Presented by the
Ornithological Council

Member organizations of the Ornithological Council

American Ornithologists' Union

Association of Field Ornithologists

Birds Caribbean


Cooper Ornithological Society

Neotropical Ornithological Society

North American Crane Working Group

Pacific Seabird Group

Raptor Research Foundation

Society of Canadian Ornithologists ~ Société des Ornithologistes du Canada

The Waterbird Society

Wilson Ornithological Society
Page Last Updated
Mon, May 11, 2015

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The Ornithological Council

General Information

History & purpose  | Need for the Council  | Clients  | Ornithological concerns  | Services  | You can help

History & purpose

The Ornithological Council was incorporated in 1992 in Washington, D.C., as a not-for-profit IRS 501(c)(3) organization. The Council is supported by, and serves the interests of, its member organizations. Originally, these included the American Ornithologists' Union, the Association of Field Ornithologists, the Cooper Ornithological Society, the Colonial Waterbirds Society (now the Waterbird Society), the Pacific Seabird Group, the Raptor Research Foundation, and the Wilson Ornithological Society. An additional six societies are now members: Pacific Seabird Group, Birds Caribbean (formerly the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds), Neotropical Ornithological Society, CIPAMEX, Society of Canadian Ornithologists, and the North American Crane Working Group.

The Council and its members:

  • Link the scientific community with public and private decision-makers
  • Provide timely information about birds to help ensure scientifically-based decisions, policies, and management actions
  • Inform ornithologists of proposals and actions that affect birds or the study of birds
  • Speak for scientific ornithology on public issues

Need for the Council

Public interest in birds is at an all-time high, with billions of dollars spent annually on bird-related recreation and business. Public policy issues involving such birds as - the Bald Eagle, Northern Spotted Owl, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, and California Gnatcatcher - receive attention at the highest levels of government.

However, few ornithologists participate in policy decisions regarding birds. Additionally, ornithologists are concerned about levels of funding for research, employment prospects for ornithologists, the long-term viability of government regulations on avian research.

All of these concerns point out a communication gap between ornithologists and users of scientific information. The Ornithological Council was formed to improve this situation.

Council clients

A broad spectrum of clients are served, including:

  • Public policy-makers
  • Wildlife resource managers
  • Scientists and educators
  • The general public

Ornithological concerns

The Council works on issues that affect birds and their survival, as well as the needs of ornithologists. It attempts to resolve conflicts and seeks to promote sound management and sustainability in uses of natural resources. Some issues of concern include:

  • Funding for ornithological research and educational programs
  • Governmental regulations and permits for avian research activities
  • Habitat and biodiversity management decisions
  • Impacts of birds on fisheries, urban areas and agriculture
  • Declining, threatened and endangered species
  • Information on the role of birds in ecosystems
  • Standards for use and maintenance of live birds in research


Information exchange to improve the quality of decisions

The Council, headquartered in Washington, D. C.,. provides an active presence in the federal arena for those who study avian systematics, ecology, physiology, behavior, anatomy and management. The Council communicates with this entire science community on a regular basis. A full-time staff will enable the Council to call upon its members to provide imput into important decisions within government agencies and to advise environmental groups and industry in management decisions. The Council and its member groups provide testimony, issue reports and resolutions, and identify potential speakers for groups upon request.

Analyze funding trends in ornithological programs

The Council reviews trends in government funding for ornithological programs. The Breeding Bird Survey and the North American Bird Banding Program collect vital information about birds. The Banding Lab, for example, maintains records of 51 million banded birds - essential data for the study of migration patterns and population trends. There are a growing number of uses for such large and continuing data sources, and demands upon these programs increase each year. The Council encourages long-term support of these programs and works to improve their ability to meet user needs.

Our twelve member societies provide the Ornithological Council with about 75% of its funding. Without the additional support from individual ornithologists who contribute through the check-off box on the membership renewal form or through direct contributions, the Ornithological Council could not continue to exist.

To make an online contribution through PayPal click here:

using your free PayPal account or a credit card

Or contribute by check payable to the Ornithological Council and mailed to:
6512 E Halbert Rd, Bethesda, MD 20817, USA

Thank you!

Officers of the Council

Executive Director

Ellen Paul
6512 E Halbert Rd
Bethesda, MD 20817

Phone (301) 986-8568





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