Seasonal Research Assistant - Seabird Restoration

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Seasonal, Full-Time
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Now in its second century, Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Audubon’s mission is engaging people in bird conservation on a hemispheric scale through science, policy, education and on-the-ground conservation action.  By mobilizing and aligning its network of Chapters, Centers, State and Important Bird Area programs in the four major migratory flyways in the Americas, the organization will bring the full power of Audubon to bear on protecting common and threatened bird species and the critical habitat they need to survive.  And as part of BirdLife International, Audubon will join people in over 100 in-country organizations all working to protect a network of Important Bird Areas around the world, leveraging the impact of actions they take at a local level.  What defines Audubon’s unique value is a powerful grassroots network of approximately 450 local chapters, 120 campus chapters, 17 state and regional offices, 34 Audubon Centers, Important Bird Area Programs in 50 states, and 700 staff across the country. 


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 identify, 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.


The National Audubon Society endeavors to make accessible to any and all users.  If you would like to contact us regarding the accessibility of our website or need assistance completing the application process, please contact This contact information is for accommodation requests only and cannot be used to inquire about the status of applications.


Position Summary

Audubon's Seabird Restoration Program 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 (when tern chicks are fully feathered, entry into the colony is less restrictive). 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.


Field teams will spend the entire field season living on island.  Research Assistants working on inshore islands (3 of the 7 islands) may have the ability to go ashore for food and supplies for the field station, approximately every 3 weeks. On offshore islands, food and supplies will be delivered approximately every three weeks. 


Several positions available positions start between May 1 and May 25 and end on August 15 or August 31, depending on site. Food and worker’s compensation insurance are provided. Research Assistants must provide their own binoculars, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and 2-person tent.


For further information on the Seabird Restoration Program and research islands, visit:        


To apply submit cover letter with the resume for consideration.

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, 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 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 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

  • Possess a Bachelor’s degree (or be an upper level undergraduate) in biology or a related field, with at least one full season of previous field experience.
  • Must be in excellent physical condition (capable of climbing over rugged terrain and slippery rocks and able to lift approximately 50 lbs.) and have wilderness camping experience.
  • 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.
  • 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, dedication to wildlife conservation, and interest in seabirds and isolated islands.
  • Previous experience with bird banding, rowing, and hunting/trapping are helpful.
  • Must provide own binoculars, tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag.


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