Birds are important in the thought of the Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula, from prehistory down to the present. Maya/Spanish dictionaries from the Spanish colonial period contain almost 60 bird names. Codices and Colonial-era texts describe relationships between birds and the supernatural, medicine, and prognostication. Birds are especially noted as cause and cure of psychological ailments. Today, field studies show that birds are still associated with omens, luck, and beauty, and are kept as pets and otherwise loved. Their use in medicine is limited today, but magical uses of a few in love magic are still widely known. In general, the Yucatec Maya are acutely aware of birds and their ecological significance.
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Vol. 37 • No. 4