Audubon to host talk by environmental steward on history and conservation efforts of Beech Haven property


ATHENS – Vice chair of the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission and National Park Service retiree will discuss Beech Haven – a hidden ecological sanctuary in the heart of Athens, GA at the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s next monthly meeting.

Nat Kuykendall, the vice chair of the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission, will trace the fascinating history of the Beech Haven property, discuss on-going efforts to protect the site, and Beech Haven’s exciting potential as part of the Athens-Clarke County Greenway Network when the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society holds its next meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 1, at Sandy Creek Nature Center.

Audubon to Host Will Harlan, Author of Untamed

ATHENS – National bestselling author known for his work featured in National Geographic Adventure and appeared in Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, and on The Oprah Winfrey Show will discuss his latest book, Untamed – at the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s next monthly meeting.

Will Harlan, editor in chief of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and an award-winning journalist, will speak about his book Untamed and, in doing so, the importance of conservation on Cumberland Island when the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s holds its next meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 3, at Sandy Creek Nature Center.

Georgia Museum of Natural History to host Oconee Rivers Audubon Society


Join us on Thursday, October 26 - 6:00-8:00pm

ATHENS- Tucked away on the back side of the Statistics building at the University of Georgia is the Georgia Museum of Natural History. Inside, a small display room invites guests to see mounted specimens of the Carolina parakeet and the Ivory-billed woodpecker. Spread across the room are mammalian skeletons and hundreds of irridescent butterflies lined up in cases. Whichever exhibit is on display, the room brings us to a different place and a different time.

This room, however, is a drop in the bucket. The Georgia Museum of Natural History posesses huge collections of insects, birds, fish, and marine life. The only problem is that the collection is usually off-limits. Stored in an Atlanta Highway warehouse, the annex as they call it, contains thousands of specimens that the public can rarely see.

The O'Grady Bird Habitat Restoration Project: Restoring wildlife-friendly plantings to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Located on the banks the Middle Oconee River, an important migratory corridor for many of eastern North America's imperiled songbirds, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia (SBG) is Athens' premier birding spot. Recognizing its value as habitat for breeding, overwintering, and migratory birds, Bill and Karla O'Grady spearheaded efforts to document bird sightings at the SBG starting in 2004.   They recorded their sightings on eBird, the largest online repository of citizen science bird data. To date, 180 bird species have been recorded in the SBG, and the O'Grady's efforts resulted in the State Botanical Garden being declared a Georgia State Important Bird Area.

To honor their contributions, and the memory of Karla's late husband Bill, Oconee Rivers Audubon Society (ORAS) is partnering with the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in its ongoing efforts to remove invasive plants and restore native, wildlife-friendly plants. Restoration of native plants will provide food, shelter and nesting sites for birds and other wildlife.

To do this, we have established a dedicated fund to which ORAS members, friends of the O'Grady's, and the general public can directly contribute to habitat restoration and maintenance. Additionally, ORAS has pledged to continue monitoring how birds respond to these habitat improvements by completing regular bird surveys in the floodplain. ORAS will also offer volunteer hours to assist with plantings and invasive species removal. More details on how to volunteer will be outlined in future ORAS monthly speaker meetings, our email listserv and newsletter.

L-R: Bill and Karla O'Grady at the State Botanical Garden; Swainson's Warbler; Creole Pearly-eye; Thomas Peters and a healthy canebrake

Audubon to host presentation on Swallow-tailed Kite Conservation

ATHENS – The Oconee Rivers Audubon Society will launch its 2016-17 season with a silent auction, reception, and a special presentation titled “A Safe Place to Land: Conservation of the Swallow-tailed Kite” by research scientist Dr. Maria Whitehead on Thursday, September 1, at UGA’s Odum School of Ecology.

Dr. Maria Whitehead, Project Director for The Nature Conservancy, will build off of a recent article that was published in The Nature Conservancy magazine that focuses on her work with Swallow-tailed Kites. Whitehead will discuss Kite conservation challenges such as climate change induced habitat degradation and discuss how the life history of this species makes it particularly vulnerable to habitat alteration and loss. Whitehead will also discuss current and future strategies The Nature Conservancy and other organizations are implementing to better monitor and manage this species in the face of climate change and other pressing threats.

Annual Potluck Picnic in Memorial Park

The Oconee Rivers Audubon Society will cap its 2015-16 season with a potluck picnic dinner at a special time and place – 6 p.m. June 2 in Memorial Park, at Picnic Shelter No. 1.

Bring a covered-dish item to share and enjoy an evening of socializing in the outdoors. Dessert will be provided. The gathering will include a short business meeting to elect officers for the upcoming year. The nominees are Brian Cooke, president; Katy Manley, vice president; Mary Case, secretary; and Alison Huff, treasurer.

Update on Managed Forests Project and Prescribed Burn Results - April Monthly Meeting & Program

A long-time Athens-Clarke County parks and recreation professional will describe the initial results of a prescribed burn as part of the Managed Forest Project at Sandy Creek Nature Center during the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s next monthly meeting. 

Changes to the 2016 Spring bird walk schedule

Due to the closure of the boardwalk on Cook's Trail we need to alter our usual Spring bird walk schedule.  Our April 2nd walk at Sandy Creek Park usually involved scoping the lake from the dam and the birding the north end of Cook's Trail.  Instead we will meet at the parking lot on the right just inside the gate.  From there we will scope the lake for water fowl from various places, explore a bit of the Lakeside Trail, and then enjoy some of the open field birding that the park has to offer.

Our April 30th Cook's Trail walk and cleanup usually began at the Sandy Creek Nature Center's Allen House and we would bird the south end of Cook's Trail.  Instead we will meet at Sandy Creek Park in the parking lot at the end of Campsite Drive.  This will allow us to bird (and cleanup) more of Cook's Trail.

If there are questions please contact Ed Maioriello,


Ecologist to explore Athens' importance for butterflies - March Monthly Meeting

University of Georgia ecologist will describe rare butterflies and moths that inhabit Athens and will discuss why this is a special place for them to thrive at the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s next meeting, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at Sandy Creek Nature Center.

Dr. James W. Porter, Meigs Professor of Ecology and Curator of Invertebrates at the Georgia Museum of Natural History, will give a presentation on “The Flap of a Butterfly’s Wing:  The Extraordinary and Essential Butterflies and Moths of Athens-Clarke County.”

Porter will display specimens from his collection of more than 1,000 butterflies and moths from Athens. In addition, he will share his knowledge about the conservation challenges facing these important pollinators in Athens and throughout Georgia.  This is a rare opportunity to see these amazing local butterflies and moths, and to hear this award-winning speaker talk about natural areas and vital species within our county.