May 13, 2005
Forsyth, Georgia - Spring has sprung and the sunny days of summer
are just around the corner. Along with the changing seasons in Georgia
brings some of the most magnificent birds traveling through our state.
Millions of brilliantly colored songbirds called neotropical migrants and
migratory shorebirds spend much of their lives en route from breeding areas
to wintering grounds and back again each year, passing through Georgia on
their journeys. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR),
Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) encourages amateur and experienced bird
watchers alike to visit the Colonial Coast Birding Trail and Southern
Rivers Birding Trail sites to catch a glimpse of some of these world
travelers during this time of year.
"Some of the BEST places in Georgia to view diverse species and large
numbers of shorebirds this spring and summer are along the birding trail
sites," said Terry Johnson, WRD Nongame Wildlife Program Manager.
The Colonial Coast Birding Trail reveals superior bird watching locations
along Georgia’s coast with destinations in seven counties along the I-95
corridor that include state and federal lands, parks and historic areas as
well as private recreation sites. More than 370 bird species may be seen
along the trail. It meanders through beautiful natural areas bordering
large expanses of salt marshes and sites at the ocean, offering
opportunities to see a variety of wading birds, shorebirds and songbirds.
Migratory shorebirds that may be seen as they pass through Georgia to their
Artic nesting grounds might include dunlin, red knots, semipalmated
sandpipers, long and short-billed dowitchers, and black-bellied plovers. In
addition, many of the resident coastal breeders are preparing for nesting
season. Colonial nesting waterbirds such as brown pelicans, royal terns,
white ibises, little blue herons and snowy egrets can be seen nesting and
feeding along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail.
One of the reasons that Georgia is so popular with these winged travelers
is that we have an abundance of resources, says Todd Schneider, WRD
Wildlife Biologist. We have many quality stopover sites that offer more
feeding, nesting and refueling opportunities as compared to other areas
along the Atlantic coast.
The Southern Rivers Birding Trail winds its way from the rolling hills of
the Georgia Piedmont, 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 30 sites situated along the trail
have been carefully selected to provide the wildlife watcher with a broad
spectrum of wildlife viewing experiences.
Many of the sites are located along two of the state's great rivers the
Chattahoochee and Flint, said Johnson. These majestic rivers offer the
outdoor enthusiast a wealth of recreational opportunities such as boating,
fishing, hunting and bird watching.
Major river systems along with their associated bottomland hardwood forests
provide vital migration corridors for many neotropical migrants. Many of
the wood warblers, both resident and migrating species depend heavily on
these habitats. Sites along the Southern Rivers Birding Tail provide
excellent opportunities to catch a glimpse of those birds just passing
through since their presence in Georgia is generally limited to just a few
weeks of the year.
The Cape May, blackpoll, bay-breasted and magnolia warblers along with the
rose-breasted grosbeak are just a few of the over 260 migratory and
resident species that can be seen on the Southern Rivers Birding Trail
during this excellent bird watching season, said Johnson.
For additional information on site locations and maps for Georgia’s
Colonial Coast Birding Trail and Southern Rivers Birding Trail, visit WRD’s
www.georgiawildlife.com and click on "Nongame Animals & Plants."
Georgians can support the conservation and management of migratory
shorebirds and other nongame wildlife by purchasing a wildlife license
plate for their vehicles, or by donating to the "Give Wildlife a Chance"
State Income Tax Checkoff. Since December 2003, more than 365,000 of the
nongame bald eagle tags have been sold, raising more than $6.9 million for
wildlife conservation, recreation and education projects. The primary
source of funding for the Nongame Wildlife and Natural Heritage Section,
the plate depicts a bald eagle silhouetted before the American flag.