Cape May Raptor Banding Project offers a unique opportunity for aspiring professionals in wildlife biology or related fields to gain valuable experience in all aspects of banding raptors during the fall migration. The Research Assistant appointment runs from the end of August through the end of November. The selected candidate receives free housing, a stipend for their time and a work experience that helps build an impressive resume. Responsibilities include: setting up banding stations including placement and installation of traps; providing public programs and banding demonstrations; repair and upkeep of equipment; data collection and reporting; banding birds of prey; assisting other cooperating researchers as necessary.
Qualified candidates will posses the following:
Bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology or related field (or the expectation of the degree by the time of the appointment);
Ability to work closely with banders and researchers;
Willingness to work long hours including weekends in a variety of field conditions;
Ability to communicate effectively;
Attention to detail and the ability to work independently;
Ability to lift and carry up to 50 lbs. in a variety of outdoor conditions and over uneven terrain;
Previous experience with bird banding, handling live birds and public speaking is preferred.
Resumes are accepted through May 1. A selection will be made in June. To apply; submit a cover letter, resume and three references combined into one document (Word or PDF is acceptable) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use the following naming convention for your file: LastName_FirstName.
Many of our former research assistants have gone on to great things!
After her time in Cape May, Caylen went on to conduct her third season as crew leader on a Wood Thrush and Gray Catbird population study for the University of Delaware and became a data technician on a Burrowing Owl project for the Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Her next endeavor is working on a Northern Spotted Owl study in northern California. She also continues to visit Cape May as a bander for Cape May Raptor Banding Project.
“To put it simply, my time with the Cape May Raptor Banding Project completely changed my life. As the 2017 technician, I learned the ins and outs of raptor banding, garnered a deep appreciation for the many diurnal raptors that grace Cape May’s autumn skies, and met an amazing community that is beyond friendly and incredibly knowledgeable. Everything I experienced helped me take my first steps towards a career with raptors and opened so many new paths on a professional level. I hope to return to Cape May for many years to come and continue to contribute to raptor research.”
Once Tom finished up in Cape May he went on to work for the Peregrine Fund as a field biologist leading the Puerto Rican Sharp-Shinned Hawk initiative, worked as a raptor trapper for the Intermountain Bird Observatory, and is now in Arizona working as a field biologist for the Peregrine Fund’s California Condor Restoration project.
“My time working for the Cape May Raptor Banding Project provided me with the knowledge and tools that I needed to launch my career in raptor research. Getting to be trained by a group of experienced people, many whom have been banding raptors for decades, was an irreplaceable experience. Aside from the huge impact this project had on my professional life, I made a ton of lifelong friends while working as the research assistant. The Cape May community is full of warm and accepting people who know a great deal about the natural world and want nothing more than to spread that knowledge. If you like great birds and exceptional people you’re going to be very happy in Cape May.”
“When fellow ‘wildlifer’ and friend, Casey Setash, worked as the 2014 CMRBP Research Assistant, I knew I wanted to be in her shoes one day. My dreams came true the day I was selected for this position, and the following three months far exceeded my expectations. I gained invaluable experience trapping, banding, and identifying raptors ranging from sharp-shinned hawks to merlins to golden eagles, and I found my niche while instilling my passion for raptors and conservation in those who attended the Project’s banding demonstrations. I cannot wait to return to Cape May to continue working with a phenomenal group of birds that deserves our respect.”
“When fourteen year-old me watched a raptor banding demonstration in Cape May for the first time, I knew that someday I wanted to do exactly what they did. I finally saw that dream realized in one of the most incredible autumns of my life as the Cape May Raptor Banding Project’s seasonal field research technician. I’ve experienced innumerable unforgettable moments during my time here, from the distinct smell of a hissing peregrine falcon to the tangible feelings of awe and respect that comes from holding a golden eagle, and I can’t begin to express how much I’ve enjoyed passing my love of raptors on to the countless people who come to the weekly banding demonstrations. The connections I’ve made in the incredibly welcoming Cape May birding community and the skills I’ve learned under the direction of all the banders will prove invaluable in all of my future endeavors, and I am looking forward to returning for many years to come.”
After her internship at Cape May, Alex went to work for the University of Georgia as a research assistant on a marsh bird integrity project. She then went on to work for the University of Florida and the Florida Cooperative Research Unit as a technician studying Snail Kites in the Everglades. She is currently a federal Wildlife Conservation Officer.
“I am very thankful to have worked at Cape May and even more thankful that I am able to come back as a full time bander. I have made lifelong friends and have learned amazing new skills. The seasons are just too short, but I can’t wait for the next one”
After completing her time as a research assistant at Cape May, Alyssia worked as hawk counter for the Montclair, NJ Hawk Lookout and later as a research assistant for the Penn State Biology Department. In 2012 she was the George Myers Interpretive Naturalist for the Cape May Bird Observatory and is currently a GIS technician for a small city near San Antonio, Texas.
“Working as the field research assistant was definitely a turning point and one of the best experiences of my life. I learned a lot, made a lot of connections and gained many life-long friends. The best part is that the Cape May birding community warmly welcomes you back year after year so you can once again connect with raptors in a way that most people will never get the chance to experience.”
Since leaving Cape May, Mandy has worked as a raptor bander and counter in Manzano, New Mexico and as a loggerhead shrike biologist at the Institute for Wildlife Studies on San Clemente Island. She is now a biological consultant with RECON Environmental, Inc. based out of San Diego, CA. There she conducts bird and nest surveys, habitat assessments, and biological monitoring for a variety of projects. She also currently serves on the Executive Board as the Secretary for Cape May Raptor Banding Project.
“Working for the Cape May Raptor Banding Project fulfilled a dream of working with raptors, and served as a stepping stone into my career. I’m incredibly grateful for the skills I learned from Arthur Nelson, Sam Orr and many other banders while working at the Cape May Raptor Banding Project and try to stay in practice by visiting every fall. The friends I made there will be lifelong, and the community’s warmth and welcome never fades no matter how long I’m away.”