Internship Opening in Alaska

Written by Environment for the Americas
Cordova Shorebird Festival. Image courtesy of Environment for the Americas
Cordova Shorebird Festival. Image courtesy of Environment for the Americas
The 2013 Celebrate Shorebird program is winding down and we are currently recruiting for the Cordova, Alaska site. Please spread the word about this incredible opportunity!
Position Title: Wildlife Research & Community Education Internship
Position Location: US Forest Service, Cordova Ranger District, 612 Second Street, Cordova, Alaska.
Deadline to Apply: November 20, 2013 (Applications reviewed on a rolling basis)
Start Date: Feb 2014
End Date: July 31, 2014
Position Description:
Environment for the Americas and the US Forest Service invite you to apply for our internship opportunity on the Cordova Ranger District of the Chugach National Forest in Cordova, Alaska.
Internship work will focus on migratory/nesting bird projects, citizen science and public outreach; however you will be provided with opportunities to experience other wildlife conservation jobs during the internship. You will assist in a variety of shorebird work as well as participate in other wildlife related fieldwork. The intern will develop and present bilingual (English/Spanish) public presentations, work onsite with educators as part of our environmental education and interpretative programs, develop and implement an outreach program into the local Spanish-speaking communities and visitors and help with the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival.
Knowledge of bird conservation not needed, but a willingness to learn is required and an enthusiasm for interacting with the public and children is encouraged. You will receive all necessary professional training and will gain real life job experience working alongside our wildlife staff and environmental education specialists. This is a great opportunity for career shadowing and hands-on experience in the fields of wildlife biology and environmental education.
Wildlife fieldwork in Alaska is conducted in rain and cold temperatures (and sometimes sunny days). This work is rewarding but is also physically challenging as many key wetland field sites are far from the road system. Travel in Alaska is conducted by motorized and non-motorized boats in many places and may even involve travel in a small plane. It will be the adventure of a lifetime!
Intern responsibilities include
  • Participate in wildlife fieldwork on the Copper River Delta and Prince William Sound involving physically demanding tasks such as using tools to create bird habitats and invasive plants removal. These tasks require walking all day, carrying heavy packs, and canoeing.
  • Conduct migratory shorebird surveys and data entry.
  • Assist in the development and implementation of outreach programs engaging communities in order to promote bird conservation.
  • Promote educational programs with local and national English and Spanish-language media.
  • Facilitating educator-led field trips for K-6 grades, provide educator support, assist with educator trainings, and provide program support and maintenance
  • Assist with our Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival.
  • Present onsite and offsite public presentation to promote shorebird conservation messages.
Qualifications
  • Fluency in both English and Spanish.
  • Good cross-cultural communication skills, experience with public speaking, and ability to work with leaders, educators, and other community members in towns near the refuge.
  • Ability to work with youth and adults in field education and classroom programs.
  • Current Driver’s license.
Preferred Educational Background
Completion of college course in environmental studies, education, biology, or other related field.
Preferences
The ideal candidate will have a high level of cultural competency necessary to work with diverse communities.
Hours: Full-Time.
Compensation: $1000/month stipend. Housing is provided as part of the compensation for the internship. Must have legal authorization to work in the United States.
Application Process: Fill out an online application at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AlaskaInternship2014
Applications reviewed on a rolling basis.
Please note: Grant requires interns to be between the ages of 18-25 of Latino/Hispanic descent. It is mandatory for the intern to attend the conservation training that is scheduled to take place in California in February 2014. All expenses are covered.
For more information visit environmentfortheamericas.wordpress.com or contact Environment for the Americas at 303-499-1950.
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CCB collaborates with Canadian Wildlife Service on Arctic shorebirds

Written by Fletcher Smith/The Center for Conservation Biology

Fletcher Smith with Hudsonian Godwit after transmitter attachment. © CCB
Fletcher Smith with Hudsonian Godwit after transmitter attachment. © CCB
In mid-July, Fletcher Smith returned from a 6-week stint in the Canadian Arctic where he was assisting in operating a shorebird base camp on the Mackenzie River Delta in collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Service. The camp is part of both the Arctic Shorebird Demographic Network (ASDN) and the Arctic Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring (Arctic PRISM) The overarching objectives of these programs are to measure demographic parameters of breeding shorebirds, such as adult survivorship and productivity, to estimate population size and trends in Arctic shorebirds. This information is extremely hard to gather for shorebirds and the network of sites gathering this information spans the entire Arctic. The focal species in the Mackenzie River Delta include Red-necked Phalarope, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, and Whimbrel. During the 2013 season, the Mackenzie Delta crew was able to find and monitor over 100 shorebird nests, capture and band nearly 100 shorebirds, deploy all 6 satellite transmitters on Whimbrels and Hudsonian Godwits, and deploy 15 geolocators on Semi-palmated Sandpipers, adding up to a successful season by any measure.
The collaborative satellite tracking project has been a tremendous success in providing useful information to conservation. Prior to the tracking of the Mackenzie River Delta Whimbrels, very little was known about the broader life cycle of these birds. A Whimbrel named “Hope” was the only previous connection from the Atlantic coast stopover areas to the Mackenzie Delta. “Hope” was tagged in Virginia and migrated to the Mackenzie Delta for four breeding seasons, using Virginia as a staging ground both in spring and fall migrations. During the 2012 breeding season, four Whimbrels were tagged in the Mackenzie Delta and all four migrated to eastern staging grounds before wintering in Brazil. The three Whimbrels tagged in 2013 took the same basic route, flying from the Mackenzie Delta to Atlantic Canada. They staged within in Atlantic Canada for approximately 2-3 weeks before undertaking the non-stop 4,000 plus mile flight to northern South America where they will spend the winter. The majority of Whimbrels winter in or near the Gulf of Maranhao in Brazil.
Hudsonian Godwit with 5-gram satellite transmitter. © Fletcher Smith
Hudsonian Godwit with 5-gram satellite transmitter. © Fletcher Smith
No Hudsonian Godwits have ever been satellite tagged, so the movements of these birds will be particularly interesting to scientists involved in the study. One of the Hudsonian Godwits has migrated from James Bay/Hudson Bay staging grounds to the Orinoco River in Venezuela. This was a 3,900 mile non-stop journey. The Whimbrels and Godwits can be tracked at Wildlifetracking.org.
Whimbrel with transmitter in flight. © Fletcher Smith
Whimbrel with transmitter in flight. © Fletcher Smith
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On the brink

Written by Audubon Advisory
 The Red Knot has one of the most impressive migrations in the world, traveling over 9,000 miles twice a year along the Atlantic Flyway from the Arctic to Argentina and back, but habitats and the food resources to fuel this demanding journey have declined, putting these birds at risk. © Walker Golder/Audubon

The Red Knot has one of the most impressive migrations in the world, traveling over 9,000 miles twice a year along the Atlantic Flyway from the Arctic to Argentina and back, but habitats and the food resources to fuel this demanding journey have declined, putting these birds at risk. © Walker Golder/Audubon
Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) offered new protections for two of Audubon’s Priority Birds: the Red Knot and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The agency proposed that the rufa subspecies of the Red Knot and the western population of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, basing this proposal in part on research done by Audubon scientists. The proposed listings indicates that these birds are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future, and would prevent federal agencies from jeopardizing their existence and critical habitat, and inhibit individuals from harming the birds without a permit. It is welcome news for these imperiled birds, and a successful result for Audubon’s chapters and state offices that joined petitions to request their listing.
The rufa Red Knot has one of the most impressive migrations in the world, traveling over 9,000 miles twice a year along the Atlantic Flyway from the Arctic to Argentina and back, but the habitats and the food resources to fuel this demanding journey has declined, putting these birds at risk. Most of the birds make stops along the Atlantic coast of the U.S., eventually stopping at the Delaware Bay during spring migration to refuel on horseshoe crab eggs. Overfishing of horseshoe crabs has contributed to the population crash of Red Knots. Since the 1980s, populations have fallen by 75 percent, with the steepest declines in the past decade. The FWS also cites climate change as a key threat, which is causing a mismatch between peak abundance of crab eggs and the birds’ arrival, and is limiting breeding ground and migratory habitat from sea-level rise and increasing temperatures. Additional threats include habitat loss from shoreline stabilization and development, and human disturbance. The proposed listing could lead to new habitat protections in Delaware Bay, across the Atlantic coast, and throughout its range.
The western Yellow-billed Cuckoo has also experienced dramatic population declines, primarily because of the loss of over 90 percent of the cottonwood and willow forests that once lined the banks of western rivers due to dams, agriculture, and urban development. Cuckoos depend on natural stream flows to maintain the willow and cottonwood forests in which they breed, but habitat loss and degradation has led to the isolation of their populations, putting them at risk of local extinctions throughout the West. The proposal to list the population west of the Continental Divide as threatened would help protect their remaining habitat and could restore some of their former range.
The FWS is now accepting public comments on their proposal for both species. Stay tuned for action alerts so that you can submit comments in support of protecting both of these imperiled birds. The final decisions will made by next summer.

‘Shorebirds’ eMagazine is coming

Written by Gyorgy Szimuly/WorldWaders
Shorebird_eMagazineCurrent technology is fantastic. Just a couple of years ago the mobile devices haven’t even existed and just Steve Jobs had a vision of the ‘mobile’ future. What is happening today is incredible but the future keeps some more fantastic products which will support the rushing and mobile life.
It is unquestionable that more and more birdwatchers are using the wide variety of mobile gadgets either at home, in the office or in the field while birding. Even if some are against the elements, the trends are showing constant increase when it comes to mobile usage. WorldWaders are not any different. It follows the trends and goes mobile.
The most convenient reading experience comes from using any kind of tablets. Current publishing technology not only allows static pages to be flipped through but it turns publishing into a whole new level. The integrity and interactivity are what make these applications (apps) unique and fun to use.
When the WorldWaders News Blog turns into a mobile app it delivers a wide variety of unique and exclusive articles about shorebird conservation with an easy to adopt reading experience. Despite it is planned to be a quarterly magazine it will always be up-to-date, thanks to the actual news fetching module. High quality videos, beautifully rendered texts, interactive links and stunning images will all support the original idea. I am working hard to make it happen and to set everything (money, contributors and articles) for the first publishing date somewhere in 2014.
The app will focus on the iPad and iPhone users but Android and Windows version will also be available in a later phase. Follow the WorldWaders News Blog for more news on the app and the publishing date.
Anyone is interested in contributing by providing news and/or articles or having an idea for the emagazine, is kindly asked to contact me. Feedback is much appreciated.

Spring shorebird surveys continue to count

Written by Bryan Watts/Center for Conservation Biology

On 6 June, Bryan Watts from CCB and Barry Truitt from The Nature Conservancy along with pilot Carter Crabbe completed their 6th week of aerial shorebird surveys for the spring of 2013. Documented along the barrier beaches were peak numbers of Dunlin (12,900), Red Knots (6,200), Ruddy Turnstones (820) and several other species. Together the crew has flown more than 75 aerial surveys of the study area and documented the location and identification of more than 1.5 million shorebirds since 1994. Consistency in approach, coverage, and surveyors has allowed for the evaluation of long-term trends in the number of shorebirds staging within the area, the timing of passage for the various species, the distribution of birds within the study area, and the use of foraging substrates. Over the years, several species have declined dramatically, concentrations have moved throughout the landscape, and substrates used for foraging have fluctuated widely.
Crop duster and long-time survey pilot Carter Crabbe flying over the Delmarva Peninsula toward the survey’s starting location on Assateague Island. Carter has flown the shorebird survey since its initiation in 1994. © Bryan Watts.
Crop duster and long-time survey pilot Carter Crabbe flying over the Delmarva Peninsula toward the survey’s starting location on Assateague Island. Carter has flown the shorebird survey since its initiation in 1994. © Bryan Watts
The survey was established in April of 1994 during a time when shorebirds were emerging as a bird community of global conservation concern. Information was needed to document population trends and to identify important staging sites to focus conservation efforts. The survey was designed to cover the active beach zone of all Virginia Barrier islands, one of the most pristine chain of barriers remaining in the Western Hemisphere. A set of 10 transects was also established across the vast mudflats within the lagoon system. Weekly aerial surveys have been flown during the period of primary spring migration from the last week of April through the first week of June. The Cessna 172 is flown below 50 feet along the surf zone to flush birds for identification and estimation.
A small flock of dunlin flushed from a patch of intertidal peat on Cedar Island. Peat is a critical foraging substrate along the barrier islands and appears in the surf zone when the island roles back over the marsh during major storm events. © Bryan Watts
A small flock of Dunlin flushed from a patch of intertidal peat on Cedar Island. Peat is a critical foraging substrate along the barrier islands and appears in the surf zone when the island roles back over the marsh during major storm events. © Bryan Watts
Watts and Truitt initiated the survey to learn more about how shorebird species were using the mid-Atlantic Coast during spring migration and to understand how this unique landscape fits within the broader Atlantic Flyway. Information from the survey has been used widely within the conservation community and has led to many follow-up ground projects focused on moving shorebird conservation forward.
Partners over the 20-year effort have included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Eastern Shore Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and The Center for Conservation Biology.

 

Satellite-tagged Sociable Lapwings are on the move again

Written by BirdLife International Amazing Journey Project
With a lack of trackable Sociable Lapwings to report on over the last year, we are delighted to now reactivate the Amazing Journey website to bring you news about the migrations of three new birds that scientists from RSPB and ACBK fitted with satellite tags earlier this year.
The lapwings – a male and two females – are breeding adults that were caught at the nest and satellite-tagged at separate colonies near to Lake Tengiz, in central Kazakhstan, this summer. Each successfully fledged young before leaving their small nesting colonies to gather together with birds from other nearby colonies in readiness for their autumn migration. This gregarious behaviour is why the species is called ‘Sociable’ Lapwing.
RSPB's Professor Rhys Green and Dr Rob Sheldon fitting a satellite tag in June 2013. Image courtesy of RSPB
RSPB’s Professor Rhys Green and Dr Rob Sheldon fitting a satellite tag in June 2013. Image courtesy of BirdLife International

Since mid August we’ve been anticipating the newly-tagged birds’ migration would soon begin. As days passed with no movements and then days turned into weeks, our monitoring team started to become increasingly concerned. While signals received from the tagged lapwings seemed very good, no changes in the birds’ locations were detected.

Most years Sociable Lapwings depart from their breeding areas in mid to late August. Was something up? Were the new satellite tags working properly? Could our birds really still be in the Kazakh Steppe, OK, and just waiting to depart?
We were all immensely relieved when the action finally began, confirming that all was well with the lapwings and that their tags were working properly. Remarkably all three of our tagged birds departed on the same day – Tuesday 17th of September.
A post-breeding flock of Sociable Lapwings gathering before migration. Image courtesy of BirdLife International
A post-breeding flock of Sociable Lapwings gathering before migration. Image courtesy of BirdLife International
Ruslan Urazaliev, who leads the Sociable Lapwing study for ACBK in Kazakhstan, comments “Throughout late August and most of September the wind has been mainly from the south and conditions here have remained warm. This probably delayed the birds migration. Although we searched all the areas where the satellite signals suggested our birds were gathering, we couldn’t find any Sociable Lapwings during the last few weeks. However, we did find large numbers of Ruff still present in the Steppe and they usually depart long before this. The wind patterns appear to have changed in recent days which may have allowed the Sociable Lapwings to finally begin their migration.”
To help report on the migration of the three tagged birds individually we have followed tradition and given each local names again. Boris, who was fitted with his satellite tag on June 5th 2013, carries the tag ID 123086 and a colour ring combination; green blue, orange blue. His coordinates and path are marked in blue on our map. Irina, who was fitted with her satellite tag on June 4th 2013, carries the tag ID 123088 and the colour ring combination; green blue, orange white. You can see Irina in the main picture at the head of this post. Her coordinates and path are marked in green. Ainur who was also fitted with her satellite tag on June 4th, carries the tag ID 123087 and the colour ring combination; green blue, green white. Her coordinates and path are marked in Red.
You can see the first stage of the tagged birds’ migration below and can click to enlarge the map.
Boris (blue), Irina (green) and Ainur's (Red) initial migration routes - September 17-23 2013. Click to enlarge.
Boris (blue), Irina (green) and Ainur’s (Red) initial migration routes – September 17-23 2013. Click to enlarge.
Boris nested at a colony close to the Sociable Lapwing main study site at Korgalzhyn but has now moved nearly 1,800 km west in two days and at the time of writing is near Stavropol in south-western Russia. Irina has taken a slightly more southerly course west from her breeding site, some 60 km south east of Korgalzhyn, with an initial flight of just over 1,000 km. She then paused briefly to the East of the Caspian Sea before taking a second flight to a stopover close to Boris in Russia. Whether she crossed the Caspian Sea or took a route around its northern shores is, of course, unknown. Ainur who had nested in a separate colony close to Irina, has headed about 1,400 km south to a location near to the southerly borders of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Expert Sociable Lapwing tracking analyst Johannes Kamp comments
Boris has travelled to a new area between Volga and Kalmykia which is very interesting. If coordinate detail is accurate, it suggests that some birds do cross the North Caspian semi-desert. Previously there has been no evidence for this, with all our other satellite-tagged birds going around the North side of this area.
“Irina has taken a non-classical route that is mostly used in spring (along the Emba valley). She is following in the footsteps of Erzhan, our first tagged male that transmitted for four years bringing us the most comprehensive information of all our tracked birds.”
“Ainur has almost certainly headed for Lake Talimarzhan in Uzbekistan where the big Sociable Lapwing stopover site was discovered by UzSPB last year.
Where the birds head next can be predicted but discovering their exact routes and stopover sites is a vital part of protecting these Critically Endangered birds on their migrations.
The ongoing Sociable Lapwing conservation action that multiple national BirdLife Partners are taking for the species through this BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme project is funded by Swarovski Optik, RSPB and Mark Constantine. Without their support, vital research, monitoring, hunting intervention and conservation action would not be possible.
If you would like to sign up for email alerts so you can stay in touch with the progress of our three tagged birds please follow this link.
If you have seen any Sociable Lapwings recently or encounter any in the coming months we’d like to hear from you. You can submit your own sightings here.
We look forward to bringing you more news of the next stage of the Sociable Lapwings amazing journey shortly.