Fall bird migration shifts into high gear

As we head into September, fall bird migration is shifting into high gear. Over the next several weeks, countless numbers of songbirds, raptors, shorebirds and other feathered creatures will be moving through our area, heading to winter homes further south.

As always with this wonderful spectacle of nature, it will bring out bird watchers in droves. “Summer break is over for birders,” quipped Nikki Belmonte, the Atlanta Audubon Society’s executive director.

You can be a part of this great annual event. To see the migrants and other birds of fall and winter, Atlanta Audubon has scheduled a number of bird walks — free, open to the public and led by birding experts — during the next few months.

For a schedule and more information, visit atlantaaudubon.org/field-trips.

As the society notes: “Beginning birders are welcome on our trips because this is a great way to learn about birds and to meet other people that share your love of birds and the outdoors.”

Here’s a sampling of some metro Atlanta birding “hot spots” where the Audubon walks will be held:

• Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Cobb County, the premier migrant hot spot in the Southeast, where more than 15 species of migrating warblers may be seen in just a few hours.

• The Cochran Shoals unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, where you can expect a good diversity of warblers, vireos, tanagers, thrushes and flycatchers by late September.

• The Newman Wetland Center and Huie Ponds of the Clayton County Water Authority near Jonesboro, good for viewing early migrants, including raptors, songbirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds. In late fall and winter, it is the best place in metro Atlanta to see more than 15 over-wintering duck species.

• Piedmont Park, excellent for beginning birders. A variety of migrants and year-round resident birds can be found there in the fall.

• Noonday Creek Trail, Cobb County, good for seeing sparrows and other grass/weed-loving birds.

So, grab your binoculars and a field guide and get outside for a glimpse of one of nature’s most remarkable phenomena.

In the sky: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Center astronomer: The moon will be full Saturday evening — the “Fruit Moon,” as the Cherokee peoples called August’s full moon. Mercury is low in the west at dusk. Saturn is in the southwest at dusk and sets just after midnight. The other planets can’t easily be seen right now.

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