Birding at Pebble Hill
Pinewoods Bird Festival set at historic plantation
SOCIAL CIRCLE — Bird watching was until recently the stereotypical realm primarily of little old ladies in tennis shoes.
However, “ birding” has emerged as one of the most popular forms of outdoor recreation in the United States and around the world.
Nearly 48 million Americans enjoy watching birds, according to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “ 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife- Associated Recreation.”
Participants of all ages and backgrounds take to the woods and fields each year to build their lists, observe bird behavior and enjoy the companionship of those sharing their interests.
To celebrate the fascinating world of birds and learn more about birding, bring the entire family to the Pinewoods Bird Festival on Saturday, April 12. Held at historic Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomasville, the festival will provide activities for all ages featuring the birds, butterflies and beauty of the southern longleaf pine forests. The gates open at 9 a. m. Activities are scheduled throughout the day.
“ The Pinewoods Bird Festival will offer a unique opportunity to enjoy birds and other wildlife on one of Georgia’s most beautiful plantations, which is also a site on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Southern Rivers Birding Trail,” said Jim Ozier, Nongame Conservation Section program manager with the department’s Wildlife Resources Division.
Early spring brings opportunities to see and hear local breeding birds as well as migrants returning from wintering areas in Central and South America.
Visitors will hear the beautiful song of the Bachman’s sparrow and see many other species of birds unique to the pinewoods of Southwest Georgia while winding their way through a mature longleaf pine forest.
Special tours provided by Wildlife Resources and Tall Timbers Research Station biologists throughout the day will offer a chance to view one of Georgia’s rarest birds — the endangered red- cockaded woodpecker.
Participants can pre- register for field trips, including banding red- cockaded woodpeckers, family birding 101, banding Bachman’s sparrows, Century Forest tours, spring wildflowers, fire ecology and prescribed burn demonstration, birding at Birdsong Nature Center, bats and other night creatures, birding bonanza, kayak trip on the Wacissa River, and Red Hills bike tour.
Visit the festival Web site www. pinewoodsbirdfestival. com for details on pre- registration and fees ( pre- registering for field trips does not include the festival admission fee). Some field trips are scheduled on April 11 or April 13.
A special attraction for children is also planned.
“ Thanks to the support of St. Francis Wildlife Association and Birdsong Nature Center, the Pinewoods Bird Festival is providing a children’s activity and education area that will offer numerous opportunities for hands- on learning,” said festival cochairman and Tall Timbers biologist Jim Cox.
Youth can build a unique birdhouse, dissect owl pellets, have their face painted or try sand painting in gopher tortoise habitat.
The St. Francis Wildlife Association will also offer an exhibit with an up- close look at some of the native birds used in their education programs.
Other festival include a live animal show presented by St. Francis Wildlife Association at 12: 15 p. m., workshops and demonstrations on digiscoping and wildlife photography, building birdhouses, butterfly gardening and banding hummingbirds, and guided botanical tours of the grounds and abbreviated tours of the Main House at Pebble Hill Plantation.
The Main House is filled with sporting art such as an extensive collection of early edition Audubon prints, watercolor works by Lassell Ripley and Athos Menaboni’s Mourning Doves.
A wine and cheese reception showcasing Pebble Hill’s Main House bird artwork collections is scheduled for 4 p. m. ($ 10 per person; dress is field casual).
Admission to the festival is $ 7 for adults and $ 3 for children 12 and younger ( additional fees may apply and space in some events is limited).
A portion of the proceeds will help support wildlife and habitat conservation efforts at Tall Timbers Research Station through the Red Hills Wildlife Fund.
The 2008 Pinewoods Bird Festival is a partnership between state, private and not- for- profit organizations that include Birdsong Nature Center, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Ornithological Society, Pebble Hill Plantation, St. Francis Wildlife Association, Tall Timbers Research Station and Wild Birds Unlimited of Tallahassee.
For more information, contact Lisa Baggett at Tall Timbers Research Station ( 13093 Henry Beadel Drive, Tallahassee, Fla. 32312), call ( 850) 893- 4153 or visit www. pinewoodsbirdfestival. com .