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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