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  • American Oystercatcher Research Technician – Eastern Shore of Virginia

    Mikayla Call
    • Employer: Virginia Tech Shorebird Program
      Location: Eastern Shore of Virginia
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: No value
      Open Until Filled: Yes


    We are hiring one (1) seasonal technician for the first week of April–mid-August (approximately April 3rd to August 15th) to assist with a research project focused on investigating the drivers of American oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) reproductive success on the Virginia barrier islands. The goal of this research is to inform management and improve the conservation of American oystercatchers in Virginia and the Atlantic Coast.

    The technician will be expected to participate in a combination of field- (75%) and GIS- (25%) related work. Specific fieldwork activities include monitoring the survival of American oystercatcher nests and chicks on a remote Virginia barrier island. GIS-related work will include assisting with spatial analysis to quantify climate-change effects on shorebird nesting habitat in Virginia. This project is just one of multiple shorebird projects based at Virginia Tech. For more information about shorebird conservation research at Virginia Tech, please visit https://www.vtshorebirds.org/

    Responsibilities will include:

    • Conducting breeding surveys for American oystercatchers including nest/brood searching and monitoring, while following appropriate methods and research protocol to minimize disturbance to breeding birds.
    • Trapping, radio tagging, tracking, and re-sighting American oystercatcher chicks, following appropriate methods and research protocol.
    • Working in a remote location in sometimes adverse conditions, such as heat, humidity, and biting insects. This type of fieldwork will require the use of a boat, possibly ATVs, and hiking over sand, salt marsh, and other coastal environments to access field sites.
    • Assisting with the operations and maintenance of project-related equipment, such as all telemetry equipment, boat, trailer, ATVs, and truck.
    • Conducting project-related analyses in ArcPro, such as supervised habitat classifications.
    • Contributing to data organization and management, including data download and data input while in the field and at the office.
    • Working closely with other land management organizations, including assisting with other related projects as needed, such as setting up symbolic fencing and signage for seasonal area closures to protect breeding birds.
    • Working a varied schedule, as fieldwork is highly dependent on weather and tides. Weekend and holiday work may be expected.

    Potential responsibilities may also include assisting with other Virginia Tech Shorebird Program projects in Virginia, such as conducting spring migration surveys for red knots and other migratory shorebird species.

    Compensation will be $15/hour and shared housing with other project personnel will be provided.

    Please send a letter of interest, resume or CV, and contact information for three professional references to Mikayla Call at mncall@vt.edu. Applications will be reviewed as received and the position will remain open until filled. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.


    • Bachelor’s degree in wildlife science, biology, environmental science, natural resource management, or a related field.
    • Ability to work as part of a team and independently, while following appropriate research protocol.
    • Ability to maintain a positive attitude during potentially long field days, irregular work hours (such as, but not limited to, early mornings, work on weekends and holidays), and flexible work schedule (dependent on weather, which cannot always be predicted, and tides).
    • Must be capable of working outside daily under sometimes rigorous conditions (heat, humidity, biting insects) and walking 2-10 miles per day over sand while carrying research equipment (approximately 20 lbs. maximum).
    • Must be comfortable with riding and operating boats and ATVs, as one or both of these are required for accessing our field sites. Training will be provided.
    • Must have a valid driver’s license and safe driving record. Must meet or be willing to complete training to meet Virginia’s Boating Safety Education requirement. 

    Prior experience with any or all of the following are preferred, but not required (training will be provided):  

    • Shorebird identification, monitoring, or other related fieldwork.
    • Capture and handling of wild bird species, including for banding or application of radio/GPS tags.
    • Trailering and operating boats and/or ATVs.
    • Using GIS mapping and analysis software, such as ArcMap, ArcPro, and/or ArcGIS Collector/FieldMaps

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