As an undergrad I did not engage in field research, not a surprise since I studied political science. But now through my internship with Environment for the Americas I have been working with Oregon State University’s Seabird Oceanography Lab in their research on Common Murres and Western Gulls. This past Monday I was able to partake in a second Western Gull capture. These social and smart birds were wary about our revisit to the island. Luckily enough, we were able to recapture one of the birds we had previously tagged. This process was longer and less successful since birds are intuitive creatures. A blood test and measurements were taken, and a new tag was attached to the gull; two new birds were captured as well. Before engaging in this type of work, I had no prior experience. I didn’t know what to expect and found myself over-packing for the excursion. Little did I know that I would love the research field. I enjoyed it so much that…(drum roll, please)… I have decided to direct my career towards the natural world and studying birds. What caused this sudden shift, you may ask? Maybe it was holding the Western Gull against my body and feeling its warmth…maybe it was the thrill of capturing them…maybe it was hiking down a steep slope to go to the island…or swimming near seals when we finished…but whatever it was has made me feel absolutely enthralled to have finally found something I love doing. I had never felt this rush of excitement in any other field. I plan to continue working with birds by applying to several internships, before pursuing a graduate degree in Marine Resource Management in the near future. I have discovered my niche, and it will focus on bird aviation. If it wasn’t for this internship, I would not have known about this.  Holding the Western Gull in my hands made me fully understand the frailty and the intricacy of these species, which are trying to survive in the world tainted by human processes.



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