December 1st, 2020 - February 28th, 2021

It's Ornithology season!


Ornithology is the study of birds. Birds are covered with feathers, warm-blooded and lay hard-shelled eggs. There are around 10,000 species of birds worldwide. Birds are a group that many scientists consider a sub-group of reptiles. Many North Carolina birds migrate to warmer, southern climates in the winter. The state bird of North Carolina is the Northern cardinal.

Ornithology Fun Fact

Birds’ sizes can vary greatly. The enormous California condor has a wingspan of 9 ½ feet while the bee hummingbird measures less than 3”.

More Ornithology Tips

Ornithology Challenge

To earn your Ornithology Field Badge all ecoEXPLORERS must complete the Core Ornithology Challenge and pick 3 out of the 4 challenges listed below. Click here for a printable step by step guide to help you earn your Ornithology Badge.

The deadline for earning your Ornithology Field Badge is Friday March 5th.


Core Ornithology Challenge

  • Find and take 6 photos of birds
  • Upload each photo onto your ecoEXPLORE dashboard
  • You may only repeat species one time. For example, you may only submit two photos of a chickadee



Challenge One

  • Watch our introduction to birds video here. Find out what makes a bird a bird and hear from our Ornithology Science Mentor, Andrew Laughlin, as he shares his personal journey to becoming an ornithologist.
  • Complete the Anyone Can be an Ornithologist challenge. Take a photo of your completed activity and upload it onto you ecoEXPLORE dashboard with the title "Ornithology Challenge One."


Challenge Two

  • Complete the Build a Bird challenge. Take a photo of your completed activity and upload it onto you ecoEXPLORE dashboard with the title "Ornithology Challenge Two."


More challenges to come!

Andrew Laughlin, University of North Carolina, Asheville Ornithology Science Mentor

Andrew Laughlin is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies department at University of North Carolina Asheville, where he teaches Ecology & Field Biology, Avian Ecology & Conservation, Wildlife Ecology & Management, Urban Ecology, and other courses. He is most interested in how animals, especially birds, respond to environmental change. He and his students began a re-survey of the bird communities of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to document how birds are responding to hemlock removal and climate change. He received a Ph.D. from Tulane University in New Orleans where he studied Tree Swallow migration and winter roosting ecology.