The Toh is here!

Take a good look at this gorgeous bird:

Eumomota superciliosa (Photo © Ivan Gabaldon).

It is, of course, a Turquoise-browed motmot (Eumomota superciliosa), a truly good looking bird known locally as Toh, considered the poster child for the beautiful avifauna of the Yucatan Peninsula. I photographed this one a couple of weeks ago at the Ek-Balam archaeological site, an awe inspiring location I have visited in three occasions, never failing to see two or three members of this beautiful species.

The Toh is without a doubt the perfect choice of a bird to lend its name to the Peninsula’s prime birding event, The Toh Bird Festival, now reaching its XI edition and organized for the third year in a row by Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan.

The Festival’s opening ceremony will take place this coming Friday 23 of November at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatan in Merida (located on the corner of 57 and 60 streets in Merida’s historical center). Proceedings will begin at 5:00 pm with the conference “Birds as a tool for conservation”, by Dr. Juan Chablé. At 6:00 pm the “Colectivo Teatral Ariel Méndez” will stage the play “Historias de Pájaros”. After the performance, rules for the Toh Bird-a-thon will be explained to participants and kits handed out. Then, at 7:00, a friendly ceremony will serve to present awards to winners of the festival’s drawing and photography contests.

It would be false modesty to deny that we’re excited about the awards ceremony: we have been notified that one of our images was deemed worthy of the First Prize in the Professional Photographers category of the contest. I refrain from publishing it here so that I may include it in a later report on how it all went.

Complete information about the Toh Bird Festival is available in the Festival’s FaceBook page. There’s still time to sign up and participate in the Birdathon, a fun competition in which teams of birders work hard through a 24 hour period to spot and identify the greatest number of species. Birders without a team may be included in other teams by showing up Friday night at the opening event and asking to be assigned to one of the teams already in place.

If you’re wondering what taking part in the Bird-a-thon may be like, you can read the full RIDE INTO BIRDLAND report on last year’s festival, starting here. The Toh Festival is not only a great experience, but also an excellent opportunity to meet fellow bird aficionados and learn from others. Happy birding!


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