News from DNR: Hummingbirds, bluebirds, frogs & foxes

Wed, 04/09/2008 - 2:40pm
By: The Citizen


FORSYTH, Ga. (April 7, 2008) — Hang up your feeders and they will come!

Ruby-throated hummingbirds and other avian acrobats are returning to Georgia from their wintering grounds to the south. Ruby-throated “hummers” may travel more than 600 miles from Mexico to Georgia.

“If you haven’t already seen a ruby-throated hummingbird in your backyard, you should soon,” said Jim Ozier, a Nongame Conservation Section program manager with the state’s Wildlife Resources Division.

Following the long, grueling migration, this diminutive bird must seek out about half its weight in food every day. Typical body weight of a ruby-throated hummingbird is 3 to 3.4 grams.

To maintain their high metabolism, hummingbirds must feed frequently on high-energy food sources such as rich but easily digested nectar, or tree sap that collects in yellow-bellied sapsucker foraging holes. Hummingbirds also need protein, which they obtain by eating tiny spiders and small soft-bodied insects found on flowers or in sapsucker holes in trees.

Hummingbird enthusiasts can provide rich food sources for these travel-weary visitors by planting coral honeysuckle, columbine, bee balm and other native plants, as well as by putting up hummingbird feeders. Periodically clean feeders, making sure that all molds and bacteria are removed. But do not use harsh cleaning agents. Feeders can be easily cleaned in dishwasher or with mild soap and warm water.

Refill hummingbird feeders every few days with a simple mix of one part sugar to four parts water. For best results, bring the water to a boil before adding the sugar and then continue to boil three to four minutes, allowing the mixture to cool before filling your feeder. Refrigerate unused portions.

Homeowners who seem to enjoy the greatest success in attracting hummingbirds combine the use of feeders with planting flowers that produce an abundance of nectar. When planting flowers for hummingbirds, incorporate flowers that bloom from early spring through fall. Flower gardens will also attract a variety of other enjoyable nectar-feeders such as butterflies.

Occasionally, “lost” migrant hummingbirds not considered native to this region are seen at feeders. To report unusual hummingbirds seen in your backyard, please contact Wildlife Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section at (478) 994-1438. Information sheets on Georgia’s hummingbirds can be found at

Georgians can support conservation projects for hummingbirds and other nongame wildlife by buying a wildlife license plate featuring a ruby-throated hummingbird or a bald eagle and U.S. flag for their vehicle, or by donating to the “Give Wildlife a Chance” state income tax checkoff. The checkoff and nongame license plate sales are primary funding sources for the Nongame Conservation Section, which receives no state appropriations.

Stay informed about nongame wildlife with “Georgia Wild,” a free e-newsletter from Wildlife Resources. Sign up at .



FORSYTH, Ga. (April 7, 2008) - With the arrival of another bluebird nesting season, Georgians can help these brilliantly plumaged birds find the perfect home, according to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division. Bluebirds, a beloved symbol of happiness, have charmed generations with their cheerful song, their beauty and even their fondness for nesting boxes.

The birds once depended on naturally occurring cavities and abandoned woodpecker homes in snags for nesting. But because of a shortage in these cavities, a lack that has affected other cavity nesters as well, bluebirds have largely become dependent on humans for nesting sites.

“This is an excellent time to start putting up bluebird boxes because eastern bluebirds are already looking for nesting sites in Georgia,” said Jim Ozier, a program manager with Wildlife Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section.

The Wildlife Resources Division Web site ( has information on building and erecting bluebird boxes, complete with diagram instructions for the traditional round-hole box and the slot box (including the Gilwood nest box).

“Research has shown that the slot box design is very well accepted by bluebirds,” Ozier said. “We have also found that they work well at sites where people are having problems with house sparrows, an introduced species that may compete with other cavity-nesting birds.”

The design of the slot box allows for more sunlight to enter, making this type of box less suited for house sparrows.

Place bluebird boxes in open habitats with sparse trees and low vegetation, such as old fields, pastures and orchards. Many bluebird nest box efforts fail because boxes are put in shrubby and forested sites. When possible, mount the boxes on metal poles or sunlight-resistant PVC pipes equipped with predator guards.

“If you feel you may not have enough open space in your yard, go ahead and put up a box anyway because you may encourage other cavity nesters such as the Carolina chickadee or tufted titmouse to take up residence in your newly erected home,” Ozier said.

Georgians can support conservation projects for migrating hummingbirds and other nongame wildlife through buying a wildlife license plate featuring a bald eagle or a ruby-throated hummingbird. They can also donate to the “Give Wildlife a Chance” state income tax checkoff. Sales of the wildlife plates are the main source of funding for the Nongame Conservation Section.



SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (April 7, 2008) — Need a reason to smile this Tax Day? Try contributing to Georgia’s “Give Wildlife a Chance” state income tax checkoff.

Donations fund vital nongame wildlife conservation in Georgia. Nongame animals, those not hunted or fished, benefit. So do native plants and natural habitats.

The checkoff is critical to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section. The section receives no state appropriations. Yet its research, land acquisition and educational efforts aid wildlife and wild places that help make this state enchanting now and for future generations. The natural diversity varies from the ruby-throated hummingbirds zipping around backyard birdfeeders to cool mountain bogs at risk of disappearing from the Blue Ridge landscape.

“These funds support research and conservation efforts for Georgia’s state- and federally protected species,” said section Assistant Chief Jon Ambrose, referring to money from the tax checkoff and sales of nongame wildlife license plates, another key funding source.

Through the public’s generosity, the Give Wildlife a Chance checkoff has raised $5.75 million for the state Wildlife Conservation Fund since the checkoff’s start in 1989.

And there is still time to contribute this year: April 15 is days away. Fill in any amount more than $1 on line 26 of the long state income tax form (Form 500) and line 10 of the short form (Form 500EZ). Contributions can be deducted from tax refunds or added to payments.

For details on projects funded by the checkoff and nongame license plates (those with the bald eagle or hummingbird images), visit or call Nongame Conservation offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218).

Give wildlife a chance? This Tax Day, you can.

The “Give Wildlife a Chance” logo is available via e-mail from Rick Lavender ( Releases and related information posted at

# # #


SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (April 7, 2008) - A frog-monitoring program will be receiving some much-needed funds to improve a scarce frog’s chances for survival.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Atlanta Botanical Garden and The Nature Conservancy of Georgia conduct The Gopher Frog Headstarting Project to help Georgia’s rarest frog species.

Grants totaling $1,890 will cover the cost of a new, larger and more effective rearing system for raising gopher frog tadpoles. Permanent 110-gallon reservoirs and filter systems are being installed at the Atlanta Botanical Garden to help rear tadpoles.

“This will allow us to raise a larger number of tadpoles more efficiently and under better conditions,” said Ron Gagliardo, amphibian conservation coordinator at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Gopher frogs have been documented at fewer than 10 sites in Georgia. This unique frog with a large head and an appetite for other frogs is found almost exclusively in the Coastal Plain’s longleaf pine ecosystem. Gopher frogs live in gopher tortoise burrows, stump holes and other underground homes in flatwoods, sandhills and pine scrub areas.

The species faces significant threats, such as habitat destruction and fish stocked in breeding areas, and is considered a high-priority amphibian by Georgia’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, a guide for conservation.

Approximately 68 tadpoles were released into a pond in Williams Bluffs Preserve in Early County in 2007. The 1,980-acre tract of land owned by The Nature Conservancy is the only designated recipient site in Georgia for gopher frogs at this time.

Portions of seven egg masses have been collected this year, resulting in nearly 1,700 tadpoles. They are being reared at the Atlanta Botanical Garden for eventual release.

Groups contributing funds for the new rearing system include the Georgia Herpetological Society, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group and Nipmuc Regional High School in Upton, Mass.

Information on how to help conserve Georgia’s nongame wildlife - such as through buying a nongame wildlife license plate or making a donation to the “Give Wildlife a Chance” state income tax checkoff - are available at .


WILD Facts: Gray foxes at a glance

The gray fox is a common mammal found throughout Georgia as well as most of the United States. Typical size is 8-12 pounds and about 3 feet long. Although mostly gray in color, this canid has orange fur on its neck, sides and legs. That’s why, at a quick glance, some people mistake the gray fox for the slightly larger red fox.

The pups of both fox species are dark grayish-brown, but the young take on adult colors and patterns at about a month-and-a-half old. Foxes in the wild survive about eight to 10 years, but those in captivity may live up to 15 years.

WILD Facts is a regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division.


login to post comments