Mario Cohn-Haft, American and the husband of Rita Mesquita, is an expert on birds and has guided Bill
Gates (Microsoft) and rock star Peter Gabriel around the Amazon. He knows an immense number of
species, and can mimic many of their calls. He very much likes exploring and is often out in the wild, and
up before dawn, to see and hear birds.
Mario Cohn-Haft is a researcher on the biogeography of Amazonian birds,
meaning the biological consequences of geography and environment. At one
time, he thought his perfect job would be to lead bird watching tours. Now,
he actually has birders come to help him do research!
Born in rural western Massachusetts, Mario spent much of his childhood
pursuing wildlife. I went through a butterfly phase, frog phase, snake
phase, you know... Both his parents were educatorshis father a professor
of Ancient History at a nearby college, and his mother with a masters in
education. Though none of his family were scientists, his interest in nature
was encouraged by academically-inclined relatives, and he remembers getting
field guides, binoculars, and magnifying glasses at every holiday.
His special fascination with birds began when his parents moved out to a new
place in the countryside, where multiple bird-feeders outside the dining
room windows provided a constant display of shapes, sizes and sounds. I was
hooked, he says. I bought my parents a field guide to birds for their
anniversary, but it really ended up being a present to myself, because I
used it all the time.