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Spring Field Ornithology is taught by  Steve Kress, Vice President of Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society, as well as guest lecturers from the Lab of Ornithology and a dozen highly-experienced field trip leaders.   Marc Devokaitis is the Course Coordinator and  Sandy Podulka is the field trip organizer.  

Many Lab staff devote guidance, support, and time to Spring Field Ornithology Class.  Cornell staff members that have or currently contribute to the course include renowned educator Dr. Kevin McGowan, Vanya Rohwer, Curator of Ornithology & Mammalogy at the Cornell Vertebrate Collections; ; Dr. Ken Rosenberg, Director of Conservation Science; Chris Wood, Project Leader of eBird; and Dr. David Winkler, Professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Cornell.  Dr. John Fitzpatrick, Director of the Lab of Ornithology.


Dr. Stephen W. Kress

Course Instructor


Stephen W. Kress is Vice President for Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society and Director of the Society's Maine Coast Seabird Sanctuaries. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  He is also the author of  many popular birding books, including The Audubon Guide to Attracting Birds, The National Audubon Society's Birder's Handbook, The Bird Garden, Project Puffin: How We Brought Puffins Back to Egg Rock, Saving Birds, Golden Guide to Bird Life, and others.

As director of
 Audubon's Seabird Restoration Program (Project Puffin), Steve advises and manages the development of techniques for re-establishing various Maine seabird colonies, such as Atlantic Puffins, Leach's Storm-Petrel, and Arctic, Common, and Roseate Terns. In the Pacific region, he has studied the role of vocalizations in attracting endangered Dark-rumped Petrels to artificial burrows in the Gal├ípagos Islands, and Short-tailed Albatross to decoys on Midway Island.  He is the author of numerous scientific papers on seabird biology and conservation.

During most of the year, Steve lives on 33 acres of woods and meadows near Ithaca, New York with his wife Elissa Wolfson, where he manages his land for songbirds. He spends summers on the Maine coast, continuing his lifelong interest in restoring nesting seabird colonies.


Marc Devokaitis
Course Coordinator



Marc is in charge of day-to-day course operations including registrations, publicity, organizing and updating materials for lectures and field trips, planning the overnight field trips, and developing web content.  

As the Public Information Specialist for the Cornell lab, Marc also responds to approximately 20,000 bird-related inquires annually, and manages the Adelson Library.


Sandy Podulka photo

Sandy Podulka
Field Trip Coordinator

Sandy coordinates the field trips sections of the course. She chooses field trip leaders and organizes leaders and participants into groups. She received a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Cornell University and an M.S. in Zoology (Animal Behavior) from the University of Maryland, where she studied the function of song repertoires in Song Sparrows. Sandy is also one of the editors of the Lab's Home Study Course in Bird Biology, 2nd Edition.