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SHARE THE SHORE and BE A HERO for beach-nesting birds and turtles this holiday weekend and beyond! 

SHARE THE SHORE and BE A HERO for beach-nesting birds and turtles this holiday weekend and beyond! 

By: Tammy Cash

Nesting season of our protected and vulnerable shore birds and sea turtles is in full swing, and so are summer beach vacations. With the Independence Day holiday weekend marking the height of beach vacation time, states in the southeast along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts reminds beachgoers how to “share the shore.” Help shore-nesting birds and turtles survive while enjoying beach time in their coastal habitats during this holiday weekend and beyond. Typically from April through August, shorebirds, seabirds, and turtles rely on the sandy beaches for critical nesting habitats. Everyone headed to the beach can make a big difference in their nesting success. Be a hero for beach-nesting birds and turtles this Independence Day weekend and beyond by following these simple tips:

Stay off the dunes. Walk below the high tide lines or on the wet-sand. The dry sand and dunes above the high tide, also called the wrack line are where shorebirds and sea turtles are nesting.

Do the “flock walk” and observe from a distance. Keep at least 300 feet from nesting birds and walk around flocks of birds. Getting too close to nesting shorebirds, seabirds and wading birds can cause them to flush from their breeding sites, leaving vulnerable eggs and chicks exposed to the elements and predators. Egg temperatures can increase to lethal levels after just a few minutes of direct sun exposure. Birds and turtles lay eggs in shallow scrapes in the sand where the nests, eggs and chicks are camouflaged to blend with its surroundings. This makes makes them difficult to be seen and vulnerable of being stepped by beachgoers. Also, watch where you set up camp. Pay attention, if a bird acts aggressively towards you, it’s likely that you are too close to its nest.

Look for Critical Wildlife Area closures. Be on the lookout for signs designating nesting and critical areas on the beach or coastal islands – avoid these posted areas as they are closed to public access to protect high concentrations of wading birds, shorebirds and turtles while they nest and raise their offspring. Boaters and beachgoers can help by keeping distance and noise volumes low near these critical areas.

Keep Fido at home or on a leash. Even fun-loving, well-behaved dogs can frighten shorebirds, causing them to abandon their eggs and chicks. If you bring your dog with you to the shore, go to a beach where they’re allowed and follow all leash laws.

Properly stash the trash, fill the holes, and leave no trace. Trash and food scraps attract predators, such as raccoons and crows that prey on bird/turtle eggs and chicks. Litter on beaches and in the water can entangle birds, turtles and other wildlife. Beachgoers can help beach-nesting birds and other wildlife by properly disposing of all trash, filling in human-made holes in the sand, and removing all personal gear from the beach before sunset. Fishing line can be deadly to birds, sea turtles and other wildlife, so be sure to dispose of it properly. Search for a monofilament recycling station near you.

Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Keep personal fireworks off the beach and at home; attend an official event instead that has been properly authorized for beach areas. The loud sounds and bright lights of personal fireworks on the beaches and waterways can have catastrophic effects on nesting birds and their chicks, as well as nesting sea turtles.

Currently all seven species of our sea turtles are listed as federally threatened or endangered. Some of the cause(s) of their decline include loss of habitat, boat strikes, capture and drowning in commercial fishing nets,  and many other human-caused dangers.  It is believed that as a result of these detrimental threats only about one in four thousand sea turtles will survive to reproductive maturity, exact estimates vary.

Tips while visiting turtle nesting beaches:

  • LIGHTS OFF! Leave your bright lights at home (or carry red “turtle-friendly” lights). White lights can deter nesters and cause hatchlings to crawl the wrong way. If you’re staying the beach that is home for nesting turtles, turn off exterior lighting and draw your shades at night during turtle season (May-October).
  • Take your beach chairs and gear home with you – discarded gear causes unnecessary obstacles for turtles and may cause them to false crawl. Fill in sandcastles and holes, which create roadblocks for nesting mothers and hatchlings.
  • Never litter. Ensure all trash, including plastic bags and six-pack rings, are properly disposed of or recycled.
  • Slowdown in the water! Boat strikes account for a significant number of sea turtle deaths annually.
  • If you’re ever lucky enough to encounter a nesting sea turtle or hatchling, please watch from a safe and quiet distance and never disturb a nest. All species of sea turtles are protected by state and federal laws.
  • To report a dead or injured sea turtle, please call 1-800-2-SAVE-ME.

Some of our near-threatened, threatened and/or endangered feathered friends that nest on the southeastern U.S. beaches are the snowy plover, least tern, black skimmer, and American oystercatcher. The sea turtles that lay eggs in the southeast are loggerheads, leatherbacks, green turtles. All of these species and others are facing conservation challenges and need help from people to survive.

Pass the information on to your family and friends; let them know how to be a hero for our shore birds and turtles!

Resources for information about sharing the shore with beach-nesting birds and turtles:

In Georgia:

  • Beach-nesting bird tips and video are available at com/conservation/birds, click “Share the Beach”.
  • Sign up for updates on the Georgia Shorebird Alliance Facebook page.
  • If you see people disturbing nesting birds, respectfully tell them how their actions can affect the birds. If the people continue, contact DNR’s Law Enforcement hotline, (800) 241-4113 or
  • To report any dead, sick or injured sea turtles to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Marine Resources Division at 912-280-6892. You can also call the Stranding Hotline at 1-800-2-Save-Me (1-800-272-8363).

In Florida:

In Alabama:

In South Carolina:

In North Carolina:

Summer is Pollinator Time – National Pollinator Week and the Great Georgia Pollinator Census

Summer is Pollinator Time – National Pollinator Week and the Great Georgia Pollinator Census

By: Jenny Burdette.

June 20 – 26 is National Pollinator Week 2022! Sponsored by Pollinator Partnership, Pollinator Week hopes to raise awareness of pollinators and encourage action to protect them. For some ideas on how to celebrate, check out  Go to the Resources tab for suggestions on planting for pollinators, whether it’s a single plant or an entire pollinator garden. They also offer the opportunity to purchase a really cool t-shirt!!

In Georgia, the Great Pollinator Census through UGA is asking citizens to observe National Pollinator Week by learning more about ONE new pollinator. Maybe learn the name of a new butterfly (like the official name of that sort of light green butterfly with the big spot). Or learn about how the stinging insects that most of us have feared since an unfortunate encounter in childhood actually serve extremely useful roles as pollinators. You can download a butterfly identification guide from Georgia Wildlife by clicking The guide also contains useful information about planting to attract butterflies to your own yard.

monarch butterfly

Follow the Georgia Pollinator Census on Facebook and Instagram

The Great Georgia Pollinator Census ( will take place on August 19 and 20, 2022. A Citizen Science project created by UGA, the project generates a snapshot of pollinator populations, educates gardeners about the importance of pollinators and other beneficial insects, and generates a baseline from which to measure the growth or decline of pollinator populations. Census data is used to identify areas that need more pollinator habitat, and researchers use the data in pollination economic valuation studies.

(Image by Jenny Burdette)

Project goals include increasing pollinator habitat across Georgia, improving entomological literacy through participation, and generating useful data on pollinator populations.

Stay tuned for more info on how GNPA will offer opportunities to participate in the Great Georgia Pollinator Census on August 19th and 20th. We hope to have several small groups in a variety of locations. Please contact Jenny Burdette if you are interested in leading a small group.

Example of a few pollinators: Birds, Butterflies and Bees. Images By: Jimmy Cash

June 15th is Nature Photography Day!

June 15th is Nature Photography Day!

By: Tammy Cash.  Image Credits: Left to right from the top – #1, #6, #10 Jamie Anderson. #3, #8, #9 Jimmy Cash. #2, #7 Tammy Cash. #4, #12 Jenny Burdette. #5 Cheryl Tarr. #11 Tom Wilson.


Photographers and nature lovers all across the nation head out into the natural world on June 15th each year, which is designated as Nature Photography Day!  The GNPA is excited to celebrate this special day and encourage all who can to enjoy the day by capturing nature related images! We hope you will share your photos with us by tagging #gnpa_pix in your posts.

Part of the on-going mission at GNPA is to share our appreciation of the natural world and spotlight the value of nature as a photography special interest. How is nature valued, you may ask? Did you know that nature photography is an extremely important and powerful tool? Photographic images captured of our natural world, including wildlife, plants, insects, landscapes, seascapes, and much more, not only portray the natural beauty of our great planet, the images can effect change and make a real difference! They can help make a difference by telling a story that promotes existing, or even triggers new, conservation efforts, such as:

  • Protecting a threatened, endangered or near extinct animal or plant species.
  • Taking action to improve a section of land, natural waterways, rivers, bays, ocean shores, and more.
  • Demonstrating changes to habitats and ecosystems that are favorable or damaging, for example:
    • New pollinator gardens on publicly owned land.
    • Protected wetlands and habitats for specific plant(s) and animal(s).
    • Improvements being made to habitats, such as those damaged by wildfires, floods, land clearing, etc.
    • Documentation through photos of rising water levels, polluted water resources, increased spreading of invasive plants in an area, and other detrimental changes to environments and natural habitats.
    • And much more!

Another powerful tool that nature photography provides is INSPIRATION! Images of our natural world can inspire a greater appreciation, awareness, and stewardship of our natural world. They can inspire others to enjoy nature and discover the many wonders our world has to offer. Additionally, they inspire people of all ages to learn more about nature and photography!

Ideas for observing Nature Photography Day:

Nature Photography Day encourages us to take a breather from our busy lives and spend time connecting with nature – appreciating all the beauty it has to offer. It can be powerful! Nature is all around us. Take part anywhere you are, grab your favorite camera equipment, or use your cell phone camera, and head out! Here are some ideas for celebrating Nature Photography Day, or to connect with nature on any day:

  • Capture nature related images – even in your own backyard.
  • View nature photography images made by others. Visit websites, social media pages, find a book with inspiring nature images and information.
  • Watch a documentary or videos on our natural world and/or nature photography
  • Take an online or in-person class on nature photography (wildlife, birds, insects, plants, landscapes, and more)
  • Learn more about nature photography opportunities in your area including the environment, animal and plant inhabitants and their habitats.
  • Visit a wildlife refuge; preserve; or national, state, local park
  • Tour a botanical garden
  • Go bird watching
  • Enjoy the sunrise and/or sunset
  • Explore public wetlands, a lake, creek, river, or seashore.
  • Go hiking on designated trails
  • Share with others the information about Nature Photography Day, nature photography and the powerful tools it provides.

Whether you are  beginner just learning nature photography, an enthusiast, hobbyist, professional, conservationist, or other type of photographer, it is the mission of GNPA to help nature photographers of all skill levels learn, grow and improve their photography, network with other outdoor photographers, and participate in exciting trips and events. We invite you to join GPNA and come “Shoot With Us!” Click here to learn more.

 How will you celebrate Nature Photography Day? Tag us in your social media posts of your captured nature related images #gnpa_pix.

Resources for “Gardening for Life: Creating a backyard refuge for insects, plants, birds and photographers.”

Resources for “Gardening for Life: Creating a backyard refuge for insects, plants, birds and photographers.”

Resources for “Gardening for Life: Creating a backyard refuge for insects, plants, birds and photographers.” This document provides links to webpages and documents to help you get started on your own personal biodiversity/photography refuge.

 General articles for more information

“How Non-Native Plants are Contributing to a Global Insect Decline”


“Non-native Plants in Homeowners’ Yards Endanger Wildlife”


Doug Tallamy books


Books, videos and articles featuring Doug Tallamy


Georgia Native Plant Initiative, UGA/State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Many good handouts — see right navigational pane. Includes native plant nursery list, native plants for bats, propagation of favorite Georgia natives, invasive species, etc.:


“The Complete Guide to Native Plants of Georgia” (this is an extensive reference and takes time to open, be patient)


“Native Plants of North Georgia, A Photo Guide for Plant Enthusiasts” (58 pages, formatted for cell phone)


“Creating Nesting Boxes to Help Native Bees” (8 page bulletin)


“The Eco-Friendly Garden” (18 page bulletin)


Certificate in Native Plants through UGA/State Botanical Garden


Deer tolerant ornamental plants (8 pages) (Please note these are not all native plants! Invasive plants have been excluded from the list).


Landscape Certification Programs

Georgia Audubon


Homegrown National Park

(no actual certification process but you put your property on the map and enter information)


National Wildlife Federation


Georgia Native Plant Society


Publications from USDA

“Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees”


“A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests”


Other Sources

“Monarchs Across Georgia” – many articles under “Resources” button


“Pollinator Plants Southeast Region” (4 page handout)


“Butterflies and their host plants” (2 pages, chart with photos)


“Attracting Native Pollinators” and many other great books


“Native Plants for the Georgia Piedmont” (2 page handout)


Garden for Wildlife


Chattahoochee Nature Center


Pollinator Friendly Landscaping (Facebook)


Prairie Moon Nursery – A highly respected purveyor of native plants


Suggested supplies for supporting backyard birds


















Downloadable PDF of the list:

Native Plant Resources


Shared by Tammy Cash, Conservation Committee Communications

For those of us who enjoy watching and photographing our backyard birds, or birds any and everywhere, here is your chance to share your photos, help with conservation efforts for our feathered friends, and be a Citizen Scientist! “The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) was the first online citizen-science project (also referred to as community science) to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.” Participate in the GBBC for four days in February (18th-21st) to watch, learn about, count, and celebrate birds!  The GBBC is sponsored annually by The Cornell Lab, Audubon, and Birds Canada. Below is additional information on the GBBC from

Project Goal:

Each February, for four days, the world comes together for the love of birds. Over these four days, we invite people to spend time in their favorite places watching and counting as many birds as they can find and reporting them. The observations help scientists better understand global bird populations before one of their annual migrations.

How to Participate

Participating is really easy and fun to do alone or with others! And it can be done anywhere you find birds.

Step 1 – Decide where you will watch birds.

Step 2 – Watch birds for 15 minutes or more, at least once over the four days, February 18-21, 2022.

Step 3 – Count all the birds you see or hear within your planned time/location and use the best tool for sharing your bird sightings:

Learn More by Registering for the FREE 2022 Webinar:

Join the experts to brush up on bird ID, unlock the mystery of bird songs, and practice counting birds no matter how large the flock or busy the feeder. This webinar is designed for birders of all ages and experience—you’ll leave confident and ready to be part of the Great Backyard Bird Count! Click here to Register for Webinar on Wednesday, February 16, 2 pm ET

Be Part of a Global Event

How cool is this! Watch observation lists roll in from around the world. Each submitted checklist becomes a glowing light on our bird sightings map. Watch the Live Map

Share Your Birds Counts

The Great Backyard Bird Count uses eBird, one of the world’s largest nature databases. It stores more than 100 million bird sightings contributed each year and is used by professionals for science and conservation. Contribute to eBird and become a citizen scientist!

New to the Great Backyard Bird Count or to using eBird? Explore the How to Participate on the options for entering your bird lists. Click here to Enter Your Bird List Into eBird

Bird Photos From the Weekend:

Upload your favorite bird images when you enter your Great Backyard Bird Count list in eBird. Your photo will become a part of the Macaulay Library, the world’s premier scientific archive of natural history. Images for the Macaulay Library can be uploaded directly from your eBird/GBBC list. To learn how to upload an image to your bird list click here: Learn How to Upload Bird Photos

People Photos From the Weekend:

You can also share pictures of yourself and your bird-watching community! The photos may be used to continue to inspire others from around the world to watch and enjoy birds. All people who submit people photos will win one Bird Academy course! Click here for more information: Share Photos of People Birding

For additional information on the GBBC visit:

Resources for “Gardening for Life: Creating a backyard refuge for insects, plants, birds and photographers.”

GARDENING FOR LIFE: Creating a backyard refuge for plants, insects, birds and photographers

By Dr. Cheryl Tarr. Photos by Dr. Cheryl Tarr.

“There are those who can live without wild things, and those who cannot. I am of those who cannot.” Aldo Leopold’s words have always rung true for me, and not only in the wild places where I hike and camp, but also in my backyard. It is here that I have the most intimate and deep connection with the natural world – and here that I frequently sit quietly with my camera, waiting for the next wild thing to enter my field of view.

I am fortunate to have a small suburban lot that includes several large oak trees and other hardwoods. By reading books by Dr. Doug Tallamy (an author and entomologist at the University of Delaware) I have learned that oaks and other native species are critical for insects including pollinators (mostly bees and wasps) and the Lepidopterans (moths and butterflies). Some Lepidopterans are pollinators but more importantly they are an essential part of the food chain — songbird nestlings require lepidopteran larvae (caterpillars) as food and so most songbird species cannot survive for long without this food source. Dr. Tallamy’s group documented this as part of a citizen science project that examined photographs of parent birds returning to their nests with insects in their bills. They estimated that chickadees require 6,000 – 9,000 larvae to raise one clutch of young! From this I derive a simple formula to inform my property management: more native plants = more insects = more birds = more to photograph!

My penchant for planting and photographing native plants turned out to be a great blessing in the early months of the COVID pandemic, when I spent many mornings on the ground with my camera, face buried in the ‘weeds’ and wildflowers of my backyard. My yard is part of Homegrown National Park, a growing biodiversity reserve made up of urban and suburban yards across America that have some or all of the property landscaped with native plants ( I have created my piece of this reserve by visiting local native plant nurseries and plant sales, as well as allowing native species to grow wherever they spring up in my yard. I have been leaving the leaves for over a decade now and the soil — which already contained a native seedbank — is now conducive to the growth of the native species.

I follow Georgia Native Plant Society on Facebook, which is a great resource to learn about native plants and also to find out when and where all of the native plant sales will be held in the spring and fall. I am creating a diverse and layered landscape by including native species of vines, shrubs and small trees to form an understory. Many shrubs and vines are host plants for particular species (many insects species have specialized relationships with ‘host’ plants upon which adult insects lay their eggs and larvae can feed). For example, spicebush is the host for the spicebush swallowtail, and pipevine hosts the pipevine swallowtail. I just planted a spicebush this year and am hoping for spicebush swallowtails next year!


Of course I don’t spray poison – seeing leaves that have been munched on by insects tells me I am part of a functioning ecosystem. This is good! Now where is that insect so I can photograph it?! In addition to flowers and insects I also photograph skinks and anole lizards on my property, and I enjoy watching and photographing the birds that are attracted to the habitat my yard provides.

While planting non-native flowers for butterflies can certainly entice them to your yard, only their host plants provide habitat on which they can rear their young and perpetuate the species. I enjoy seeing butterflies flit through my yard, and yet I am even more thrilled to find a Gulf fritillary caterpillar snacking on the yellow passionflower that grows in an untamed corner of my yard. I know that by hosting the native plants and therefore the insects, I provide a crucial food source for songbirds, which have faced dramatic declines in recent years. I believe being a conservationist is part and parcel of being a nature photographer. As a founding member of the GNPA Conservation Committee, I enjoy giving back by providing my photographs to various conservation organizations. It is also fulfilling to provide in my backyard a toehold for the wild things of this world, many of which are just barely hanging on. The famed biologist Edward O. Wilson once called insects, “The little things that run the world,” and the importance of these little things to our own survival cannot be overstated. By creating this reserve, I have also created a photographic playground that is available to me all day, every day. I hope you will create a refuge, too — and please share the photographs when you do!

Doug Tallamy’s books (including my favorite, “Nature’s Best Hope”) can be found here

Please join us on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 when the Roswell chapter Zoom meeting will feature a three-speaker panel on the topic of creating your own photography refuge.

Dr. Cheryl Tarr is a retired biologist whose nature photography spans the gamut from expansive black and white landscapes, to creative fine art photography using intentional camera movement (ICM) and Lensbaby lenses, to macro photography of native plants and insects. Cheryl has been a member of the GNPA for five years and actively serves on the Conservation Committee.