Waterfowl Ecology and Behavior Volunteer: Alaska

USFWS- Yukon Delta NWR
Bethel, AK
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The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta hosts one of the greatest breeding waterbird assemblages, on one of the largest and most important wetland systems, in the world. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta contributes to local, state, flyway and internationally significant breeding portions of several waterfowl species including emperor goose, cackling goose, black brant, Pacific greater white-fronted goose, spectacled eider, tundra swan, greater scaup, black scoter and northern pintail to name a few. The Yukon Delta NWR, in cooperation with USFWS Division of Migratory Birds Management – Anchorage and USGS Alaska Science Center, has several on-going research and monitoring projects focused on waterfowl species of the Y-K Delta. The three primary projects focus on: nesting monitoring and banding of emperor geese; banding drives of cackling geese; and pre-season duck banding of northern pintail, mallard, and green-winged teal. Project camps are remotely located, requiring flights (plane or helicopter) and boats to access and resupply. Facilities are primitive, with a large weatherport and separate sleeping tents for field personnel. Located along the shores of the Bering Sea, weather patterns are consistently overcast and windy during the summer months. Field activities require intense, long-distance hiking across uneven spongy tundra and through soft muddy-bottomed ponds and sloughs. The objective of the volunteer position is to provide highly motivated individuals, with a keen interest in waterfowl research and management, an opportunity to gain experience with a wide diversity of field techniques commonly used in waterfowl studies. In the field, duties will include: keeping detailed field notes and datasheets, nest searching, monitoring nest and egg status (using candling and floating techniques), re-sighting marked birds, capturing and banding emperor goose females using bow-nets, capturing and banding cackling geese and pacific black brant in molt and/or family flocks using corral traps, capturing and banding northern pintail, mallard, and green-winged teal using baited swim-in traps, collecting water samples and downloading environmental dataloggers. Before the field season, volunteers will attend any required trainings and help organize gear at the Bethel office. After each field project volunteers will assist the project lead with data entry and proofing, as well as helping to clean and organize gear for winter storage at the Bethel refuge headquarters.

Housing (refuge bunkhouse) will be provided while in Bethel and a stipend will be provided while in the field. Roundtrip airfare will be provided from the continental US to Bethel, Alaska for those that can commit to a minimum 10-week volunteer period. Anticipated field season dates are May 18, 2015 until August 30, 2015. Necessary trainings begin in early May.
Interested individuals should be able to identify North American birds by sight, especially waterfowl and other waterbirds. Previous experience working on waterfowl research projects including familiarity with nest searching, egg candling, capture, handling and banding waterfowl, and remote living is preferred as it will be instrumental to the success of these projects. Potential volunteers should have a strong interest in waterfowl nesting ecology, waterbird or community ecology, and/or endangered species conservation. Finally, interested individuals must have a desire to live in a remote field camp, the ability to maintain a positive and motivated attitude, and work well with others under difficult field conditions while in shared living quarters.

How to be considered:
If interested in this volunteer opportunity, email a letter of interest (specifically addressing what you would hope to gain from this opportunity), a detailed resume, and name and contact information for 3 references. When submitting your materials, please combine the letter, resume, and reference contacts into one Word or PDF document, and name the file with your last name_first name_YKDvolunteer (example: Daniels_Bryan_YKDvolunteer.pdf). Send document to: bryan_daniels@fws.gov. Submitted materials will be reviewed starting March 31, 2017.
Contact Person
Bryan Daniels
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