Volunteer banding/research assistants are needed for help on an exciting project studying orientation behavior of vagrant passerines (rare birds), and Blackpoll Warblers during fall migration in Nova Scotia. This project is a continuation of work led by PhD student Lucinda Zawadzki to understand why vagrants occur on offshore islands during autumn migration. Photos from last field season can be viewed on Lucinda’s Instagram account, @bird_queen, to get a general idea of what to expect, and to see some of the exciting birds that we might catch!
Volunteers will be responsible for:
· Daily mist-netting and banding of individuals for 6 hours a day, starting before sunrise
· Daily field surveys to look for vagrant birds
· Help maintaining the “Daily Log” to tally all birds seen and captured that day
· Monitoring captive birds throughout the day, and set up of orientation cages for experiments; experiments begin one hour before sunset, and run for 2 hours
· Set-up and maintenance of automated MOTUS radio telemetry towers
· Routine maintenance and cleaning of cabin and facilities/equipment
· Banding data entry
Work will be carried out on the remote, but wonderful island of Bon Portage, just off the southwest coast of Nova Scotia. This site provides amazing birding opportunities, and experiences large fallouts of vagrants and other migrants during the fall (see eBird lists in recent years for an idea). It is also home to the largest Leach’s Storm Petrel colony in the Maritimes. We will be staying in a rustic cabin, equipped with a wood burning stove, propane stovetop and fridge, and bunkbeds. Food and accommodation will be provided for volunteers. Assistants should be prepared for isolated living conditions, rugged terrain, long days in the field, inclement weather, and infrequent supplies of fresh food. A typical day will involve walking up before sunrise, banding birds for 6 hours, followed by general maintenance, which can include checking radio towers, data entry, or cleaning the cabin. Experiments will then be set up 2 hours before sunset, and birds will be released an hour after sunset.
This project will run from 8/1/19 to 11/1/19. Volunteers are needed for the following time periods: 1) early August to early September, 2) early September to early October, and 3) early October to early November. Applicants are asked to volunteer for one month minimum. Please list availability on the application form. For those wishing to stay for longer than one month, opportunities to leave the islands are very limited, and individuals should be able to withstand long periods of isolation.
For more information on the islands or project, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
An article published by the CBC last year about this work can be found here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/volunteers-wanted-rare-bird-study-bon-portage-seal-island-1.4731228
Location: Bon Portage Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
Salary: This is an unpaid volunteer position, however food and accommodation will be provided for the duration of the project. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to and from Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia (our launch point to the islands).
Interested applicants should have a familiarity with identification of eastern North American birds by sight and sound. Prior experience with mist-netting, banding, and/or radio telemetry are encouraged, but are not required. Applicants should be interested in a number of the following (the more the better): birds, wildlife, ecology, field biology, and animal behavior, and should have an enthusiasm for learning.
Applicants should have experience living in remote field conditions. A love of the outdoors, and the ability to thrive in a remote location in varying weather conditions, without access to running water (no showers), and limited electricity, are essential. Islands are fantastic places to work, however, they are isolated and unpredictable environments, so it is imperative to be able to maintain a positive attitude and be flexible while working under these conditions. A willingness to work long hours, good physical fitness, a strong work ethic, and ability to work well with others are musts. Food supplies are often limited to dry goods, as we tend to run out of fresh food quite quickly. Individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to live under these conditions for extended periods of time.
Individuals should have a Bachelor’s degree, or be near completion. Those interested in pursuing scientific research are strongly encouraged to apply, as this position will provide a unique opportunity to see how PhD research projects are carried out in the field. These openings may be best suited for recent Biology/Ecology graduates who want to gain field experience before continuing with post-grad research.
Please send a cover letter, CV, two letters of reference, and the application form (download from website listed above), to Lucinda Zawadzki: email@example.com, with the subject heading “Nova Scotia Volunteer Application 2019”.
If the application download doesn’t work, please email Lucinda Zawadzki for the form.
Applications will be accepted until April 10, but positions may be filled earlier. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified after positions have been filled.