huge number of species in the area, some resident and some migratory. My advice to any "birders" who visit Yucatan: plan for a stop at Celestún.
The Pink Flamingos
many as 10,000 to 18,000 of these large, graceful birds inhabit the Celestún Lagoon. In our boat, we approached flocks of several hundred, while many thousands more were visible in the distance. They are very social creatures and like to gather in close proximity. Before the Biosphere was created in 1979, their numbers had dropped to as few as 2,000. Over the next 10 years, they increased their numbers to 26,000, but then Hurricane Gilbert devastated their feeding areas in 1988. Two more hurricanes hit the area in the mid-2000s but, because it has been protected, the flamingos have been able to rebound.
Their curved beaks, called "Roman Noses," are dipped into the water so that they are parallel with the bottom of the lagoon. Scooping up water and food together, they then expel the water through a comb-like structure leaving the food behind. The feeding process is similar to that of the baleen whale.
Honolulu Zoo, "taking into account bad weather, predation, food resources, natural disasters and deaths, it may take an average pair of flamingos 25 years or more to produce enough offspring to replace themselves!" It is important that the flock sizes be maintained as large as possible, because small flocks don't reproduce as well. This has something to do with the group courtship behavior they perform. Apparently if not enough flamingos are available for the dance, there are too many "wallflowers" and they get discouraged.
The Mangrove Swamp
Crocodylus acutus is the most widespread of the four species of the Americas. Some of these cute little guys can attain a length of 6.1 meters (20 ft). Crocodiles depend on surprise attacks to obtain food. This one's coloring made it very difficult to see at first. With its eyes and ears on the top of its head, it can rest almost submerged, waiting for an unsuspecting creature of the mangrove forest...or a tourist. On land they can charge as fast as 16 km/h (10 mph) and in the water they can attain the speed of 32 km/h (20 mph).
Blue Heron flaps by. These birds, relatives of egrets, have a very wide range. There used to be one that liked to fish in the little stream behind my former home in Salem, Oregon. This bird can be found in North, Central and South America, and even occasionally in Europe.
This completes Part 4 of my Northwest Yucatan series. I hope you have enjoyed this look at a few of the many creatures of the Celestún Lagoon and its mangrove swamps. If you'd like to make a comment, please do so in the Comments section below, or email me directly.
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Hasta luego, Jim