Bird Academy

By Doug Wechsler

Can you picture a crèche of penguins? Though it may sound like an Antarctic nativity scene, the ornithological meaning of the word is quite different. Bird Academy, a new feature from VIREO, the Academy’s worldwide collection of bird photographs, clarifies the meaning of this and many other terms used by ornithologists and birders.

Bird Academy has just opened its virtual doors. Using photographs from some of the world’s best bird photographers, Bird Academy is building a “graphic novel” of ornithology. Bird Academy draws from VIREO’s ever-growing collection of online bird photographs, now numbering 99,763 images of 7,342 species.

Six features populate the initial offerings of Bird Academy:

Yellow-throated longclaw
Yellow-throated longclaw (left) and Eastern Meadowlark, examples of convergent evolution

• Ornithological Glossary is the first well-illustrated online glossary of bird terms.

What Do Birds Eat illustrates some of the usual and unusual diets of birds.

Bird Nests displays the variety of nesting adaptations among birds

Bird Flight explains how birds stay aloft.

Feeder Birds provides detailed information on the birds most likely to visit your feeders.

Bird Philly illustrates birds most commonly seen in Philadelphia

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

According to the U.S. Forest Service, in the U.S. alone 85 million people enjoy observing birds. We intend to provide features of interest to this entire audience of bird lovers from causual feeder watchers to students of ornithology. Every bird enthusiast will want to dig into its Bird Academy’s offerings.

VIREO is looking for user participation and feedback on current and new features for Bird Academy. What would you like to see? Contact us at We are currently working on Bird Topography and Bird Orders.


Wild Turkey
Foot detail of Wild Turkey
Feature detail of Nicobar Pigeon
Feather detail of Nicobar Pigeon







Doug Wechsler is director of VIREO and an ornithologist, photographer, and children’s book author.

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