Volunteering Abroad Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Monitoring Wild Macaws in Peru Peru



We have been working in the lowlands of south-eastern Peru for more than two decades. Drs. Brightsmith and Vigo-Trauco from the Schubot Center from Avian Health from Texas A&M, are now leading its expansion to new areas in the Neotropics while continuing to monitor wild psittacine breeding ecology in Tambopata, Peru. Tambopata has been the core area for our research and monitoring of wild parrots and macaws since 1999. A long history of dedicated work has provided many insights into various aspects of wild psittacines.

We are always looking to collaborate with anyone with a passion for conservation and biology. Volunteers are one of the most important aspects of The Macaw Society. The thousands of hours of observations that have been conducted over the decades would not have been possible without the help of the many volunteers and assistants who have offered their time and energy for the cause of science and conservation. There are no qualification limitations, although most volunteers come from a biological or environmental sciences background. All applicants are welcome, as we can find a role for almost any type of volunteer. If you are responsible, enthusiastic, self-disciplined, and patient PLUS you enjoy being outdoors and working with wildlife, we encourage you to check out our volunteer assistantship opportunities. We have different volunteer assistantships programs that require different levels of experience from amateur enthusiasts and birdwatchers to graduate-level professionals.

Volunteer activities vary according to the position.

Long-term volunteer assistant:

You will be trained to identify all parrots by sight and sound in the area. To conduct wild parrot censuses, locate foraging parrots plus enter data into computers. During the macaw breeding season, you will be trained to climb trees using rope systems and observe macaw behaviour around nests. Activities include cooking and campsite set up.

Short-term volunteer assistant:

These assistants will be quickly trained to help our field team to work with ropes to be part of the team that stays on the ground when we monitor macaw nests and chicks. You also are trained to monitor macaw behaviour around their nests. Activities include cooking and campsite set up. Due to the short length of stay, volunteers will have only minimal involvement in activities requiring higher training levels like parrot censuses and tree climbing.


The Macaw Society


Long-term volunteer assistant requirements: previous field experience previous experience working with birds; Degree in Biology, Ecology, Forestry, Wildlife Sciences, or related careers or close to graduation. Additional requirements: good physical condition, able to carry a 40 lb (18 kg) pack over moderate terrain for up to 2 km, and no fear of heights (Dec-Mar). Good disposition facing new and challenging situations, able to work in a team under stress. Have both life and accident insurance coverage. Short-term volunteer assistant requirements: previous experience observing animals in captivity or in the wild; appreciation for nature and wildlife. Additional requirements: average physical condition, ability to walk 2 km over moderate terrain, good sense of observing animals, ability to stay seated for long periods of time, and some background knowledge of birds in general.

Dates of program:
From Mid-September to March

Duration of program:
2 weeks (short-term program) to 3 months (long-term program)

Age requirement:
Adults of both sexes 18+

Volunteers need to pay a daily fee according to the position and experience. Long-term assistant: US$30 per day. Short-term assistant: US$45 per day. A one-time processing fee of US$30 will be added for all volunteers. The daily rate covers food, non-bar beverages, unlimited tea and coffee, and accommodation (bedding is provided). All volunteers will be charged an airport transfer to be picked up (US$20) or dropped off (US$10). Once a volunteer is accepted they need to pay 20% of the total cost of their stay. This non-refundable payment is required to hold the reservation for the assistant. The remaining 80% of the payment should be made at least two weeks before the assistant arrives at the release site.

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