Since 2008, McGill Bird Observatory (MBO) has offered seasonal internships for those interested in gaining extensive practical experience in the operation of a migration monitoring station. Interning at an observatory is one of the best ways to learn how to identify birds by sight and sound, how to safely trap, band and release them, and how to best communicate the aims and techniques of migration research to the general public.  By immersing yourself during the internship, you will obtain the daily practice required to master these tasks, hopefully allowing these to become second nature.

Aside from banding, an MBO intern will also learn the ‘behind the scenes’ aspect of running a migration monitoring station.  This will include net set-up procedures at the beginning of the season, and net take-down procedures at the end.  The BIC will show the intern how to run the station on a daily basis (net set-up, net-check scheduling, prioritizing birds, coordinating and training volunteers effectively, safe banding practices, accurate data collection, and data processing at the end of the day).

Running a banding station is not only about birds, but also about people.  On site, the intern is expected to help wherever help is required, be it as a net assistant, an extractor once sufficient training has been undertaken, an observer, a maintenance worker, or a bander.  Everyone is expected to contribute to the running of the station, so a sunny and helpful disposition is certainly a valued asset.  Polite and clear communication is essential, especially in stressful situations.  To help in their training, MBO interns are encouraged to begin teaching new volunteers as soon as the BIC indicates their readiness to do so.  Being able to explain what you have just learned is one of the best ways to truly understand the material. 

The length of the internship is at a minimum 150 hours, but preferably around 210 hours. This is a non-salaried position. MBO will assist the Intern to find accommodation, but the Intern is responsible for paying for his/her accommodation. Start time is twenty minutes before sunrise. The Intern is expected to be present on the site for 6 hours following the start time. Physical activity level is medium to high with much walking and some site maintenance tasks. Interns do not need prior banding experience. All interns should begin by becoming familiar with the MBO protocol as well as the job descriptions for MBO volunteers, and are also strongly encouraged to further explore the remainder of the MBO website.

There will be a limited number of positions available for each migration season; contact us if you are interested in participating.

  • Spring Season: April 18 to June 5. Applications must be received by February 15.
  • Fall Season: August 1 to November 6. Applications must be received by June 1st


Please send a cover letter, CV, transcript and the name and contact information of one reference to:

McGill Bird Observatory
PO Box 10005 BP, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue,
Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue QC H9X 0A6

Applications by email are recommended.