In this issue: Movie Magic behind The Messenger—The Almost Impossible Task of Filming Songbirds in Flight; and more.

Cornell Lab eNews

January 2016

Blackburnian Warbler from The Messenger documentary
Find out how The Messenger captured its gorgeous flight footage in this exclusive behind-the-scenes video.

The Almost Impossible Task of Filming Songbirds in Flight

How did they do that? The Messenger is a visually gripping documentary filled with incredible footage of birds in flight. Usually these nocturnal, high-elevation migrations occur out of human sight, but director Su Rynard and her team used some movie magic—and a wind tunnel at Western University's Advanced Facility for Avian Research—to capture stunning sequences for the film. See how they did it in this behind-the-scenes video.

We Loved The Messenger: Read our review and find out how to request a screening in your area.

Want to Help Songbirds? You don't have to be a scientist. Every one of us can make a big difference. Learn seven easy things that you can do to help migratory songbirds.
Common Redpoll perches on milkweed. Photo by Bill McMullen via Birdshare.
A colorful Painted Bunting brightens the landscape. Photo by Tim J. Hopwood via Birdshare.

America’s Favorite Birds: Vote to Pick Birds for Our Coloring Book!

The Cornell Lab Publishing Group is creating a coloring book—and you get to decide which birds are included! Vote on 42 birds; the 15 birds with the most votes will be illustrated. Cast your vote and receive a free downloadable coloring page and be entered for a chance to win a coloring book in fall 2016.
mystery bird by Greg Page
Small brown streaky birds can be a challenge to ID. Photo by JMC Nature Photos via Birdshare.

Which Species Is This?

Colorful birds fly banners of bright markings, giving easy clues that can lead to an ID. But brown, streaky little birds—often females or immature birds—can be tough. The little bird in the picture above may visit feeders all over eastern and western North America. Pay close attention to the pattern of streaks on the face and shape of the bill for an ID. Check your answer on All About Birds.

Project FeederWatch offers Tricky Bird ID tools to help figure out which birds are at your feeders. Sign up for Project Feederwatch and you can count birds for science this winter.
tufted titmice on pumpkin/bird feeder
Bird Academy launches All About Bird Anatomy. Illustration by Andrew Leach.

How Is a Bird Built?

Find out using All About Bird Anatomy, the Bird Academy's new interactive tool. This is a fun way to learn bird anatomy quickly and effectively. Explore all the systems that make up a bird—feathers, skin, musculatory, skeletal, respiratory, digestive, circulatory, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine—then quiz yourself to see how much you’ve learned. Get started by building your own bird now.
Holiday Gifts from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
One of the GBBC's 2015 photo winners, a Red-tailed Hawk by Peter Ferguson/GBBC.

Get Ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count

The 2016 Great Backyard Bird Count is February 12–15. GBBC was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds online and to display results in near real-time. Since it started 18 years ago, more than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life have joined the 4-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the winter distribution and abundance of birds.

In 2015, GBBC participants in more than 100 countries counted 5,090 species of birds on more than 147,000 checklists! See the full 2015 summary.
Take the January eBird Challenge: Submit at least 31 complete checklists in January, and you could win binoculars from our sponsor Zeiss. Details here
Better Birding: This new next-level bird watching guide—written by George Armistead and eBird co-leader Brian Sullivan—provides deep insights into 24 groups of birds ranging from kingbirds to cormorants. Order Better Birding now.
Free Guided Tours of the Cornell Lab: Visiting Ithaca and want a behind-the-scenes tour of the Cornell Lab? 45-minute guided tours are offered every Monday and Friday in January. Find out more or call for details: (607) 254-2473.
eBird App Now on Android: Enter bird sightings into your smartphone from anywhere in the world. Download for free for Android or iOS.
Bird Events, Near and Far. Looking for an opportunity to combine birds and travel? Choose your destination from our Bird Festivals webpage.

Support Birds and Get the New Living Bird

Living Bird, our members-only magazine, debuts a new design this month! As a member, you can read insightful articles about birds from around the world while enjoying stunning photography and our fresh new look.

The Cornell Lab’s monthly donors are a pillar of support for our conservation discoveries. By giving as little as $8 per month, you become a Discovery Partner and help us improve the world's understanding and protection of birds.
Start your monthly gift today and take pride in the important difference your donation makes in sustaining critical scientific studies and conservation efforts.
Stay in Touch on Facebook: Please join our community of 570,000 fans for a daily dose of bird quizzes, gorgeous videos, fascinating articles, and tons of photos.  
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Attention Educators: Check Out These Resources


BirdSleuth's Free Monthly Webinars for Educators: Learn more about teaching through birds and citizen science with four free webinars offered by BirdSleuth.

School Garden Grant Program: With the help of Alaska Fertilizer, BirdSleuth will award 10 grants to U.S. teachers to support STEM learning and healthy living in school gardens and classrooms. Apply by February 15.

Winter Special: Treat yourself or a young naturalist to BirdSleuth's winter special birding kit, which includes game cards, posters, and more. Available for just $9.95 while supplies last.

Spring Field Ornithology

spring field ornithology course now available online
For 40 years, people living around Ithaca, New York, have learned about bird identification and sharpened their field skills with this 8-week course taught by renowned birders and ornithologists.

Now anyone can get in on the learning and the fun, watching lectures and taking bird ID quizzes online. Starts March 24, 2016. Early bird registration (through February 7) comes with free access to the Be a Better Birder tutorials. Cornell Lab members receive a 20% discount. Learn more about the online course. Do you live in Central New York? Find out how to take the course in person, including weekly field trips.

Note: The identification sections of this course focus on birds of northeastern North America.

Thank You for Meeting the Year-End Match!

All of our staff at the Cornell Lab wish to express our gratitude to each one of you who made a year-end gift. You astounded us with your generosity and met our ambitious matching gift challenge to amplify our impact!

Our thank-you video celebrates birds and includes a heartfelt message to you from the Lab's director, John Fitzpatrick. Watch now.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

Copyright © 2016 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All rights reserved.

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