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  • Warbler/Cowbird Field Technician

    • Employer: University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
      Location: Belknap, IL
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 04/09/2023
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    We seek a field research technician for 3 months to assist with a long-term demographic, behavioral, and genetic study on the Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) and the obligate brood parasite the Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) in the Cache River Watershed in southern Illinois. This technician will be employed by University of Illinois and supervised by Dr. Wendy Schelsky with opportunities for training and interaction with the Cowbird Lab, led by Dr. Mark Hauber. We look to fill this position as soon as possible.

    Primary duties with this position include:

    • Monitoring nest boxes and nests
    • Mist-netting, banding, color-marking, and blood-sampling adult and nestling birds
    • Examining nest contents for ectoparasites
    • Behavioral observations of adults
    • Coordination of electronic surveillance equipment including cameras and rfid systems
    • Data entry
    • Coordination with graduate students and other field crew members
    • Opportunities exist for collaborating on research, depending on the technician's interests. This position provides significant opportunities for enhancing skills.

    Expected hours and compensation:

    The technician will be expected to work 20-50 hours/week with days being longer early in the season and workdays shortening towards the end of the season. Some weekend hours will be necessary. The technician will be hired as a U of I hourly research technician. Daily supervision will be by resident graduate students. Housing will be provided at a communal field house located in Belknap, IL with all rent/utilities costs covered. Food will be the responsibility of the employee. All necessary field equipment will be provided while working on the project.

    Preferred qualifications:

    • Bachelor's degree, preferred but not required
    • Experience handling and banding birds and ablility to read color bands
    • Ability to walk in water, sometimes over the knee, for extended periods
    • Ability to carry 30+ lbs
    • Ability to work long hours under challenging conditions
    • Good spatial awareness in natural landscapes
    • Ability to work independently and within a team
    • Ability and experience driving 4x4 vehicles on dirt roads
    • Attention to detail with respect to following sampling protocols and managing data
    • Tolerance for high heat and humidity, biting insects, snakes, and working in swamps
    • Good and responsive communication with supervisors and coworkers

    Please contact Wendy Schelsky (schelsky@illinois.edu) by April 9, 2023 with a CV and the names and contact information for 2-3 references, or with additional questions. Preferred start date is May 1, 2023, with some flexibility. End date is early August and is negotiable. 

    Project synopsis:

    This project is a continuation of long-term research on the Prothonotary Warbler and brood parasite, the Brown-headed Cowbird, in the Cache River watershed in southern Illinois. Since 1993, we have deployed nest boxes in 10-12 study sites throughout state and federally protected areas in the region. The warblers readily use these nest boxes as they typically nest in tree cavities. Cowbirds parasitize most warbler nests in our system so that we can study, in depth, the population dynamics and behavioral interactions between these two species. We continue to build on long-term data from color-marked warblers and cowbirds to understand their population dynamics and behavioral interactions focusing on the co-evolution between host and brood parasite.

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