Los Petenes

Burrowing owl

Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia

Found all the way from the prairies of Southern Canada to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America, this is one of the most widespread birds of the New World. Throughout this vast range, it lives in holes in the ground. Though often awake in the daytime, its favorite times to hunt are dusk and dawn. Its prey is mostly insects and rodents. It thrives in captivity, and has bred at the DWA and in other collections. In mythology, owls were messengers of the Mayan Underworld, and companions of the Aztec Death God.

Desert cottontail

Desert cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii

The 17 species of cottontails are entirely New World rabbits, in a different genus from domestic ones. They are distributed from Southern Canada to Northern Argentina. Eight are found in Mexico. This species, found in most of Mexico, as well as a large area of the western US, is named in honor of the famous bird painter, who also collected and painted many mammals. Cottontails make frequent appearances in the mythology and art of both the Mayans and Aztecs. In Mayan and Chinese tradition, a rabbit is the companion of the Moon Goddess.

Montezuma quail

Montezuma quail, Cyrtonyx montezumae

Of the six species of quail found in the US, this species has the smallest range within our borders, restricted to West Texas, southern New Mexico and Arizona. It is found widely throughout Mexico, however, and was well known to the Aztecs, who named towns after it and illustrated it in their codeces. It favors oak woodlands, which have decreased due to cattle grazing. Also known as the Harlequin quail, it has long been prized by bird keepers and has never been common in captivity.