Harold Greeney

Natural Historian, Artist, Adventurer
location: Tuscon, Arizona & Cosanga, Napo, Ecuador

Harold is a broadly-trained natural historian with degrees in biology, entomology, and ornithology and may be best known as the creator of the Yanayacu Biological Station & Center for Creative Studies in the Ecuadorian Andes, a place he has lived and worked in for over 15 years. He is the author of more than 250 scientific papers and a recipient of the prestigious Alexander & Pamela Skutch Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He currently resides in Arizona and, when not rearing caterpillars or filming bird nests, dedicates his time to passing on a passionate love of the natural world to his two sons, daughter, and loving wife.

Contribute to Nests and Eggs of Ecuadorian Birds
Contribute to Harold's Expedition to find and document nests and eggs of Ecuador

Project Goals: $50,000

With a goal of $50,000, it is my intention to publish the first field guide to the nests and eggs of Ecuadorian birds. Currently, ca. 20% of Ecuadorian bird species remain without formal, published descriptions of their nests and eggs. The number is roughly similar for Neotropical birds in general. To date, no field guides to bird nests or eggs have been published for any Neotropical country, due largely to these countries’ scarce resources and extremely large and poorly-known avifauna. The book, expected to include more than 800 pages, possibly in several volumes, will be both written and illustrated by me. All funds raised will go toward field expeditions to discover and document these Neotropical eggs and nests, as well as to provide me with the support to write and illustrate this exciting guide book.

my story

I consider natural history to be the cornerstone of sound biological research, and much of my research focuses on gathering, synthesizing, and comparing life history strategies of organisms in the field. I am fascinated by the concept of the extended phenotype, in particular the ecological and evolutionary pressures which have shaped leaf-shelter construction behaviors in caterpillars and nest architecture in birds. I was originally drawn to both of these behaviors when I realized how poorly documented they were in nature and thus have spent the better part of 20 years living in the field and building a broad understanding of shelter and nest architecture across the lepidopteran and avian phylogenies, with a focus on the neotropical fauna. My current and future work will revolve around testing and developing phylogenetic hypotheses using life history and behavioral characters. I am interested in understanding the ways in which both top-down and bottom-up trophic interactions have shaped the evolution of shelter/nest architecture, as well as the consequences of variation within them. I have, and will continue to, form strong collaborations with related disciplines to examine the relationship between observed behaviors and physiology, morphology, and diversity.

During the past 13 years I have discovered, studied, and published the first available information on the nests and/or eggs for nearly 100 species of Ecuadorian birds, as well as supplemented the published knowledge on the breeding of an additional 300 species. In total, during the past decade I have gathered novel information on the reproductive habits of more than half of Ecuador’s ca. 1450 breeding birds, and disseminated much of that information through more than 200 peer-reviewed articles on avian reproduction. My enthusiasm and dedication has directly encouraged the productivity of other ornithologists in Ecuador, with the past decade witnessing the first published information on nest and egg characteristics for an additional 50+ species.


  • It should have been called a moustache
  • Love thy neighbor

▸ Prominent Works

  • Trait-mediated Trophic Cascade
  • The Breeding biology of Grallaria and Grallaricula antpittas
  • Proximity to Active Accipiter Nests Reduces Nest Predation of Black-chinned Hummingbirds
  • Feeding by lepidopteran larvae is dangerous
  • Shelter building in the Hesperiidae

▸ First Nests for Science

  • First description of the nest of Jocotoco
  • First description of the nest of White-browed Antpitta
  • The nest, eggs, and nestlings of Powerful Woodpecker
  • The nest and egg of the Tyrannine Woodcreeper
  • The nest and egg of Dusky Piha
  • Observations on the hatchlings, eggs, and incubation of Masked Trogon Trogon personatus in eastern Ecuador
  • Sericossypha albocristata first nest
  • Nesting and foraging ecology of the Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher
  • First description of the nest and vocaliztions of the Peruvian Antpitta Grallaricula peruviana with a northward range extension
  • The nest, eggs and nestlings of Greater Scythebill
  • A nest of the MArble-faced Bristle Tyrant with comparative comments on nests of related genera
  • The nest and eggs of the Ochraceous Attila
  • A novel nest architecture within the Furnariidae
  • First description of the nest and eggs of Thicket Antipitta
  • The nest and eggs of Turquoise Jay
  • Breeding biology of Pale-edged Flycatcher

▸ First Caterpillar Descriptions for Science

  • Natural history of Eryphanis greeneyi and its enemies
  • The early stages and natural history of Corades medeba
  • The early stages of Pedaliodes poesia
  • The early stages and natural history of Antirrhea adoptiva
  • The immature stages and shelter building behavior of Falga jeconia ombra


Learn more about harold greeney


Yanayacu Biological Station & Center for Creative Studies



Cosanga, Napo, Ecuador

My success will mean the continued discovery and dissemination of natural history data on birds and butterflies in the Neotropics, many of which are considered of conservation concern.
— Harold Greeney

Snapshot of my Work