The AOU makes four annual awards recognizing outstanding contributions to ornithological science and one annual award recognizing outstanding service to the AOU.
The William Brewster Memorial Award
This award is given annually to the author or co-authors (not previously so honored) of an exceptional body of work on birds of the Western Hemisphere. The award consists of a medal and an honorarium provided through the endowed William Brewster Memorial Fund of the American Ornithologists' Union. The award is in honor of William Brewster, one of the founding members of the AOU.
The Elliott Coues Award
This award recognizes outstanding and innovative contributions to ornithological research. The award consists of a medal and an honorarium. The award is named in honor of Elliott Coues, a pioneering ornithologist of the western United States and a founding member of the AOU.
The Ned K. Johnson Young Investigator Award
This award recognizes work by an ornithologist early in his/her career who shows distinct promise for future leadership in the profession. The award consists of a framed certificate and an honorarium provided through a gift to the endowment of the American Ornithologists' Union honoring Ned K. Johnson, a lifelong supporter and former President (1996-1998) of the AOU.
The Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award
This award, consisting of a framed certificate and honorarium, honors extraordinary scientific contributions to the conservation, restoration, or preservation of birds and/or their habitats by an individual or small team. Schreiber was a prominent figure in the AOU, known for his enthusiasm, energy and dedication to research and conservation, particularly of seabirds.
The Marion Jenkinson AOU Service Award
This award is given to an individual who has performed continued extensive service to the AOU, including holding elected offices but emphasizing volunteered contributions and committee participation. Recipients are selected by the AOU Executive Committee. The award consists of a framed certificate and honors Marion Jenkinson Mengel, who served the AOU as Treasurer and in other capacities for many years.