State of Georgia

Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum ©Ken Thomas (Wikimedia Commons) 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

    InformationSatellite View
    Best for high elevation nesting birds…
  • Cochran Shoals

    InformationSatellite View
    Part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area that is good for migrants…
  • Eufala NWR

    WebpageSatellite View
    Eufala National Wildlife Refuge is along the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama border…
  • Harris Neck NWR

    WebpageSatellite View
    Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge is near the coast so is good for a variety of birds…
  • Jekyll Island & St. Simons Island

    InformationSatellite 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

    WebpageSatellite View
    …for spring and fall migration…
  • Okefenokee Swamp

    InformationSatellite 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.
Contributors
  • Dr. Brad Bergstrom

    Valdosta, GA | bergstrm@valdosta.edu

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 436

    (As at October 2018)

    State Bird - Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum

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) | By John H Rappole | Florida University Presses | 2006 | Paperback | 336 pages, 420 colour photos, 379 distribution maps | ISBN: 0813028612 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birding Georgia

    By Cliff Beaton | Falcon Press | 2000 | Paperback | 288 pages, b&w photos, maps | ISBN: 1560447842 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Georgia

    By John Parrish, Giff Beaton& Gregory Kennedy | Lone Pine Publishing | 2006 | Paperback | 384 pages, colour illustrations | ISBN: 9768200057 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Common Birds of Coastal Georgia

    By Jim Wilson | University of Georgia Press | 2011 | Paperback | 240 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9780820338286 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Common Birds of Greater Atlanta

    By Jim Wilson & Anselm Atkins | University of Georgia Press | 2011 | Paperback | ISBN: 9780820338255 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Georgia Birds: An Introduction to Familiar Species

    Waterford Press | 2000 | Unbound | ISBN: 1583551107 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Breeding Bird Atlas of Georgia

    Edited by Todd M Schneider, Giff Beaton, Timothy S Keyes & Nathan A Klaus | University of Georgia Press | 2010 | Hardback | 497 pages, 204 colour photos, 168 tables, 192 maps, 128 figures | ISBN: 9780820328935 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Useful Information
  • Checklist of Georgia Birds

    http://www.gos.org/checklists/checklists.html
Museums & Universities
  • Fernbank Natural History Museum

    Website
    Take a walk on the wild side as you explore 75 acres of new outdoor nature adventures. WildWoods and Fernbank Forest combine to highlight the natural world through immersive trails, educational programming, hands-on exhibits and beautiful scenery.
  • Georgia Natural History Museum

    Website
    This is a multi-page series on southeastern birds. Each page in the series has several small in-line images (120 x 160 GIF). The image titles are linked to the original, larger images (480 x 640 JPEG). The images were predominantly taken by Dr. Dan Sudia. A similar set of pages is located on the Florida Museum of Natural History website.
Organisations
  • Albany Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    The mission of Albany Audubon Society is to promote conservation and restoration of local natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.
  • Atlanta Audubon Society

    Website
    Atlanta Audubon Society is a member-supported, non-profit organization dedicated to building places where birds and people thrive. We are a thriving, bird-focused organization that combines serious conservation, education, and advocacy with activities that build community and foster the joy of birding.
  • Audubon Society in Georgia

    Website
    Offices & Chapters; Centers & Sanctuaries & Upcoming Events
  • 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
    We are an active community of birders, gardeners, and people who just love wildlife and the outdoors in general. 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 Also see their Facebook page.
  • GOS Checklist and Records Committee (GCRC)

    Webpage
    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.
  • Georgia Bird Clubs

    Webpage
    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 Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division

    Website
    The Environmental Protection Division (EPD) protects and restores Georgia’s environment. We take the lead in ensuring clean air, water and land. With our partners, we pursue a sustainable environment that provides a foundation for a vibrant economy and healthy communities.
  • Georgia Ornithological Society

    Website
    The Georgia Ornithological Society's (GOS) mission is to encourage the scientific study of birds by gathering and disseminating information on Georgia bird life. GOS actively promotes bird conservation by encouraging the preservation of habitats that are vital to the survival of resident and migratory birds. The GOS also gives scholarships, produces scientific publications, and provides fellowship among those interested in nature. General membership meetings are held two or three times per year in the spring, winter and fall. The meetings generally last from Friday evening through Sunday or Monday mid-day and feature evening presentations of interest to the birding community and field trips conducted by experienced birders familiar with the areas in which the meetings are held.
  • Greater Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Birders

    Webpage
    The Gaggle is a bird club for the gay community of the greater Atlanta, Georgia area. The common thread that runs through the group is our love of birds. This list primarily serves as a means of talking about Georgia birds and birding from the particular perspective of the GLBT birder. We gather to plan outings, and will post our calendar on this list. New or prospective members may contact the list administrator at mhodges1957@gmail.com for info on club birding trips and meetings.
  • Nature Conservancy in Georgia

    Webpage
    The Nature Conservancy is a big organization with a big vision. We work in the most critical places so that we can have a lasting impact. Nowhere is that more true than right here in Georgia. For decades, committed supporters like you have helped us protect more than 338,000 acres, safeguard the rivers that traverse our state, and care for our envied coast.
  • Ocmulgee Audubon Society

    Website
    Ocmulgee Audubon Society is a local chapter of the National Audubon Society. You can find out more about birds, conservation, education, and more at Audubon. Our local chapter was founded in 1972 and currently has over 300 members in 14 counties in Middle Georgia. We meet every second Monday of the month except in July. Our meetings are held at the Macon Museum of Arts and Science located at 4182 Forsyth Rd, Macon, GA. These meetings are open to the public.
  • 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. We strive to promote conservation and provide a voice for environmental issues. We also provide a forum for the exchange of information via monthly newsletters and meetings. Oconee Rivers Audubon organizes several local conservation projects each year, such as putting up nest boxes for various species. We also give monthly public presentations on subjects related to birds, nature, and conservation. Please check our news and events pages to learn about upcoming activities.
  • Ogeechee Audubon Society

    Website
    We enjoy and protect birds through education, conservation, and advocacy. Some of the Earth's greatest bird populations are threatened by development, competition for food, and environmental changes. Join Ogeechee Audubon's effort to protect birds and other wildlife while sharing the joy of Georgia's natural resources.
  • Southern Wings Bird Club

    Website
    outhern Wings Bird Club Welcomes all those who enjoy birds from the beginner to the expert. Special invite for kids & youthful birders including groups. Join SWBC on the second Monday of each month. Our meetings are entertaining and educational! Members of all ages always have a great time. Visitors are welcome!
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • Georgia's National Wildlife Refuges

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Brief descriptions of a number of refuges with interactive map and active links
  • IBA BR NP Cumberland Island National Seashore

    WebpageSatellite View
    Cumberland Island is Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island. It is also one of the oldest barrier islands in Georgia, with rich soils capable of supporting a diversity of plants. It is bordered by the Cumberland River, Cumberland Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean. As a United Nations-sanctioned International Biosphere Reserve, the wilderness on Cumberland Island protects many threatened and endangered species, including six species of migratory and shore birds and four species of sea turtles. It is clearly a place of global significance.
  • IBA Chattahoochee National Forest

    WebpageSatellite View
    This national forest occupies most of the central and eastern parts of North Georgia. Appalanchin forests are the predominant vegetation in this region with low to moderately high mountains and many ridges, valleys, lakes, and meadows. Within the CNF are the 9 Wildlife Management Areas and several wilderness areas, including the cohutta and Ellicott Rock.
  • IBA Phinizy Swamp

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Phinizy Swamp Complex comprises an approx. 5500 acre tract in the Savannah River floodplain terrace. This site is comprised of three parts that are all in the Savannah River floodplain terrace. It is a diverse mosaic of clay pit lakes, freshwater marshes, bottomland hardwoods, old river scars, swamp, upland forest, farm land, and Savannah R. dike around Savannah.
  • NC Birdsong Nature Center

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Our mission is to foster awareness, understanding, and appreciation of nature and its interrelationships. 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.
  • NC Dauset Trails Nature Center

    WebsiteSatellite View
    In the early 1980's, Dauset Trails was primarily a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned wildlife. The animals were mainly native to the area and could not be released due to the severity of injuries. These animals were given exhibits for protection and display and gradually grew to become the Animal Trail. The Trail winds about half a mile through the woods rounding a small lake. It is easily accessible by foot, strollers, and wheelchairs. These animals are used to teach students of all ages the importance of each species and its role in our ever-changing world.
  • NRA Chattahoochee River

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is home to over 190 species of birds, making it a popular site for birding. Whether following the river corridor as they migrate or nesting in the forest, birds of all shapes and sizes can be found within the park.
  • NWR Eufaula

    WebpageSatellite View
    The main unit of the 11,184-acre refuge is located about 7 miles north of the city of Eufaula, Alabama, along both banks of the Chattahoochee River in southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia. Wetlands, croplands, woodlands, old fields, grasslands, and open water create a mosaic of wildlife-rich habitats that support almost 300 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, and many species of amphibians, reptiles and fishes.
  • NWR Harris Neck

    WebpageSatellite View
    Harris Neck serves as an important link in the chain of refuges along the eastern seaboard, and is the inland base for two neighboring barrier island refuges, Blackbeard Island and Wolf Island. Since its designation as a wildlife refuge in 1962, Harris Neck has served as a premier nesting, foraging, and wintering habitat for many species of wildlife. Signature species include wood storks, which nest in a large colony on Woody Pond, and the colorful and uncommon painted bunting, which favors nesting habitat in the refuge's maritime scrub areas.
  • NWR Okefenokee

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 as a "refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife". The Okefenokee is like no other place on earth, where natural beauty and wilderness prevail. The vision for Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is to protect and enhance wildlife and its habitat, ensure integrity of the ecological system, and embrace the grandeur, mystery, and cultural heritage that lead to an enrichment of the human spirit. The vast open prairies within the Okefenokee Swamp are home to a variety of wading birds such as egrets, herons, ibises, wood storks, and the sandhill crane. The sandhill crane is a tall, gray bird with a characteristic red crown. They nest March-April in solitary pairs, hiding their nest among the tall grasses and shrubs. They eat frogs, insects, small rodents, as well as vegetation. Listen for the distinctive bugle-like call.
  • NWR Piedmont

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Refuge is located primarily in Jones County in the Piedmont Physiographic Province of central Georgia. It is predominately forested (96%) with ~3/4 of the area in pine and pine-hardwood forest on the ridges, and ~1/4 hardwood forest along creeks and in scattered upland coves. Loblolly is the dominant pine species, with some shortleaf pine mixed in. Hardwood species include oaks and hickories in the overstory, and sweetgum and dogwood in the mid- and understories. Creeks and ponds are scattered across the Refuge. It contains a large area of mature loblolly pine forest inhabited by the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) and the rare Bachman??s Sparrow. Currently, over half the Refuge??s acreage is managed for RCWs, and this also benefits Bachman??s Sparrow.
  • NWR Wassaw

    WebpageSatellite View
    Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) serves as an important link in the chain of barrier islands that lie along the Atlantic Flyway, providing excellent habitat for a variety of migratory birds. The island supports rookeries for egrets and herons, and several species of wading birds are abundant in the summer months. In summer, telltale tracks on Wassaw's beach attest to nocturnal visits by the threatened loggerhead sea turtles that come ashore for egg laying and then return to sea.
  • WMA Altamaha

    WebpageSatellite View
    The site is composed of the Altamaha River estuary, river swamps, rice fields. This area is important for rare birds, including black and yellow rails, white pelicans, and black-bellied whistling ducks.
  • WMA Altamaha

    WebpageSatellite View
    The site is composed of the Altamaha River estuary, river swamps, rice fields. This area is important for rare birds, including black and yellow rails, white pelicans, and black-bellied whistling ducks.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Subscribe to this alert Georgia Rare Bird Alert

    Sightings
    The report below shows observations of rare birds in Georgia. Includes both unreviewed and reviewed/approved observations.
Trip Reports


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

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

    PDF Report
    ...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…
Other Links
  • Bird Watcher Supply Company

    Website
    Welcome to our website! Bird Watcher Supply Company has been your best source for attracting and feeding wild birds in Georgia since 1988. Our five stores are staffed with friendly, knowledgeable folks that will be happy to help answer your questions, set you up with a feeding station, stop squirrels, pick the perfect gift for a loved one or just talk birds.
  • Checklist

    Information
    Georgia Ornithological Society - 2018 Checklist of Georgia Birds
  • 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
    This site is basically devoted to the birds discovered in Georgia by Eric Beohm & Michael Beohm. It's a pleasure to share the joy of birding with others who also have an appreciation for nature's wonders. Georgia offers quite a stage for this endeavor from mountains majesty to pristine barrier islands.
  • Georgia and Florida Birds

    Website
    (click on highlighted names for photos)
  • Georgia's Important Bird Areas

    Information
    The aim of the IBA Program is to identify and conserve key breeding and feeding sites for birds in Georgia.
  • 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
    Born from Our Love of Birding - Through a curated collection of unusually fun products, our mission is to introduce more folks to the brilliant hobby of backyard birding. Whether you’re an avid birder or looking for a small way to brighten your backyard, we’re excited to share our expertise and enthusiasm with you.
  • Yard Envy

    Website
    Yard Envy offers an impressive selection of Bird Houses and Bird Feeders. We are based in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, Ga, including the entire customer service team.
Blogs
  • 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…
  • Linda - Wings Spirit

    BLOG
    Last updated September 2015 - 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..
  • Lydia Thompson - Coastal Georgia Birding

    BLOG
    ...blogging about birds and birders along the Georgia Coast - Whether Lydia is talking about birds, banding, or drawing birds her major focus is to intertwine her bird studies and her art. Join Lydia on a Bird Ramble.
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.

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