Birdwatching has become a popular hobby with more than 50 million participants, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Mistletoe State Park in Appling is a well-known birdwatching locale and will once again play host to a winter bird walk Saturday. Beginning at 9 a.m., participants will take a two-mile hike along the Cliett Creek Nature Trail to scout various species of birds.
Joyce Billue will lead the walk and said that on previous walks, yellow pine warbelers, eastern bluebirds, fox sparrows and eastern towhees have been spotted.
"We have in Georgia about 400 different kinds of birds," said Billue. "With Mistletoe State Park being mostly forests and grasslands, you have to take into account what kind of birds you'd find in that habitat."
Migratory birds that spend the winter months here include different types of warblers and sparrows not typically seen in our area. Billue said it isn't uncommon to see or hear a red wing blackbird or coopers hawk.
"There are different kinds of predator birds you might see here this time of year," she said.
After the hike, participants will head back to the park's visitors center and then trek to the lake in search of birds that live and feed in that specific habitat. Horned grebes, common loons, hooded mergansers and Canadian geese have all been known to frequent the lake area during the winter.
Birdwatching, Billue said, is a "simple and enjoyable way to bring the beauty of birds closer to you. With the stresses and strains of our lives these days, birds help bring us back and center us on nature."
Children can also take up the hobby, said Billue, adding that doing so helps them have a better understanding of the conservation and preservation of natural resources at an early age.
The winter bird walk is suitable for children ages 6 and up because the path is not stroller accessible.
The only cost is the $3-per-car park pass. Participants can bring their own binoculars or use those provided by the park. A bird identification field guide will also be provided for use during the walk, which will last approximately four hours.
To participate in the walk, guests must be at the visitor's center by 9 a.m. Saturday. Registration is not required.
For information about this event or any other Mistletoe State Park program, call (706) 541-0321.
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