Birding at Lake Allatoona — also known as bird watching — is thought to be a sport for geeks who aren’t coordinated enough to play video games. Nonsense! May the pileated woodpecker of paradise peck the wood of those who know so little about the thrill of birding.
Bird watching is far less boring than watching men in goofy pants and women in short skirts knock little balls around neurotically groomed fields, in my humble opinion. One other benefit of birding over golfing is that crowds don’t shout “Get in the nest! Get in the nest!” each time birds alight.
Golfers use expensive sticks — once called niblicks, mashies, cleeks, jiggers and baffing spoons — to play their silly game. Our fine-feathered friends, such as the rufous-sided towhee or yellow-bellied sapsucker have obviously superior identities. Anyone who thinks birding doesn’t require tremendous skill and heightened senses has never tried to find an invisible rail in the wild.
Once your interest takes flight, you will learn to observe markings, silhouettes, flights, calls, migrations and habitats of birds.
All birders need is a guide to help them identify what they see or hear, inexpensive binoculars, a hat (to defend yourself against droppings) and bug spray.
Lake Allatoona (and its 25,000 acres of project land surrounding the lake) is on the Etowah River. This wide range of habitats is home to many species of colorful and elusive birds.
Hike any of the trails or stop at the observation areas on Allatoona Lake and you’ll hear or see songbirds aplenty, especially during the spring and fall. That is when migrations of “neotropical” migrants – birds that spend the spring and summer in the United States and migrate to warmer climates in the fall – stop for a visit.
Will you find the last ivory-billed woodpecker that we all know lives near Lake Allatoona? Maybe!
The Lake Allatoona office of the US Army Corps of Engineers has a special gift for you: a free birding checklist. Use it to keep track of all our flying friends that you personally identify.