The shot above comes from one of my favorite spots on Earth, Tikal National Park in northern Guatemala. My peregrinations have taken me there on four seperate occasions, three of which were for 5 or 6 months at a time. The park was established to protect and make accessible the archaeological sites associated with this center of Maya civilization. But besides these marvelous examples of Maya architecture (pictured here are Temple 2 in the foreground, Temple 3 on the right, and Temple 4 in the distance to left) the park encompasses 576 square kilometers of tropical deciduous forests, home to jaguars, tapirs, army ants, parrots, and toucans.
The park is also home to some 35 species of breeding birds of prey, which is what brought me there. I had the privilege--as part of my Masters of Science program at Boise State University--of being involved in The Peregrine Fund's "Maya Project." This was a conservation research effort focusing on raptors as key indicator species, in which we studied the nesting habits, food preferences, home range and habitat requirements--in short, all aspects of the natural history--of little-known hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls of the New World tropics.
It was an exciting time, and one that remains an important part of who I am. Introducing this topic to my blog will enable me to share some of the interesting things that were learned, as well as to insert a pretty picture now and again. So, watch for periodic posts on the raptors (and other creatures) of Tikal.