Raptor Counter

Michigan Audubon Society

Okemos, Michigan

Job Type Temporary
Salary Details $10.33/hour - $13/hour
Required Experience 2 - 6 years

We are seeking an experienced, enthusiastic raptor migration counter for the spring (March 15 to May 31, 2024) monitoring season at Whitefish Point Bird Obervatory (WBPO). The counter provides skilled, accurate raptor identification, monitoring, and reporting as well as supplemental interpretation and education to virtual and in-person visitors, members, supporters, and the public during raptor migration. This is an excellent opportunity to join a group working hard to connect birds and people for the benefit of both.  If this aligns with your passion, this might be the perfect position for you.  

The ideal applicant possesses excellent raptor and general bird identification skills, including the ability to age raptors in flight, as well as previous count experience.

Early season weather is often harsh and very cold, with few people visiting the site in these conditions. A dedicated, self-motivated, independent individual who can work well in a secluded setting and endure challenging conditions in a remote location is required. The count is from March 15 - May 31.

About Us:  

Michigan Audubon’s Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO) is a long-term avian monitoring and research site as well as a Globally Important Bird Area.  Our primary migration monitoring and research site, WPBO is located in Paradise, Mich., on the shores of Lake Superior. It is an important spring flight corridor for raptors, with an average of 18,000 raptors migrating past the Point each spring season. 

Since 1979, the raptor count at WPBO has documented the migration of hawks, eagles, and falcons at the Point, providing reliable comparative data for long-term monitoring of raptor populations. The goal of our long-term census, reported annually to the Hawk Migration Association of North America, is to determine the migration chronology of raptors at the Point and to quantify the volume of migrants. In addition, the raptor counter at WPBO each spring shares the sightings and experiences of spring migration through outreach and education with Michigan Audubon’s members, community, and visitors to Whitefish Point.

Primary Duties:

  • Identify and count all migrating raptors and other migrants as required, adhering to established count protocol.
  • Maintain hourly and daily standardized records of raptor migration data and post daily counts and summaries.
  • Write a weekly blog post, regular social media posts, an end-of-season narrative article, and a quantitative summary report for the spring raptor count.
  • Work in collaboration with field and administrative staff at Michigan Audubon/WPBO.
  • Interact with hawk watch site visitors, adhering to any public health mandates in effect at the state and municipal levels.

Qualifications & Experience:

  • Minimum of one season of previous avian migration count experience.
  • Ability to identify North American (especially eastern) raptors in flight at great distances.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills and a positive attitude.
  • Detail-oriented with demonstrated data-collecting skills and a basic understanding of data collection, analysis, and scientific research.
  • Must be computer/tablet literate and capable of entering and managing data (computer access can be provided).
  • Willingness to work irregular hours under sometimes difficult field conditions; tolerance of long periods of time outside in harsh weather conditions (heat, cold, precipitation, and wind).
  • Must be able to walk on uneven surfaces, climb multiple steep steps, stand for multiple hours, and lift 25 lbs. as necessary.
  • Flexibility to adjust hours to meet the needs of program and organization, including the potential of working overtime hours.
  • Must have a personal pair of binoculars and a personal spotting scope is preferred.
  • Must have own source of reliable transportation.
  • Preference will be given to individuals with additional skills counting migrating passerines and other bird groups and 2+ years of previous counting experience.
  • Previous environmental interpretation and/or teaching skills/background in education, ornithology, biology, etc.
  • Passion for connecting raptor and habitat conservation work to people and to the greater community.
  • Experience working with diverse communities and wide-ranging demographics.

Position Status:

This is a temporary on-site position from March 15 to May 31, 2024, with all final reports and requirements due the following week. The count shift is approximately 8 hours per day from 0800 – 1600 EST, 6 days/week with some longer days and weeks during periods of peak migration.


Interested, qualified applicants may email a cover letter, resume, and relevant references (include phone and email) who can verify applicant’s bird identification skills to MA’s CEO, Kathleen Mennillo at kmennillo@michiganaudubon.org   Please enter “Raptor Counter” in the email subject line.

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.

Category Ecology, Wildlife
Tags Ornithology