Volunteer Opportunity at Bowra southwest Queensland with Hall's Babblers

Subject: Volunteer Opportunity at Bowra southwest Queensland with Hall's Babblers
From: "Dean Portelli" <>
Date: Wed, 06 Jun 2007 15:42:32 +1000
Hi all,

Pasted below is an advertisement seeking volunteer help for the period July-December this year for my PhD project on Hall's Babblers at Bowra station. I'm sure many of you are familiar with Bowra from the numerous postings to birding-aus raving about how good the place is (and it is!!).

 Please don't be offput by the 'research tone' of the advertisement. No research or science skills are necessary, volunteers need only be fit, able to spend long hours out in the field chasing birds(!!) and be easy-going and able to work as part of a team.

Please contact me either at this email or at

Volunteer Positions


 Behavioural ecology of Hall?s Babbler (Pomatostomus halli): an endemic, cooperatively-breeding bird of eastern Australia


This is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable research experience in the integrative study of behavioural ecology in the mulga lands of south-west Queensland.


Project Overview

 My research focuses on the social organisation and habitat selection of Hall?s Babbler, the least known of all Australian babblers. I will also investigate the cooperative-breeding behaviour of this species including sex allocation, individual contributions to cooperative care, kin selection and reproductive success.

 A wide range of field techniques will be used to undertake this research. These include using radio-tracking of groups for home range analysis to examine space use and habitat preferences; direct behavioural observation and molecular analysis to investigate social organisation; and automated data collection methods (PIT tags and cameras) to quantify cooperative-breeding behaviour.

  This research will play a pivotal role in improving our knowledge of cooperative-breeding systems generally and Hall?s Babbler more specifically, forming the foundation for the conservation of the species in New South Wales where it is considered Vulnerable to extinction.


Volunteer Activities

 This position offers a unique opportunity to gain valuable field experience with a range of techniques including:

  • capture of babblers using mist-nets for banding and genetic sampling
  • radio-tracking babbler groups
  • searching for active breeding nests and monitoring breeding attempts
  • setting up automatic recording equipment on nests to remotely record behaviour
  • direct behavioural observations of colour-banded birds



 Fieldwork will be undertaken on a colour-banded population of Hall?s Babblers on Bowra Station in southwest Queensland. Bowra is a unique property with a high diversity of habitats and consequently a rich fauna and flora, particularly birds.

 Accomodation will be in refurbished Shearer?s Quarters consisting of several rooms with beds, fully-contained kitchen, toilet and shower facilities.

 The local town, Cunnamulla, located only 16km from the station has numerous facilities including supermarkets, pharmacy, pubs, library (with internet access), post office, and hospital.



 Volunteers are required for the period July to early December 2007. Ideally volunteers should be able to commit to a minimum stay of one month.



 Accommodation, food and travel costs for volunteers will be subsidised by research funding.


Contact Details:

 If you are interested in this volunteer position or would like further information please feel free to contact me via email at m("","d.portelli");">, or at the University of New South Wales on +61 2 9385 3272.


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