. (It's free.
)Also in this issue:
* Tracking terrapins
* Animals that hoard
* Right whales returning
* Benefits from bobwhites
Many species of birds
leave Georgia in the fall to fly south for the winter, and we will miss their pretty colors and songs until they return in spring. However, other birds from northern states are arriving in Georgia right now! Keep your eyes peeled and binoculars ready to see different species of waterfowl, hawks and songbirds moving in this time of year. The dark-eyed junco
), a dark gray sparrow with a pale pink beak, is common at ground-level birdfeeders in cooler months. Some people call juncos “snowbirds” since they only stay here in fall and winter.In education“Better than Animal Planet Live!”
is how one second-grader described her visit to Arrowhead Environmental Education Center
. Set on 337-acre Arrowhead Wildlife Management Area
near Armuchee, the 15-year-old center is open to Floyd County Schools and Darlington School, offering a 2.2-mile interpretive nature trail, a beaver dam, wetlands and a new aquatic center where students can see lake sturgeon, crayfish and other native aquatic species. On average, 9,000 children visit each year. “I love that we can open their eyes to the environment,” center director Kim Kilgore said. Teachers in the two school systems can arrange field trips by contacting Kilgore, (706) 295-6073 or email@example.com
. For more on Arrowhead
North Atlantic right whaleEubalaena glacialis
are black and gray, weigh nearly 60 tons, and can reach 60 feet. That's about the size of a city bus. As baleen whales, they have a bow-shaped lower jaw and a head up to a fourth of their length.Range
: Right whales
spend December to March off the Georgia and north Florida coasts, the species' only known calving grounds. In spring, they swim to Cape Cod and the Massachusetts Bay area, where the whales mate. This area also serves as a nursery for calves, which usually stay with their mother for a year.Georgia's place
: It's common for nearly a fourth of the population, including cow-calf pairs, juveniles and non-breeding individuals, to migrate to the Georgia coast each year. Approximately 150 were spotted here
last winter. Right whales are the state marine mammal
: With mouths open, they skim the water to feed on tiny crustaceans called copepods. Calves and juveniles can be playful: They've been seen breaching -- or launching themselves out of the water, landing with a tremendous splash. The whales also cavort on the surface, swimming upside down and flapping their flukes.Whale ID
: Right whales have callosities, or rough skin patches on their heads and around their mouths. The callosity patterns are as unique as human fingerprints. Researchers use these patches and the v-shaped "blows" from two blowholes on the whales' head to identify whales. Right whales have no dorsal fin.Status
: First protected in 1931 and federally listed as endangered in the 1970s, right whales are also state-listed as endangered and a priority species in Georgia's Wildlife Action Plan
. They were hunted nearly to extinction during the 19th century. An estimated 300-400 of these whales are left.
* Fatal blows
: Right whales are slow swimmers that frequently rest just below the surface and often do not respond to sounds of approaching ships. Ship strikes are the leading cause of death. Other threats include entanglement in commercial fishing gear, collisions with recreational boats and disease. Federal law bars boats from coming within 500 yards of a right whale. Conservation details
: In October, National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA approved a rule
limiting speeds for vessels larger than 65 feet to 10 knots or less in critical right whale habitat on the U.S. Atlantic coast. The rule goes into effect Dec. 9.Baby blues
: Females carry calves for a year before delivery. Newborns weigh 1-2 tons and can reach up to 16 feet long. Gray beards
: Right whales can live for up to 70 years.
Source: Georgia DNR
Your money at workThe Morrow High 11th-graders
were digging into a recent environmental education program at Fernbank Museum of Natural History
-- scooping out holes, easing in native saplings, gently adding dirt and water. Some students even posed for snapshots with "their" trees. OK, so they were from the Clayton County school's environmental club, but the enthusiasm wasn't unique for Fernbank's UrbanWatch Atlanta
program. The 3-year-old effort blends classroom outreach and Fernbank field trips that teach metro Atlanta students and teachers about native plants, invasive species such as Chinese privet and biodiversity. The program serves mainly city schools, many marked as low income, Title 1 schools. "In the simplest terms, I want to get kids excited about nature," explained environmental education programs manager Eli Dickerson. This year, state Nongame Educational and Watchable Wildlife funds
paid for the native plants used in UrbanWatch Atlanta. The money comes from nongame wildlife license plate sales and the Give Wildlife a Chance income tax checkoff.Ranger reportsDeep freeze
: In early October, Jefferson city police called Ranger 1st Class Eric Isom after finding a frozen hawk and owl in a drug suspect's freezer. The man said he planned to give the red-shouldered hawk
and great-horned owl
away for educational purposes, and told Isom that someone from the DNR advised him he could keep the federally protected birds. Isom advised him of his rights. Along with a felony drug charge, the man faces charges for illegal possession of protected species. Isom confiscated the birds.Illegal pet
: Ranger 1st Class Chad Chambers checked a Cornelia pet shop last month after permits indicated the store had native king snakes for sale. Chambers found several different king snake species, including some eastern king snakes
, which are native to Georgia, said Capt. Rick Godfrey. The storeowner said he ordered the snakes from a distributor in Ohio -- that state had forwarded the sale paperwork to the DNR as a courtesy -- and did not realize one was indigenous to the state. He agreed to return the eastern king snakes, and received a warning.Cleaning up
: Capt. Stephen Adams, Sgt. John Harwell, Cpls. Jesse Cook and Ron Harris, and Ranger 1st Class Mark Carson joined with Coastal Resources Division staff for the annual Rivers Alive
clean-up Oct. 7. The officers hauled 3.9 tons of trash, including a dock section, from marsh along Ga. 17 between the Region VII office and Spanky’s.Nongame in the news
* The Chattanooga Times Free Press: "Sisters recall life at Mountain Cove Farm," about the history of McLemore Cove, property recently conserved by DNR. Oct. 29
* The Associated Press: “Ga. wraps up record sea turtle nesting season
,” about this year's loggerhead nests. Oct. 22.
* Outdoor Central: “DNR adds DOT acres to manage for hunting, fishing, wildlife
,” about agreement adding nearly 10,000 acres of DOT mitigation land to WMAs and natural areas. Oct. 22.
* WTOC 11 (Savannah): "Dead dolphin spotted off Richmond Hill coast
," about discovery of a dead bottlenose and DNR follow-up. Oct. 20.
* The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Sturgeons swim once more in Georgia rivers
," about DNR's reintroduction of lake sturgeon into the Coosa River basin. Oct. 20.
* The Florida Times-Union: "DNR whittles flathead numbers
," about the Satilla River Redbreast Restoration Project. Oct. 20.
* The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Shed illusions about snakes, turtles, lizards
," about Georgia Reptile Expo. Oct. 19
* The Lincolnton Journal: "Rare plant found at Doerun Natural Area near Moultrie
," about discovery of American chaffseed at Doerun Pitcherplant Bog Natural Area. Oct. 9
* The Brunswick News (and others): "Thousands expected at annual birding festival
," about annual Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival at Jekyll. Oct. 8
* The Brunswick News: Photographs of CoastFest 2008
. Oct. 5Upcoming "Outdoors"
"Georgia Outdoors" is shown on GPB channels at 9:30 p.m. Fridays, 6 p.m. Saturdays and 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
* "Monuments of the Past," 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4
* "License to Fish" (premiere broadcast), 9:30 p.m. Nov. 7, 6 p.m. Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11
* "Animal Architects" (premiere broadcast), 9:30 p.m. Nov. 14, 6 p.m. Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18
* "Kayak" (premiere broadcast), 9:30 p.m. Nov. 21, 6 p.m. Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 25Details online
* Nov. 5: 10 a.m. public hearing on amending Georgia Conservation Tax Credit Program rules
, DNR Board room, Atlanta. Comment (by Nov. 5
* Nov. 8, 9: Native grass seed collection events led by Georgia Important Bird Areas
1-4 p.m. Nov. 8 at Panola Mountain State Park, Stockbridge; noon, Nov. 9 at Sprewell Bluff State Park, Thomaston. (678) 967-9924; firstname.lastname@example.org
* Nov. 8: Project FeederWatch
starts, runs through April 3.
* Nov. 7-9: Hemlockfest 2008
to raise funds, awareness about hemlocks and the woolly adelgid threat, Starbridge (near Dahlonega).
* Nov. 10: 2 p.m. public hearing by Jekyll Island Authority on amending island's master plan for Beach Village concept, Jekyll Convention Center.
* Nov. 15: America Recycles Day
** Diamondback terrapin (masthead). Andrew Grosse/UGA
** Dark-eyed junco. Todd Schneider/Ga. DNR
** Altamaha spinymussel. Rick Lavender/Ga. DNR
** Jason Wisniewski with a spinymussel. Rick Lavender/Ga. DNR
** Right whale breaching. Clay George/Ga. DNR
** Eastern chipmunk. Terry Johnson
** Diamondback terrapin. Mark Dodd/Ga. DNR
** BQI plot. James Tomberlin/Ga. DNR
** Whale training. Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies
volume 1, issue 7
Georgia Wild is a monthly
e-newsletter produced by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division
and focused on conserving nongame species, those not legally trapped, fished for or hunted. The newsletter is delivered free to subscribers. Subscribe or see archive issues here
. Wildlife Resources' Nongame Conservation Section
conserves and protects Georgia's diversity of native animals and plants and their habitats through research, management and education. The section receives no state funds
, depending on grants, donations and fundraisers such as nongame license plate sales
, the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff
and Weekend for Wildlife. Call (770) 761-3035 or check here
for details on direct donations. The nongame plates -- the bald eagle/U.S. flag and ruby-throated hummingbird -- are available for a one-time $25 fee at all county tag offices, by checking the wildlife license plate box on mail-in registration forms or through online renewal.