Wildlife conservation and community volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Volunteer with Birds

"The Nature Sanctuary is a very special place, that attracts like-minded people from all corners of the world. Volunteering at the Sanctuary was a perfect post-university trip for me, and opened my eyes to alternative ways of living, the importance of conservation, and the beauty of New Zealand."

Laura McClintock, Canada

Birds, also known as Aves, are a group of endothermic vertebrates that are adapted for flight.  There are an incredible variety of bird species, however they share a number of similar characteristics including feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, and a strong yet lightweight skeleton.  The diversity across this animal group is incredible: for example they range in size from the 5cm bee hummingbird to the 2,75m ostrich and they range in colour from the bright red, blue and yellow macaw to the silky black and white penguin to the pink flamingo.  They can run, jump, swim and dive, too, and it is for good reason that birdwatching is such a popular pastime and tourism activity.

Birds are also incredibly impressive: they live across both the coldest and driest environments and still manage to flourish.  Their beauty, strength and perseverance is something to be marvelled at, and on top of this, they are crucial to many of our ecosystems and to us.  Birds add so much colour and song to nature that a world without them would be incredibly gloomy. You can volunteer with birds on several of our projects from the Kiwi in New Zealand to bird ringing at Nature’s Valley in South Africa.

Our Projects with Birds

Basic Facts

Basic Facts

There is a considerable variety of species of bird and there is a similarly wide range of diet types across these species.  Thus some birds are avivorous (eating other birds), carnivorous, frugivorous (fruit-eating), insectivorous (insect-eating), granivorous (grain and seeds), molluscivorous (snails, slugs or oysters), muscivorus (the sap of trees), nectivorous (flower nectar), ophiophagous (snakes), palynivorous (pollen) or piscivorous (fish).  Although many birds are omnivorous, meaning they eat just about anything and everything, the above list shows just how wide ranging the specialist diets of certain species can be!

It is difficult to estimate the lifespan of all birds and across the various species, with this said, larger birds tend to have longer life spans, thus albatrosses live over 65 years, large owls can live over 20 years, and the brown pelican as long as 27 years. Smaller birds though, often have shorter lifespans: for example the hummingbird averages around 3 years and small woodpeckers between 4 and 12 years.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

  • Ostrich eyes are the largest of any land animal? They are approximately the size of a billiard ball.
  • Some ducks sleep with one eye open?
  • In Ancient Greece, pigeons delivered the results of Olympic Games?
  • Worm-eating Bassian thrushes have been known to dislodge their prey from piles of leaves by directing their farts at them?
  • Although they stand out on land, penguins black and white coats are the perfect camouflage underwater?
  • Budgerigars, or budgies, a common parakeet, are the only bird species so far discovered who are susceptible to contagious yawning?
  • Bird embryos require temperatures ranging from 37℃ to 44℃ to stay warm?
Main Conservation Threats

Main Conservation Threats

Multiple bird species are increasingly facing extinction and continue to fall into critically endangered lists.  The main threat is habitat loss.  Many birds rely on tree environments for food, shelter, nesting, protection and for general existence.  As such, the loss of this crucial habitat is detrimental to a variety of species.  Climate change, too, can impact on the vital habitats of birds.  Similarly, birds that nest on beaches are negatively affected by rising sea temperatures.  These species are also increasingly endangered by coastal developments and careless tourism practices that disturb their local ecosystems.

Many of these threats can, and must, be counteracted through conservation efforts: birds are an important indicator of the health of an ecosystem and their presence is crucial across the world.  You can help as a volunteer with bird conservation and breeding projects across the world from the Seychelles and South Africa to New Zealand.