The III BBMA course took place November 16-22 at the Pró-Mata research forest, 150 km from the city of Porto Alegre and on the southern end of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. The initiative was sponsored by the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), with support from the National Audubon Society, the Louisiana Bird Observatory, the Costa Rica Bird Observatories, CORBIDI and ABECO. Motivated by the growing number of bird banders in Brazil and by recent improvements in techniques for ageing passerine birds, we aimed to 1) promote the best possible command of basic banding skills while analyzing molt cycles of forest understory birds in the Serra Gaúcha region; and 2) contribute to the formation of open-minded, field-tested, professional banders that will apply their skills here or anywhere else in the world.
Although our syllabus was initially geared towards Brazilian graduate students, we enrolled both students and professionals from within and outside academia. In total there were 19 participants from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and the United States. NABC-certified banding trainers Jared Wolfe (LSU), Erik Johnson (U.S. National Audubon Society), Pablo Elizondo (Costa Rica Bird Observatories), Diego Garcia (Corbidi, Peru), and Camila Gómez (SELVA, Colombia) offered their profound knowledge of South American birds and worked with a team of local and guest ornithologists assisted by Gonçalo Ferraz. Pró-mata is a privileged because it stands on the confluence of three major vegetation types: tropical rainforest, Araucaria forest, and the upland grasslands of Rio Grande do Sul. With this habitat diversity, over five days of fine weather, we made 509 captures of 78 bird species, exceeding the number of species and captures of the two previous BBMA courses in the Amazon.