Whooping Cranes by Tom Blandford via Birdshare.


Dedicated to advancing the understanding and protection of the natural world, the Cornell Lab joins with people from all walks of life to make new scientific discoveries, share insights, and galvanize conservation action.

Our mission is to interpret and conserve the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds.

Welcome to the Cornell Lab

A note from Ian Owens, our executive director

Dr. Ian OwensIan Owens, executive director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

When I was just 15 years old, a Eurasian Marsh-Harrier flew just inches above my head—a bird that was at once so beautiful, powerful, and yet fragile—it was an electrifying moment that changed my life. Ever since, I’ve never stopped looking for birds, or finding joy and inspiration in watching them.

Birds spark a deep wonder and endless fascination. They help us understand the living world and our connections to it. When birds disappear, they’re signaling that we’ve stressed and degraded our landscapes and oceans. When we make changes and they rebound, it signals hope that we humans can find ways to flourish and protect our wildlife and the natural world.

Learn more about the ideas that underpin our work and fuel our passion.
  • Show Transcript
    [upbeat music] What bird is that? How much do they eat? Why are they so colorful? What’s that bird doing? Curiosity gives rise to questions. Where do migratory birds go? What do birds tell us about our changing world? How can I help? Will they be here when I grow up? We are dedicated to finding answers together. Revealing how nature works. Linking a global community. Opening doors to the natural world. Transforming science into action. We are working together…to better understand our connections…to life on earth. [LOGO] The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, join us. [music resolves]

    End of Transcript

Your support of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology helps by enabling discovery of new knowledge to understand and protect nature, innovation of new technologies to reveal that knowledge, teaching to foster new leaders, inspiration to motivate change, and transformation of science to action to make a difference on the ground.

I hope you’ll join us on your own journey to experience the joy of birds and to learn along with us about the extraordinary feats they accomplish in their lives across the hemispheres. Thank you for being a part of our vibrant community helping to create a sustainable, thriving world for birds and people.

Your support means so much for the future of birds and our planet. Thank you!

Ian Owens
Executive Director

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Science & Innovation Discovering New Knowledge

We transform data into knowledge by pioneering new techniques at the interface of citizen science, machine learning, and data visualizations. Our field and lab studies explore the earth’s biodiversity, the processes that have generated it, and ways to conserve this abundance of life. Key partners in much of this research are the many thousands of people who volunteer for our citizen-science projects.

See Latest Discoveries

Bar-tailed Godwit by Gerrit Vyn.

Education Changing Hearts and Minds

We open the doors to inquiry and learning about the natural world, starting with the earliest ages and lasting a lifetime. Whether you’re a bird lover, an educator, or a student, our curricula, interactive courses, and professional development opportunities will empower you to explore the fascinating lives of birds and ignite a lifelong passion for nature.

See Life-Changing Stories

Education, Visitor Center hands up

Conservation Protecting the Natural World

Conserving birds and biodiversity in the 21st century is a complex endeavor that requires innovative science and technology, a detailed understanding of ecological and social systems, and the ability to implement sustainable solutions at global and local scales.

See Conservation at Work

Yukon Delta Aerial Photo by Gerrit Vyn.

Make a Difference

Let’s work together to protect birds and habitats

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Our Story

In 1915, Arthur A. Allen joined Cornell University as one of the nation’s first professors of Ornithology, and posted a sign outside his office door: “Laboratory of Ornithology.” From these humble beginnings more than 100 years ago, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has flourished into a vibrant 501c(3) nonprofit conservation organization and a global center for the study of birds and biodiversity.

Founded at an institution of higher learning dedicated to “any person, any study,” we have always opened the doors to discovery by welcoming multifaceted fields of study— and people of all ages and backgrounds—to celebrate, explore, and protect the endlessly beautiful and fascinating world of birds and nature.

“Doc” Allen could not have imagined the Lab today, with its hundreds of staff, faculty, and students advancing research, technology, and conservation around the world; hundreds of thousands of citizen-science participants contributing data 24/7; and millions of lifelong learners exploring the Lab’s websites, courses, and mobile apps.

Yet throughout the decades, the Lab has remained true to its roots: scientific discovery, innovation, teaching, inspiration, and conservation action.

Our mission today is more urgent than ever as human activities accelerate the loss of birds and biodiversity across our planet, jeopardizing the ecosystems upon which all life depends. Dedicated to service and impact, the Cornell Lab is an expert and trusted voice and partner for communities around the globe working together for conservation.

As a supporter of the Cornell Lab, you become part of our story as we create solutions for a future filled with the beauty of birds and nature.

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