Tropical Bird Intern for Mixed Species Foraging Flock Study

San Gerardo de Rivas, Costa Rica (CR)
$2 US/day stipend.
Jan 23, 2019
Apr 23, 2019
Job Level
Entry level
Employment Type
Internship, Temporary / Seasonal

Founded in 2002, Cloudbridge Nature Reserve is a private, non-profit cloudforest reserve in the Talamanca mountains of Costa Rica. Beginning with the purchase of degraded farmland, Cloudbridge has been actively reforesting the area in order to connect the forests of the Cerro ChirripĆ³ National Park with adjacent nature reserves and forested areas. Beyond reforestation work, Cloudbridge is also committed to environmental education and conducting research on the unique and diverse cloudforest ecosystem.

Cloudbridge Nature Reserve is looking for a research intern to conduct walking surveys to study mixed species foraging flocks (MSF) to start February 2019. MSF are a phenomenon that occurs around the globe, but is particularly present in the neotropics.  Bird species have a tendency to flock to reduce predation pressures and increase foraging efficiency.  MSF are vulnerable to forest fragmentation and as a result can be a good indicator of forest health. Positions last a minimum of 11 weeks. A stipend of $2 USD/day is provided to help cover accommodation costs. Training and guidance will be provided.

Interns stay in one of our dormitories and share kitchen and living spaces with our other interns and volunteers. Dorms rooms cost $17 USD/night. Some private rooms with queen beds may be available (subject to current occupancy) for an additional fee. Food costs and cooking are the responsibility of the intern. A basic vegetarian diet typically costs around $4-6 USD per day.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Learn how to accurately ID, by sight, the 300 species of birds found in the reserve and pass a bird identification test within the first 2-3 weeks of arrival (study materials provided prior to arrival and onsite training provided),
  • Conduct walking surveys in accordance with provided protocol under the direction of the Bird Studies Lead and Scientific Coordinator,
  • Enter survey data into a Microsoft Excel database,
  • Give a presentation on the results at the end of the study period, possible report preparation and data analysis work (depending on skill level),
  • Greet visitors at the Welcome Centre (rota shared between all volunteers and interns),
  • Perform required cleaning duties in shared living areas, and,
  • Participate in reserve activities and community events.


  • Keen interest in birds and birding; preference given to those with previous field identification experience (recreational experience accepted).
  • Schooling in ornithology, biology, wildlife or related studies, or relevant work experience an asset; preference for avian related experience.
  • Physically fit and able to hike 5-8 hours a day, 5 days a week in steep, high-altitude terrain.
  • First aid training and familiarity with Microsoft Excel an asset.
  • Good English communication skills; ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing. Ability to communicate in Spanish an asset.
  • Must be able to commit to 11 weeks.
  • Minimum 18 years of age.
  • Able to pay for your accommodation for the duration of your stay ($17 US/night).
  • Able to pay the $200 USD good faith fee upon acceptance. This fee is credited towards the last two weeks of your accommodation fees.


  • Demonstrated ability to work independently.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills; ability to develop and maintain good relationships with others in a communal living environment.
  • Excellent attention to detail and adherence to survey protocols.
  • Strong time management skills.
  • Ability to persevere and maintain high-quality work in difficult environmental and physically demanding conditions.
  • Demonstrate good judgement and common sense in a wilderness environment.

Locations/Working Conditions

  • Position is located in the montane cloudforest of the Talamanca mountains of Costa Rica, adjacent to Cerro Chirrip National Park.
  • Survey trails are steep and at times difficult and narrow. River fording may be required.
  • Altitudes range between 1550 m (5085 ft) and 2200 m (7220 ft).
  • Work hours typically between 4:30 am and 12:30 pm, 5 days a week; some variation depending on survey route.
  • Required to work outdoors under varying weather conditions.

Physical Requirements

  • Able and willing to hike 5-8 hours per day, 5 days a week, in steep and difficult terrain.
  • Able to work outdoors under varying weather conditions.

To learn more about Cloudbridge, please visit our website at and check out the Volunteer/Research section ( for more detailed information on the research intern program.

To apply, please submit your CV and two references, along with a brief cover letter to Jennifer Powell at In the cover letter, indicate you are applying for the Mixed Species Foraging Flock position, state when you would be available to start, and for how long you are available.

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