Volunteer

A volunteer has her hands full with a Pileated Woodpecker

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory invites applications from prospective volunteers who are interested in assisting in migration monitoring activities at the Cabot Head Research Station. Applications from persons with varied skill levels and experience are encouraged. 
• For further information please contact Ted Cheskey, at echeskey@videotron.ca.
To apply to volunteer at the station please complete and submit the volunteer information Form.

When are volunteers needed at Cabot Head Research Station?

  •  Spring monitoring period ranges from mid April to early June 
  •  Fall monitoring period begins in mid-August and runs to the end of October.

What Happens on a typical day?

Volunteers will assist in all aspects of work performed at the station including:

  •  the opening mist nets half-an-hour before dawn
  • the checking of mist nets at regular intervals
  • the careful extraction of captured birds from the nets
  • and the transport of these birds to the banding laboratory.
  • In the banding lab, the bander (usually the Station Scientist), attaches a band to a leg of every bird caught, determines species, sex, age, fat content, etc.; during this time a “scriber” volunteer carefully records pertinent data according to strict protocols. Nets close after 6 consecutive hours.

An experienced volunteer bands a passerine.

Also, as part of the monitoring process, a one-hour, fixed-route census is led by a skilled birder approximately one hour after sunrise. This census aims to record all species and numbers detected by either sight or sound. During the banding periods, volunteers and the Station Scientist also do casual observation of bird migration.

After 7 hours of monitoring, a rapid gathering of data is done with all personnel. The rest of the day (most of the afternoon) is “free time”: to participate in the maintenance and upkeep of the facilities, explore the magnificent Bruce Peninsula, work on projects, or relax .

As a rule, rainy or extremely windy weather precludes any mist-netting activities.

What is a Long-term Volunteer?

Long-term volunteers undertake to spend 21 or more consecutive days at the station. A per diem rate of $10.00 (to go towards food costs) is applied.

What is a Short-term Volunteer?

Short-term volunteers spend less than 21 consecutive days at the research station, and no stipend is provided.

What should I bring?

Scribing biometric data is a typical activity for volunteers at the CHRS.

Sufficient food & supplies: Nearest location for shopping Lion’s Head (50km); Tobermory (50km).

Bedding/sleeping bag, pillow, personal hygiene products, etc.

Rain gear
Warm clothing
Good hiking boots
Binoculars
Writing materials
Flashlight
Camera (optional)
Sunscreen/bug repellent and sundry personal belongings

What are the accommodations?

Wingfield Cottage offers rustic but comfortable lodging with two bedrooms and two pull-out couches. There are cooking facilities and a lounge. A working fireplace takes the chill off early morning forays to the nets. There will normally be two or three volunteers present at any given time, plus the Station Scientist.*Note: the Cabot Head Research Station is located within a remote, unique area of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. We encourage environmental responsibility and stewardship, therefore, the use of bio-safe personal hygiene products is strongly encouraged, if not expected.

Natural Hazards
As in any remote location, there are inherent risks you should be aware of. Poison Ivy abounds, and the Cabot Head area is home to the Black Bear and Massasauga Rattlesnake.

** Please note that BPBO has completed its “off the grid” energy project during spring 2011.  Volunteers coming to the CHRS will find it operating on its own solar panels and propane appliances.  Volunteers are reminded that personal energy conservation measures, such as reduced water and electrical consumption, are the environmental responsibility of everyone using the facility.

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