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  • Spring Migration Waterbird Counter

    Michigan Audubon
    • Employer: Michigan Audubon
      Location: Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, Paradise, MI
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: No value
      Open Until Filled: Yes


    With nearly 4,000 acres of protected habitat, 18 bird sanctuaries, and 38 chapters throughout the state, Michigan Audubon is the Great Lakes state’s oldest conservation organization. Formed in 1904, Michigan Audubon continues to grow and expand its mission to connect birds and people for the benefit of both through conservation, education, and research efforts in the state of Michigan. 

    Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO), located in Paradise, Michigan, is a long-term avian monitoring and research observatory, bird sanctuary, and Globally Important Bird Area owned and operated by Michigan Audubon. Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on the shore of Lake Superior, Whitefish Point is a premier migration site in the United States.  Since 1984, the spring waterbird count has been conducted at Whitefish Point to quantify the chronology and volume of migrating waterbirds in the Whitefish Point Migratory Corridor.

    Position Summary

    Michigan Audubon is seeking an experienced, enthusiastic waterbird migration counter for the spring monitoring season at WPBO. The counter provides accurate waterbird identification, monitoring, and reporting in addition to supplemental interpretation and education to site and virtual visitors, members, supporters, and the public during the spring migration season. The ideal applicant possesses excellent waterbird and general bird identification skills — including the critical ability to identify waterbirds in flight — in addition to previous count experience. 

    This is a non-exempt, temporary, on-site, full-time employment position from April 15 – May 31, 2021, with all final reports and requirements due on or before June 7, 2021. The count shift is approximately 8 hours per day beginning at dawn, 6 days/week with some longer days and weeks during periods of peak migration. 

    Early season weather is often harsh and very cold, with few people visiting the site in these conditions. A dedicated, self-motivated individual who can work well in a remote setting and endure challenging conditions in a remote location is required.

    Essential Functions

    • Identify and count all migrating waterbirds and other migrants as required, adhering to established count protocol.
    • Maintain hourly and daily standardized records of waterbird migration data and post daily counts and summary. 
    • Write a weekly blog post, regular social media posts, an end of season narrative article, and a quantitative summary report for the spring waterbird count.
    • Work in collaboration with field and administrative staff at Michigan Audubon/WPBO. 
    • Interact with site visitors, adhering to any public health mandates in effect at the state and municipal levels. 

    Qualifications and Experience

    • Minimum of one season of previous counting experience.
    • Ability to identify North American waterbirds in flight at great distances.
    • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills and a positive attitude.
    • Detail-oriented with demonstrated data collecting skills and a basic understanding of data collection, analysis, and scientific research.
    • Must be computer/tablet literate and capable of entering and managing data (computer access can be provided). 
    • Willingness to work irregular hours under sometimes difficult field conditions; tolerance of long periods of time outside in harsh weather conditions (heat, cold, precipitation, and wind).
    • Must be able to walk on uneven surfaces, stand for multiple hours, and lift 25 lbs. as necessary.
    • Flexibility to adjust hours to meet the needs of the program and organization, including the potential of working overtime hours. 
    • Must have a personal pair of binoculars and a personal spotting scope is preferred.
    • Must have own source of reliable transportation. 

    Preferred Experience

    • Preference will be given to individuals with additional skills counting migrating passerines and other bird groups and 2+ years of previous counting experience. 
    • Previous environmental interpretation and/or teaching skills/background in education, ornithology, biology, etc.
    • Passion for connecting bird and habitat conservation work to people and to the greater community.
    • Experience working with diverse communities and wide-ranging demographics.


    Compensation is dependent on experience, ranging from approximately $300 to $350 per week (totaling $2,100 – $2,500 for the temporary employment period), paid on a biweekly schedule. Compensation includes field housing for the season (housing is located ~1 mile from the count site).

    How to Apply

    Interested, qualified applicants may email a cover letter, resume, and three relevant references who can verify bird identification skills (including phone and email) to Linnea Rowse, Conservation Program Manager, at lrowse@michiganaudubon.org. Please use the subject “WPBO Waterbird Counter Application” and send all materials as a single PDF document.

    While email applications are preferred, required information may also be mailed to: Michigan Audubon, 2310 Science Parkway, Suite 200, Okemos, MI 48864, re: WPBO Waterbird Counter Application.

    Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. The position will remain open until filled.

    Michigan Audubon is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, sex, ancestry, citizenship status, mental or physical disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, veteran status, or military status.


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