Courses for the Public


ducks and waterfowl online course

Learn Your Ducks with the Lab’s New Online Course

Learn to identify ducks, geese, swans, loons, grebes, and more with Cornell Lab ornithologist Dr. Kevin McGowan. Based on the popular webinar series, each lesson in this self-paced online course features a video tutorial followed by exercises and quizzes designed to help build your ID skills.

  • Learn strategies for identifying birds at a glance from a World Series of Birding champion.
  • Get to know all the common waterfowl in North America species-by-species.
  • Practice your skills with photo- and sound-based ID Challenge quizzes.

Designed for intermediate birders, this course features lessons containing more than 3 hours of video instruction, 21 quizzes, and 2 puzzles. You can choose to earn a digital badge and a printable certificate by passing the final exam. Brought to you by Bird Academy—the online learning site for bird enthusiasts.Celestron binoculars

More details • Try a free quiz


Lab member price: $52 (a 20% discount). Purchase by May 1, 2016 and you will be entered to win one of two pairs of Celestron Granite ED binoculars.


The online tutorials below are designed to help beginning birders learn how to identify birds on their own time at their own pace. These sessions help build skills introduced in the “Inside Birding” video series.

The tutorials feature:

  • interactive exercises,
  • engaging media,
  • self-paced learning,
  • unlimited access for each user.

Part I: Be a Better Birder–Size & Shape


Need a hand in learning to distinguish a Downy Woodpecker from a Hairy Woodpecker? Or starlings from grackles in a flock?

Size and shape are key to identifying a bird. In this tutorial, you’ll learn which parts of a bird will be most useful in helping you connect the dots. Learn to use a bird yardstick like the one above because, in the bird world, size really does matter when it comes to identification.

You’ll also learn the basic groupings used to organize the many species of birds, whether they be waders, ducks, or perching birds and how to make those distinctions by noticing shape. You’ll have opportunities to check what you’ve learned with audio flipbooks, interactive illustration quizzes, and more.






Part II: Be a Better Birder–Color & Pattern


Get help matching female warblers with their more colorful mates and learn how the male warbler changes its colors in the fall. You’ll learn how to make the most of a quick glimpse of a bird.

In this tutorial you’ll learn a few key concepts, including locating bits of color on a bird that will aid in identification. Instead of trying to memorize every color and pattern on a bird, you’ll learn to do more with less information, focusing on specific body parts that will lead to the right ID.

Other topics in this section include the challenges posed by juvenile birds and molting birds, and how you can even be fooled by the lighting. Learning is reinforced with interactive exercises and quizzes. You’ll become more confident in your ability to look at what’s important when using color and pattern to identify a bird.