Date - June 06, 2019
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy,, Philadelphia, PA 19103
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Birds Among the Modern and Ancient Maya

Birds Among the Modern and Ancient Maya
Speaker: Rob Fergus

How did the Turkey Vulture get its red head? Which bird did the Ancient Mayan creator god transform into in order to bring messages to people? Which bird eggs have magical powers among the Chontal Maya of Tabasco, Mexico? What bird warns Lacandon Maya farmers if a dangerous snake may be nearby? What messages do owls bring to modern Chol, Ch’orti’, Mopan, and other Mayan speakers? Ancient and Modern Maya communities have over 2000 years of extensive cultural interactions with birds. Since 2006 Rob Fergus has been working with linguist Kerry Hull (BYU) and native Mayan speakers to document and study bird names and folklore among nine Mayan language communities in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. This presentation provides a glimpse into fascinating cultural worlds, where birds are community members that bring important messages, warnings, and healing to the lives of their human neighbors.

Rob Fergus studies human-bird interactions and received his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. Rob is the former executive director of Travis Audubon Society, founder of the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory in Austin, Texas and National Audubon Senior Scientist for Urban Bird Conservation. He currently teaches geography and environmental studies at Rowan University and is president of the Birding Club of Delaware County.

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