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.
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,
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