We welcome group visits! We need to know you’re coming, so please make reservations at least 3 weeks in advance for all groups of 10 or more. For visits in May or June (our busiest months), we recommend making your reservation in February or March. Please understand that filling out the reservation form does not guarantee we can confirm your visit or provide a tour on that date—but we’ll do our best! We will contact you to confirm.
On the Day of Your Visit:
- There is plenty of free car parking at the Lab.
- Buses may drop off and pick up passengers in our circular driveway at the main entrance, and then should park in the far lot, closest to Route 13.
- If your group is going to arrive late, please call us at 607-254-2473.
Resources to Make the Most of Your Group Visit
We have many age-appropriate resources to help you make the most of your visit. In particular, our Youth Guide to the Trails and Youth Guide to the Visitor Center are available as PDF downloads, and you can also request printed copies for each student on the reservation form, to be picked up on arrival.
For additional resources, downloads, and information, see our Plan Your Visit section.
Types of Group Tours
Please select the relevant category below for additional details on group visits.
Group visits are self-guided unless you request a guided tour (see next item). On self-guided visits, your group is free to explore the exhibits and artwork in our Visitor Center and to roam the trails in Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary. Binoculars and field guides are available for loan. For a behind-the-scenes look at the Lab, request a guided tour when making your reservation.
Guided Tours for Adults or College Students
Guided tours of the Lab last about an hour, are led by highly trained volunteers, and go behind the scenes into areas not normally open to the public.
Guides provide an overview of the history of the Lab; a look at the exhibits in the Visitor Center; a peek into the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates; and a description of the departments and sciences studied at the Lab. These include the Fuller Evolutionary Biology Lab, Macaulay Library, Bioacoustics Research Program, Education, Communications, Citizen Science, Conservation Science, Bird Population Studies, and Information Science. Tour guides also showcase the art collection at the Lab, including a Maya Lin sculpture, two stunning murals, and some of the 1,000 works of art in our collection.
Please note that to ensure the best experience we limit guided-tour groups to 25 people.If your group is larger than 25 people, we will ask you to split up. One smaller group can go on a building tour while another group explores the Visitor Center or trails on their own, and then the groups can switch. Most tours last one hour, but we can accommodate shorter tours if requested.
Tours can optionally be expanded to include a more detailed tour of the taxonomic specimens in the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates. If your group is interested, just indicate so on your reservation request.
Tours are free but are subject to guide availability and scheduled special events. We do our best to accommodate as many requests as possible.
K-12, Camps, and Community Youth Groups
We love to inspire young minds! Youth groups are self-guided, offering children the opportunity for hands-on learning to find the answers to their questions by exploring our exhibits and trails.
We have many age-appropriate resources for your group. We’d also love to hear about your lesson plan and topics of interest, so that we can enhance your visit and learning opportunity.
Tips for a Great Visit
- Before your visit, introduce the Lab of Ornithology to your students via our online resources, including BirdSleuth K-12, Bird Cams, All About Birds, and Macaulay Library.
- Recruit chaperones. We recommend a ratio of 1 adult to every 6 children for grades 6–12 and a 1:4 ratio for all younger children.
- Determine a lunch plan; the Lab does not have a restaurant, cafeteria, or kitchen. If students will be bringing packed lunches, please let us know in advance so we can plan accordingly.
- For groups larger than 25 we recommend splitting your group between the Visitor Center and trails for the best experience.
Groups with Special Needs
We welcome visitors and groups of all abilities. The Visitor Center is fully wheelchair accessible and we have wheelchairs available for use. (Note that the trails in Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary are not recommended for wheelchair use.)
Please contact us so we can work with you to create the best experience possible for your group.