What is Ornithology?

by OBDK on March 07, 2022

Have you ever wondered what the job of an ornithologist is like? 


Ornithologists are those who work with and study birds. They may study them in the wild or a laboratory environment.1 Areas of study include physiology, behavior, population, and their place in their habitats.2


What Do Ornithologists Do? 

There are many facets to what an ornithologist may do. They may study endangered species and work in conservation, they may work in zoos, they may collect data and analyze it, or they may work with government agencies in order to make the best decisions for the environment. There are many more responsibilities, but those are a few examples.2 


A great example of a job an ornithologist might do is study birds in an area that has been proposed to be open to development. Ornithologists will go in and study the birds there and collect data on how they might be impacted if the area is open to human development. They play a critical role in figuring out how human actions might affect the birds in their habitats.2


To become an ornithologist, education is very important, with most jobs preferring a candidate have a master’s degree. But education isn’t the only thing – experience within a lab or out in the field is also essential. Fieldwork usually means that ornithologists are monitoring birds in a specific area to collect data on what goes on in that habitat, including how many birds there are in that environment and how they behave within it. Lab work might include genetic mapping or analyzing things found out in the field to have a better understanding of their findings.1


Why Are Birds Important to Study? 

Birds are important to study because they move around a lot. So studying them doesn’t just have local impacts, but international ones as well.2 Some of the biggest extinctions in the last few centuries have been birds. As our planet faces difficulties from climate change, it’s even more important to understand how birds will be affected.3


They tend to be the first animal to react to changes in their environments. So seeing how they behave and where they travel to can give insight into the biodiversity of a habitat, how changes are affecting the ecosystem, and more.3



Love learning about birds? Check out more of our resources on our blog! 


  1. https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2013/summer/yawhat.pdf
  2. https://eco.ca/career-profiles/ornithologist/
  3. https://www.environmentalscience.org/ornithology

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