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Tropical Bird Banding Training and Field Experience in Ecuador

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Ecuador Andes Bird Banding Assistants (Training and Field Experience)

Cost-share volunteers/trainees are needed to assist with long-term avian monitoring and conservation in the Andes of western Ecuador at the beautiful forest protected area, Reserva las Tangaras. Project have openings as follows: 

Team 1: August 7-20, 2022.  (7 volunteers)

Team 2: December 5–18, 2022   (7 volunteers)      

The December team includes the Mindo Christmas Bird Count, while both teams include birding in Mindo and at Bellavista Reserve.            

Life Net Nature volunteer banding assistants help Dr. Dusti Becker monitor birds at the Las Tangaras Reserve, Mindo, Ecuador.  Our work advances knowledge of tropical montane forest bird communities, including community and species-level responses to deforestation, forest recovery, forest fragmentation, and landscape and climate changes. One's participation also contributes to sustaining a special protected area in the biodiverse Andes of western Ecuador. 

Reserva Las Tangaras, a 51-hectare nature preserve, boasts more than 30 species of hummingbirds, dozens of colorful tanagers, the largest regional Andean cock-of-the-rock display lek, and over 350 tropical bird species, many of which are Choco and Andean endemics.  The reserve is also home to endangered capuchin monkeys, spectacled bear, cougar, and myriads of other wildlife species, including several rare and endangered rain frogs. 

Volunteers are trained to set up and monitor mist nets, help extract birds from nets, carry birds from nets to banding stations, and record ornithological and ecological data in the field.  Training in handling, measuring and banding is also provided to those who demonstrate capacity with these skills. The site is quite rugged, so volunteers must be able to hike on steep, potentially muddy and slippery terrain and cover 3-5 miles on foot per day. Back or joint impairments, or obesity can make the project too challenging for some people. 

Volunteers will have some time to explore the Mindo area, and the team will visit the higher-elevation Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve on the final day of the project.  The December project includes participation in the famed Mindo Christmas Bird Count (CBC) – typically ranking first or second in the world for number of species counted. 

Accommodation is in a spacious research cabin, where each volunteer is provided with a mattress and mosquito netting, a fitted bottom sheet, and pillow. Indoor shower (usually with hot water) and flush toilet make field accommodation rather luxurious.  Volunteers bring their own towel(s) and sleeping bag or warm cover. Meals are delicious, home-style Ecuadorian, prepared by experienced cooks, and vegetarian options can be accommodated. 

The cost-share donation of $1650 covers transportation in Ecuador, meals, and lodging during the 2-week conservation expedition, reserve fees, salaries for Ecuadorian cooks and para-biologists, leader's costs, and all entrance fees and special lunch at the Bellavista Reserve. Airfare to and from Ecuador and expenses in Quito are not included.

The cost-share donation contributes to stewardardship needs of the reserve, educational programs and materials about cloud forest wildlife, maintainance of trails and signs, repairs, preventing damage to the local ecosystem, and feeding resident hummingbirds.  Cost-share donations provide around 25% of the annual funding to sustain this unique and important tropical protected area in the Andes. The other 75% is consumed by the field project, mainly to provide volunteers with food, shelter, training and transportation, and project equipment and supplies. 

This exciting conservation expedition begins and ends in Quito, Ecuador. 

Contact Dr. Dusti Becker, dustibecker@lifenetnature.org, for further details and for an application form.  Experience with banding and mist-netting is desirable, but not required. Students, recent graduates and others looking for hands-on training and resume building experience will benefit greatly from this project.  Participants also have the possibility to project data for future projects including planned research publications, undergraduate projects, or graduate degrees. 

Visit https://lastangaras.wordpress.com/who-are-we/for more details about Life Net Nature and Reserva Las Tangaras.  

To apply, email a brief cover e-letter detailing your experience and interest in participating on the team to Dr. Dusti Becker, dustibecker@lifenetnature.org. (Resume is optional, and helpful).  Dr. Becker will send you more information and an official Life Net Nature volunteer application form.  

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