May 5, 2015, Teotitlan del Valle, Mexico — Happy Cinco de Mayo! Today, many of my friends in the States will go to Mexican restaurants, wear sombreros, and get shlocked on margaritas and Corona in the spirit of fiesta—celebrating, basically, Cinco de Drinko. Meanwhile, here in Mexico…most people won’t do much of anything at all.
Many Americans think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s independence day, but that’s not true (it’s actually on September 16, which is the most important national holiday in Mexico). The fifth of May technically honors an obscure 1862 Battle of Puebla when the Mexican army beat back an invading French force—even though France took the whole country a year later. Today, people in Mexico’s state of Puebla will remember the victory on May 5, but it’s not a national holiday. According to Eric, if you ask someone here in Oaxaca about it, they might not even know what Cinco de Mayo is! The tradition has been embraced more enthusiastically north of the border ever since American beer companies popularized Cinco de Mayo in the 80s.
Eric and I celebrated the Battle of Puebla this morning with a Rose-bellied Bunting, which gave me a buzz way better than beer! This particular bunting is endemic to the isthmus of southern Mexico and it’s a radical-looking bird. The patch of forest where the buntings live is dry, thorny, and scrubby. It’s also one of the windiest places in Mexico, and the whole area is backdropped by hundreds of wind turbines (Eric did the environmental impact assessment for this wind farm, and says that bird collisions are minimal here—the main ecological impact is actually the footprint of the access roads). The windmills colored today’s sunrise with a certain Don Quixote character.
Coming up on May 9, I’ll be celebrating something else, too: eBird, the website (and revolution) where I track my bird sightings, is hosting the first-ever global “big day” to celebrate diversity and conservation. Thousands of people around the world are planning to go birding simultaneously on May 9 and contribute their sightings to eBird. The idea is to see how many species of birds we can find collectively in one day! Will participating birders spot more species on May 9 than I will see this entire year? Who knows—but it’s a fun idea. If you’d like to join in, check it out: http://ebird.org/globalbigday
New birds today: 17
Year list: 2411