Spring Field Ornithology—Northeast
Learn bird identification and sharpen your field skills with help from an exciting group of world-renowned birders. You’ll build your confidence in identifying the birds around you and deepen your understanding of bird biology with video instruction and custom bird ID quizzes.
Whether it’s spring or you’re looking ahead, this course is designed to get you ready to enjoy new bird-watching experiences.
Build Your Bird Watching Skills
Organized according to the waves of migration that wow us each spring, you’ll be more than ready to greet the birds in your neighborhood by name.
- Get to know your local birds and know when to look for them each spring.
- Gain confidence in bird ID by learning key field marks and habitat choices.
- Understand bird behavior, including song, migration, nesting, and more.
Spring Field Ornithology builds on a more than 40 year tradition at the Cornell Lab of offering spring training to help you tune in to birds. This offers 16 pre-recorded lectures covering bird ID, biology, and conservation, 7 bird identification quizzes, and links to help you learn more on each topic. The birds featured frequent the eastern U.S. and Canada (east of Oklahoma up to Saskatchewan) and extend as far south as Florida.
Try a Sample Quiz
Explore questions from Spring Field Ornithology's Bird ID Quizzes.Try Out the Quiz
Meet the Course Instructor
Dr. Stephen W. Kress is Vice President for Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society and Director of the Society’s Maine Coast Seabird Sanctuaries. He is also the author of many popular birding books, including The Audubon Guide to Attracting Birds, The National Audubon Society’s Birder’s Handbook, Project Puffin: How We Brought Puffins Back to Egg Rock.
Week 1: Winter Residents
Build your strategies for bird watching and identification and meet the Northeast’s most notable winter residents.
Week 1: Seabird Restoration
Conservation success stories presented by one of the world’s foremost seabird restoration experts—your instructor, Dr. Steve Kress.
Week 2: Waterfowl ID
Learn the common duck species as well as a variety of other waterfowl you can expect to encounter in the Northeast.
Week 2: eBird 101
Explore how the practice of eBirding can help you with your birding and transform our collective understanding of bird movements—from guest eBirder Ian Davies.
Week 3: Hawk and Owl ID
Learn about the fascinating hawks and owls you can expect to see in the Northeast.
Week 3: Bird Migration
Get familiar with the migratory patterns of birds and the science behind how they are able to navigate continents and oceans.
Week 4: Shorebird ID
Get to know the shorebirds you can expect to find in the Northeast region—from guest ornithologist Dr. Kevin McGowan.
Week 4: Bird Song and Courtship
Learn how birds use song and other courtship displays to woo mates, defend territory, and impress human listeners.
Week 5: Early Bird Land Migrant ID
Get familiar which early migrants come through the Northeast each spring and what draws them on their migratory journeys.
Week 5: Eggs and Nests
Explore the fascinating biology of eggs and nests—from guest lecturer Robyn Bailey the project leader for NestWatch.
Week 6: Late Landbird Migrant ID
Meet the late landbird migrants that you can expect to see in the Northeast— from guest ornithologist Dr. Ken Rosenberg.
Week 6: Virtual Visit to the Museum of Vertebrates
Tour the bird collections in the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates with guest ornithologist Dr. Kevin McGowan.
Week 7: Warbler and Vireo ID
Jump-start your warbler and vireo identification skills so you can better enjoy these small gems.
Week 7: Neotropical Songbird Conservation
Learn how we can protect neotropical songbirds—from guest ornithologist Dr. Ken Rosenberg.
Week 8: How Birds Can Save the World
Join Dr. John Fitzpatrick, Director of the Cornell Lab as he explores his vision for how birds can save the world.
Week 8: Gardening for Birds
Get familiar with techniques and strategies for attracting birds to your yard.
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.
Hear What Students Have to Say
I enjoyed and learned from everything! I especially liked the practical knowledge—photos, descriptions. I liked the ID clues that birders actually use—those are helpful and fun! I enjoyed every lecture." Bird Academy Student
The whole course was interesting and useful, but the bird ID tips were especially so (shorebirds are difficult!). I also especially appreciated the tips about how the individual birder can make a difference and contribute in a meaningful way to the understanding and conservation of birds, on both a local and international level. " Bird Academy Student
The overview of eBird and the global impact of birds for the health of the planet was most powerful. " Bird Academy Student
Course Instructor: Stephen Kress
Guest Instructors: Kevin McGowan, Ian Davies, Robin Bailey, Ken Rosenberg, John Fitzpatrick
Course Developer: Marc Devokaitis
Instructional Designer: Mya Thompson
Web Designer: Jeff Szuc
Web Programmer: Noah Warnke
Audio Engineer: Matt Young