Good afternoon, all! Boa tarde todos!

We write you from the warm, dry sunshine of Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza. It is hard to believe we have been here for almost 1 month. After settling on the farm, 2 members of the Mococa regional bird watching club joined us for several days to start learning our Brazilian birds. As we are primarily experienced in Illinois birding in, you can imagine just how novel this experience is turning out to be. The colors, the songs, the habitats: what a perfect world to discover the relationship between these birds and the coffee farm.

While not birding during the first week and a half, we increased our knowledge of coffee. Alex Kunzelman, a coffee roaster at Columbia Street Roastery in Champaign IL, spent 2 weeks here at FAF so we joined in several cupping sessions, coffee sorting (for improved quality) and conversations about the coffee practices here and in the partnering Bobolink farms. The beauty of this project lies in the interconnectedness of agriculture and the ever-present ecology. Just today we saw monkeys and capybaras, both in close proximity to some very exciting species of birds.

We spent the 20th to the 29th in the city of Campos do Jordao working at the International Ornithological Congress in conjunction with the University of Sao Paulo. This proved to be a very interesting experience, as we were able to attend lectures on the gamut of ornithological topics from researchers all around the world. Hopefully some of our newfound knowledge will be beneficial for the farm and future conservation.

Following the Congress, we returned to FAF with Marcos, Silvia, and Dr. Russell Greenburg from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. Dr. Greenburg stayed for 2 days before returning to the US and helped us identify many new species. We believe this is just the beginning of future partnership between the Smithsonian and FAF. On Sunday, ornithologist Patrick Pina of the University of Sao Paulo joined us, planning on staying for the next week. He will return later in September with wild animal veterinarian / our advisor Fabiola Prioste, also of USP, for intensive surveying of specific trails that we are now outlining. This project is proving to be wildly successful and very educational. We have talked with many residents of the farms about our project and their knowledge of birds and will be beginning official interviews soon.

Thank you for your support. We are beyond grateful for this experience and hope that everyone has a chance to visit FAF. It has not rained here for over 4 months, but we anticipate the rain and hope the hills turn green once more. Then the bird populations will really skyrocket.

The last month has flown, but we promise to share news more frequently. Look forward to more updates in the near future, and we would love to answer questions!

Abrašos,

Lauren Williams & Lauren Flowers
September 2010