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

Congratulations to all of the recipients of this year's AOS awards! Our annual awards honor members for their research and volunteer work. The work of the 2020 awardees spans a diversity of ornithological disciplines from genetics to landscape ecology in a range of habitats around the world, as well as invaluable service to AOS and ornithology. This year’s slate of awardees represents just a small sample of the broad diversity of our members and the contributions they are making to the scientific study and conservation of birds. Learn more about all of them at the link in our profile! #ornithology #science #biologyThe charismatic Euphonia and Chlorophonia finches are small, colorful birds that inhabit forests and woodlands from Mexico to Brazil as well as much of the Caribbean, and how exactly they fit into the songbird family tree has been debated for 20 years. The researchers behind a paper recently published in The Auk used tissue specimens and study skins from every species in this group to generate 40 *billion* base pairs of sequence data, including nearly 5,000 loci from the nuclear genome and near-complete mitochondrial genomes for every species. This amazing dataset shows has helped resolve their relationships once and for all. It also suggests that this group likely dispersed from South America into the Caribbean and North America multiple times between 2 and 4 million years ago, lending support to a younger geological timeframe for the formation of the Isthmus of Panama than argued by some other recent studies. Photos by Daniel J. Field (University of Cambridge) and Tyler Imfeld. #ornithology #science #birds #wildlife #neotropicalbirds #taxonomy #biology #finchesOne final #NationalVolunteerWeek post! Meet Rebecca Kimball, longtime AOS volunteer and Treasurer of the society since 2015, one of the leaders helping shape AOS's future. We hope you've enjoyed celebrating Volunteer Week with us!Today for #NationalVolunteerWeek we're featuring Brian Peer, who's given his time to chair the AOS Research Awards Committee for the past eight years, leading the group that evaluates applications for Student Research Awards. Thank you, Brian!AOS is celebrating #NationalVolunteerWeek! Today, meet Kyle Horton, who volunteered his time to judge student presentations at last summer's AOS meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.Today for #NationalVolunteerWeek, meet Lori Hargrove! Lori works at the San Diego Natural History Museum and is a regular reviewer for AOS journal The Condor. Scholarly journals can't function without reviewers like Lori, who volunteer their time to read and assess the papers that are submitted.We're celebrating #NationalVolunteerWeek! AOS couldn't function without the many members who volunteer their time to assist with our meetings, publications, awards, and other programs, and we'll be introducing you to one of those volunteers every day this week. Today, meet Juita Martinez, a PhD student who helped staff the registration desk at last year's annual AOS meeting in Anchorage, Alaska!
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