Legends of the Maya: The Mockingbird, the Nightingale, and the Yuuya

Young Tropical Mockingbird searches for insects

God once said that he wanted to have his own choir and so he commissioned St. Peter to gather all the birds to take singing lessons. But on the fly the saint excluded the mockingbird, the nightingale, and the oriole or Yuuya. The mockingbird was denied entrance to the classes because, according to him, it had very thin and long legs, and its plumage was ash-colored. The nightingale was forbidden to participate because he had a big mouth. And the Yuuya was not allowed either, because its feathers were very yellow. Despite their insistence to enter, San Pedro closed the gates of heaven and began to teach the other birds how to sing.

Three days went by and St. Peter noticed that none of the birds had learned to sing. Then he decided to dismiss them; the cardinal told him that, although he had learned a little and was very beautiful, he was done and his punishment would be to always eat chili. To the thrush bird, he indicated that he had not learned anything and since he was also black and ugly he could not belong to the choir, so his punishment would be to eat the corn in the cornfield with the risk of being hunted by the owners. To the Pidgeon he pointed out that, although it was beautiful, but for not learning, it would receive the same punishment as the thrush and would serve as food for the owners of the cornfields.

Finally, St. Peter discarded all the birds from the celestial choir and then went to inform God that none of the birds had learned the song as it was in the script. Then God asked him if all the birds had had the same opportunity to learn the song. St. Peter answered no because he had denied the mockingbird, the nightingale and the yuuya. What Peter did not know was that these three birds had secretly listened to the singing lessons given to the other birds.

God told St. Peter to give those birds a chance to know the script and rehearse the song. So they called the three birds and they sang splendidly, just as it was in the libretto. God was so pleased that he rewarded them by telling them that from that day on, they would form the choir he had longed for. To this day, these three birds sing beautifully: the mockingbird, the nightingale, and the Yuuya.

The Yucatan Times