Falling leaves and lower temperatures of autumn are not the only change about the new season noticed by Donna McEachern, manager of the Lewis A. Ray Library. Here, she tells how birdwatching is a highlight of the season for her, a favorite activity for this time of year:

Way, way up and loud: Sandhill cranes fly high and far. The sound of the calls of sandhill cranes can be heard more than two miles away. Cobb County is on a regular migratory route of the tall wild birds.

In September and October, the bird feeders at my home attract fewer birds.  Hummingbirds are still busy, but most will be gone by October. We still get the residents, of course, but after seeing them all summer, it’s time to find something unique. Luckily, September and October are wonderful months for observing birds migrating south. Your Cobb County library is just the place for resources to help you find them!

We have several books on birdwatching, but I go straight to Birding Georgia by Giff Beaton, because it has an extensive section on where to find birds and when. Also helpful is Birds of Georgia: Field Guide by Stan Tekiela. Of course, you can browse through the library’s 598 section and find many guides to birds.

I discovered there are dozens of great birding areas within a short driving distance, including Red Top Mountain State Park in neighboring Bartow County and Sweetwater Creek State Park in Douglas County. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Cobb County is a popular birdwatchers’ destination. Georgia hiking guides available in your library are helpful in locating many birdwatching locations, including those accessible by kayak or canoe. Even better, I can get a free Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites ParkPass kit at the library.

Since I don’t know what some birds look like or sound like, I visited our webpage and found “All About Birds,” from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This tremendous resource lets you actually hear the bird’s call, see pictures and even videos! You can access the Cornell Lab site in the Cobb library’s E-Library in its Animals section under “All About Birds.”

Listening to bird calls is especially helpful because that might be the first sign of a bird’s presence, especially if the bird is flying overhead. Since a lot of raptors (birds of prey) migrate through this area, I use this guide to know what to listen for. Sandhill cranes also migrate through this area every fall and spring. Frequently they are at such a high altitude you may not see them, but you will know they are overhead when you hear their distinctive sound.

For me, a favorite resource is Audubon magazine, available through Cobb libraries both online in the Zinio digital magazines collection and in print. The magazine is informative – and inspires me to plan birdwatching adventures.

Binoculars are essential for birdwatching, so the library’s collection of Consumer Reports – available in print and online in Zinio in the library– gave me a good idea of what to buy, as well as any hiking shoes for wading through overgrown areas. Now, I’ll just pack a picnic lunch, water and bug spray and head out to find the wild birds.

— Donna McEachern

September is Library Card Sign-up Month. Get a Cobb County Public Library System library card for access to free resources on the wonders of nature. With the Cobb library card, you get to check out up to 50 books and free access to Digital Downloads: eBooks, eAudiobooks, complete digital magazines and more and the E-Library: Databases, Research Tools, and other resources. To learn more about what your Cobb libraries offer, visit www.cobbcat.org or any of the 16 Cobb library locations.


Tracking the Wild Bird’s Call
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