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Avian Behavior Research Internship

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, located in Front Royal, Virginia, is seeking an intern to assist with ongoing research on rare and endangered avian species. SCBI's bird team works with a variety of species and is seeking an applicant to serve as a research intern for the 2020 spring/summer session, which coincides with red siskin breeding season (early March to late August). While there may be opportunities to conduct daily husbandry tasks with keeper staff, the primary focus of this position is behavioral observation and data collection.

Learning Objectives: 
  • Conduct daily behavioral observations of red siskins (and potentially other avian species) to monitor breeding behavior and social interactions as part of a research project
  • Complete data collection and data entry
  • Learn and follow animal/keeper safety guidelines, operations and polices
  • Learn USDA guidelines, AZA guidelines and NZP directives, procedures and protocols, and review other related literature
  • Present a short summary of their experience to SCBI Department of Animal Programs staff
  • Assist animal keepers with daily husbandry, including feeding animals, cleaning enclosures, cleaning and caring for live feeder colonies (mice and insects), enclosure preparation and renovation, plant care, nest checks, chick care, health assessments, medical care and treatment, fecal collections, semen collection/assessment, egg incubation, record keeping, and observation
  • Preference will be given to undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a career in a related field
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Must enjoy performing assigned duties outdoors in all weather conditions and be able to lift at least 50 pounds
  • Must be willing to report to internship outside of normal business hours, including weekends and holidays
  • Ability to be an effective team member, oftentimes with minimal supervision
  • Ability to follow written and verbal instructions, and to remain calm and think rationally under pressure
  • Must have appropriate footwear. Appropriate outerwear is required for all the weather conditions: rain, snow, wind, hail, etc.
  • Negative tuberculosis test required prior to start date

Preferred experience and qualifications:

  • Previous experience conducting animal behavior observations
  • Previous experience within the animal care field
  • Interest in learning about avian management with aspirations to advance in the wildlife or zoo field
  • Experience with exotic or domestic avian species
This is an unpaid internship wherein the intern supports SCBI's Department of Animal Programs - Bird Team in Front Royal, Virginia.
On-site government housing is provided at SCBI headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia (dormitory, nonsmoking, no pets and additional codes of conduct apply).
Parking at SCBI headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia, is available.
Term of appointment: 
This is a six-month internship from March to August 2020.
Application deadline(s): 
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Front Royal
Internship Category: 
How to Apply: 

To apply, go to solaa.si.edu. Select "Don't have an Account? Create An Account." Complete the information to create an account.

Information that will be requested (in SOLAA) includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • Professional resume or CV
  • A one-page statement of your interest in pursuing this position. The statement should mention relevant experience, career goals, your reasons for wanting this internship, and what you hope to gain from the experience. Your statement is very important during application evaluations
  • Transcripts from your current and/or previous institutions. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
  • Two contacts of references (one must be from a current or a former supervisor)
  • Schedule of availability.

Once you create your account and provide the information above, you will see a screen where you select the type of appointment you are interested in. You will select:

  • Type of appointment: “Internship”
  • Unit of interest: “National Zoological Park”
  • Program: “National Zoological Park Internship Program”
  • Project: “SCBI - Avian Behavior Research Internship in Front Royal”

IMPORTANT: Your application is considered complete when you hit “Submit.”