International Collegiate Ornithological Network

By Team eBird August 23, 2015

Thick-billed Weaver, ©Bradford Bower

Across the world, the ranks of birders are in constant flux, with new people picking up birds as a hobby—sometimes evolving that hobby into a defining passion—while at the same time there are people moving out of birding to other non-avian walks of life. In order to most effectively cultivate appreciation for birds and conservation on a global scale, it is crucial to encourage the interest that people can have in birds, especially for people starting out their professional lives. The International Collegiate Ornithological Network (ICON) is a project that does just that. Helping connect collegiate birders across the world, ICON provides a central location for people to find common ground over their shared interest, and create local collegiate communities focused around birding. Ross Furbush of ICON has kindly written an article on the project—we hope you enjoy it!

My name is Ross Furbush and I would love to introduce ICON to the world of birders! What better space than on the widest and most connected network of birders in the world: here on eBird.

ICON stands for the International Collegiate Ornithological Network. Our purpose is to connect college bird students across the world for conservation, outreach, and birding fun! College campuses are full of discovery and passion, a killer combination to create an active culture and potentially make a difference for birds and conservation worldwide. We currently have 15 registered college chapters with participation from over 20 colleges.

eBird is a remarkable tool, turning bird-related fun into usable data for research and conservation while simultaneously helping fellow birders catch up with some special sightings. ICON hopes to also play a linking role, but between college campuses with monthly challenges and events. Some of our current events include a photo contest in March, an eBird big month competition in April, alumni narratives in October, “Birding Buddy” in November, and an art gallery in December. As we grow, we hope for a loaded calendar year of fun!

For our 2015 eBird April big month competition we as a network saw 232 species using eBird to document our sightings. That is with submissions from 8 different colleges across the country! College of William and Mary saw the most total species (109) and the most unique species (17).

We encourage all of our college chapters to use eBird and share their club sightings on our Facebook page as an eBird URL link. This way we can stay connected with our chapters as well as contribute our organization sightings to the valuable pool of eBird data.

There are many ways to get involved and become a part of our story. If you are a college student, consider registering your college as an official chapter and participate in our monthly events. We are equipped with many resources for you to begin your own group including a start your own chapter toolkit. We welcome alumni to share their narratives for our October event and participate in our “Birding Buddy” event to take place in November

Check out our website to learn more ( and “Like” our Facebook page ( to follow our story. Happy eBirding!