Visitor Center FAQ

Visitor Center closure and renovation FAQs

Is the Visitor Center closed for renovation?

  • Yes, the Visitor Center is closed for a major renovation. Reopening is scheduled for Spring 2024. 
  • The trails remain open from dawn to dusk. 
  • An ADA accessible portable toilet is available during the closure.

Why is the Visitor Center closed for renovation?

We are building a new and improved visitor experience to provide educational opportunities that allow people to connect with birds and biodiversity. Our new facility will feature interactive exhibits, state of the art media experiences, and world-class art. Read more about the renovation in this article from the Cornell Chronicle. We look forward to welcoming you back to our newly renovated Visitor Center in the spring of 2024!  

Will restroom facilities be available during the closure? 

Yes, an ADA accessible portable toilet is available. There are no public indoor facilities available.

Are the trails open during renovations? Are you still offering bird walks? 

While the building is closed, our trails will remain open from dawn until dusk. Download the trail map.

We will also be offering outdoor activities including weekend bird walks. Check our Events Calendar for a full schedule. The trails at Sapsucker Woods are carry in, carry out. Please take your trash with you.

Is the Wild Birds Unlimited shop open?  

Unfortunately, the WBU store is closed while the Visitor Center undergoes its renovation, but you can shop their online store.

Can I bring a group to the Cornell Lab while you’re closed for renovation? 

Yes! The trails are open and groups are welcome. We encourage you to view our Group Visits resources. The trails at Sapsucker Woods are carry in, carry out. Please take your trash with you. 

Can I arrange for a guided visit? 

We will not be able to provide guided visits during our renovation closure. We encourage you to join one of our scheduled programs including weekend bird walks. Check out our Events Calendar for a full schedule.

Will Adelson Library be open during the Visitor Center renovation?

No, Adelson Library is closed to the public during the renovation. Cornell Lab staff can request books for pick up at Adelson, but all other library patrons need to direct requests to an alternate Cornell University Library.

When is the Visitor Center open?

The Visitor Center is closed for a major renovation. Reopening is scheduled for Spring 2024. 

The trails remain open from dawn to dusk. No dogs or bicycles please. Download the trail map.

The Wild Birds Unlimited store located in the Visitor Center is closed during renovation, but you can shop on the online store.

What birds are being seen at Sapsucker Woods?

eBird provides the most comprehensive way to view recent sightings. Check out the Sapsucker Woods hotspot for up-to-the-minute updates.

What is there for children to do?

Please see our pages on What to Do Outdoors and Guides and Activities for Your Visit. There are a limited number of trail maps and youth guides to Sapsucker Woods near the Visitor Center entrance.

Where do I park?

Free day parking is located in the visitor lot closest to the Visitor Center entrance. If you are driving an RV please use the third lot, closest to the airport.

Can I take public transit to the Lab?

Yes—visitors can take the TCAT bus service. Cornell staff and students can take the TCAT or the Lab’s campus shuttle. Here’s full information about both options.

Are your building, trails, and programs accessible?

When we reopen, the Visitor Center is a fully accessible building and there is a wheelchair available by request. The trails are mulched with exposed roots and boardwalks. If you need accommodations to participate in a program or event, please contact Lisa Kopp as soon as possible.

Does the Lab have outdoor restrooms?

An outdoor accessible portable toilet is available while the Visitor Center is closed for renovation.

What is the best trail to take?

Sapsucker Woods offers more than 5 miles of beautiful trails through forests, fields, and wetlands. A visitor favorite is the Wilson Trail, a 0.75-mile loop around Sapsucker Woods Pond. See our map for additional information.

Can I bring my dog on the trails?

In order to provide a safe habitat for wildlife, most dogs are not permitted on the trails. Service animals are welcome on the trails. Find dog-friendly trails in the Ithaca area.

Do you have live birds?

Wild birds abound at Sapsucker Woods, but there are no captive birds at the Cornell Lab.  Wild birds are visible from the Visitor Center in the bird-feeding garden and across the pond. The Visitor Center also features additional information and activities highlighting their behavior and biology.

How far are you from campus?

The Lab of Ornithology is just 4 miles from the Cornell University campus. The Lab provides a weekday campus shuttle for Cornell staff and students. Visitors can take the TCAT bus. Here’s full information for both options.

Where should we stay when visiting the Lab?

The following hotels offer special reduced rates for Lab visitors. Rates are based on availability and subject to change. Free shuttle service is available to and from the Cornell Lab. Please contact the hotel for more information.

  • Courtyard Marriott: 607-339-1000
  • Fairfield Inn and Suites: 607-277-1000
  • Best Western University Inn: 607-272-6100

There are also local bed-and-breakfasts.

Where do we find information for a prospective student interested in studying ornithology at Cornell?

The Lab of Ornithology offers countless opportunities for prospective students, from leading tours at Sapsucker Woods to conducting field research internationally. Visit the Student Resources section of our site for more information.

When was your building built?

The Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity opened in 2003. Before that, the Lab was housed at the Lyman K. Stuart Observatory at the edge of the pond just to the south of where the Visitor Center is now. The Stuart Observatory was built in the 1950s for fewer staff and had expanded to nearby trailers before we moved into the Johnson Center. The Lab was founded in 1915 when Arthur Allen labeled his office space in Cornell’s department of Entomology and Limnology as “Laboratory of Ornithology.”

Are there places to eat nearby?

While the Lab of Ornithology does not have food services on site, Ithaca is full of delicious options. The Visit Ithaca website provides a database of restaurants.

Can I bring a picnic lunch?

We do not have picnic tables, but there are benches located throughout the trails and at the entrance to the Visitor Center. The Cornell Lab and Sapsucker Woods provide a sanctuary habitat for local wildlife so we ask that groups respect our carry in, carry out policy and take their trash with them.

What else is there to do in the Ithaca area?

Ithaca has plenty of activities for all. Visit the Discovery Trail website for additional information.

Are the Lab’s facilities available for rent for special occasions?

The Lab’s facilities are not currently available to rent.

Is there a private space to breastfeed or pump?

Our mother’s room is unavailable to the public while the Visitor Center is closed for renovation. When we reopen, we will have a private mother’s room exclusively for nursing mothers and equipped with a mini fridge, phone, and storage lockers.

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Golden-cheeked Warbler by Bryan Calk/Macaulay Library