How often do we pinpoint the exact moment when we change the course of our lives? Here follows the short backstory on my inspiration to begin my backyard birding column in 2011:

“When we found our future centro home in Merida, I hoped to adjust to sharing two windowless side walls with neighboring strangers because our backyard had a massive tamarind tree. Behind our yard was an apparent vacant lot bursting with small trees, vines, and shrubs including one amazing 60 footer that spread her long skinny arms toward the heavens.

That tree gave me sanity or “sanitree,” because she gave me an escape into nature while living in this city of a million people.

A progression of songsters enjoyed her lofty branches. Barren with no leaves, I named her the “Barreness.” She provided resting spots for hummingbirds to relax for a few moments before their metabolic need for nectar or insects urged them onward. She gave nesting cavities and food for Golden-fronted Woodpeckers. A Tropical Mockingbird loudly claimed its territory from the highest perch.

Every morning Great-tailed Grackles arrived to welcome the new day. Occasionally White-fronted and Red-lored Parrots screamed out their location to other parrots, to hang onto her limbs to preen each other or to rub their beaks to clean off their last juicy meal. Sometimes it seemed like the neighborhood bar as male Grayish Saltators or Clay-colored Robins sang out their pick-up lines to attract potential mates. White-winged Doves repeatedly used it to mate and to signal to others.

Electric orange-and-black-colored orioles located their next landing. Whenever a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl arrived in early mornings, the tree exploded with feathers as the locals flew in to mob this songbird predator. Last week it became a family gallery of bright, light-bulb chested Tropical Kingbirds who adorned her top.

Unfortunately a neighbor, that we had only seen three weekends in three years, felled that mighty tree that was not on his property and not causing any harm for any of us!

She had provided for the birds countless resting spots, mating places, food, and safety respites.  This gargantuan, lovely tree had been my escape from city living. This was where the sun began its golden glory rise and said its golden goodnight. This was where I looked whenever I heard a new bird sound. This was where I watched the progressive parade of parrots and other perchers.  I looked out at it dozens of times a day and now I’ve watched the lack of birds the past week while mainly hearing six of the 15 regular species.

Not only is there a gap in my backyard viewing area but there is a wider gap in my heart.”

Whatever direction your life takes, may you always give thanks and appreciation, because you never know where it will lead.

Cherie Pittillo

Part 3 of 3 link: https://www.theyucatantimes.com/2017/11/backyard-birding-in-merida-yucatan-and-beyond-my-jaguar-journey-part-3-of-3/