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

“If there’s one basic thing that the Lab stands for, it’s the idea that we have an opportunity to make a difference.” Watch the Welcome Video from John Fitzpatrick.
  • Show Transcript

    [gentle music and imagery of birds and people observing birds]

    [John Fitzpatrick:] When you look into the eyes of a bird, it’s very easy to suddenly recognize that is a living, breathing, conscious being. If there’s one basic thing that the Lab stands for, it’s the idea that we have an opportunity to make a difference.

    The difference that we can make is brought about by the fact that we watch, we observe. That’s fundamentally what science is–we’re built around the idea that we’re curious about how nature works. We’re curious about how nature’s doing.

    And the more we look, the more we listen, the more we understand. The fantastic thing about birds is they actually allow us access to the very little details of the living world. Because birds give us this microscope into how nature works so beautifully we can look closely at how they interact with their food, with their shelter, with their places for nesting and with one another. Birds give us access to how nature works in ways that most animals don’t.

    There’s art in nature and there’s science in nature and then there’s the teaching that one can get from putting those together and all of these ultimately culminate in the same place. We can’t help singing about it because it’s so spectacular.

    And that all comes from the fundamental human privilege we have it starts with being able to see something, to listen to something, think about it and to reflect on it.

    [gentle music and imagery of birds and people observing birds]

    There’s nothing that’s more beautiful and fulfilling and potentially explosively life-changing than simply observing nature.

    End of Transcript

Our planet is alive with birds, and there is nothing more fulfilling and potentially life-changing than observing birds and nature. As we watch and listen, birds help us understand the living world.

The challenges to the natural world are bigger than they’ve ever been before. Birds have the power to help us inform and inspire the global changes needed for humans and nature to live side by side.

Your support enables discovery of new knowledge, innovation of new technologies to reveal that knowledge, teaching to foster new leaders, inspiration to motivate change, and transforming science to action to make a difference on the ground.

I hope you’ll join us in a lifelong quest to enjoy, understand, and protect birds and the natural world.

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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. See our photo gallery below, “Then and Now.”

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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