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Category Archive for 'Panama'

Jenny Dunfree gets her first hint of some of the difficulties she will face during an ornithological research project in the San Blas Islands, off the coast of Panama, when the ticket agent at the airport refuses to sell her a one-way ticket. Insisting that she does not want to return the following day, Jenny is unable to convince anyone at the airport that she will stay on Sugatupu for an extended period of time. Her duties, funded by a foundation, are to study a nest of harpy eagles, a rare species, and keep notes on their behavior, their feeding habits, and any eaglets which may appear. Author Louise Young, herself an ecologist who began working in the San Blas islands in 1996, had intended this book to be a National Geographic-style travel piece in which she used the voice of an “armchair anthropologist,” but she says she eventually found that a fictionalized anthropological framework worked better. “Fiction became my tool to muscle stick-figure stereotypes into the array of personalities that inhabit all human communities,” she says.

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