Birds of Honduras meeting and fundraiser a great success!

Our first speaker meeting of the fall kicked off in style, with almost 70 people attending our September speaker meeting, social and fundraiser to hear Robert Gallardo talk about the amazing wildlife of Honduras. The goal of the fundraiser was to support the publication of a field guide to the birds of Hondruas, and artist John Sill was also present to showcase some of his beautiful plates. Please join us next month for our annual fall potluck and hear Professor Bob Cooper talk about birds and climate change!

L-R: Robert Gallardo, John and Cathryn Sill, Bob Cooper, Mark Freeman, Carole Ludwig and Richard Hall

Wine and cheese reception, and silent auction in full swing.


September 8 Birdwalk at the State Botanical Garden

The State Botanical Garden was full of both birds and birders.  An ORAS birdwalk with 15 participants including John and Mai Whigham, John and Judy Willis, Laura Steadman, Steve Duke, Jim Hanna, Mary Case, Alison Huff and Ed Maioriello met other Athens birders Richard Hall, Mirko Basen, Krista Gridley, Rachel Cass and Steve Holzman who were scouring the gardens for everything with feathers.

The birds were not too cooperative for photos, but good looks were had at Yellow-throated Vireo, Northern Parula, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great-crested Flycatcher and plenty of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.





September 1 Bird Walk at Sandy Creek Nature Center

We had a nice walk out at the Sandy Creek Nature Center this morning.  Despite being early in the fall migration we had a few migrating warblers including Blackburnian, Worm-eating, Magnolia and Chestnut-sided.  While many of the warblers were hiding in the foliage, all were treated to a nice look at a Great Blue Heron in the Claypit Pond.

Additional highlights were White-eyed Vireos singing around us down by the Sandy Creek and the Oconee River, Hooded Warblers, Pine Warblers, Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks.

We had a nice group of birders including ORAS regulars Richard Hall, Alison Huff, Steve Duke, and Jim Hanna.

Kitty Cams in the news

A study on the habits of outdoor cats by UGA researcher Kerrie Ann Loyd, and partly funded by an ORAS small grant, has been making national news recently. 'Kitty cams' attached to pet cats revealed the surprising toll on native wildlife and risk-taking behavior by the felines while out on the prowl. Many of us here on the ORAS board are cat-lovers, but for the sake of local wildlife, and the health and safety of our feline companions, we advocate keeping your cats indoors. Some of the press relating to this study can be viewed on the NPR website:

and the LA Times:,...

September 6 speaker meeting, reception and art auction

For our Sept. 6 meeting, ORAS will host two special guests: Robert Gallardo and John Sill. They are the author and illustrator of a one-of-a-kind book on the birds of Honduras.  At our  meeting Gallardo willspeak on his experience documenting over 700 species in this small but avian-rich country.  Everyone is invited to a 6:30 reception preceding the meeting where Sill will exhibit  original plates  for the book and will offer original art for silent auction.  The reception will offer an opportunity to donate to support  this important field guide.  Both the  party and  the  7:30 ORAS meeting will be held in the Ecology building on the UGA campus.

Robert Gallardo and John Sill

Oconee Rivers Audubon Society (ORAS) Small Grants Award; Fall 2012 call for proposals

ORAS wishes to support a student, teacher, individual, or group conducting research, designing outreach or educational activities, or undertaking habitat improvement that will benefit birds and other native wildlife in the Athens area. Awards are typically in the region of $300, but awards of up to $500 will be considered.

Successful applicants are expected to write a short report for our monthly newsletter and/or to give an oral presentation of 30min – 1hr at one of our monthly speaker meetings. The proposal should be 2-3 pages in length (single or 1.5 spaced), and should describe how the project will benefit birds, wildlife, and the Athens community. It should also contain an itemized list of supplies that will be purchased with the grant money.

Please email applications to ORAS President Richard Hall, president "AT" The deadline for receipt of these proposals is October 1st 2012.

New Backyard Wildlife Sanctuaries

Please welcome our 4 newest Backyard Wildlife Sanctuaries! Congratulations to Lorene Winter, Deb Weiler and Loren Hunt, Judy and Richard Newton, and Chuck Murphy, who have all received Backyard Wildlife Certifications this summer! Since our program began on May 1st, we have certified 5 properties (with one additional property pending). A total of 34.27 acres in the Athens area is now certified as backyard wildlife habitat!

Our First Certified Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary!

Congratulations to Leon Galis for being the first backyard to be certified as a backyard wildlife sanctuary! Leon has been improving his yard for wildlife for years by planting native species, providing fruiting trees and shrubs, and removing privet from his property. Leon also provided the initial inspiration to create the Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary program here in Athens. Six volunteer certifiers also attended to learn more about the certification process.