I am a happily married woman. I LOVE Non Birding Bill with all my heart and treasure the adventures we have together. Yet, every now and then, I see bird job opportunities come along and I think, "If I were single...I would totally apply for that job!" Usually it's a position of monitoring birds in the Carribbean for a few months or spending a few weeks in some remote lodge in Ecuador. But today, I found the mac daddy of all cool-ass-adventure-birding-jobs. This job is so cool, that it sounds like it was made up by an 11 year old: Parahawking Team in Nepal is looking for a new assistant. Based on a photo from their website, here's what that might look like:
Are you kidding me?? It's a company that trains birds of prey and vultures to fly along with you while paragliding over Nepal! Remote gorgeous country, vultures and flying--my head just imploded a little at the awesomeness of it.
Based on what the job description reads for Parahawking, the job opening is not for a falconer or a paraglider, but someone to do the grunt work (who cares, the grunt work is in freaking Nepal):
"As the 5th member of the team, your role will be varied but your priorities are to take care of the birds, feeding, weighing, cleaning, general husbandry, preparing for daily flights etc. Parahawking tandem flights are the mainstay of our business, we are busy all of the time. The operation must run like clockwork and each team member has their role to play. You will also be responsible for giving presentations to small groups of American tourists several times a week. These presentations form part of our contribution to the the vital conservation work we do. They normally last for no longer than 1 hour, they are informal and fun and a good opportunity to raise awareness and funds for Himalayan Raptor Rescue and vulture conservation."
So you'd get to do programs and take care of birds of prey (in Nepal). So, since I can't apply for this, someone out there needs to for all of us who fantasize about working cool remote areas with cool birds.
And now I need to find a way to get to Nepal and take one of these trips. I think my aerial waterfowl surveys have mellowed my fear of heights. And if I had a cool old world vulture to focus on, I'd not care about heights.
*I'd like to say that I find what this company is doing fine for the birds involved. It looks like the birds are trained to fly along the gliders and land. The birds are doing it of their own accord with positive reinforcement (if they weren't trained well, they would never fly to the gliders). The birds are in great feather condition and look well cared for. I find this a safe and okay environment.
Completely the opposite of what I think of the dude who flies around with the injured eagle in the hang glider so it can experience flight again. Honestly, I think that is schmaltzy and stressful to the eagle. That bird is completely bound up and has no control of the situation (unlike the birds at the above job that can choose to fly to the glider or ignore it. I think it's dangerous to fly with the bird wrapped up like that where if something goes wrong, the pilot can do little to help it. Quite frankly, I'm surprised US Fish and Wildlife allows it. But that's another blog entry.