October 9, 2010: Rob Fergus, PhD: "The Woodpecker is a Witch!  Birds among the Modern and Ancient Maya"

Birds have played important roles in Mesoamerican cultures for thousands of years.  Rob Fergus explored the connections between birds and various Mayan cultures and presented results from his ongoing field work with Kerry Hull among seven different Mayan language groups in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize.  Bird names and bird lore--including notes about birds as social and environmental prognosticators--shed light on modern Mayan world views as well as scenes involving birds in ancient Mayan art and ethnohistoric accounts of later historic Mayan societies.
            Rob Fergus studied bird conservation at the University of Texas, where he received his Ph.D. in 2008.  He is the founding director of the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory, was the first executive director of the Travis Audubon Society, in Austin, Texas, and worked for the National Audubon Society for nearly five years as their Senior Scientist for Urban Bird Conservation.  Dr. Fergus currently teaches geography and environmental science at Rowan University in New Jersey, and conducts ethno-ornithological field work among various Mayan communities in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize.  When he isn't watching birds...well, Rob is always watching birds. But sometimes he does it on his own time with his three kids in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

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