View newsletter onlineUnsubscribe | Forward a copy | Subscribe
Ga. Wildlife Resources Division logo


MARCH 2011

license plates image
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!
Here's how you can help:
* Buy a conservation license plate. A portion of fees supports the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund.
* Contribute to the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff.
* Donate directly to the Nongame Conservation Section.
* 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.

WILD Facts
Eastern tiger swallowtails are taking flight this spring! Named Georgia’s state butterfly in 1988, this common insect measures about 6 inches across with “tails” as long as 1 inch. Most eastern tiger swallowtails are bright yellow with black tiger-like stripes, although some females are dark brown. The purpose of this dark color phase may be to mimic the pipevine swallowtail, a butterfly similar in appearance but distasteful to predators. You can attract this beautiful species to your yard by providing host trees including yellow poplar, red maple and black cherry to feed the caterpillars, as well as nectar-producing flowers for the adults.
Woodward eagle T-shirt
In education

Woodward Academy fifth-graders are getting a valuable  lesson in conservation. For about the past 10 years, fifth-grade science teacher Mike Murphy has led students in Earth Day fundraising projects that “let them know they can make a difference” for Georgia wildlife. Kids focused this year on bald eagles, approving an eagle design for Earth Day T-shirts and then selling the shirts to fourth- through sixth-graders at the College Park school. Proceeds will easily top $1,000, with profits going to the state’s Wildlife Conservation Fund. The shirts not only fit Woodward, where the mascot is a war eagle, they offer a break from uniform rules. Wearing the eagle T to school is OK on April 21.

D.C. talk
Congress' passage of another 2011 budget extension also extended debate over fiscal cuts, and whether or how much the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants will be funded. The new continuing resolution runs out April 8. The federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30. States and a national Teaming with Wildlife coalition have emphasized how the State Wildlife Grants program helps conserve more than 12,000 at-risk species, powers the strategically focused State Wildlife Action Plans and leverages "hundreds of millions of dollars" for conservation by working with private groups and businesses. Georgia projects involving State Wildlife Grant include work to restore more than 15,000 acres of sandhills habitat and acquisition of Zahnd Natural Area in Walker County. One House resolution also eliminated funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and sharply cut the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund. On a related note, Satilla Riverkeeper in Georgia was the 500th signer of a Teaming with Wildlife letter supporting State Wildlife Grants funding and sent to senators.

Alligator snapping turtle
Up close
Alligator snapping turtle
Macrochelys temminckii (Harlan)
Also called: Loggerhead (for its large head) or alligator turtle.
Heavyweight: One of the world's largest freshwater turtle species, alligator snappers can top 220 pounds, with carapaces reaching more than 31 inches long.
Looks: Carapace is dark to reddish brown, broad and lined with three jagged ridges. The turtle's enormous head is triangular with an elongated snout and strongly hooked jaws. The relatively long tail has three dorsal rows of tubercles.
Looks like: The common snapping turtle. Common snappers are similar in color and general appearance, but have less conspicuous carapace ridges, smaller heads, no elongated snout or supramarginal scutes, and a jagged keel on the tail.
Habitat: Large streams and rivers (and associated impoundments) draining to the Gulf of Mexico. Found from southeastern Georgia west to Texas, and north along the Mississippi River to Iowa. Georgia waterways with populations include the Chattahoochee, Flint, Ochlockonee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha and Suwannee rivers
Diet: Includes crayfish, mollusks, fish, smaller turtles, water birds, carrion, and plant material in the water, such as acorns and wild grapes.
Life history: Mating takes place in late winter or early spring. Nesting season is April through June. Nests are usually dug in riverbanks. Females nest only once every one to two years, depositing a clutch of up to 60 eggs. Hatchlings emerge 2½-3½ months later (their gender is determined by incubation temperature of the eggs). Turtles reach sexual maturity in 11-13 years.
Snap! Alligator snapping turtles, especially young ones, are known for lying motionless on the stream bottom with their jaws agape, wiggling their specialized, worm-like tongue appendage. The action lures unsuspecting fish within range of the fast, powerful jaws. (Watch a snapper in action). The jaw force can exceed 1,000 pounds!
Water-lover: The species is the most aquatic non-marine turtle in the U.S., leaving the water usually only to nest.
Threats: Before being protected in Georgia by the state, these giant turtles were trapped heavily, particularly for the turtle soup industry. One trapper harvested 4,000-5,000 adult alligator snapping turtles in the Flint River from 1971-1983. Intense trapping of adult turtles -- especially a late-maturing species -- can undercut local populations. From 1998-1989, the same trapper reported only 62 alligator snappers caught in 783 "trap" nights (one trap out at night counts as one trap night).
Conservation status: Listed as threatened in Georgia. No federal legal status. Global ranking is G3 to G4, or narrowly endemic to apparently secure globally.
Man holding alligator snapper

For more, see the protected species accounts at  Also see: Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia (UGA Press).

   Want to comment on proposed regulations that would set fees for non-hunting/angling use of designated parts of Georgia’s wildlife management and public fishing areas? Public hearings are scheduled next month, with comments also possible online and by mail before April 29.
   Georgia's conservation tax credit proved more popular than ever in 2010. An annual report by DNR biologist Kristina Sorensen shows the most acres certified (47,310) and applications received (79) for the program that rewards landowners for their donations of permanent conservation easements or land. (Download a copy.)
   The first Atlantic white-sided dolphin documented in Georgia was found stranded on Cumberland Island last month. The dolphin, which was in poor condition and had to be euthanized, represents a species more common on the outer continental shelf along the northeastern U.S.
   Artists flocked to this year’s DNR Youth Birding Competition T-shirt Art Contest. Coordinator Linda May said judges picked from among 166 drawings and paintings for four age-category winners, with announcement of the grand-prize winner due at the April 17 awards banquet. Sign up for the birding competition by March 31!
  Fitzgerald's Wild Chicken Festival March 18-19 attracted a crowd of more than 7,000, with 100-plus vendors. In 2001, the south Georgia city made the successful switch from a rattlesnake roundup to a wildlife-friendly celebration that focused on the local wild Burmese chicken population.
   Giving to the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff reached only $205,000 last year, the least since the 1990s. DNR officials hope 2011 marks a rebound for the fundraiser vital to conservation of the state’s nongame wildlife.
   No doubt sightings will continue but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the eastern cougar is extinct, and probably has been since the 1930s. Following a formal review, the agency recommended removing the subspecies from the list of endangered animals, saying sightings examined described cougar species either released from captivity or migrated from other areas.
   What’s up with DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section? Find out in the section’s 2010 annual report, online at
   A litter pickup at Sprewell Bluff bagged two truck-and-trailer loads of beer cans and other trash last month from the state outdoor recreation area near Thomaston. Credit goes to the nearly 50 volunteers from Atlanta Audubon Society, Flint Riverkeeper, the Student Conservation Association, DNR and others.
   At a recent regional bat meeting, former DNR bat intern Laci Coleman earned top student oral presentation honors for her talk on summer roosting habitats of northern yellow bats on Sapelo Island ("Follow the yellow bat home," June 2010). 2010 intern and fellow University of Georgia student Beth Oxford drew praise for a presentation about foraging bats’ habitat associations on Georgia barrier islands, while “Bat Matt” – UGA doctoral candidate Matt Clement – detailed his research into winter roosting and bat activity in cypress-gum swamps.
   Name that session: It was the second joint meeting of the Northeastern Bat Working Group, Midwest Bat Working Group and Southeastern Bad Diversity Network and 21st Colloquium on the Conservation of Mammals in the Eastern United States. You can breathe now.
   Impacts of wind energy farms on bats and white-nose syndrome were headline topics at the colloquium. The threat of WNS is well known, but turbines on wind farms are also quiet killers, with annual mortality estimated at about 400,000 bats a year.
   Plants in office settings can boost your attention span, according to research reported in Scientific American. All of which prompted the gotta-read headline: Houseplants make you smarter.
   Beetles that roll? On the Georgia coast, Georgia Southern University associate professor Alan Harvey and former grad student Sarah Zukoff documented eastern beach tiger beetle larvae distorting their bodies into wheel shapes and being blown uphill by sea breezes, a never before seen combination in animals that use "wheel locomotion."
   The latest version of i-Tree offers a more powerful but still free tool to gauge the ecological and economic value of trees in communities. The U.S. Forest Service and partners recently announced the release of i-Tree v.4.
   Trout Unlimited provided a $2,500 grant to Sheila Humphrey for wildlife education at Smithgall Woods Regional Education Center. The program, part of Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area near Helen, reaches more than 15,000 students each year.
   Duncan Johnson Sr. is the newest Board of Natural Resources member. Appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal, the Johnson Motor Company Dealerships president and vice chair of the Central Savannah River Area Alliance replaces Bill Archer, whose term expired.
  Bringing live bighead carp into the U.S. or across state lines is now banned. Bigheads are the latest Asian carp listed as “injurious” and considered a dire threat to native fishes, with fears this species that can top 60 pounds will spread to the Great Lakes.

Did you see ...
C-4 Library Channel in Rome:
Southern Exposure program discusses whooping cranes with DNR
(scroll to "Southern Exposure: Whoopinng cranes").
Georgia Public Broadcasting: Submit your best nature video by April 8 for Georgia Outdoors' Earth Day Video Contest. Chosen clips will be part of an Earth Day episode premiering April 22.
ABC News: "Dead anchovies clog California harbor" (March 8)

Nongame in the news
Savannah Morning News: "Birding competition designed for children," March 31 deadline looms for 2011 Youth Birding Competition. (March 23)
The (Gainesville) Times: "TV program tells how to take care of hemlocks," 30-minute regional cable show created by Dahlonega-based Save Georgia's Hemlocks. (March 17) View images and script (pdf).
The Florida Times-Union: "McIntosh swamp fire out but threat remains," 960 acres burned; cautions over dry conditions remain. (March 16)
Athens Banner-Herald: "Following the monarch," UGA scientists discover, with help from students monitoring monarchs, that migration helps guard butterflies against parasite's impact. (March 13)
Newton Citizen: "Local’s art displayed in Deal’s office," turtle mosaics created by Cindy Murphy for DNR Weekend for Wildlife catch governor's eye. (March 16) "Georgia income tax checkoff helps conserve rare animals & plants," DNR release on checkoff's role in conservation. (March 14)
Savannah Morning News: "National Marine Fisheries Service: Endangered sturgeon at risk with deepening project," species draws greater scrutiny for harbor project. (March 13)
The (Bainbridge) Post-Searchlight:"Submerged logs issues rise again," proposed Senate Bill 218 would make harvest of logs in some state rivers more financially feasible, yet also resurrecting environmental concerns. (March 11)
The Florida Times-Union: "Georgia Supreme Court: McIntosh County island owned by state, not family," decision favors DNR in dispute over 40-acre island in Altamaha River. (March 8)
Athens Banner-Herald: "From U.S., fire ants go abroad," non-native pest with U.S. genes found from Asia to Australia and New Zealand. (March 4)
Savannah Morning News: "Savannah Riverkeeper keeping herself on river," advocate plans month on river near Augusta to raise Riverkeeper members and attention to issues. (March 3) And: She comes off after goals reached (video on WRDW-TV Augusta).
WTVD-TV (Raleigh-Durham, N.C.) (and others via AP): "Bat fungus found in second N.C. county," white-nose syndrome documented in Yancey County in western part of state. (March 2)
NewsChannel 9 (Chattanooga, Tenn.): "Biologists declare eastern cougar 'extinct'," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service review finds no evidence endangered cougar subspecies still exists. (March 2)
Eastern Land and Resources Council Journal: "Georgia Department of Natural Resources land conservation projects along the Altamaha River," lauds partnership that has protected 36,000 acres since 2005. (February)
LaGrange News: "Professor says coast is vital to environment," LaGrange College biology teacher discusses the work and importance of salt marshes. (February)
Cedartown Standard and Rockmart Journal: "Georgia projects earn 5 star recognition," DNR Georgia Wild article on work recognized by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five Star Restoration Grant Program. (Feb. 28)
Coastal Courier: "‘Firefighters’ keep flame for restoring wildlife habitat," DNR release about conservation through prescribed fire. (Feb. 28)
The New York Times: "How species save our lives," column explores medical advances credited to naturalists. (Feb. 27)

Photo credits (from top):
* Alligator snapping turtle (in masthead). John Jensen/Ga. DNR
* Henslow's sparrow at Paulk's Pasture WMA. Evan Schneider
* DNR's Todd Schneider and son Evan at Paulk's Pasture. Roy Brown
* Woodward Academy Earth Day eagle T-shirt. Courtesy of Mike Murphy
* Turkeybeard at Sprewell Bluff (left, by Hal Massie); turkeybeard in bloom at Dawson Forest WMA (right, by Ga. DNR)
* Alligator snapping turtle. John Jensen/Ga. DNR
* Martha Joiner, second from right, and DNR botanist Lisa Kruse, right, during a trip to the pitcherplant bogs Joiner helps conserve. Hew Joiner
* Alligator snapper caught in Decatur County. John Jensen/Ga. DNR
* One of the "purps" -- young pitcherplants Martha Joiner raised. Lisa Kruse/Ga. DNR
* Crossvine. Terry W. Johnson
* North Atlantic right whale mother and calf off Tybee Island. Ga. DNR, NOAA research permit # 775-1875
* Prescribed fire at Tallulah Gorge this month. Nathan Klaus/Ga. DNR
* Janisse Ray and her father at Moody Forest celebration. The Nature Conservancy
* Brett Boisjolie, right, crew leader for DNR's prescribed fire strike team, with other participants at Moody Forest. Kelly Jarvis/Student Conservation Association

Georgia Wild
volume 4, issue 3

This is: A free monthly e-newsletter produced by DNR and focused on Georgia's rare and other nongame. Subscribe or see previous issues.

Nongame: Wildlife not legally trapped, fished for or hunted, plus native plants and natural habitats.

We are: 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 eagle and hummingbird tags), 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.

More info:
Follow us on ...

Facebook icon
YouTube logo
flickr logo
Henslow's sparrow
Surveys hit
high note
for Henslow's

Rare sparrows found at more sites

By Todd Schneider
   The Henslow's sparrow is diminutive in size and numbers. Recent surveys, however, documented previously unknown populations in Georgia, adding information critical to conserving this pint-sized songbird.
   Henslow’s sparrows nest in prairies and other grasslands in the Midwest and Northeast and spend winters in grassy areas of pine flatwoods, pitcherplant bogs and powerline corridors in the Gulf and Southeast Atlantic Coastal Plains. The species has declined precipitously over the past several decades, probably due mostly to habitat loss on its breeding and wintering grounds.
DNR biologist Todd Schneider and son    The small population size, greatly reduced habitats and other factors make Henslow’s sparrow a species of high conservation concern. Yet, its secretive nature and small numbers make it a difficult to survey and monitor, and little is known about its distribution and populations across most of its range, including in Georgia.
   Paulk's Pasture Wildlife Management Area in Glynn County is the only location in the state where regular sightings have occurred over the past 10 to 15 years. Part of a powerline corridor and an adjacent pine forest on the WMA are regularly burned, using prescribed fire to provide habitat for the birds. Nongame Conservation Section biologist Tim Keyes has captured and banded a significant number of Henslow’s sparrows at the site during the last three winters.
   In an effort to find additional populations, I surveyed powerline corridors at other sites on WMAs and natural areas with the help of Nongame Section staff and volunteers. Jim Cox and James Tucker of Tall Timbers Research Station surveyed pine flatwoods and pitcherplant bog sites on some WMAs and natural areas in the southwest corner of Georgia.
   The results have been heartening.
   Populations never before documented were found at Paulk's Pasture WMA (a second location), Townsend WMA and Moody Forest Natural Area. More than 60 individual birds were caught and banded at these sites. (Although no Henslow's sparrows were discovered on DNR lands in southwest Georgia, Cox and Tucker found good habitat and think the sparrows may occur at River Creek, the Rolf and Alexandra Kauka Wildlife Management Area near Thomasville.)
   Surveys on these areas and others will continue for at least a few years. The hope is to find many more new sites with Henslow's sparrows and better determine population size and how to best manage habitats to conserve this species.   

Todd Schneider is a wildlife biologist with the Nongame Conservation Section and lead editor of The Breeding Bird Atlas of Georgia (UGA Press).

Paulk’s partner
Plum Creek is a 2010 DNR Forestry For Wildlife Partner due in part to conservation efforts involving prescribed burning to enhance winter habitat for Henslow's sparrows on the Paulk's Pasture tract, which Plum Creek owns.

Burning and banding
DNR’s Game Management Section has done much of the rest of the burning at the WMA, and joined with U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff in helping survey the sparrows.

Turkeybeard then and soon

Sprewell Bluff surprise

By Hal Massie
   Discoveries often start with “that’s funny …”
   While scouting a ridgeline in the Sprewell Bluff area of Pine Mountain in January, Nongame Conservation Section biologist Nathan Klaus and his wife, Joyce, spotted a plant with clumps of narrow grass-like leaves and tall flower stalks topped by clusters of brown seed capsules (above left). Klaus, an ornithologist keenly interest in land restoration and fire ecology, first thought the plant was beargrass, uncommon but found in the Coastal Plain and fall line sandhills.
   Within days, he doubted himself. Klaus returned to the steep bluff for a positive ID. The plant was actually eastern turkeybeard, an herbaceous perennial known in the state only from a few north Georgia counties.
   Other surprises followed: Klaus had to revise his first estimate from a few dozen plants to 150-200, then – after a visit with this author – to 300-400 plants.
   Previous to the discovery, the range of eastern turkeybeard extended from northern Alabama and Georgia through the Appalachians to northern Virginia, with disjunct populations in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, northeastern Alabama and Kentucky. Usually found in rocky, well-drained soils and often on slopes in association with heaths and pines, the Pine Mountain population appears associated with longleaf and shortleaf pine, as well as mountain laurel and rhododendron.
Current distribution maps show turkeybeard in one to six Georgia counties.
   Thanks to Klaus’ discerning eyes and persistence in identifying the plant, those maps will be updated to show a population in the lower Piedmont.

Read Hal’s complete article in the March 2011 BotSoc News, the Georgia Botanical Society newsletter.

A need for fire
Eastern turkeybeard is not common anywhere, probably due to fire suppression. Fire stimulates flowering and helps maintain the open, pine-dominated habitat the plant prefers. The Sprewell Bluff site was burned in February 2007 and again this month. Klaus expects “some pretty prolific blooms this spring.” (Example from Dawson Forest WMA above right in photograph.)

Category: special
Turkeybeard is ranked as an S1 plant, meaning it is imperiled within the state. DNR lists turkeybeard’s status as rare.

TERN Volunteer of Year

Bog crew work group including Martha Joiner

Statesboro gardener
has heart of a guardian

   In 1990, lifelong gardener Martha Joiner wanted to know what plants grew on the wooded house lot her family had just acquired. Last month, The Environmental Resources Network named the Statesboro resident 2010 Volunteer of the Year, honoring a devotion to understanding and conserving native plants that took root 21 years before.
   “I think the plants recruited me!” says Joiner, laughing.
   They chose well. Joiner’s what-grows-here question eventually led her to propagate native plants, acquire a master’s degree in botany and – along with her husband Hew – become one of the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance’s first Botanical Guardians. As part of the program in which citizens monitor rare plants and habitats, Joiner protects a complex of pitcherplant bogs along a south Georgia powerline.
   “Continued improvements (there) … could not have happened without Martha’s steadfast work,” Nongame Conservation Section botanist Lisa Kruse wrote in nominating Joiner for the TERN award
   The bogs contain five state-protected species and represent Georgia’s only-known site for Coastal Plain purple pitcherplant. Joiner’s oversight has included inventorying plants, successfully pushing for fencing and signs to keep out ATVs, working with landowners, planting "purps" or young pitcherplOne of Joiner's "purps"ants she raised (right), and cutting shrubs so Georgia Power doesn’t need to spray the right of way with herbicides.
   TERN president Brock Hutchins said Joiner’s relationship with landowners is key. “She’s gotten their respect and confidence that she’s going to do the right thing.”
   Along with their work at the bog, Martha and Hew help monitor rare plants in McIntosh County and water quality on a stream crossing Jenkins County property they own. As for the less than 2-acre Statesboro lot that originally steered Martha toward plant conservation, “I finally decided this place didn’t need a gardener,” she said.
  “It was already a garden. I just needed to figure out what was here.”

Passion for Unicoi BirdFest
   Unicoi State Park and Lodge in spring has long offered the location and timing for a major birding event. What helped change that potential to practice this year was the deep birding interest of Unicoi resource manager Ellen Graham and Angie Johnson, Region Four resource manager for state parks.
   “We started it because we have a passion for it,” Graham said of the Georgia Mountain BirdFest, set for April 28-May 1 at the park near Helen.
BirdFest logo   Planning and organization have transformed a low-key birding program held at Unicoi since 1999 into a lineup of more than 30 birding experts and 60-plus sessions and field trips. Speakers include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff and Birding Georgia author Giff Beaton. Nongame Conservation Section staff will lead some sessions. Programs vary from identifying warblers and trees to off-topic talk of Georgia bats and butterflies. Trips tap birding hot spots such as Ivy Log Gap and Buck Shoals. Saturday offers events open to the public, and many of them free.
   Learn more at or download a festival guide.

Other birding events

  • Camp Talon takes flight June 12-16. St. Simons Island is base camp for the birding and nature camp for teens. Destinations include Harris Neck NWR, Altamaha WMA, Fort Stewart and Sapelo Island. Details: Rusty Garrison, or (770) 784-3059.
  • The Youth Birding Competition signup deadline is only days away – March 31. Click here to register or explore this fun and challenging 24-hour Georgia birdathon, set for April 16-17.

Out my backdoor

The vine that shines

By Terry W. Johnson
   In my neck of the woods, Chickasaw plums, redbuds, yellow Jessamine, daffodils, jonquils, forsythias and pear trees are always at the head of Mother Nature’s spring parade of flowers. But as I look across my yard to the crossvines blanketing a fence along one edge, I know that in a few weeks this native woody vine will herald spring with its dusty red and yellow trumpet-shaped blossoms.
   Crossvine has long been a personal favorite. It annually produces attractive foliage and provides wildlife with food and nesting and escape cover. Native Americans appreciated crossvine for its reputed medicinal value, using the bark, leaves and roots to treat ailments including diphtheria, rheumatism, edema and headaches.
Crossvine blooms   The vine gets its name from the cross-shaped pith seen when its squarish stem is cut in two. The vine grows throughout the state; however, it is more abundant in middle and south Georgia.
   Crossvine grows fast and can reach lengths of 50 feet or more. For this reason, the flowers sometimes go unappreciated as they festoon the tree canopy far above the forest floor.
   The slender, pointed, dark green leaves remain green yearlong in southern portions of the state. In the northern half, the foliage often turns a pleasing reddish purple in winter.
   But it is the blossoms that are show-stoppers! Each spicy, fragrant flower is shaped like trumpet or bell about 2 inches long and 1½ inches wide. The outside is orange-red; the throat is yellow.
   Healthy crossvines produce cascades of flowers. Some horticulturalists say the crossvine bears more flowers per foot than any plant. This vine also is an early bloomer, blooming for three to four weeks beginning in April in the Georgia Piedmont, and earlier in south Georgia.
   Blooming coincides with the return of ruby-throated hummingbirds, providing abundant sugar-rich nectar when there are few sources available. While crossvine’s winged seeds are not considered important to wildlife, deer browse on the foliage and vines and crossvine is a preferred food of swamp rabbits.
   If you have never incorporated native woody vines into your landscape design, the crossvine is a great start. It is easy to maintain, attractive, drought-tolerant once established and a valuable wildlife plant.
   Crossvine is also a great conversation piece. When neighbors see the cascade of large, orange and yellow flowers in your yard, they will want to know what it is that plant and where can they find one.

Terry Johnson is a former Nongame program manager with the Wildlife Resources Division, a backyard wildlife expert, and executive director of TERN, the friends group of the Nongame Conservation Section. (Permission is required to reprint this column. Contact

Crossvine starter

  • Lives in partial shade and full sun, and moist or dry soil conditions. But flower production is best when planted in acidic, well-drained soils in full sun.
  • Propagate from seed or cuttings. Cuttings seem to root best in June or July.
  • Find native crossvine for transplanting in bottomlands, upland mixed forests and old fencerows. (Obtain the landowner’s permission!)
  • Cultivars available at nurseries vary from Jekyll (developed from wild plants on Jekyll Island) to tangerine, noted for its abundance of blooms.

Not just for the birds
Other nectar-feeders such as butterflies and moths share in crossvine’s sugar-rich nectar. The vine is also a host plant for the rustic sphinx moth. Look carefully for the large, predominantly green caterpillar of this yellowish to chocolate brown-colored moth feeding among the foliage.

Read Terry’s full column on crossvine, including more tips on care and planting.

Parting shots

Mother and calf whale off Tybee Island
With calving season ending, an EcoHealth Alliance survey team spotted this North Atlantic right whale mom and 1-month-old calf off Tybee Island March 18. The pair was the 20th documented during winter 2010-2011, a total that DNR wildlife biologist Clay George said is slightly above average. See next month’s Georgia Wild for a closer look at the calving season.

prescribed fire at Tallulah Gorge
Prescribed fire that swept 1,200 acres in and around rugged Tallulah Gorge State Park on March 22-23 was a searing success. “We were able to burn at the landscape level … and let the fire figure out where it needed to go,” said Nathan Klaus, a senior DNR wildlife biologist. Habitats that will benefit include rare table mountain pine communities. The cones of this small pine native to the southern Appalachians require extreme heat to open and release their seeds, Klaus explained. The recent burn, ignited largely from a helicopter, provided it. Cooperators included DNR, the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Georgia Power Co. and the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Janisse Ray and her father write their memories of Moody Forest in a scrapbook during a celebration this month at the Appling County natural area. The event marked the 10th anniversary of the acquisition of Moody Forest ("Miracle of Moody," February 2011). Managed by The Nature Conservancy and DNR, this 4,500-acre forest is a conservation treasure, with diverse habitats home to rare wildlife such as red-cockaddiscussion at Moody Forest anniversaryed woodpeckers and eastern and ancient baldcypress, oaks and longleaf pines. The celebration drew a crowd of about 100, including DNR Commissioner Mark Williams, TNC Georgia Director Shelly Lakly and Ray, author of “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood” and editor of the essay collection “Moody Forest.” The natural area is open to the public. Activities vary from hiking to hunting. More on the anniversary: Read Charles Seabrook’s column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

April 2: Growing Up WILD workshop for educators, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Stone Mountain Memorial. Georgia Project WILD coordinator Mary Terry, or (770) 784-3059.
April 15: Nature Conservancy's 17th Annual Hoochie conservation fundraiser, 7 p.m., Tophat Soccer Fields, Atlanta.
April 16-17: Youth Birding Competition, statewide but event ends 5 p.m. April 17 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, Mansfield.
April 18, 19, 21: DNR public hearings on proposed 2011-12 and 2012-13 hunting season regulations and regulations for non-hunting/angling fees on WMAs and PFAs. 7 p.m. April 18 at Stuckey Conference Center Auditorium/UGA Griffin Campus, Griffin; April 19 at Coffee County Courthouse, Douglas; April 21 at Georgia Mountains Center, Gainesville. Also comment online or by mail by April 29.
April 29-May 1: Advanced Project WILD workshop The Birds and the Bees, Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. Georgia Project WILD coordinator Mary Terry, or (770) 784-3059.
April 30: Coastal Georgia Audubon Society clean-up of Brunswick's Andrew Island Causeway, 8-10 a.m. Details: Marge Inness,
May 26: Growing Up WILD facilitator training, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. Georgia Project WILD coordinator Mary Terry, or (770) 784-3059.
June 18-24: Paddle Georgia 2011.
Submit events


Unsubscribe *|EMAIL|*.

Add us to your address book.


Forward this e-mail.

Share it on ...

Copyright (C) 2011 *|USER:COMPANY|*. All rights reserved.