Audubon to host talk by environmental steward on history and conservation efforts of Beech Haven property


ATHENS – Vice chair of the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission and National Park Service retiree will discuss Beech Haven – a hidden ecological sanctuary in the heart of Athens, GA at the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s next monthly meeting.

Nat Kuykendall, the vice chair of the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission, will trace the fascinating history of the Beech Haven property, discuss on-going efforts to protect the site, and Beech Haven’s exciting potential as part of the Athens-Clarke County Greenway Network when the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society holds its next meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 1, at Sandy Creek Nature Center.

Audubon to Host Will Harlan, Author of Untamed

ATHENS – National bestselling author known for his work featured in National Geographic Adventure and appeared in Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, and on The Oprah Winfrey Show will discuss his latest book, Untamed – at the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s next monthly meeting.

Will Harlan, editor in chief of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and an award-winning journalist, will speak about his book Untamed and, in doing so, the importance of conservation on Cumberland Island when the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s holds its next meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 3, at Sandy Creek Nature Center.

Georgia Museum of Natural History to host Oconee Rivers Audubon Society


Join us on Thursday, October 26 - 6:00-8:00pm

ATHENS- Tucked away on the back side of the Statistics building at the University of Georgia is the Georgia Museum of Natural History. Inside, a small display room invites guests to see mounted specimens of the Carolina parakeet and the Ivory-billed woodpecker. Spread across the room are mammalian skeletons and hundreds of irridescent butterflies lined up in cases. Whichever exhibit is on display, the room brings us to a different place and a different time.

This room, however, is a drop in the bucket. The Georgia Museum of Natural History posesses huge collections of insects, birds, fish, and marine life. The only problem is that the collection is usually off-limits. Stored in an Atlanta Highway warehouse, the annex as they call it, contains thousands of specimens that the public can rarely see.

The O'Grady Bird Habitat Restoration Project: Restoring wildlife-friendly plantings to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia

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

ORAS February meeting features talk on ring-necked pheasants in South Dakota

Please join us for our next monthly meeting on Thursday, February 2nd at 7pm. The meeting will be held at Sandy Creek Nature Center in Athens, and will feature a talk by Dr. Sprih Harsh, a postdoctoral researcher at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at UGA, about her research on ring-necked pheasants in agricultural landscapes in South Dakota. We hope to see you there!