Take a Walk with the Birds
By Jared Teutsch, Executive Director
With February drawing to a close and the daylight hours getting longer, you may have noticed the dawn chorus has been growing louder as our resident and migratory birds begin to enter the breeding season. Some bird species, like owls, raptors, and cavity-nesters, like the Brown-headed Nuthatch and Eastern Bluebird, have already begun nesting activities. Birds like American Goldfinches and Pine Warblers are molting into their breeding plumage so don’t be surprised if you see a flash of brilliant yellow at your feeders or foraging for seeds in the remains of your fall garden. Spring is in the air no matter what the temperature may be outside!
As we like to say, everyone is a birder, they just may not know it yet! And, now is a fantastic time to join Georgia Audubon for one of our free field trips, aka bird walks, as many migratory species, like warblers and shorebirds, are passing through or arriving to spend their spring and summer months here in the Peach State. Each year, Georgia Audubon hosts more than 150 field trips at parks and greenspaces across the metro area. Field trips are a great way to learn about the amazing avian life around us and to meet other people who share your interest in birds and the outdoors. Unless otherwise noted, all Georgia Audubon field trips are free and open to the public. Beginning birders are always welcome, and we even offer beginner-focused field trips, accessible field trips for those experiencing mobility challenges, as well as trips just for teen birders. We’re happy to loan you a pair of binoculars, though we do ask that you notify the field trip leader in advance so that he or she can be sure to bring a loaner set.
Most Georgia Audubon field trips are led by our awesome volunteer field trip leaders, many of whom have completed Georgia Audubon’s intensive Master Birder Program. While the bulk of our field trips are offered on weekends, we do offer a few weekday trips as well. We host trips across the metro area, at places like Piedmont Park, Morgan Falls Overlook Park, the Cochran Shoals Unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Chattahoochee Nature Center, Legacy Park, Decatur Cemetery, Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve, Murphey Candler Park, Reynolds Nature Preserve, George L. Smith Park, and many, many more locations. Trips typically begin at 8:00 AM and last two to three hours, though you may leave whenever you are ready.
During a Georgia Audubon field trip, you can expect a slow walk along the trails or through open meadows looking and listening for bird life all around you. Trip leaders will do their best to make sure everyone sees the birds that are being identified, and they generally provide a wealth of information about the birds you are seeing, too. Most field trips cover 1.5 to 2 miles at a slow pace. You’ll get a lot of steps, but birding is definitely NOT a cardio activity.
The trip leader will also keep an eBird checklist and share it with other eBird users on the trip. eBird (https://ebird.org) is an amazing community science tool that provides real time information about birds that are being seen in specific locations. We’re just wrapping up the Great Backyard Bird Count (February 17-20), and eBird reports are being submitted across the world by people just like you.
Registration is required for our free field trips, and you can learn more or sign up on our website at www.georgiaaudubon.org/field-trips. Join us to explore the bird life in our metro parks and greenspaces. We hope to see you on a Georgia Audubon field trip soon!
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