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State of Georgia

Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum ©Gary Kinard Website

Birding Georgia

Georgia ranks as the biggest state east of the Mississippi, at 59,000 square miles of land area, being slightly larger than Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Florida, in that order. Historically under-populated in the rural areas, especially in the coastal plain, it is now the 6th fastest growing state in the country, with 9.7 million people; that is a mixed blessing for birding, but no doubt a net negative for bird habitat. Physio-graphically, Georgia ranges from the highlands of the southern Appalachians, including Blue Ridge, Ridge-and-Valley, and Cumberland Plateau provinces, to the rolling red-clay terrain of the Piedmont, to the Coastal Plain: the flat, mostly sandy terrain below the Fall Line (aka gnat line aka Spanish moss line). Roughly half the state's area lies in the latter province, a still sparsely populated area, much of which is devoted to industrial pine plantations, having replaced the vast open understory longleaf pine forests of centuries gone by. But cypress and black-gum swamps and bay-swamp forests still hold dominion over many Carolina bays and river bottoms.

Although Georgia's Atlantic coastline, at about 100 miles, is a fraction the length of its southern neighbour, and smaller than most of its northern neighbours', fully 9 of 13 major barrier islands are preserved in an undeveloped state, giving Georgia the highest percentage of deserted beachfront of any east-coast state. This is good news for nesting and wintering shorebirds, gulls and the like, and it means that the potential for rare coastal bird species is high; on the other hand, these locales are birded only a tiny fraction the amount that Florida's coastline is birded, with 19 million people living on or within an hour-and-a-half drive of the coast. Georgia's coast lies farther west and farther from the continental shelf and the Gulf Stream current than any other spot on the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. This means that pelagic species are harder to come by than in, say, North Carolina. It also gives Georgia fully one-third of the acreage of tidal salt marshes on the entire Atlantic Coast - lots of habitat for nesting Seaside Sparrows, Marsh Wrens and Clapper Rails and lots of wintering habitat for both species of Sharp-tailed Sparrows and other species of rails.

Although there are no Georgia specialty birds, the state is one of the top several states in which to see individuals or colonies of several south-eastern specialties, including Anhinga, Purple Gallinule, Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, Tri-coloured Heron, Wood Stork, Glossy Ibis, Swallow-tailed Kite, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Swainson's Warbler, Bachman's Sparrow, and Boat-tailed Grackle. Limpkins have been observed repeatedly in the past decade on south-central Georgia’s Little River and at several other localities in the coastal plain. Small islands on the Georgia coast provide important nesting habitat for such rare species as Gull-billed Tern, Least Tern, Piping and Wilson's Plovers, and American Oystercatchers, and also Black Skimmers and Brown Pelicans.

Georgia is just far north enough (and with elevations up to 4,700 feet) to have many breeding species of warblers (24 total) and also such boreal species as Ruffed Grouse, Red Crossbill and Northern Saw-Whet Owl. It is far south enough to have important wintering populations of such species as Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, Tree Swallow, White-eyed Vireo, Henslow's Sparrow and Baltimore Oriole. The Greater race of the Sandhill Crane has important wintering habitat at Grand Bay near Valdosta and in the Okefenokee Swamp; both of these sites also have small breeding populations of the non-migratory Florida Sandhill Crane. Winter birding is particularly exciting along the coast, where 2 or 3 Christmas Bird Count circles frequently record 140 species or more in a day.

In the past two decades, our knowledge of the occasional wintering range of several species of western hummingbirds has grown exponentially. As of the 1986 Annotated Checklist of Georgia Birds, only the Rufous and Black-chinned Hummingbirds were known to winter in small numbers in Georgia. But since many birders have been keeping their feeders filled throughout the winter, nine more species have been documented in the state -- namely, Magnificent, Allen's, Anna's, Calliope, Broad-tailed, Broad-billed, Buff-bellied, Green Violet-ear and Green-breasted Mango. And increasingly Georgians are finding wintering Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at their feeders as well. Other than hummingbirds, recent spectacular first state records have included Yellow-billed Loon, Ivory Gull, Red-faced Warbler, and Scott’s Oriole.

As of 2002, at least 180 species have been documented to breed in Georgia, according to the Georgia Breeding Bird Atlas project, and more than 100 additional species winter in the state or migrate through it or at least visit it on an annual basis. There is no 400 Club in Georgia - yet. That is, no one person has seen 400 species in our state, as is the case for several other states (three states even have a 500 Club); but the 413 species that have been documented in Georgia by the Georgia Ornithological Society's Records Committee is a number that is likely to continue to climb; we are still an under-birded state compared to such states as Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California. There are many who have seen well over 300 species and several who have seen that many in a single year. On the subject of listing, Georgia ought to be some sort of mecca for county listers, because it has more counties (159) than any other eastern state!

Top Sites

Brasstown Bald

Information

Satellite View

Best for high elevation nesting birds…

Cochran Shoals

Information

Satellite View

Part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area that is good for migrants…

Eufala NWR

Webpage

Satellite View

Eufala National Wildlife Refuge is along the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama border…

Harris Neck NWR

Webpage

Satellite View

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge is near the coast so is good for a variety of birds…

Jekyll Island & St. Simons Island

Information

Satellite View

Jekyll and St. Simons islands are two of the more accessible islands to birders. They offer good all-year round birding but are most productive during migration…

Kennesaw Mountain

Webpage

Satellite View

…for spring and fall migration…

Okefenokee Swamp

Information

Satellite View

The Okefenokee Swamp is a true wildlife refuge. The wildlife seen in the great swamp are in their natural surroundings. Few places in America can offer as varied and extensive wildlife as this southeastern swamp. Over 200 species of birds have been identified. There are over 40 species of mammals, more than 50 species of reptiles, and 60 species of amphibians. The waters house an abundance of fish, 34 different kinds.

Contributor

Dr. Brad Bergstrom

Valdosta, GA

bergstrm@valdosta.edu

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 436

As of June 2013

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

A Guide to the Birds of the South-Eastern States

Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi John H Rappole 336 pages, 420 colour photos, 379 dist maps. Florida University Presses 2006

ISBN: 0813028612

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birding Georgia

Cliff Beaton Series: FALCON GUIDE SERIES 288 pages Falcon Press 2000

ISBN: 1560447842

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Georgia

John Parrish, Giff Beaton and Gregory Kennedy 384 pages Lone Pine Publishing 2006

ISBN: 9768200057

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Georgia

By: Peter W. Thayer - CD-ROM from Thayer Birding Software ISBN: 1887148310

Georgia Birds

An Introduction to Familiar Species (Pocket Naturalist) Waterford Press Paperback (March 1999) Waterford Press 1999

ISBN: 1889903957

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

Checklist of Georgia Birds

http://www.gos.org/checklists/checklists.html

State Bird

Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum

Forums & Mailing Lists

Georgia Birders Online (GABO)

Mailing List

To subscribe to list: GABO-L-request@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU

Mailing List – Discussion Group - This list is intended to foster discussion about birding in Georgia, locations, birds, arrival/departure dates, rare birds, trip reports, field trips, etc.

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show foreign visiting birders around their country - if you are prepared to return the favour to visitors to your country…

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2013 [05 May] - Jesse Fagan - South Carolina & Northern Georgia

Report

…The mountains of north Georgia were still bare and cool, but our walk along the Appalachian Trail was most productive. We saw a number of breeding warblers including Ovenbird, American Redstart, and Black-throated Blue Warbler…

2013 [10 October] - Barry Lyon

Report PDF

…Sancho Panza is the island’s single most productive birding site, and our multiple trips there fairly confirmed that to be the case. Shorebirds of all stripes were always present, even on our low-tide visit on the last afternoon, and provided many wonderful occasions for detailed study and comparison— opportunities only a workshop situation affords. Highlight experiences included side by side studies of Piping, Semipalmated, and Wilson’s plovers; Black-bellied Plovers in various stages of molt; a Long- billed Curlew probing for food on the mudflats; and tiny Sanderlings and Western Sandpipers foraging only yards away at the water’s edge. Lest we forget, other lasting impressions included dazzling looks at American Oystercatchers and scope studies of five species of terns…

2014 [10 October] - David wolf

PDF Report

...Highlights included side by side studies of Piping, Semipalmated, and Wilson’s plovers; Black-bellied Plovers in various stages of molt; Red Knots and other look-alikes resting on the beach; dazzling looks at large flocks of American Oystercatchers and Black Skimmers; Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles landing...

2015 [05 May] - Jesse Fagan - South Carolina & Northern Georgia

Report PDF

...Nancy really enjoyed those Eastern Bluebirds at Amicalola Falls; the mother feeding her young was just too cute. By the way, how many steps up to the top of the falls? Too many. Penelope thought the Bachman's Sparrow teed up in the longleaf pine tree, singing his head off, was pretty special. And it was. Diane also enjoyed our time in the longleaf pine savanna and voted the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker one of her favorites.

2016 [05 May] - Bruce Wedderburn - Southeast USA

Report

This was a two-month trip to southeast USA for Yvonne and myself, from late March through to late May, with a focus on the Spring migration, in particular the highly varied and colourful warblers.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Inn at Folkston

Accommodation

Southeast Georgia is a nature lover`s paradise. Not only is Folkston home to the great and wondrous Okefenokee Swamp, but it is also a short driving distance from the rivers and coastal areas which offer outstanding recreation in its most natural form…

Little St Simons Island

Accommodation

Virtually untouched for centuries, Little St. Simons Island is a privately owned 10,000-acre barrier island along the Georgia coast. A rich and varied natural world, its pristine beaches, maritime forests, shimmering marshes and tidal creeks await your exploration.

Organisations

Albany Audubon Society

Website

A Georgia Chapter of the National Audubon Society…

Atlanta Audubon Society

Website

The Atlanta Audubon Society is the metropolitan Atlanta, GA, affiliate of the National Audubon Society. The mission of the Atlanta Audubon Society is to promote the enjoyment and understanding of birds and to conserve and restore the ecosystems that support them.

Audubon Society in Georgia

Website

The usual formula of State Audubon websites with links to other chapter within the state and some general information such as addresses etc.

Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society

Website

Welcome to Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society! Our 600+ members share a common interest in birds and other wild creatures, as well as the habitats in which they live. The membership represents many walks of life from across the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) of Georgia and South Carolina…

Checklist & Records Committee

Website

One of the most important functions of the Georgia Ornithological Society is to encourage observers to document their sightings and then to serve as a clearinghouse for documenting the occurrence and status of all wild birds in the State. This function is the main duty of the Checklist and Records Committee…

Coastal Georgia Audubon Society

Website

Regular Membership Meetings this year are on the 3rd Tuesday of some month (November, January, February, March). June and September picnics will still take place. All meetings will be at: International Seafarer's Center, 307 Newcastle Street, Brunswick, GA

Columbus Georgia Audubon Society

Website

Meetings are held September through May on the third Thursday of the month at 7 PM at the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, 3535 South Lumpkin Road, Columbus, GA 31903

Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Website

The state of Georgia now protects one of the largest wood stork colonies in Georgia with the acquisition of Big Dukes Pond. Located in northern Jenkins County, the 1220 acre tract was purchased with Wildlife Conservation Funds and Rivercare 2000 funds.

Georgia Bird Clubs

Website

Besides the Georgia Ornithological Society, there are many National Audubon Society Chapters and bird clubs which concentrate on the local birdlife and associated conservation issues surrounding their respective areas. Links are provided in the table below for the organizations that have their own web sites.

Georgia Ornithological Society

Website

Welcome to the official Georgia Ornithological Society (GOS) Web Site, financially supported by a grant from the Price-Campbell Foundation of Valdosta, GA! Within this site, you will find information related to the avifauna of the largest state east of the Mississippi River. My personal favourite website in Georgia.

Nature Conservancy in Georgia

Website

Another great NC site with excellent pictures etc. With a striking abundance of landscapes, Georgia is one of the nation's foremost states in its natural diversity. Indeed, Georgia is ranked fifth in the nation in terms of biodiversity. These natural areas - stunning in their variety - reach from the ancient weathered Appalachian Mountains to the coastal marshes and barrier islands that greet the sea. Protecting these areas is our duty…

Ocmulgee Audubon Society

Website

2110 Plantation Drive, Macon, GA 31211 - The state of Georgia has 370 regularly occurring species of birds, according to the 1986 Annotated Checklist of Georgia Birds published by the Georgia Ornithological Society. Paul Johnson has recently written An Annotated Checklist of Birds of Middle Georgia (1998) that lists a whopping 299 species. Middle Georgia has such high bird diversity because there is a tremendous diversity of habitats, from coastal plain vegetation to forests of the piedmont, to flood plains and backwaters of the Ocmulgee River…

Oconee Rivers Audubon Society

Website

The Oconee Rivers Audubon Society is a group of people brought together by a love of birds and nature. Our chapter consists of over 350 members representing a diversity of ages and birding skills. Within our community we promote conservation and provide a voice for environmental issues. Within our chapter we provide a forum for the exchange of information via monthly newsletters and meetings. Oconee Rivers Audubon organises several local conservation projects each year, such as providing nest boxes for various species.

Ogeechee Audubon Society

Website

The coast of Georgia offers many fascinating places to bird. With many types of habitat, such as marshlands, live-oak maritime forests, and Longleaf pine flatwoods, our area of the state is rich in diversity of not only bird life, but also other kinds of wildlife, and history. Come on down to the coast and explore!

Southern Wings Bird Club

Website

The club's first meeting was on September 18, 1996 and was held at Vines Botanical Gardens. The club was initially known as Vines Bird Club. Later the club's meetings were held at Garden South' Nurseryin Lawrenceville, Georgia. In December 1998 the club's name was changed to Southern Wings Bird Club. It was then that the meetings moved to the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Building. The club is affiliated with the Lanier Museum of Natural History. Bird walks at local parks are held in conjunction with the museum…

Museums

Fernbank Natural History Museum

http://www.fernbankmuseum.org/

Georgia Natural History Museum

http://naturalhistory.uga.edu

A multi-page series on south-eastern USA birds.

Reserves

Birdsong Nature Center

Website

Satellite View

Nestled among the pines and hardwoods that spill across the south Georgia hills, Birdsong Nature Center is a gentle harbor of warmth and natural wonder, a serene sanctuary where one can explore and enjoy verdant lands and learn about the workings of our natural world… Founded as a non-profit nature preserve and education center in 1986, Birdsong is dedicated to preserving and maintaining its lands in a manner that is most beneficial to wildlife, and to fostering in the public a greater understanding and appreciation of nature.

Dauset Trails Nature Center

Website

Satellite View

Or, if you like ducks, we have a nice variety of migratory waterfowl in the small lake behind the Visitor's Center. You can buy food to feed the ducks as well as the geese, big catfish, bream, and assorted turtles that live there…

Georgia National Wildlife Refuges

Website

Brief descriptions of a number of refuges…

Blogs

Alan's BirdCam

Blog

Three minute QuickTime Movies of birds that visit Alan Larson’s feeder…

Bird Lovers 101

Blog

A birding blog about all the birds that I see with a Friday Bird Quiz…

H J Ruiz - Avian 101

Blog

Non-profit all about birds, title "My Backyard Visitors" The whole world is my backyard! Lots of info and great photos shot by author…

Two Birders and Binoculars

Blog

We hope you enjoy our blog we have put together for the entertainment and education of young and old birders alike. We post daily and talk about important birding info along with stunning photos and educational text…

Wings Spirit

Blog

My heart is a camera It snaps for you, so watch close Hear my thoughts in every pixel Read my moves in every video ..a birder who tells stories and loves nature and wildlife photography..

Other Links

Bird Watcher Supply Company

Website

Bird Watcher Supply Company began in 1984 as For The Birds. Richard and Nancy Cole had always been interested in nature and became more focused on wild birds after getting a bird feeder for a gift. They were soon mixing their own bird seed since the birds did not seem to like the grocery store mixes they were using…

Checklist

Information

Latest Checklist

Colonial Coast Birding Trail

Website

Welcome to the Colonial Coast Birding Trail. Coastal Georgia is steeped in human and natural history. Since the first human inhabitants colonized the coast, man and the abundant natural resources found here have been inexorably linked. A visit to one or more sites along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail will provide you with the opportunity to see and enjoy the beauty of a kaleidoscope of birds and glimpse the fascinating history of this land and its residents. More than 300 species of birds (75 percent of the total species of birds seen in Georgia) have been spotted at the 18 sites along the birding trail…

Feeders etc. - Yard Envy

Website

Bird feeders permit birding enthusiasts and gardeners to fully indulge themselves in their love of bird watching. A bird feeder allows birds to eat necessary nutrients, while staying within view. While the number of bird feeders available can be overwhelming, Yard Envy is here to help guide you through the decision process…

Georgia and Florida Birds

Website

(click on highlighted names for photos)

Georgia Birding

Website

GeorgiaBirding.com has been established to provide those interested in birding in Georgia with information to assist them in making their birding time more fun and productive….

Georgia Birding & Nature

Website

I finally got a camera the other day and thought I might post some of the birds I`ve seen recently. The inexpensive camera definitely has serious limitations, but a few shots seem to turn out ok. I have found ducks to be the easiest to photograph and most everything else has been almost impossible, so far…

Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding Trail

Information

Coastal Georgia is steeped in human and natural history. Since the first human inhabitants colonized the coast, man and the abundant natural resources found here have been inexorably linked. A visit to one or more sites along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail will provide you with the opportunity to see and enjoy the beauty of a kaleidoscope of birds and glimpse the fascinating history of this land and its residents…

Georgia's Important Bird Areas

Information

Habitat loss and degradation due to human expansion as our population soars are the most serious threat to the survival of many bird species and other wildlife here and abroad. The Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program is a worldwide response to this challenge…

Southern Rivers Birding Trail

Information

Come take a trek of discovery along Georgia's Southern Rivers Birding Tail. The trail winds its way from the rolling hills of the Georgia Piedmont on the north southward across the broad expanse of the Coastal Plain before curling eastward and eventually terminating in the Okefenokee Swamp, the Land of Trembling Earth…

The Birdhouse Chick

Website

Unique bird houses, wild bird feeders, hummingbird feeders at thebirdhousechick.com, awaits a fabulous array of hand made, unique bird houses and wild bird feeders you won't find on other sites!

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - R W Scott - Birds in flight

Gallery

R. W. Scott (as part of his home pages) describes how he takes these photos of birds in flight – including hummers -using high speed flash techniques.