Visitor Center FAQ

When is the Visitor Center open?

The Visitor Center and Wild Birds Unlimited Store are open Tuesday–Sunday 10AM to 4PM. Closed Monday.

Holiday Hours: Closed Thanksgiving Day. Closed Christmas–New Year.

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

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?

Our new exhibits offer plenty of family-friendly and interactive features! Please reference our pages on What to Do Indoors, What to Do Outdoors and Guides and Activities for Your Visit. Printed booklets of the Youth Guide to Sapsucker Woods are available at the Front Desk.

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?

The Visitor Center is a fully accessible building and there are two wheelchairs available near the front door. The trails are mulched with exposed roots and boardwalks. If you need accommodations to participate in a program or event, please contact Lisa Kopp. Visit our Accessibility page for a comprehensive list of features.

Does the Lab have outdoor restrooms?

There are no outdoor restrooms available. There are indoor facilities available when the Visitor Center is open Tuesday–Sunday 10AM to 4PM.

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. During the academic year, 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: 607-330-1000
  • 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?

There are tables and benches located at the entrance to the Visitor Center. There are also benches throughout the trails. 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?

There is a private lactation room on the first floor of the Visitor Center which offers a comfortable chair, electric outlets, lockers, and a small refrigerator. The room locks from inside and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker by Sasha Cahill / Macaulay Library