With the arrival of winter comes the southern migration of wildlife attracted to the warmth of the Yucatán Peninsula, as well as other parts of Latin America.
Migration is an impressive phenomenon as species travel thousands of miles or kilometers looking for more pleasant habitats, to obtain food or to mate, explained Dr. Gerardo Ceballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The vast number of species migrating to Mexico in the winter range from small insects like the monarch butterfly, which fly almost 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) from Canada, to gigantic mammals, like the gray whales “which make extraordinary travels: they swim more than 9,300 miles (15,000 kilometers) from Alaska to their southern destinations,” Ceballos said.
Falcons, eaglets, hawks, turkey vultures, ducks, geese, pelicans and hummingbirds, as well as bats, will fly to various Mexican regions, or to the coasts of Central America. In Mexico, birds particularly favor the Selva Maya region, a protected area also known as the Lacandon Jungle, that extends over the Yucatán Peninsula, Belize and Guatemala; and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in Oaxaca.
The bird specialist said that in many of Mexico’s urban zones it is possible to observe migratory species such as Wilson’s warbler that flies down from Canada, and the American white pelican, which finds its winter home on the wetlands around Mexico City, Xochimilco, Texcoco, Cahlco and others around the country.
Their journeys are often harrowing. In cities, birds that travel at night are hampered and confused by artificial lights and tall buildings.
Some animals migrate at different times of the year, such as sea turtles that arrive in summer to breed on various beaches in Mexico.