When you visit the Rancho you will discover an incredible range of birds out on the rides, and the eagle is just one of those magnificent species. The eagle is North America’s largest bird of prey and rather importantly, the Golden Eagle is the national bird of Mexico.
The birds are dark brown in colour, with lighter golden plumage on their head and necks. You can easily spot one up high in the sky as their wing tips look like fingers outstretched into the wind. These birds are incredibly nimble and can dive upon their prey at speeds of over 150 miles / 241 kilometers per hour. Their speed and sharp talons allow them to hunt for a wide variety of prey including rabbits and mice, reptiles, fish and other birds.
Mexico’s coat of arms has been an important symbol of Mexican politics and culture for centuries, spanning way back to when the city was originally named Tenochtitlan. The coat of arms that sits proudly on today’s Mexican flag depicts a golden eagle, perched on a prickly pear cactus, devouring a rattlesnake. This is the Aztec legend that when an eagle was found sitting on a cactus devouring a snake, they had found the site to begin to make their treasured city.
The original meanings of the symbols to the people of Tenochtitlan were all very different. The eagle was a representation of the sun god Huitzilopochtli, this was very important as the Mexicans referred to themselves as the “People of the Sun”. The cactus represented the island of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City was originally an island surrounded by a vast water). And the snake represented wisdom and this animal to had strong meanings with an alternative god.
When the Europeans later came to Mexico, it would come to symbolize the triumph of good over evil (with the snake sometimes representative of the serpent in the Garden of Eden).
But in 1960 the prized eagle on the Mexican flag was proved to be a bit of a fake! The Mexican ornithologist Rafael Martín del Campo identified the eagle as the Northern Caracara a species common in Mexico, and actually related to the falcon.
However one thing remains true, and that is the majesty and grace of the eagle in Mexico, and its long-standing appreciation by the Mexican people.