Southern Sierra Research Station

...conserving biological diversity through research

2021 Research Opportunities

Field Technicians and Crew Leaders for Nest Searching and Point Counts - New Mexico


Location: Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area in northwest New Mexico, and in the Black Range of the Gila Mountains, New Mexico

Dates of Employment: early April through July, possibly into early August. End date is somewhat flexible.

Application deadline: Application review will begin on January 20, 2021 and continue until the positions are filled.

Number of Openings: 6

Job Description: The Southern Sierra Research Station (SSRS) is looking for four field technicians and two crew leaders to conduct nest searches, point-counts, and Pinyon Jay surveys in pinyon-juniper (P-J) woodlands. Five days a week, technicians and the crew leaders will search for nests of target species and monitor located nests at regular intervals to assess survival, productivity, and detect re-nest attempts. Songbird point-counts and pinyon jay surveys will be conducted within the study sites approximately once per month. Daily, staff will record field data on android tablets, sync the collected data with the online database once they return to the field house, and then proof (QA/QC) the collected data. Vegetation surveys will be conducted at nest and random locations after the nests have fledged and the birds dispersed. Qualified staff with previous pinyon-juniper (P-J) bird survey experience will also conduct point-count surveys for all birds present. The primary nest-searching species include: Pinyon Jays, Juniper Titmouse, Gray Vireo, Virginia's Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Black-chinned Sparrow and Western Bluebird. Nesting and breeding data on additional P-J bird species may also be collected to ensure that the study generates an adequate sample size for data analysis.

Field work will be conducted in the Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area in northwest New Mexico (near San Luis and Cuba, NM), and in the Black Range of the Gila Mountains west of Truth or Consequences, NM. Elevation ranges from 6500 to 8000 feet and encompasses a habitat gradient of savanna up to persistent P-J woodland. Surveys will start at or before dawn. Across the field season the variable weather (rainy, cloudy, and sunny) and temperatures (cool mornings to hot afternoons) are expected. The surveys will require off-road, off-trail navigation using maps, compass, aerial images, and gps units. Shared housing and field vehicles will be provided, but use of a personal vehicle may be requested (mileage will be reimbursed).

Covid-19 Precautions: While this work will be conducted in relatively remote areas where potential exposure to the virus should be minimal, field staff will follow SSRS and NM state safety protocols. Hired applicants may be required to quarantine and have a negative Covid-19 test prior to the start date.

Required Qualifications:

  • Patience and persistent observation needed to follow individual birds and carefully locate nests are essential. Training for all nest-searching and survey protocols will be provided, but prior bird identification skills are required, and previous experience nest searching experience preferred.
  • Applicants with prior nest searching experience and/or experience with pinyon-juniper birds will be given preference.
  • All field staff will search for and monitor nests, but technicians also interested in conducting point-count surveys must be able to identify pinyon-juniper associated birds, by sight and sound.
  • Familiarity with western flora, a valid driver's license, and attention to detail is a must.
  • Applicants must be comfortable using electronic devices (gps units, tablets) to navigate and collect data, and be responsible to ensure the devices are charged every night.
  • Applicants must be in good physical condition, as long hours in the field will be required in sometimes difficult terrain. Applicants must be confident working and navigating in a remote wooded area.
  • The applicant is expected to work well as a team member, and independently, to accomplish project tasks on schedule.
  • The applicant is expected to take the Covid-19 pandemic seriously and act accordingly to minimize potential exposure to the virus.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or possess a valid U.S. work visa


Applicants should email a single file (word or pdf) which includes 1) a cover letter stating their interest in the position and dates of availability, 2) a resume, and 3) names and contact information (email and phone) of three references to: John Stanek at the following email address: jobs.ssrs@gmail.com. Include your name and "NM PJ Birds" in the file name of your attachment (e.g. Darwin_C_NM PJ Birds.doc) and in your email subject line. The Southern Sierra Research Station (www.southernsierraresearch.org) is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Salary: is $2,000-$2,500/month DOE and position (field technician, crew leader). Housing and field vehicles are provided.

Contact Person: John Stanek

Contact e-mail: jobs.ssrs@gmail.com


Avian Field Technician


Location: Weldon, CA

Dates of Employment: mid March to mid August. End date is flexible

Application deadline: Applications should be submitted by 10 Feb 2021 for full consideration.

Number of Openings: 1

Job Description: The Southern Sierra Research Station (SSRS) is looking for one seasonal full-time technician to participate in multiple avian monitoring/research projects with study sites situated in the gorgeous foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

Project 1: Tricolored Blackbird movements and connectedness in the Kern River Valley, CA. Responsibilities will include assisting with bird capture and tagging, tracking individual bird movements using radio telemetry, performing vegetation surveys, and assisting with construction/maintenance of stationary automated radio towers.

Project 2: Southwestern Willow Flycatcher population monitoring. The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher project aims to document the occurrence of this endangered subspecies in the Kern River Valley. The technician will participate in WIFL population surveys, target mist-netting, resighting color-banded birds, cowbird trapping, and vegetation sampling.

Project 3: Avian point count surveys. The technician will conduct point count surveys for all avian species at China Lake Naval Weapons Station, Walker Basin/Caliente, and the Kern River Valley, CA.

All projects will require thorough data management skills (data entry and proofing of collected data will be a daily duty) and punctuality to begin avian surveys just before dawn. Depending on their qualifications and interest, the technician may also have opportunities to work on other projects and will be expected to take on responsibilities that are not directly related to the main research projects.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree in Natural Resources, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Biology, Environmental Science, or a related field
  • Must be able to identify western songbirds by sight and sound and attention to detail is a must. Training for all survey protocols will be provided, but prior bird identification skills are required. Applicants with prior experience performing avian point count surveys will be given preference.
  • Applicants must be in excellent physical condition and be able to traverse through rugged terrain, wet overgrown areas, and large amounts of dead and downed wood.
  • The applicant is expected to take the Covid-19 pandemic seriously and adhere to SSRS's Covid protocol, to minimize potential exposure to the virus.
  • Must have a valid U.S. driver's license
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or possess and valid U.S. work visa

Desirable Qualifications:
  • Mist-netting and/or bird banding experience
  • Prior season(s) of field experience
  • Previous experience conducting threatened/endangered species surveys
  • Previous experience using GPS units and ArcGIS
  • Enthusiasm for fieldwork, persistence, a verifiable great work ethic, and ability to deal with harsh field conditions are sometimes viewed as more important than past experience or specific knowledge.


Applicants should email a single file (word or pdf) which includes 1) cover letter stating their interest in the position, dates of availability, 2) a resume, and 3) names and contact information (email and phone) of three references to: Kristie Stein at the following email address: jobs.ssrs@gmail.com. Include your name and job you are applying to in the file name of your attachment (e.g. Darwin_C_avian_technician_application.doc) and in your email subject line. The Southern Sierra Research Station (www.southernsierraresearch.org) is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Salary: is $2,000-$2,500/month DOE. Housing and field vehicle are provided. Shared housing will be provided in Weldon, CA

Contact Person: Kristie Stein

Contact Phone: 760-378-3345

Contact e-mail: jobs.ssrs@gmail.com


Field Technicians and Crew Leader for Pinyon Jay Surveys - New Mexico


Location: Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico

Dates of Employment: Mid-March to Mid-May. End date is somewhat flexible

Application deadline: Application review will begin on January 25 and continue until the positions are filled.

Number of Openings: 1

Job Description: The Southern Sierra Research Station is looking for a crew leader and two field technicians to conduct Pinyon Jay (PIJA) surveys in pinyon-juniper (P-J) woodlands in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument (RGdNNM ) in northern New Mexico. The project aims to assess PIJA breeding population status within the RGdNNM and collect data to better inform future pinyon-juniper habitat treatment projects. Technicians and the crew leader will conduct pinyon jay surveys to document abundance, and locate nesting colonies within the RGdNNM (near Taos, Tres Piedras, NM). PIJA Colonies and nests will be monitored and mapped.

Field work will be conducted five days a week, in open P-J savanna up to persistent P-J/ Ponderosa Pine woodland, from 8000 to 9000 feet. Surveys, conducted by car and on foot, will start 1/2 hour after dawn and continue until mid-day. Detected PIJA will be observed and followed (when possible) to locate and delineate nesting colonies. Daily, field data will be recorded on android tablets, synced with an online database once they return to the field house, and then proofed (QA/QC'd). Crew leader will conduct field work and ensure surveys and colony visits are on schedule.

From March to May, variable weather (rainy, cloudy, and sunny) and temperatures (cold mornings to hot afternoons) are expected. Many of the surveys will be conducted by car, stopping approximately every 1/2 mile to conduct a PIJA point-count. Off road surveys will require hiking up to five-miles per day, (on-trail and off-trail), and navigating using maps, compass, aerial images, and gps units. Shared housing and field vehicles will be provided, but use of a personal vehicle may be requested (mileage will be reimbursed).

Covid-19 Precautions: While this work will be conducted in relatively remote areas where potential exposure to the virus should be minimal, field staff will follow SSRS and NM state safety protocols. Hired applicants may be required to quarantine and have a negative Covid-19 test prior to the start date.

Required Qualifications:

  • Patience and persistent observation needed to follow birds and carefully locate nests are essential. Training for all nest-searching and survey protocols will be provided, but prior bird identification skills are preferred.
  • Applicants with prior nest searching experience and/or experience with pinyon-juniper birds preferred.
  • A valid driver's license, and attention to detail is a must. Experience driving 4-wheel drive vehicles in muddy conditions on undeveloped roads preferred.
  • Experience navigating using a GPS (recording waypoints and tracks), aerial photos, and/or topo maps preferred.
  • Previous experience recording field data on mobile device (tablet/smart phone), and using ArcGIS Collector preferred.
  • Applicants must be in good physical condition, as long hours in the field will be required in sometimes difficult terrain. Applicants must be confident working and navigating in a remote wooded area.
  • The applicant is expected to work well as a team member, and independently, to accomplish project tasks on schedule.
  • The applicant is expected to take the Covid-19 pandemic seriously and act accordingly to minimize potential exposure to the virus.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or possess a valid U.S. work visa


Applicants should email a single file (word or pdf) which includes 1) a cover letter stating their interest in the position and dates of availability, 2) a resume, and 3) names and contact information (email and phone) of three references to: John Stanek at the following email address: jobs.ssrs@gmail.com. Include your name and "NM PIJA" in the file name of your attachment (e.g. Darwin_C_NM PIJA.doc) and in your email subject line. The Southern Sierra Research Station (www.southernsierraresearch.org) is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Salary: is $2,000-$2,500/month DOE and position (field technician, crew leader). Housing and field vehicles are provided.

Contact Person: John Stanek

Contact e-mail: jobs.ssrs@gmail.com



Additional job opportunities will be posted soon.