The Atlanta Audubon Society’s yearly Christmas Bird Count used to turn up sparrows, bobwhite quails, eastern meadowlarks and other “field birds” in abundance in the region. But their numbers have plummeted as subdivisions and shopping centers have chewed up the landscape.
Downtown birding: You don't always have to go to wild places for good bird watching. Nathan Farnau of DeKalb County, who works in downtown Atlanta, often goes birding in Centennial Olympic Park in the heart of the city. Amazingly, amid the skyscrapers and human commotion, he has found an array of species. During the past few weeks, he has spied several warbler species, hermit thrushes, summer tanagers, cardinals, mockingbirds, a yellow-bellied sapsucker and others in the park.
Now, his reports have inspired others to go birding there. “The trees that most of these birds are in are mostly small maples‚ just downhill from the Quilt of Dreams terrace, so the birds are very close,” said Jeff Sewell of Tucker.
In the sky: The Leonid meteor shower will be visible through Thursday, reaching a peak of 15 meteors per hour on Monday night, says David Dundee, astronomer with Tellus Northwest Georgia Science Museum. Look to the east from about 2 a.m. until dawn. The moon will be new on Monday. By Wednesday, look for a thin crescent moon low in the west just after dark. Venus rises in the east just before the sun. Mars rises out of the east about midnight. Jupiter is high in the south at sunset and sets in the west about midnight. Saturn rises out of the east about two hours before sunrise.