'Birding 201' in session at Pettit Environmental Preserve Saturday
by Marie Nesmith
Mar 07, 2013 | 1303 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Designated an Audubon Sanctuary last summer, the Pettit Environmental Preserve will showcase its birding habitat at its Spring Hike Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Along with offering self-led and interpreted hikes, the nonprofit also will offer a program titled “Birding 201” at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. To be led by Atlanta Audubon Society board member Rebecca Byrd and avid birder Ken Blankenship, the presentations will introduce people to the pursuit of bird-watching.

“They’ll need field guides — maybe [one] good field guide — to the birds of the region that they are in, such as birds of the Eastern United States, and there’s many different brands of field guides,” Byrd said. “[So] we’re going to bring some with us and just show everyone the different options they have. They also need a pair of binoculars and they range in price from a couple of hundred dollars for the most basic, cheapest, good ones to a couple of thousand.

“... And besides those two things, I think the third most important thing people need is the resources in order to find other birders who have experience that they can bird with and learn how to bird from other people. Birding with other people is really important. It’s the fastest way to learn to identify species and in Georgia there’s over 300 species that you can see throughout the year. So a field guide is good but it also helps to have people around you to show you what you’re seeing and tell you what you’re hearing and tell you how to tell one species from the other.”

To become an Audubon Sanctuary, the Pettit Preserve’s staff completed an application detailing every water source, plant, animal and bird species, and nesting site located on the 70-acre forest and lake ecosystem.

“What [being an Audubon Sanctuary] means for us is it makes it possible for us to be listed on their website and it makes it more likely that they will do field trips and activities [at] our location because it is one of their Audubon Society sanctuaries,” said Marina Robertson, executive director for the Pettit Preserve. “So our events can be on their website, which is good for us and then it also makes it easier for us to get folks like we have coming this weekend ... who are doing the birding program.

“When we had our birding program last year, it was very much focused on what you can do in your own backyard to attract birds. So this is kind of the next step — where can you go looking for birds other than ones that might be in your backyard and how would you go about doing that. What equipment would you need, what manuals would you need, are there other groups that you can join up with who may know more about it than you do, that type of thing. So it’s really the next step in birding.”

Situated off Ga. Highway 61 in southwest Bartow County, the Pettit Preserve consists of trails developed by Cartersville’s Switchbacks Trail Design & Construction, a swinging bridge, a 9-acre lake, two aquatic stations, three amphitheaters and a Learning Shed.

The venue was formed as a private, nonprofit corporation — The Margaret and Luke Pettit Environmental Preserve Inc. — in 1999 when the late Gay Pettit Dellinger and her children initially donated 60 acres of property to this endeavor. Tailoring educational programs, such as tree identification and water testing, to youth, the Pettit Preserve has served more than 4,700 students since 2006.

Admission to Saturday’s event will be $3 for each person, with the maximum cost being $10 per family, and free to Preserve members. For more information about the Preserve, visit www.pettitpreserve.org or contact Robertson at 678-848-4179.