ORAS April speaker: Georgia's Important Bird Areas program coordinator Charlie Muise

The coordinator of Audubon’s Important Bird Areas (IBA) program in Georgia will demonstrate the critical need for establishing and protecting areas for wild birds at the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s next meeting, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at Sandy Creek Nature Center. Longtime state IBA Coordinator Charlie Muise will also provide fresh information about important activities under way in Audubon’s IBA program in Georgia, including bird banding at Panola Mountain State Park and the Joe Kurz Wildlife Management Area, the effects of prescribed fires on bird habitat, and problems with cats on Jekyll Island.

The National Audubon Society’s IBA program identifies and conserves key breeding areas and feeding sites for birds throughout the world. An IBA is a place that provides essential habitat for one or more species of bird, whether in breeding season, winter, or during migration. These sites are considered to be exceptionally important for bird conservation. Protection of the most critical of these sites is one important approach to the protection of many bird species.
Audubon chapters in Georgia have undertaken the job of determining where these sites are in our state so that we may strive to protect them. In Athens, the combined properties of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and Whitehall Forest have been designated an Important Bird Area.
Muise works across the state with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, local Audubon chapters, and many non-profit groups to conserve birds both within and outside Georgia's IBAs. Muise also runs bird-banding stations at Joe Kurz Wildlife Management Area and Panola State Park, examining the long-term effects of native grassland restoration on bird communities.
His talk at the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s next meeting will be held in the Nature Center’s newly expanded Education and Visitor Center, formerly the ENSAT Center, 205 Old Commerce Road off U.S. Highway 441 north of Athens. To reach the center from the Loop 10 bypass, exit at U.S. Highway 441/Commerce Road and turn north toward Commerce. Go approximately a mile, turn left at the Sandy Creek Nature Center sign and go to the end of the road. Turn left at Old Commerce Road; parking for the Education and Visitor Center will be on the right.