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  • Avian Field Technicians

    Annie Meyer SSRS
    • Employer: Southern Sierra Research Station
      Location: Weldon, California
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 03/15/2024
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    Start Date: mid-May 2024 (somewhat flexible)

    End Date: early- to late-August 2024, with possibility for extension into the fall

    Application Deadline: none, but application review will begin immediately and offers will be made as soon as qualified candidates are identified.

    Website: https://southernsierraresearch.org/careers/



    $620-720/week DOE for general avian technicians (1-7 positions)

    $680-800/week DOE for point count technician (1 position)

    40hr work weeks, with overtime pay according to California State law

    All positions include housing, 1hr/week of sick time, and paid federal holidays


    Job Description: The Southern Sierra Research Station (SSRS) is looking for 2-8 seasonal, full-time avian field 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 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. 

    • Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (SWFL) population monitoring and conservation in the Kern River Valley. Technicians will conduct SWFL broadcast surveys, assist with brown-headed cowbird control by target-netting and trapping, and work as a team to conduct vegetation sampling. 
    • Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo (YBCU) population monitoring in the Kern River Valley. Technicians will conduct YBCU broadcast surveys and color band resighting on the South Fork Kern River, as well as assist with YBCU target-netting. There may be opportunities to track tagged YBCU with handheld radio telemetry.
    • Long-term avian monitoring in the Kern River Valley. 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 populations on the South Fork Kern River. Point counters will participate in up to 2 weeks of point count surveys.
    • MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) bird banding station at the Kern River Preserve. All technicians will have the chance to assist at our MAPS station and will receive training in handling, banding and processing songbirds equivalent to a beginning bird banding workshop (~4-5 days over the course of the season).
    • Least Bell’s Vireo nest monitoring for our small population in the Kern River Valley. Technicians will locate Least Bell’s Vireos opportunistically, determine breeding status and assist with nest monitoring.
    • Automated Recording Unit (ARU) monitoring. Technicians will set up and/or retrieve data from ARUs.
    • Motus station construction, maintenance, and data retrieval. Motus is a rapidly growing research tool for wildlife tracking (www.motus.org). We have several Motus projects here at SSRS, including both tagging birds and installing Motus towers (stationary radio receivers) across California. Technicians will assist with Motus station duties as needed, no previous experience required.

    All projects require thorough data management skills and organization. Data entry and proofing will be a daily duty. Position is full time (typically 40hrs/wk). Shared field housing is provided in Weldon, CA, 5-10 minutes from most field sites. Field vehicles are provided in most cases, a personal car is recommended for weekends but not required. We pay mileage for any use of personal vehicles for work and per diem for overnight stays away from the station. 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 a 30-mile radius 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. The Kern River Valley and vicinity is a major stopover site for birds during spring migration, as well as a breeding site for Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Summer Tanager, Vermillion Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, White-headed Woodpecker, Flammulated & Spotted Owls, Kern Red-winged Blackbird, Tricolored Blackbird, Black-chinned Sparrow, Black Swift, and LeConte’s Thrasher, to name just a few. Additionally, there are excellent opportunities nearby for river sports, mountain biking, climbing, fishing, hiking/backpacking, etc.


    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 an avid 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 be willing to have atypical weekends (not Sat-Sun)
    • Must have a positive attitude and the ability to live and work well with coworkers. This includes being respectful to fellow staff and keeping shared spaces clean. Technicians are expected to share in household duties. 
    • Ability to communicate clearly with coworkers and supervisors
    • 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.


    Desired Qualifications:

    • Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology, Wildlife Management, Zoology, Environmental Science, Biology, Natural Resources, 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. Non-work experience in bird ID is applicable! 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, as well as work pre-scheduled irregular hours on occasion.
    • Ability to navigate using GPS/map/aerial imagery and compass, previous experience using ArcGIS Field Maps
    • 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 fieldwork but lacks experience.


    How to apply: 

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

    1. cover letter to describe your interest in this position, highlight your relevant skills/experience, and give your dates of availability for the 2024 field season.
    2. resume 
    3. Names and contact information (email and phone) of 3 references

    ...to Annie Meyer at: 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, gender identity, age, citizenship status, sexual orientation, or disability status of an otherwise qualified individual. 

    Feel free to reach out to the listed email address with questions!

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