To keep myself available, I lived at home, waited tablesand sang in a
band. No, really! I have a good ear for music, in fact, Id considered
a music major. The singing, though, is not as far off from my current work
as you might think ...My ear for music has really helped me in working with
the bird songs, and learning to recognize and imitate them, which is a major
part of any field research on birds.
Though Mario was only working to support himself until the prized assignment
at INPA came through, ironically, when he was finally cleared he couldnt
actually leave right awaybecause his band had commitments to play and he
couldnt back out of them!
But once he got to INPA, his six-month assignment only whetted his appetite.
To continue working in the Amazon, he started a masters program at Tulane
University, with a professor who had moved to Tulane from Dartmouth. His
masters research project was a bird diet study, where hed have to
the contents of birds stomachs to determine what they had been eating.
me, a bird guy, had to learn to identify all these different insects by
looking at half-digested pieces of them! He pauses. I learned to do it,