How to become an ornithologist

Are you fascinated by our feathered dinosaur descendants and have a curious, investigative mind?
Then studying birds as an ornithologist might be the career for you.

What does an Ornithologist do?

A photo of Dr Nick Askew, an ornithologist and Director of Conservation Careers, wearing binoculars in front of bamboo. Find out how to become an ornithologist in this guide.Ornithologists are scientists who specialise in the study of birds (ornithology). 

Ornithology is a branch of zoology – the study of animals – which falls under the larger umbrella of biology.

Birds have captured human fascination for centuries, and the study of birds has helped develop concepts such as ecological niches (the roles species play in ecosystems), speciation (the formation of new species) and many more.

As an Ornithologist, you might generalise or choose to specialise in a particular bird species or group – such as barn owls, bald eagles or red kites. You might study bird behaviour, population structure, physiology (the function of living birds, such as respiration or reproduction) or how birds interact with their environments.

You might also choose to apply your bird expertise within any of the 11 Key Conservation Roles – from Policy Advocate to Educator to Land Manager. Or perhaps you’ll even become an Organisational Manager like Dr Nick Askew, who began his career as an Ornithologist and later became the Founder and Director of Conservation Careers.

As an Ornithologist you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to conservation in many ways. For example, you might help protect threatened bird species – such as the California condor, mangrove finch or Amazonian parrots – from extinction; help solve human-wildlife conflict issues such as keeping birds away from airports or wind turbines; prepare management plans for birds and their habitats; rehabilitate and release birds into the wild; and much more.

Because many bird species are migratory, as an Ornithologist you may have the opportunity to create local, regional and global impact by conserving birds and their habitats.

Regardless of the career path you choose, you’re likely to find yourself within a community of passionate Ornithologists. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together…

A barn owl standing on the ground among yellow wildflowers. As an ornithologist you can choose to specialise in the study of a particular species, such as barn owls.
Dr Nick Askew, Founder and Director of Conservation Careers, began his career studying barn owls. Keep reading to learn how you can become an ornithologist.

Where does an Ornithologist work?

Ornithologists can work in the field, in labs, in offices, in zoos and other environments. Types of conservation employers that hire Ornithologists include:

A table showing the different types of organisations that hire ornithologists. If you want to become an ornithologist, you can work for academic, business, charity and government organisations.

What is the average Ornithologist’s salary?

What is the job demand for Ornithologists?

Ornithologists are a specific type of Conservation Scientist – one of the 11 Key Conservation Roles.

Here’s how most Conservation Scientist roles compare with other conservation roles. We’ve given each role a rating from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) for pay, popularity (how many applicants roles receive) and availability (how many jobs are available at a given time). Keep in mind that this is a general guide, and that pay, popularity and availability can vary with employer type, location and job level.

*Pay for senior-level Organisational Manager roles can reach a 5.
**Pay for veterinary sub roles can reach a 4.

If you plan to work as an Ornithologist in the UK, you can review the National Careers Service’s guidance for zoologist careers. If you plan to work as an Ornithologist in the USA, you can read the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics guidance for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists.

To research salaries for general Ornithologist roles in your region, we recommend searching the Economic Research Institute’s Compensation HubTo research salaries and availability for Ornithologists in your region, we recommend searching our Conservation Job Archive.

A male California quail perched on a branch. Find out how to become an ornithologist as study birds in this ultimate guide.
A male California quail perched on a branch. Credit: Vijayalakshmi Nidugondi / Unsplash.

What are the education requirements to become an Ornithologist?

Most Ornithologist jobs require an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree in biology, zoology, animal science or a similar subject such as animal ecology, animal behaviour, animal health or conservation biology. Some universities offer specialisms or specific courses or modules on ornithology. Some jobs, particularly in research or teaching, require a master’s or PhD. 
When starting a career as an Ornithologist, real-life experience can greatly increase your chances of landing a job. (Did you know that all 11 Key Conservation Roles usually require experience?) We recommend gaining practical experience to complement your study through internships, volunteering and other work experience schemes.
Check out these resources:

Degrees related to Ornithology

Search our Conservation Training board for degrees and courses related to Ornithology, such as:

A close-up photo of the green, red and blue feathers of an Eclectus parrot.
A close-up photo of the green, red and blue feathers of an Eclectus parrot. Credit: David Clode / Unsplash.

What kind of societies and professional organisations do Ornithologists have?

There are 100s of societies and professional organisations for Ornithologists worldwide. Here are just a few to get you started:
Ornithological societies in the United Kingdom:
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)The logo of the RSPB. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and work with organisations like this.. Founded in 1889, the RSPB is a charitable organisation focussed on protecting habitats, saving species and helping to end the nature and climate emergency.
  • British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)The logo of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and work with organisations like BTO.. BTO is a non-governmental, non-campaigning organisation that uses science, monitoring and data to inform environmental decision-making, inspire people and help secure the future for birds and nature.
  • Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)The logo of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT). Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and work with organisations like WWT.. WWT is the wetland restoration charity, a global community of nature lovers with this vision: a world where healthy wetland nature thrives and enriches lives.
  • British Ornithologist’s Club (BOC)The logo of the British Ornithologist's Club (BOC). Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist.. The BOC educates the public in the UK and beyond about birds, and shares open-access scientific information via their Bulletin.
  • British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU)The logo of the British Ornithologist's Union (BOU). Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist.. Founded in 1858, the BOU is one of the world’s oldest ornithological organisations and has members on all continents.
  • British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC)The logo of the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC). Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist.. The BBRC is the official adjudicator of rare bird records in Britain and publishes an annual report in the monthly journal British Birds.
  • Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC)The logo of the Scottish Ornithologist's Club (SOC). Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist.. Established in 1936, the SOC is both a birdwatching club and a network of volunteers across Scotland, gathering vital information about Scotland’s wild birds.
Ornithological societies in the United States:
  • National Audubon SocietyThe logo of the National Audubon Society. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and work with organizations like Audubon.The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation, into the future.
  • Cornell Laboratory of OrnithologyThe logo of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. The Cornell Lab is on a mission to interpret and conserve the Earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds and nature.
  • American Ornithological SocietyThe logo of the American Ornithological Soceity. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. The AOS is a global network of professionals working together to advance the scientific study and conservation of birds.
  • Association of Field OrnithologistsThe logo of the Association of field Ornithologists. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. Founded in 1922, AFO is a society of professional and avocational ornithologists dedicated to the scientific study and dissemination of information about birds in their natural habitats. 
  • American Birding AssociationThe logo of the American Birding Association. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. The ABA inspires people to enjoy and protect birds. They support North American recreational birders in increasing their knowledge, skills and enjoyment of birding. They also contribute to bird and bird habitat conservation. 
  • Pacific Seabird GroupThe logo of the Pacific Seabird Group. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. Formed in 1972, PSG is a society of professional seabird researchers and managers dedicated to studying and conservating seabirds and their environment.
Ornithological societies around the world:
  • Birds CanadaThe logo of Birds Canada. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. Birds Canada is a non-profit charitable organization that drives action to increase the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of birds in Canada. Birds Canada uses data collected by Citizen Scientists, alongside targeted research projects, to identify significant bird population changes and help direct conservation planning.
  • Nature CanadaThe logo of Nature Canada. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. Nature Canada has helped protect over 110 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada, and represents a network of over 130,000 members and supporters and more than 1,000 nature organizations.
  • BirdLife South AfricaThe logo of BirdLife South Africa. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. The South Africa country partner of BirdLife International, BirdLife South Africa uses scientifically-based programmes, promotes sustainable and equitable use of natural resources and encourages people to enjoy and value nature – to help conserve birds, bird habitats and biodiversity.
  • The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS)The logo of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. BNHS has promoted nature conservation since 1883 and is the national BirdLife Partner for India. Their vulture programme is focussed in Pinjore, Haryana.
  • BirdLife AustraliaThe logo of BirdLife Australia. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. A partner of BirdLife International, Birdlife Australia has been at the forefront of bird conservation in Australia for over 120 years. Through their Bird Conservation Strategy, they aim to stop the extinction of birds by 2032, improve the status of 30% of threatened birds by 2032 and halt overall bird declines by 2050.
  • Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU)The logo of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU). Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. Founded in 1899, NABU is Germany’s oldest and largest environmental association. With more than 900,000 members and 70,000 active volunteers, NABU takes action for nature conservation and tackles the biodiversity and climate crises in Germany and worldwide.
  • SEO/BirdLifeThe logo of SEO/BirdLife. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. Founded in 1954, SEO/BirdLife works to conserve birds and their habitats through scientific studies, disseminating knowledge, developing environmental programs with volunteers and more.
  • Vogelbescherming Nederland (VBN)The logo of Vogelbescherming Nederland (VBN). Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. VBN is the Dutch Partner of BirdLife International, on a mission to protect and conserve wild birds and the sites they depend on.
  • Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO)The logo of Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO). Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. Founded in 1912, LPO is the largest environmental NGO in France with nearly 60000 active members, 550 staff and 35 local chapters. They support biodiversity and sustainable development through wildlife conservation projects, scientific studies, mobilizing and educating citizens, partnerships and public advocacy.
  • Swiss Ornithological InstituteThe logo of the Swiss Ornithological Institute. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. The Swiss Ornithological Institute is a non-profit foundation that monitors and researches native birds, advocates for threatened species, looks after injured and orphaned birds and provides information and advice to the public.
  • Birds New Zealand / Te Kāhui Mātai Manu o AotearoaThe logo of Birds New Zealand. Follow this guide to learn how to become an ornithologist and study birds.. Formed in 1940, Birds New Zealand (The Ornithological Society of New Zealand Inc) is on a mission to foster the study, knowledge, and enjoyment of birds.
Would you like to find an ornithological society in your country to region? There are 100s of societies and professional organisations for Ornithologists worldwide. Explore BirdLife International’s partners across 6 continents or try searching ornithological societies by region on Wikipedia.
A colourful macaw in flight in Costa Rica, with a forest in the background. Ornithologists study birds such as macaws.
A macaw in flight in Costa Rica. Credit: Zdenek Machacek / Unsplash.

Ornithologist resources

Ornithologist podcast episodes

Patricia Zurita is the past CEO of BirdLife International, the biggest conservation partnership on the planet. She shares what it’s like to be a CEO and how she got from her childhood in Ecuador to be the only female leader of a big international conservation charity. Listen here.

Dr Mike Clarke is the former Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Europe’s largest wildlife conservation organisation with over 2,000 staff, 10,000 volunteers and 1 million members. Mike discusses what he’s proud of achieving, his advice and more. Listen here.

With over 800 species of birds in South Africa and over 100 of them threatened, where do you start with trying to conserve them? Mark Anderson, CEO of BirdLife South Africa, explains what it’s like to be CEO, his career to date and what he looks for when hiring new staff. Listen here.

The Seychelles Warbler is a global success story for nature conservation, having gone from a population of 30 to 3,000 individuals, thanks to island restoration work and translocations. In this episode we speak with Chief Executive of Nature Seychelles, Nirmal Jivan Shah. Listen here.

On average every five minutes an albatross dies accidentally behind a fishing boat. Dr Ben Sullivan works in the enterprise sector for Fishtek Marine helping to innovate new products to tackle old conservation problems. Listen here.

How important are volunteers in conservation? What different types of work can you do as a volunteer, and how can it benefit your career? We explore this and more with Rhoda Ludford, the Volunteering Development Consultant with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Listen here.

Ultimate Guides for Ornithologists

Explore all Ornithologist resources here.

A red kite in flight over water, with the tips of its wings just touching the water. Find out how to become an ornithologist and study birds in this guide.
A red kite hunting in Lunteren, Netherlands. Credit: Birgitta Roos / Unsplash.

Example Ornithologist jobs

To help illustrate Ornithologist roles, here are several job descriptions that represent (real) entry level Ornithologist jobs. Pay particular attention to the selection criteria (specifications) to learn more about what conservation employers are looking for when they hire Ornithologists.

Assistant Consultant Ornithologist | Wood | UK

Wood are seeking a reliable and highly motivated individual to join our ornithology team. This is an ideal opportunity for junior ecologists to progress their career in ecology and ornithology within a global, multi-disciplinary company.

Our long established but still growing team of over 70 ecologists (including 17 ornithologists) delivers high quality ecological services on complex projects in a variety of sectors including renewables, nuclear new build, transport, other power, waste, minerals and property in the UK and abroad. We are currently looking for a talented candidate to support on our major infrastructure projects, which could include winter bird monitoring in estuarine environments in the UK or migratory bird surveys on the Red Sea coast in the Middle East for example.

Wood offers an excellent salary package, including a company car, as well as a tailored training programme and great opportunities for career progression.

Key responsibilities:

You will work closely with other ornithology team members and with colleagues in the wider ecology team and other technical disciplines to help deliver surveys to a high standard for clients. You will undertake a broad range of ornithological survey work and reporting. The role will include:

  • undertaking bird surveys across a variety of habitats and locations nationwide
  • the digitization and management of datasets using GIS
  • assisting with data analysis and the production of baseline reports

There will also be the opportunity to assist with managing the delivery of survey programmes and to support the wider ecology team with protected species surveys. 

You will be paired with a mentor within the ornithology team who will provide advice and support and there will be unique opportunities to develop and progress your career.

Skills / Qualifications

Wood is looking for high-quality individuals who have an interest in ornithology. The ideal candidate will possess:

  • Postgraduation professional experience ideally within a consultancy role (preferred not essential)
  • Good knowledge of ornithology and wildlife legislation
  • Good bird identification skills and a sound knowledge base of bird ecology
  • Experience of species specific and generic bird survey methodologies
  • Ability to work well within a team
  • Aptitude to show initiative
  • Reliability, flexibility, and a willingness to work unsociable hours and at remote site locations
  • Good communication and organisation skills
  • A degree (or equivalent) in ecology or a related subject
  • Clean, full UK driving licence
  • GIS skills


Seasonal Ornithologist | National Audubon Society | California, USA (2023)

The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places they need today and tomorrow. We work throughout the Americas towards a future where birds thrive because Audubon is a powerful, diverse, and ever-growing force for conservation. Audubon has more than 700 staff working across the hemisphere and more than 1.5 million active supporters.

North America has lost three billion birds since 1970, and more than 500 bird species are at risk of extinction across Latin America and the Caribbean. Birds act as early warning systems about the health of our environment, and they tell us that birds – and our planet – are in crisis. Together as one Audubon, we are working to alter the course of climate change and habitat loss, leading to healthier bird populations and reversing current trends in biodiversity loss. We do this by implementing on-the-ground conservation, partnering with local communities, influencing public and corporate policy, and building community.

Audubon is committed to a culture of workplace excellence, where our talented and diverse staff are deeply engaged with a strong sense of belonging. The birds Audubon pledges to protect differ in color, size, behavior, geographical preference, and countless other ways. By honoring and celebrating the equally remarkable diversity of the human species, Audubon brings new creativity, effectiveness, and leadership to our work throughout the hemisphere.

Position Summary

Audubon California’s 4000-acre Starr Ranch Sanctuary in southeast Orange County, California solicits applicants for a position as Seasonal Ornithologist from January 22 2024 through July 19 2024.

This position will continue long term surveys of five songbird species of the rare habitats, coastal sage scrub and cactus scrub, including long term surveys of the federally threatened Coastal California Gnatcatcher and Coastal Cactus Wren. Will continue surveys of birds in oak woodlands and also the main riparian corridor on Starr Ranch. Protocols were developed by Starr Ranch ornithologists in collaboration with professional ornithologists with expertise in each species. Will do mapping, data entry, data summaries and summarize point count and other data.

Opportunity to do bird monitoring that is integrated into Starr Ranch land management, conservation, and education programs. Training will be given for instruction of a few of our “Ecology Programs” that integrate bird and other wildlife research into education programs to be offered to kids and adults one day per week. We seek applicants who are enthusiastic, dedicated, organized, self-starting and thorough. Opportunity to live in a private cabin our 4000-acre Sanctuary.

Compensation: $27.00 / hour

Essential Functions

  • Conducts rare bird surveys (Coastal California Gnatcatcher and Coastal Cactus Wren) and monitors other songbirds of the rare coastal sage scrub, oak woodlands, and riparian woodlands).
  • Enters and summarizes bird monitoring and other data using Excel and mapping programs (GIS, Google Earth).
  • Instructs Ecology Programs that emphasize avian and other wildlife research. Some programs (Evening Wildlife Survey and Western Screech-owl Survey) are during nighttime hours

Qualifications and Experience

  • Master’s degree preferred or undergraduate degree in biology or ecology with strong ornithological background and experience.
  • Strong background in bird monitoring techniques essential.
  • Mapping experience (GIS, Google Earth) preferred.
  • Strong knowledge and interest in birds and bird watching and general natural history of animals and their habitats.
  • Must have enthusiasm for working with kids, adults, and families.


Long Point Bird Observatory Program Coordinator | Birds Canada | Ontario, Canada (2024)

Are you looking to channel your skills into meaningful, energizing work that will directly contribute to protecting our natural world? Birds Canada is the country’s premier national organization dedicated to bird conservation. Every day, our thousands of caring donors, 70+ passionate staff, and 70,000+ outstanding volunteers are taking action to help us better understand, appreciate, and conserve birds and their habitats. Together, we are Canada’s voice for birds – will you join us

Position Overview

Birds Canada is seeking a highly motivated and skilled individual to help coordinate the programs and day-to-day operation of the Long Point Bird Observatory (‘LPBO’).  This position is  well suited for someone who is an excellent birder (by sound and sight) and naturalist, loves working outdoors and coordinating and participating in fieldwork, is very well organized, demonstrates initiative, has the ability to take a leadership role as part of a team, and has an exceptional work ethic and interpersonal skills.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Program Coordinator will take a shared leadership role for the delivery of Long Point Bird Observatory programs such as the Migration Monitoring Program (April 1-June 15 and August 1 to November 15), Young Ornithologists’ Workshop and Internship, and the Latin American Training Program, and additional research, monitoring, education and outreach programming.

Specifically, the Coordinator will be responsible for leading migration monitoring activities on a daily basis following LPBO protocols.  Other responsibilities include co-operator coordination, training, and management and importantly, facilitating formal and informal public presentations and guiding.

The Coordinator will also assist in the operation and maintenance of the three historic research stations on Long Point (Old Cut, Breakwater, and the Tip), their grounds, and all related equipment.


A BSc. in biology or a related topic, or an exceptional depth of experience in the field.

Skills and Experience

  • Strong communication, leadership and mentoring skills with the ability to oversee a large group of cooperators and lead a major research operation.
  • Excellent bird identification skills by sound and sight.
  • Previous banding and bander training experience with a strong emphasis on passerines is required. Certified trainer by the North American Banding Council or equivalent experience and expertise.
  • Comfort with navigation using GPS, compass and map, and the stars.
  • Experience in the safe operation of boats, canoes, ATV’s, and other equipment.
  • A valid driver’s license, and boat operators licence.
  • Basic handy-person skills and knowledge, or a willingness to learn and ask questions.
  • An excellent working knowledge of windows-based computer programs.
  • First Aid Certification, or ability to complete certification before start date.

Working Conditions

You must be amenable to working irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays during the field seasons (April 1 – June 30 and August 1 to November 15).  You must also be comfortable with communal living conditions and remote wilderness environments (minimal cellphone coverage, outhouses, bugs, snakes, and unpredictable weather).

Employment Details

This is an 8-month contract with possibility for extension and renewal. The Program Coordinator will report to the Manager of Observatory Operations. This is a fully in-person position with opportunities for remote work outside of the field season. The Program Coordinator is expected to live and work in Port Rowan, Ontario at Long Point Bird Observatory and the Birds Canada Headquarters. The anticipated start date for this position is April 1, 2024.

Total Compensation and Benefits

Compensation for this role is $50,400 – $56,423 annually. Birds Canada also offers a generous benefits package including extended health and dental benefits (premiums primarily paid by the employer), short and long term disability coverage, 4 weeks of vacation and 12 personal health days per year, extra paid days off between Boxing and New Year’s Day, RRSP matching of up to 5% of your salary after 12 months of service, among other perks.  The Program Coordinator will also be provided with housing and food during the field season.


Marine Ornithologist | Scottish Government | Edinburgh, Scotland

Are you passionate about applying the best available science in policy and decision making? Do you have excellent communication skills and experience of working with a wide range of colleagues and stakeholders? Do you have expertise in marine ornithology? If the answers to the above questions are yes, then this exciting opportunity to join Marine Scotland Science could be for you!In January 2022, Crown Estate Scotland announced the successful applicants to the ScotWind offshore wind leasing round kickstarting a new phase of offshore wind farm construction in Scottish waters helping Scotland meet its Net Zero targets, become carbon neutral by 2045 and tackle the climate emergency.

Marine Scotland is responsible for identifying where the ScotWind projects will be located, administering the related offshore planning consents, and ensuring that projects are delivered in an environmentally sustainable manner. We need to grow our teams to support the delivery of ScotWind and Scotland’s offshore wind ambitions.

The Renewable Energy Environmental Advice (REEA) Group in Marine Scotland Science is recruiting multiple posts to ensure continued delivery of specialist scientific advice to regulators and policy makers. The new posts will provide scientific advice on offshore renewable energy projects, and help to build the evidence base relied upon by decision makers. This will ensure that our advice continues to be supported by the best available evidence, and that research undertaken and commissioned by Marine Scotland addresses the most important knowledge gaps facing the sustainable development of offshore renewables.

You will be required to work closely with other divisions within the Scottish Government, including the Licensing Operations Team and the Planning and Strategy team within Marine Scotland.

REEA sits within the Renewables and Energy Programme of the science division of Marine Scotland. The programme currently has 30 staff who provide advice within government on the potential environmental impacts of marine energy on key receptors including birds, marine mammals, fish and fisheries, benthic habitats, and diadromous fish. Our advisers and scientists also provide advice on other Scottish Government policy priorities, such as marine conservation and regulation of other marine industries.

Job description


  • Provide scientific advice to regulators and policy makers on marine ornithology, informed by the best available evidence.
  • Review technical documents and prepare materials to ensure good communications with other Marine Scotland, governmental and external stakeholders.
  • Identify and contribute to the development and delivery of applied research projects related to marine renewable energy.


Essential Criteria

  • A good understanding of regulation, legislation and research relating to seabirds in Scottish and/or UK waters.
  • A good understanding of seabird ecology, pressures and threats and trends in the UK as well as the potential effects of marine renewable development on seabirds.
  • Excellent written, analytical, and oral communication skills, including the ability to explain scientific concepts to varied audiences, particularly to other professionals.
  • The ability to work independently with good organisational skills and effectively manage projects.


Specialist – Marine Ornithology | Natural England | UK

Do you have a passion for nature and the environment? Do you want to make a real difference and secure significant environmental gains in the present and the future? Do you enjoy working in a team? Can you see yourself advising communities and customers to maximise gains for the Natural Environment?

If this appeals to you, a career at Natural England offers rewarding opportunities to secure environmental improvements and play your part in creating a better future for people and nature.

The priority work Natural England is delivering includes:

  • Establishing a Nature Recovery Network to help wildlife thrive
  • Monitoring environmental changes to identify and help reduce the effects of climate change
  • Working with farmers and landowners to develop greener food production methods
  • Advising on plans for new developments to maximise gains for nature, both on land and at sea
  • Providing ways for people to better connect with nature, including green social prescribing

Natural England are the Government’s advisor for the natural environment, playing a vital role in delivering the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, an ambitious vision which brings new opportunities to protect and enhance and to achieve real outcomes for the environment.

About the team

You will join Natural England’s national Science Directorate, which is responsible for developing and applying natural, economic, and social science and evidence to drive and enable the achievement of environmental outcomes, both within Natural England and externally.  The Science Directorate is part of the Chief Scientist’s Directorate, responsible for delivering Natural England’s Science, Evidence and Evaluation Strategy, aiming to ensure Natural England is an evidence-led organisation.

Job description

We are looking for an experienced and enthusiastic professional to be part of a growing team of ornithological specialists in the bird’s team.  The birds team provide casework advice on marine, coastal and terrestrial ornithology to support sustainable development, as well as advising on designations, conservation advice and condition assessment of protected sites.

You will be joining Natural England at an exciting time with ambitious government commitments to halt biodiversity decline, restore nature and safeguard our environment for future generations. We are entering a period of unprecedented expansion for renewable energies at sea, which is a cornerstone of the strategy to meet the UK’s Net Zero targets. Our Senior Specialist Marine Ornithology roles will be working with industry and the government to apply the science and evidence base at a strategic and casework level to this growing sector (especially offshore wind).

Key tasks

  • Work closely with other Natural England marine ornithologists, in the provision of casework advice, predominantly in relation to offshore wind.
  • Help to maintain an overview of ornithological evidence base including contributing to the delivery of evidence projects
  • Maintain and apply up-to-date knowledge of the protection afforded to birds and bird habitats resulting from national and international legislation.
  • Contribute to internal and external ornithology networks

The ideal candidate will:

  • Preferably qualified to at least BSc level in an ecological discipline, or, can demonstrate equivalent experience.
  • Have a good knowledge of England’s seabirds, including an understanding of conservation status and drivers of population change
  • Have experience of providing evidence based ornithological advice in relation to marine and coastal birds
  • Have an understanding of the legislation and policies protecting marine and coastal birds
  • Be effective in communicating (verbally and in written form) to multiple audiences
  • Ability to use Microsoft Office including Excel. Geographic Information experience desirable.


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Not sure yet which type of conservation role is right for you? Explore all 11 Key Conservation Roles.

Useful links & free stuff

A bird with irredescent feathers perched in an urban environment, photographed from behind, with its head titled to one side. Read this guide to find out how to become an ornithologist and study birds.
Ready to take flight? Check out the links and resources below to give your career wings. Credit: Daniele Petrella / Flickr.
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