From the moment Jessica “Jess” Taylor stepped foot at the Chelan Ridge HawkWatch site during her undergraduate studies at Washington State University, she knew she had found her calling. “I just loved raptors and knew I had to find a way to make a career out of it,” she reflected.
And do that she has, working her way through the ranks from HWI migration crewmember to Golden Eagle technician to full-time field biologist in 2019. Now, Jess is pursuing novel research to document the home ranges of American Kestrels through her Master’s at Boise State University (BSU). Doing so requires placing tiny, cutting-edge telemetry units to track the birds’ movement.
“Not many people have started doing this type of movement work with kestrels, so I feel very fortunate to have lots of field experience, particularly with HWI, placing transmitters on raptors as small as Flammulated Owls,” Jess shared. Through this research, Jess hopes to determine whether landscape types have an impact on the breeding productivity of North America’s smallest falcon.
As a Field Biologist with HWI, Jess primarily works on the organization’s community science projects—projects where ordinary members of the community volunteer to collect important data alongside trained scientists. The work complements the Master’s she is pursuing in HWI migration alum Julie Heath’s lab at BSU.
In addition, Jess is able to pay it forward, supervising the technicians and interns that hold some of the very positions that she once held. “Throughout my career, I’ve always had people in my corner, willing to hear my needs and offer their advice, so it’s really rewarding to be able to fill that role for them now.”
Jessica is also passionate about reading, video games, tacos, and just being outside.