Ornithologist Job Description

Ornithologist Job Description, Skills, and Salary Scale

Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of an ornithologist. Feel free to use our ornithologist job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as an ornithologist.


Who is an Ornithologist?

Ornithology is a discipline of zoology concerned with the “methodological study and subsequent knowledge of birds with all that related to them,” according to Wikipedia. Because of the high visibility and aesthetic appeal of birds, ornithology differs from similar subjects in several ways. It has also been an area where amateurs have made significant contributions in terms of time, resources, and financial assistance. Bird studies have aided in the development of essential concepts in biology such as species definition, speciation, instinct, learning, ecological niches, guilds, island biogeography, phylogeography, and conservation, as well as key concepts in evolution, behavior, and ecology. In the eighteenth century, ornithology, the discipline of natural history concerned with the systematic study of birds, began in America. Mark Catesby, a British naturalist, was the first to thoroughly document the New World’s flora and wildlife.


An ornithologist is a person who studies birds. Bird behaviour, physiology, and conservation are among the topics studied by ornithologists. Bird activity is frequently surveyed, recorded, and reported in this study. Ornithologists can specialize in a certain species or group of birds, or they can generalize. Many professionals, on the other hand, may only devote a portion of their time to bird research. Wildlife biologists, ecologists, land managers, teachers, researchers, environmental educators, legislative champions, and eco-tour guides are some of the jobs available to them. Ornithologists gather and display bird collections, as well as conduct instructional speeches about birds, answer questions about birds, and identify donated birds. Ornithologists are specialists who specialize in one or more bird groups or generics. They conduct research on bird populations as well as fauna. Some even work with the general public to assist them to understand the value of all species on the earth. Many ornithologists work with government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and leaders to raise awareness about the importance of bird conservation and the role that birds play in maintaining natural equilibrium.

Rare and commercially important bird species are studied by ornithologists who work for environmental conservation organizations. Birds are taken, weighed, measured, and identified. The density and variation of bird populations are investigated. They provide advice to farmers on the needs and management of birds on their farms, as well as assisting in the control of bird export and import. They also attempt to in the community a feeling of conservation. Ornithology occupations focus on the study of worldwide bird populations, including how they behave, mate, and reproduce, as well as their environment and human and climate impacts. Ornithologists may conduct field research to better understand migration routes, reproduction rates, and habitat needs; monitor and assess the status of a particular population; capture and band birds to track their movements and identities; analyze collected data; conduct wildlife impact assessments for development projects; and create management plans and reports, among other things. They could work as park rangers or at wildlife preserves. Nonprofit conservationists may also be interested in policy formulation and lobbying.


Types of an Ornithologist

Airport Wildlife Biologist: A competent airport wildlife biologist assists in passenger safety by researching potential wildlife risks at airports and recommends solutions that can be taken to lessen the airport’s appeal to wildlife that could represent a risk to human life and aircraft.

Aquatic Biologist: Aquatic biologists work in lakes, streams, ponds, oceans, and other bodies of water to study species. Biologists concentrate on organisms that are influenced by their surroundings. Projects and jobs differ due to the huge diversity of species that dwell underwater and the number of bodies of water on the planet.

Biologist (Department of the Army): A biologist is largely responsible for the Army healthcare team’s scientific studies in biochemistry and physiology.

Environmental Quality Analyst: As we live, pollute, and modify the earth, environmental analysts evaluate and study the interplay of the environment and people. Environmental analysts work in both the public and private sectors, assessing data on a variety of themes including soil, water, and air pollution, geology, and hydrology. Entry-level roles typically require a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or a related field.

Farm Manager/Educator: A farm manager is in charge of the farm’s management and general upkeep. A farm manager oversees the fertilization, planting, spraying, growing, and harvesting of crops on a crop farm.

Fish and Wildlife Technician: Data collection is aided by wildlife technicians. This usually entails extracting blood and tissue samples, as well as inventorying wildlife populations and catching and tagging animals. They may also collect water, soil, and plant samples. The health of animals is assessed by wildlife technicians, who look for symptoms of sickness. They’re frequently in charge of looking after captive animals.

Laboratory Technician: In medical and scientific laboratories, lab technicians are highly skilled individuals who work with complex systems or execute highly specialized mechanical or diagnostic procedures. Technicians may operate alone or under the supervision of a professional, depending on the field.

Wetlands scientist: A wetland expert is a natural science professional who assesses the health of wetlands and determines how human and natural activities influence the physical state of wetlands through field testing.


Careers options of an ornithologist

  1. Ecologist – Ecologists study the dynamic link that exists between the environment and birds. They must comprehend how various species interact and coexist. These educated folks also raised awareness about environmental changes and their impact on bird species.
  2. Bird Biologist: A bird biologist is a person who studies birds’ biological formation. A bird biologist investigates the significance and behaviour of various bird species, as well as their impact on the ecosystem. Professionals who work in this field of bird research strive to understand the mechanisms that govern the functioning of various biological species.
  3. Bird Conservationist – The major task of a bird conservationist is to protect and preserve various bird species. A skilled bird conservator plays an important role in wildlife preservation and heritage protection.


Ornithologist Job Description

Below are the ornithologist job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write an ornithologist job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.

  • Investigate avian systems.
  • Use genomic technologies and databases to understand avian systems.
  • Use computer modeling to get insight into population and migration trends.
  • Answer issues concerning the origin and maintenance of diversity, adaptability, and disease using ecological, behavioral, and/or comparative field techniques.
  • Plan and carry out bird surveys and research.
  • Manage and advise endangered species populations, as well as develop conservation, protection, and restoration strategies.
  • Review and conduct evaluations for ecological and environmental assessments.
  • Engage in data collection, analysis, and interpretation, including sound recording analysis
  • Keep an eye on bird populations to see how they’re doing and how they’re changing.
  • Conduct literature reviews and look at the outcomes of other studies.
  • Create avian ecology and evolution computer models.
  • Prepare scientific reports and management plans.
  • Resolve disputes between opposing issues and encourage ethical conservation practices.
  • Consult government agencies, stakeholders, and engineers.
  • Make public presentations or offer ornithology classes.
  • Prepare funding bids.
  • Create cooperative partnerships with institutions including provincial ministries, non-governmental organizations, and colleges.
  • Plan and prioritize research trips
  • Organize peer-review sessions for process and strategy improvement
  • Develop workgroup budgets and timelines
  • Serve as a point of contact for data calls and prepare for peer-review
  • Participate in agency working groups as a peer reviewer
  • Coordinate technical specifics for a variety of cross-disciplinary environmental projects.
  • Collect, input,  and coordinate reports
  • Get around environmental restrictions and the approvals procedure.



  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in landscape or conservation management, ecology, zoology, or related biological science is required.
  • Bird observation and conservation experience.
  • An interest in the natural environment
  • They must be thorough, analytical, precise, and detail-oriented.


Essential Skills

  • Research skills: Projects benefit from strong research skills. Ornithologists must research many bird species and do various experiments on them to reach a specific result, which is impossible without great research abilities.
  • Evaluation Skills: Skills in evaluation are very important in Ornithology. Observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem-solving, and decision-making are all critical evaluative skills. Individuals must always pay attention to the subtleties of what the other is saying. It could be beneficial to their work.
  • Problem-solving ability: When working in the field, ornithologists should be prepared to deal with tough or unexpected conditions. There will be a variety of situations when they will need to use their problem-solving skills to obtain a specific result.
  • Communication Skills: Communication skills are essential; one must be able to communicate with others and explain things in a way that others can understand. When communicating, keep it simple.
  • Attention to detail: One error can result in inaccurate information, thus accuracy and attention are required. An ornithologist must pay attention to even the smallest aspects when performing research because they might cause significant changes.
  • Patience: In stressful situations, a person needs to know how to react. There will be occasions when the research will be extended beyond what was originally planned. Ornithologists must remain patient and continue their studies in such circumstances.
  • Science skills: In the field of ornithology, scientific skills, particularly in biology and chemistry, are required. Biology and chemistry, which are the main courses of ornithologists, should be learned by anybody. When conducting studies on a certain issue, ornithologists are expected to use these subjects extensively.

How to Become an Ornithologist

  1. Acquire your undergraduate qualification

Science is recommended for aspiring ornithologists in high school. Don’t worry if you didn’t choose Science as your elective. Your application will still be accepted by universities. You can pursue a bachelor’s degree in disciplines such as wildlife biology, zoology, statistics, and mathematics after graduating from high school. Vertebrate anatomy, wildlife science, genetics, ecology, and conservation biology are all topics included in most of these undergraduate curricula. To get your degree, you will also need to complete additional lab work. When you graduate, there will be plenty of job prospects in the field of bird research.

  1. Obtain practical experience

Most of the undergraduate schools described above may only provide one or two ornithology courses. Consider acquiring hands-on experience through internships or volunteer work at wildlife rehabilitation centres and zoos to hone your abilities in the industry. You may be able to conduct laboratory work as part of your undergraduate curriculum, which can help you polish your practical abilities. Consider shadowing an ornithologist at your university if possible. This will allow you to gain real experience and see how things function in this industry. Getting hands-on experience with laboratory work might be a great way to boost your résumé. This knowledge will help you stand out from the crowd.

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering is another great method to get hands-on experience with bird research. Several well-known conservation and non-profit organizations are looking for dedicated volunteers. Researching and caring for wildlife will be your key responsibility here. This will provide you with the necessary exposure, knowledge, and experience to pursue a career as an ornithologist. Furthermore, including it in your resume’s volunteer part can demonstrate your enthusiasm for dealing with wildlife and birds. This will indicate your commitment and sincerity in pursuing your career objectives.

  1. Obtain a higher education

You can begin working toward a specialized advanced degree now that you have an undergraduate degree and some experience. Obtaining a Master’s or Ph.D. is an excellent strategy to improve your research abilities. It enables you to hone the skills you’ll need in the actual world. It’s also a fantastic method to make a substantial contribution to this area. Ornithology is covered in several postgraduate programs in wildlife biology and zoology. These university programs, however, will require you to submit a dissertation or thesis on the study of birds before awarding you your advanced certification. Before enrolling in an advanced studies program, think about the professors and their qualifications.

  1. Look for job openings.

There are several job openings at reputable ornithology and animal preservation centres. They will make a shortlist based on your education and experience. You can start your job at a higher level if you have research experience and a graduate degree. You can teach at a university level if you have a Ph.D. in the study of birds! You can also perform your study! Your earning potential will rise if you take on more duties and gain experience.


Where to Work as an Ornithologist

Ornithologists must know a great deal about entomology, botany, and ecology in addition to being zoologists. The majority of ornithologists work for federal and state land and wildlife agencies, as well as nonprofit conservation groups. They may also teach and conduct research in universities and colleges. Some work at zoos, and wildlife parks, as veterinarians, and environmental scientists, but these positions are rarely reserved for birds. Certain professions may need employees to spend extensive time in the field collecting data and studying birds in their natural habitats. Travel to distant areas, including foreign travel, may be required as part of fieldwork. It may also entail walking, being exposed to various weather conditions, and being alone. Ornithologists may operate in laboratories or in offices, where they may process data using computers. Ornithologists are mostly full-time professionals. When conducting fieldwork, like during the breeding season, they may work unusual or extended hours. Ornithologists also collaborate closely with conservation organizations, and they must be conversant with the specific legislation governing the fauna and flora of the region in which they work. Museums, universities, national and provincial park boards, zoological gardens, and the Department of Agriculture are all venues where ornithologists work.


Ornithologist Salary Scale

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for ornithologists and other wildlife biologists is $63,270 per year. As an ornithologist, you would earn $70,480 per year if you worked in the scientific and research development services industry. Local government organizations pay an average of $61,590 per year while working for a college or university pays $55,420 per year.


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