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Summer native bird-watching

As we get into summertime, everyone wants to get out of their house and get outside. One of the best activities to partake in while outside is bird watching! Better yet, since it is breeding season for most native birds in Georgia, you can partake in citizen science and watch nests. Through NestWatch, a nationwide program run by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, you can help contribute data to better inform scientists about the reproductive biology of the birds in your very own backyard. The website ( where the data is reported is very easy to use. The only prerequisite for the program is that you need to pass their certification quiz and feel comfortable identifying the species that live in the area you are monitoring. The rest involves regular updates on activity, number of eggs, or if there are chicks. There is no better way to engage with nature with the entire family, than by watching growing bird families!

The Bird Department at Zoo Atlanta started partaking in NestWatch this spring. One of our goals as a department is to continue supporting native bird conservation initiatives. Helping to gather information through avenues such as NestWatch is just one way we have been fulfilling this goal. We have been monitoring most of the nests we find around Zoo Atlanta. Basically, any nest that we can reach with our approximately 12 foot- long selfie stick, we are able to closely monitor. So far this year we have observed American robin, northern cardinal, eastern phoebe, mourning dove, grey catbird, and common grackle nests.

One of the most exciting nests we have been monitoring on Zoo grounds is a Cooper’s hawk nest. This nest is tucked high in some trees near our Conservation Action Resource Center (ARC). This nest is too high to check with the selfie stick, but with binoculars we still can watch the behavior of the parents and see the chicks when they got a bit bigger. This nest currently has five large, white fluffy chicks. The chicks like to sit on the side of the nest and peek out. Most recently, we were able to spot some flight feathers growing in on their wings, so they are getting closer to leaving the nest. It probably could happen any day now! I am excited to continue partaking in NestWatch around the Zoo with my teammates, and I hope that you feel inspired to do the same in your own backyard!

Amanda J.
Keeper I, Birds

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl