Once you know something about a group of animals, you come to expect that they will eat particular things. When one thinks of the family Parulidae (New World Warblers) and their diet, the first thing that comes to mind are insects or other small invertebrates and most warblers have fine thin bills ideally suited for catching these things. Also, anyone who has watched these hyper-energetic little birds forage can’t but be impressed by how actively they search out their prey.
In terms of being energetic, the Parulidae are perhaps outdone only by the hummingbirds. Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising then that like the hummingbirds warblers might occasionally put their fine thin bills to use collecting floral nectar to satisfy their energetic needs. While the evidence that warblers do this is circumstantial — I know of no experiments or close observations ruling out the possibility that they are instead visiting flowers to catch small invertebrates — this evidence suggests that it is more likely that many are collecting nectar than not.
Not well-known to many of those visiting the Costa Alegre part of Mexico (that area along the Pacific Coast of Mexico between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo) is that an ancient Nahua community of about 3,000 people — the Ayotitlán community — resides in the mountains above Manzanillo. Most of the pueblos making up this community are within the Sierra Manantlán Biosphere Reserve, a place of remarkable natural beauty and a possible cradle for one of man’s most important crops, corn.
The Nahua of Ayotitlán, like indigenous peoples the world over, have experienced a long history of marginalization and dispossession of their lands. For these people, recent struggles stem from the fact that while the Ayotitlán’s Nahuas live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, that same place is also covered with valuable timber and underlain by nearly pure iron ore, two things that outsiders covet zealously and will go to almost any extent to obtain.
In the midst of this, one group of Nahua women on the northern edge of the Ayotitlan community have found a way to quietly better their lives and in the process are casting a ray of hope for their community and other communities like theirs. These women and their families have organized a collectiva, “Color de Tierra” that runs a remarkable little store in the pueblo of Cuzalapa, Jalisco.