Seabird Research Assistant

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Damariscotta, ME, United States

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30+ days ago

The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. We work throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state, regional, national, and international programs, nature centers, and chapters have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. As a sentinel species, we recognize that the fate of birds is inextricably tied to the fate of us all.

Audubon has more than 700 staff working across the United States and seven countries in 17 state and regional offices, 41 nature centers, and 23 wildlife sanctuaries. Together as one Audubon, we aspire to alter the course of climate change and habitat loss, leading to healthier bird populations and reversing current trends in biodiversity loss.

Audubon is committed to a culture of workplace excellence, where our talented and diverse staff are deeply engaged, with a strong sense of belonging. The birds Audubon pledges to protect differ in color, size, behavior, geographical preference, and countless other ways. By honoring and celebrating the equally remarkable diversity of the human species, Audubon will bring new creativity, effectiveness, and leadership to our work throughout the hemisphere.
Position Summary:
Several positions available

Positions start between May 1 and May 25 and end between August 15 and September 15, depending on site Audubon's Seabird Institute manages seven island research stations off the coast of Maine that support breeding colonies of Arctic, Common, Roseate, and Least Terns, Atlantic Puffins, Black Guillemots, Razorbills, Laughing Gulls, Common Eiders, Leach’s Storm-Petrels, and wading birds (study species vary by island). Work includes, but is not limited to: monitoring seabird populations, productivity, and growth; conducting seabird diet studies; banding and resighting birds; removing invasive vegetation; educating island visitors; assisting with predator management; data entry and proofing; and camp maintenance.

Primitive camping and working on offshore islands are required. At each island, a cabin or wall tent serves as the base of field operations, and field team members sleep in their own tents. Island field stations have limited electricity (solar panels power research needs), propane stoves, composting toilets, and no running water (rainwater is collected for washing; drinking water is brought from the mainland). Communications with the mainland are via cell or VOIP phone, depending on location, with VHF radios as back-up. Island field teams consist of 2 to 5 people (depending on island and time of year) and are led by the Island Supervisor. All field team members participate in seabird research and camp maintenance duties. For the welfare of the birds, field work is highly weather-dependent. The work week may stretch across seven days. Days can be long and weekend work may be required.

Island work schedule and daily duties are determined by the Island Supervisor, following established work plans and procedures. Daily schedules will vary based on weather (no entry into the seabird colony is permitted during inclement weather to protect the nesting terns) and time of the nesting season. Daily activities may include the following: island-wide morning bird count at 0600 hours; collection of weather data three times per day; one to two 3-hour “stints” in the observation blinds for data collection; seabird trapping and banding; productivity monitoring; trail maintenance; invasive plant removal; predator control; computer data entry; daily journal log entries; and maintenance of camp facilities.

Following a brief orientation period on the mainland (shared housing provided), field teams will spend the entire field season living on-island. Food is provided. At inshore field sites (3 of the 7 islands), teams may have the ability to go ashore to assist with procuring food and supplies for the field station, approximately every 2-3 weeks. On offshore islands, food and supplies will be delivered approximately every 3 weeks.

$15.00-$16.50 / hour
Essential Functions:
  • Under direction of the Island Supervisor, participate in seabird studies which may include, but are not limited to: bird trapping, banding, and resighting; observations from blinds; conducting seabird diet studies; conducting nest censuses; monitoring productivity and growth of chicks; computer data entry; blood or specimen collection; vegetation management; predator monitoring and control.
  • Use binoculars and spotting scopes to aid in the collection of data as specified by the Island Supervisor.
  • Perform 3-hour-long observation stints in small wooden observation blinds overlooking seabird nests.
  • Accurately and neatly record data on specified data sheets.
  • Enter and proof data in computer databases.
  • Protect the seabird colony from human disturbance.
  • Conduct predator management or control as necessary under the direction of the Island Supervisor.
  • Maintain field equipment and facilities.
  • Conduct trail maintenance and invasive plant removal.
  • Assist Island Supervisor with landing of equipment and new personnel on the island.
  • Operate power or row boats under guidance of Island Supervisor. Use of personal flotation devices is mandatory.
  • Maintain and properly care for NAS-issued equipment, including spotting scopes, cameras, GPS, cell phones, radios, and other research equipment.
  • Assist with inventory of all island equipment and closing of the field station at the end of the season.
  • When on the mainland: procure supplies; pack groceries, research supplies, and mail in waterproof island transport bags; clean and fill water jugs for supplying research stations; assist with cleaning and storing equipment at the end of the season; assist mainland-based staff as needed.
Qualifications and Experience:
  • At least one season of prior avian field experience, or at least an upper-level undergraduate studying Biology, Wildlife, or a related field.
  • Comfortable living and working with others on remote islands with limited amenities.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team, and to get along with people of diverse backgrounds.
  • Capable of working long hours outdoors in variable weather conditions.
  • Excellent physical condition (capable of climbing over rugged terrain and slippery rocks and able to lift approximately 50 lbs).
  • Must be able to sit in a small blind for three hours and maintain focus on data collection.
  • Comfortable on the water in small boats.
  • A sense of humor, willingness to learn, and interest in wildlife conservation, seabirds and isolated islands.
  • Previous experience with bird banding, wilderness camping, rowing, boating, and/or hunting/trapping are helpful.
EEO Statement:
The National Audubon Society is a federal contractor and an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. We are committed to a policy of nondiscrimination, inclusion and equal opportunity and actively seek a diverse pool of candidates in this search.
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COVID Policy:
All new hires must be fully vaccinated prior to their start of employment unless they are pre-qualified by HR for exemption.