The Call December 2016

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the Call The Official Publication of the Georgia Wildlife Federation

VOLUME 26, NUMBER 3 December 2016

Keeping GEORGIA Wild


For over 80 years, GWF members, donors, and volunteers have made a difference in restoring wildlife and habitat. Page 2

The common snapping turtle can be quite temperamental. Page 6

Improvements to benefit quail hunters are on the horizon for four southwest Georgia WMAs. Page 11

A young visitor to GWF’s Mill Creek Nature Center in Buford encounters a green treefrog (Hyla cinerea), one of the many species of amphibians in the wetland. Learn more on page 8. Photo by Dale Higdon.

e Call ® BOARD OF DIRECTORS OFFICERS Chairman: Randy Young, Fayetteville Vice Chairman: Brian Mask, Covington Secretary: Joy Campbell, Folkston Treasurer: Don E. Chandler, Atlanta Immediate Past Chair: Matt Nichols, Madison DISTRICT DIRECTORS District 1: Jamey Hulsey, Marietta District 2: Mickey Brown, Atlanta District 3: Tom Jones, Atlanta District 4: Jeff Young, Monroe District 5: omas Kephart, Covington District 6: David Haire, Milner District 7: Curtis Jenkins, Forsyth District 8: Vacant District 9: Tommy Gregors, Leesburg District 10: Vacant District 11: Vacant District 12: Carl Hall, Vidalia DIRECTORS AT LARGE Josh Burnette, Marietta Chris Gray, Buford Daryl Ingram, Acworth James Manley, Dacula Kevin McKinstry, Tuscaloosa, AL Seth Millican, Kennesaw Gordon Reynolds, Loganville Joel Vinson, Forsyth Steve Wrigley, Watkinsville GEORGIA WILDLIFE FEDERATION STAFF President and CEO: Mike Worley Sportsmen’s Programs Coordinator: Bonnie Eisterhold Executive Assistant: Becky Harris Conservation and Outreach Manager: DeAnna Harris Facilities Specialist: Simwone Jordan MCNC Program Manager: Hank Ohme Sportsmen’s Programs: Doug Rithmire Conservation Issues Coordinator: Gina Rogers Wildlife Technician & Volunteer Coordinator: Adam Schiavone Sportsmen’s Programs Manager: Sam Stowe THE CALL STAFF Editor: DeAnna Harris Contributing Authors: Hank Ohme, Gina Rogers, Mike Worley, Sam Stowe, Paul Grimes, Alan Isler Photography: Hank Ohme, Vance Walton, Dale Higdon Layout: DeAnna Harris e Call is published quarterly by the Georgia Wildlife Federation (GWF), a not-for-profit corporation at 11600 Hazelbrand Rd., Covington, GA 30014. All editorial and subscription correspondence should be mailed to this address. Contributions to the content of this newsletter from members and readers are welcomed and encouraged, but all manuscripts submitted are subject to editing. ird-class postage paid at Covington, GA 30014. Annual membership dues to GWF begin at $35, which includes a subscription to e Call newsletter. Contact us at 770-787-7887 or Visit us on the web at

Eighty Years and Still Making a Difference Over the past 80 years, Georgia Wildlife Federation, together with our members, donors, and volunteers, has made a tremendous difference in restoring wildlife and wildlife habitat. rough the legacy of our supporters, today Georgia has: • Professional, science-based management of our game and non-game fish and animals. • Wildlife as a public trust — we all “own” Georgia’s wildlife. • Public lands for hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, caving, birding, etc. • A voice at the Georgia General Assembly for all who care about our natural environment. ere are countless accomplishments from the past, but enough of ancient history…let’s look at Georgia Wildlife Federation today. During 2016, GWF: • Introduced families to camping and the outdoors through our Camp Charlie program. • Pursued legislation protecting Georgia’s stream buffers — areas that protect our waters and provide wildlife corridors that ensure healthy animal and fish populations. • Participated in the development of Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) — the blueprint for wildlife conservation in our state. • Worked to keep the Georgia Hunters for the Hungry program going — a program that has provided over 375,000 pounds of venison to families and kids in need. • Provided free public access to Mill Creek Nature Center trails to over 12,000 people. I can go on and on, but you get the picture. GWF’s supporters — you—are working hard to ensure a future for the outdoors and the activities we are passionate about. I believe we, together, are making a difference. As 2016 winds down, I hope you will consider a tax deductible gi to the Georgia Wildlife Federation. e past support of Georgians has helped us make great strides in Georgia conservation. From the re-establishment of iconic game species to the protection of critical habitat for Georgia’s lesser known creatures, GWF has quietly led the way. Your contributions will allow us to continue that work and pass that heritage to the next generation. And to thank you, all donations at the $50 level or above will receive a complimentary “Keeping Georgia Wild” t-shirt.

(c) 2016 Georgia Wildlife Federation


Donate at

Sincerely, Mike Worley President & CEO

Georgia Wildlife Federation Earns Coveted 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator


eorgia Wildlife Federation’s strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. î ˘is is the ninth time GWF has earned a 3-star or above rating since first evaluated by &+$5,7< 1$9,*$725 Charity Navigator in 2003. 5(&2*1,=(6 Since 2002, using objective *(25*,$ :,/'/,)( )('(5$7,21 analysis, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. In 2011, Charity Navigator added 17 metrics, $6 $ 67$5 5$7(' &+$5,7< focused on governance and ethical 2&72%(5 practices as well as measures of openness, to its ratings methodology. î ˘ese Accountability & Transparency metrics, which account for 50 percent of a charity’s overall rating, reveal which charities operate in accordance with industry best practices and whether they are open with “Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator their donors and stakeholders. On June 1, receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. This adds GWF to 2016, they made additional upgrades to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our their methodology for rating each charity’s world’s most pressing challenges. Based on its 4-star rating, financial health. î ˘ese enhancements people can trust that their donations are going to a further substantiates the financial health financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide of their four star charities. to support Georgia Wildlife Federation.â€? Georgia Wildlife Federation’s Michael Thatcher, President & CEO exceptional 4-star rating sets it apart from Charity Navigator its peers and demonstrates its More-detailed information trustworthiness to the public,â€? according to Michael about GWFs rating is available to Charity Navigator site î ˘atcher, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. “Only a visitors who become registered users, another free service. quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. î ˘is adds GWF to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our About Charity Navigator world’s most pressing challenges. Based on its 4-star Charity Navigator,, is the largest rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a charity evaluator in America and its website attracts more financially responsible and ethical charity when they visitors than all other charity rating groups combined. î‚ťe decide to support Georgia Wildlife Federation.â€? organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the “It’s important our donors trust that we’re using Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency of their donations wisely to accomplish GWF’s mission,â€? said more than 8,000 charities. Charity Navigator accepts no GWF President Mike Worley. “Our 4-star Charity advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates, Navigator rating demonstrates to our supporters our good ensuring unbiased evaluations, nor does it charge the public governance and financial accountability.â€? for this trusted data. GWF’s rating and other information about charitable giving are available free of charge on 3

Thank you to all who have recently donated to the Georgia Wildlife Federation. Your ongoing support keeps GWF moving forward. Flint Riverkeeper, Albany Georgia River Network, Athens Georgia Transportation Alliance, Atlanta Georgia Trappers Association, Mitchell Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful, Covington Southern Environmental Law Center, Charlottesville, VA Southwest Georgia Sportsman's Club, Albany The Izaak Walton League of America, Atlanta Mr. Allan Adams, Athens Mr. and Mrs. Billy E. Akins, Smyrna Mr. and Mrs. Richard Aldredge, Lawrenceville Mr. Joshua Archer, Atlanta Ms. Christine Arians, Eatonton Mr. Tommy Arnold, Norcross Mr. and Mrs. Andy Austin, Social Circle Mr. Lamar Q. Ball, III, Monroe Ms. Betty Banks, Snellville Mr. Hugh R. Barnes, Macon Mr. and Mrs. Robert N. Bearden, Temple Mr. John Biagi, Social Circle Mr. and Mrs. Sam W. Booher, Augusta Mr. Bill Boone, Sylvester Mr. Jonathan Bozeman, Canton Dr. and Mrs. James B. Bradley, Eatonton Ms. Frances Brown, Athens Gail Brown, Covington Mr. Grant Buckley, Cordele Mr. Russell Busch, Villa Rica Ms. Carol T. Bush, Atlanta Sam & Betsy Candler, Sharpsburg Mr. Don E. Chandler, Atlanta Mr. Jim Cohen, Lawrenceville Mr. Mark Collins, Mansfield Mr. Walter Cook, Bogart Mr. William Cooper, West Green Mr. Ron Crawford, Lilburn Mr. Darrell Crenshaw, Americus Mr. and Mrs. Noah W. Culpepper, Carnesville Mr. John D'Andrea, Peachtree City Mr. Guy Dabbs, Madison Mr. and Mrs. Jim Davie, Buckhead Ms. Megan J. Desrosiers, Brunswick Ms. Elaine Dittmar, Chamblee Mr. and Mrs. David T. Dodge, Madison Mr. Guerry B. Doolittle, Eatonton Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Downing, Lawrenceville Ms. Christina L. Dunbar, Newborn Mr. David L. Edwards, Upatoi Mr. and Mrs. Joe Edwards, Barnesville Mr. Jimmy Etheridge, McDonough Mr. Morris Flexner, Athens Ms. Jill Fontaine, Donalsonville Mr. and Mrs. Ken Forbus, Bowman Mr. Jim R. Freear, Eatonton Mr. & Mrs. Ronald R. Frost, Vidalia 4

Mr. and Mrs. Powell Gaines, Tifton Mr. Michael Garrett, Madison Mr. David Govus, Ellijay Mr. Richard Gresham, Cartersville Ms. Alice Grist, Bowdon Ms. Kelly Grow, Athens Mr. and Mrs. Carl S. Hall, Vidalia Mr. Curt O. Hall, Albany Mr. Randy Hall, Tucker Mrs. Kathleen I. Hanna, Atlanta Mr. Jason Harris, Covington Mr. Nathan V. Hendricks, III, Atlanta Mr. Larry M. Hodges, Louisville Mr. and Mrs. Daniel R. Holder, Reynolds Mrs. Brenda V. Hotinger, Acworth Mr. Michael Isham, Fayetteville Dr. B.J. Jackson, Jr., Gainesville Mr. Dave Johnson, Lilburn Mr. Kenneth Johnson, Marietta Mr. and Mrs. Barry Jones, Alpharetta Mr. and Ms. Bobby Jones, Tucker Mr. Bruce Jones, Albany Mr. Greg Jones, Sandersville Mr. Thomas Kephart, Oxford Mr. William King, Dunwoody Mr. Chris Kirven, Monroe Mr. and Ms. Thomas Kunz, McDonough Mr. John E. Ladson, Vidalia Ms. Emily H. Langston, Atlanta Ms. Casey Levitt, Jasper Mrs. Lynn Lewis-Weis, Aiken, SC Mr. and Mrs. Henry Lightfoot, Rutledge Mr. Tom Liner, Albany Mr. Tom Madden, Roswell Mr. Jim Manley, Sr., Dacula Mr. Gerald Martin, Bonaire Mr. Anthony R. Masters, Bedford, IN Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Mathews, Augusta Mr. Wayne Matthews, Augusta Mr. John M. McCarter, Barnesville Mr. L. Neal McDaniel, Jonesboro Mr. and Mrs. Ed D. McDowell, Jr., Bonaire Mrs. Lynette McKee, Scaly Mountain, NC Mr. Kevin A. McKinstry, Tuscaloosa, AL Dr. Key D. McMurrain, Jr., Palmetto Mr. and Mrs. Billy McRae, Williamson Mr. Aaron McWhorter, Whitesburg Mr. and Mrs. Sandy Morehouse, Mansfield Mr. and Ms. Brady W. Mullinax Jr., Atlanta Mr. Michael P. Murdock, Lincolnton Dr. Deborah M. Myers, Grovetown Mr. and Mrs. Leon Neel, Thomasville Mr. Erle Norton, Vidalia Mr. Jay Olliff, Woodstock Ms. Kay Packard, Dunwoody Mr. Bill Pate, Whitesburg

Mr. and Mrs. Neal Pope, Chamblee Mr. Phillip A. Printup, Conyers Dr. Carl Quertermus, Jr., Villa Rica Mr. John D. Reed, Flowery Branch Mr. Ken Riddleberger, Jefferson Mr. Ed Rigel, Gainesville Mr. and Mrs. Ted J. Rikard, Lilburn Mr. Danny Roberts, Milledgeville Gordon and Gina Rogers, Talbotton Rev. and Mrs. Samuel G. Rogers, III, Macon Mr. and Mrs. Mark Rudowski, Monroe Mr. Greg Schlegel, Alpharetta Ms. Diane Sebba, Social Circle Mr. Ferdinand Seefried, Atlanta Mr. Mike Shepherd, Waycross Dr. & Mrs. Michael B. Sigman, Covington Mr. Glenn T. Sinquefield, Albany Mrs. Maggie B. Sjoberg, Ila Mr. G. Fain Slaughter, Athens Mr. and Mrs. Billy Smith, Covington Mr. Bobby C. Smith Jr., Rocky Ford Mr. Lester Spires, Helena Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Stafford, Ludowici Mr. Thomas W. Stallings, Funston Mr. Aubrey Stevens, Senoia Mr. Bill Sutton, Perry Mr. Kevin Teston, Augusta Ms. Kristie Thompson, Fayetteville Dr. William L. Tietjen, Greensboro Mr. and Mrs. James C. Tillman, Jr., Fayetteville Mr. & Mrs. J.L. Tinley, Waynesboro Ms. Julia Townley, Butler Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Trosclair, Shannon Mr. Robert Trulock, Madison Mr. and Mrs. George M. Uhrin, Peachtree City Mr. Al Vedder, Monticello Mr. Art Vinson, Atlanta Mrs. Denise Vinson, Forsyth Mr. and Ms. Eddie Vinson, Forsyth Mr. Joel Vinson, Forsyth Mr. Larry S. Walker, Lakemont Mr. Moye Walker, Forsyth Mr. and Mrs. Gene Wallace, Mansfield Mr. Jack V. Walz, Sandy Springs Mr. Ron R. Warnken, Atlanta Mr. Jesse Watkins, Richmond Hill Ms. Deborah A. Weiler, Athens Mr. Bruce Westbrook, Atlanta Mr. Michael E. Wiesner, Cumming Mr. Spud Woodward, Brunswick Mr. Jerry Wynens, Snellville Mr. Mike Wynne, Tignall Ms. Diana Young, Fortson September 1 - November 30, 2016

GWF Welcomes New Board Members

Thomas Kephart, District 5 Director

omas Kephart, a lifelong resident of Newton County, graduated from Newton High School and obtained a BBA in Finance from Georgia State University. Upon graduating, he started his professional career at First National Bank (FNB) of Newton County. While at FNB, he obtained his Master’s degree in Finance from Mercer University and became CFO of FNB. Later, he served as the Community Executive of Newton, Rockdale and Henry counties for Synovus’ Atlanta affiliate, Bank of North Georgia. omas is also a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at LSU. In 2011, omas accepted his current position as President of United Bank of Covington. omas has been active in numerous civic organizations locally to include Leadership Newton County, Multiple Terms on the Newton County Chamber of Commerce Board, Multiple Terms on the Rockdale County Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors, Covington Family YMCA Board, Newton County Arts Association Board, Friends of Newton County Miracle Field Board, Covington Rotary Club, and the Covington Conyers Community Orchestra among other activities. omas and his high school sweetheart, Amy, who is also a Georgia State Grad, have been married for 22 years and have two sons: Garrett (16) and Weston (13). omas is an avid outdoorsman. From turkeys to tarpon, deer to ducks, redfish to rabbits, omas enjoys it all.

Seth Millican, Director At-Large Prior to joining the Georgia Transportation Alliance, Seth worked as Vice President of Public Affairs at Brock Clay Government and Public Affairs. He began his career working in various staff positions in the Georgia General Assembly. Seth earned his B.S. in Social Sciences from omas Edison State College. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Kara, and they have three children: KJ, Eden Grace, and Gabriel. Seth loves Georgia sports teams, hunting, books and writing (on politics and culture), and most of all, his faith and family. Seth has been recognized in various publications for his work on behalf of political causes and policy related initiatives and was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to serve on the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission. 5

Photo by Hank Ohme

e Ill-Tempered Common Snapping Turtle e common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) can be recognized by its small lower shell (plastron), long tail, and large head with powerful jaws. e common snapping turtle is among the most massive living freshwater species of turtles; it may reach 18 inches in shell length and in the wild may weigh up to 35 pounds. Males grow larger than females. e common snapping turtle has powerful jaws and a long, saw-toothed tail; its massive shell varies from tan to black. e common snapping turtle is a widespread species, ranging from Canada to Ecuador. In the United States, the species ranges from the Atlantic coast to the Rocky Mountains. e common snapping turtle can be found in freshwater rivers and large streams throughout Georgia where so mud bottoms and abundant vegetation are located. Most turtles like to bask in the sun, but the common snapping turtle likes to rest in muddy and warm shallow areas of water. It can frequently be found with only its eyes and nostrils poking out of the mud or muck. If disturbed, it will bend its tail forward and hold it up against the side of its shell. Sometimes the common snapping turtle can be seen crossing roads from one body of water to another. All turtles are egg-layers, with some laying as few


as three to as many as a hundred at a time. In April, the snapping turtle will surface aer overwintering underneath an overhanging bank of mud to start feeding. It mates from April to November and lays approximately 25 to 80 eggs. Incubation of the eggs lasts 9 to 18 weeks, and the hatchlings spend their first winter in the nest. Snapping turtles will feed on almost anything, but they mostly eat snails, mussels, vegetation, smaller turtles, and bits of animal flesh. Closely related to the common snapping turtle, the alligator snapper — Macroclemys temmincki — has an unusual way of feeding. When there is enough light, it will open its mouth and wiggle a red, worm-like growth on its tongue as a lure to attract small fish. When a fish comes to eat the “worm,” the turtle snaps it up with its powerful jaws. If the common snapping turtle is pestered while on land, it will repeatedly try to bite. Its neck is extremely long, and it can snap or bite as quickly as lightning strikes. Indeed, even a small snapper can inflict a painful wound. Photo by Hank Ohme.

Buckarama featuring the FISHARAMA/TURKEYRAMA February 3-5 Georgia National Fairgrounds, Perry, GA

Make plans for a fun-filled day with the family at the Buckarama featuring the FISHARAMA/TURKEYRAMA in Perry. Since 1984, GWF’s annual sporting shows have been our biggest fundraisers, providing critical support dollars for GWF's conservation programs. It is a great opportunity for you, your kids and grandkids to purchase the latest and greatest hunting and fishing gear, share tips with other sportsmen and women, and just enjoy a terrific day out with the family. Best of all, by buying a ticket and supporting our vendors, you are giving back to the land, water, and wildlife that makes it all possible. Featured attractions for 2017 include demonstrations and Live fishing demonstrations will be held each day at the bass tub. seminars from the Bass Tubs of Oklahoma, an archery tournament hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, animal encounters and nature cras for the kids, and rows and rows of the best hunting and fishing equipment available. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Work at least a five-hour shi and receive free entrance to the show, a t-shirt and a meal. Shis are available throughout the day. To volunteer, contact Adam Schiavone at 770-787-7887 or

For all the details, visit

Camo Coaltion Dinner & Auction

Saturday, March 11 Adventure Outdoors Smyrna, GA You are invited to an evening of FUN, FOOD and FELLOWSHIP with other sportsmen and women at the Camo Coalition Dinner & Auction on March 11 at Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna. With a huge gun raffle, tons of silent auction items, and a verbal auction full of excursions and equipment, you’re sure to have an exciting evening. Individual tickets are $65, or purchase a table for 10 at $600 to be entered into a special gun raffle. As always, proceeds benefit GWF's Camo Coalition and educational programs. Tickets can be purchased online at or by contacting the GWF office at 770-787-7887. If you are interested in sponsoring the event or making a donation of an item for the silent or live auction, please contact Sam Stowe at 770-787-7887 or

Clay Shoot for Conservation Friday, April 21 Burge Plantation Mansfield, GA

Join us for the 10th Annual Shoot for Conservation Sporting Clays Tournament, Friday, April 21 at Burge Plantation in Mansfield. is event is a great way to support conservation efforts in Georgia while enjoying a refreshing day in the field with other sportsmen and women. Proceeds provide critical funding for GWF programs like the Camouflage Coalition, Georgia Hunters For e Hungry, Mill Creek Nature Center, the Alcovy Conservation Center and our annual Conservationist Summits. Registration is $175 for individuals or $700 for a team of four and includes a golf cart (one/every four shooters), one round sporting clays, 100 rounds of 12 or 20 gauge ammunition per shooter, and lunch. To register for the shoot or partner with GWF as a corporate sponsor, visit or contact Sam Stowe at or 770-787-7887. 7


Photo by Dale Higdon

Photo by Dale Higdon

Above: Volunteer Dale Higdon led approximately 30 guests from Cub Scout Pack 542 and Girl Scout Troop 16208 on a guided walk through MCNC. For many, it was their first trip to the wetland.

Below: GWF hosted over 100 participants during our Rivers Alive cleanup in Buford. During the first two hours, volunteers removed invasive Chinese privet from the wetland. Afterwards, the crowd enjoyed presentations by Mark Musaus, Suzy Downing, and Dale Higdon.


Photo by Hank Ohme

In October, volunteers Suzy Downing and Dale Higdon visited Dr. Carla Chelko's class at Radloff Middle School in Duluth. Students learned about bird migration, amphibians, and native trees through the use of puppets, costumes, nature artifacts, and other hands-on props.

Photo by Hank Ohme

Local scout Jesse Dickerson is constructing a 16-foot bridge over a low spot in the trail at Mill Creek Nature Center. In November, he and his fellow scouts from BSA Troop 598 spent a productive day on the trails setting posts for the walkway.

Supporting Wood Duck Populations in Mill Creek Nature Center Photo by Vance Walton

By Graydon Hidalgo e Mill Creek Nature Center is a nature preserve that serves to protect the land where Little Ivy Creek feeds into Ivy Creek. Centered between Mall of Georgia Boulevard and Highway 85 in Buford, Georgia, Mill Creek Nature Center is a gem amid suburban retail and domestic development. With wooded trails and blinds, and platforms for viewing birds and other wildlife, the center, hidden near the busy mall and roadway, provides a window into the incredible biodiversity our riparian ecosystems hold and, in turn, allows us to reflect on our local environment and ecological footprint. I first visited Mill Creek Nature Center to observe the birds in the area. When I arrived I was in awe at the sheer amount of wildlife that lives there. e feeling of stepping from suburban sprawl into a wildlife refuge over the course of a short walk down a staircase is simply surreal. From that moment on I made the decision I wanted to do everything in my power to help maintain and improve the refuge. I began working by cleaning up trash that had made its way into the preserve. As I continued to visit the Mill Creek center over days and weeks, I saw Cooper’s hawks, red-shouldered hawks, pileated woodpeckers, kingfishers, black vultures, whitethroated sparrows, herons, and mated pairs of the elusive hooded merganser. I also began to study tracks that indicated the presence of beaver and river otters. e diversity of wildlife led me to want to find a way to have an impact on the health of the ecosystem. I developed the idea of building additional wood duck nesting boxes. Wood ducks thrive in the nature preserve and naturally nest in tree cavities. Nesting boxes provide additional shelters similar to those of trees, and therefore encourage duck populations to safely grow. I began to build nesting boxes with the goal of adding one brood of newly-fledged wood ducks into Ivy Creek. With my father’s help, we built and set up two boxes on February 7, 2016, before the spring nesting season. With the boxes up we began checking regularly, and one day were ecstatic and anxious to find the cracked eggshell remains of successful broods at the bottom of the newly-built nests. We then decided simply finding empty egg shells was not enough. We wanted a closer look into an unseen wilderness to get a glimpse of our impact on this precious corner of our environment. My dad and I invested in trail cams to obtain video of our broods hatching and making their leap of faith into Mill Creek Nature Center. Trail cams record when they detect motion. With the cams we soon discovered that both our boxes had been chosen

as nesting sites. In tracking the ducks’ normal nesting cycle, I found that both broods had successfully hatched. Based on observations from the trail cams and the hatch evidence, I estimate that over 80% of the eggs hatched and chicks successfully fledged from both nesting boxes. Aer I reported my results to Hank Ohme, Program Manager of Mill Creek Nature Center, he suggested we clean out the nesting boxes and see if a late nesting would take place. Within a few weeks we discovered that one of the boxes in fact contained a new wood duck nest. I tracked the third nest of the season and discovered that in June it had produced nine ducklings. is number was confirmed by examination of the nest and a photo taken by Ohme shortly aer we confirmed that the brood hatched and fledged. Wood duck eggs are vulnerable to various treedwelling predators, such as raccoon, squirrel, woodpeckers, and starlings. Nesting boxes provide additional protection so more eggs can hatch. At Mill Creek, not only did we assist in Photo by Hank Ohme fledging three broods of wood ducks into Ivy Creek, we captured photographs and video of the chicks making their jump into the new world they would soon make their home. e experience I gained from working with these birds was heartwarming and invaluable, but also eye-opening as to how Photo by Hank Ohme we can have a positive impact on the environment around us. I hope to use what I gained from this project to further my career in educating others on wild areas such as these, and helping to preserve the diversity of our North American ecosystems. Graydon Hidalgo, an avid birder and photographer, is a seventeenyear-old student in Dacula. 9

WILD FILES: Northern Bobwhite Quail e Northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) is one of six species of quail found in North America. Only the Northern bobwhite is found in the Southeast. Its range stretches up to southern New England, westward to the Great Plains, and south into Mexico. It is also found in areas of the Caribbean. e Northern bobwhite, known for its whistled call of “bob-white”, is a small- to medium-sized quail, averaging 8.5 to 10.5 inches high. e small, rotund game bird is brilliantly colored and easily identified by the white throat and white stripe along the brow (both of which are buff-colored in females). It is ruddy brown in color with a more chestnut-colored back that is finely barred in tan and black. Its white breast is marked with jagged, narrow black bands. e quail has a slight head crest that becomes apparent when the bird is alert. Its wings and short tail are bluish-gray. In the wild, quail form family groups called coveys. e average range for quail is one covey per 40 acres. A covey may contain between one and three family units and can range from 10 to 16 birds. Two or more hens and males may be part of one covey, as well as two broods hatched in the same season, from spring to early fall. Coveys generally form in the early fall and disband in the early spring as the quail begin selection of nesting sites. Both the male and female help construct the nest. It is built on the ground near an opening such as a field or road. e nest is a simple scrape in the ground lined with grasses and other vegetation. Weeds and grasses are sometimes woven into the shape of an arch above the nest to help conceal it. As ground-nesting birds, quail and their young are very susceptible to predators resulting in a very high mortality rate. Birds of prey, such as hawks and owls, prey on the adults, while the eggs may be preyed on by an even greater number of predators including snakes and raccoons. To ward off predators, an abundance of escape and nesting cover in the form of tall grasses and other types of brush is a critical component of quail habitat. Longleaf pine forests that are being managed correctly provide these areas during burn cycles. Farmland that includes borders and hedgerows also provides cover. Both of these habitats also provide the insects, seeds, and other food sources that quail need to survive. To balance their short life-span, quail also have a high reproductive rate. In good conditions, one pair can produce two broods of 25 or more offspring in a single breeding season, which may last from April to September in some cases. An average of 12 to 14 eggs are laid per clutch. One female may lay two clutches in a season. e young are hatched covered in natal down and are completely flightless for the first two weeks, leaving them extremely vulnerable to predators. ey are also very susceptible to cold, wet weather due to their lack of plumage and require almost constant brooding. Both the male and female care for the young during this time. eir paternal instincts are strong, and they use a “broken wing” display in which one of the parents fakes injury to lead a predator away from the young. e parents do not feed the young but instead lead them to food. During the first six weeks of life, the chicks feed almost entirely on insects. Aerwards, their diet will shi to include seeds and berries. At just four months, the birds have grown in size and appearance to resemble adult birds. Adult quail feed on hard mast including acorns and pine seeds, as well as legume seeds, insects, so mast such as berries, and grass seeds. ey get much of their water from dew on vegetation but will also utilize wetlands as a water source. Quail spend the majority of their lives on the ground and only fly short distances when necessary. e only time quail fly alone is at night when they fly to their roosting spot so as to not leave a scent trail. e covey generally roosts on the ground where the quail sleep in a circle with their tails together and beaks facing outward. A small, round pile of droppings is oen a sign of where a covey roosted the night before. Quail are such popular game birds in the U.S. and around the world because they fly so infrequently and travel short distances. Sportsmen use hunting dogs to flush the birds up off the ground, and once the birds are hit, they land close by and are easy to collect. Also, unlike other birds such as doves, both wild and pen-raised quail don’t show much fear of humans or vehicles. Doves generally fly immediately when they see a human, while quail only fly in a panic, waiting until the last possible second to take off. Written by Michelle S. Davis. Reprinted with edits from e Fire Forest, 2001 10

Restoring Public Quail Hunting Opportunities in Georgia By Paul Grimes & Alan Isler Contributing authors: Melissa Cummings & Joanna Batchelor Improvements to benefit quail hunters are on the horizon for four southwest Georgia Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) thanks to quail habitat work currently underway by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. Quail and other small game hunters lack the opportunities enjoyed by deer and turkey hunters on public land. Of the almost one million acres in the WMA system, less than one percent are managed for quail. Situated among the largest expanse of quail plantations in the state, WMAs in southwest Georgia provide the greatest opportunity for quality quail, deer and turkey habitat. Improvements to these areas will mimic pine savanna (grassland) habitat, one of the most diverse habitats in the world, second only to tropical rainforests. Pine savannas occur naturally across the southeastern U.S. and historically covered over 90% of southwest Georgia. Widely spaced longleaf pine is the predominant tree found in these open grasslands, which also contains a diverse understory of native grasses, flowers, forbs and occasional shrubs. Historically maintained by fire, pine savannas were ignited by Native Americans or lightning storms in the spring and summer months. ese frequent fires prevented most hardwoods from growing, leaving only occasional hardwoods of high wildlife value that could tolerate occasional fires. Few intact savanna habitats remain in the southeastern U.S. due to industrial forestry practices and Luke Vickery is sure to remember his visit to unnatural use of prescribed fire. While many species of Chickasawhatchee WMA as he got to experience wildlife have adapted to this change (e.g. deer and turkey), first-hand some of the benefits of Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division habitat work. Photo others have declined, including quail. courtesy Georgia Department of Natural Resources. ese planned habitat changes will reduce the number of pine trees on four WMAs (Chickasawhatchee, Elmodel, River Creek and Silver Lake) and remove hardwood encroachment from the uplands caused by inadequate use of fire. While these activities will change the uplands, they will greatly improve habitat. e lower number of trees per acre will promote a greater diversity and density of foraging habitat, nesting habitat and escape cover. Planned 2-5 acre openings, or “weed fields,” scattered throughout the uplands will be used to provide adequate brood-rearing habitat. ough these fields will not be planted with traditional food plot mixes, seasonal disking of these fields will yield high quality forage for deer and exceptional bugging grounds for quail and turkey broods. e primary purpose of WMAs is to support wildlife conservation in the state and allow public access to hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities. Pine savannas will better support hunt-able species such as quail and turkey, but also provide critical habitat for many non-game species that have declined along with the forests themselves. Species such as the threatened gopher tortoise and endangered Atlanta Buckarama red-cockaded August 5 - 7woodpecker, along with other Perry Buckarama Augustecosystems. 19 - 21 declining birds, reptiles, and amphibians are sure to benefit from these pine savanna Buckarama February 3-5, 2017 Staff with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division are committed to restoring and managing this valuable featuring the Fisharama & Turkeyrama habitat to provide sportsmen with improved areas to hunt and to support greater natural diversity benefiting multiple species of wildlife. Plan to visit this part of the state soon to see for yourself!

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UPCOMING EVENTS Keeping Georgia Wild Summit January 10, Covington Sportsmans Day at the Capitol January 12, Atlanta Buckarama featuring the Fisharama/Turkeyrama February 3-5, Perry Squirrel Tournament February 11, Covington Camo Coalition Dinner & Auction March 11, Smyrna Clay Shoot for Conservation April 21, Mansfield More details at

from Georgia Wildlife Federation

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