John Fitzpatrick

Director Emeritus


Administrative Oversight • Fundraising • Board Relations • Conservation Science • External Communication

As Executive Director of the Lab from 1995–2021, I oversaw all aspects of the Lab’s affairs and conducted research as a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Since stepping down from the directorship in July 2021, I am still closely involved in Lab affairs, and I am active in a variety of research projects, including my long-term project on the ecology, landscape genetics, and conservation of the Florida Scrub-Jay.

I was privileged to grow up in rural Minnesota during the 1950s and 60s, where I fell in love with birds at a very early age. Several of my parents’ friends were birdwatchers, and one was even an avid bird-bander (Jane Olyphant). Our neighbor across the pond was a famous wildlife artist (Francis Lee Jaques) who became my childhood hero. I remain a passionate birder, and occasional bird-painter, to this day.

In college I studied the biogeography of South American tyrant flycatchers, and for my Ph.D. I spent several years roaming Central and South America quantifying the foraging behaviors of this huge and diverse bird family.

During college, I worked as a summer intern studying Florida Scrub-Jays at Archbold Biological Station. My first job after grad school was at the Field Museum of Natural History, where I continued pursuing both research interests. I became Executive Director of Archbold in 1988, and moved to take my current position at the Lab in 1995.

Spark Moment

In kindergarten, while sick at home during a spring day, I saw a male American Redstart out the living room window, and identified it using my parents’ Peterson field guide. I was instantly mesmerized by all the other beautiful species illustrated on those pages, and this began my lifelong ‘quest’ to see them all.


Ph.D., Princeton University
B.A., Harvard University

Beyond the Lab

I am married to Molly, our two children are Sarah (Cornell ’08) and Dylan (Middlebury ’11), and our granddaughter is Persis (born 2018).

Recent Publications

Suh, Y. H., R. Bowman, and J. W. Fitzpatrick (2022). Staging to join non‐kin groups in a classical cooperative breeder, the Florida scrub‐jay. Journal of Animal Ecology 91:970–982.
Fitzpatrick, J. W. (2022). Foreword. In Bird Planet, by T. Laman. Abrams, Blackwell & Ruth, New York.
Nguyen, T. N., N. Chen, E. J. Cosgrove, R. Bowman, J. W. Fitzpatrick, and A. G. Clark (2022). Dynamics of reduced genetic diversity in increasingly fragmented populations of Florida scrub jays,Aphelocoma coerulescens. Evolutionary Applications 15:1018–1027.
Whitelaw, J. P., R. Bowman, and J. W. Fitzpatrick (2022). [In press] Elusive Birds of the Tropical Understory. Comstock, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
Pesendorfer, M. B., R. Bowman, G. Gratzer, S. Pruett, A. Tringali, and J. W. Fitzpatrick (2021). Fire history and weather interact to determine extent and synchrony of mast-seeding in rhizomatous scrub oaks of Florida. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 376:20200381.
Huang, R. M., W. Medina, T. M. Brooks, S. H. M. Butchart, J. W. Fitzpatrick, C. Hermes, C. N. Jenkins, A. Johnston, D. J. Lebbin, B. V. Li, N. Ocampo-Peñuela, et al. (2021). Batch-produced, GIS-informed range maps for birds based on provenanced, crowd-sourced data inform conservation assessments. PLOS ONE 16:e0259299.
Fitzpatrick, J. W. (2021). The View from Sapsucker Woods: Essays by John W. Fitzpatrick. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Sure Print & Design, Ontario.
Feng, S., J. Stiller, Y. Deng, J. Armstrong, Q. Fang, A. H. Reeve, D. Xie, G. Chen, C. Guo, B. C. Faircloth, B. Petersen, et al. (2020). Dense sampling of bird diversity increases power of comparative genomics. Nature 587:252–257.
Suh, Y. H., M. B. Pesendorfer, A. Tringali, R. Bowman, and J. W. Fitzpatrick (2020). Investigating social and environmental predictors of natal dispersal in a cooperative breeding bird. Behavioral Ecology 31:692–701.
Andres, K. J., S. A. Sethi, E. Duskey, J. M. Lepak, A. N. Rice, B. J. Estabrook, K. B. Fitzpatrick, E. George, B. Marcy-Quay, M. R. Paufve, K. Perkins, and A. E. Scofield (2020). Seasonal habitat use indicates that depth may mediate the potential for invasive round goby impacts in inland lakes. Freshwater Biology 11.
Chen, N., I. Juric, E. J. Cosgrove, R. Bowman, J. W. Fitzpatrick, S. J. Schoech, A. G. Clark, and G. Coop (2019). Allele frequency dynamics in a pedigreed natural population. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116:2158–216.
Chen, N., I. Juric, E. J. Cosgrove, R. Bowman, J. W. Fitzpatrick, S. J. Schoech, A. G. Clark, and G. Coop (2019). [In press] Allele frequency dynamics in a pedigreed natural population. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Fitzpatrick, J. W. (2019). [In Press] Ornithology at Cornell University and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 1990 – 2018. In Contributions to the History of North American Ornithology. Buteo Books, pp. 271–365.
Freeman, B. G., M. N. Scholer, V. Ruiz-Gutierrez, and J. W. Fitzpatrick (2018). Climate change causes upslope shifts and mountaintop extirpations in a tropical bird community. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115:11982–11987.
Rodewald, A. D., and J. W. Fitzpatrick (2018). Undermining protection for migratory birds. The Hill.
Rodewald, A. D., and J. W. Fitzpatrick (2017). Ryan Zinke wants to break many conservation efforts. The Hill.
Aguillon, S. M., J. W. Fitzpatrick, R. Bowman, S. J. Schoech, A. G. Clark, G. Coop, and N. Chen (2017). Deconstructing isolation-by-distance: The genomic consequences of limited dispersal. PLOS Genetics 13:e1006911.
Reynolds, M. D., B. L. Sullivan, E. Hallstein, S. Matsumoto, S. Kelling, M. Merrifield, D. Fink, A. Johnston, W. M. Hochachka, N. E. Bruns, M. E. Reiter, et al. (2017). Dynamic conservation for migratory species. Science Advances 3:e1700707.
Winkler, D. W. (2016). Breeding Biology of Birds. In Handbook of Bird Biology (I. J. Lovette and J. W. Fitzpatrick, Editors). third. John Wiley & Sons Publishing Company, pp. 407–450.
Winkler, D. W., J. Shamoun-Baranes, and T. Piersma (2016). Avian migration and dispersal. In Handbook of Bird Biology (I. J. Lovette and J. W. Fitzpatrick, Editors). Third. Wiley Press, pp. 453–492.
Fitzpatrick, J. W., and A. D. Rodewald (2016). Bird Conservation. In Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Handbook of Bird Biology (I. J. Lovette and J. W. Fitzpatrick, Editors). Third edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Chichester, West Sussex.
Fitzpatrick, J. W., and R. Bowman (2016). Florida scrub-jays: oversized territories and group defense in a fire-maintained habitat. In Cooperative Breeding in Vertebrates. (W. D. Koenig and J. L. Dickinson, Editors). Cooperative Breeding in Vertebrates, Cambridge, pp. 77–96.
Mills, J. A., C. Teplitsky, B. Arroyo, A. Charmantier, P. H. Becker, T. R. Birkhead, P. Bize, D. T. Blumstein, C. Bonenfant, S. Boutin, A. Bushuev, et al. (2015). Archiving primary data: solutions for long-term studies. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 30:581–589.
Fitzpatrick, J. W. (2015). Beacons of our planet. In The Living Bird. Mountaineers Books, Seattle, WA, pp. 127–148.
Fitzpatrick, J. W. (2015). How birds can save the world. In The Living Bird. Mountaineers Books, Seattle, WA, pp. 25–30.
Center Administration and Business Operations, Operations & Staff Development

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Golden-cheeked Warbler by Bryan Calk/Macaulay Library