Last updateFri, 12 Aug 2022 11am


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Time to head to Petatán, for the great white-pelican show

“Antes de petatearte, hay que ir a Petatán” (Before they roll you up in a petate, you must visit Petatán), I was told by an inhabitant of that small town which is tucked away at the east end of Lake Chapala.

pg8aThis refers to the pre-Hispanic custom of rolling up a cadaver for burial in a thin sleeping mat (petate) made of reeds growing along the shores of most Mexican lakes.

I wholeheartedly agree with this saying, because little Petatán offers visitors an experience quite unlike any other. Everyone has seen pelicans, but the sight and sound of 10,000 huge white birds rising into the air all at once is truly a unique spectacle.

If you think the arrival of the monarch butterflies in Michoacan is something marvelous, then you will surely fall in love with the pelicans of Petatán. As Ana Manso, mayor of nearby Cojumatlán de Régules, recently stated, “Everyone knows the phenomenon of the monarch butterfly, but the pelicans are a bit forgotten.”

Manso is reminding the world that March is the last month you can be sure to see what she and all the local people refer to as “los pelícanos borregones” (the flying white sheep), so called not only for their habit of doing everything together, but also because pelecanus erythrorhynchos is really big—the largest flying bird in Mexico.

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