tanagers. cotingas. flycatchers. antbirds. tinamous. antwrens. woodpeckers. parrots. 

Volunteer and Internship Opportunities
* All training provided *
Understanding the diversity, distribution, population dynamics, and         
optimal conservation strategies of forest-dwelling  birds in Amazonian Peru

Team Objectives

The Bird Research Team, with headquarts in the city of Puerto Maldonado, is tasked with developing baseline datasets on the diversity and abundance of nearly 400 species of birds at numerous field sites across the Madre de Dios region of Amazonian Peru, and to monitor changes in these variables over time scales ranging from months to decades. By undertaking sampling throughout the year, in dry and wet seasons; across various habitat types, including floodplain and terra firme forest; and in contrasting land-use categories, such as reserves and national parks, native community forests, ecotourism concessions, Brazil nut forests, timber extraction zones, bushmeat extraction areas, and forests associated with agriculture and cattle ranching; and also by collating climate data at each study site, the team is able to determine the relative importance of each variable, understand the patterns and trends in diversity and abundance in time and space, and ultimately predict the current and future conservation status of birds across the entire landscape.

Striated antbird (Drymophila devillei)

Photo: Tom Ambrose

A male Band-tailed manakin (Pipra fasciicauda) having its wing evaluated for moult limits and general wear and tare (Photo: Fauna Forever)

Methods Used and Skills Taught

The bird sampling methods that our volunteers and interns learn and implement under the leadership and supervision of our professional bird research coordinators, include mist-netting in combination with banding/ringing, and point counts. The former requires skilled bird handling (training provided) and the latter requires visual and auditory identification of species (training provided) and accurate radial distance measurements from the point count station to each bird. Data analysis and visualisation programs that we use and teach, include R, SPSS, Distance, Mark, Estimates, and QGIS. Each week, sampling is undertaken Monday to midday on Saturday, after which team members are free to relax and explore the local area. Each field site has 12-24 mistnet stations and en equal quantity of point count stations located within 3 km of the research camp and distributed within 4-6 habitat types. Click here for precise details of sampling protocols.

A Typical Day

Research days are split into morning and afternoon sessions. On each research day, two sessions are completed, for a total of around 7 hrs of active field time and data input per day. On most morning sessions, sampling begins at 5:30 am, after a very early breakfast (box breakfast also available), with either mist-netting and banding/ringing or point counts. On returning to the field station after 4 hours of fieldwork, the team will input and review the data collected, including inputting photos of moult limits identified on each bird captured. Lunch is served at 1 pm, after which team members can relax for a couple of hours. At 3:30 pm, the late afternoon session begins, which can consist of either mist-netting, point counts, or preparing new mistnet stations for sampling in the next few days. Saturday mornings are usually set aside for habitat monitoring, which is undertaken within modified Gentry plots, or catching up on any missed sampling sessions from the previous week.

A royal flycatcher (Onychorhynchus coronatus). Video: Fauna Forever

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Volunteer and Intern Participation Fees


All meals (veg options available) and lodging (shared rooms), scheduled transfers, field training and supervision, research permits, research activities, local Sunday expeditions.

Not included

Flights, non-scheduled transfers, clothes washing, rubber boots, rain poncho, personal medical issues.

1 week     -  US$ 500

2 weeks   -  US$ 900​

3 weeks   -  US$ 1200

1 month   -  US$ 1600

6 weeks   -  US$ 2200

2 months -  US$ 2850

3 months​ -  US$ 4100


Any time of year. We recommend successful applicants arrive in the city of Puerto Maldonado (PEM) on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday if at all possible. The city is served by daily flights from Lima (LIM) and Cusco (CUZ) via the airlines Latam and Avianca. 

Non-profit Fee Breakdown

Transfers 4% 

Accommodation 18%

Meals 14%

Equipment  4%

Repairs 4% 

Communication 18%

Staff 14%

Profit  0%

Recommended Reading

Field Guides

Published Articles

Powell (1989) On the possible contribution of mixed species flocks to species

richness in neotropical avifaunas. Behav Ecol Sociobiot 24: 387-393.

Terborgh (1990) Structure and organization of an Amazonian forest bird

community. Ecological Monographs 60(2): 213-238.

Haselmayer (2000) A comparison of point counts and sound recording as bird

survey methods in Amazonian southeast Peru. The Condor 102: 887-893.

Lloyd (2000) Population densities of the Black-faced Cotinga Conioptilon

cilhennyi in south-east Peru. Bird Conservation International 10: 277-285.

Lloyd (2003) Population densities of some nocturnal raptor species(Strigidae)

in southeastern Peru. Journal of Field Ornithology 74(4):376–380.

Brightsmith (2004) Effects of weather on parrot geophagy in Tambopata, Peru.

Wilson Bulletin 116: 134-145.

Lloyd (2004) Habitat and population estimates of some threatened lowland

forest bird species in Tambopata, south-east Peru. Bird Conservation

International 14: 261–277.

Brightsmith (2005) Competition, predation and nest niche shifts among tropical

cavity nesters: ecological evidence. Journal of Avian Biology 36: 74-83.

Raine (2007) Breeding bird records from the Tambopata-Candamo Reserve

Zone, Madre de Dios, southeast Peru. Cotinga 28: 53-58.


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