[Tweeters] A Zapotec Wedding

David Hutchinson flora.fauna at live.com
Wed Dec 11 07:04:56 PST 2013

On Sunday Dec. 8th, the young and talented bird tour leader Eric Antonio Martinez was married to the Cuban botanist and mycologist, Jilly Rodriguez Mendes, in the ancient church of the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca.Jilly, though a foreigner, was allowed to wear the bright red skirt and head-dress of the Zapotecs. Eric's father and uncles were there: his father, Hugo Antonio Santiago; his renowned bird guide uncle, Roque Antonio; and his weaver uncle, Leonardo Antonio, who drives the tour van through Oaxaca and Chiapas for Roque, when not weaving. Eric is a fortunate benefactor of a family tradition of bird study and ID in this mountainous region.

The couple and their guests arrived at the church at 7am, led by a brass band and entered the freezing cold building through an archway of Calla Lilies. Among those guests were Sally Herman and her husband Adam, bird researchers from Sonora.After a short mass and wedding ceremony, Eric and Jilly came out into the sunshine to the rollicking downward song of a Canyon Wren. A singing House Finch on the church roof was poor vocal competition. However the male finches of the local race are handsome, with their red patches a pinot noir colour.

Following the brass band back to the family house, a large throng of family members, farmers and weavers were treated to a traditional Zapotec breakfast of bread and buns to be dipped in cocoa, with chasers of mescal readily available. The band played all day and meals continued to be served seemingly without let-up. The local birds were not up to much, Bronzed Cowbirds, Great-tailed Grackles and House Sparrows, which could easily be called Adobe Sparrows. One small female hummingbird appeared, but this writer, with his usual incompetence, could not identify her.

Teotitlan is not famed for its birds but its people and its crafts. Besides many of the common birds have recently occurred in Western Washington. However a quick tour of the arid scrub and riparian areas above the village revealed:

Bridled Sparrow, White-throated Towhee, Gray Silky Flycatcher, Lesser Roadrunner, White-tailed Hawk, Mountain Trogon, West Mexican Chachalaca, Slate-throated Redstart and Rufous-capped Warbler. Eric and Jilly are leaving for short honeymoon, to be spent birding the Lake Catemaco and Sierra Las Tuxtlas area in neighbouring Vercruz.

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David Hutchinson, Owner
Flora & Fauna: Nature Books
Discovery Gardens: Native Plants
3213 West Wheeler St. # 6

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