The Yucatan Peninsula is an important location for endemic, regional and migratory birds
The longer I live here, the more I discover about the important ecosystems, flora and fauna found in this corner of the world. I recently attended a talk about the importance of the Yucatan Peninsula for birds given by Barbara MacKinnon (founding president of Amigos de Sian Ka’an A. C.) and found out that this region is a key spot for many species of endemic, regional and migratory birds!
She said this area ‘is a like a finger that goes into the water’ in between two major seas: the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, and that makes this place particularly special for birds. The Yucatan has over 527 species of birds and counting! And this variety can occur here due to the variety of habitats found in this peninsula such as mangroves, marshes, savannah, tropical rainforest, coast, ocean, etc.
527 SPECIES OF BIRDS AND COUNTING!
There are a few species endemic of small regions of the Yucatan, this means that some species of birds are found only in some areas like Cozumel and nowhere else in the world! We also have many species of birds that occur in Q. Roo that are only found in the Caribbean region. And my favorite: there a few more species that use this land in between two seas to rest and feed while traveling for thousands of miles between South America and the northern areas of North America! Isn’t it amazing?
It turns out that we have a community of people that contribute with sighting data (called citizen science) for international and national programs (e.g. check: www.fatbirder.com, yucatabirdsclub.wordpress.com, or www.birdingyucatan.com), and some important information has been produced through these groups. There are some tours around specifically planned for bird sighting and organizations have focused efforts on training locals as guides. This, in turn, has not only given a chance of a better livelihood to some communities but also a chance to understand the value of preserving nature. Given the importance of this area to so many species of birds (and other fauna), the challenge here is to create sustainable tourism that allows economic growth along with the preservation and management of natural resources.