Located on the banks the Middle Oconee River, an important migratory corridor for many of eastern North America's imperiled songbirds, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia (SBG) is Athens' premier birding spot. Recognizing its value as habitat for breeding, overwintering, and migratory birds, Bill and Karla O'Grady spearheaded efforts to document bird sightings at the SBG starting in 2004. They recorded their sightings on eBird, the largest online repository of citizen science bird data. To date, 180 bird species have been recorded in the SBG, and the O'Grady's efforts resulted in the State Botanical Garden being declared a Georgia State Important Bird Area.
To honor their contributions, and the memory of Karla's late husband Bill, Oconee Rivers Audubon Society (ORAS) is partnering with the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in its ongoing efforts to remove invasive plants and restore native, wildlife-friendly plants. Restoration of native plants will provide food, shelter and nesting sites for birds and other wildlife.
To do this, we have established a dedicated fund to which ORAS members, friends of the O'Grady's, and the general public can directly contribute to habitat restoration and maintenance. Additionally, ORAS has pledged to continue monitoring how birds respond to these habitat improvements by completing regular bird surveys in the floodplain. ORAS will also offer volunteer hours to assist with plantings and invasive species removal. More details on how to volunteer will be outlined in future ORAS monthly speaker meetings, our email listserv and newsletter.
L-R: Bill and Karla O'Grady at the State Botanical Garden; Swainson's Warbler; Creole Pearly-eye; Thomas Peters and a healthy canebrake