American Ornithological Society

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The American Ornithological Society (AOS), until 2016 the American Ornithologists' Union ( AOU ), is the largest and most prestigious ornithological association in the New World .

Foundation and history

Participant in the American Ornithologists' Union 13th Congress

On September 26, 1883, the ornithologists Joel Asaph Allen , William Brewster (1851-1919) and Elliott Coues met in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City to set up an organization modeled on the British Ornithologists' Union . 23 well-known ornithologists took part in the establishment, including Nathan Clifford Brown , Edgar Alexander Mearns , Thomas McIlwraith , Joseph Bassett Holder , Daniel Giraud Elliot , Charles Aldrich , John Maynard Wheaton ,Albert Kenrick Fisher , Robert Wilson Shufeldt junior , Robert Ridgway , George Newbold Lawrence , Henry W. Henshaw , Spencer Fullerton Baird and Charles Foster Batchelder , some of whom later became presidents of the AOU.

In October 2016, the American Ornithologists' Union and the Cooper Ornithological Society merged to form the American Ornithological Society.


The Auk , the quarterly journal of the American Ornithological Society, has been published since January 1884 . The logo shows the extinct giant aalk . In 1886 the official North American Check-list Committee (NACC) was established, the purpose of which is to create a nomenclature that can keep pace with the changes in the systematics and distribution of North and Central American birds. This nomenclature is listed in the publication "Check-list of North American Birds". Another committee is the South American Classification Committee (SACC), which has developed an English-language nomenclature for South American bird taxa.

The aim of the AOS is to promote ornithological science through annual conferences, membership, committees and publications. The members are divided into different classes. In addition to the normal membership, there are the electoral members and the sponsors. The highest member class is the fellow . This honor recognizes members with the most outstanding merits. The AOS currently has 4,000 members.



  • Kier B. Sterling & Marianne G. Ainley: The American Ornithologists' Union: The First Century, 1883–1983 , Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, Number 20, 2016. ISBN 978-1-877973-50-5

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