Birds of SGG

The Great Backyard Bird Count

by Pat Pepper


If you helped to count birds at SGG on Feb 18, 2017, then you were part of the SGG group that participated in the 2017 GBBC (Great Backyard Bird Count) sponsored by Cornell Labs, Audubon, and Canada Bird Studies.

This count ran from Friday, 2/17, to Monday, 2/20.  I arrived at the gardens at 8am and began to count the birds I was seeing at the seed and suet feeders, in the trees, and on the ground. There was a light rain, so I knew many of the birds would be hunkered down, and we would have to work for the birds we did see.

We were able to show those visitors who braved the rain 22 different species.  One young man was very excited to see a Red-bellied Woodpecker at one of the seed feeders. We also added a Downy and a Pileated Woodpecker to the list.


red bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker                                  

downy woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

pileated woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker




The bird of the day for me was a Hermit Thrush that came to one of the suet feeders. Cheri Collins, SGG’s interim Education Manager, and I were watching the feeders from the screened-in porch of the Hiram-Butler House when the Hermit Thrush came to the suet feeder. He ate chunks of suet and continued to visit the feeder for 10-15 minutes. I had never seen a Hermit Thrush at a feeder before, and I have maintained a suet feeder for many years.

The reason I was surprised to see this Thrush out in the open was because this species is usually very secretive. It likes to stay hidden in bushes, especially holly bushes and trees in order to eat holly berries. The suet feeder was hanging in a tree in front of a holly bush that was loaded with berries. I guess he just wanted to try something new, and he obviously was enjoying it.

The Hermit Thrush is a winter visitor to Georgia, so we don’t get to hear its beautiful song as it only sings in spring and summer.


Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Click here to hear its song:

While we don’t get to enjoy the song of the Hermit Thrush, we do have the Wood Thrush to listen to. When the Hermit leaves us to migrate north for the spring and summer, the Wood Thrush migrates from the south to spend spring and summer here in Georgia. It is a rite of spring to hear your first Wood Thrush sing.

Wood Thrush

Wood Thrush


All pictures courtesy of Cornell Labs.


We wound up our counting Saturday at noon. We were all a little wetter, but we all enjoyed the 22 species we had found. Ann Parsons sent out a copy of the ebird checklist I submitted to Cornell Labs. You can find the list below!

3- Mourning Dove

2- Red-bellied Woodpecker

1- Downy Woodpecker

1- Pileated Woodpecker

3- Blue Jay

4- American Crow

10- Carolina Chickadee

6- Tufted Titmouse

2- White-breasted Nuthatch

1- Brown-headed Nuthatch

3- Carolina Wren

2- Ruby-crowned Kinglet

1- Hermit Thrush

70- American Robin

1- Northern Mockingbird

65- Cedar Waxwing

1- Pine Warbler

1- White-throated Sparrow

1- Song Sparrow

4- Eastern Towhee

7- Northern Cardinal

1- Red-winged Blackbird

I would like to thank the SGG staff for my surprise birthday gifts and Happy Birthday song. Feb.18 was my birthday, and I got to spend it with some very special people who love nature as much as I do. You guys are great!

For those of you who would like to know more about birding, I will be teaching a birding class at ELM in Marietta beginning April 4, 2017. See website for details:

In addition to ELM, Atlanta Audubon is hosting the Atlanta Bird Fest, April 15-May14, 2017. There will be field trips, workshops, and more!

See website for details:

Happy Birding!

Pat Pepper