Give wildlife a chance
Georgia DNR's Nongame Conservation Section
receives no state funding to conserve nongame wildlife, native plants and natural habitats. We depend on contributions, grants and fundraisers. Meaning we depend largely on you!
How to help?
* Buy a conservation license plate
* Contribute to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund tax checkoff
directly to the Nongame Conservation Section, even online
* Use GoodSearch
for your Internet searches (enter "Georgia Nongame Conservation Fund" under "Who do you GoodSearch for" and click "Verify").
* Join TERN
, the Nongame Conservation Section's friends group.
with two kinds of cells on their retina, both named according to shape. “Rods” are sensitive and work well in low light but only detect general shapes in black, white and gray. “Cones” require more light to function but distinguish details in color. Birds of prey that are active during the day have densely packed cone cells, allowing them to see details from a distance. Most nocturnal
animals have few or no cone cells but lots of rods. This abundance of light-catching cells plus a reflecting layer of tissue (called the tapetum lucidum
) allows owls, coyotes and bobcats to see well at night.
ninth grade through college have until Dec. 10 to submit a potentially winning design in the University of Georgia State Botanical Garden
art competition. The contest, funded by The J.A. and H.G. Woodruff Jr. Charitable Trust, celebrates student talent by using the winning designs to create signature items for the Botanical Garden's gift shop. The winning design wins $1,000. Others can earn $500 to $250, plus certificates of merit. A botanical or nature theme is encouraged (think plants, birds, insects and other animals related to Georgia). Download these guidelines
or contact Connie Cottingham, (706) 542-6014 or email@example.com
At the polls
28 of 35 conservation-funding measures on ballots across the U.S. on Nov. 2, according to The Trust for Public Land. Those measures, which varied from city to statewide initiatives, will generate more than $2 billion for conservation efforts. One example: 62 percent of Iowans voting supported an amendment to dedicate 3/8 of 1 percent of the next sales tax increase for conservation. The newly created Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund would receive an estimated $150 million annually from the next sales tax increase that lawmakers pass. Links to news coverage of conservation finance initiatives are available at Trust for Public Land
, with a longer range view recorded in the organization's LandVote® Database
On a related note
, Georgians passed Amendment 4
. The constitutional change will allow the state to enter into multi-year contracts to retrofit state buildings for increased energy and water conservation.
Not loaded for bear, but ...
Sgt. Stan Elrod and Ranger 1st Class Tim Vickery were helping Ranger 1st Class Anne Alexander and Kevin Dyer check for illegal bear hunting Oct. 18 in Towns County. Elrod and Vickery were in the Chattahoochee National Forest near the North Carolina line when they saw a vehicle illegally enter the national forest. They observed it -- for about seven hours. When the occupants returned, the rangers determined that the two men had been digging for ginseng
. Both were charged for harvesting ginseng without permission. One was also charged for littering. The ginseng was seized. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission rangers were involved in the detail.
: Belongs to the family Falconidae
, which includes about 60 species of diurnal birds of prey. In Georgia, the southeastern American kestrel subspecies is state-listed as rare.
: The smallest and most common North American falcon is also the continent’s most colorful. Kestrels are about 8.5 inches long with a wingspan of 21 inches. They have blue-gray crowns, white cheeks with two black “mustache” marks, and short, hooked beaks. Wings are narrow and pointed.
: Found from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland. They breed throughout most of Canada south of the tree line and in central Alaska, northern New England, and along the northern tier of states from Michigan to the northern Midwest, Montana and Wyoming. The species is a year-round resident in the rest of the U.S. except for southeastern Texas, parts of coastal Louisiana, southern Mississippi River delta and Alabama, extreme southern Florida, and coastal Washington state.
: Includes grasslands, pastures, sandhills and open pine forests as well as urban and suburban areas. Kestrels frequent many types of open grassy habitats but are most often noticed in the winter perched on power lines along roadsides. Thousands of migratory kestrels inhabit Georgia from late fall through early spring.
: Large insects, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and small birds, from gr
asshoppers to starlings. Occasionally hovers and drops on prey
. Most often uses this technique when perches are not available or winds create favorable updrafts.
: Call is a loud series of “klee-klee-klee” notes when excited. Kestrels also “whine” – during courtship, feeding and copulation – and “chitter,” the most common vocalization between males and females.
: Two subspecies breed in Georgia, but only in small numbers. The northern subspecies (Falco sparverius sparverius
) breeds above the Fall Line and the southeastern subspecies (Falco sparverius paulus
) breeds in the Coastal Plain below the Fall Line. The kestrel is an obligate secondary cavity nester that uses natural tree cavities and old woodpecker holes or other cavities. The breeding season in Georgia begins in late March or April. The female chooses a nest cavity and lays four or five eggs, which are incubated for 26-32 days. Fledging occurs 28-31 days later.
: In some areas of the state, kestrels nest in hollow cross-member pipes on power poles, often displacing European starlings. During the first half of the 20th century, the northern subspecies was a fairly common breeder in Georgia above the Fall Line, and the southeastern kestrel was local in distribution below the Fall Line, occurring in relatively small numbers. Surveys in recent years have found kestrels nesting in the hollow arms of power poles
in Pierce, Bacon, Coffee, Irwin, Tift, Worth and Dougherty counties. A second population is nesting in similar power line towers in central Georgia from Warner Robins to Butler, and in nest boxes placed on replacement towers in Taylor and Talbot counties. Kestrels are also using boxes placed at Fall Line Sandhills and Black Creek natural areas
: Across their range, kestrel populations increased with historical deforestation in North America. The International Union for Conservation of Nature
classifies the bird as a Species of Least Concern. But the status of local populations varies, mostly due to loss of habitat and nest sites. Threats also include pesticide poisoning and death by collisions with vehicles and by shooting. The southeastern American kestrel is state-listed in Georgia as rare. They are a high-priority species in the state’s Wildlife Action Plan
. Breeding kestrels are scarce here. Natural grassland habitats that provide sufficient natural nest sites are the major limiting factor throughout their range.
: Providing adequately designed nest boxes has increased breeding populations in some areas. While the American kestrel has never bred in large numbers in Georgia, populations seem to have increased in recent years in response to a nest box program established below the Fall Line. Box designs are being evaluated as a replacement for nest sites in hollow power pole cross-members as aging poles are replaced.
How you can help
: Providing nest sites in the existing habitats and further conservation of grassland habitats throughout the state will help ensure this species' survival in Georgia.
Largely adapted from an account by John W. Parrish Jr. in “The Breeding Bird Atlas of Georgia” (University of Georgia Press).
Two adult north Atlantic right whales
were spotted last week in ocean waters off Georgia's central coast. The sighting by the EcoHealth Alliance
aerial survey team marked the first right whales
recorded this calving season in southeastern waters.
DNR wildlife biologist Clay George
was re-elected to the board of the Take Reduction Team at the annual Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan
meeting in New Bedford, Mass. The team is a group of stakeholders including military, fisheries and government agency representatives that addresses issues influencing the recovery of large whales on the Atlantic Coast.
Three southern mollusks
have been federally listed as endangered
, two found in Georgia -- the Georgia pigtoe mussel
and interrupted rocksnail
. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also designated critical habitat in the Coosa River drainage for the trio, which includes the rough hornsnail
. Related: GPB interview
with DNR aquatic zoologist Jason Wisniewski; recent announcement
of Endangered Species Act candidates.
began this month. But it's not too late to late the continent-wide citizen scientist project
, now in its 24th year.
It is too late
for the Bay Springs salamander. Historically found in a single spring in Mississippi, the woodland salamander has not been seen since 1964 and will not be listed as endangered
, the Fish and Wildlife Service decided.
, in partnership with the Georgia Land Trust
and the Georgia Conservancy
, recently placed more than 5,200 acres in Liberty County in a permanent conservation easement. The company's Jelks Pasture easement
includes upland, marsh and hammocks.
Restoration at Fall Line Sandhills Natural Area
will include a timber thin. A Cochran logging company, which submitted the high bid, will be cutting off-site loblolly pine planted on deep sands at the Taylor County natural area
With prescribed fire season
drawing near, "ecoburners" have been sweating out wildland fire training refresher courses to remain certified. Prescribed fire
is critical for managing fire-dependent natural communities, doubling as a safe way to minimize wildfire risks and the only tool for spurring recovery of some endangered species.
A new genetics page
documents the nests of individual loggerheads on Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina beaches. The database is rooted in a University of Georgia and DNR project mapping the DNA of nesting turtles.
Read more about
Georgia's banner nesting season
for nesting loggerheads, and about the people who monitor them. In Florida, loggerhead nest counts topped the 10-year average
by nearly a third.
The 2011 Weekend for Wildlife
will make much of the turtles nesting on Georgia's coast. The theme of the fundraiser
for the Georgia Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund
is, you guessed it, sea turtles.
EPA's denial of a petition
to ban lead in fishing tackle
sparked praise and criticism
. The American Bird Conservancy, one of the petitioners, called the decision political; the American Sportfishing Association deemed it "commonsense."
State Wildlife Grants'
anniversary is profiled in this video
. (Hint: SWG has nothing to do with Star Wars and everything to do with conservation, including in Georgia.)
A national plan
for combating white-nose syndrome
is open for comment until Dec. 26. The plan
will provide a federal and state framework for investigating and responding to the syndrome, blamed in the death of more than 1 million bats and documented in 11 or more states, though not yet in Georgia.
The new Landscape for Life website
helps gardeners work with nature in their home gardens. The environmentally friendly garden site is the work of the United States Botanic Garden
and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
The best photographs
from the 2010 Great Backyard Bird Count have been picked. See the finalists
chosen by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon from among nearly 7,000 images.
The Right Whale Festival
Nov. 20 at Jacksonville Beach in Florida drew a crowd, including this boy who learned about sea turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center
booth. See more festival photos
Nongame in the news
The Augusta Chronicle
: "Fish passage is included in corps' harbor project
," plans to deepen Savannah Harbor include a fish passage structure at New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam near Augusta, plus more money for Georgia's striped bass program. (Nov. 16)
Savannah Morning News
(and others via AP): "Right whales head south to Georgia
," researchers begin annual aerial survey of north Atlantic right whales from Charleston to Sapelo Island, with similar survey south of Sapelo starting soon. (Nov. 16)
: "Right whales get help from above
," S.C. State Ports Authority is helping fund aerial tracking of north Atlanta right whales. (Nov. 16)
The Brunswick News
: "DNR helps out during manatee rescue
," massive mammal had been trapped behind dike at Altamaha Wildlife Management Area. (Nov. 13)
Georgia Public Broadcasting
: "Good weather helps sea turtle nests
," DNR Sea Turtle Program coordinator Mark Dodd discusses factors behind record season. (Nov. 8)
The (Gainesville) Times
: "HemlockFest focuses forest activism in Murrayville
," North Georgia festival supports saving eastern and Carolina hemlocks draws more than 1,000. (Nov. 7)
The Brunswick News
: "Program spurs oyster reef restoration
," used shells are used by DNR Coastal Resources Division and UGA Marine Extension Service for oyster reef restoration. (Nov. 6)
: "Bald eagle spotted in west Coweta
," one of several sightings further highlighting eagles' rebound. (Nov. 4)
Savannah Morning News
: "Turtle watchers cap 'good year' for loggerheads
," DNR release on record loggerhead nesting season. (Nov. 3)
: "Johnson: Turn your used pumpkin into wildlife treat
," Terry W. Johnson's October e-news column about wild uses for pumpkins. (Nov. 3)
Georgia Public Broadcasting
: "Mussel species get protection status
," DNR aquatic zoologist Jason Wisniewski discusses status of Georgia pigtoe mussel, interrupted rocksnail and rough hornsnail, newly named to federal endangered species list. (Nov. 2)
: "Native plants beginning to grow on gardening enthusiasts
," State Botanical Garden of Georgia course reveals interest in native plants. (Oct. 28)
Savannah Morning News
: "Georgia's sea turtles DNA fingerprinted
," ongoing UGA/DNR project aims to ID all loggerheads nesting on Georgia coast. (Oct. 26)
Chattanooga Times Free Press
: "Darter housecleaning gets help from carpet recycler
," carpet industry, Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, Conasauga River Alliance and DNR team to clean up spring for coldwater darters. (Oct. 26)
: "Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center officially opens
," state wildlife agency dedicates center for conserving and restoring rare and endangered native freshwater mussels and snails in Alabama. (Oct. 20)
: Weekend for Wildlife
, Sea Island.
: Georgia River Network annual conference
Photo credits (from top)
* In masthead: Florida biologist Ryan Berger coordinates the capture of a manatee in a dike at Altamaha WMA. DNR biologist Clay George is operating the boat . Ga. DNR
* Eagles nest near Wrens. Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
* A flock of American coots on Lake Strom Thurmond/Clarks Hill near Augusta. Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
* A dead eagle. Jim Ozier/Ga. DNR
* Male southeastern American kestrel. Jessi Brown/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
* Sarah Barlow with a Fowler's toad at Sandy Creek Nature Center. Rick Lavender/Ga. DNR
* American shad. Don Harrison/Ga. DNR
* Commercial shad angler. Don Harrison/Ga. DNR
* Young, male rufous hummingbird at a feeder in Bibb County. Terry W. Johnson
* Georgia Sea Turtle Center staff talk turtles with child at the Right Whale Festival. Kristina Summers/Ga. DNR
* Rescue team quickly checks the manatee before releasing it into the Altamaha River. Clay George/Ga. DNR
volume 3, issue 11
A free monthly e-newsletter produced by DNR and focused on nongame wildlife. Subscribe or see previous issues
Wildlife not legally trapped, fished for or hunted, plus native plants and natural habitats.
The Wildlife Resources Division's Nongame Conservation Section
. Our mission: Conserve and protects Georgia's diversity of native animals and plants and their habitats through research, management and education. It's worth repeating that we depend on grants, donations
and fundraisers such as nongame license plate sales
, the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund state income tax checkoff
and Weekend for Wildlife
Buy a tag:
Nongame license plates – the eagle and hummingbird – are available at county tag offices
, by checking the wildlife license plate box on mail-in registration forms and through online renewal
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