Mario Cohn-Haft

So, the original six month assignment turned into 3 years at INPA. During one of his brief visits back to school in Louisiana, he made a point of visiting Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, which has one of the most extensive collections of Neotropical birds in the world. He fell in love with the program there; as he says, “I saw all the really cool birds in the collection, and knew that this was the place I wanted to be.” He entered the Ph.D. program at LSU to study rainforest birds, and returned to Manaus for good.

Ironically, his now extensive experience with rainforest birds led to exactly what he’d always wanted—opportunities to lead birding tours full-time. “But now I’d fallen in love with the research aspects of the work, and I don’t want to give that up!” He does lead tours about once a year, however, but just to help out a bit in supporting his research activities and for the fun of it.

But he also got something else from his rainforest birding experience—a wife! Mario is married to Rita Mesquita, an INPA researcher who you’ll also meet during Live from the Rainforest. Coincidentally, Rita had come to INPA first on the same bird-banding internship as he had, and also ended up staying in the Amazon. She doesn’t work a lot with birds anymore, herself, but then, Mario can just call them over to the house for her any time!

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