Mark DiGirolamo has had a strong interest and appreciation of ecology since his childhood. Mark became a serious student of ecology and explorer of nature during his high school years when Joe Van Os was teaching science at the Cinnaminson Alternative School near Philadelphia which Mark attended. Starting with birding field trips to Brigantine NWR, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Plum Island, Mark became infatuated with birding and learning about the intricacies of ecology. After high school he traveled with Joe Van Os viewing rare birds along the east coast and assisting Van Os with research projects for the National Audubon Society on Matinicus Rock, Maine studying Leach’s Storm Petrel and other seabirds. Subsequently, Mark helped Joe with a scouting trip to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
Before assisting Joe Van Os in Mexico Mark was already experienced with the birds and tropical ecology of Mexico having previously spent four months traveling the country learning about the ecology and Latin American culture of Mexico. These trips cemented Mark’s interest and love for the birds, ecology, and the culture of Latin America. Through the 1980’s and 1990’s Mark made numerous trips to Central and South America to many different countries continuing his fascination for this part of the world. During this period Mark was an assistant nature tour guide for Willimetz Travel of Cushing, Maine helping to lead birding and nature tours in countries such as Venezuela, Belize, Costa Rica, and others.
During the early 1990’s Mark returned to school earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental studies from the University of Maine at Machias which brought him back to the tropics for his studies and volunteer projects mostly in Costa Rica. The projects involved studying the impacts of the growing eco-tourism industry in Monteverde, Costa Rica, leading nature tours in the rainforest of this area, and editing and compiling a complete bird list for a remote ecotourist lodge in the northeast part of the lowland rainforests of Costa Rica.
After graduating college in 1997 Mark’s professional career in ornithology and botany began. Mark has worked for several years assisting with many research projects and carrying out contracts for the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department, the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mark has been fortunate enough to work all over the state of Maine from the southern farmlands, western mountains, great north woods, to the islands off the coast of Maine working with many excellent agencies, biologists, researchers, and field assistants. Some of the exciting projects included: looking for signs of breeding of Peregrine Falcons and Golden Eagles at present and historical nesting eyries around the state; searching for singing males and nesting Sedge Wrens and Yellow Rails in wetlands of the north woods; banding, radio collaring , and tracking the movements and causes of death of American Woodcock for a regional population decline research project; study monitoring populations of grassland birds in many different habitats all over the state; studying nesting habits of Common Eiders on Petit Manan Island; and performing a botanical and bird species inventory of South Libby Island of Downeast Maine.
Most recently, Mark has been working with ornithologist/ecologist Dr. Richard Podolsky assisting him with field work assessing the environmental impacts to birds and other wildlife for various wind energy and other development projects in New England. These projects have included: performing daily hawk watch surveys observing height and direction of flight in addition to species, and breeding bird surveys on mountain tops in New Hampshire; taped song playback surveys for Bicknell’s Thrush and breeding bird surveys in the mountains of northern Maine for proposed mitigation conservation properties; and breeding bird surveys in nearby forests to rooftop surveys of migrating seabirds and hawks monitoring height and direction of flight for a project in a more urban environment but close to prime seabird and migratory bird habitats.