In this issue: Return of the Snowy Owls, Duck Courtship Begins—Plus a New Bird Cam!

Cornell Lab eNews

January 2015

Eastern Bluebirds by Jeanne Creech
This winter Snowy Owl reports are lighting up eBird maps for the Northeast and Great Lakes. Photo by B.N. Singh.

A Snowy Owl Sequel?

They're baaacck...reports of Snowy Owls are lighting up the eBird maps across the northern United States again this winter. Is this another irruption, or an echo flight? Read the latest with analysis from an eBird project leader at our All About Birds blog.

Sign up for Snowy Alerts: With another influx of owls, eBird is again offering a Snowy Owl Alert service that emails you whenever a new snowy is seen.
Osprey M8, or Emmett, photographed by Sally Mitchell in Rockport, Texas
The Common Goldeneye's Head-Throw-Kick is just one of the incredible displays featured in this compilation of waterfowl courtship behavior from the Macaulay Library's video archives.

So You Think You Can Dance: Waterfowl Edition

Even in the dead of winter, ducks provide us with some of the first signs of spring as they begin picking mates for the upcoming breeding season. The Macaulay Library dug into the video archives to put together this mash-up of interesting duck courtship behaviors, many of which are happening right now on ponds and lakes.

Got Mallards near you?: If so, take a look at this blog post that includes a guide to commonly seen mallard courtship behaviors.

Learn more in a webinar: Choose from our selection of archived webinars—presented by the Cornell Lab's Dr. Kevin McGowan—to build your birding skills in waterfowl identification and understanding bird behavior.
It's a reddish-looking hawk, but is it a Red-tailed Hawk? Photo by Corey Hayes via Birdshare.

Which Species Is This?

Is that a Red-tailed Hawk, or something else? Every winter there's an influx of these reddish hawks in the Southeast. Right now they're being seen in just about every state east of the Mississippi River and all along the West Coast.

While they sport brownish-red plumage on their chest and back, they're smaller than a redtail (slight enough to perch on an electrical wire) and they stick close to the woods. Find out who this red hawk is and learn more about identifying raptors in winter.
Holiday gift ideas from the Cornell Lab

Introducing a New Owl Cam

Our newest Cornell Lab Bird Cam just went live—Great Horned Owls from Savannah, Georgia (thanks to our partners at Skidaway Audubon).

This cam was initially planned to broadcast from an established Bald Eagle nest nearly 80 feet above the coastal Georgia salt marshes. But last month a pair of Great Horned Owls moved into the nest instead. So, we'll go with the owls.

Right now the female is incubating two eggs, which should hatch around the end of January. Don't miss your chance to get to know these secretive denizens of the darkness as they raise owlets in the coming weeks.
Be a Better Birder: The Cornell Lab’s Be a Better Birder online tutorials are full of expert tips and interactive quizzes. Within a few hours you’ll gain an insider’s understanding of the key skills that birders use to make quick IDs in the field.

Start with Be A Better Birder 1: Size and Shape then move on to Be a Better Birder 2: Color and Pattern—a great way to check off one of your New Year’s resolutions. 

Try a free sample activity or enroll and get more info—discounts for Cornell Lab members apply.

Share Your Birds with Science

Seeing birds at your feeders this winter? Share them with science! Project FeederWatch is a citizen-science project that tracks bird population trends across North America. Participation is easy—once a week, just submit a tally of the birds seen at your feeder.

Special deal: If you’re not a FeederWatcher yet, sign up now and you’ll get the rest of this 2015 FeederWatch season PLUS all of next season for only one season’s fee. Participants get a bird feeding handbook and an ID poster of feeder birds. Special offer ends Feb. 28.
Thanks for a Fantastic 2014!: Thanks to everybody who helped us close out 2014 with our most successful year-end fundraiser ever. You helped us exceed our $500,000 matching gift challenge, prompting our two matching gift donors to increase their investment to $700,000! Thank you!
Target your most-wanted birds: On our AllAboutBirds blog, read how the new eBird Targets app can help you find the most wanted birds on your lists.

Of White-crowneds and Whiter-crowneds: The Project FeederWatch blog explains why the toughest White-crowned Sparrows have whiter crowns.

Take a Road Trip: Our Upcoming Bird Festivals and Events webpage makes it easy to plan your next birding destination. You can look through listings by calendar or on a map, so you can start planning your road trip right from the page.


Including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in your will creates a lasting legacy for birds. A bequest allows you to maximize use of your funds today while providing for the Cornell Lab tomorrow. Request your free booklet (pictured above) to Discover how you could benefit by leaving a legacy at the Cornell Lab.
In this booklet, you'll learn how to:
  • Fulfill your philanthropic goals.
  • Reduce your income tax through a charitable deduction.
  • Avoid capital-gain tax on a gift of long-term appreciated property.
  • Increase your spendable income.
  • Reduce costs and time in estate settlement.
For more information, request the brochure or email Scott Sutcliffe at

Free Digital Issue—Centennial Edition of
Living Bird

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we're offering a free digital issue of the special centennial edition of our award-winning Living Bird magazine.

Learn the story behind the Cornell Lab's founding by Dr. Arthur Allen—and how Sapsucker Woods got its name. Take a look at some of our greatest hits in bird conservation from the past century. Read about the citizen-science revolution that started at the Cornell Lab, and the revolution happening right now with big-data powered bird conservation.

Read your free digital issue of the Winter 2015 Living Bird today.

It's almost Great Backyard Bird Count time again: During Feb. 13-16 more than 100,000 people will join in on the world's biggest bird count.

See last year's photo contest winners:
  Surf through hundreds of photos from last year's count, which tallied up more than 33 million birds around the world!

Don't forget to register for this year's GBBC: Registration for new counters is free and open online right now. Sign up today at

Attention Educators: Free Webinars for Getting Kids into the GBBC

This year the Cornell Lab is offering free live webinars for teachers and all educators on engaging students and teaching science using birds and the Great Backyard Bird Count. Learn more about the free GBBC educator webinars on Jan. 27 and Feb. 4.

Winter Specials: BirdSleuth kits will help you engage students. We're now offering special prices and bonuses to make it easier for budget-conscious educators, from teachers to homeschoolers!

Birdy Books and Activities for Kids: Educators love our growing list of books and related activities. We have ideas for you!

Join us at the Garden Show in Seattle

Join Cornell Lab staff at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle February 11 through 15. We are being hosted by Subaru and will be handing out information on bird-friendly habitat, vocal behavior, and birdhouses, among other things, at the Subaru booth. Come see us, say hi, learn more about upcoming Cornell Lab programs, and we'll give you a special gift for dropping by the booth.

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

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