The Blackbirds of Los Terrones

“The first thing I learned as a boy was how to farm. I would help my father out tending the small plot of land we had…um…cultivating the corn. The winter months were the driest in Guatemala, so we always yearned for the black birds to come back in the spring. Every year during April, hundreds of little black birds would fly over the town. 40 days after the day they flew over, it would start to rain. In November, the birds return from their migration. When they return, the rain stops and dry season begins.”

Context and Analysis: The informant grew up in the highlands of Guatemala, and first heard this folk belief when he was younger and spent time with his father. This belief is significant to him because it reminds him of his deceased father. His father had told him the belief, indicating how they would both feed his four older sisters and his mother with the crops they grew. Ultimately, this folk belief is an explanation for the unusually consistent pattern of dry and wet season in the Guatemalan highlands. It is used to calculate the ideal time to plant corn and other crops.