Our History

Antillean Nighthawk  |  Kati Fleming



The Florida Ornithological Society, initially sponsored by the Florida Audubon Society, held its inaugural meeting in Lakeland, Florida, on October 14, 1972. It established a mission to advance ornithology in Florida and surrounding areas, support research and education about birds, and unite amateurs and professionals in the study of wild birds.


Our refereed technical journal of field biology and natural history, The Florida Field Naturalist gets published for the very first time under the expert guidance of Dr. Henrry M. Stevenson, our first editor of this official FOS publication. Serving alongside Stevenson were the following prominent editorial board members: Glen Woolfenden, Herb Kale, Allan Cruickshank, and Oscar “Bud” Owre.

First Honorary FOS Member 

Samuel A. Grimes, an exceptional birder and photographer, was named the first Honorary Member of the FOS in 1979. A substantial portion of the FOS archives is comprised of his notebooks and nest records

A Birder’s Guide to Florida

The 1st edition of A Birder’s Guide to Florida was published in 1981 by James A. Lane, who lovingly dedicated it to “all of those great people who did not quit just because they turned 65” and specifically thanked several FOS founding figures within the preface.

Growing Strong

As the FOS neared its 10th anniversary and grew to approximately four hundred members, the FFN increased its production rate to quarterly.

Florida Breeding Bird Atlas I

A hallmark publication of the FOS is the Florida Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA). The first edition of the atlas (BBA I) was spearheaded by Dr. Herb Kale and was a collaborative effort involving Audubon of Florida, the Florida Ornithological Society, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The objective of BBA I was to document the breeding distributions of all bird species within the state between 1986 and 1991.

The Cruickshank Awards

Two awards were created to honor Allan and Helen Cruickshank. The Cruickshank Research Award is given to students and post-doctoral scientists whose research focuses on improving knowledge of Florida’s birds. The Cruickshank Education Award recognizes primary and secondary teachers in Florida who seek to enhance their classes by integrating an ornithological aspect.

The William B. and Mary J. Robertson Fellowship Award

Bill Robertson was the founding president of the FOS, and Bill’s wife, Mary (Betty) Robertson, was also a life-long bird advocate. Their joint fellowship established in 2002 supports research on the wildlife, habitat, and ecosystems of Florida and the Caribbean. 

A Birder’s Guide to Florida (5th edition)

Prioritizing financial support is just one way the FOS accomplishes its primary goal of advancing ornithology in Florida. A large part of achieving advancement in a field is building upon current literature, and one great example of this is Bill Pranty’s birding guides. First published in 1996 and now it its 5th edition, A Birder’s Guide to Florida was written by expert birder Bill Pranty and filled with photography by Brian E. Small. 

Florida Breeding Bird Atlas II

Breeding Bird Atlas Two surveys began in 2011, published online by the University of South Florida’s Library Special Collections in November 2023. Similar to BBA I, the second edition (BBA II) documents breeding bird distributions throughout the entire state of Florida by using a grid-based system and classifying breeding behaviors. Building off of the results from BBA I that spanned 1986-1991, the second edition covers 2011-2016, allowing for direct comparisons regarding how breeding distributions have changed over time.

Join Our Flock

We’re always accepting new members.

Find your flock


Join us

Help us promote field ornithology in Florida.

Meetings & Events

November 10–12, 2023 | St. Pete, FL

We are the Florida Ornithological Society

Let's get in touch

We'd love to hear from you.

  • Inquire about becoming a member.
  • Report a rare bird sighting.
  • Submit a field observation.
  • Leave a question or comment.

Learn something new today

Books for birders

Read from some of the foremost ornithologists when they summarized what is known about birds in this diverse state.

Identify bird songs