Job Opportunities

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers many opportunities for students, professionals, and volunteers.

Job Openings at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Located at the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity in the 220-acre Sapsucker Woods sanctuary, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the world's leading resource for conservation, research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. The lab is a vibrant unit within Cornell's College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, where several full-time faculty teach undergraduate courses, advise graduate students, and manage world-class, mission-driven programs. Our management and staff are committed to the highest standards of ethics and excellence in all areas of our work, and our Board leadership includes faculty from Cornell and other universities, successful entrepreneurs and managers from the business and non-profit sectors, and conservation-minded citizens from the United States and beyond.

To apply for the positions below, please refer to the Jobs at Cornell website unless otherwise specified. For more information on the positions listed below, please contact Sue Taggart; (607) 254-2470.

For more jobs in ornithology, see listings from the Ornithological Societies of North America.

Senior Director, Development and Philanthropy

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a Senior Director for Development & Philanthropy: Duties include:

  • Work collaboratively in support of the Lab's mission by leading and supervising all fundraising operations
  • Participate as a member of the Lab's senior management council
  • Prioritize and facilitate high and mid-level pipeline donor development, capital campaign management, planned giving, special gifts, and foundation and corporate relations
  • Oversee and supervise the annual fund and membership team
  • Set annual and long-term objectives in alignment with Lab's strategic initiatives
  • Advise Executive Director on key issues and take responsibility for all necessary details
  • Oversee the management and direction of the annual development and direct response budgets
  • Serve as a critical link between the Lab and Alumni Affairs and Development, plus other Cornell communities
  • The Lab currently has over 80,000 active donors and a strong opportunity for additional relationship cultivation due to the Lab's web presence with over 5.5 million web visitors per year.
  • Internalize the Lab's mission and strategic initiatives, to understand and strengthen all essential components of the Lab, which include research, extension, and education
  • Guide the vision and direction for all fund-raising initiatives for the Lab, a strong, mission-driven, not-for-profit organization
  • Provide direct supervision, direction, and mentorship to an agile staff to implement a broad range of objectives involving donor development, annual fundraising, and membership-recruitment
  • Manage the involvement of the Executive Director and other program directors with major donors and new prospects, and help prioritize travel schedules for development-related visits and events
  • Collaborate with the Executive Director and Cornell's Vice President and Associate Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development (AA&D) to set capital campaign and annual fundraising goals
  • Maintain strong and collaborative working relationships with the University's Division of Alumni Affairs and Development (AA&D), integrating efforts of the Lab with efforts of the Division
  • Provide leadership and guidance related to engagement and fundraising strategies within a milieu of many strong and entrepreneurial programs
  • Build and foster key partnerships with Lab program directors, other sectors of the university, CALS and with the Lab's Administrative Board with respect to non-academic matters and be charged with effectively communicating and collaborating with these units on campus to benefit the Lab
  • Play a leadership role in executing the Lab's Strategic Plan; identify innovative and effective strategies to support and sustain unique and non-traditional academic programs
  • Participate as a member of the Lab's management council which provides advice and counsel to the Executive Director.
Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's Degree with a minimum of 5-7 years of successful leadership experience in development and major gift cultivation or the equivalent combination of education, training and/or experience, involving not-for-profit organizations.
  • Exemplary interpersonal skills as well as outstanding oral and written communication skills are required.
  • Proven leadership and relationship management experience is required.
  • Must have demonstrated the ability to establish and maintain strong, collaborative working relationships with varied internal and external constituencies.
  • Must have proven supervisory experience, and ability to direct, manage and mentor a diverse team of professional staff.
  • Must be able to establish performance standards and manage staff performance.
  • Must create and maintain an atmosphere of confidentiality, where the staff, who will have access to and work with very personal and sensitive information, completely understand the University's and the Lab's confidentiality policies and procedures.
  • Must commit to travel on a regular basis, including some evenings and weekends, and must occasionally accommodate travel on short notice.
  • Must be exemplary in exercising sound judgment and the highest ethical standards.
  • Ability to deliver compelling and informative presentations to varied audiences, from hobby enthusiasts and Lab members to Administrative Board members and major donors.
  • Prior experience developing and managing annual and external vendor budgets.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Experience with growing, managing, and mining large databases of donors and potential donors strongly preferred; experience with use of social networking and Internet-driven strategies for growing lists of contacts and donors preferred.
  • Development experience within not-for-profit and/or academic institutions, including working with and communicating to supervisory Boards.
  • Familiarity or interest with biology, ecology, ornithology, nature, and/or conservation.
  • Experience with donors in informal and unconventional settings (i.e. field trips).
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite Applications (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), databases (Filemaker and Access), Blackbaud Razor's Edge, and Networked Information Systems (Peoplesoft).

Software Engineer

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the world's leading resource for conservation, research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. The Lab is a vibrant unit within Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), where twelve world-class, mission-driven programs are directed by full-time faculty and other renowned professionals. Lab staff teach undergraduate courses, advise graduate students, collect and disseminate world-famous digital resources on biodiversity, and engage with partner organizations and citizens around the world to conduct scientific research and conservation actions. Our management and staff are committed to the highest standards of ethics and excellence in all areas of our work, and our Board leadership includes faculty from Cornell and other universities, successful entrepreneurs and managers from the business and non-profit sectors, and conservation-minded citizens from the United States and beyond.

The Macaulay Library (ML) at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the world’s largest natural sound & video archive of the behaviors of insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The collection, dating back to 1930, now includes more than 170,000 audio recordings and 60,000 video clips of animal behavior. Macaulay Library is a multimedia archive of wildlife recordings and a major international supplier of animal sound and video recordings for field guides and media productions, reference collections, and research. eBird is a nationally recognized resource for birders and source of ecological monitoring data, with coming capabilities to ingest user-contributed media.

The Macaulay Library Program at the Lab of Ornithology is currently seeing a Software Engineer. Duties include:

  • Be a key software engineering resource behind Lab of Ornithology digital asset management systems currently containing curated audio and video recordings in the Macaulay Library ( and a new system that will use eBird ( to crowd source 3,000,000+ images and audio/video recordings annually.
  • Develop, deploy, and maintain data management, media automation systems, and tools that facilitate the use of media for science, education, conservation, and the arts.
  • Review and improve workflows for processing and managing media and metadata.
  • Design, implement, and test software and server systems to:
    • Structure, synchronize, and preserve media metadata.
    • Enable staff and contributors to manage media and metadata.
    • Automate media and metadata management.
    • Enable users to find, play, preview, download, and license recordings.

One-year term appointment with possibility of renewal based upon performance and availability of funding.

Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:
  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field, and minimum of 2-3 years subsequent programming experience or equivalent combination.
  • 2 years experience with software design and development, preferably with an object-oriented language.
  • 2 years building web applications with Rails, Django, Spring, or similar.
  • 1 year experience writing SQL.
  • Experience integrating multiple system components into a coherent software system.
  • Experience with linux or Windows server system administration.
  • Experience collaborating on and maintaining source code using version control.
  • Able to adapt to changing priorities, situations, and demands.
  • Ability to work with others to solve problems and achieve common goals.
  • Ability to express highly technical terms in everyday language.
  • Experience collaborating with a team of software developers and stakeholders.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Experience writing HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.
  • Experience installing and configuring open source and commercial enterprise software.
  • Experience programmatically manipulating media and structuring metadata.
  • Knowledge of birds, conservation, and natural science.

Visitor Center Manager

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a nonprofit, member-supported organization and research institute within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. We are housed in the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, three miles north of Cornell University’s main campus. The Center offers opportunities for visitors to enjoy connecting with the Lab and learning about its mission to interpret and conserve the earth's biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Birders, school classes, families, and nature lovers come to the Lab to walk the trails, watch birds, view the art, use the library, and learn from exhibits, tours, guided walks, seminars, and other types of programs.

The Education Program at the Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a Visitor Center Manager: Duties include:

  • Reporting to the Director of Education, the Visitor Center Manager is integral to furthering the outreach and education mission of the Lab.
  • Oversight of day-to-day operations and implementation of processes and logistics to efficiently and effectively showcase the Lab’s programs and mission, provide educational opportunities, and continually enrich the visitor experience.
  • Working with an advisory committee consisting of representatives from a number of Lab programs, conceptualize and implement educational content and interpretive tools that illustrate conservation and bird-oriented themes.
  • Develop strategies, set priorities, plan, organize, and manage a variety of projects to achieve these goals.
  • Together with Lab staff trained in evaluation methodologies, establish criteria for assessing visitor experiences and collect feedback to inform future programming.
  • Promote and increase awareness of the Lab’s programs and mission to local, regional, and distant audiences, including through use of mass media and social networking.
  • Facilitate the scheduling, organization, and delivery of programs for group visits and educational programs for visitors of all ages.
  • Coordinate with Development and Membership groups to create new opportunities for converting visitors to members, donors, project participants, and/or volunteers.
  • Manage human resources, including supervising, recruiting, and training Visitor Center front desk staff, a public information specialist, staff responsible for local educational outreach, and outreach volunteers, docents, and interns who greet visitors, lead walks and tours, staff Adelson Library, and conduct educational programs.
  • In conjunction with Senior Director of Administration and Operations and Financial team, manage the annual operating budget, seek new sources of funding, and help develop a sustainable financial model that enables ongoing enhancement of Visitor Center initiatives.
  • Build and maintain effective working relations and partnerships with a wide range of constituents including volunteers, staff, students, and external representatives.

Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references. Annual term appointment with possibility of renewal based upon performance and availability of funding. Review of applications will begin mid-January

Required Qualifications:
  • Bachelor’s degree, with strong background in management and knowledge of birds and natural history.
  • Three to five years of supervisory and management experience, along with experience in informal science education related to ornithology, natural sciences, or other relevant field.
  • Proven skills in supervision, mentoring, coordination, and teamwork.
  • Strong communication and conflict resolution skills.
  • Demonstrated initiative and ability to effectively multi-task, manage multiple priorities and projects to meet deadlines, and inspire others to excel.
  • Ability to meet critical objectives while considering the impact of those decisions and activities on the ability to achieve long-term goals.
  • Detail-oriented person who thrives on interacting with people.
  • Knowledge of and demonstrated experience with guest service skills and best practices to deliver world class customer service.
  • Willingness and ability to seek, share, innovate, and implement ideas and practices in and outside the institution and embrace change introduced by others.
  • Ability to develop and implement training standards and expectations.
  • Ability to visualize experiences and exhibits and understand how visitors move through and experience exhibits.
  • Experience with budget management.
  • Advanced working knowledge of Microsoft Office (Excel, Word) and Internet.
  • The work is performed in accordance with policies and procedures, but the employee exercises a considerable amount of judgment in carrying out assigned duties and responsibilities.
  • Ability to work well under pressure, use sound judgment, and maintain confidentiality of all sensitive information.
  • Some evening and weekend hours are required.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Masters degree preferred.
  • Experience running and evaluating a similar facility such as a museum or nature center.
  • Experience developing educational exhibits and programs.
  • Deep knowledge about birds, biodiversity, natural history, and conservation.
  • Specific knowledge of North American birds, especially birds of the Cayuga Basin.
  • Grant writing experience.
  • Familiar with social media and comfortable with exploring new technologies.

Web Application Developer - Android

The Information Science Program designs, develops, and maintains applications and services for citizen-science and education projects. These projects engage the public to collect, archive, analyze and disseminate information about birds and their environments. Additionally, the Lab maintains the supporting web, application, database servers, and associated storage devices, which support a number of the Lab's web applications.

The Information Science Program at the Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking an Android Developer. Duties include:

  • Develop and maintain Android applications and related services for the eBird and Merlin projects.
  • eBird, a real-time, online bird checklist program, is the world's largest and fastest growing biodiversity data resource, collecting millions of bird observations from the general public.
  • Merlin is a bird identification system using eBird data, along with photos and recordings, to help novices identify birds.
  • Upcoming projects include an 'in the field' data entry app for submitting bird observations to eBird, closely integrating native phone capabilities, including calendar, GPS, camera, and voice memos, and extending the Merlin Android app to add image-recognition functionality for identifying birds from a 'just taken' photo.
  • Work closely with a dynamic team of biologists, UI designers, application developers, database administrators, and computer scientists within a collaborative development environment.
  • Help guide overall Android development strategy and recommend best solutions for project requirements.
  • Utilize Android software development tools, team code repositories, and open source libraries and is expected to stay current with Android practices and processes (Java for Android, Android SDK, ADT, test distributions, Google Play submission, and analytics).
Annual term appointment with possible renewal based on performance and available funding. Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references. Required Qualifications:
  • Bachelor's degree with 3-5 years relevant experience or equivalent combination.
  • A thorough understanding of object-oriented programming and web applications.
  • Proven experience in java programming and Android application development.
  • Experience using Android device features such as location, camera, and internet access.
  • Experience integrating with APIs and web services.
  • Demonstrable skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and written and verbal communication.
  • Proven experience in documenting and testing code.
  • Ability to learn technical material quickly.
  • Must be able to work independently and function effectively as part of a larger team.
  • Ability to establish realistic goals and deliver work on schedule.
  • Proven experience in providing support to multiple areas.
  • Must be able to use sound judgment in decision making and in accomplishing tasks that are urgent or of a sensitive or confidential nature, balance conflicting priorities, and make decisions from a range of choices.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • 5 years of experience in computer or information science preferred.
  • 3-5 years of experience working on substantial computer software and collaborating with a team of programmers on software projects is desired.
  • Experience designing and implementing responsive Android UI interfaces that accommodate multiple screen sizes, and degrade gracefully.
  • Experience with CBTs such as Titanium and PhoneGap.
  • Experience implementing rich internet applications.
  • Experience with relational database table design, SQL programming and performance testing.
  • Prior use and understanding of the eBird system.
  • An interest in birds, nature, biology, science, and/or conservation helpful.

YardMap Program Assistant

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Citizen Science is a program that provides meaningful opportunities for the public to participate in collaborative scientific research to improve the status of birds through collective observation and environmental stewardship. More than 200,000 people participate in gathering data on a vast scale contributing to the world's most dynamic and powerful source of information on birds. The program creatively uses the power of the internet to build science-based conservation communities to tackle the complex issues of how to study and address environmental problems and their impacts on birds. Project goals involve varying blends of research and education/outreach. Audiences range from youth to adults, families, and in some cases groups underrepresented in the sciences.

The Citizen Science Program at the Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a part-time Program Assistant. Duties include:

  • Provide the project leader of the YardMap/Habitat Network assistance in administering, developing, and servicing a citizen-based research and education project.
  • The project enlists the help of thousands of volunteers from across North America in gathering data on habitat through online mapping efforts.
  • Support the public in successfully participating in the project. This requires extensive interaction with the public by phone, email, and online social networking.
  • Assist in curating the YardMap social network community, handle digital media, write articles for public consumption, work with partner organizations and basic website updating (in WordPress).
  • Moderate supervision from project leader.
  • Assist with archiving digital media and maintaining the accuracy of participant records.
Position is part-time, 20 hours per week. Annual term appointment with possibility of renewal based upon performance and available funding. Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Formal training beyond a HS diploma of six months to one year's duration or equivalent; or Associate's Degree.
  • 1-2 years of experience or equivalent.
  • Excellent organizational skills, self-motivation, initiative, communication skills (both written and verbal), and interpersonal skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate with a broad range of people in the public arena with tact and diplomacy is a must.
  • Excellent customer service skills.
  • Experience that demonstrates sound judgment, creativity, and problem-solving skills.
  • Must be able to work independently while supporting the efforts of an overall team.
  • Mastery of common computer skills including word processing, email, spreadsheets, and use of internet, especially social networking tools.
  • Willingness to learn new software as needed.
  • Ability to make appropriate decisions under minimal supervision and multi-task while working under pressure.
  • Willingness to perform repetitive tasks such as data entry.
  • Must be accurate, methodical, well spoken, and have strong proofreading and editing skills.
  • Flexibility and initiative.
  • Able to handle highly sensitive and confidential information with discretion.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Bachelor's degree.
  • Experience with graphic design and content management software.
  • Gardening, and/or land-management experience helpful.
  • Creativity and writing experience.
  • Knowledge of habitat identification, animal-plant interactions, native-invasive plant ecology, basic bird identification and bird ecology highly preferred.
  • Conservation oriented a plus.


To apply for an internship, send a cover letter and resume to the contact person listed. Most internships are unpaid but hours are flexible and course credit is possible. Minimum commitment is generally six hours per week. Cornell undergraduates are eligible to be considered for a limited number of paid internships each year. The Nancy Horton Bartels ‘48 Scholars gift supports Cornell undergraduate interns at the Lab during the summer. The Kristen Rupert and John Foote Undergraduate Research Fund supports the engagement of Cornell undergraduates at the Lab, with preference given to students involved in interdisciplinary projects with other colleges, departments, and units at Cornell.

Bartels Science Illustration Internships

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology will offer at least one paid Bartels Science Illustration Internship each year, lasting from three to six months, 39 hours per week. Recipients will work on a project illustrating birds, wildlife, and/or plants for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's print publications, outreach materials, and web sites. We are seeking students (artists just starting their career) at least 18 years old who have previous experience and exceptional talent in illustration, painting, or drawing who are interested in advancing their skills in ornithological art. Interns will work on projects that help the Lab achieve its mission, and these projects often result in publication of the intern's work. For more information, please download this file. You may also contact Diane Tessaglia-Hymes, design director, by email at, or call 607-254-2417 (work) or 607-342-4811 (cell).


The Francis M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat provides financial aid to a college senior or graduate student to study areas in the United States that provide winter or summer habitat for our threatened or endangered native birds. The award is given by the Garden Club of America and is administered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. For more information about this scholarship and how to apply, see the proposal guidelines. If you wish to apply, you will also need to submit a personal information form.

The Walter E. Benning Fund provides scholarship assistance to a Cornell University graduate student studying ornithology and its relevance to conservation. The annual award is about $500. Apply by January 15 of every year by submitting a short (two page maximum) proposal describing your research, relevance to conservation, schedule of completion, and funding. Mail to Irby Lovette, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850


Interested in leading bird walks in Sapsucker Woods, helping in the visitors’ center at the Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, or becoming a docent? For more information, please contact us at 254-2473 or (800) 843-2473.

Student Jobs

Working just a few hours a week provides you with a multitude of benefits. You will meet new people and adapt more quickly to your new environment. You will develop new skills and improve existing skills while building a network of contacts and good references that will ultimately increase your marketability for summer and post-Cornell jobs. Working part-time also helps improve your time-management skills. Not to mention you'll earn money to help cover some of your Cornell expenses!

To apply for the positions below, please send a cover letter and resume to the contact person listed. Full-time registered Cornell students are eligible to be considered for these positions.

Student Jobs

There are no open positions for student jobs at this time.
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