Clean water heroes from across the state were recognized for their extraordinary work to protect Georgia’s water during the Georgia Water Coalition’s 20th Anniversary & Clean 13 Celebration on May 22, 2022 at Fall Line Station in Macon. The event, with 125 in attendance celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Georgia Water Coalition and featured an awards ceremony. Read the report and learn about the awardees at https://www.gawater.org/clean-13.
The celebration honored: Athens-Clarke County, Blue Bird Bus Corporation, City of Savannah, City of South Fulton, Georgia Audubon and Southern Conservation Trust, Madison County Clean Power Commission, Mitchell County 4-H, Hanwha QCELLS North America, Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown, Patagonia, Rep. Andy Welch and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, White Oak Pastures and Jim Wright.
The work celebrated includes:
Athens-Clarke County has embraced clean energy by adopting a goal of making its entire community powered 100 percent by renewable energy sources by 2050. To do this, the city-county commission adopted an innovative funding mechanism to generate the cash needed to reach the goal. Now, solar arrays are popping up on fire station roofs and low-income neighborhoods are getting water and energy efficiency assistance.
Blue Bird Bus Corporation (Peach County)
In Ft. Valley, the Blue Bird Bus Corporation has become the country’s leading manufacturer of electric school buses and expects that by 2030 nearly 100 percent of its sales will be for electric and alternative fuel buses. By eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, this trend will lead to cleaner air for today’s school children and a more livable world for future generations.
City of Savannah (Chatham County)
In Savannah where visitors are often seen strolling the streets of the entertainment and historic districts with drinks in hand, the city partnered with local restaurants and bars in on a pilot project to replace plastic to-go cups with infinitely-recyclable, Georgia-made aluminum cups. The pilot was so successful that additional restaurants are buying in and consumers are clamoring for the cups, taking them home as souvenirs rather than tossing them in trash cans or recycling bins.
City of South Fulton (Fulton County)
In the City of South Fulton nestled along the Chattahoochee River, city leaders this year voted to make their municipality the first in Georgia to implement regulations prohibiting private businesses from using plastic bags. Other communities are watching and now following their lead.
Georgia Audubon and Southern Conservation Trust (Fayette County)
Near Fayetteville, Georgia Audubon and the Southern Conservation Trust are working at the micro-level, showing how little changes add up to big impacts. The two groups are partnering at Sams Lake Bird Sanctuary to eliminate invasive aquatic and terrestrial plants and restore native plants. The project is a lesson in the interconnectivity of our natural systems. The native plants produce more insects that benefit the 138 bird species that live in or annually visit the 56-acre sanctuary of wetlands and wildlife.
Madison County Clean Power Coalition (Madison and Franklin counties)
In rural Northeast Georgia residents rallied together to fight pollution from two local biomass-to-energy plants. When residents discovered the facilities were chipping and burning creosote-soaked railroad ties, they took action. Within a year, this small group of determined activists had secured state legislation banning the use of creosote-soaked wood at power generation facilities and held the polluting entities accountable.
Mitchell County 4-H (Camilla/Mitchell County)
In partnership with the Stripling Irrigation Research Park in Camilla, Mitchell County 4-H sponsors an annual 4-H20 camp to teach youth about the importance of the state’s water resources. Since 2008, hundreds of children have participated, and now “graduates” of 4-H20 Camp are becoming science and water management leaders.
Hanwha QCELLS North America (Whitfield County)
In 2019, Dalton became home to the largest manufacturer of solar panels in the Western Hemisphere with the opening of Hanwha QCELLS facility which annually produces enough panels to generate 1.7 gigawatts (GW) of electricity. QCELLS chose the location, in part, because of the need to be close to the growing solar market in Georgia and the Southeast.
Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown (Chatham County)
Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has become an advocate for Georgia’s coastal waters and through a NOAA partnership with Savannah State University, Georgia’s first public university for African Americans, is working to diversify NOAA’s workforce. During the past 20 years, Hoskins-Brown’s work has made the historically black university one of the nation’s top producers of marine science graduates—some of whom are now working for NOAA studying how climate change is impacting fisheries and coastal communities.
Patagonia (Fulton County)
When it comes to supporting environmental advocacy and water protection efforts in Georgia, perhaps there is no business as committed to change as Patagonia. The iconic brand’s retail store in Atlanta funds local environmental organizations, donates products to these groups and provides employee volunteers for multiple causes. Since 1996, the store has invested $1.3 million in local environmental organizations.
Rep. Andy Welch and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (Henry County and Floyd County)
Rep. Andy Welch (R-Locust Grove) and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) took up the cause championed by the late Rep. Jay Powell of Camilla and during the 2020 General Assembly session successfully secured legislation that restores funding for the state’s environmental trust funds. The legislation initiated a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot that was overwhelmingly supported by voters. During the 2021 legislation session, measures were adopted that will ensure that fees collected for environmental cleanups will be used for that purpose.
White Oak Pastures (Early County)
Will Harris and his team at White Oak Pasture’s regenerative land management practices are proving their ability to sequester as much carbon as is produced by the livestock raised on the farm. The beef raised on the farm in Southwest Georgia’s Bluffton community has a carbon footprint 111 percent lower than conventionally raised beef. The businesses’ farming practices are protecting local creeks and improving the land.
Jim Wright (Lee County)
In Southwest Georgia’s Lee County, code enforcement officer Jim Wright has become known for his work to clean Kinchafoonee and Muckalee creeks and make them accessible for residents and visitors for boating and fishing. Leading community cleanups, Boy Scout projects and development of public access points along the creeks, the Lee County employee and his community have transformed these waterways.
Together, the efforts of these “Clean 13” are adding up to cleaner rivers, stronger communities and a more resilient and sustainable future for Georgia.
The Georgia Water Coalition publishes this list not only to recognize these positive efforts on behalf of Georgia’s water but also as a call to action for our state’s leaders and citizens to review these success stories, borrow from them and emulate them.
Sponsors of the event included: Stack & Associates, Stripling Inc., Advanced Metal Components, Anonymous, Altamaha Riverkeeper, Southern Environmental Law Center, Little Saint Simons Island, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Storm Water Systems, Georgia Aquarium, Rev. Sam Rogers, Georgia River Network, Environment Georgia, R2T, Tally Sweat, Fire Systems, Flint Riverkeeper, Terracon, Holly & Brian Markwalter, Graham Law Firm, American Rivers, Fish Dock Restaurant, R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation, Sapelo Foundation and the Turner Foundation.
The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 285 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses, and faith-based organizations that have been working to protect Georgia’s water since 2002. Collectively, these organizations represent thousands of Georgians.
By Kim Savides, Georgia Audubon/UGA Sea Grant Fellow
Migration along the coast is picking up, and so is Georgia Audubon’s work along the coast. In the last month, the number of shorebirds and warblers have swelled along the beaches, marshes, and maritime forests of coastal Georgia. Though many of these birds are visitors stopping by to use abundant food resources in the state, some will be staying to call Georgia home during the summer breeding season. And many of these species—migrants and breeders alike—are of conservation concern, presenting opportunities for bird biologists across organizations to form partnerships to better understand population levels and threats to birds.
This year Georgia Audubon is partnering with Manomet and other organizations up and down the Atlantic Coast to monitor shorebirds and potential disturbances through the Atlantic Flyway Disturbance Project. Humans and shorebirds alike love to flock around Georgia’s beaches. Though beach recreation may seem ecologically benign to many beachgoers, human activities around resting or breeding shorebirds can have impacts on their condition and breeding success throughout the year. To help understand the effects of human disturbances on the Georgia coast, we are surveying points spread out across Jekyll Island. At each point we look for and count focal shorebird species like the Wilson’s Plover, American Oystercatcher, and Red Knot, as well as the number of potential disturbances present like the number of people, dogs, boats, or other vehicles. We also take a three-minute behavioral observation of each focal species to determine if the bird is resting, foraging, or being alert to natural or human disturbances. While Jekyll has lower levels of recreation that many other beaches along the Atlantic coast, we still see human disturbance to shorebirds during every survey, including biking or running through roosting flocks, dogs off leash or on beaches closed to pets, and even low-flying planes and powered parasails flying over. By comparing data from sites like Jekyll with islands with higher levels of recreation, like Tybee Island, where our colleagues from Manomet are conducting the same surveys, we can begin to get a clearer view of how shorebirds respond to human recreation along the coast. And by collecting data as part of a larger, flyway-scale project, Georgia’s data will go towards helping biologists throughout the Atlantic Flyway research and manage human impacts to shorebirds.
Also on Jekyll Island this spring and summer, Georgia Audubon is continuing our partnership with the Jekyll Island Authority to monitor nesting Wilson’s Plovers. Wilson’s Plovers are bold but sneaky shorebirds which breed from long the Gulf Coast to southern Florida and up though southern Delaware. Throughout much of its breeding range, the species is considered of conservation concern, including in Georgia where it is part of the State Wildlife Action Plan. Tracking how many plovers are breeding and the success of the nesting season is of great value to managers and researchers. But to get this data we have to find nests and monitor them closely throughout the breeding season, which can be very tricky. Wilson’s Plovers lay eggs in shallow depressions, called “scrapes”, dug in dune habitat along the shore. Finding these cryptic nests takes keen attention to behavioral cues, tracks in the sand, and a lot of luck! Males will dig multiple scrapes before wind and rain erase them or a female selects one as a nest. After the female lays three eggs and the pair incubates for about a month, the chicks will hatch and quickly join their parents and forage on their own before officially fledging in another month. But between fresh scrape and fledging, many hazards exist, including storms, ghost crabs, raccoons, loose pets, crows, and recreating humans just to name a few. While most of these threats are naturally occurring, it is important for biologists to monitor nests and ascertain why some nests fail. By monitoring nests, we can determine why certain nests are unsuccessful and propose management strategies if unnatural levels of nest failure occur. At the time of writing, we are in the very beginning of nesting season, and have found over 20 scrapes between a dozen pairs of Wilson’s Plovers within the monitoring area on Jekyll Island. As more plovers pair up and establish territories, we will be busy looking for scrapes and nests, and hope to watch many of them successfully fledge chicks as the season continues.
Looking ahead to later this spring and summer, we are excited to continue efforts with Georgia and South Carolina DNRs to monitor and track migrating Red Knots, as well as starting up a new partnership with University of Georgia professor Dr. Clark Rushing to research the breeding biology of two species along the coast—the Painted Bunting and Chuck-will’s-widow. These projects are aimed at filling gaps in our knowledge of how these species interact with and use Georgia’s coastal resources. We are excited to work with our array of partner organizations to better understand the conservation issues of birds and look forward to these projects and more to come along the Georgia coast.
By Doug Walker Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society
With a mission to educate the public about birds, other wildlife, and habitat, and to provide opportunities for our community to appreciate the natural world, the Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society focuses on birds and wildlife in the central Savannah River area, around Augusta, Georgia, and Aiken, South Carolina.
Native Wildlife Garden for East Aiken School for the Arts
In 2016, the Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society provided funding for a STEAM program (that’s STEM with an additional “A” for Arts) offered through the Ruth Patrick Science Center at the University of South Carolina Aiken. The beneficiary was the East Aiken School for the Arts, a local Title IX magnet school where 95 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches. The curriculum consisted primarily of field trips with the hope of introducing the students to nature and the outdoors. When the project was complete, the chapter felt that kids still needed a place where they could get outside so they could continue to learn about and appreciate nature. By installing a native plant garden at the school, they were able to create a place where students could spend time in nature and continue their learning.
The school provided an unused weedy courtyard and gave us free rein to transform it. With assistance and funding from the Aiken Master Gardeners Club, the chapter set to preparing the soil, eliminating weeds, and ensuring the garden would be very low maintenance. The school principal personally donated plastic sheeting for solarization, a means of natural weed killing, as well as some pavers, and the Silver Bluff Audubon Center in Jackson, SC, gave us carte blanche in gathering native plants and shrubs from their sanctuary for transplanting in the garden. In addition, a local Boy Scout Troop provided labor, digging trenches for a drip irrigation system and spreading pine bark mulch to keep the weeds down. Local businesses provided substantial discounts on supplies and provided a venue for fundraising to complete the project.
Fast forward to 2022, and the garden is now thriving, complete with a pollinator garden, sections of native grasses and ferns, and numerous bird-friendly shrubs planted around the edges. There are two water features, a bluebird house, bird feeders, a tree frog tube, various rock and wood piles, and a mason bee house. The only non-native vegetation are two crepe myrtles, which were planted years ago as memorial trees. Regular visitors include green and squirrel tree frogs, southern toads, an occasional anole and many species of voracious birds.
The Chapter started this project in support of Audubon’s Bird Friendly Communities initiative, and it has indeed turned out to be a bi-state community effort. When we were working in the garden one afternoon, a special education teacher approached and expressed her appreciation. She said her students love to visit the space, and one little girl has fallen in love with the beautyberry and just sits there and gazes at it. Maybe we have a future botanist in training!
Georgia Audubon has been receiving questions about the current outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in birds across the country.
In April 2022, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced (https://georgiawildlife.com/avian-influenza-detected-bald-eagles-georgia) that highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (also known as HPAI or EA H5 Avian Influenza) has been detected in several Bald Eagles and a handful of Georgia waterfowl species. More on those detections can be found on the USDA APHIS avian influenza surveillance website.
SHOULD I TAKE DOWN MY FEEDERS?
There are no current recommendations from officials in Georgia to remove songbird feeders, though you may want to exercise caution if you keep or live near poultry.
As always, we recommend that anyone with bird feeders continues to follow responsible protocol by cleaning feeders and baths regularly. Wear disposable gloves, empty, then clean with a 10% bleach solution (one-part bleach mixed with nine parts water). Rinse thoroughly with water and allow to air dry completely (in the sun if possible) before filling with fresh seed or water.
We DO advise that you take down your bird feeders and baths if:
WHAT IS HPAI?
HPAI is a deadly viral disease that infects the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts of birds. It has most significantly affected domestic poultry (chickens, turkeys, ducks) and farms may suffer rapid spread and high mortality rates (those keeping flocks should review the APHIS Defend the Flock program).
DOES IT AFFECT WILD BIRDS?
Yes, and this disease has been detected in a few wild birds (11 at the time this post was written) in wild bird populations in Georgia. According to the USDA, wild birds can contract, shed, and spread the virus at a rapid rate without showing symptoms of the disease.
Currently, the wild species most affected appear to be the following:
WHAT SHOULD I WATCH FOR?
For birds that it affects, common symptoms include:
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you are a birder, please be vigilant. This virus is hardy and can be spread easily via vehicles, birding equipment, and more. If visiting a wetland area, bring a change of footwear so that you can change shoes before getting out of your vehicle and after you return to your car. Disinfect footwear and equipment before using again.
HPAI is a zoonotic virus, meaning that it can cross species boundaries, and it can be transmitted to people and other animals. The majority of avian influenza viruses do not infect humans; however, simple precautions should be taken to reduce or minimize the risks of infection:
FURTHER READING AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Press Release: https://georgiawildlife.com/avian-influenza-detected-bald-eagles-georgia
UGA Extension Service Avian Influenza page: https://extension.uga.edu/topic-areas/animal-production/poultry-eggs/avian-flu.html
Georgia Department of Agriculture Avian Influenza page: https://agr.georgia.gov/avian-influenza.aspx
Georgia Department of Public Health Avian Influenza Page: https://dph.georgia.gov/avian-influenza
CDC Avian Influenza page: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/hpai/hpai-background-clinical-illness.htm
USDA page on Avian Influenza: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-2022/2022-hpai-wild-birds
APHIS “Defend the Flock” page: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/defend-the-flock-program/defend-the-flock-program
Information from National Audubon Society
by Dottie Head, Director of Communications
The seventh annual Georgia Bird Fest will return this spring with more than 40 events between April 23 and May 15. Join fellow nature and bird enthusiasts for exciting field trips, workshops, and other events to celebrate and enjoy Georgia’s exciting spring migration period. Participation in Georgia Bird Fest provides critical support for Georgia Audubon’s conservation, education, and community engagement programs.
This year we will welcome two special guests for Georgia Bird Fest 2022. Joining us for our opening weekend will be artist and author Rosemary Mosco. Rosemary makes books and cartoons that connect people with the natural world. Her Bird and Moon nature comics were the subject of an award-winning museum exhibit and are collected in a book that’s a 2019 ALA Great Graphic Novel for Teens. She co-wrote The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, a NYT Best Seller. She speaks at birding festivals and writes for the PBS kids’ show Elinor Wonders Why. Her newest book, A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching, is a quirky, funny, and scientifically correct field guide to observing one of the world’s most commonly seen birds. Rosemary will present the Georgia Bird Fest 2022 Opening Keynote virtually on Sunday, April 24.
Joining us for our closing weekend is author, public speaker, and filmmaker Dudley Edmondson, whose passion is nature and getting People of Color outdoors. Dudley has considered himself a nature advocate ever since he discovered its ability to heal the mind and body as a young boy. He is the author of the landmark book, Black & Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places, profiling African Americans in nontraditional vocations and avocations in the outdoors. In addition, Dudley's photography career spans nearly three decades. His work has been featured in galleries and in nearly 100 publications around the world. Dudley will present the Georgia Bird Fest 2022 Closing Keynote at SweetWater Brewing on Sunday, May 15.
Other event highlights for Georgia Bird Fest 2022 include past favorites such as a behind-the-scenes tour of Zoo Atlanta’s bird collection; a guided tour of the avian-inspired collections at the Michael C. Carlos Museum; nature photography workshops; a Shorebird Weekend on the Georgia coast, and trips to birding hot spots across the state. We’ll also be debuting new events such as an overnight stay at the Len Foote Hike Inn in Dawsonville.
Registration for Georgia Bird Fest events is now open. For more information or to view a full schedule of events, please visit https://www.georgiaaudubon.org/birdfest.html.
Georgia Audubon would like to thank the following event sponsors: Chemours, Georgia Forestry Foundation, Georgia Power Company, Wild Birds Unlimited - Atlanta, Southwire, HGOR, and Jekyll Island Authority.
About Georgia Audubon: Georgia Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. We create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and community engagement.
By Steve Phenicie
Time waits for no man, according to an old saying, and the Ruby-crowned Kinglet doesn’t wait for time or anything else. This tiny bird, smaller than a chickadee, can move faster than a cockroach darting under your couch.
They’re present in Georgia and much of the southern United States during the winter and also in most of Mexico. In the summer they inhabit mainly Canada, Alaska, and the mountain West. During migration they show up between these areas, meaning that at sometime during the year you’re able to see them in most locations across North America. Populations fluctuate but seem to be stable long-range.
The bird eats mostly insects, including many small beetles, flies, leafhoppers, true bugs, and others. For a change of pace, it samples spider and insect eggs, and caterpillars and spiders aren’t out of the question either. Sometimes it consumes oozing sap or visits flowers, possibly for nectar. In the winter, it will go after berries and seeds. Foraging takes place from treetops to low brush as the bird examines foliage, twigs, and major limbs, always on the move. It often hovers while plucking items from foliage and sometimes flies out to catch insects in mid-air.
For habitat, it prefers mostly conifers, where it breeds in spruce, fir, and hemlock, less often in Douglas-fir or pines. In migration and winter it may be found in deciduous trees but tends to seek out conifers even then, including pine groves and exotic conifers planted in cemeteries and parks. You might observe one in the shrubbery outside your window.
In coloration, the Ruby-crowned is olive-green with a prominent but uneven white eye ring and white wingbar. This wingbar contrasts with an adjacent blackish bar in the wing. The “ruby crown” of the male is visible only occasionally.
For a nest, the female builds a deep hanging cup of moss, lichens, bark strips, spider webs, twigs, and leaves, lined with feathers, plant down, rootlets, and other soft materials. It averages about 50 feet above the ground and is attached to hanging twigs below a horizontal branch, close to the trunk and well protected by foliage above. There she typically lays eight or nine eggs, although clutches can range from five to 11. Incubation is by the female only and lasts about 14 to 15 days. The male may feed the female during incubation. Both parents feed the nestlings, and the young leave the nest about 14 to19 days after hatching.
If you know a kinglet when you see one but can’t remember the difference between a Ruby-crowned and its cousin, the Golden-crowned, here’s a memory device: Gold is “fancier” than rubies, and the Golden-crowned is “fancier” than the Ruby-crowned. The Golden-crowned has stripes along its head; the Ruby-crowned does not.
By Steve Phenicie
Georgia Audubon volunteer and writer extraordinaire penned this tongue-in-cheek letter to Santa back in 2018. We enjoyed it so much we decided to bring it back for 2021.
Everyone else writes to you at this time of year, so a birder should too. Here are some things that the friends of the feather-clad would like this year:
I know this list is a pretty tall order, Santa, but you’ve been known to be very generous.
Georgia Audubon announced four new members elected by members to the Board of Directors at their annual meeting on December 5. Mary Anne Lanier, Laurene Hamilton, Scott Porter, and Ellen Miller were elected for three-year terms, beginning January 1, 2022. In addition, Evonne Blythers Lapsey was elected to return for a second three-year term. It was also announced that Paige Martin, global director of development, science and ocean protection for The Nature Conservancy will take over as Board Chair beginning in January 2022.
Mary Anne Lanier is President of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, a Georgia-based private family foundation. Prior to assuming her current role, Lanier spent 12 years with Interface’s Sustainable Operations Team. Assuming the role of a nonprofit trustee came naturally to Lanier in 2011, when the Foundation was relaunched, as she has always found joy and inspiration serving others in the communities where she has worked and lived. She was the 2020-21 Chairman of the Board for the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership (IGEL), and she participated in the 2016 IGEL class. Lanier is a graduate of Furman University. She resides in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband James Lanier. They have three grown sons and three grandchildren.
An environmental champion, Laurene Hamilton has worked both at the state and local level protecting Georgia’s natural resources while focusing on sustainability. She recently took over as CEO of the Greening Youth Foundation. Hamilton is proud of the Greening Youth Foundation's bevy of work and commitment to excellence and believes it speaks to both her professional and personal leadership goals and passions for engaging and encouraging youth towards environmental careers. She holds a bachelor's in agricultural science and business from Tennessee State University and a master's in sustainability and environmental science from the University of Georgia. Hamilton originally hails from New Jersey but has nurtured her “Georgia twang” for the last twenty-six years, living in Atlanta with her husband and two children.
Scott Porter leads the human resources business partner team supporting WarnerMedia’s Sales & Distribution team, which includes ad sales, network distribution, and content distribution, working closely with WarnerMedia’s Chief Revenue Officer and the senior leadership team of Sales & Distribution, based in Atlanta. Porter earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and a juris doctorate from Vanderbilt University School of Law. He lives in Atlanta with his husband, also named Scott, and their two children, Caroline and Daniel. Porter loves playing tennis and is an avid Auburn football fan.
Ellen Miller is a retired Human Resources professional with over 40 years of experience in both the public and private sectors and experience in industries ranging from trade shows to health information technology. Her experience includes all aspects of human resources with an emphasis on business partnership. Ellen holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Georgia State University and a master's degree in human resource management from the University of South Carolina. She became involved in volunteer work with Georgia Audubon in 2003 and served as board President in 2007 and 2008. Ellen is passionate about the work of Audubon, and since that time, has served in a number of capacities. She lives in Monticello, Georgia, on 90 acres where she slowly chips away at making the property as bird friendly as possible.
Evonne Blythers Lapsey is currently an environmental consultant based out of Townsend, Georgia. She formerly served as Park Ranger/Naturalist with DeKalb County Recreations, Parks & Cultural Affairs, and the Director and founder of the Edge of Night Camping Club (ENCC). She was also an Environmental Education Coordinator for the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA). Evonne has been a passionate Girl Scout leader for nearly 20 years and a very strong advocate in getting families outdoors. This will be Evonne's second term on the Georgia Audubon Board of Directors.
“We are excited to welcome Mary Anne, Laurene, Scott, and Ellen to the Georgia Audubon Board of Directors,” says Linda DiSantis, outgoing board chair. “These individuals bring a wealth of talents and experiences to the Board that will help Georgia Audubon fulfill its mission of building places where birds and people thrive.”
Additional Georgia Audubon board members include Joshua Andrews, Robert Cooper, Jairo Garcia, Joshua Gassman, Marc Goncher, Gus Kaufman, Susie Maclin, Paige Martin, Jon Philipsborn, LaTresse Snead, Esther Stokes, and Amanda Woomer
For more information on Georgia Audubon, visit our website.
About Georgia Audubon: Georgia Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. We create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and community engagement.
Georgia Audubon was delighted to present long-time volunteer Steve Phenicie with the 2021 Scottie Johnson Spirit Award at the Holiday Party and Annual Meeting on Sunday, December 5.
Steve has been a behind-the-scenes volunteer for Georgia Audubon for many years. A prolific writer, he retired from the Atlanta Journal Constitution and now appears in each issue of Wingbars, on our blog, and at many of our habitat restoration work days. We’re not sure exactly how long he has been writing for us, but we know he’s pushing at least a decade.
Steve takes great delight in submitting well thought out, well-written articles for each issue of Wingbars. To date, he has written 52 Volunteer/Staff profiles and compiles the A Million Thanks column for each issue. Over the years, he has also submitted a number of Tongue in Cheek Humor articles for Wingbars, many of which have been featured on this blog site. Steve is also a frequent volunteer at our Habitat Restoration workdays. He's one of those worker bee volunteers who does an incredible amount of work for the organization that is rarely recognized.
About the Scottie Johnson Spirit Award
In 2018, Georgia Audubon lost an incredibly dedicated volunteer and dear friend, Eleanor Scott Johnson. "Scottie", as her family and friends called her, was an avid birder and long-time volunteer for Georgia Audubon. There wasn’t a task that Scottie wasn’t up for, whether that was giving educational presentations, walking a Project Safe Flight route, certifying wildlife sanctuaries, or writing the Ask Chippy column. Scottie always raised her hand to help us out. She was a nurse, a mother, a Master Birder, and a wonderful human being with an amazing spirit. Although we lost Scottie to cancer in 2018, we continue to celebrate her spirit, kindness, and perseverance annually by honoring an outstanding volunteer with the Scottie Johnson Spirit Award. Anne McCallum, a long-time volunteer with Georgia Audubon received the inaugural award in 2019, and Charles Loeb was our 2020 recipient.
Georgia Audubon commissioned a watercolor painting of a Red-headed Woodpecker by Amanda Woomer, Georgia Audubon Board Member, to present to Steve in recognition of his service to Georgia Audubon.
By Steve Phenicie
Even non-birders know about American Crows—the “caw-caw” guys. But Fish Crows—the “uh-uh” guys? Not so much. Fish Crows are a bit smaller than American Crows (about 15.5 inches vs. 17-21 inches) but are so similar that usually the only way to distinguish between the two is their call.
Unlike many species, the range of the all-black Fish Crows seems to be expanding and their numbers increasing. Range maps vary, but generally the bird can be found from New England down the Atlantic Seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico up along the Mississippi River. Adam Betuel, Georgia Audubon’s conservation director, says, “Fish Crows are definitely expanding their range northward (well beyond Georgia) and are common in the Atlanta area during most of the year. They definitely could be undercounted as most birds that do not vocalize are left as just ‘crow species’ or are not reported.”
Decatur birder Mary Kimberly says, “It’s my experience that they are much more abundant in recent years.” Anne McCallum of Clayton County says, “We see lots of them at the Panola Mountain Banding Station,” which is near Stockbridge. Jay Davis, who isn’t willing to venture whether he has noticed an overall increase, says he sees more Fish Crows than American Crows now that he lives near the Chattahoochee River. He adds that late in the summer of 2020 there were hundreds of Fish Crows gathered for several weeks at the Johnson Ferry South unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.
Fish Crows are more likely to be found near water than American Crows, and their plumage is smoother and silkier. They like tidewater, river valleys, swamps, woodland and farmland. Along the coast they forage on beaches, marshes, and estuaries. Inland they usually follow the large rivers, although they may feed in woods or fields miles away. Just about anything is on the menu, including carrion, crabs, shrimp, crayfish, insects, berries, seeds, nuts, bird eggs, turtle eggs, and garbage.
When it comes time to nest, often a few pairs form a loose colony. They put their nests near the tops of evergreens, deciduous trees, palms, and mangroves depending on what’s available. They may nest in heron colonies and raid the herons’ nests. The nest is a bulky platform of sticks and strips of bark, lined with softer materials such as grass, rootlets, hair, feathers, paper, pine needles, and even manure.
A clutch typically consists of four or five eggs, which are dull blue-green to gray-green, blotched with brown and gray. Incubation is by the female, possibly assisted by the male, for about 16 to 18 days. Both parents probably feed the nestlings. The age when young leave the nest is not well known but is probably three to four weeks.
Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 450,000, entirely in the United States. Although crows are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, states retain the right to allow hunting of them because they are regarded as pest species.
Georgia Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive.