Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center is offering internship opportunities with our Northern Great Plains Program based at American Prairie in the grasslands of northeast Montana. Our research program is focused on understanding interactions between grassland keystone species (bison & prairie dogs) and grassland birds of conservation concern.

Work will be focused on two separate projects and interns will primarily work on one of these:

1) Grassland songbird breeding biology and demography on and off Black-tailed Prairie Dog colonies.

2) Using the MOTUS animal tracking system to understand migratory ecology and demography of Sprague’s Pipit.

Interns will also have the opportunity to work on a secondary projects occurring in the same ecosystem: Long-billed Curlew nesting success, behavioral ecology, and movement ecology in relation to Black-tailed Prairie Dog colonies.

This internship is an excellent opportunity for recent BS/BA graduates considering graduate school in wildlife biology or ecology & evolutionary biology. Smithsonian mentors/supervisors can and will spend time assisting interns with navigating the grad school application process and creating an independent research project.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES/DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: This is a paid internship opportunity wherein the intern will support research led by Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center staff and fellows.

Through this internship, interns will:

  • Learn shorebird and songbird nest-searching techniques.
  • Learn songbird handling and Motus tagging techniques.
  • Gain experience with grassland bird species native to mixed-grass prairie ecosystems.
  • Learn vegetation survey and arthropod sampling techniques.
  • Gain experience with behavioral ecology experiments on simulated predator responses.
  • Learn to develop a scientifically sound independent research project.
  • Gain experience navigating a large, remote landscape with 4×4 vehicles and on foot.
  • Learn to collect ecological data and complete tasks efficiently as part of a small team.
  • Learn to compile and review ecological data in standard formats.

LOCATION: Phillips & Blaine Counties/American Prairie region in northeastern Montana (nearest town Malta, Montana)

COMPENSATION: $1,600 – $1,800/month

HOUSING: Interns will be housed at no cost in buildings with standard amenities including hot water, full kitchens, and wireless Internet. Interns are responsible for purchase of their own food.

TERM OF APPOINTMENT: May 1- August 1. Interns must commit to the entire season, although some flexibility on start date is available for graduating seniors.


TO APPLY: Please send a cover letter and CV/resume to Dr. Andy J Boyce at Your email subject must include Grassland Bird Internship 2023 or it will not be considered. International candidates are encouraged to apply, but must be responsible for travel expenses.

WORK ETHOS: We strive to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone in the field, and we place a premium on the physical and mental health of all crew members when working in a remote environment. We maintain a zero-tolerance approach to harassment or discrimination.

COVID Compliance: Please note that the Smithsonian Institution has a mandate requiring all employees and interns to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 regardless of location or arrangement (e.g., onsite, virtual, remote, etc.), subject to such exceptions as required by law. If selected, you will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit documentation of proof of vaccination during onboarding.