Category Archives: Audubon – Atlanta

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Growing up in the country near near Atlanta, I could hear Bobwhites making their distinctive Bobwhite calls in the woods and fields nearby; it is a beautiful sound.  The woods and fields in and around Atlanta once were filled with those calls too.  Bobwhite calls are now gone, another victim of habitat loss.

Quail Release

Brett Bannor of the AHC releasing the Bobwhites

But a remarkable thing happened yesterday right here in the heart of Buckhead.  Twenty Northern Bobwhites were released on the 33-acre campus of the Atlanta History Center (AHC). The hope is those calls will return to some of Atlanta’s urban woods.

The credit for this idea belongs to President and CEO Sheffield Hale who was there for the birds’ release.  Goizuetta Gardens and Living Collections Director Sarah Roberts and Manager of Animal Collections, Brett Bannor were also there and told us the focus is on release and conservation.

Bobwhite

Male Bobwhite (photo BS Thurner Hof)

The Bobwhite quail is the only quail native to the eastern United States.  They are predominantly seed eaters, but females eat insects when preparing to lay eggs and chicks eat insects too.  The Bobwhite population has declined 85% since 1960 and 80% don’t live through the first year.  But the History Center’s plan is to replenish their initial population with more birds in hopes of establishing breeding pairs.

Bobwhites prefer early successional habitat, which is harder and harder to find.  However AHC’s Swan Woods has 10 acres of secondary successional forest with strictly Piedmont natives.  And now they have a wildflower meadow with native grasses and other plants, including partridge pea which Bobwhites love to eat.

Bird FestWe were lucky to be on a tour hosted by Atlanta Audubon, part of the Atlanta Bird Fest which continues through May 15.  Atlanta Audubon also has bird walks at the History Center in the summer and fall.

We discovered that there’s much more to explore at the AHC than the main museum and Swan House.  Extensive walking trails go through woods, fields and magnificent gardens.  Conservation abounds and friendly staff is eager to tell you about it, such as an experimental American Chestnut orchard in partnership with the Georgia chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation.  If you haven’t visited the AHC recently, check it out.

Good luck all you Bobwhites.  We’ll be listening for your call.

Quail Release

Bobwhites contemplating freedom

Nuthatches Need Your Help

Brown-headed Nuthatch

Brown-headed Nuthatch

Brown-headed Nuthatch populations are declining in many areas.  In fact, the brown-headed nuthatch is considered by some experts to be the least common nuthatch in North America.  Brown-headed nuthatches prefer mature pine forests, and loss of this habitat has played a major role in their decline. [1]

They are small industrious birds and are fun to watch.  It’s easy to tell when they are around because their call sounds like a small squeaky toy.

Brown-headed Nuthatch

Brown-headed Nuthatches nesting in a snag

The good news is that, so far, they seem to be doing well in Peachtree Park.  We’ve noticed them nesting here in birdhouses and snags for the last several years.

But that’s not to say that they don’t still need your help.  It’s nesting season, and you can do a lot for this little bird by putting up a birdhouse.  Atlanta Audubon’s Nest Boxes for Nuthatches page has information on how you can buy or build your own nest box along with other information about the Brown-headed nuthatch.

Below is a short video of a pair nesting in a birdhouse mounted on a snag just down the street from us (thanks for leaving the snag!)  The video was recorded yesterday and today.  We think they are still building the nest because you can see nesting material in one Nuthatch’s mouth at the beginning of the clip.

These photos were taken in Peachtree Park and there are two additional Brown-headed Nuthatch videos on our Bird Videos page.

[1]  Georgia Department of Natural Resources