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  • Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Spring Migration Waterbird Counter

    Michigan Audubon
    • Employer: Michigan Audubon
      Location: Paradise, MI
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 01/15/2022
      Open Until Filled: Yes


    Since 1984, the spring waterbird count has been conducted at Whitefish Point to quantify the volume of migrating waterbirds in the Whitefish Point migratory corridor on the shore of Lake Superior.

    The goals of our long-term waterbird census are to determine the migration chronology of waterbirds at the Point and to quantify the volume of migrants. In addition, the waterbird counter at WPBO each spring shares the sightings and experiences of spring migration through outreach and education with Michigan Audubon’s members, community, and visitors to Whitefish Point.

    Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO) is a long-term avian monitoring and research site as well as a Globally Important Bird Area. Michigan Audubon’s primary migration monitoring and research site, WPBO is located in Paradise, Mich., on the shores of Lake Superior.


    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 virtual and in-person 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 — and previous migration count experience.

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


    • 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 positive, professional 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.


    • 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; personal spotting scope is preferred.
    • Must have own source of reliable transportation.
    • 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.


    This is a non-exempt, temporary, on-site, full-time employment position from April 15 to May 31, 2022, with all final reports and requirements due on or before June 7, 2022. 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.


    Compensation is dependent on experience, ranging from approximately $2,200 to $2,600 for the temporary employment period. Compensation includes shared field staff housing (internet and utilities included) for the temporary employment period. Housing is located approximately one mile from the count site.


    Interested, qualified applicants may email a cover letter, resume, and three relevant references who can verify bird identification skills (including phone and email) to Operations Manager Liz Throckmorton at office@michiganaudubon.org. Please use the subject “WPBO Spring 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 Spring Waterbird Counter Application.

    Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis with an application deadline of January 15, 2022. The position will remain open until filled. Questions about the position can be directed to office@michiganaudubon.org.

    2022 Spring Waterbird Counter Job Posting.pdf

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