Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Rainbirds of Lake Chapala, harbingers of rain

Click here to hear the rainbirds
One of the first things I heard when I came to the Lake Chapala area was about the rainbirds. Theoretically, when they begin to “sing,” rain is 42 days away. Some of the less fanciful folks say the rain will begin mid-June regardless of the rainbirds. And, some rather harsh locals insist that they are neither birds, nor do they sing.

Admittedly, now that I’ve heard them, I would have to agree that few would call this singing and apparently the “birds” are Lake Chapala’s form of cicadas coming out of their long hibernation. Apparently the males flex their tymbals (drum-like organs on their abdomens) to make a sound somewhat like someone learning to play a one-stringed violin. (Click under the picture above to see if you would call this a song.)

In looking for more information about rainbirds and the weather here in this paradise billed as the second-best climate in the world, I found:

     - May is the hottest month, mainly in the upper 80s with a few 90s thrown into this largely unairconditioned land. However, the humidity is in the 30s so it’s dry heat and cools off at night to 60-70.
     - Rain starts in mid-June and mainly falls at night. (How civilized.) The mountains turn green, flowers flourish and the temperatures stay in the mid-70s to 80 through September. Sunsets are spectacular.
     - Sometimes tropical storms hover over the area, hiding the sun for three or four days, during which time everyone goes into a state of sun-deprived depression.
     - During the tropical storms, the winds play musical furniture with everything that isn’t tied down. 
     - From October through April, the weather is spring like with almost no rain but lots of snow ... birds.

More lake trivia:

Lake Chapala, from the Nahuatal word chapalal meaning the sound of water splashing on a sandy shore, is 50 - 70 miles long and 15-20 miles wide. It was formed 12 million years ago and was 7 times larger than it is now, covering the current city of Guadalajara. Mammoth fossils have been found in the lake bed.

1 comment:

  1. What a great geography lesson--and what a perfect sounding place! I'm glad she's welcomed you with open arms.