By Hannah E. Jones
In a few weeks, Georgia Audubon is kicking off its month-long Georgia Bird Fest. From April 22 to May 21, the conservation nonprofit is hosting over 40 events around the state to celebrate birds and their habitats. Through these programs, the team hopes to help Georgia residents foster a greater appreciation for their local wildlife and greenspaces.
Events span from the heart of the city to the coast, and the offerings cater to newbies and bird experts alike. The schedule includes in-person and virtual programs, like field trips, tours and workshops.
For example, folks can sign up for a BeltLine biking tour, a live raptor show or a canoeing trip down the Chattahoochee River. There are also creative offerings like webinars on bird photography with professional nature photographer Eric Bowles and drawing workshops with an award-winning naturalist writer and illustrator Christy Baker Knight.
Georgia Audubon’s Director of Community Engagement Sheridan Alford is heading the festival this year and describes the 2023 Georgia Bird Fest with two words — inclusion and variety.
“Just as many bird species as you can see, they’re probably as many events,” Alford laughed. “We’re trying to make it a diverse event. That’s one of our main strategic goals — to make birds more accessible to all parties, not just any specific demographics.”
To that end, the team selected a variety of events to ensure that folks who want to participate can. This year, there is an emphasis on engaging kids and young adults and introducing them to the world of birding.
“We have quite a few teen events, like the Teens and Feathers Birding Trip. [We are also] providing events that aren’t only for advanced birders, we have a lot of events that are beginner-friendly so people who are just getting into it can feel comfortable there,” Alford said. “We do want everyone to be able to participate in some way, shape or form.”
Closing out the festival is keynote speaker David Lindo — also known as the Urban Birder. Lindo has written several books about birding in an urban environment and was recently named the seventh-most influential person in wildlife by BBC Wildlife Magazine.
Some of the events are free while others require a ticket to participate. The festival itself is a fundraising event for Georgia Audubon and will support the nonprofit’s conservation and education programs and initiatives. Last year, it generated over $75,000.
Coinciding with spring migration, the Georgia Bird Fest will also give residents the chance to see species that they wouldn’t spot otherwise. Atlanta and the metro area are ripe with bird-watching opportunities, and Alford recommends checking out Cochran Shoals, Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve, Arabia Mountain or Kennesaw Mountain.
Georgia Bird Fest aptly kicks off on Earth Day — April 22 — and registration has already opened. For a closer look at the line-up, click here.
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