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  • Avian Field Technicians

    Guest Annie Meyer
    • Employer: Southern Sierra Research Station
      Location: Weldon, CA (and other sites in southern California)
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 02/03/2023
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    Job Description

    Start Date: early to mid-May, 2023

    End Date: early to mid-August (flexible)

    Application deadline: Review of applications will begin in January, 2023 and will continue until positions are filled.  


    The Southern Sierra Research Station (SSRS) is looking for 3-5 seasonal, full-time avian technicians to assist with multiple avian research and conservation projects. Working at our station, technicians will have the opportunity to be a part of a small research community and to gain training and experience in a variety of field research techniques, such as endangered species surveys, target-netting and passive mist-netting, bird-banding, point count surveys, radio telemetry and attaching Motus tags to birds, vegetation surveys, use of automated recording devices and Motus tower construction/data retrieval. The main projects are described below, however, depending on qualifications and interest, technicians may also have opportunities to work on other projects. Technicians are expected to help where needed as priorities shift through the field season and will be expected to take on some responsibilities that are not directly related to these main research projects. 


    ·       Project 1: Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (SWFL) population monitoring in the Kern River Valley and possibly Vandenberg Airforce Base. Technicians will conduct SWFL playback surveys, cowbird control by target-netting and trapping, and vegetation sampling. 

    ·       Project 2: Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo population monitoring (YBCU). Technicians will conduct YBCU playback surveys and band resighting on the South Fork Kern River, as well as assist with YBCU target-netting. 

    ·       Project 3: Long-term avian monitoring in the Kern River Valley and nearby areas. Technicians with point count and/or strong visual+aural bird identification skills will participate in point count surveys for our long-term study monitoring avian occurrence on the South Fork Kern River. Qualified technicians may also conduct point counts in oak, grassland, and other habitats for an avian monitoring project near Tehachapi, California.

    ·       Project 4: MAPS banding station at the Kern River Preserve. All technicians will have the chance to assist at our MAPS banding station and will receive training in handling, banding and processing songbirds.

    ·       Project 5: Least Bell’s Vireo nest monitoring for our small population in the Kern.

    ·       Project 6: Automated Recording Device (ARU) monitoring. Technicians will set up and/or retrieve data from ARUs in the Kern River and Kelso Valleys.

    ·       Project 7: Motus (motus.org) station construction, maintenance, and data retrieval. Technicians will assist with Motus station duties as needed and may also hand-track tagged birds in the valley.


    All projects will require thorough data management skills and organization. Data entry and proofing will be a daily duty. Position is full time (40hr/week). Shared field housing is provided in Weldon, CA, 5-10 minutes from most field sites. Field vehicles are provided in most cases. We pay mileage for use of a personal vehicles and Per diem for overnight stays. Rubber boots and waders are provided.


    The Kern River Valley is located in the southern Sierra Nevada foothills at the junction of 3 of North America’s 10 floristic provinces. As a result, the landscape is incredibly diverse with an array of distinct habitats boasting many interesting endemics and rare species. This makes it a fantastic playground for naturalists, birders, and outdoor enthusiasts. Within approximately 30 miles of the station you can find extensive Great Valley Cottonwood forest along the South Fork Kern River, towering Giant Sequoias in their southernmost groves, red fir forests at 9000ft elevation on the Kern Plateau, pinyon-juniper woodlands lining the valley slopes and enormous patches of Joshua Trees spilling over from the Mojave desert. In the valley and vicinity we have excellent displays of spring migration, as well as breeding Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Summer Tanager, Vermillion Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, White-headed Woodpecker, Flammulated Owl, Kern Red-winged Blackbird, Tricolored Blackbird, Black Swift, and LeConte’s Thrasher. Additionally, there are excellent opportunities nearby for river sports/whitewater, mountain biking, climbing, fishing, hiking/backpacking, etc.



    Weldon, CA (and other sites in southern California)



    $600 – 700/week DOE + Housing (all housing and utilities at/near our field station included)



    Required Qualifications

    ·       Must be in strong physical condition, with the ability to hike at least 5 miles, through wet overgrown areas, dense vegetation, and downed wood. Depending on spring runoff, this may include the use of waders.

    ·       Must have a strong interest in wildlife biology, avian research/conservation and being outdoors. Must be patient, reliable, and able to persevere through difficult tasks.

    ·       Ability to conduct work independently in the field, start work before dawn and hike to survey points before daylight.

    ·       Must have a positive attitude and the ability to live and work well with coworkers. Technicians are expected to share in household duties.

    ·       It is the policy of SSRS that all employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 and are keeping up with all current CDC guidelines (boosters, masking protocols, etc.). Proof of vaccination will be required on your first day.

    ·       Must have a valid U.S. driver’s license.

    ·       Must be a U.S. citizen, possess a valid U.S. work visa, or be able to apply for a CUSMA (formerly NAFTA) work permit (for Canadian and Mexican Citizens). Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to apply for work visas for residents outside of Canada and Mexico who do not already have a work visa.

    ·       Must be at least 18 years of age.



    ·       Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Biology, Zoology, Environmental Science, or a related field (or in progress).

    ·       The ability to identify western songbirds by sight and sound. Training for all survey protocols will be provided, but prior bird identification skills are required. Applicants with prior experience performing avian point count surveys will be given preference.

    ·       Prior experience conducting avian research in the field

    ·       Prior experience conducting endangered species surveys

    ·       Mist-netting experience, please list your estimated number of birds extracted if applicable

    ·       Willingness to travel for short multi-day trips to various field sites across southern California (Tehachapi, Vandenberg AFB, etc.), have atypical weekend days (i.e. not sat-sun), as well as work pre-scheduled irregular hours on occasion.

    ·       Ability to communicate clearly with coworkers and supervisors

    ·       Ability to navigate using GPS/map and compass, previous experience using ArcGIS Field Maps app

    ·       Willingness to assist with occasional Motus tower construction (no previous experience required)

    Enthusiasm for fieldwork, persistence, a great work ethic, and ability to deal with hard field conditions are more important than past experience or specific knowledge. We are planning to hire one person that has the interest and enthusiasm for field work, but lacks experience.


    How to apply

    Please email a single file (word or pdf) which includes:

    1)    A cover letter stating your interest in this position and your dates of availability for the 2023 field season.

    2)    A resume

    3)    Names and contact information (email and phone) of 3 references to: Annie Meyer at the following email address: jobs.ssrs@gmail.com.


    Include your name and the job you are applying for in the file name of your attachment (e.g. Darwin_C_avian_field_technician_application.doc) and in your email subject line. The Southern Sierra Research Station (www.southernsierraresearch.org) is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate against applicants or employees because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, citizenship status, disability status of an otherwise qualified individual. Feel free to reach out to the listed email address with questions!

    Contact person

    Annie Meyer


    Application email


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