud and noisy bird is the long-tailed grackle or Mexican Grackle. One birder described their calls as: “Varied loud shrieks, clacks, whistles, and chatters, including a bright, piercing, ascending whistle, wheeeeu' or s-weeeeerk!, bright piping to shrieking series in various combinations, wee kee-ee-kee-keek or shreeih dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee, etc, a burry note.... ". We have heard most of those sounds and maybe more!

    These birds have a lot of character though and aren’t very afraid of people. In fact, they seem curious about people. In one restaurant we went to in Troncones, a dog water bowl with water was set out near the outdoor tables and a grackle was bust drinking from it, just a few feet away from the customers. We had one guy regularly visit us and actually would hop right into the house. Probably searching for crumbs. They are known to steal someone’s lunch right off the table, when that person isn’t watching. Noisy and gregarious!

    A Mexican legend has grown up about the noisy bird's call. According to the legend, Zanate, the Great-Tailed Grackle, stole the seven notes of its call from the sea turtle, leaving the poor turtles without a voice. The notes stand for Love, Hate, Fear, Courage, Joy, Sadness and Anger: the passions of life.

    We both like this friendly, noisy and funny tropical bird. In fact, we even got Audrey a T-shirt with a grackle on it. We will have to tell her stories about why we chose that shirt for her.

    When we go home, it will seem very quiet in the mornings. I wonder how long it will take for us to get used to that…
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