Robyn Bailey


Project Leader


Nesting Biology • Nest and Egg Identification • Nest Boxes • Citizen Science

I manage the research, education, and communication initiatives for NestWatch, the Cornell Lab’s citizen-science project focused on nesting birds. The Cornell Lab has been monitoring nesting birds’ reproductive success since the 1960s, and this long-term database is the nation’s richest source of information on avian reproductive biology. A large focal area of the project is nest boxes, and how best to provide them and support the birds which use them.

Through NestWatch, my research and writing focus on small things we can all do to help birds every day. I am interested in nesting as the basic mechanism by which birds can sustain their populations. My interests also include habitat management, historical data, and mentoring students.

My inspiration comes from helping others find an emotional and intellectual connection to nature. I find baby birds to be a very relatable way to do that. I also find the aesthetics and engineering of nests and eggs to be astonishing.


M.S., Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
B.A., Field Biology, Huntingdon College

Fun Fact

My name is Robyn, and the first bird I ever identified was an American Robin. True story!

Recent Publications

Rohwer, V., J. Houtz, M. Vitousek, R. Bailey, and E. Miller (2023). From pattern to process: the evolution of using shed snake skin in bird nests. [Online.] Available at
Bailey, R. L., D. S. Cooper, S. Corrao, K. Leung, and C. McCammon (2021). Persistence amid a pandemic: Community-based nest monitoring participation soars. The Wildlife Professional 15:42–45.
Dzielski, S. A., R. L. Bailey, F. Fernandez‐Duque, and D. N. Bonter (2021). Supplemental feeding of insect larvae increases mass of nestling Eastern Bluebirds, but not nestling Black‐capped Chickadees. Journal of Field Ornithology 92:294–303.
Phillips, T. B., R. L. Bailey, V. Martin, H. Faulkner-Grant, and D. N. Bonter (2021). The role of citizen science in management of invasive avian species: What people think, know, and do. Journal of Environmental Management 280:111709.
Bailey, R. L., H. A. Faulkner‐Grant, V. Y. Martin, T. B. Phillips, and D. N. Bonter (2020). Nest usurpation by non-native birds and the role of people in nest box management. Conservation Science and Practice 2:e185.
Fernandez-Duque, F., R. Bailey, and D. Bonter (2019). Egg oiling as an effective management technique for limiting reproduction in an invasive passerine. Avian Conservation and Ecology 14.
Rodomsky-Bish, B., and R. Bailey (2019). How to Make Your Property a Bird Sanctuary. Grit:18–23.
Bradke, D. R., R. L. Bailey, J. F. Bartman, H. Campa, E. T. Hileman, C. Krueger, N. Kudla, Y. M. Lee, A. J. Thacker, and J. A. Moore (2018). Sensitivity analysis using site-specific demographic parameters to guide research and management of threatened eastern massasaugas. Copeia 106:600–610.
Bailey, R. (2018). NestWatch Digest: Nesting Season 2017. 14(1).
Bailey, R. L., and M. Sherwood (2017). Nest Box Use by the Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis). The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 129:620–625.
Bailey, R. (2017). NestWatch Digest: Nesting Season 2016. Cornell Lab of Ornithology Focus on Citizen Science 13(1).
Bailey, R. L., and D. N. Bonter (2017). Predator guards on nest boxes improve nesting success of birds. Wildlife Society Bulletin 41:434–441.
Bailey, R. (2016). NestWatch Digest, Nesting Season 2015. Cornell Lab of Ornithology Focus On Citizen Science 12(1).
Cooper, C. B., R. L. Bailey, and D. I. Leech (2015). The role of citizen science in studies of avian reproduction. In Nests, Eggs, and Incubation: New ideas about avian reproduction (D. C. Deeming and S. J. Reynolds, Editors). Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 208–220.
Bailey, R. L., and G. E. Clark (2014). Occurrence of twin embryos in the eastern bluebird. PeerJ 2:e273.
Center Engagement in Science and Nature
Projects NestWatch
Website NestWatch

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Golden-cheeked Warbler by Bryan Calk/Macaulay Library