These terms apply to contracts at remote (e.g., anywhere away from home) locations to provide medical services for wild birds. Typically this will be surgical implantation of transmitters as well as preparation of those devices.


Most terms are negotiable, as I recognize that various institutions have their own regulations that may not be compatible. But those concerns must be introduced prior to signing and agreeing to the estimate.

Travel and Logistics

Any travel assistance, lodging, or provisions provided by the client will offset the travel, lodging, and per diem costs detailed in the original estimate.


Cancellations 14 days or more before scheduled travel will result in no charge except any cancellation fees for flights or other travel logistics (which is uncommon). Except for extreme circumstances (medical emergencies or natural disaster), cancellations made less than 14 days prior to travel will incur charges for any services already rendered (e.g., PTT preparation) plus 50% of the daily services portion of the estimate. Cancellation or shortening the trip after work has begun may still result in full charge for the contracted days. Basically, when I block out time for a trip, I’m declining other opportunities so I need to be compensated for the time I commit.


The most common basis of my charges are a daily rate, plus supplies per surgery, plus preparation fees for each transmitter. In addition, the contracting party covers all travel and lodging expenses. This seems to be the best balance for compensating me appropriately for my time while accounting for only the supplies used. It also provides the contracting party the option of providing accommodations and travel, which may be cheaper than what I can negotiate (e.g., institutional housing vs. booking a hotel).

Daily Rate for Veterinarian: I typically charge $650/day for my travel time and presence in the field. Sometimes I will negotiate a decreased travel rate if there are opportunities to complete other work in transit. Any personal diversions scheduled into the travel are not subject to charges.

Daily Rate for Assistant (Optional): $300/day plus all travel and lodging expenses that are not provided on-site. Most of the time the primary investigator provides a competent individual to assist with anesthesia and surgery and this charge is not necessary. However, if rapid deployment in a short period of time is desires, I may recommend that I bring my own assistant to achieve maximum efficiency. It costs more but my records have shown that a familiar assistant can cut down surgery times by 30-50% allowing more birds to be tagged while still maintaining highest quality. A good example is a project where rocket nets are used to capture large groups of birds all at once. It’s critical to process the birds quickly since the longer they are waiting out of water, the more likely they will be injured by stress. Not only that but if days are short (winter time), it can be difficult to get all the birds processed before nightfall, which may impede their ability to return to roosting areas or avoid shore-based predators.

Surgical Supplies: $45/surgery. This includes all the consumables plus coverage of equipment preparation and maintenance. It usually includes oxygen although under some circumstances (e.g., pandemic shortages or areas with complicated aviation logistics), there may be an oxygen surcharge to cover the extra costs of purchasing or transporting oxygen to the site.

PTT preparation: I charge $25 per unit to hand-sew attachment mesh, manufacture and attach antenna collars, test the units, package, and gas-sterilize. This is required for intracoelomic surgical implants. I prefer to do this work myself to ensure the units are prepared to my specifications. I also provide labels, sealed with each PTT, which avoids transcription errors in the field. You have the option to prepare the units yourself or with another party, but I must approve of those methods in advance. I must receive the units at least 14 days prior to travel to ensure they will be ready in time.


Contact Dr. Ford at [email protected] for questions related to refunds and returns.