The following is a timeline of ornithology
- 1500-800 BC - The Vedas mention the habit of brood parasitism in the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea). (Ali, S. (1979), Bird study in India : its history and its importance. ICCR, New Delhi. Azad Memorial Lectures.)
- 4th century BC - Aristotle mentions over 170 sorts of birds in his work on animals. He recognises eight principal groups
- 1st century - Pliny the Elder's Historia Naturalis Book X is devoted to birds. Three groups based on feet characteristics
- 2nd century - Aelian mentions a number of birds in his work on animals. Birds are listed alphabetically
- 1037 Death of Abu ‘Ali al-Husayn ibn Abd Allah ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in Latin) author of “Abbreviatio de animalibus,” a homage to Aristotle
- 1220 Books on birds and other animals by Aristotle and Avicenna translated into Latin for the first time by Michael Scot
- 1250 Death of Frederick II von Hohenstaufen, Holy Roman Emperor, and author of “de Arte Venandi cum Avibus” that describes the first manipulative experiments in ornithology and the methods of falconry
- 1478 - De Avibus by Albertus Magnus is printed, which mentions many bird names for the first time
- 1485 - First dated copy of Ortus sanitatis by Johannes de Cuba
- 1544 - William Turner prints a commentary of the birds mentioned by Aristotle and Pliny
- 1555 - Conrad Gessner's Historic Animalium qui est de Auium natura and Pierre Belon's (Bellonius) Histoire de la nature des Oyseaux. Belon lists birds according to a definite system
- 1573 - Volcher Coiter publishes his first treatise on bird anatomy
- 1591 - Joris Hoefnagel starts to work for Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor and produces for him 90 oil-base paints, of which one is of the Dodo.
- 1600 - Beginning of the publication of the works of Ulisse Aldrovandi on birds.
- 1603 - Caspar Schwenckfeld publishes the first regional fauna of Europe: Therio-tropheum Silesiae.
- 1605 - Clusius publishes Exoticorum libri decem in which he describes many new exotic species.
- 1638 - Georg Marcgraf begins a voyage to Brazil where he studies the fauna and flora.
- 1655 - Ole Worm collects a famous cabinet of curiosities whose illustrated inventory appears in 1655, Museum Wormianum. This collection comprises many birds but the techniques of conservation are not successful and they are quickly destroyed by insects.
- 1657 - Publication of Historiae naturalis of avibus by John Jonston.
- 1667 - Christopher Merrett publishes the first fauna of Great Britain, followed two years later by that of Walter Charleton.
- 1676 - Publication of Francis Willughby's Ornithologia by his collaborator John Ray. This is considered the beginning of scientific ornithology in Europe, revolutionizing ornithological taxonomy by organizing species according to their physical characteristics
- 1681 - The last Dodo dies on the island of Mauritius
20th Century late
- 1950 - Rocket nets developed by the Wildfowl Trust for catching geese
- 1951-1954 - The 6-volume Birds of the Soviet Union by GP Dementev and NA Gladkov published
- 1953 - Niko Tinbergen publishes The Herring Gull's World
- 1954 - Protection of Birds Act in the UK prohibits the collection of birds eggs
- 1956 - First use of mist nets (invented in Japan) in the UK to trap birds
- 1962 - Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring, describing the ecological dangers of pesticides
- 1967 - Publication of Radar Ornithology by Eric Eastwood
- 1968-1972 - First national breeding bird atlas project conducted in Britain and Ireland
- 1970 - The Atlas of Breeding Birds of the West Midlands by Lord and Munns, based on field work by members of the West Midland Bird Club, published by Collins, is the first to use systematic grid-based method for gathering of information.
- 1976 - Publication of national atlases for Great Britain and Ireland, France and Denmark
- 1981 - Sibley and Ahlquist use DNA-DNA hybridisation to determine degrees of genetic similarity between species
- 1981 - Cyril A. Walker describes the Enatiornithes, a new subclass of fossil birds [Walker CA (1981) New subclass of birds from the Cretaceous of south America. Nature 292:51-53.]
- 1984 - Publication of The Atlas of Australian Birds
- 1989 - Discovery of the first poisonous bird, the Hooded Pitohui Pitouhi dichrous and Homobatrachotoxin by Jack Dumbacher
- 1991 - First new species described without a skin as a type specimen. The Bulo Burti Boubou (Laniarius liberatus) of Somalia described as a new species on the basis of the DNA sequence from a feather.
- 1992 - Publication of the Handbook of Birds of the World series starts
- 1995 - Hou Lianhai describes the Confuciusornithes, a new subclass of birds, from a fossil found in the Jinzhou market, Liaoning, China [Hou L, Zhou Z, Martin L, Feduccia A (1995) A beaked bird from the Jurassic of China. Nature 277:616-618]
- 1997 - Use of stable Hydrogen isotope signatures in feathers to identify origin of birds. [Chamberlain CP, Blum JD, Holmes RT, Feng X, Sherry TW, Graves GR (1997) The use of isotope tracers for identifyingpopulations of migratory birds. Oecologia 109:132–141]
- 1998 - Discovery of gut reduction before migration in Godwits. [Piersma T, Gill RE (1998) Guts don't fly: small digestive organs in obese bar-tailed godwits. Auk 115:196–203]
- 2004 - Proposal to identify bird species through DNA sequence by Hebert PDN et al. (PLoS Biol 2(10): e312.) using method termed as DNA barcoding.
- 2005 - reports of sightings of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, previously believed extinct.