• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer
Help develop a Bird ID tool!

A Look at Our Flock

by Pat Leonard
Illustration by Sabine Freiermuth

Learning about our members at a time of record-setting membership

For this issue, we’re printing just over 51,000 copies of BirdScope—more than ever before. Our membership is at an all-time high, up 30 percent over the past two years to 34,000—despite the tough economic times that have prevailed. The increase is a testament to how much people care about bird conservation, and a recognition of the Cornell Lab’s role in that work. Birds need us now more than ever as they face increasing threats from human development, loss of habitat, and changing climate.

Golden-winged Warbler

We’re thankful to all of our new members for joining the flock and helping support our work. To get to know you a bit better and make sure we’re doing work that’s important to you, we’ve recently conducted a survey—here’s some of what we learned.

Who Are Lab Members?

Cornell Lab members come from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries. Fifty percent of new members who responded to a recent survey said they joined to enhance their enjoyment of birds and nature. Thirty-eight percent wanted to make the simplest connection of all: putting a name to the birds they see. Nearly as many people saw membership as a way to connect with and support ornithology research and conservation (37 percent).

Lab members sure do put out the welcome mat for birds. A whopping 93 percent have bird feeders and 85 percent offer birdbaths. Sixty-three percent watch birds every day and an impressive 21 percent can identify more than 50 species.

Membership Matters

The Cornell Lab thrives on a working partnership between bird watchers and professional ornithologists. By sending us your observations in any one of our citizen-science projects, you connect directly with birds, helping all of us better understand their behavior, communication, and biology—and how important they are in a healthy ecosystem. Members carry that message to others as ambassadors for the birds.

The Cornell Lab forges a very special partnership between a leading research university and people who are passionate about birds and nature. We are a proud unit of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences of Cornell University. We have 10 Cornell faculty on our staff conducting the full range of academic research and teaching. Yet 99 percent of our operating budget comes from membership fees, grants, gifts, bequests, and other revenue we raise ourselves. Your membership matters because it powers Cornell Lab education and conservation projects around the world. (See our Annual Report for specifics on all the ways your support helps birds.)

Support Bird Conservation!

We’ve enclosed a membership flyer in this issue of BirdScope, hoping you might use it to encourage others to join the Cornell Lab and support our mission. The holidays are just around the corner—a gift membership may be perfect for the birder on your list. Our new Golden-wing Society is a way to upgrade regular membership and forge a closer connection to the Cornell Lab via special events. Including us in your estate plans is a wonderful long-term tribute and qualifies you as a member of the Sapsucker Woods Society. Special gifts, large or small, fill in funding gaps.

Five years from now, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will celebrate its centennial—a century of working to understand and conserve a vital part of the natural world. And there’s so much more to do. As one new member, Kenneth W. from Pennsylvania, puts it:

“Let’s get started—Let’s roll!!!”