Have the world of birds at your fingertips

The Handbook of Bird Biology is an essential reference for birdwatchers, college students, and educators. Since its first publication by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in 1972, tens of thousands of students and bird enthusiasts have transformed their understanding of the avian world using this comprehensive text. The fully revised 3rd edition provides expanded and updated coverage written by world-renowned ornithologists from Cornell and beyond. Now with full color illustrations and a companion media library.

What’s inside the book

  1. Why Study Birds?
  2. Avian Diversity and Classification
  3. How Birds Evolve
  4. Feathers and Plumages
  5. Avian Flight
  6. Avian Anatomy
  7. Bird Physiology
  8. Avian Food and Foraging
  9. Avian Mating and Social Behavior
  10. Avian Vocal Behavior
  11. Breeding Biology of Birds
  12. Avian Migration and Dispersal
  13. Ecology of Bird Populations
  14. Bird Communities
  15. Bird Conservation

Companion media library

In addition to the full color illustrations in the book, each chapter has been supplemented with complimentary online material to help you learn more. Rich multimedia content illustrates and expands on content from the book. All organized in a chapter-by-chapter online library.

Companion media library >

Chapter 9
Black Grouse males square off in a territorial battle at their lekking site.
Mike Lane

Chapter 8
The Royal Flycatcher’s facial bristles likely help detect prey during aerobatic foraging.
Andrew Snyder

Chapter 13
Endangered and taxonomically distinct, the Kagu is a conservation priority.
Tony Palliser

Chapter 9
The remarkable diversity among avian mating systems.
Andrew Leach

Chapter 5
Warblers use a bounding flight style that is only efficient for small birds.
Samuel Galick

Chapter 4
Blue feathers result from the structure of keratin proteins, rather than from pigments.
Andrew Leach

Chapter 2
Bird specimens provide valuable data for researchers interested in taxonomy.
Jennifer Campbell-Smith

Chapter 4
The velcro-like microstructure of some feathers makes them waterproof.
Chris Hall

You can learn even more with the comprehensive Ornithology course

Study birds with the comprehensive ornithology course from the Cornell Lab using the Handbook of Bird Biology, 3rd. Edition as your guide. Read each chapter in the Handbook, explore in more depth using the online materials embedded in this course, then take the exams to earn your badge and certificate.

Learn more >

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Cover of the Handbook of Bird Biology

Now available

Order your copy of the much anticipated Handbook of Bird Biology today. You can also combine your book purchase with the comprehensive Ornithology course to get the most out of this exciting new text.

Buy Now

Textbook pricing $121.50 members, $135 non-members

Here’s what the experts think

Read the complete reviews

I can’t imagine a better textbook, or a general reference for aspiring or established ornithologists and naturalists.Craig W. Benkman, Robert B. Berry Distinguished Chair in Ecology, University of Wyoming

…this book is full memorable and well explained information and of course, beautiful depictions of birds of all feathers.Mark E. Hauber, Editor of The Auk and Interim University Vice Provost for Research, City University of New York

…a stimulating read and a wonderful reference volume for anyone curious about birds from any level of expertise.Peter Marra, Director, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

…anyone wanting a single resource to organize their learning of conceptual principles of modern biology could do no better than this book, Darren E. Irwin, Professor of Zoology and Curator of Birds at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, University of British Columbia

…a remarkable achievement – it is a must have for every professional and amateur ornithologist or other ‘student’ interested in birds and natural systems.Bette Loiselle, Director, Tropical Conservation and Development Program & Professor, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida

It is extremely well written and beautifully designed, making it a pleasure to read. …both user-friendly and of the highest academic quality.Arnon Lotem, Professor, Department of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University

The book will serve equally well as an introduction to bird biology for the interested layperson or as a text for a university course in ornithology. A truly remarkable and comprehensive book, it will also provide a useful reference and refresher for the professional ornithologist.Richard T. Holmes, Harris Professor of Environmental Biology Emeritus, Dartmouth College

Whether you are simply fascinated by how birds have become adapted to nearly every corner of our planet –including the mastery of flight – or have a deep academic interest in this group of animals, The Handbook of Bird Biology is an unrivaled resource.Rebecca Safran, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder

…I recommend the Handbook of Bird Biology with much enthusiasm to everyone interested in learning about birds and submerging into their fascinating biology.Pablo Luis Tubaro, Curator of Ornithology and Director, Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales

Created by a team of renowned ornithologists and educators


Authors and Contributors (alphabetical)

Regan Elizabeth Adkins

Elizabeth Adkins-Regan

Author, Cornell University

Alcock__John3

John Alcock

Author, Arizona State University

Kimberly Bostwick

Kimberly Bostwick

Author, Cornell University

Myrah Bridwell

Myrah Bridwell

Permissions Editor, Cornell University

Becca Brunner

Rebecca Brunner

Developmental Editor, Cornell University

Bruce Byers

Bruce Byers

Author, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Alexandra Class-Freeman

Art Program Editor, Cornell University

Howard Evans

Howard Evans

Author, Cornell University

John Fitzpatrick

John Fitzpatrick

Editor and Author, Cornell University

Russell Greenberg

Russell Greenberg

Author, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig

Author, Cornell University

Donald Kroodsma

Donald Kroodsma

Author, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Irby Lovette

Irby Lovette

Managing Editor and Author, Cornell University

Scott McWilliams

Scott McWilliams

Author, University of Rhode Island

Theunis Piersma

Theunis Piersma

Author, University of Groningen

Tom Sherry

Tom Sherry

Author, Tulane University

Mya Thompson

Mya Thompson

Online Content Director, Cornell University

Bret Tobalske

Bret Tobalske

Author, University of Montana

Carol Vleck

Carol Vleck

Author, Iowa State University

David Winkler

David Winkler

Author, Cornell University

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