The Ara Project

The Ara Project is a Costa Rican non profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the two native macaw species, both of which are endangered, the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) and the Great Green or Buffon's Macaw (Ara ambiguus).

The Ara Project incorporates breeding techniques, aviary management, environmental and key studies and conservation issues, in order to carry out controlled release programs in conjunction with MINAE (Ministry of the Environment and Energy and Telecommunications) and Costa Rican laws. 

If you’re passionate about parrots and conservation and love to visit a beautiful country with lots of wildlife, volunteering with The Ara Project will be perfect for you!

Working at The Ara Project will give you an opportunity to get up close with some incredibly beautiful and charismatic birds, meet people from all over the world and experience Costa Rican life and culture in a remote area. And, of course, you will be making a difference to the survival of two endangered species of macaw.

At this moment we are looking for motivated volunteers for our two different sites. Depending on our current needs, we will assign you with one of the two sites.


Work at the Punta Islita Breeding and Release Centre includes:

  • Daily food preparation and feeding of captive breeding birds, pre-release birds and supplementary feeding of the released flock
  • Regular site maintenance including aviary cleaning, providing perches and enrichment for captive birds and various other husbandry tasks
  • Monitoring the health and behaviour of captive birds
  • Data collection
  • Different general maintenance or development tasks may be assigned depending on our current needs and the skills and abilities of particular volunteers


Work at the Manzanillo Release Centre includes:

  • Managing the released population of Great-green macaws
  • Feeding the birds in locations in the surrounding forest
  • Monitoring the released birds
  • Fieldwork: depending on the season this will include going into the forest to monitor nest sites
  • Collecting natural foods
  • General maintenance of the field site



8-10 hours per week day, one and a half days off every weekend.



Anyone who is over 18, physically fit, has a positive attitude and, of course, loves parrots can apply! Experience working with birds and Spanish (or English if you’re a Spanish speaker) are an advantage but not requisite. Please be aware that we expect the same kind of commitment you would give a paid job – we work very hard (often physically, in the heat) but we also endeavour to make the experience enjoyable for you. We’re looking for dedicated, motivated, team-oriented, responsible individuals. A minimum stay of one month is required but longer stays are preferred.

We are a conservation organisation and we take our work very seriously; our birds are not pets, please do not expect to be able to play with, touch or interact with the birds when you come and volunteer with us. To be optimally prepared for their experience at The Ara Project, we advise our volunteers to be covered by the Tetanus vaccine.



  • We ask for $300 per month to cover lodging
  • Volunteers are responsible for their travel to and from Costa Rica and paying for their lodging and transportation cost until they reach the site where they will be volunteering
  • Volunteers are responsible for their food expenses, which are estimated to be around $40-$75 per week depending on their diet


Please come and help parrots!

We are a not-for-profit organisation and couldn’t do the work we do without the incredible donations of time and energy our many volunteers make! Wherever possible we try to provide new experiences, a chance to develop new skills and fun activities in our off time. However, our resources are limited and the greatest reward you will receive from working for The Ara Project is the knowledge you’re helping these two endangered species avoid extinction in Costa Rica.


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