Field Assistants Samsonvale Bird Project, Queensland, Australia

Project Title: Brood ParasiteâÂEUR”Host Interactions between Australian Cuckoos

and their Hosts

Location: near Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Duration: Approx. 5 months (late July 2020 âÂEUR” 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 parasiteâÂEUR”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 HorsfieldâÂEURÂ(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

at Cornell

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-30âÂEURÂ(tm)s Celsius

(mid-90âÂEURÂ(tm)s Fahrenheit) and can exceed 40Ò°C (104Ò°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, 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 âÂEUR” 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. ItâÂEURÂ(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

the same!

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: 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.