Project Title: Brood ParasiteÃ¢ÂEURÂ”Host Interactions between Australian Cuckoos
and their Hosts
Location: near Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Duration: Approx. 5 months (late July 2020 Ã¢ÂEURÂ” mid December 2020); subject to
change depending on COVID-19 restrictions, see below.
Job Type: Volunteer
Number of Openings: 5-6
*COVID-19 could have implications for the running of our field season. We
are planning to proceed as usual but will adapt to changes where needed. If
you are interested in the position but have any queries or concerns
regarding how COVID-19 could affect the field season, please drop us an
Field assistants required from late July to mid December 2020 for
behavioural / evolutionary ecology research in Queensland, Australia.
We are seeking volunteers to join us for our sixth season on a long-term
project investigating brood parasiteÃ¢ÂEURÂ”host interactions between cuckoos and
their passerine hosts at a field site on the shores of Lake Samsonvale just
outside Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. This year we will continue to
collect long-term monitoring data on several species of host (Red-backed,
Variegated and Superb Fairywrens) and cuckoos (principally HorsfieldÃ¢ÂEURÂ(tm)s
Bronze and Brush Cuckoos), run behavioural experiments, colour-band
individuals and collect genetic samples.
This collaborative study is led by James Kennerley
, a PhD student at the
University of Cambridge, Dr William Feeney at
Griffith University and Prof Mike Webster
University/Cornell Lab of Ornithology).
The primary responsibility of these positions are to search for and monitor
nests of Red-backed, Variegated and Superb Fairywrens. Additional
responsibilities include conducting behavioural observations, territory
mapping, habitat surveys as well as data entry. There will also be ample
opportunity to participate in mist-netting and the colour-banding of birds,
as well as collection of blood samples. Furthermore, we encourage
volunteers to become involved in the research wherever possible; see Feeney
et al. (2018)
, Kennerley et al (2019)
, Poje et al. (2019)
, Richardson et al. (2019)
for examples of studies which were led by and/or heavily involved previous
volunteers on the project.
A typical day in the field will begin at dawn and continue into the early
afternoon. This is followed by data entry in the afternoon and an
opportunity to relax (or explore!).
By the middle of the season, temperatures average in the mid-30Ã¢ÂEURÂ(tm)s Celsius
(mid-90Ã¢ÂEURÂ(tm)s Fahrenheit) and can exceed 40Ã’Â°C (104Ã’Â°F) under an intense sun.
Venomous snakes and ticks are also in abundance. Thus, suitable applicants
will enjoy long, often hot and challenging days hiking across rugged
terrain and crawling through dense vegetation closely following and
observing birds, whilst keeping neat and organised field notes.
The site boasts a fantastic range of birds (eBird lists the field site in
the top ten for bird diversity in Australia,
https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Febird.org%2Faustralia%2Fhotspot%2FL692632&data=02%7C01%7Cmadeline.hennessey%40uconn.edu%7C7be3538d232444bece7708d7d553f834%7C17f1a87e2a254eaab9df9d439034b080%7C0%7C0%7C637212428939440918&sdata=tIqrzTmhIIHM77ATKSy5Y%2B2zRaQDgAdRP9BU8MnFtE8%3D&reserved=0) amazing herpetofauna, and
iconic species such as Koala and Short-beaked Echidna. Furthermore, the
site is in close proximity to rainforests, beaches and the city of
Brisbane, all of which can be explored on rest days Ã¢ÂEURÂ” typically one day per
week, but sometimes we venture farther afield and camp for a couple of
nights (see the Instagram for photos of what we get up
to, @samsonvalebirdproject). We also work closely with the local banding
group so there are opportunities to join in with their activities as well.
Accommodation is provided in a large house and the cost of food and
transportation are paid for by the project, but we are not able to cover
flights to and from Brisbane. These positions are an excellent opportunity
for students or recent graduates to gain valuable experience in the field
and be a part of some cool cutting-edge research. ItÃ¢ÂEURÂ(tm)s also a great chance
to mix with like-minded scientists and ornithologists from several
nationalities, and to develop the skills needed to take your career to the
next level. Past seasons have been great fun, and we hope this one will be
Applicants will be interviewed and places offered as applications are
received. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified after positions are
Qualifications: It is essential that applicants have a strong interest in
birds and/or biology, are self-motivated, are meticulous at keeping
detailed and legible notes and are comfortable living closely and
cooperatively with others, with a positive attitude, flexibility and a good
sense of humour.
Applicants with previous experience nest searching are highly desired, and
experience birding, conducting bird surveys or banding are a plus.
To apply, please send a covering letter detailing your interests and any
previous experience as well as dates of availability, CV, and contact
details for two referees to James Kennerley and William Feeney (email:
firstname.lastname@example.org). Applicants are also encouraged to include
a link to their eBird profile and/or examples of field notes in their
Please feel free to enquire with any questions pertinent to the application
process or regarding the project in general.