Southern Sierra Research Station

...conserving biological diversity through research

2022 Employment 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 El Malpais Conservation Area, New Mexico

Dates of Employment: early March 7 through July 31/Aug 15.

Application deadline: Application review will begin on January 31, 2022 and continue until the positions are filled.

Number of Openings: 9

Job Description: The Southern Sierra Research Station (SSRS) is looking for seven 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.

One crew will conduct field work in the Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area in northwest New Mexico (near San Luis and Cuba, NM), and the second crew in/around the El Malpais Conservation Area south of Grants, 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.

We aim to hire two crews, each with a crew leader and a field technician starting in March. The remaining field technicians will start in April. One crew is anticipated to complete bird and habitat surveys by July 31, the other crew by August 15.

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 Covid safety protocols. It is the policy of SSRS that all employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 and are keeping up with all current CDC guidelines (boosters, masking protocols, etc). Proof of vaccination will be required when reporting to work.

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.
  • 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 $2,200-$2,700/month for field technicians, and $2,700-$3,000 for crew leaders. Housing and field vehicles are provided.

Contact Person: John Stanek

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


Yellow-billed Cuckoo Field Technician in AZ, NM, and TX


Location: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas

Dates of Employment: June 6, 2022 - July 31, 2022

Application deadline: : Application review will begin on March 1, 2022 and continue until the positions are filled.

Number of Openings: 20

Job Description: The Southern Sierra Research Station (SSRS) is looking for approximately 20 full-time seasonal technicians to participate in a range-wide survey effort for the federally threatened western Yellow-billed Cuckoo (YBCU), with approximately 13 positions in Arizona, 6 in New Mexico, and 1 in west Texas. Each technician will work independently conducting playback surveys at multiple field sites between June 15-July 31. Playback surveys begin at dawn and end by 11am, with additional duties including data submission/review, travel between sites, and coordinating with the field crew coordinator and project partners.

Field sites will be located across NM, AZ and western TX, in riparian and semi-riparian habitats, and may be extremely hot, humid, and rugged, with potential for encounters with biting insects, snakes, and other wild animals. Some areas may also experience a strong summer monsoon season, which can result in sudden thunderstorms and flash floods. However, these habitats are some of the most biodiverse and unique in the western US and technicians will be rewarded with world-class birding and other recreational opportunities nearby. Applicants should be comfortable working independently in these harsh conditions, hiking off trail, crossing running water, and hiking in the dark to arrive at survey sites before dawn. Technicians will also be expected to conduct themselves professionally in coordinating with project partners, private landowners, and members of the public.

Work schedule will be 5 days on, 2 days off. Applicants with reliable vehicles, high clearance/4x4 vehicles are preferred (mileage will be reimbursed), but rentals may be provided for individuals who are otherwise highly qualified. Housing is not provided and camping near field sites is encouraged, but a daily $100 per diem will be provided for each fieldwork day that can be used to cover hotel costs. Technicians will primarily work independently, but COVID precautions will be prioritized. All surveyors will receive USFWS-approved, yellow-billed cuckoo survey training prior to the start of the field season.

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 state Covid safety protocols. It is the policy of SSRS that all employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 and are keeping up with all current CDC guidelines (boosters, masking protocols, etc). Proof of vaccination will be required when reporting to work.

Required Qualifications:

  • Training for all survey protocols will be provided, but a strong attention to detail, ability to follow established instructions/survey protocol, and prior bird identification skills are required. Applicants with prior experience conducting YBCU surveys will be given preference.
  • Previous experience using GPS units or GPS apps, and recording data in the field. Must be comfortable using electronic devices/smartphone apps (which will be used to play cuckoo calls to a Bluetooth speaker; navigate to survey points; and collect, submit and review field data)
  • Applicants must be in excellent physical condition and be able to traverse through rugged terrain, and wet overgrown areas. Applicants should also be comfortable with extended time working independently in remote areas.
  • The applicant is expected to take the Covid-19 pandemic seriously and adhere to SSRS's Covid protocol (e.g. vaccinations are required), to minimize potential exposure to the virus.
  • Must have a valid U.S. driver's license
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, possess a valid U.S. work visa, or are eligible for a CUSMA (formerly NAFTA) work permit (for Canadian and Mexican Citizens).


Desired Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree in Natural Resources, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Biology, Environmental Science, or a related field
  • Prior experience conducting western Yellow-billed Cuckoo surveys
  • Ability to identify other songbirds by sight and sound.
  • Prior season(s) of field experience, particularly in remote, mountainous areas and/or desert riparian areas
  • Previous experience conducting threatened/endangered species surveys
  • Basic knowledge of southwestern flora (tree/shrub ID) and/or experience with vegetation surveys
  • Previous experience navigating to remote field sites on rugged dirt roads and/or in areas without reliable cell service
  • Previous experience using ArcGIS, ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Collector, or ArcGIS Field Maps
  • Camping or backpacking experience, particularly in remote off-trail areas
  • Enthusiasm for fieldwork, persistence, a 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 the following email address: jobs.ssrs@gmail.com. Include your name and "_YBCU" 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 $2,200-$2,700/month DOE.

Contact Person: Nick Beauregard/John Stanek

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



Additional job opportunities will be posted soon.