I became interested in ecology at an early age. Initially I just wanted to take pictures, but in doing so I inadvertently absorbed much natural history. The brain of a child is a sponge and the eyes are sharp. I was curious (nearly obsessed) about the Puerto Rican tanager (Nesospingus speculiferus, above left), as it was our only endemic bird genus (now also endemic bird family to Puerto Rico). At 13 years old (1987), and equipped with a Minolta X-370 film camera and a 80-200 mm JC-Penney brand zoom lens, my father took me to El Yunque and Maricao forests (among other places) nearly every weekend to observed birds, especially the flocks of tanagers and other bird species that joined them to forage. Those early years were a fantastic time of pure discovery and adventure, and the Caribbean was my paradise. What I loved the most was that I didn’t know what I was going to find, and thus, every day yielded surprises.
Many years later, I still go through the same process but having learned the formalities of asking questions about what I see, and confront those observations with theories and hypothesis about the inner workings of nature. That’s basically what I do, and that’s what I teach.