Plan Your Visit

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

159 Sapsucker Woods Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850

Visitor Center Hours

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily

Closed Thanksgiving Day and the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Hours may change due to special events.

The Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary is open daily, dawn to dusk. No dogs or bicycles please.

Admission is free. We appreciate donations and member support to help grow and develop Visitor Center experiences.


  • The Lab of Ornithology Visitor Center and Wild Birds Unlimited store are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
  • We are closed Thanksgiving Day and the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
  • The trails in Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary are open daily, dawn to dusk.
  • The Adelson Library is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Please call ahead to confirm hours and specific program times. Cancellations and closings occasionally occur due to special events or weather.


Come visit us in Sapsucker Woods conveniently located minutes from downtown Ithaca and Cornell University’s campus. No dogs or bicycles please.

When you're here, try a guided tour using the PocketSights mobile app.

adding google map to website


Route 41 has regular stops between campus and the intersection between Hanshaw and Sapsucker Woods Rds. Service to the Lab of Ornithology is available on demand. Download information about Route 41 (PDF). Visit the TCAT website for additional information.

Campus Shuttle:

Shuttle service between the Cornell Lab and campus is provided four times each day, Monday through Friday, during the academic year (excluding student breaks). Download the the shuttle schedule.


The Lab of Ornithology Visitor Center is handicapped accessible. Wheelchairs are available for check-out and use in the Visitor Center. The trails of Sapsucker Woods are not recommended for wheelchair use.

Sapsucker Woods is a beautiful place to visit in any season. The 230-acre sanctuary encompasses forests, ponds, swamps, and abundant wildlife. More then four miles of trails and boardwalks are waiting for you to explore. Stop in the Visitor Center to pick up a map, borrow a pair of binoculars, field guide, or join a guided walk.

To plan a self-guided visit to Sapsucker Woods we recommend the following resources:

Kip's Barn in Sapsucker Woods
Northern Cardinal
Black-capped Chickadee
Goldsworthy cairn
Dawn at Sapsucker Woods
Downy Woodpecker
Canada Geese at sunset
Green Heron
Hooded Warbler
House Finch
House Wren
Dark-eyed Junco
Water lily
Redpolls and goldfinches
Red-tailed Hawk
Eastern Screech-Owl
Verdant ferns
Sapsucker Woods in winter
Snowy morning at the Cornell Lab
American Woodcock

The Visitor Center offers something for everyone. Start with our introductory film, explore interactive exhibits, take in world-class art, visit the Wild Birds Unlimited store, and enjoy the views from the Adelson Library.

NEW: Use our new Youth Guide to the Visitor Center with six activity stations. You can view the PDF here and request copies for each student when you make your group visit reservation.

Visitor Center map (PDF)

When you're here, try a guided tour using the PocketSights mobile app.

Mural of Silhouettes by James Prosek
 An art lesson in the observatory
Looking at a display of wooden eggs
Painting eggs during a special event
Special concert in the Visitor Center
Sculpture of Passenger Pigeon
The evolution mural in the Visitor Center

Can I bring a picnic lunch?

The Lab of Ornithology and Sapsucker Woods provide a sanctuary habitat for local wildlife so we ask that visitors interested in eating lunch on-site contact us to schedule custodial assistance.

Can I bring my dog on the trails?

Sapsucker Woods provides a safe habitat for wildlife so dogs are not permitted on the trails. Service animals are welcome on the trails and in the Visitor Center. To explore other trails in the Ithaca area including some that are dog friendly visit:

Where should we stay when visiting the Lab?

The following hotels offer special reduced rates for Lab visitors. Rates are based on availability and subject to change. Free shuttle service is available to and from the Cornell Lab. Please contact the hotel for more information.

  • Courtyard Marriott: 607-339-1000
  • Fairfield Inn and Suites: 607-277-1000
  • Best Western University Inn: 607-272-6100

There are also local bed and breakfast accommodations available. Visit the Finger Lakes Bed and Breakfast Association for more information.

Where do we find information for a prospective student interested in studying ornithology at Cornell?

The Lab of Ornithology offers countless opportunities for prospective students. From field research to leading tours at Sapsucker Woods. For high school students, the Young Birders Network offers ample information. All prospective students can find additional information about Cornell University here.

Does the Lab have outdoor restrooms?

Unfortunately, the Lab of Ornithology does not have outdoor restrooms.

What birds are being seen at Sapsucker Woods?

eBird provides the most comprehensive way to view recent sightings. Check out the Sapsucker Woods hotspot for up-to-the-minute updates.

What is the best trail to take?

Sapsucker Woods offers more than four miles of beautiful trails through a number of habitats, each providing different opportunities to view wildlife. A visitor favorite is the Wilson Trail, a ¾ mile loop around Sapsucker Woods Pond. See our map for additional information.

Do you have live birds?

Sapsucker Woods provides countless opportunities to view wild birds in their natural habitat. Wild birds are visible from the Visitor Center in the bird-feeding garden and across the pond. The Visitor Center also features additional information and activities highlighting their behavior and biology but we do not have live birds in the Visitor Center.

How far are you from campus?

The Lab of Ornithology is located just four miles from campus. Directions to the Lab are located under the "Hours, Directions, Accessibility" tab on this page.

When was this building built?

The Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity opened in 2003. Before that, the Lab was housed at the Lyman K. Stuart Observatory at the edge of the pond just to the south of where the Visitor Center is now. The Stuart Observatory was built in the 1950s for fewer staff and had expanded to nearby trailers before we moved into the Johnson Center. The Lab was founded in 1915 when Arthur Allen labeled his office space in Cornell's entomology department as "Laboratory of Ornithology."

What is there for children to do?

The Lab of Ornithology provides interactive exhibits for children and families to explore. Ask about our additional educational activities and resources available for check-out at the front desk.

Where do I park?

Free day parking is located in the visitor lot closest to the Visitor Center entrance. If you are driving an RV please use the third lot, closest to the airport.

Are there places to eat nearby?

While the Lab of Ornithology does not have food services on-site Ithaca is full of delicious options. The Visit Ithaca website provides a database of restaurants.

What else is there to do in the Ithaca area?

Ithaca has plenty of activities for all. Visit the Discovery Trail website for additional information.

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