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Each February, the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (GGRO) recruits interns to help conduct fall migration hawkwatch and banding studies in the Marin Headlands, near San Francisco, CA. These internships require a full-time commitment of seven months (mid-June to mid-January), a college degree in some biological science, and a passion for learning about raptor migration and research.
GGRO Raptor Migration Interns split their time evenly between the banding and hawkwatch programs, and work with a large and dedicated group of volunteer community scientists on a daily basis. GGRO Interns also help conduct regular public outreach programs during scheduled hawkwatch days.
Banding: All interns will learn how to trap, band, and take morphometrics on birds of prey that migrate through the Marin Headlands. Banding days vary in length, but generally start at 7:45 am and last till after 6:00 pm (depending on bird activity and weather). Banding requires sitting in a blind for 5 hours or more, working with others to make quick decisions, and the ability to run on slopes while avoiding obstacles.
Hawkwatch: All interns will learn to find and identify over 15 species of migratory raptor using binoculars and spotting scopes. They will also become familiar with counting birds using GGRO’s unique team-based quadrant system. A day of hawkwatch starts with meeting the team at 8:30 am, counting from 9:30 am-3:30 pm, and finishing the day with data entry. Hawkwatch requires a positive attitude, good communication skills, decent eyesight/corrective lenses, and standing for long periods of time in hot, cold, foggy, and windy weather.
Outreach: Interns are the public face of the GGRO for those who visit Hawk Hill. From weekend programs for the public to scheduled fiels trips from Bay Area schools and outdoor clubs, this is an opportunity to engage communities outside the scientific world to teach the importance of raptors, migration, community science, and conservation. While participating in both hawkwatch and banding, interns will also work independently to create curricula and materials for public presentations. Successful interns are enthusiastic, friendly, able to adapt to follow the interests of a group, and self-directed.