National Audubon Society Seabird Restoration Program

This opportunity is a Miller Worley MHConnect internship and is available to Mount Holyoke students only. Lynk funding required. Apply to this internship.

Location: Rockland, Maine

Position title: Research Intern

Duration: Most internships begin on about May 20 and end on August 15.  

Local expenses: Housing and meals are provided (see details below). The Audubon Society provides an additional stipend.

Description: 

Audubon’s Seabird Restoration Program operates seven island field stations along the Maine coast as critical seabird nesting sanctuaries. Research Interns will work under the direction of the Island Supervisor, participating in all aspects of seabird research, monitoring, and management that take place at the field station. The majority of research projects focus on studying the nesting success and foods fed to seabird (tern and alcid) chicks, with most work focusing on terns.  Work includes, but is not limited to: conducting population censuses, monitoring productivity and chick growth; conducting seabird diet studies; banding and resighting birds; removing invasive vegetation; educating island visitors; and assisting with predator management.

Additional information: Research Interns will live on island (a single island or group of islands) for the duration of the field season.  Interns assigned to inshore islands will have occasional trips to the mainland for logistics and resupplying the field camp, returning to the islands to work and sleep. On offshore islands, food, supplies, and mail are delivered approximately every 2 weeks. Research Interns will remain offshore for approximately eleven weeks. In a seabird colony, the birds are loud, and the terns will dive-bomb you when you move through the colony.  Living conditions on the islands are primitive.  A cabin or wall tent serves as the base of field operations, and field team members sleep in their own tents (wooden tent platforms provided). 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 available as a back-up mode of communication.  There is no Internet access.  Cooking, cleaning, and camp maintenance duties are shared by all island team members. Food is provided.

Responsibilities:
Participate in seabird studies including, but not limited to:

  • Bird trapping, banding, and resighting;
  • Observations from blinds; conducting seabird diet studies;
  • Conducting nest censuses;
  • Monitoring productivity and growth of chicks;
  • 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; 
  • Educate occasional island visitors about seabird natural history and our work on the island;
  • 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 as directed by the Island Supervisor; 
  • 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 but not limited to: 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. 

 About the National Audubon Society Seabird Restoration Program:

The National Audubon Society Seabird Restoration Program (SRP) had its beginnings in 1973 (as Project Puffin) with an effort to restore puffins to an historic nesting island, Eastern Egg Rock, in the Gulf of Maine. Through this successful effort, seabird restoration techniques were developed, including the use of decoys, mirrors, and sound recordings to attract birds to the islands.  In Maine, Audubon used these techniques to restore terns and alcids to seven historic nesting islands.  Today, these islands are staffed during the summer breeding season to study and protect the breeding birds. Restoration techniques developed in Maine are now used worldwide to restore seabirds to historic breeding grounds.

For more information, visit the Audubon Seabird Restoration Program website.

Qualifications: Applicants should have field research experience and be a junior working toward a B.S. in biology, natural resources, conservation biology, wildlife management or related field experience. Career goals should include graduate studies and a career in conservation biology. RAs must be in excellent physical condition (capable of climbing over rugged terrain and able to lift approximately 50 lbs). Wilderness camping experience and dedication to wildlife conservation are essential.

 

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