Bird­ing at Peb­ble Hill

Pinewoods Bird Fes­ti­val set at his­toric plan­ta­tion

The Covington News - - Agriculture & Outdoors -

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 .

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