Job Opportunities

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers many opportunities for students, professionals, and volunteers.

Job Openings at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Located at the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity in the 220-acre Sapsucker Woods sanctuary, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the world's leading resource for conservation, research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. The lab is a vibrant unit within Cornell's College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, where several full-time faculty teach undergraduate courses, advise graduate students, and manage world-class, mission-driven programs. Our management and staff are committed to the highest standards of ethics and excellence in all areas of our work, and our Board leadership includes faculty from Cornell and other universities, successful entrepreneurs and managers from the business and non-profit sectors, and conservation-minded citizens from the United States and beyond.

To apply for the positions below, please refer to the Jobs at Cornell website unless otherwise specified. For more information on the positions listed below, please contact Sue Taggart; (607) 254-2470.

For more jobs in ornithology, see listings from the Ornithological Societies of North America.

Bird Cams Assistant

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a nonprofit, member-supported organization renowned for its innovative work in science, communications, conservation, education, and citizen science. The Lab is a vibrant administrative unit of Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Within the Lab, the Communications and Marketing Program promotes the Lab's mission by distributing research findings and other Lab news to the media. We serve as guardian of the Lab's image and interests by handling permissions requests and contractual agreements relating to Lab resources.

The Communications & Marketing Program at the Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a Communications Specialist. Duties include:

  • Play a key role in the Lab's mission to interpret and conserve the earth's biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds by providing the best available information and connect people with more ways to learn about birds.
  • Utilizing outstanding professional and friendly communications skills and expert knowledge of bird behavior, foster public engagement and outreach through the Bird Cams project at
  • Provide authoritative, accessible interpretation of natural history and behavior observed on the live cams by posting information and answering questions on the Bird Cams website (including forums and live chats), in social media, and print and electronic correspondence and publications.
  • Serve as the content manager for Bird Cams website, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, providing multimedia and interpretive updates.
  • Reply to questions through email, telephone, postal mail, print publications, websites, and social media.
  • Develop and disseminate answers to frequently asked questions through websites and other channels.
  • Provide expert customer service and answer concerns in a positive manner.
  • Select, annotate, post, and archive video footage for use in outreach, mass media, and scientific research; track digital assets such as video footage to ensure that acquisition and update schedules are met.
  • Assist with permissions for nonprofit educational and media use.
  • Assist with the development and implementation of training programs for volunteer moderators as well as the management of this team.
  • Serve as spokesperson to the media and assist in project participation, publicity, and fundraising.
Annual term appointment with possibility of renewal based on performance and availability of funding. Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Formal training of 1-2 years; 2 years college coursework, or Associates degree; 2-4 years or equivalent.
  • Excellent communication skills, including written, verbal, and interpersonal skills; friendly and courteous manner.
  • Expert knowledge of the natural history and behavior of birds.
  • Ability to write and speak professionally and accurately, using simple, friendly language accessible to all.
  • Excellent customer service, positive attitude, and ability to cultivate support for the Lab.
  • Strong judgment about when to answer questions directly and when to seek answers from the Lab's staff.
  • Confidence in public speaking and in dealing with challenging and/or complex topics.
  • Ability to discern the sensitivity of internal/external communications in a large public organization.
  • Respect for and sensitivity to cultural differences.
  • Resourceful, independent thinker willing to seek information from experts and the scientific literature.
  • Positive and helpful when responding to people with complaints.
  • Strong organizational skills.
  • Ability to respond quickly and prioritize multiple tasks.
  • Proficient in Word, Excel, and social media.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • BA degree in Communications or Education with relevant experience or course work in biology, or BS degree in Biology with relevant experience in Public Relations, Communications, or Education.
  • Prior experience as public information specialist or naturalist focused on bird-related topics highly desired.
  • Prior work experience with a not-for-profit or PR organization is valuable.
  • Proficiency with web content management and/or WordPress is an asset.

Senior Director, Development and Philanthropy

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a Senior Director for Development & Philanthropy: Duties include:

  • Work collaboratively in support of the Lab's mission by leading and supervising all fundraising operations
  • Participate as a member of the Lab's senior management council
  • Prioritize and facilitate high and mid-level pipeline donor development, capital campaign management, planned giving, special gifts, and foundation and corporate relations
  • Oversee and supervise the annual fund and membership team
  • Set annual and long-term objectives in alignment with Lab's strategic initiatives
  • Advise Executive Director on key issues and take responsibility for all necessary details
  • Oversee the management and direction of the annual development and direct response budgets
  • Serve as a critical link between the Lab and Alumni Affairs and Development, plus other Cornell communities
  • The Lab currently has over 80,000 active donors and a strong opportunity for additional relationship cultivation due to the Lab's web presence with over 5.5 million web visitors per year.
  • Internalize the Lab's mission and strategic initiatives, to understand and strengthen all essential components of the Lab, which include research, extension, and education
  • Guide the vision and direction for all fund-raising initiatives for the Lab, a strong, mission-driven, not-for-profit organization
  • Provide direct supervision, direction, and mentorship to an agile staff to implement a broad range of objectives involving donor development, annual fundraising, and membership-recruitment
  • Manage the involvement of the Executive Director and other program directors with major donors and new prospects, and help prioritize travel schedules for development-related visits and events
  • Collaborate with the Executive Director and Cornell's Vice President and Associate Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development (AA&D) to set capital campaign and annual fundraising goals
  • Maintain strong and collaborative working relationships with the University's Division of Alumni Affairs and Development (AA&D), integrating efforts of the Lab with efforts of the Division
  • Provide leadership and guidance related to engagement and fundraising strategies within a milieu of many strong and entrepreneurial programs
  • Build and foster key partnerships with Lab program directors, other sectors of the university, CALS and with the Lab's Administrative Board with respect to non-academic matters and be charged with effectively communicating and collaborating with these units on campus to benefit the Lab
  • Play a leadership role in executing the Lab's Strategic Plan; identify innovative and effective strategies to support and sustain unique and non-traditional academic programs
  • Participate as a member of the Lab's management council which provides advice and counsel to the Executive Director.
Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's Degree with a minimum of 5-7 years of successful leadership experience in development and major gift cultivation or the equivalent combination of education, training and/or experience, involving not-for-profit organizations.
  • Exemplary interpersonal skills as well as outstanding oral and written communication skills are required.
  • Proven leadership and relationship management experience is required.
  • Must have demonstrated the ability to establish and maintain strong, collaborative working relationships with varied internal and external constituencies.
  • Must have proven supervisory experience, and ability to direct, manage and mentor a diverse team of professional staff.
  • Must be able to establish performance standards and manage staff performance.
  • Must create and maintain an atmosphere of confidentiality, where the staff, who will have access to and work with very personal and sensitive information, completely understand the University's and the Lab's confidentiality policies and procedures.
  • Must commit to travel on a regular basis, including some evenings and weekends, and must occasionally accommodate travel on short notice.
  • Must be exemplary in exercising sound judgment and the highest ethical standards.
  • Ability to deliver compelling and informative presentations to varied audiences, from hobby enthusiasts and Lab members to Administrative Board members and major donors.
  • Prior experience developing and managing annual and external vendor budgets.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Experience with growing, managing, and mining large databases of donors and potential donors strongly preferred; experience with use of social networking and Internet-driven strategies for growing lists of contacts and donors preferred.
  • Development experience within not-for-profit and/or academic institutions, including working with and communicating to supervisory Boards.
  • Familiarity or interest with biology, ecology, ornithology, nature, and/or conservation.
  • Experience with donors in informal and unconventional settings (i.e. field trips).
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite Applications (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), databases (Filemaker and Access), Blackbaud Razor's Edge, and Networked Information Systems (Peoplesoft).

Web Application Developer - Android

The Information Science Program designs, develops, and maintains applications and services for citizen-science and education projects. These projects engage the public to collect, archive, analyze and disseminate information about birds and their environments. Additionally, the Lab maintains the supporting web, application, database servers, and associated storage devices, which support a number of the Lab's web applications.

The Information Science Program at the Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking an Android Developer. Duties include:

  • Develop and maintain Android applications and related services for the eBird and Merlin projects.
  • eBird, a real-time, online bird checklist program, is the world's largest and fastest growing biodiversity data resource, collecting millions of bird observations from the general public.
  • Merlin is a bird identification system using eBird data, along with photos and recordings, to help novices identify birds.
  • Upcoming projects include an 'in the field' data entry app for submitting bird observations to eBird, closely integrating native phone capabilities, including calendar, GPS, camera, and voice memos, and extending the Merlin Android app to add image-recognition functionality for identifying birds from a 'just taken' photo.
  • Work closely with a dynamic team of biologists, UI designers, application developers, database administrators, and computer scientists within a collaborative development environment.
  • Help guide overall Android development strategy and recommend best solutions for project requirements.
  • Utilize Android software development tools, team code repositories, and open source libraries and is expected to stay current with Android practices and processes (Java for Android, Android SDK, ADT, test distributions, Google Play submission, and analytics).
Annual term appointment with possible renewal based on performance and available funding. Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references. Required Qualifications:
  • Bachelor's degree with 3-5 years relevant experience or equivalent combination.
  • A thorough understanding of object-oriented programming and web applications.
  • Proven experience in java programming and Android application development.
  • Experience using Android device features such as location, camera, and internet access.
  • Experience integrating with APIs and web services.
  • Demonstrable skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and written and verbal communication.
  • Proven experience in documenting and testing code.
  • Ability to learn technical material quickly.
  • Must be able to work independently and function effectively as part of a larger team.
  • Ability to establish realistic goals and deliver work on schedule.
  • Proven experience in providing support to multiple areas.
  • Must be able to use sound judgment in decision making and in accomplishing tasks that are urgent or of a sensitive or confidential nature, balance conflicting priorities, and make decisions from a range of choices.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • 5 years of experience in computer or information science preferred.
  • 3-5 years of experience working on substantial computer software and collaborating with a team of programmers on software projects is desired.
  • Experience designing and implementing responsive Android UI interfaces that accommodate multiple screen sizes, and degrade gracefully.
  • Experience with CBTs such as Titanium and PhoneGap.
  • Experience implementing rich internet applications.
  • Experience with relational database table design, SQL programming and performance testing.
  • Prior use and understanding of the eBird system.
  • An interest in birds, nature, biology, science, and/or conservation helpful.


To apply for an internship, send a cover letter and resume to the contact person listed. Most internships are unpaid but hours are flexible and course credit is possible. Minimum commitment is generally six hours per week. Cornell undergraduates are eligible to be considered for a limited number of paid internships each year. The Nancy Horton Bartels ‘48 Scholars gift supports Cornell undergraduate interns at the Lab during the summer. The Kristen Rupert and John Foote Undergraduate Research Fund supports the engagement of Cornell undergraduates at the Lab, with preference given to students involved in interdisciplinary projects with other colleges, departments, and units at Cornell.

Bartels Science Illustration Internships

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology will offer at least one paid Bartels Science Illustration Internship each year, lasting from three to six months, 39 hours per week. Recipients will work on a project illustrating birds, wildlife, and/or plants for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's print publications, outreach materials, and web sites. We are seeking students (artists just starting their career) at least 18 years old who have previous experience and exceptional talent in illustration, painting, or drawing who are interested in advancing their skills in ornithological art. Interns will work on projects that help the Lab achieve its mission, and these projects often result in publication of the intern's work. For more information, please download this file. You may also contact Diane Tessaglia-Hymes, design director, by email at, or call 607-254-2417 (work) or 607-342-4811 (cell).


The Francis M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat provides financial aid to a college senior or graduate student to study areas in the United States that provide winter or summer habitat for our threatened or endangered native birds. The award is given by the Garden Club of America and is administered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. For more information about this scholarship and how to apply, see the proposal guidelines. If you wish to apply, you will also need to submit a personal information form.

The Walter E. Benning Fund provides scholarship assistance to a Cornell University graduate student studying ornithology and its relevance to conservation. The annual award is about $500. Apply by January 15 of every year by submitting a short (two page maximum) proposal describing your research, relevance to conservation, schedule of completion, and funding. Mail to Irby Lovette, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850


Interested in leading bird walks in Sapsucker Woods, helping in the visitors’ center at the Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, or becoming a docent? For more information, please contact us at 254-2473 or (800) 843-2473.

Student Jobs

Working just a few hours a week provides you with a multitude of benefits. You will meet new people and adapt more quickly to your new environment. You will develop new skills and improve existing skills while building a network of contacts and good references that will ultimately increase your marketability for summer and post-Cornell jobs. Working part-time also helps improve your time-management skills. Not to mention you'll earn money to help cover some of your Cornell expenses!

To apply for the positions below, please send a cover letter and resume to the contact person listed. Full-time registered Cornell students are eligible to be considered for these positions.

Student Jobs

There are no open positions for student jobs at this time.
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