Birds of the Guatemalan Maya monuments

This video says about itself:

Resplendent Quetzal

Male and female in municipal forest protecting watershed above Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala, between 1200 meters and 2100 meters. Birds were videotaped 11 June 2001 just after 12 noon.

From Cornell University in the USA:

Sept. 9, 2008

CU researchers survey for rare birds among Mayan ruins

By Krishna Ramanujan

During a trip to the forests of northern Guatemala earlier this year, Cornell natural sounds expert Greg Budney and his cohorts captured the first recording of a Caribbean dove in Guatemala and one of only a handful of known recordings of the bare-throated tiger heron, which emits a “spectacular low-deep” croon.

Budney, audio curator of Cornell’s Macaulay Library, and other researchers from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology traveled to Guatemala‘s Petén region to inventory bird species and collect audio recordings at two pre-Columbian Mayan archaeological sites within the 5 million-plus-acre Maya Biosphere Reserve.

Invited by the Foundation for Anthropological Research and Environmental Studies (FARES), a Guatemalan archaeological research organization, the Cornell ornithologists recorded 184 bird species. The reserve holds one of the largest intact tropical forests in Central America as well as key Mayan archaeological sites at El Mirador and Tintal, where the Cornell researchers focused their surveys. The bird count may help with long-term biodiversity conservation plans at the reserve.

The Mayans ruled in this area for 400 to 500 years and modified the environment drastically,” said Eduardo Iñigo-Elias, coordinator of the lab’s Neotropical Conservation Initiative and project leader of the Guatemala expedition. Budney described flying by helicopter and seeing isolated forested peaks, which were actually the ruins of huge pyramids, and white lines, or sakbej, created by ancient Mayan roads that transected the forest to connect ancient cities.

“The Mayans raised the forest floor by one or two meters for paths” that redirected water in these lowlands, created pockets of wetlands now used by water birds and altered the soil and vegetation over time, said Iñigo-Elias. The ruins have created a diverse habitat for birds and wildlife.

Budney recorded sounds of such species as the ocellated turkey, whose feathers are iridescent blue; the great curassow, a black pheasant-like bird with a yellow beak; as well as black howler and spider monkeys. The researchers were encouraged to see these birds and monkeys in large numbers because they are heavily hunted in other parts of Central America by coal miners and loggers.

“The lack of roads keeps it pristine,” said Chris Wood, a member of the Guatemala team and project co-leader of the lab’s eBird citizen-science project, through which birders update a permanent database with their sightings. “Roads are a huge predictor of species richness.”

The researchers also sighted and collected audio of many neotropical migrants, birds that breed in North America and winter in the neotropics, including the yellow-bellied flycatcher. Of the many warblers sighted, the northern parula and golden-winged warbler in particular are considered rare for northern Guatemala.

The Cornell group, which included eBird co-leader Marshall Iliff and lab research associate Thomas Schulenberg, has plans to continue working with FARES and other Guatemalan organizations to assess important conservation sites and to possibly develop a large conservation program.

The trip was partly funded through a gift to Cornell from the Wolf Creek Charitable Foundation and another gift to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology from anonymous donors interested in supporting research and conservation of the orange-breasted falcon, one of the birds that lab researchers sighted in Guatemala. The trip was also funded by FARES and the Republic of Guatemala‘s Institute of Anthropology and History.

March 2012. The Wildlife Conservation Society and partners have signed an agreement that will safeguard some 80,000 acres of intact forest in Guatemala in the heart of the sprawling Maya Biosphere Reserve: here.

This video is about a male orange-breasted falcon at its nest.

New research reveals the earliest evidence for corn in the New World: here.

UC scientists determine that ancient Maya practiced forest conservation — 3,000 years ago: here.

Ranchers, drug barons, and their destructive friends threaten a rain forest in Guatemala: here.

December 2010. Sierra Caral is the single most bio-diverse forest remnant in Caribbean Guatemala, and is an unparalleled centre of endemism for amphibians, reptiles, and insects. It is probably the top conservation priority for acquisition in the country, and possibly in the Caribbean slope of northern Central America. Seven endemic species of amphibians have recently been discovered in the region, plus the arboreal Blue Pit Viper – Bothriechis thalassinus (named for its amazing blue tonality): here.

Current distribution and population status of the Endangered Azure-rumped Tanager (Tangara cabanisi) in Guatemala: here.

10 years ago, the magic of the turquoise plumage of the Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) inspired the creation of the Yucatan Bird Festival “Toh”; this bird species is associated with Mayan archaeological sites, and its feathers frame the reflection of the sky on the calm waters of the cenotes (sinkholes) of Yucatan: here.

Ocellated turkey: here.

6 thoughts on “Birds of the Guatemalan Maya monuments

  1. Maya nut changes lives while aiding the rain forest

    * Story Highlights
    * Erika Vohman teaches women in Central America the value of their native Maya nut
    * Nutrient-rich seed grows abundantly in rain forest but many are unaware of it
    * With Vohman’s help, communities have planted more than 800,000 trees

    FLORES, Guatemala (CNN) — In the rain forests of Central America grows the nutrient-rich Maya nut. The marble-sized seed can be prepared to taste like mashed potatoes, chocolate or coffee. To those who stumble upon the nuts on the ground, they’re free for the taking.

    The problem, however, is that many people living in areas where the Maya nut grows abundantly don’t know about it.

    Erika Vohman is trying to change that — and improve rain forest conservation and women’s status in the process.

    “People are living right there, in extreme poverty, not even eating more than one meal a day and there’s Maya nut lying all around,” Vohman said. “They don’t eat it because they don’t know.”

    Vohman has traveled to Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, conducting workshops that teach women how to harvest, prepare and cook or dry the prolific seeds into tasty, hearty foods.

    The 45-year-old biologist first encountered the Maya nut while visiting rural Guatemala a decade ago for an animal rescue effort. An indigenous colleague told her of the native resource, once an essential food staple of his Mayan ancestors; the civilization had widely cultivated the large tropical rain forest tree, the Brosimum alicastrum, that produces the Maya nut.

    That colleague prepared a Maya nut soup for Vohman and she found it delicious.

    Having watched impoverished Guatemalan communities clear rain forests to plant food, it struck Vohman that the key for uplifting Central American communities was to help them return to their roots.

    She subsequently attended graduate school and learned how she could help these populations make the most of Maya nut — a resource that didn’t require forest destruction for planting.

    In 2001, Vohman created The Equilibrium Fund to help alleviate poverty, malnutrition and deforestation by teaching communities about their native Maya nut forests. Do you know someone who should be a CNN Hero? Nominations are open at

    Far-reaching benefits of the Maya nut

    With one tree able to produce as much as 400 pounds of food a year, using the Maya nut prevents rain forest clear-cutting to harvest other foods and increases populations’ food supplies. Dried, the Maya nut can be stored for up to five years — a lifeline for regions with frequent drought.

    The Maya nut has high levels of nutrients including protein, calcium, fiber, iron and vitamins A, E, C and B.

    “For some reason, people have stopped eating this food, which is one of the most nutritious foods you can get,” Vohman said.

    It is also less susceptible to climate changes than the crops that had been brought in to replace it.

    In the rural village of Versalles, Nicaragua, women gather and cook the Maya nuts into pancakes, cookies, salads, soup and shakes that feed their community year-round. It is one of 700 communities so far where “The Maya Nut Revolution,” as it has come to be known, has taken hold. Video Watch how the Maya nut is transforming communities in Central America »

    “These women are responsible for raising the next generation,” Vohman said. “If a woman’s not educated and doesn’t have access to any job opportunities, it makes it really hard. Our workshops [help them] acquire the skills and knowledge to feed their families and better their lives.”

    Training rural women about the Maya nut has made them champions of rain forest conservation and reforestation, as well as entrepreneurs who turn Maya nut products into income. Training empowers women to educate others in neighboring communities, subsequently spreading the wealth.

    The Equilibrium Fund has taught more than 10,000 women across five countries about Maya nut for food and income. More than 800,000 Maya nut trees have been planted for rain forest conservation.

    The group has found that where the Maya nut tree disappears, 50 to 80 percent of local species are wiped out in six months to a year.

    Seeing the widespread effect of her group’s endeavors keeps Vohman going.

    “It’s impacting gender equality. That’s a huge paradigm shift,” she said.


  2. 1,100-year-old Mayan tomb found

    Mexico: Archaeologists have found an 1,100-year-old Mayan tomb in the country’s southern Chiapas state on the Pacific coast.

    Archaeologist Juan Yadeun said the tomb and ceramics from another culture found in it may reveal why Mayan city states collapsed around the year 820.

    “It is clear that this new tomb is from a new wave of occupation of the Toltec people in central Mexico and may reveal if the Maya ended because of a war with them,” he suggested.


  3. 1,100-year-old Mayan tomb found

    Mexico: Archaeologists have found an 1,100-year-old Mayan tomb in the country’s southern Chiapas state on the Pacific coast.

    Archaeologist Juan Yadeun said the tomb and ceramics from another culture found in it may reveal why Mayan city states collapsed around the year 820.

    “It is clear that this new tomb is from a new wave of occupation of the Toltec people in central Mexico and may reveal if the Maya ended because of a war with them,” he suggested.


  4. Pingback: Mayas did not believe in 2012 doomsday | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Guatemala ecology, archaeology threatened | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Non-elite Mayans’ depictions discovered | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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