Note: This page is about the history of AOS. For resources about the history of ornithology in general, visit the History Committee page.

The American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) was founded in 1883 by William Brewster, Elliott Coues, and Joel Allen out of concern for bird conservation and interest in developing the field of ornithology in North America. Early AOU efforts led to formation of the National Audubon Society and the Biological Survey (now known as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Before merging with the Cooper Ornithological Society to form the American Ornithological Society in 2016 (see below), the AOU was the largest ornithological society in the Western Hemisphere and one of the oldest organizations in the world devoted to the scientific study and conservation of birds. The AOU archives are housed at the Smithsonian Institution, and a history of the society’s first century was published in 2016.

The Cooper Ornithological Society (COS) commemorated an early western naturalist, Dr. James G. Cooper, and grew from a small band of naturalists in 1893 to an internationally recognized scientific society. The COS was committed to advancing the conservation and management of bird species by applying high-quality science, grounded in natural history, to our understanding of avian biology. The COS archives are housed at several institutions:

Effective 11 October 2016, these two societies merged to form the American Ornithological Society, now the world’s largest professional organization for ornithologists. Join us today!

    From the field

    Another way I participate in outreach is writing newspaper articles to promote public awareness on biodiversity conservation and environmental sustainability. I was excited to receive the 2019 Eco-Challenge Award for this work! Thank you for following along this week with my takeover of the AOS Instagram account.  #ornithology #science #conservation #womeninstem #latinainstem #stemeducation #scicomm
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[Thanks, Adrianne! If YOU are an AOS member and would like to be featured here for a week, please get in touch.]I collaborate with the Puerto Rican Ornithological Society (SOPI in Spanish) on their education projects, such as giving talks at bird festivals and organizing bird identification workshops. SOPI members will be organizing birding tours for participants of #NAOC2020 in San Juan this summer! #birds #ornithology #science #conservation #womeninstem #latinainstem #stemeducation  #puertorico
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[Our thanks to AOS member Adrianne Tossas, a Puerto Rican ornithologist helping plan this summer's #NAOC2020, who's taking over this account for the week!]With support of BirdsCaribbean and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I published a bird book for children. I really enjoy giving presentations to students in schools, clubs, and camps. It is a great experience to share the knowledge with young audiences! #birds #ornithology #science #conservation #womeninstem #latinainstem #caribbean
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[Our thanks to AOS member Adrianne Tossas, a Puerto Rican ornithologist helping plan this summer's #NAOC2020, who's taking over this account for the week!]Last year we celebrated the biannual conference of BirdsCaribbean in the French island of Guadeloupe. Delegates from 34 countries participated in a week of presentations, birding, and networking. These meetings are always a lot of fun! #ornithology #science #conservation #womeninstem #latinainstem #caribbean
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[Our thanks to AOS member Adrianne Tossas, a Puerto Rican ornithologist helping plan this summer's #NAOC2020, who's taking over this account for the week!]I have been a member of BirdsCaribbean since 1999, when I was a graduate student. As part of this society I have had a chance to meet and work with colleagues from different countries throughout the region. Here I am having good times with Caribbean friends in Cuba in 2017! #ornithology #science #conservation #womeninstem #latinainstem #caribbean
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[Our thanks to AOS member Adrianne Tossas, a Puerto Rican ornithologist helping plan this summer's #NAOC2020, who's taking over this account for the week!]In 2017, my students and I initiated waterbird surveys in a small lagoon that lies within a Puerto Rican dairy farm. Interestingly, we have found 33 species, including migratory ducks, shorebirds and a single individual of Caribbean Flamingo. The birds are used to cows getting in the water to freshen up!  #birds #wildlife #ornithology #science #conservation #womeninstem #latinainstem #puertorico
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[Our thanks to AOS member Adrianne Tossas, a Puerto Rican ornithologist helping plan this summer's #NAOC2020, who's taking over this account for the week!]My undergraduate research group monitors seabirds in the northwestern part of the island. We focus on the White-tailed Tropicbird, which can only be seen near land when individuals come to nest in cliffs from January to June. This part of the island was designated as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. The natural beauty of the site is impressive! Video by Raymond Infante. #birds #wildlife #ornithology #science #conservation #womeninstem #latinainstem #puertorico
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[Our thanks to AOS member Adrianne Tossas, a Puerto Rican ornithologist helping plan this summer's #NAOC2020, who's taking over this account for the week!]
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