Out My Backdoor: The Great Crested Flycatcher

By Terry W. Johnson

Recently, on a cool April morning I stepped out onto my deck and was greeted with a chorus of bird songs. I heard the songs of some of the birds that are familiar year-round residents in my neighborhood –the northern cardinal, Carolina wren, chipping sparrow, northern mockingbird, pine warbler and eastern towhee. Then suddenly I heard a call that I had not heard this year. From the back of my 3-acre lot came a loud wheep. I knew immediately the great crested flycatcher was back.

Out My Backdoor: Beautyberry Blends Show, Sustenance for Backyard Wildlife

By Terry W. Johnson

In recent years, a native shrub named the American beautyberry has been making a transition from Georgia's woodlands to backyards throughout the state. It is remarkable that it has taken Georgians so long to realize that this native shrub is both an attractive addition to our home landscapes and a valuable wildlife food plant.

Out My Backdoor: Feed Birds With Flowers in Fall

By Terry W. Johnson

The stress of the long, hot summer is beginning to show on the flowers in my backyard. For weeks, the zinnias, salvias, coneflowers and a host of others along with untold numbers of hummingbirds and butterflies attracted to them have treated my family to a veritable kaleidoscope of color. Knowing that soon the flowers time will be over, I must admit that I am filled with mixed emotions. Hummingbirds are departing in droves. As the flowers continue to wither and die, the butterflies will also disappear.

Out My Backdoor: Hummingbird Migration Begins in Your Backyard

By Terry W. Johnson

For the past several weeks, hummingbird fanciers have enjoyed watching squadrons of ruby-throated hummingbirds displaying their aeronautical skills in backyards across the state. These tiny dynamos have been flying between feeders and flowers, gorging themselves on sugar water and nectar. When they haven't been feeding, they seem to have been trying to keep others from enjoying the sweet bounty.

While we find their activities entertaining, to hummingbirds it is a matter of life and death.

Out My Backdoor: Invite the State Bird to Your Backyard

By Terry W. Johnson

I have a question for you: What is the state bird of Georgia? Is it: a) northern bobwhite; b) cardinal; c) northern mockingbird; or, d) brown thrasher?

Times up. If you guessed the brown thrasher, you are right. On March 20, 1970, after a 35-year campaign waged by The Garden Club of Georgia Inc., the Georgia General Assembly designated the brown thrasher as Georgia's official state bird.