Aquatic Avian Research, Medicine, and Surgery

Photo of Brown Pelican in flightIn 2021, International Bird Rescue will be offering a veterinary internship for graduate veterinarians seeking further experience in conservation research and wildlife medicine, specifically with marine and freshwater avian species.

International bird Rescue has been a leader in the realm of oil spill wildlife response and the care of aquatic birds since 1971. We operate two large wildlife rehabilitation clinics serving the San Francisco Bay-Delta and Los Angeles metropolitan areas and also maintain a turnkey oiled wildlife care facility in Anchorage, AK, in case of oil spills in Alaska. We are founding partners in California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network and if an oil spill occurs in California, our centers can become primary care centers for oiled animals within a few hours. During non-oil spill times, our two California clinics collectively admit 3000-5000 aquatic birds annually, and sometimes manage large responses to non-oil spill mass stranding events. These two clinics act as referral hospitals for aquatic birds; most of our patients are transferred from other wildlife centers. We do NOT maintain a captive collection of animal ambassadors. Our patients are all wild animals and must stay that way; patients that are not candidates for wild release are humanely euthanized. Nonetheless, we successfully treat aquatic birds with severe injuries routinely. Our team actively contributes to the education of wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians treating wild birds, plus produces 2-5 peer-reviewed scientific papers per year on top of numerous public speaking and other educational events.

The intern will be supervised by International Bird Rescue’s Director of Research and Veterinary Science, with support from the Director of Operations and the Wildlife Center Manager, and will be a collegial co-worker to rehabilitation technicians and volunteers. The intern will be introduced to wildlife biomedical research, and gain experience in data wrangling, study design, and the logistics of research implementation in a busy hospital while playing a role in ongoing and new research projects. The intern will learn about all aspects of wildlife rehabilitation and medicine, including physical exams, husbandry, diagnostic sample collection, radiography, anesthesia, surgery, medical treatments, euthanasia decision-making, necropsy, electronic record maintenance, and the ethics of wildlife care. The intern will become comfortable with common surgical procedures and special techniques driven by the needs of each species.

Performing necropsies and communicating findings are invaluable learning tools and the intern will be expected to perform necropsies each week. In the course of this, the intern will gain knowledge of anatomy and physiology, parasitology, common causes of death, science communication, and more. A strong interest in comparative anatomy, anatomic pathology, and physiology is required.

Candidates must have a strong interest in wildlife rehabilitation medicine, must have well-developed interpersonal and clinical skills, and demonstrate a high degree of professionalism. The candidate must be comfortable working in teams and the ideal candidate will intend to pursue wildlife rehabilitation medicine as a career, with a love for birds in all their diverse and sometimes peculiar natures. Conference presentations and writing for publication are expected.

The position provides $30,000/yr salary plus benefits. The intern’s primary worksite will be either our San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center in Fairfield (~60 miles from downtown San Francisco, ~30 miles from UC Davis) or our Los Angeles Wildlife Center (in San Pedro, near the Port of Los Angeles). In- or out-of-California travel may be required in the event of oil spills or other animal emergencies, at our expense.

The selection process for this position is not part of the AAVC Matching Program. All applications must be received by December 15, 2020. Selected candidates will be interviewed before January 5, 2021, with final selection made before January 15, 2021. Internship will run from June 2021 for 12 months, with some flexibility in start and end dates. Preference will be given to candidates with career interests that involve wild birds.


  • Self-motivated, with ample curiosity, a positive attitude, and a strong work ethic
  • DVM, VMD, or equivalent degree, graduated from an AAVMC accredited school
  • Fluent English speaker, strong writing skills also required
  • Transportation to and from the center at the primary location

To apply, please submit the following via email to by December 15, 2020:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Letter of interest, including career goals
  • 3 reference letters
  • Unofficial veterinary school academic transcript