Healthy Habitats are Good for Birds and People, too
By Jared Teutsch, Executive Director
Both people and birds need healthy habitats to thrive. With that in mind, Georgia Audubon has been busy creating bird-friendly habitat across Georgia to fulfill our mission to build places where birds and people thrive. Through innovative partnerships and with the help of some amazing volunteers, Georgia Audubon is focused on improving a variety of habitats in their ability to support birdlife in metro Atlanta and across Georgia. Habitat loss and degradation is the leading cause of bird decline, making our work more critical than ever.
Panola Mountain State Park (Rockdale County)
Funded by Georgia Ornithological Society’s Terrell Conservation Grant and The Robert F. Schumann Foundation
In partnership with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Audubon has two concurrent projects happening at this unique park. The first project is focused on removing non-native woody vegetation, such as Chinese privet and Bradford pear, in areas near the South River. This work allows native vegetation, like river cane, to thrive and strengthens the overall health of this important watershed. The second project involves converting a highly disturbed, open area near Alexander Lake into native grassland habitat. Grassland birds are some of the most at-risk species, and this roughly 16-acre area will be a wonderful place for these birds to find safe nesting and resting habitat.
Sams Lake Bird Sanctuary (Fayette County)
Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
One of the best places to go birding in Fayette County is quickly becoming an even better place to go birding thanks to a partnership between Southern Conservation Trust and Georgia Audubon. Together, we have been working to remove both aquatic and terrestrial invasive plant species and replace them with hundreds of native plants. This wetland plays an important role in filtering water coming out of metro Atlanta as it continues on its way within the Flint River watershed. Georgia Audubon and Southern Conservation Trust were recently recognized as one of the Clean 13 by the Georgia Water Coalition for our work to restore this habitat.
Cooper’s Furnace (Bartow County)
Funded by The Robert F. Schumann Foundation
With the support of our partners in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Georgia Audubon has turned a largely lifeless lawn area around the parking lot of Cooper’s Furnace, a popular day-use area near Lake Allatoona, into a developing native pollinator meadow. Cooper’s Furnace was already a popular hiking/walking destination, and we’re working to make it a great place for birds, too.
Deepdene Park (DeKalb County)
Funded by Olmsted Linear Park Alliance
Nestled along the busy Ponce de Leon Avenue, this park encompasses some uncommon old-growth forest that Georgia Audubon is working to restore and protect with support from Olmsted Linear Park Alliance. Located inside the perimeter, this 22-acre forest was overrun with non-native, invasive plant species, like English ivy and privet. Many of these non-native plants were originally planted in home landscapes and, over the years, they have thrived and out-competed native plant species, spreading into surrounding greenspaces. These non-native plants do not support the native insects that are the primary food source for birds and other wildlife. By removing non-natives and replacing them with native plants, Georgia Audubon is allowing native plant species to move back in and for this beautiful woodland to better support birds and other wildlife.
Island Ford Unit of Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) (Fulton County)
Funded by Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy
One of Georgia Audubon’s newest habitat projects at Island Ford Unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Thanks to support from the Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy, we are restoring and enhancing a native garden outside the park headquarters. This garden will not only benefit birds and pollinators, but it will also welcome visitors to the park and allow people to learn about native gardening at home and how to become certified as a Georgia Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary.
Piedmont Park (Fulton County)
Funded by Piedmont Park Conservancy
This project is focused on refreshing the native pollinator garden, also known as the “Exhibitat” garden, which hosts a variety of pollinator species, some of which may provide food for visiting aerial insectivorous birds like the Chimney Swift. A large Chimney Swift tower is the focal point of this garden, providing a place for this unique bird species to roost and potentially nest. Georgia Audubon installed this habitat in 2018, and we are excited to be able to continue to support this space through additional habitat work.
Jekyll Island (Glynn County)
Funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Maritime grassland or beach prairie, the habitat Georgia Audubon is restoring on Jekyll Island has several names. It is a unique type of grassland that only exists on the coast, and we need to do our best to preserve, protect, and restore any existing or historic remnant that still remains. Thankfully, our partners at the Jekyll Island Authority have made it one of their priorities and have helped us identify a long narrow strip on the east side of the island that has been disturbed and modified over the years. Georgia Audubon is removing non-native turf grasses and replacing this with a variety of grassland species, including Muhly grass, sometimes called sweetgrass. This grass is important to the Gullah-Geechee people’s culture, as it is used to weave baskets.
To learn more about Georgia Audubon’s habitat restoration projects, please visit www.georgiaaudubon.org/habitat-restoration.