What we stand for

The German Ornithologists‘ Society (DO-G) is one of the world’s oldest scientific organisations. Since its founding in 1850 its principal objective has been to promote ornithology on the broadest possible basis. This aim is pursued in the following ways:

  1. The publication of the magazine Journal of Ornithology (previously Journal für Ornithologie, founded 1853), and provision of financial support for the magazine Die Vogelwarte (immediate successor of Der Vogelzug, founded 1930), with contributions in German and English from all branches of scientific ornithology.
  2. Arrangement and encouragement of personal relationships between ornithologists worldwide. The annual conventions, held in different locations each year but primarily in university towns or cities in Central Europe, provide an ideal opportunity to promote such contacts. The conventions offer a comprehensive presentation and seminar programme with lecturers from many different countries. These are complemented and enriched by discussion forums, exhibitions and field excursions.
  3. Specialist and financial support through a special research fund for the conduct of research projects.
  4. Financial and non-material support for, and honouring of, exceptional scientific works and studies through the following grants and prizes: The ERWIN-STRESEMANN-Förderung, the  Ornithologen-Preis, the WERNER-SUNKEL-Förderpreis, the HORST-WIEHE-Stiftung-Preis and the HANS-LÖHRL-Preis.
  5. Specialist support in the form of expert advice for bird conservation projects


The DO-G offers membership to anyone genuinely interested in ornithology and its promotion. The society’s aims are primarily of a scientific nature. It is not in the first place an organisation for bird lovers or conservationists. It unites all those who actively or passively participate in scientific ornithology or one of its branches.

In addition the DO-G nominates honorary and corresponding members.

At present the society has some 2,000 members and is thereby one of the largest scientific societies in Europe. Some 20 % of members are non-German.


The Society's history

150 years of the German Ornithologists‘ Society

by Roland Prinzinger

Founded In 1845 at the invitation of E. BALDAMUS (1812-1893), 32 ornithologists formed a section of the GESELLSCHAFT DEUTSCHER NATURFORSCHER UND ÄRZTE (Society of German Nature Researchers and Doctors). This first official meeting (from 1822 onwards there were informal meetings) was presided over by J. F. NAUMANN (1780-1857). One result of this meeting was the founding of the periodical Rhea by F.A.L.THIENEMANN (1793-1858). Further official meetings were held in 1846 in Dresden and 1847 in Halle. In 1850, NAUMANN, BALDAMUS and v. HOMEYER (1809-1889) issued invitations to Meeting No. 4 which was held from the 1st to 3rd of October1850 in Leipzig, where a provisional statute was drafted. This occasion is regarded as the birth date of today’s DO-G. The resolutions of the Leipzig meeting were confirmed at the 5th meeting held from the 11th to 13th of July 1851 in Berlin. A committee of six (with J.F. NAUMANN as first president until 1857) conducted the affairs of the Deutsche Onithologen-Gesellschaft (D.O.-G.). Only three years after its foundation the society had 107, and four years later in 1852 some 230 members.

After only two issues (one each in 1846 and 1848) the Rhea had to cease publication. In 1849 BALDAMUS founded the Naumannia, which became the DO-G’s first official organ. BALDAMUS and JEAN CABANIS (1816-1906) had a difference of opinion on the content of the Naumannia, which led to CABANIS being appointed to the editorial committee alongside BALDAMUS. Their disagreement continued however. As there appeared to be no hope of reaching an agreement with BALDAMUS, CABANIS founded the Journal für Ornithologie in 1853. In 1854 it became the DO-G’s official organ. In 1858 Naumannia ceased publication. The disagreements within the society on questions of leadership and content continued however. As a result CABANIS decided to found a new society. In issue No. 15 of the Journal für Ornithologie he announced the founding of the Deutsche Ornithologische Gesellschaft (D.O.G.). The Journal für Ornithologie became the official organ of the new D.O.G and CANABIS was elected its president. The old Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft (DO-G existed in parallel. Between 1870 and 1874 the old rivalries between the two societies gradually faded and they amalgamated in May 1975 in Brunswick into the Allgemeine Deutsche Ornithologische Gesellschaft (DOG). The first president of the new society (1876-1883) was EUGEN FERDINAND v. HOMEYER, who was a member of both previous societies. This organisation remained active into World War II in 1944.

In 1894 the DOG bought the Journal from CABANIS and took over responsibility for its publication. Its unbroken publication record, dating back to 1853, ended in 1944 with Vol. 92, of which Issue 3/4 was not published until 1951, seven years later. In 1952 Vol. 93, Issue 1 was published and Issues 2-4 appeared in 1952. This makes the Journal für Ornithologie the oldest, still existing, ornithological periodical worldwide. With the publication of Issue 4, Vol. 140 (1999) the Journal comprised in total, including many special issues, some 77,000 printed pages.

After World War II, in 1949, the members of the still extant but inactive DOG met and decided to reactivate the society. Due to the problematic occupation status of Berlin it was decided to simultaneously move the main office to Western Germany. In order to avoid attracting the attention of the East Berlin authorities by changing the statute of the society, it was further decided to found the society from scratch, taking the name of the no longer existing first society, the Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft DO-G. In 1961 it also became possible to transfer the seat of the Ornithologische Gesellschaft (DOG) from East Berlin to Radolfzell in Baden-Württemberg. The statutes were altered to permit both societies to have the same committee and organs. Both organisations still exist side by side to the present day, as an amalgamation was not possible for legal reasons. In 2000, German ornithologists therefore celebrated in Leipzig not only the 150th joint anniversary of both old organisations; but also the 50th anniversary of the newly founded post-war society as well as the 125th anniversary of the Deutsche Ornithologische Gesellschaft DO-G.