Birding Basics

Do you often see or hear birds but don’t know how to identify them? Birding is a safe outdoor activity, and you can use our custom birding bingo to get started! And be sure to come see us at UGA Aquarium for the World Migratory Bird Day celebration. 

More than just pretty animals, birds are an important part of the ecological system, including the Ogeechee River basin. Various species inhabit different layers of the food web — from birds that eat seeds and insects to the most expert hunting predators. They keep populations in check.

They also help spread seeds and pollen which is vital for plant growth. Maintaining a healthy environment for birds to thrive is crucial to the balance of ecosystems locally and globally.

Red-shouldered hawk. Photo by Chris S. Wood, Macauley Library

What is “birding”? 

Birding is the act of birdwatching for recreational, research, or citizen science reporting purposes. Also known as ‘birdwatching,’ it’s the observation of birds in their natural habitats as a hobby or an amateur activity.

Wood Storks. Photo by Mary Ellen Urbanski. Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

I see birds all the time, but I don’t know what I’m looking at. 

Learn what to look or listen for when birding starting with color, shape, flight pattern, body size, bill or beak shape, calls and more. 

Check out these sites for bird guides. 

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Birdwatcher’s Digest

Rare birds in the ORK watershed

Northern parula on red twig. Photo by Dan Fein.

I’m enjoying this. How can I get better?

Consider purchasing a pair of binoculars (aka “bins”) and searching out local birding trails or sites. You might also join a local chapter of the Audubon Society, an organization dedicated to protecting birds and sharing resources for enthusiasts.

Audubon Society

Ogeechee Audubon Society

Coastal Georgia Audubon Society

Georgia Audubon Society

Birding trails in Georgia

Always follow the American Birding Association Code of Birding Ethics

American Goldfinch. Photo by Adam Jackson, Macauley Library.

I want to share some of the amazing things I’ve seen. Is there a way to do that?

Engage in citizen science. Download the eBird app for free. It’s a digital way to keep track of the birds you see or hear while birding. This type of citizen science reporting — the collection of scientific data by amateur scientists — benefits the people participating as well as researchers.

Read about Isaiah Scott, birding enthusiast and local student

Adult male Barn Owl. Photo by Shlomo Neuman, Audubon Photography Awards

ORK Birding Activity

  • Plan a birding trip in your backyard or neighborhood park, near a waterway or in a city greenspace.
  • Download eBird and record what you see/hear. If you aren’t sure how to ID a certain bird, you can search through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website by characteristics. 
  • Share your checklists with Ogeechee Riverkeeper through eBird by searching “Ogeechee Riverkeeper” or via ORK’s eBird profile

You may also share your findings and photos through email at

Tag us on social media with your research adventures and use #ORKOutside.

This activity is compatible with Project Wild “Bird Song Survey” activity which is geared towards middle and high school students in science and environmental education. Birding in general can be a fun family/friends outing for all ages, abilities, and environments. 

Activity is open to all ages and meets the needs or can be combined with other activities for the following Georgia Standards of Excellence in science, ecology, environmental science, and zoology.

  • S3L2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the effects of pollution (air, land, and water) and humans on the environment.
  • S4L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the roles of organisms and the flow of energy within an ecosystem.
  • SEC3. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to construct explanations of community interactions.
  • SB6. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to assess the theory of evolution.
  • SEC5. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information on the impact of natural and anthropogenic activities on ecological systems.

World Migratory Bird Day

Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day with ORK at the UGA Aquarium! Learn about the incredible diversity of birds that visit the Georgia coast each year during their migratory journeys. Bring the family for a fun day of hands-on activities and animal encounters.

Throughout the day, UGA Aquarium educators will be joined by ornithological organizations and birding experts who will have stations set up along the aquarium’s picnic area and Jay Wolf Nature Trail with educational activities for all age groups.

The World Migratory Bird Day event is included with the cost of admission to the UGA Aquarium.​ Learn more about admission fees at

World Migratory Bird Day is an annual global campaign coordinated by Environment for the Americas that celebrates the migration of birds across countries and continents. This year’s theme is “dim the lights for birds at night,” and participating organizations are sharing steps that communities can take to reduce the impact of light pollution on migrating birds. Learn more at


Birds and Bins

Come join ORK & OAS for a birding walk and litter cleanup!

This beautiful site offers a mix of habitats, featuring wetlands and river setting. Ogeechee Audubon co-leaders & Ogeechee Riverkeeper co-leaders will help locate and identify birds, educate us about the southern part of the Ogeechee watershed while we cleanup the waterways.

We will search for wading birds, raptors, woodpeckers and other early winter resident birds. Loaner binoculars and litter collection supplies will be available.

Meet at the cul-de-sac at 9am (the Al Bungard Conservation Area). Use driving directions from HWY 17.

Trip Rigor: Easy, with paved path and varied terrain. Estimated walking distance 2 miles. ADA accessible; no public restrooms on site.

Registration is individual. Each person in your party must register separately.

*All participants will be required to adhere to all COVID-19 mandates and protocols in effect at the time of the event.

Members Only: Birding Walk with Ogeechee Audubon

This event is available only to current members of Ogeechee Riverkeeper.

Register here. Membership status will be verified. 

This event will be limited to 15 participants. Please alert ORK if you register but need to cancel so your spot can be offered to another birder.

Ogeechee Audubon’s birding expert & Ogeechee Riverkeeper’s Damon Mullis will co-lead a beginning birding walk on Saturday, August 28, 8-10 a.m. at the Chatham County Wetlands Preserve, on the banks of the Ogeechee River.

Guests will learn to identify wading birds, raptors, woodpeckers, other late summer resident birds.

Trip Rigor: Easy, with paved path and varied terrain. Estimated walking distance 2 miles. ADA accessible; no public restrooms on site. Loaner binoculars will be available.

Not a member? Become one now and get access to this and more members-only events.

*All participants will be required to adhere to all COVID-19 mandates and protocols in effect at the time of the event.