Connecting linkedin

Banner Default Image

Volunteer Data Manager

Volunteer Data Manager

Role title: Volunteer data manager

Department: Science

Overview information: We are looking for someone to assist us in our exciting large scale research project: Explaining and predicting the migration and phenology of European-African migratory birds.

Long distance Afro-Palearctic migrants (birds which breed in Europe but winter in sub-saharan Africa) have been showing large declines in the last decade, while resident and short distant migrant species have not. As yet, we still do not understand why long distance migrants are declining, though many theories have been postulated. The migratory journey is generally agreed to be likely to be a time of high mortality and substantial stress, but previously data has been lacking to confirm this theory at a multi-species whole flyway level. However, advances in technology which allow us to track migratory journeys of birds weighing as little as 9g, coupled with a large rise in citizen science bird recording using various online applications, means we now have the data to be able to examine the migratory journey and wintering areas in detail.

In this project we focus on the migratory journey itself. Our ultimate aim is to build predictive models of bird migration which can accurately predict an individual bird's migratory route, speed and ability to complete the journey taking into account fat reserves at the start of the journey, the amount of food available on route and the weather conditions. In order to do this we are collating large amounts of data on Afro-Palearctic migrants across Europe and Africa. This will include occurrence data to determine the yearly distribution of Afro-Palearctic migrants and explore arrival and departure dates in different locations, tracking data to determine migratory routes, likely stopover areas and journey time and weight data from ringing to determine hotspots for migratory fattening and fattening rates in different species.

We have now collated a large volume of ringing data from Europe and Africa. However, currently this ringing data comes in many separate files all in different formats. We need someone to go through all these files and standardise the format, and merge all the data into one large dataset. If the applicant desires there will be other jobs they can help with as well at a later stage.

What you will deliver:

  • Combine ringing data from many different sources, formats and locations into one standardised format
  • Highlight and where appropriate correct unusual or likely erroneous data

What you will bring to the post:

  • A basic knowledge of the general format of ringing data and the standard measurements taken during ringing
  • A basic knowledge of how to manipulate data in excel
  • Knowledge of how to manipulate data in R would also be advantageous

Training and development

The applicant will receive basic training in data management training and in understanding ringing data as needed.

The successful applicant will obtain work experience of handling and manipulating large datasets, data management, and working with ringing data.


The applicant may be based either at home or the BTO head office in Thetford.


We need to make substantial progress with this work by September 2022 and for it to be completed by January 2023 but are flexible about whether the volunteer wants to work regularly a little per week or periodically for a solid period. We anticipate it will take 21 days of time, but this figure may well vary depending on the applicant's current knowledge and experience. If the applicant wishes to volunteer with us for longer we do have other work they can help with.


We can fund some travel expenses, for example for a couple of trips to the BTO headquarters.

Volunteering for the BTO

  • Volunteer opportunities at the BTO are a great way to give something back, use your existing knowledge to benefit the impact of the charity, and to develop new knowledge, skills and your career
  • The BTO is an organisation of passionate people happy to share their knowledge with others, if you have an interest in finding our more about the work we do, birds and other taxa then this is a great opportunity; this may be informally or through one of our BTO events or seminars
  • We are able to reimburse reasonable travel expenses for volunteers
  • We are happy to provide references for people that have volunteered for us
  • Our core hours are Monday - Thursday 9:00- 5:30 and Friday 9:00- 5:00, however we are happy to discuss days and hours to suit the volunteer.

Making an application

To apply for this volunteer role please apply via our website.

If you have any questions, please email