Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
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Winter 2009             

Dear Junior Ranger,
Welcome to our first issue of The Georgia Junior Ranger!  We are excited to issue our first newsletter for the thousands of children around the country who have earned a Junior Ranger Badge at a Georgia State Park or Historic Site.
Let me know what you think of the newsletter, send me questions and please share any ideas you may have for future issues!
Cindy Reittinger
Chief Naturalist, Georgia State Parks

Also in this Issue:
* Winter Hikes & Happenings
* Meet a Park Ranger
* Junior Ranger Riddle
* More About Birds


Cool CritterPhoto of cool green critter
Can you identify this cool Georgia critter? 
Be the first Junior Ranger to correctly identify this animal and win a free Park Pass - good for free admission to all Georgia State Parks for a whole year!  Email your answer to the Chief Naturalist.

Junior Ranger Riddle
Can you and your family solve the Junior Ranger Riddle?

Solve the riddle below and get free admission to the site described.  To gain free admission you must copy the riddle and present it at the site.  You should email the Chief Naturalist before planning your trip to confirm that you have solved the riddle correctly.  Free admission will be granted for you and your immediate family for one day.  The offer is valid until December 1, 2009.  Hint: It may be helpful to refer to our free Park Guide available at all Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites or review the site descriptions on our website.

Which Georgia State Park or Historic Site Am I?

My fields and ravines
Have stories to tell
From troops that once walked here
And fought here so well

Their victory in May
Stalled a southern approach
The battle was won
They had reason to boast

So, plan to come visit
To learn more and see
We're here to share tales
We love history!

Help Scientists Count Birds
Mark your calendar for February 13-16, 2009 - the dates for the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Every year people like you all over the United States and Canada participate in this popular event.  It is coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society.  All you have to do is count the number and kind of birds you see at your feeder and report what you saw online.  You can spend as little as 15 minutes.  The information you collect helps scientists learn what kinds of birds can been seen in winter and whether there are more or fewer of them than before.


Meet Our Park Staff

Photo of David Foot
David Foot, Park Manager at Vogel State Park, (pictured on right) enjoys meeting people and hearing their stories.  In this picture he is interviewing a former Civilian Conservation Corp worker.

Do you think you might want to be a Park Ranger when you grow up?  David shares his background in this interview for Junior Rangers.

What do you like most about your job?
I love the variety of the work; there is always something new everyday.  I also enjoy meeting folks from all over the world who come to visit.

What are your duties as a Park Manager and how long have you worked with Georgia State Parks?
I have been working with Parks for 31 years as a Ranger and a Park Manager.  My job is like being the mayor of a small town.  I am responsible for public safety, maintenance and repairs (like plumbing and carpentry) and we have a waste water treatment plant like many cities.  I also help protect the plants and animals that live in the park.  My staff and I present programs to educate our visitors and we plan special events so that people can come and have fun.  I work with many people including park staff and the general public.

What advice would you give a Junior Ranger who may be interested in becoming a Park Ranger when they grow up?
Volunteer at a local park to see what it is like.  Meet and talk to park staff. Consider getting involved in scouting or 4-H.  It is important to do work that you love!

What did you study in college that helped you become a Park Manager?
I majored in Forest Recreation.  I studied dendrology (the study of trees) and surveying as well as recreation, biology, math and public speaking.  I continue to learn new things in my job every day.

Learn More About Birds
Check out these titles at your local library:

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies

Flute's Journey: The Life of a Wood Thrush by Lynne Cherry

She's Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head by Kathryn Lasky

Cover of First Guide to BirdsPeterson First Guide: Birds by Roger Tory Peterson





Georgia Outdoors
To learn more about places to explore in Georgia watch Georgia Outdoors on PBS.  Georgia Public Broadcasting airs Georgia Outdoors Friday at 9:30 p.m., Saturday at 6:00 p.m. and Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Georgia Outdoors is a co-production of Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.



Photo Credits:
Cool Critter, John Jensen
David Foot, Vogel State Park
Panola Diamorpha, Linda Patrick
Rocktown and Sprewell Bluff (Masthead), Cindy Reittinger


 
Winter is For the Birds
Now is a great time to put up a feeder!

The easiest way to watch birds is to put up a bird feeder in your backyard.  Now is the best time to do this because food is harder for birds to find in the winter.  While many birds fly farther south where food is more plentiful, some birds stay here all year.  There are also birds from farther north that come to Georgia to spend the winter.

The best all-round bird seed is black oil sunflower.
 
What birds can you expect to see?    
     
Cute photo of tufted titmouse
Birds you are most likely to see at your feeder are the tufted titmouse (pictured to the right) carolina chickadee and northern cardinal.  House finches and American goldfinches as well as two kinds of woodpeckers - downy woodpeckers and red-bellied woodpeckers, will also show up.  Two blue-colored birds may come to your feeder - the blue jay and the eastern bluebird.  The carolina wren with its bold white eye-stripe is likely to make an appearance too.  If you notice a bird walking upside down on tree trunks you've got a white-breasted nuthatch or its smaller cousin the brown-headed nuthatch.  Common ground feeders include the mourning dove and a small dark grey bird with white outer tail feathers (seen when it flies) called a dark-eyed junco.  Juncos live in Georgia only during the winter.  
 
If you see other birds that are not listed above refer to a field guide.  It can be fun trying to identify birds! 

Things to do:
*  Click on the links above to see, hear and learn about each of the birds mentioned.
*  Put up a bird feeder in your yard
Coloring Book of backyard birds




Make Suet Cakes

Suet feeder photoA suet feeder is a must in the winter.  Suet is animal fat; it is loaded with calories and provides birds with the high energy they need to keep warm in the winter.  You can make your own suet cakes to put in your suet feeder or buy them ready-made from the grocery store.  Suet feeders are simple wire cages and can be purchased at the grocery store too for just a couple of dollars.


Simple Suet Recipe
 
2 lbs. of lard
1 2-lb. bag of white or yellow corn meal
1/2 canister of oatmeal (regular 18 oz. size)
2 cups of black oil sunflower seed

All ingredients can be found at the grocery.
 
Melt the lard in a large pot on the stove.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.  Pour the mixture into baking pans to a depth of about 1 1/2 inches (I use two 10" x 10" foil pans lined with aluminum foil.  I wash and reuse the same pans whenever I make suet).  Put the pans in the refrigerator to harden the suet mix.  I usually let it harden overnight.  When it has hardened, cut each pan of suet into four even-sized square "cakes".  Wrap each cake in plastic wrap.  Put all of the cakes into large freezer bags and store them in your freezer until needed.  The recipe makes eight cakes.  They are called "cakes" but you don't really bake them!  


Great horned owl photo
Whooo is Calling in the Night?
The great-horned owl is heard more in the winter than any other time of the year in Georgia.  Listen after dark for the deep hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo, hoo-oo, hoo-oo of Georgia's largest owl.  It lives in city neighborhoods as well as wild places.

Things to do:
Listen to a great horned owl recording
* Go outside at night & listen for owls
* Color a picture of a great horned owl
 
Winter Hikes and Happenings
Winter is a great time to get outdoors - it's not too hot, there are no insects to "bug" you and there are fewer hikers on the trail.  Take a sketchbook or camera to document your adventure and enjoy the day!

Fun sites to consider:
 Children and boulders at Rocktown
Crockford-Pigeon Mountain's Rocktown
Rocktown Trail is an easy one-mile hike through a maze of oddly shaped boulders scattered atop Pigeon Mountain.  This Wildlife Management Area operated by the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources is located in northwest Georgia near Lafayette.  You can print out a site map at their website.  There are no restroom facilities at the site so plan ahead.

Panola Mountain State Park or Davidson Arabia Mountain PreserveDiamorpha in bloom
Visit in late February-early March to see the colorful "red carpets" of elf orpine
(a small plant scientists call Diamorpha smalli).  This tiny plant is found growing in shallow depressions on granite outcrops.  Its' red succulent leaves and stems form dense mats which make a dramatic display against gray rock in the stark winter landscape.  Both Panola Mountain and Arabia Mountain are located 20 minutes east of Atlanta.

Buzzard Day at Reed Bingham
January 17, 2009

Reed Bingham State Park, located near Adel in southwest Georgia, boasts the largest wintering buzzard roost in the state.  Although the term "buzzard" is a misnomer (they are technically called vultures) the name of this annual family-fun event has stuck.  In celebration of these curious birds visitors can take guided pontoon boat rides to gawk at roosting black vultures and turkey vultures (pictured at right), enjoy live animal programs and participate in the Road Kill Run.

Arbor Day Celebration, February 20, 2009
New Deal 75th logoThis event wraps up a year-long celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.  Visit any of the fourteen Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites that were built or restored by the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC), and receive a free tree seedling.  Take the seedling home and plant it to honor the CCC.  All of the seedlings were donated by the Georgia Forestry Commission.
The sites include: A.H. Stephens State Historic Park, Cloudland Canyon State Park, Fort Mountain State Park, Roosevelt's Little White House, F. D. Roosevelt State ParkHard Labor Creek State Park, Indian Springs State Park, Jefferson Davis Memorial State Historic SiteKolomoki Mounds State Historic Park, Laura Walker State Park, Little Ocmulgee State Park, Magnolia Springs State Park, Unicoi State Park and Vogel State Park.
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