• A group opportunity. Invite your friends.
  • 5 people are interested

Volunteer Field Assistant working with endangered parrots and macaws in Costa Rica

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ORGANIZATION: The Macaw Society

  • A group opportunity. Invite your friends.
  • 5 people are interested

Are you passionate about conservation science and making a difference in the world? The Macaw Society is offering a volunteer program that allows you to work side-by-side with experts in the field to protect one of the most endangered groups of birds in the Americas.

For more than two decades, The Macaw Society has been at the forefront of psittacine research in the lowlands of southeastern Peru. Our dedicated team, led by Drs. Brightsmith and Vigo-Trauco from the Schubot Center for Avian Health at Texas A&M University, have produced valuable insights into the behavior and conservation of wild parrots and macaws. As part of our commitment to advancing our conservation efforts, we are expanding our initiatives to new areas in the Neotropics. We are pleased to announce our partnership with RESCATE Wildlife Rescue Center ( www.rescatewildlife.org ) in Costa Rica. With over 20 years of experience leading psittacine reintroductions in the country, RESCATE is a remarkable institution and a key partner in our quest to preserve these magnificent birds.

As a volunteer, you'll have the opportunity to learn new skills, gain valuable field experience, and contribute to ongoing conservation efforts. Whether you're an experienced professional or just starting out, we welcome applicants from all backgrounds and offer a range of volunteer assistantship programs to suit your level of experience. You will be climbing high up into the treetops to check on macaw nests and observing the endangered Yellow-naped Amazon parrots and the Scarlet Macaws before and after they're released back into the wild, as part of our ongoing conservation efforts. You'll be gaining valuable experience while helping to protect these incredible birds.

We are welcoming volunteers year-round at "Bosque Escondido", one of the release sites of RESCATE in the Nicoya Peninsula. Whether you're an amateur enthusiast or a graduate-level professional, we have a volunteer assistantship program that will work for you. If you're a student or recent graduate, our volunteer program is the perfect way to learn and grow, while contributing to an important cause.

Join us today and be part of a team that's dedicated to making a real difference in conservation. Together, we can create a brighter future for these incredible birds.


Bosque Escondido Wildlife Refuge - Costa Rica. A 1,800-acre wildlife-rich tropical dry forest on the Nicoya Peninsula. This is a release site for macaws, parrots and other wildlife owned and operated by Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center ( www.rescatewildlife.org)


In general, we have two different types of positions that are available year-round.

Volunteers should be self-disciplined, responsible, enthusiastic, and patient. You should also be able to tolerate moderate insect levels, and hot weather (85-90F/30-33C). You must also be able to get along well with others in a remote field setting.

POSITION #1: Long-term volunteer assistant (8 weeks minimum, 3 months stay preferred)

  • Qualifications: (1) Previous field experience, (2) Previous experience working with birds, (3) Degree in Biology, Ecology, Forestry, Wildlife Sciences, or related careers or close to graduation, (4) Intermediate/advanced Spanish level (useful but not required).
  • Additional requirements: Good physical condition, able to carry a 40 lb (18 kg) pack over moderate terrain for up to 2 km, no fear of heights (Dec-May). Good disposition for facing new and challenging situations, able to work in a team under stress. Have both live and accident insurance coverage.
  • Activities: You will help to monitor the pre-release and post-release parrot behavior of the endangered Yellow-naped Amazon Parrot and the behavior of macaws and parrots around feeding stations (BE). You will also help measure and prepare food items and refill wildlife feeding stations During the macaw breeding season, you will be trained to climb trees using rope systems to check on macaw nests and chicks. You will be also trained to identify all parrots by sight and sound in the area, to conduct wild parrot censuses in the forest and in roosts, to locate foraging parrots, and enter data into computers.

POSITION # 2: Short-term volunteer assistant (12 days minimum, 30 days stay preferred)

  • Qualifications: Previous experience observing animals (captivity/wildlife), (2) appreciation for nature and wildlife, (3) basic knowledge of Spanish (not required but useful)
  • 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.
  • Activities: These assistants will be quickly trained to identify all the local parrots by sight and become experts at parrot/macaw behavior monitoring around nests and around reintroduced wildlife feeding stations. They will also help measure and prepare food items and refill wildlife feeding stations. 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. Assistants will also help with data entry.


Essentially, volunteering is free. We take care of research permit costs, cover the costs of all staff, work to maintain training material, and also deal with all correspondence and various aspects of project management. However, our budget does not extend to being able to pay for all aspects of volunteer participation. As such you only need to cover food, accommodation, and other services provided by the field station. The costs are very reasonable. The daily fee is according to the position and experience.

  • Position #1, Long-term Assistant: 30 USD/day
  • Position #2, Short-term Assistant: 50 USD/day

*A one-time processing fee of $30 will be added for all volunteers.

The lodging payment includes food, non-alcoholic beverages, unlimited tea and coffee, and accommodations with bedding provided. Additionally, all volunteers are required to pay for airport transfers, either $20 for pick-up or $10 for drop-off, and extra transportation costs to the release site in the Nicoya Peninsula or Punta Leona Hotel in the central Pacific coast. After being accepted, volunteers will receive an email invoice from Texas A&M University and must pay 20% of the total cost upfront, which is non-refundable and required to secure the reservation. The remaining 80% must be paid at least two weeks prior to the assistant's arrival at the release site. Payment can be made in cash with prior permission from the coordinator. Availability and season may affect daily fees. Domestic and international flight fees to the release site are not covered. For more information, please refer to our website's refund policy.


To apply please send an email to Volunteering@themacawsociety.org

This email should contain the following:

  1. A letter of interest explaining why you want to work with us
  2. Your CV or resume
  3. Email addresses for at least 3 references
  4. Your preferred location(s) for volunteering. You may choose to help at any combination of the three sites.
  5. The range of dates when you will be available and how long you can participate. For example, "any 20-day period between March and July 2023"or "6 weeks from mid-May until late June."

More opportunities with The Macaw Society

No additional volunteer opportunities at this time.

About The Macaw Society


668 Raymond Stotzer Pkwy, VIDI Building 1813, Texas A&M University, Texas, College Station, TX 77843, US

Mission Statement

The Macaw Society studies the various aspects of the ecology of large macaws and parrots to help us better understand the interactions among clay lick use, food supply, breeding season, breeding success, abundance, and movements. Our mission is to collect scientific information that produces clear documentation of the natural history, ecology, and conservation of parrots and macaws in the Neotropics and make it available to scientists, researchers, and the public. Our vision is to efficiently use our findings to direct conservation of parrots and macaws in Peru and other areas where psittacine are declining and at risk of extinction as well as to establish new research and conservation alliances in the Americas and beyond.


The Macaw Society has been working in the lowlands of southeastern Peru for more than two decades. Drs. Brightsmith and Vigo-Trauco are now leading its expansion to new areas in the Neotropics through a broad array of collaborative projects focused on the ecology and conservation of psittacines.

We have lots of experience developing the management techniques needed to help the recovery of wild macaw and parrot populations. We have been successfully using nest boxes and foster parent techniques to help increase reproduction and habitat management techniques to help preserve clay licks and palm swamp nesting areas.

As of 2022, we have almost 70 peer-reviewed scientific articles published about psittacines from Peru, Costa Rica, USA, Guatemala, and Mexico (considering only publications with Dr. Don Brightsmith as an author). This includes 41 publications with data from Tambopata and 28 including data collected by volunteers.

We work closely with young Peruvian and foreign assistants to help them gain the skills they need for conducting research. Students interested in conducting their own independent studies for coursework, or theses at the undergraduate, master, or doctoral levels are encouraged to apply to study one of the many aspects of macaw and parrot biology at our research sites in Peru (Tambopata) or Costa Rica (Central Pacific Coast).


Animals, Environment


We'll work with your schedule.


Pilas de Canjel,450 m oeste de la escuela Billo ZeledonLepanto, Puntarenas 60104Costa Rica



  • Veterinary
  • Habitat Restoration
  • Environmental Education
  • Animal Care / Handling
  • Botany
  • Spanish


  • Teens
  • People 55+
  • Group


  • Must be at least 18
  • Orientation or Training
  • Activities are organized in 3 work shifts to take advantage of daylight hours & avoid being in the forest in the hottest hours of the day. Early morning: 5 - 7:30 am. Morning: 9:30 am - 12:00 pm & Afternoon: 3:30 - 5:30 pm. 1 day off per week.
  • Some knowledge of Spanish is recommended but not require.

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