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IPBio - Reserva Betary

Bird Ecology Researcher

Iporanga, Brazil

Our bird feeder collects seeds and uses a motion activated camera to film the birds. The scientific aim is to inventory species and the seeds the disperse.

The Location
The Atlantic Forest stretches from the northeastern to the southern regions of Brazil and northern Argentina and southeastern Paraguay. Five hundred years ago, the Atlantic Forest of Brazil covered approximately 330 million acres, but today only 7% remains. In the Ribeira Valley, our region of the Atlantic Forest, we are at the footsteps of 21% of the 7% that is left, it being largest contiguous section of the Atlantic Forest. Despite the forests diminished state it still ranks as a global conservation priority. Although it is now just a small fraction of the size of the Amazon rainforest, the Atlantic Forest still harbors a range of biological diversity similar to that of the Amazon. The Atlantic Forest harbors around 2,200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians – 5% of the vertebrates on Earth. This includes nearly 200 bird species found nowhere else. The Betary Reserve is located next to one of the most famous Brazilian State Parks named PETAR. The region is called the Cave Capital as it known for containing over 300 spectacular caves, some which are accessible to tourists. "


 IPBio’s primary objective is to conduct research on biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest. Due to the dimished state of the forest, studying the wildlife of this region is critical as research is the basis on which conservation efforts can occur. In addition our mission is educate, encourage conservation, management and sustainable use of natural resources; and promote the development of eco- tourism and cultural projects.Our research always strives to have educational applications, such as the production of eBooks, so that our projects not only pertain to the scientific world but entice citizens to understand and care about nature.

Your role as a volunteer

The volunteer program was created so that we could expand our research projects and mutually benefit from the exchange of skills and experiences with volunteers from across the globe. IPBio studies the interaction between frugivorous birds and flora that depend on them for seed dispersal. A behavioral characteristic typical of frugivorous birds is that they defecate when they settle. Therefore, IPBio created a bird feeder which collects these seeds as well as uses a motion activated camera to film the birds at the feeder. 

The scientific aim is to inventory bird species and understand their temporal variation as well as identify seeds species that are deposited by these birds. In partnership with FreeWildlifeBrazil Celine, an animal release center on the reserve, these seeds can then be germinated and used for forest enrichment to provide fruit trees the birds will need after release. This role is essential as it allows us to properly assess which birds we can release back into the wild. Our volunteers work closely with our researchers and volunteer coordinator although once you are trained we expect volunteers to be quite independent to conduct the day to day work.

This project was created in partnership with professors from UNICAMPI, one of the top Brazilian Universities, who are specialized in avifauna. With their expertise we designed a customized bird feeder and developed all the protocols as well as the excel templates to record data and analyze it.

Living at IPBio
Volunteers will stay at the Darwin Guest House, situated on the reserve itself, which accommodates up to 8 people in 2 rooms. This house has a bathroom with a hot shower and has a fully equipped kitchen where volunteers can cook. In addition, IPBio is in the process of constructing a new house to accommodate more volunteers, interns and researchers. It is the volunteer’s responsibility to maintain and clean the house; we take this very seriously. Shops are in the town of Iporanga 6km away from the reserve, which you can walk to or get a taxi, where there are various shops with all you will need.

Every day you will wake up to the sound of birds, monkeys and frogs and can explore the reserves grounds. Our town is called the Cave Capital of Brazil so volunteers often visit our state parks to explore the caves. Hike into the dense forest and visits to waterfalls are also common activities. Tubes, big balloons, are used to drift down the rivers, some of the river route are 3 hours long! After work volunteers can swim on the reserve deck, organize dinners, watch movies, read and go wildlife watching. On the weekend we often have a barbecue or organize dinner at a restaurant. Often there are social events or parties in the community that volunteers can go to.

Typical day

1.) Seeds:

  • Collect seeds once a week from feeder, separate them by species, weight them
  • Preserving 10 seeds of each species in alcohol and the rest are stored for germination
  • Fill out seeds excel to keep a record of seeds found and attempt to identify species

  • 2.) Video Analysis: once a week download videos to watch them and sort data such as: bird species; time; length of stay at the feeder etc

    3.)  Place bird food in the feeder regularly

    A typical day starts at 9am and ends at 4pm and your primary activity in this role will revolve around conducting analysis of the footage taken by the camera and collecting the seeds left under the feeders to identify tree species that birds have been feeding on.

    Details on Arrival

    This project goes on all year long so volunteers can always participate.

    Free-time activities

    1) Caves: Iporanga is called “The Cave Capital of Brazil” with over 400 caves in the town. Below are just the highlights.

    • Casa da Pedra is the world’s largest cave entrance of 215 meters. The trip involves a 2-hour hike to the opening where there is a place to sit down and have a picnic and swim and then a hike back.
    • Temimina Cave has a large opening in the ceiling illuminating its oddly shaped diagonal garden. Then you enter into a dark cave where at the end you find a natural shower hole.
    • Nucleo Santana is a group of caves and is the most commonly visited as it has a wide range of different types of caves. In some caves you can swim.

    2) Tubing/Boia Cross: is a sport where by you get on a big balloon and float down the river. There are various waterways you can do in Iporanga, some more radical and some in the big river which is very relaxing and some last 3 hours.

    3) Cananeia: has various islands with dolphins swimming in between which are very easy to visualize. It is also known for its stunning beaches, awesome boat tours, great restaurants and the mangrove reserve where there are many crabs.

    4) Waterfalls: Iporanga has many waterfalls. “Sem Fim” is a small waterfall walking distance from the reserve. “Vale das Ostras” has 12 large waterfalls in a row.

    5) Quilombos: during the era of slavery many slaves would run away from the plantations and create settlements hidden in the forest. These communities live in relative isolation and you can visit their small towns. For some of the Quilombos the tours include travelling their by boat and having a traditional lunch at one of the families homes.

    6) Social Events:

    • Dinners: there are many nice restaurants were volunteers can have dinner, some more classy like Casarao and some with traditional Brazilian food. There is also a great fish restaurant. Often volunteer will eat out on the weekends.
    • Town Parties: the are a couple of bars in town, some have pool tables and some have dancing areas. On holidays, there are usually town festivals on the streets.
    • BBQ: it is very common to have a BBQ on the weekend which is often accompanied with the traditional Brazilian drink called Caipirinha.

    Water Sports

    Program Requirements

    In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s).
    Language Skills
    You need to speak English (basic level)
    Required Documents
    Nationality Restrictions
    No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
    Other Skills
    Education and experience is a plus but is not required.
    Time Commitment
    Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 09:00 - 16:00

    Suitable for


    Any questions? Just ask. We at IPBio - Reserva Betary are happy to help you.

    Contact Project Coordinator
    Contact & Reservation

    Included Services

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    Our services are free of charge!
    All program fees are charged directly by IPBio - Reserva Betary.
    Services by IPBio - Reserva Betary

    This covers your accommodation, full access to the reserve, internet access, project costs and volunteer coordinator salary.

    Volunteers will pay for their own food and cook for themselves. Volunteers are also responsible for paying for any extra costs such as travel costs, visa costs etc. Volunteers are also responsible for covering their extra activities costs such as dinner out (without drinks) which ranges from 15 to 30 reais or PETAR State Park tour of caves (including a guide, equipment and entrance fee) which costs around 100 to 250 reais depending on how many volunteers go.


    The Darwin House, where volunteers stay, is situated on the reserve itself and accommodates up to 8 people in 2 rooms. This house has a bathroom with a hot shower and has a fully equipped kitchen where volunteers can cook.

    Bedroom (Single) Bedroom (Double)
    Internet Access
    Good access at the project site
    What's NOT included?
    Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either. Food, snacks or beverages are at extra costs.
    Flight Tickets
    The nearest airport is Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) in Sao Paulo. We assist you to find cheap flights to Brazil.
    Travel Insurance
    Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Brazil provides security and is a plus to have.
    If you are intending to volunteer in Brazil you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Brazil.
    Costs (Prices in USD)
    2 weeks (min. stay)
    3 weeks
    4 weeks
    8 weeks
    12 weeks
    24 weeks
    50 weeks (max. stay)
    Average fees

    You can volunteer at the project site in Iporanga/Brazil between 2 weeks and 50 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. IPBio - Reserva Betary will let you know about the final price during your application process.
    Crowdfunding Service
    Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Brazil.
    Deposit (15%)
    The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
    Final Payment (85%)
    Your final payment will be agreed with IPBio - Reserva Betary during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
    Americas South America Brazil Iporanga, Estrada Iporanga – Apiaí, Km 6

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