Avian population monitoring intern / natural resources management intern

Website Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The LHIP Avian Population Monitoring Intern will assist park staff in a variety of avian monitoring projects, including the Park’s Focused Condition Assessment: Birds of Conservation Concern at CUVA (FY23-24). The LHIP intern will be supervised by park Biologists and will help park staff to collect a variety of avian-related data, assist with the management of volunteers and citizen scientists, communicate with park visitors, and deliver bird-themed programs to visitors. 

The intern’s primary responsibility will be to create a report using data collected by citizen scientists monitoring Great Blue Heron (GBHE) heronries since 1993. The data that have been collected include dates of nest construction, occupancy, incubation and hatching, number of active nests, and number of young fledged. These data allow us to determine the average number of nesting pairs, reproductive success, and geographic distribution of nests. Using spotting scopes and binoculars, citizen scientists survey the heronries on a weekly basis beginning in early January, when birds begin nest building, to the end of June when young fledge the nests. The intern will summarize data and report on population trends, recommend changes to the monitoring protocol, and interact with citizen scientists. In addition, the intern will have creative control for asking their own research question(s) regarding correlates of population size or fledgling success (e.g., the influence of weather, disturbance levels, phenological effects such as first arrival, hatch, or fledge dates). The intern will also create a blog post or social media content for the park’s pages about the heron monitoring efforts. There are four discrete deliverables from this primary duty: (1) a compiled, curated, quality-controlled database of the monitoring data in Excel; (2) a final report summarizing monitoring data since 1993 (population size, trends, fledgling success, effort), including the identification and analysis of a research question selected by the intern; (3) a revised and updated GBHE monitoring protocol for continued use by citizen scientists; and (4) content for webpage(s) about the heronry monitoring (photos, blog post, tweet, podcast, or other contribution open to the intern’s style and creativity). This primary project and its deliverables will provide the intern with experience in managing datasets, analyzing data, communicating science, working with scientific monitoring protocols, working with citizen scientists and volunteers, and designing research questions. 

The intern’s secondary responsibility will be to assist with two additional bird monitoring projects. (1) Focused condition assessment of birds of conservation concern: The intern will assist with bird point count surveys in wetlands and riparian areas across the park, assist with setup and download of autonomous recording units (ARUs), and data entry. (2) Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) banding station: the intern will assist with the operation and setup of the pilot season of the Park’s MAPS station. This will include setting up, taking down, and checking nets, safely removing birds from nets, learning to safely handle, band, and process birds, and interacting with the public. Involvement in these secondary projects will provide the intern with field experience in avian monitoring techniques, including identification of species by sight and sound, setting up and taking down mist nets, safely handling and processing birds at a banding station (including determination of age and sex, and measuring and weighing birds), and use of various data platforms (e.g., breeding bird surveys, eBird).

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