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Birdwatchers to take a walk along the Linwood Nature Preserve
Redbud Project to sponsor outing May 5 in Gainesville
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For more information about the walk, email redbudproject@gmail.com or call Margaret Rasmussen at 678-989-1813.

North Georgia is one of the most attractive areas in the state for birds and the Redbud Project Chapter of Georgia Native Plant Society wants to make sure people know.

The Redbud Project Chapter of Georgia Native Plant Society is sponsoring a walk for birders of all experience levels. The walk will begin at 8 a.m. Thursday at Linwood Nature Preserve, 415 Linwood Drive, in Gainesville. The event is free and open to the public.

Almost 130 species of birds nest in North Georgia and the forests of Hall County, according to a news release the Redbud Project Chapter. Georgia’s diverse physical features from mountains to swamps attract more than 300 species to the state.

Margaret Rasmussen of the Redbud Project Chapter of Georgia Native Plant Society said birds are an indicator of a healthy environment. And the Linwood Nature Preserve, with its multiple habitats, is home to many species.

“What we’re prepared to find out in this bird walk is just how extensive our bird population is here right in the heart of Gainesville,” Rasmussen said.

The theme for the program this year focuses on protecting ecosystems. Since the Redbud Project promotes awareness of native plants, which in turn are important to native insects and birds, birding falls under the realm of this year’s planned theme.

The walk at the Linwood Nature Preserve will be led by Georgann Schmalz. Her credentials include a degree in zoology and ornithology, teaching at the Fernbank Science Center for almost 29 years, serving as president of the Atlanta Audubon Society, and leading many field trips locally and as far away as South America.

Among the birds participants may see on the bird walk are black-and-white warblers, hooded warblers, scarlet tanagers, bluebirds, swallows, pewees, pileated woodpeckers, wood thrushes, a variety of vireos and nuthatches.

With so many different species to see, bird watching is one of the fastest growing recreational hobbies, according to the Redbud Project Chapter of Georgia Native Plant Society.

Schmalz agreed.

“Anyone can do it any level,” she said.

From watching birds perched on backyard bird feeders to youth programs that get children involved, bird watching can be done anywhere at anytime. Basic equipment needed is a pair of binoculars and a field guide or a smart phone app.

Schmalz said she will report all of sightings from the Thursday walk to eBird, a website that collects all data of bird sightings from around the world.

“We have millions of reports coming through. It’s very easy access to know what’s around,” she said.

As for what she wants participants to take away from the bird walk, Schmalz said she has several goals in mind.

“That there’s some pretty cool birds,” she said. “That (the participants) want to share them with others, and then probably the value of preserving habitats for birds. Birds are a bit of an indicator of whether the habitat is healthy and whether or not it’s big enough.”

When it comes to protecting bird populations, every little piece of land helps, Schmalz said.

Besides seeing a variety of birds during the walk, participants also will learn what types of habitats are necessary for which types of birds.

“It’s important for people to know that it doesn’t have to be hundreds of thousands of acres,” Schmalz said. “Even a small piece of land — even your own backyard — even that can be valuable for birds.”

Rasmussen said it’s important to keep birds here, so hopefully the walk will help make people more aware of the bird population. 

Habitat loss, human persecution and predators have threatened bird species.

For more information, email redbudproject@gmail.com or call Rasmussen at 678-989-1813.

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