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Loon Recovery Field Assistant

Bird Studies Canada (BSC) is hiring an experienced, highly motivated, and personable field assistant to survey nesting loons and lake characteristics in Ontario beginning in late-May 2019. The successful candidate will work in close association with a postdoctoral researcher to survey dozens of secluded lakes in Killarney Provincial Park, a large area north and east of Sudbury, and in parts of central Ontario. The position will run from 21 May to 30 August 2019.


The Common Loon is a ubiquitous, large water bird found on lakes across Canada, and is a cherished symbol of wilderness and cottage country. Studies initiated in the 1980s found that breeding success of loons was negatively affected by acidification of lakes, along with other threats like mercury in food chains, and cottage development on lakes. This project will use loon survey data collected at different scales over 30+ years from Ontario, along with novel loon survey and water chemistry sampling, to test whether lake chemistries have changed in response to Canadian and American reductions in acidifying emissions, and whether loon reproduction has changed over this period. The project will deliver the most state-of-the-art analysis of the relationship between (possibly) recovering lakes and loon breeding success, and novel information on changes in water chemistry for many of the lakes. The project has important implications for environmental health of lakes across the northern Great Lakes region, and for a Canadian iconic species, as a test of the long-term response of aquatic environments to government actions on acid rain. The project is being led by Dr. Kristin Bianchini (postdoctoral researcher at Acadia University and Bird Studies Canada) in collaboration with Dr. Doug Tozer (Bird Studies Canada), Rob Alvo (Ottawa), and Dr. Mark Mallory (Acadia University).


The Loon Recovery Field Assistant (“Assistant”) will work under the close daily supervision of the project’s postdoctoral researcher to determine reproductive status of pairs of loons and lake characteristics on dozens of remote lakes. The Assistant will search for and observe loons with the postdoc from a canoe and from shore where possible. The Assistant will also search for and observe loon nests and chicks, as well as record behavioral observations of loons. The Assistant will help record lake characteristics such as pH, conductivity, temperature, and other measures. The position will involve data entry, summarizing data, and helping to prepare articles and reports. The Loon Recovery Field Assistant’s role will include helping to maintain a clean and organized field camp, and other activities to help with successful delivery of the field survey component of the project. The position provides excellent opportunity to add skills to one’s CV in the field of applied conservation science.


Most candidates will have completed or be working towards completing a BSc in biology or ecology or an equivalent wildlife-related program.


  • Knowledge of lake ecosystems and ecology
  • Experience conducting wildlife surveys (conducting bird surveys, particularly finding and monitoring nests an asset)
  • Familiarity with lake chemistry equipment (previous experience using pH metres, temperature probes, etc. an asset)
  • Experience thriving in challenging field conditions (heat, cold, clouds of biting insects)
  • Familiarity with backcountry travel and remote camping (previous experience conducting over-water work, including ability to paddle canoes an asset)
  • Organized with a high attention for detail
  • Able to take clear and detailed notes
  • Able to use GPS
  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills
  • Able to work in a team environment as well as independently
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft programs excel and word
  • Valid driver’s license (ability to drive a manual transmission and previous 4×4 experience an asset)
  • First aid certification or able to obtain certification prior to start date


  • Search for and observe loon nests and chicks; record behavioral observations of loons
  • Record lake characteristics such as pH, conductivity, temperature, and other measures
  • Maintain a clean and organized field camp
  • Coordinate with supervisor to plan day-to-day activities
  • Enter and summarize data
  • Prepare articles and reports


$2,700 (CDN) per month plus legal benefits; cost of food, travel, and accommodations (e.g., primitive cabins or tent-camping) covered during field work.


9:00 am EST Mon 4 March 2019


21 May to 30 August 2019


Please send via email to the contact listed below a single document containing a cover letter, resume, and at least two references with contact information (email and phone). In your cover letter and resume, please highlight how your qualifications and skills meet the expectations described in the job ad above. Applications that fail to demonstrate required qualifications and skills will not be considered. In addition, please indicate if you meet the Canada Summer Jobs’ eligibility criteria in your cover letter; note that some preference may be given to those who meet these criteria. While Bird Studies Canada welcomes all applications, only those applicants who are selected for an interview will be contacted. Bird Studies Canada welcomes and encourages applications from people with disabilities. Accommodations are available on request for candidates taking part in all aspects of the selection process.

Please email applications to:

Dr. Kristin Bianchini

Postdoctoral Researcher

Acadia University and Bird Studies Canada


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