Wish I could take two months off to do this:
Amigos de las Aves * Costa Rica
Amigos de las Aves is a Costa Rican non profit organization dedicated
to the conservation of the two endangered species of macaws found in
Costa Rica, the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) and the Great Green or
Buffon's Macaw (Ara ambigua).
Amigos de las Aves incorporates, breeding techniques, aviary
management, environmental and key studies and conservation issues, in
order to carry out controlled release programs in conjunction with
MINAE (Ministry of the Environment and Energy) and Costa Rican laws.
We are currently looking for volunteer field assistants to carry us
through for another year.
Volunteer Field Assistants
Our release sites are situated on private reserves in the South West
and North West coasts of the country. The first Scarlet Macaws here
were released in 1999, and are now established flocks of birds. We
have recently added to one of the groups and are very pleased with
the conjoining of these flocks, which are now self sustainable. We
are primarily working towards a larger group.
Juveniles have been sighted this year and nesting behaviour has been
observed from several different pairs. Making our work most
successful with increased interest for the future.
Our biologist, Dale Forbes, who is working at one of the release
sites and he has established work routines at these sites in order to
monitor the bird's behaviour and survival, as well as studying the
diversity of the reserve and the feasibility and sustainability of
the macaws habitat. We are looking for long - term field volunteers
to collect this data, which we hope will be published.
What you will be doing
The field study is now established, but it will be amended and added
to as the study and situation develops. Generally, you will be
monitoring the birds during the day, covering a large area, and
monitoring the feeding station. Should there be any new release
birds the study incorporates behaviours related to the new birds and
the integration of them into the existing flock.
We are also working on an education program in the nearby community.
You will be required to spend at least two or three days at the
breeding centre in Alajuela. This is in order for you to understand
the working of the organisation and for us to assess your
capabilities and reliability.
The type of person who should apply
We are looking for someone for a period of at least 2 months or more.
A biology*related qualification will help your application, but is
not essential, and previous experience with birds is preferred.
You need to be responsible and dedicated, relatively fit, for hiking,
and also patient as long hours will be spent monitoring the birds.
It would be helpful to have a sense of humour.
You don't need to speak Spanish, but it would be helpful to have at
least an idea of the language.
You will be expected to work a 6 day week with one day off per week.
Working out your day off is flexible and you can save up days off for
traveling if you wish. We can work this schedule out with you in
We work flexible time according to the movements of the macaws and
the data required. Regardless, we usually start at around 5am and
finish at about 17.45pm
Breakfast, lunch and supper are worked around your working day.
You may be working alone at some time, but usually with the biologist
and under his supervision. There are usually other
volunteers/staff/owners on site, but not always.
If we have birds to be fed several times a day in a pre-release
aviary, you will need to do a fair bit of climbing, collecting food
The cost of volunteering is $5 daily and $5 - $8 for food (depending
which site you are at), accommodation costs are free.
You should not have any extra costs other than your own personal
What you should like about working in the field.
- The Scarlet Macaws. The flock uses all parts of the reserve, and
can be observed in groups. When monitoring the birds at the feeding
station, you are able to observe the beauty of them in the wild, at
- Wildlife. The huge diversity of wildlife here, a lot of which is
- The Beach. There are beaches here, and the sea is warm. Surfing and
swimming are both obtainable. Turtles may be glimpsed at night.
- Living in a Nature Reserve. You live in a tree house or beach
cabin and wake to the sounds of the forest, with the birds and
monkeys not far away.
- Nearby Civilisation. Both sites tend to be a little remote, one
more so than the other, but basic facilities are available, either a
bike or bus ride away.
What you might not like:
Food. The food is good local fare * but be prepared to like "rice
Insects. If you don't like snakes, scorpion and spiders, then field
work is not for you.
- Basic accommodation. The cabins and tree house are basic! There
are loo's, washing facilities, and beds. Nothing fancy. Remember
you are surrounded by wildlife.
- Restricted electricity. Being Costa Rica, the electricity does
fail occasionally, so candles and torch are worth keeping with you.
- Monitoring can get tedious. You will have to monitor the macaws at
the feeding station for hours at a time, and if any nests are
discovered in the breeding season, they will have be observed most
- Lots of walking. The release sites cover a large area. You will
certainly get fit !
Rules and Regulations. The release sites have their own rules and
regulations and you are requested to abide by them whilst working on
- Weather. It can be very hot and humid in Costa Rica. The rainy
season during the winter months can get tedious! And sometimes muddy
- * or it can be scorching hot!
- Lack of communication. There is not readily available internet or
telephone connections. These facilities are usually several
If you are interested in helping with this highly interesting and
groundbreaking work, then please contact us, The Head Keeper, at
with a copy of your c.v. * stating previous
experience with birds if any * and two references * and a covering
Should you apply for this post, please mention you learned of the advertisement indirectly from ZooNews Digest