Field Biologist Macaw Conservation

Volunteer field biologist, Great Green Macaw program (6 months) – Role runs annually from December through May


The role of the field assistant is to help our lead field biologist monitor Costa Rica’s wild Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) population throughout their breeding season. This includes extensive fieldwork to locate, monitor, track and support several breeding pairs and their offspring, in order to improve the rates of successful reproduction and to collect data.The field assistant also contributes to population counts and mapping projects, and utilises their comprehensive scientific knowledge and competence in field work and research skills throughout the role. The successful applicant will receive orientation training and will have the support of specialists where necessary, however much of the work may be carried out independently, thus a high level of self-reliance is needed. The field assistantis expected to help out in other areas of the organization if the need arises. 

Field assistant’s duties:

  • Locating macaw nesting sites through assessment of historical data, personal observations, tracking bird movements, conversation with locals, and the development of new leads.
  • Monitoring nesting activity and keeping detailed notes of observations. This will require waiting for long periods of time in remote locations without getting distracted.
  • Getting to know the birds and their behaviour in order to report on the condition of the population, their breeding status, numbers and their movements.
  • Collecting nest data and biological samples. This is usually done through single rope access climbing technique.
  • Contributing to the development of the breeding management strategy in order to increase the productivity of the birds.
  • Taking advantage of opportunitiesand learning broader conservation skills that can then be applied throughout the organization.
  • Reacting to emergencies such as downed fledglings or injured adults.
  • Driving with care and confidence on roads where standards of driving can be low.
  • Driving off-road on incredibly difficult terrain.
  • Conducting general maintenance or site/project development tasks. These may be assigned depending on our current needs and the skills and abilities of volunteers.


The successful applicant:

  • has, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in a scientific subject;
  • will be able to demonstrate a commitment to, and wants to pursue a career in, science based wildlife conservation; 
  • has animal handling experience;
  • has biological fieldwork experience;
  • has an independent work attitude and is a self-starter;
  • has previously volunteered with a wildlife conservation organisation;
  • is comfortable being away from family and friends for long periods of time;
  • enjoys being outside and is not put out by extreme weather and temperatures;
  • is experienced and confident in their self-reliance skills.

Hours of work:

The field assistant is expected to work at least 5 days a week, following a flexible time schedule which is guided by the behaviour of the birds. For example, this might be from 5am until 6pm, with a mid-day break. 

Duration of position:

The minimum and total duration of the role is six months with the possibility to continue in a more formal capacity if the opportunity arises. 

Essential skills/qualifications:

  • A degree at BSc. level or above in a biological science or other relevant field
  • Full, manual transmission drivers license
  • Basic level of spoken Spanish 
  • Basic motorbike qualification such as a CBT, or overseas equivalent if not from the UK.

Desirable experience:

  • Rock or tree climbing for either work or recreation. Knowledge of single rope access technique is beneficial.
  • Off-road driving, particularly though deep mud and water saturated terrain.
  • Wildlife handling, particularly large birds. 
  • First aid training. Up to date qualification is beneficial.
  • Full motorbike license
  • High level self-reliance such as previous field work in developing countries, gold level Duke of Edinburg (UK) or Army cadets/OTC…

Desirable personal Qualities:

  • Dependable and responsible
  • Motivated and positive with a desire to contribute
  • A passion for wildlife and nature conservation
  • Flexible, friendly, patient and optimistic
  • A sense of humor is helpful


  • Great opportunity to travel and experience Central America off the beaten track and away from the tourist traps.
  • A chance to put all the theoretical knowledge gained throughout your studies to work by getting your hands dirty with real wildlife conservation fieldwork.
  • An unparalleled sense of satisfaction from supporting a genuine non-profit wildlife conservation organisation. You will become part of a team that aims to create a sustainable situation for an animal that is currently in great danger of extinction.
  • Real, hands-on, in-situ conservation experience and the satisfaction that comes with working closely with highly endangered species.
  • Increased understanding and appreciation of different values and lifestyles.
  • Increased skills in creative problem-solving and time management.
  • Opportunities to work, and network, with avian and wildlife conservation specialists.
  • Learn and improve skills such as rope climbing techniques, bird ringing, map reading and using GIS software.
  • A recognition certificate is provided if season is completed successfully.

Anticipated costs:

All international and national travel costs to initially get to the site are the responsibility of the applicant. However, once on site, accommodation, daily transport, and utilities are provided. All team members buy and prepare their own food, for this we recommend you budget for at least $40 per week, or more if you like luxuries. Comprehensive insurance cover for the entire stay is a must, and should be arranged and paid for by the applicant. 

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