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

    I also use small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS, aka drones) in my work in conservation as well as in work for the electric industry unrelated to conservation. Drones can cause much less disturbance than traditional methods when checking the nests of raptors. Drones can also be used to install line markers to reduce avian collisions, to inspect nests for entanglement hazards, or to quantify wildlife. I even get to fly drones in high voltage environments where a person would be killed if they entered! It's been fun taking over the AOS Instagram account this week — if you have questions about my work, you can reach me at jdwyer@edmlink.com! #birds #ornithology #science #conservation #wildlife #drones #powerlines
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A big thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer for his posts this week! If you're an AOS member and would like to be featured here, please send us a message.The Avian Collision Avoidance System (ACAS), which I posted about earlier this week, is just one way of addressing avian collisions with power lines. Other methods involve “line marking,” which uses attachments on wires to increase line visibility. Unfortunately, these methods are not as reliable as we would like. In the attached photos, a Green-winged Teal in Colorado, a sparrow in Colorado, a sparrow in Wyoming, a warbler in California, and a Ring-billed Gull in California illustrate the range of species and habitats where collisions occur. #ornithology #birds #science #wildlife #conservation #powerlines
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]Avian electrocutions can be prevented. Electrocutions can cause power outages, damage expensive equipment, start wildfires, and violate state and federal conservation laws. I tend to emphasize the first three concerns when working with utilities because unplanned outages, equipment replacement, and wildfire controls or restitution can be used in sound business cases for investing in avian electrocution mitigation regardless of the political climate. In the attached photos, an electrocuted Black-billed Magpie in Idaho (burned feet), Common Raven in California (burned beak), Bald Eagle in Colorado (burned neck and back), and Great Horned Owl in Arizona (burned wing) illustrate the range of species and habitats where electrocutions occur. All photos by me. #ornithology #birds #conservation #science #wildlife
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]I’ve had great opportunities to work in avian conservation internationally in Africa, Canada, the Dominican Republic, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Hungary, and Spain. In these photos, a Griffon Vulture in South Africa feeds in front of a power line (out of image frame) where numerous vultures have been electrocuted, a Ridgeway’s Hawk in the Dominican Republic jumps through the air gap around a power line to land on a conductor cover installed to prevent avian electrocutions, and an electrocuted Common Buzzard and Griffon Vulture can be seen on pylons. All photos by me. #ornithology #birds #science #conservation #wildlife #raptors #birdsofprey #powerlines
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]In addition to my research, I give back by contributing to the leadership of the Raptor Research Foundation. I am the current Chair of the Conservation Committee, the former (and founding) Chair of the Code of Conduct Committee, a former Chair (and current member) of the Scientific Committee, and a former Board Member. I’m also an Associate Editor for the Journal of Raptor Research (JRR), and right now I’m working on a special issue of JRR focused on raptors’ interactions with power lines. Here are some photos of my experiences handling and banding raptors, by Angela Dwyer, Melissa Landon, and myself. #ornithology #science #birds #conservation #wildlife #raptors #birdsofprey
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]In addition to having a peer-reviewed scientific article on the Avian Collision Avoidance System published in The Condor (see my last post!), I was lucky enough to publish an article about it in an electric industry trade magazine. Though not always emphasized in academia, encouraging communications with industry can have important conservation implications! #ornithology #birds #science #wildlife #conservation #scicomm #sandhillcrane #powerlines
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]I was part of the team that developed the Avian Collision Avoidance System (ACAS), described in a recent publication in The Condor. This system shines UV lights on power lines to make them more visible to Sandhill Cranes, and tests showed that it reduces crane collisions with power lines by 98%. The video clip included in this post shows what can happen when cranes encounter power lines WITHOUT a system like ACAS in place. Photos by me, video by Laura McHale. #ornithology #birds #science #sandhillcrane #wildlife #conservation #powerlines
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]
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