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  • The Macaw Society: Volunteer Field Assistant in Costa Rica

    The Macaw Society
    • Employer: The Macaw Society
      Location: Pacific side: Nicoya Peninsula and Punta Leona
      Country: Costa Rica
      Last Date to Apply: 07/30/2023
      Open Until Filled: No




    The Macaw Society has been doing psittacine research in the lowlands of southeastern Peru for more than two decades. A long history of dedicated research and monitoring has provided many insights into various aspects of wild parrots and macaws.  Drs. Brightsmith and Vigo-Trauco from the Schubot Center from Avian Health from Texas A&M are now leading its expansion to new areas in the Neotropics through a broad array of collaborative projects focused on the ecology and conservation of psittacines. In Costa Rica, we have partnered with the Punta Leona Hotel (www.hotelpuntaleona.com) which has been hosting long-term monitoring efforts working with wild macaws on the Central Pacific coast for the last 25 years. We have also partnered with RESCATE Wildlife Rescue Center (www.rescatewildlife.org ), one of the oldest and most prestigious wildlife rescue centers in the country that has been leading psittacine reintroductions in the country for over 20 years. We are always looking to collaborate with anyone with a passion for conservation and biology.

    Volunteers are one of the most important aspects of The Macaw Society. The thousands of hours of observations that have been conducted over the decades would not have been possible without the help of the many volunteers and assistants who have offered their time and energy for the cause of science and conservation.

    There are no qualification limitations, although most volunteers come from a biological or environmental sciences background. All applicants are welcome, as we can find a role for almost any type of volunteer. If you are responsible, enthusiastic, self-disciplined, and patient PLUS you enjoy being outdoors and working with wildlife, we encourage you to check out our volunteer assistantship opportunities. We have different volunteer assistantships programs that require different levels of experience from amateur enthusiasts and birdwatchers to graduate-level professionals.

     We are receiving volunteers in our two locations in Costa Rica: Bosque Escondido (Nicoya Peninsula) and Punta Leona (Central Pacific Coast).

    Our different volunteer programs allow you to be part of our research team in one location or in both locations. As an ongoing research project, our positions are available year-round. Daily volunteer activities are specific to each location.


    Bosque Escondido Wildlife Refuge (BE) – A 1,800-acre dry tropical forest in the Nicoya Peninsula is one of the two release sites owned and operated by Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center (www.rescatewildlife.org)

    Hotel Punta Leona (PL) – A beach hotel located in the district of Tárcoles, Garabito County, Province of Puntarenas, just 60 minutes from the city of San José; It has an exuberant tropical forest and beautiful beaches with white sand and green-emerald waters of the Pacific Ocean. (www.puntaleona.com)


    In general, we have two different types of positions that are available year-round. Daily volunteer activities are specific to each location.

    POSITION #1: Long-term volunteer assistant (8 weeks minimum, 3 months stay preferred)

    •Activities: You will be trained to identify all parrots by sight and sound in the area, to conduct wild parrot censuses in the forest and in roosts, to locate foraging parrots plus enter data into computers. You will help to monitor pre-release and post-release parrot behavior (BE), macaw and parrot behavior around nests and inside nests using surveillance video cameras (PL) and around feeding stations (BE). You will also help measure and prepare food items and refill wildlife feeding stations (BE). During the macaw breeding season, you will be trained to climb trees using rope systems to check on macaw nests and chicks.

    POSITION # 2: Short-term volunteer assistant (12 days minimum, 30 days stay preferred)

    •Activities: These assistants will be quickly trained to identify all the local parrots by sight and become experts at parrot/macaw behavior monitoring around nests and around reintroduced wildlife feeding stations (BE). They will also help measure and prepare food items and refill wildlife feeding stations (BE). Due to the short length of stay, volunteers will have only minimal involvement in activities requiring higher training levels like parrot censuses and tree climbing. Assistants will also help with data entry.


    Essentially, volunteering is free. We take care of research permit costs, cover the costs of all staff, work to maintain training material, and also deal with all correspondence and various aspects of project management. However, our budget does not extend to being able to pay for all aspects of volunteer participation. As such you only need to cover food, accommodation, and other services provided by the field station. The costs are very reasonable. The daily fee is according to the position and experience.

    • Position #1: 30 USD/day

    • Position #2: 45 USD/day

    *A one-time processing fee of $30 will be added for all volunteers.


    POSITION #1: Long-term volunteer assistant (8 weeks minimum, 3 months stay preferred)

    • Qualifications: (1) Previous field experience, (2) Previous experience working with birds, (3) Degree in Biology, Ecology, Forestry, Wildlife Sciences, Animal Sciences or related careers or close to graduation.

    • Additional requirements: Good physical condition, able to carry a 40 lb (18 kg) pack over moderate terrain for up to 2 km, no fear of heights (Dec-May). Good disposition for facing new and challenging situations, able to work in a team under stress. Have both live and accident insurance coverage.

    POSITION # 2: Short-term volunteer assistant (12 days minimum, 30 days stay preferred)

    • Qualifications: Previous experience observing animals (captivity/wildlife), (2) appreciation for nature and wildlife, 

     • Additional requirements: Average physical condition, ability to walk 2 km over moderate terrain, good sense of observing animals, ability to stay seated for long periods of time, and some background knowledge of birds in general


    To apply please send an email to Volunteering@themacawsociety.org 

    This email should contain the following:

    1. A letter of interest explaining why you want to work with us
    2. Your CV or resume
    3. Email addresses for at least 3 references
    4. Your preferred location(s) for volunteering. You may choose to help at any combination of the three sites.
    5. The range of dates when you will be available and how long you can participate. For example, “any 20-day period between March and July 2023” or “6 weeks from mid-May until late June.”

    *A one-time processing fee of $30 will be added for all volunteers.

    The lodging payment includes food, non-alcoholic beverages, unlimited tea and coffee, and accommodations with bedding provided. Additionally, all volunteers are required to pay for airport transfers, either $20 for pick-up or $10 for drop-off, and extra transportation costs to the release site in the Nicoya Peninsula or Punta Leona Hotel in the central Pacific coast. After being accepted, volunteers will receive an email invoice from Texas A&M University and must pay 20% of the total cost upfront, which is non-refundable and required to secure the reservation. The remaining 80% must be paid at least two weeks prior to the assistant's arrival at the release site. Payment can be made in cash with prior permission from the coordinator. Availability and season may affect daily fees. Domestic and international flight fees to the release site are not covered. For more information, please refer to our website's refund policy.

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