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 hed always wantedopportunities to lead birding tours
full-time. But now Id fallen in love with the research aspects of the
work, and I dont 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 experiencea
wife! Mario is married to Rita Mesquita, an INPA researcher who youll 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 doesnt work a lot with birds anymore, herself,
but then, Mario can just call them over to the house for her any time!