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.

eBird Project Assistant

eBird has evolved from a stand-alone citizen-science project focused on collecting data, into a cooperative partnership involving several distinct user groups spanning multiple scientific domains and dozens of partner organizations, each with its own unique interests in the project's success. eBird collects information about the distribution and abundance of birds, taking advantage of the enormous popularity of watching birds to create a global network of volunteers who submit bird observations via the Internet to a central data repository. Through a combination of broad-based community engagement and global partnerships, the volume of data coming into eBird has increased exponentially (30–40% annually) for the last decade. eBird is regarded as one of the largest and fastest growing biodiversity databases in the world. Presently, the eBird database contains more than 200 million observations of most known species of birds. More than 200 thousand participants have volunteered over 15 million observation hours and have submitted bird observations from 2.1 million locations in every country in the world. In addition eBird data are relied upon for a variety of research initiatives in Information Science, other Lab programs (e.g., Citizen Science, Education, Conservation, Bird Population Studies and Cornell), external academic institutions (e.g., Carnegie Mellon, Northeastern, U of New Mexico, U of Utah, and Oregon State), governmental departments and agencies in the U.S. and abroad (e.g., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oak Ridge National Labs, US Department of Defense, CONABIO [Comision Nacional para el Conocimento y Uso de la Biodiversidad], and nongovernmental organizations (e.g., PRBO Conservation Science, Bird Studies Canada, Audubon) and private companies.

The Information Science Program at the Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking an eBird Project Assistant. Duties include:

  • Handle the day-to-day coordination of eBird
  • Coordinate the eBird Help Center and communication with users
  • Help expand the global eBird community by working with project leaders to further partnerships with other Cornell programs, external academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations and governmental departments and agencies in the U.S. and abroad
  • Assist with eBird data quality processes worldwide and help coordinate the network of hundreds of regional editors
  • Assist eBird development staff and partners gathering requirements for new eBird activities
  • Assist the entire eBird team in the planning, implementation, and tracking of existing and future projects
  • Assist in mass media related to the program
  • Assist with the coordination of work with staff to ensure efficient, high-quality, and timely production
  • Work closely with Cornell students and outside contractors to meet goals and objectives for eBird
Annual term appointment with possible renewal based on performance and available funding. This position is based in Ithaca, New York.

Required Qualifications

  • Formal training beyond a HS Diploma of 6 months to one year's duration or equivalent, or Associates Degree; more than four years, but less than six years or equivalent.
  • Deep understanding of birds and bird distribution is required.
  • Proven skills in project management and coordination are essential, along with excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Familiarity and proficiency with the Internet and content management systems is critical, along with a strong interest in using the Web as a tool to conduct research, engage and educate the public.
  • Mastery of common computer skills including word, email, and excel.
  • Prior knowledge of social media outlets.
  • Strong communication skills (written and oral) to clearly articulate vision and plans, and provide instruction effectively to all levels of management, staff, new partners, funding agencies, eBird users, and visitors.
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with all levels of management and staff internally and externally.
  • Candidate will value teamwork and be able to stimulate cooperation between all employees and partners.
  • Strong interpersonal skills.
  • High level of integrity and dependability with a strong sense of urgency and results-orientation.
  • Provide high level of initiative to anticipate needs of the project and fulfill project objectives with very minimal supervision.
  • Ability to prioritize activities and multitask is essential.
Preferred Qualifications
  • Bachelor's degree preferred.
  • Proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese.
  • Experience with GIS software.
  • At least two years' experience using eBird and eBird Review tools preferred.
  • Experience with WordPress, SQL helpful.

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.

Web Application Developer - YardMap

The Citizen Science (CS) Program provides access to innovative uses of computer, network, data management, and Internet approaches that serve several of the Lab of Ornithology's citizen science programs. The Program maintains an array of web applications and database servers, and develops and maintains data information, management, and distribution applications that are broadly used for engaging the public in citizen science and education projects that collect information about birds and the environment. Current CS projects consist of YardMap, NestWatch, FeederWatch, and Celebrate Urban Birds.

The Citizen Science Program at the Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a Web Application Developer for the YardMap Project. Duties include:

  • Develop, test, code, and maintain web application services for YardMap (
  • Collaborate with the YardMap project leader and assistant, as well as the rest of the citizen science IT team, to implement new techniques in crowd sourcing and other dynamic web functionality.
  • Develop web applications and web services primarily for YardMap.
  • Utilize software development tools including Eclipse (or similar) IDEs, team code repositories (Git), and open source libraries.
  • Software produced by the Citizen Science Program generally uses Java, MVC/SPA JavaScript, and an Oracle database.
  • One-year term appointment with possibility of renewal based upon performance and availability of funding.
Applicants to provide resume, cover letter, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree with 2-3 years relevant programming experience or equivalent combination.
  • A thorough understanding of object-oriented programming and web applications is essential, with knowledge and experience in Java programming.
  • Proven experience designing and implementing interfaces, APIs, and web services.
  • Experience with dependency injection frameworks (e.g. Spring).
  • Demonstrable skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and written and verbal communication.
  • Ability to design and construct computer software, to work effectively on a team, and to learn technical material quickly.
  • Must be able to work independently and as part of a team.
  • Ability to establish realistic goals and deliver work on schedule.
  • Excellent customer service skills and demonstrated ability to communicate with a broad range of people is essential.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Masters degree and 5 years of experience in computer or information science preferred.
  • Experience with Java, Oracle SQL, and ORM frameworks (Hibernate).
  • Experience implementing SPAs using AngularJS, HTML5 and CSS3.
  • Prior experience with Spring Framework, REST, and JavaScript MVC frameworks.
  • Experience managing linux-based Java application servers.
  • Previous experience with content management or web publishing systems.
  • Experience with GIS server software (GeoServer, QGIS).
  • Prior experience working on computer software and collaborating with a team of programmers on software projects.
  • Proven experience writing application requirements, architecting applications, and documenting code.


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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