Avian: Owl (Strix) Surveyor (Student)

Western Oregon

Salary Range:
$2600 to $3500 monthly

Dates of Employment:
March 14, 2022 to August 19, 2022

Job Description:

Turnstone is looking for hard-working, independent, reliable students (or graduates) to fill field-based technician positions conducting surveys for Strix owls (northern spotted owl and barred owls), in several locations in western Oregon for the 2022 breeding season. Both undergraduates and graduates are eligible and welcome to apply. Students interested would be seeking to gain experience and knowledge working in the field, forest and office setting collecting data. These positions are considered full-time seasonal technicians taking place in the spring and summer. Students will likely need to take spring term off from school in order to participate in this position. Surveys will be on federal, state and private lands in beautiful western Oregon. Avian Field Technicians will gain valuable field experience in the pacific northwest. From these entry level positions technicians will be enabled with direct field experience vital to field and biologist positions post-college. Turnstone is a small, locally owned environmental consulting firm. We help clients protect and manage shared natural resources with solutions that are practical, forward thinking, and built on a foundation of good science. We are passionate, motivated, and team-oriented professionals who all started as seasonal field technicians ourselves and now strive to be leaders in the wildlife field.

Job duties: Owl surveys follow an exacting protocol, and surveyors will be required to work independently during various times of the day and night (non-daylight) hours in remote forested areas. The work involves extensive solo travel, hiking off-trail (occasionally in the dark), navigating forest terrain, enduring regular periods of inclement weather and working multiple days in a row. Daily duties include but are not limited to daytime hiking and follow-up surveys, nighttime call and response surveys, trail/road clearing, GPS use and basic orienteering, submitting collected survey data and observation maps, checking in with project management, attending crew meetings, maintaining a timesheet and vehicle mileage log.

Location: Surveyors will be stationed with a crew of peers in one of several communities in western Oregon, to include but not limited to general areas around Astoria, Corvallis, Forest Grove, Nehalem, McMinnville, Medford, Salem, or Tillamook areas. Field housing at no cost to the employee is provided in the locations of Nehalem, Forest Grove and Tillamook areas for the duration of work. Occasional camping may be needed and technicians will need to supply their own personal camping gear.

Safety: Turnstone crews have an excellent safety record. Technicians will receive classroom and field training with their crew prior to the start of surveys. Technicians will have the opportunity to check in with their crew members daily on site and remotely, and all technicians will have frequent communications with their supervisors including disclosing their daily field plans for conducting surveys for safety purposes. Technicians will typically have a field radio for logistics coordination with peers and emergency communications.

Workload: Full-season project commitment is necessary from mid-March to mid-August 2022. Part-time work that spans the full survey season may be possible in some work areas. Work schedules are variable and somewhat flexible but are typically a 4-day work week which may or may not be consecutive days. Typical work weeks are Monday through Thursday (10ish hour days) and 40ish hour work weeks. The work begins mid-March with training in one’s work area and runs through mid-August. Please note that opportunity to take extended leave for nonemergency reasons during the summer season is limited and should be discussed when interviewing for a position. Taking a single online-only course during the season may be possible during the survey season but may be difficult with the variable and often long nighttime work hours associated with the position. A work vehicle will be provided; surveyors that choose to use an appropriate personal vehicle for work will be reimbursed via a per mile rate. The monthly compensation may be salary or hourly depending on the project and fall within the $2600-$3500/month ($15.00-20.20/hr) range, depending on experience.

Minimum Requirements:

Desired qualifications: Applicants should be working towards or recently graduated with a B.S. degree in wildlife biology or a closely-related field. A minimum of one year of field experience is desired but not required. Owl or avian survey experience is not required if the applicant has strong field skills, basic bird identification skills, and an interest in avian biology. A large portion of the daily work is post-sunset (owls are nocturnal) and can be physically and mentally demanding. An ideal candidate will possess the following characteristics:

  • Be comfortable hiking and working solo in the field on a daily basis during daylight and nighttime hours.
  • Excellent time and data management/organization skills.
  • A consistent track record of working in a safe and efficient manner.
  • Proficiency with or a strong desire to learn to use a compass, GPS and topographic map to navigate.
  • Excellent physical condition, with the ability to tackle the rigors of field work, comfortable hiking alone several miles on and off-trail in steep and variable terrain and/or in inclement weather.
  • Experience living and working in rural and remote field and office settings.
  • Working knowledge of western owls and ability to identify them by sight and sound.
  • The ability and willingness to spend long hours in the field and work odd hours, including late nights into the early morning hours.
  • Integrity, quality, and accuracy in adhering to scientific protocols.
  • The ability to record accurate and reliable field data.
  • Ability to adapt to sudden changes in work schedules due to weather conditions, survey results, and other variables.
  • Basic computer skills: Microsoft suite (Word, Excel), Garmin Basecamp software, manage digital data forms and cloud files, and general computer knowledge. Knowledge of the Avenza mobile app a plus.
  • Flexible, detail-oriented, resourceful, and comfortable working independently while living as part of a team.
  • A valid state-issued driver’s license with clean driving record and the ability to navigate forest roads of variable condition and operate a 4WD vehicle.
  • Applicants must have normal vision and hearing, with required proof (hearing screen results) to be submitted prior to the start of work.


When applying, please list details on any or all previous field experience including relevant coursework and personal experiences like backpacking/camping. For full consideration, students or graduates should submit their applications before December 15th, 2021.

To Apply:
To apply, please complete an application and prepare a resume and cover letter with three references to be submitted through the job link below. 

Link: https://turnstoneenvironmental.wufoo.com/forms/slo34h61bhgea1/