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New World parrots on the Cantino Map (1502)


 The Journal or logbook kept by Columbus on his first voyage of 1492 and summarized by his son Ferdinand includes considerable detail on the daily life of the Taino and their houses, trade goods, personal belongings, and pets including dogs and birds. Parrots were seen as trade goods among the first Islanders encountered by Columbus. A few days later, in Cuba the Spaniards visited houses that were "well swept and clean, their furnishing made of very beautiful palm branches... There were wild birds, tamed, in their houses."  

Several weeks later in Hispaniola, when the Taino villagers were providing Columbus with bread made from yams (manioc), they also gave him a native parrot, which he much desired: " They gave... bread and fish and whatever they had. And as [they] had understood that the admiral wished to have a parrot ... they brought them parrots and gave them as many as they asked. The earliest known Spanish illustrations of New World parrots are those shown here from the 1502 Cantino Map.

[Fig:1: New World parrots from the 1502 Cantino Map.]


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