We know you love your feeder birds and look forward to attracting those surprise visitors. We also know that some backyard species are hard to tell apart at first glance. But learning who’s who is a real confidence boost and marks the first step toward uncovering the fascinating dramas that unfold at your feeders. 

That’s why we developed this course. 

Get More Out of Your Bird-Feeding Experience

See your backyard birds in a whole new light with help from the Cornell Lab.

  • Get to know 60+ feeder birds
  • Confidently identify easily confused species
  • Learn what each species eats and why
  • Understand feeder bird body language

SnapID Tool

Bird Academy has developed a unique approach to learning bird identification. The SnapID tool helps you practice identifying birds in all different postures and lighting conditions and builds your confidence through winning streaks.

 What’s Inside

Becoming good at ID, getting a handle on what each bird eats and why, and learning to recognize bird body language will enrich your bird-feeding experience. With this course, prepare to greet your feeder birds by name and get the tools you need to unlock the secrets of their social behavior.

Lesson 1: Get to Know Your Feeder Birds

Start with a friendly introduction to 62 feeder-bird species. Learn the keys to identification, what each bird eats, and their stand-out behaviors.

Lesson 2: Practice Feeder Bird Identification

Unsure about the difference between House Finches and Purple Finches? Have trouble distinguishing among the sparrows? We’ve all been there. Practice those tricky IDs with more than 25 SnapID challenges that draw from a bank of more than 700 photos. Re-play each as many times as you like!

Lesson 3: Learn Who Eats What (and Why!)

Want to attract new birds to your feeders? Learn about what each bird eats and how the way they feed in the wild influences what they do at the feeder.

Lesson 4: Understand Feeder Bird Body Language

Delve into our exclusive guide to recognizing bird body language, starting with brand-new scientific illustrations developed for this course and reinforced with video examples.

Lesson 5: Uncover Feeder Bird Social Behavior

Get up-close and personal with feeder birds through videos that will help you make sense of the social dynamics that drive bird behavior at feeders.

Lesson 6: Get the Most From Your Bird Feeding

Maximize your bird-feeding enjoyment with these additional tips, tricks, and resources. Learn how to take advantage of your free FeederWatch membership.

Course Format

The course is entirely online and self-paced so you can take it at your own speed and come back to it as often as you wish. Custom practice tools, instructional videos, and quizzes help you gain skills and understanding. All the material is available through your web browser, no downloads required and nothing is shipped. For your convenience, the course is designed to work on all modern web browsers and devices. Access does not expire.

Photo: Emily Tornga

Included for Free: Feeder Bird Poster and FeederWatch Membership for 2018-19

two sided poster with eastern and western feeder bird illustrations on either side

Free with the course: Double-sided 14in. x 22in. feeder-bird poster.

Included with this course is a one-year membership to the Cornell Lab’s Project FeederWatch, an $18 value. The course is great preparation for participating in this popular citizen science project that helps you track activity at your feeder and contribute to science. FeederWatch season starts each November and runs through early April.

A full-color poster, shipped to you as a bonus, includes custom illustrations of common feeder birds and makes a great reference tool as you practice confident IDs.

Poster and FeederWatch offer only available for U.S. customers. Instructions for getting started with FeederWatch will come in the mail prior to the commencement of the 2018-19 FeaderWatch season. If you are already signed up for FeederWatch next year we’ll extend your membership one additional year. Posters will be shipped only to new participants of FeederWatch. Current or renewing participants will receive materials consistent with their previous kit-type preferences.

What Bird Academy Students Have to Say

  • 99% will use their new skills in the near future
  • 99% would recommend their course to friends

Get more out of your bird feeding experience!

Only $59.99
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Satisfaction Guarantee

Our educators and birding experts take pride in the courses they create. If you're not satisfied with the material for ANY reason, contact us within 30 days of the start of the course or purchase for a full refund.

Meet the Course Authors

Dr. Sarah Wagner

Sarah Wagner is a course developer for the Cornell Lab’s Bird Academy. An accomplished field researcher specializing in the feeding biology of birds, Sarah has studied birds in many far-flung places. It all started with watching the feeders at her childhood home in Kentucky. She is co-author of the Cornell Lab’s university-level online Ornithology course and a public educator in the Lab’s visitor center.

Mya Thompson

Dr. Mya Thompson

Mya Thompson is the project leader for the Cornell Lab’s Bird Academy where she specializes in creating innovative eLearning tools. Her past research on infrasonic elephant communication inspires her to help people uncover the many surprises that animals have to offer—from the behavior of the largest mammals to that of the smallest birds.

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People appearing in welcome video in order of appearance:

Erin Pierce, Cornell Lab Membership
Gustave Axelson, Editor of Living Bird magazine
Jeff Szuc, Cornell Lab Education
Taylor Long, Cornell Lab Information Science
Vida Maralani, Cornell Professor of Sociology
Jane George, FeederWatch Participant
Chloe, Bird Lover

Bird footage courtesy Macaulay Library.
#480191, #447473, #475332, #475336

Course team:

Authors: Sarah Wagner, Mya Thompson
Instructional Design: Mya Thompson
Web Design: Jeff Szuc
Web Programming: Noah Warnke
Media and quiz development: Shayna Muller, Lee Ann van Leer
Illustration: Pedro Fernandes, Jillian Ditner, Justine Lee Hirten
Guest Scientists: Emma Greig, Eliot Miller
Scientific Review: Kevin McGowan
Media Management: Matthew Young
Media Assistants: Serena Stern, Helen Tosteson
Video Production: Shayna Muller, Karen Rodriguez, Mya Thompson
Videography and Editing: Karen Rodriguez, Shayna Muller
Advisor: Alex Chang