About the AOU
Founded in 1883, the American Ornithologists' Union is one of the oldest organizations in the world devoted to the scientific study of birds. Over its history, AOU and its members have created the scientific foundation for ornithology and bird conservation that we enjoy today. The AOU is the largest and most diverse ornithological society in the New World. Although primarily an organization for professional ornithologists, it welcomes to its ranks many students, conservationists, birders and others who cherish the birds of the world.
Its publications are the heart and soul of the AOU. Its quarterly journal, The Auk, has the third-highest scientific impact ranking among ornithological journals worldwide. Its journal for longer papers, Ornithological Monographs, features more than 70 titles. The AOU Check-list of North American Birds has long been the accepted authority for English bird names and scientific nomenclature. A similar list has been developed for South America. AOU also publishes periodic white papers of importance to conservation, scientific collections, and other issues. In partnership with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, the AOU sponsors The Birds of North America Online. In partnership with the Nuttall Ornithological Club, it sponsors a book series in ornithology. The AOU's publications are actively overseen by a committee of scientists, which ensures scientific integrity, professional management, and fiscal health.
The annual meetings of the AOU are exciting, and often transforming, events. They are well attended and appreciated for their role in moving the discipline of ornithology forward. Many opportunities are provided for professional and social interactions. Students are especially welcomed at meetings and are encouraged with membership grants, meeting travel grants, presentation awards, and special events and communication opportunities. Special networking opportunities are also provided for new professionals, those just starting their careers. Periodically the AOU meets with other North American ornithological societies, fostering international exchange of ideas.
The AOU takes its role as steward of North American ornithology seriously. It provides grants for research and recognizes benchmark research through four prestigious scientific awards. It recognizes individual progress in ornithological careers through peer selection of Elective Members and Fellows, and honors outstanding ornithologists outside North America through election of Honorary Fellows. It provides core support for society partnerships for such tasks as membership list management, newsletters, and public affairs.
Throughout its history, the AOU has served ornithology well. But as the world of professional societies is becoming increasingly complex and in some ways more tenuous, the AOU is evolving to meet tomorrow's demands. Its officers, committee members, and Council are confronting the challenges of a changing economic climate, shifting membership demographics, and electronic publishing. The Officers and Council welcome your input and suggestions. Much of the work of the AOU is done by volunteers serving on committees. AOU welcomes hearing from those interested in serving. You can find explanations of the various committees and contact information on this website. The website also provides information on awards, research grants, upcoming meetings, student activities, young professional contacts, and much much more.