Volunteer Spotlight: Holly

"I am so lucky to have had an opportunity to have been involved in this project!’

Holly is an engineer from Canada who volunteered at Globalteer’s Peru Amazon Rainforest Project in August and September 2015.

Here, she talks about her experience assisting with the project’s conservation programme and explaining why volunteering was a special experience where she learnt a lot about the unique birdlife of the Amazon.

Volunteering in the Amazon

During my stay in the Amazon Rainforest Project, I was working as part of the bird team. In general this work involved using nets to catch birds, band them and identify their species, age, gender and other relevant information.

Not much work has been completed on the individual characteristics for many of these Amazonian species, so the work we were doing will add to the information base on how the appearance of these birds changes as they grow along with other relevant information. As this location is new, we were also building a species list for the birds that are on the property. The last count was well over 200! Not bad for just a few months’ work.

Learning about birds

My first days were spent learning the proper ways to handle the birds. Their safety and wellbeing are paramount, so if you could not learn the proper techniques, you would not be allowed to handle them. Fortunately, our coordinator was a very good teacher and taught us the proper ways for holding the birds, including different grips for different purposes. This was important as on my first day I had to carry a Motmot that was extracted from one of the nets for maybe 15 minutes as he was too big for a bag!

Once we had the birds, we would band and analyze them. This included determining their species, age, gender, fat storage levels, moult cycle, breeding characteristics, cranial development, and taking measurements of their wing, tail, and tarsus along with any other relevant information. 

In the afternoons, our coordinator would provide us with lecture presentations about birding so we could learn about moulting, bird identification and characteristics, and other relevant subjects to aid and contribute to the work being undertaken.

A life changing experience

Working with the project was absolutely amazing! I learned a lot and I am certain that all the other volunteers did as well. I gained a real appreciation for how difficult this work can be and how much experience, practice, and study is necessary.

I am so lucky to have had an opportunity to have been involved in this project, and the project coordinator was kind enough to provide some reading and study materials for birding work, so I can continue to learn even now that I have departed from the jungle. I definitely don't want to forget what I picked up! The future may hold another opportunity to work in this field, and what fun that would be!