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Nicoya Peninsula Avian Research Station seeking volunteers

Posted on Aug 18, 2014

The Nicoya Peninsula Avian Research Station is seeking volunteer banding technicians for a winter project in northwestern Costa Rica. The research is aimed toward the study of molt and aging criteria in Costa Rican resident bird species, and collection of data from wintering Nearctic-Neotropical migrants for the Institute for Bird Populations’ MoSI Program. Winter participants will aid in the operation of four bird banding sites on the Nicoya Peninsula. These positions are opportunities for students, educators, amateur or professional ornithologists, and nature enthusiasts to visit one of the most beautiful countries in the Americas, participate in a tropical bird banding operation, and contribute to an international effort to study declining migratory songbirds.

Nicoya Peninsula Avian Research DSC_5427

Nicoya Peninsula Avian Research DSC_5840

NPARS has banding stations at Reserva Karen Mogensen, Refugio de Vida Silvestre Curu, the Rio Panica near the town of Tambor, and at our residence at Finca Pura Vida. Habitats within the banding sites include pacific coastal mangrove forest, second-growth humid forest, and mature humid forest. Commonly occurring species within these habitats include migrants such as Prothonotary Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and Tennessee Warbler, and residents such as Mangrove Vireo, Black-headed Trogon, Long-tailed Manakin, twelve species of hummingbirds, a variety of woodcreeper species, and many others.

Curu habitat DSC_5368

The banding stations are operated from 6:00am – 12:00pm for three consecutive days each week. Responsibilities during banding days will include station setup and takedown (including mist nets), mist net extraction, handling and banding of captured birds, collection of relevant measurements and data, and other responsibilities associated with banding station operation. Some non-banding days will involve data computerization, equipment organization and maintenance, and washing bird holding bags, in addition to duties related to general household cleanliness and functionality. During non-banding days we will have the opportunity to travel to visit nearby towns, preserves, and beaches, including renowned birding hotspots such as Monteverde and Carara National Park.

Winter participants will live at Finca Pura Vida, a 6-hectare villa near the town of Cobano. Painted Buntings, Long-tailed Manakins, Summer Tanagers, Turquoise-browed Motmots, and many other species are commonly seen on the grounds. A hummingbird banding operation is conducted on the Finca; ten hummingbird species are regularly banded here, including Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Participants will have the opportunity to learn to process and band a variety of hummingbird species.

Dates & Costs:

December to January for six weeks, exact dates to be decided. Costs associated with food, housing, ground transportation, and park entrance fees will be covered by the organization. This DOES NOT include airfare. It also does not include costs associated with recreational activities, restaurant dining, recreational travel, and other non-essential expenses.


Applicants must have a strong interest in birds and nature, and preferably be experienced in identifying birds in the field.  Mist-netting and banding experience is desired, but not necessary. Applicants should be prepared for early mornings and long days.

To Apply:

E-mail a resume (cover letter optional) to Sean Graesser (sgraesser13@me.com). Please describe any previous field experience, educational background, and current contact information.

Sean Graesser
RTPI Affiliate