Revamped Cornell Site Takes Wing

Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birds of North America (BNA) is an extraordinary public resource, constantly updated for every bird species in North America, even accidentals. A redesign of the BNA website launched this September.

You can explore the site by searching for a species name or scanning the taxonomy list. Species introduction pages—available to those without a subscription—provide general information on subjects like distribution, behavior, breeding, and subspecies. Subscribers can see beyond this introduction, which only scratches the surface of the wealth of information Cornell has put together. Are you interested in when a bird species starts singing, builds a nest, raises young, migrates or changes plumage? It’s all there.

Each species entry allows you to navigate to topics such as Distribution, Migration and Habitat; Diet and Foraging and each of these topics are further sub-divided into sections like Locomotion, Self-Maintenance, Agonistic Behavior, and Predation.

Many Cornell Macaulay Library resources supplement the text, including photographs, videos, sound recordings, distribution maps, eBird range maps, molting cycle graphs, and spectrograms, graphic images of sounds.

The writing is not as lay-friendly as that from Cornell’s more simplified All About Birds web site. The concise language can be dry and jargony, yet still more readable than most science journals. Links are provided for all citations; you can view a full list of references, and, if you are using BNA for research, they’ve made citing BNA easy with “Recommended Citation” on each page footer.

BNA offers personal, institutional, and gift subscriptions from 30 days to three years.
Sarah Hansen

To find out more, visit Birds of North America online at

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