Georgia Wild E-Newsletter Archive

"Out My Backdoor" Column

The Out My Backdoor column featured in Georgia Wild is written by Terry W. Johnson, a retired DNR nongame program manager and executive director of The Environmental Resources Network (TERN). Johnson also writes the Backyard Wildlife Connection blog and has authored books, including his latest, “A Journey of Discovery: Monroe County Outdoors.”

Georgia Wild E-Newsletter

Georgia Wild is a free newsletter focused on wildlife not legally fished for or hunted, native plants and natural habitats. Subscribe to Georgia Wild.

Wood Frog


  • February 28, 2020: Adding conservation lands; Pocket gophers up close; Winterizing yards for wildlife; Watch: Video of aid to injured whale calf.
  • April 3, 2020: Video-star manatee is back; Portal profiles Georgia's unique wildlife; Good time to reconnect kids and outdoors; Teaming up at Sprewell Bluff to restore rare birds.
  • April 25, 2020: Welcoming whip-poor-wills; Plant for pollinators; Right whale season in review; Help DNR monitor bats.
  • May 29, 2020: Lost plant found; Nesting barn swallows; Secret snakes: rainbows and muds; New teachers guide explores sandhills.
  • June 17, 2020: Wild promise of Ceylon; What our eagle nest survey found; Hunting for flying leopards; An electrofishing boat with a history; Watch: bog work behind the scenes.
  • July 16, 2020: Conserving a living prairie relic; Fewer hummingbirds? July will help tell; Fungus behind bat-killing disease moves south; Animal encounters: cottonmouths, crow vs. osprey.
  • August 18, 2020: Trapping tegus; Experiences with fire; The go-to grape for wildlife; Looking for rare moths; Endangered dropwort's big year.
  • September 22, 2020: Wildlife trail upgrades; Rare find for rare mussels; Add fall color to your yard; Survey and DNR cap giveaway.


  • February 28, 2019: A year of wildlife work in review; More right whale calves, new video; Bald eagles vs. sandhill cranes; Are pecans for the birds? You bet.
  • March 7, 2019: A unique tree few know about; On the lookout for invasive lizards; Claxton set for wildlife and rattler fest; Fire that restores rare species, habitats; Sampling for threatened trispot darters.
  • April 12, 2019: See a snake? No sweat; Cottonmouth encounter; Best plant for black swallowtails; Questions trail endangered whales; Loons or gulls: Which finds the fish?
  • May 23, 2019: Amazing bees; Terrapin research; Season in the sandhills; Cool quail, hot message; Answers about black fox squirrels.
  • June 20, 2019: Loggerheads' breakout year; A champ for Georgia plants; Rare bird rebound at Silver Lake; Backyard pearls with wings; You can't keep a good raptor down.
  • July 26, 2019: On a pine snake's tail; Whale rescue up close; The fly that carpenter bees fear; Mega-mom helps set sea turtle record.
  • August 27, 2019: Remembering a revered botanist; How to band 2,000 terns, and why; Plant network lands another award; Eva Persons' impact on conservation; Also: rare birds, lampreys, skunks and fyke nets.
  • September 27, 2019: Spot a tegu, tell DNR; Meet ABAC's Dr. Lane; Bluebird migration mystery; Sea turtle nesting vs. Dorian; 105-pound alligator snapper.
  • October 29, 2019: How to rescue a manatee; Invasion of the snakeheads; Drought impacts on wildlife; Hellbenders' deadly neighbors.
  • December 18, 2019: A multimedia look at restoring rare birds; Missing Punctuation: tale of a lost whale; Where ruby-throated hummers winter; Getting close with south Georgia reptiles.

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  • February 28, 2018: Right whale season gone wrong; Eaglet's death saddens Berry viewers; "Survivor" eagle spotted, another golden tracked.
  • March 15, 2018: Sifting the truth about birds and salt; DNR managers in Women Conservationists series; Video: great whites, other sharks vs. humpback carcass.
  • April 10, 2018: Insights into cryptic spiders; Right whales' bleak winter; The good side of greenbrier; Training for monarch watchers.
  • April 26, 2018: Hunting hogs, helping sea turtles; head-start for rare salamanders; sad news for Tallulah Gorge falcons.
  • May 10, 2018: School art aids wildlife; train to monitor monarchs; humpback trend has sad footnote; don't miss spring's dawn chorus.
  • May 24, 2018: New wrinkle for eagle nest checks; Teens promote plant connections; Georgia, 'Bama team up for Bat Blitz.
  • June 6, 2018: The hidden world of moles; Searching for nesting falcons; On the wing with whimbrels.
  • July 13, 2018: Indigo SOS answered; Same species, different look; Bird netting bad news for snakes; How backyard birds beat the heat.
  • August 3, 2018: Wildlife close calls; Bat disease update; Mantis meets hummer; Feeding at the four-o'clocks.
  • September 25, 2018: Dark rivers, big turtles; Georgia outdoors on the ballot; Add water for more backyard wildlife; Sea turtle nesting slows, recovery continues.
  • October 25, 2018: Bridgework spares bat colony; Bats take over DNR Instagram; In praise of chipping sparrows; Swamp thing? Meet the amphiuma.
  • November 15, 2018: Snakes in close quarters; Landowner spurs plant rescue; The 'why' behind white squirrels.
  • December 20, 2018: A biologist's longleaf legacy; Right whale sightings stir hope; If you give a nuthatch a tool; Wild ways you helped wildlife; Tiny rattlesnake, cool salamanders.

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  • February 24, 2017: State's first wind scorpion; Rescued whale returns north; Warm winter and bird nesting; Photos: white sharks, gator "chin-up".
  • March 9, 2017: Severe weather and wildlife; Tracking another Georgia golden eagle; Updates: Tallulah falcons, fighting invasives.
  • April 5, 2017: Military-powered tortoises; Finesse fire at Big Dukes; Kindergarteners for nongame.
  • April 26, 2017: Why so few right whales?; Zebra hunting in Georgia; Alapaha WMA: storied site, sandhills.
  • May 17, 2017: Eagle nest total soars; Endangered bee watch on; Backyard nest borrowers; Rare plant rediscovered.
  • ​May 25, 2017: Can't-miss snake video; Eagle release Saturday; Updates on rare birds and frogs.
  • June 15, 2017: On the trail of manatees; Our overlooked songbird; Wild refuge on the edge of Atlanta.
  • June 27, 2017: A license-change bonus for public lands; Shadowing rare sparrows to help save them; Seen a spotted skunk? Let us know.
  • July 14, 2017: Working the turtle beach; Conserving Altamaha 'paradise'; White-nose syndrome survey results; How to sort out summer hummers.
  • September 7, 2017: The caterpillar connection; More power for mussel work; Team Tortoise bodes well for gophers.
  • September 21, 2017: Bird Island birds beat storm; Searching for rare darters; A trunk organizer for your 2 cents; Sorting cottonmouth fact and myth.
  • October 7, 2017: Big Turtle Year seeks big snappers; Adding fall color to your yard; Renew a license plate, help wildlife.
  • November 1, 2017: Rapping wildlife tags; Rare birds back at River Creek; Why add nest boxes before winter; Watching for North Atlantic right whales.
  • December 8, 2017: Conserving Lee County wetlands; Thumbs up for downy woodpeckers; State's newest orchid found at Sansavilla; Berry airlift: Eagle (briefly) tackles big limb.

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  • February 13, 2016: Tune into Georgia nest cams; Hot start for Rx fire season; Rescuing bats from bridgework; Coping with bird-feeder problems.
  • February 25, 2016: Following another Georgia golden eagle; 'Tis the season for spotting spotted turtles; Our oldest oystercatcher and how it helps scientists.
  • March 8, 2016: A new way to fund nongame work nationwide; Choosing the right binoculars for you; Why Georgians are key to conserving wildlife.
  • March 23, 2016: Surveys explore status of rare wildlife; Tallulah Gorge prescribed fire a home run for habitat; More endangered salamanders found at Mayhaw.
  • April 7, 2016: Tagging and tracking right whales; The true value of redbud trees; The story behind a nest cam no-show.
  • April 19, 2016: A mussel and snake interaction you've never seen; Georgia-tracked curlew unveils migration mystery; Botanical Society explores rare habitats in Year of the Bog; The man who managed River Creek wildlife for 50+ years.
  • May 17, 2016: More bad news for Georgia bats; Nest updates, from eagles to ospreys; All a flutter over butterfly puddle parties.
  • June 1, 2016: Nest boxes, north Georgia students aid hellbenders; Shadowing another group of manatees on the move; Rare glimpse of patch-nosed salamander courtship.
  • June 16, 2016: Keeping track of North America's smallest falcon; Partnerships and Civil War site hold new hope for rare plant; Terry Johnson's tips for keeping your hummer feeders pest-free; Fitzgerald Herald-Leader article about rare plant conservation in south Georgia.
  • July 7, 2016: Snake doctors and Devil's darning needles; Study tags substitute manatees; Spring Creek's hard-shelled survivors.
  • July 26, 2016: Color me wild; Sea turtle nesting surges; Woodpecker surprise at Moody Forest.
  • August 12, 2016: Special turtle, special place; Bishopweed once lost, now found; A wow bird in your backyard.
  • August 30, 2016: Net-casting spiders found in state; Sightings expand coal skink range; New eagle-and-flag tag takes off.
  • September 28, 2016: National honor for plant champs; Catfish control on the lower Satilla; Why strawberry bush will steal your heart.
  • October 13, 2016: South Georgia's hard-shell giants; What's to like about sweetgum trees; Rare glimpses of Florida pine snakes.
  • November 1, 2016: Georgia fishes on Flickr; Teamwork to restore bogs; Pitcherplants and their prey.
  • December 23, 2016: New hope for Moody Forest woodpeckers; Revised Wildlife Action Plan in play; Best bet for Baltimore orioles; Rescued eagle flies wild again.

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  • January 27, 2015: Showing now: Eagle, owls and more; Contests connect youth and outdoors; 2014 report reveals nongame ups, downs; Out my backdoor: Carolinas come calling; Tax checkoff critical for Georgia wildlife.
  • February 25, 2015: Claxton wildlife fest expecting a crowd; Golden find: Rare eagle tracked in Georgia; Out my backdoor: Helping chickadees.
  • March 31, 2015: Rare salamanders found at Mayhaw; Cams stream nesting highs, lows; Tag! Right whales were it this winter; Out my backdoor: Redbuds on parade; Flint's gator snappers slow to rebound.
  • April 9, 2015: Out my backdoor: hummer haven how-to; Monitoring ‘mice with wings’; Fly-in promotes nongame work, plan.
  • April 24, 2015: Bird’s-eye view of bald eagles' big year; Another bad winter for Georgia bats; Bird bits: new falcons, returning whimbrel.
  • May 19, 2015: DNR license fee, structure options on table; First ‘wild’ GA peregrine nest since 1930s; Out my backdoor: pesticide = wildlife; These pups need love, too.
  • May 29, 2015: Good news for golden-wings in Georgia; 3 things you need to know about GPCA; We have seen the enemy…; Ties that bind fuel burn near Butler.
  • June 18, 2015: Help shape State Wildlife Action Plan; Loggerheads nesting at record pace; Strange snapper is true survivor; Out my backdoor: a fine vine for hummers; Project maps manatees in Georgia.
  • June 30, 2015: Hangout for tagged manatees? Kings Bay; Power-line nest project key for kestrels; Answers on SWAP available here.
  • July 16, 2015: Birthdays + tags = bonus for wildlife; Why growing native is better for nature; Out my backdoor: yard dinosaurs.
  • July 25, 2015: How to remove a turtle from a moat; Despite dip, wood stork nesting strong.
  • August 13, 2015: Hellbenders make moves, on video; Where the rare things are; Out my backdoor: A plant we love to hate.
  • August 28, 2015: Rehabbed eagles returned to the wild; Notch another record for loggerhead nesting; A t-shirt for your thoughts.
  • September 18, 2015: 50 years later, biologist returns to Ossabaw; Out my backdoor: storms vs. songbirds.
  • September 29, 2015: Eagle shooting spurs call for public's help; Insights from summer hellbender surveys; A sticky escape for a web-bound hummer.
  • October 8, 2015: Misunderstood morning glories; Fungal disease found in more snakes; Rare seabird sighting on St. Simons.
  • October 29, 2015: "Ambassador" sea turtle back in wild; What's truly scary about bats; Two-time turtle egg thief sentenced; Locust Grove teacher earns conservation grant.
  • November 15, 2015: More Georgia aster populations found; The fascinating side of 'possums; How to make a sea turtle rescue look easy.
  • December 21, 2015: Top nongame wildlife stories from 2015; Right whale calving season starts with a splash; A songbird for all seasons.

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  • February 7, 2014: Lights…Camera…Wildlife!; For conserving nongame, it was a wild year; Don’t miss out on winter visitors; Fresh start for rare birds in Baker County.
  • March 7, 2014: White-nose syndrome on the move; Claxton fest keen on wildlife conservation; Top grades for Tallulah burn and outreach; From birding to art, contests get youth out; Snow packs pros and cons for wildlife
  • April 7, 2014: Slow year for endangered right whales; When ruby-throats stole our heart; Ready to go wild? Follow us.
  • April 23, 2014: Tags give wildlife an even better chance; Video: When indigos tangle; Scientists track disturbing spread of WNS.
  • May 23, 2014: Eagle nesting soars to record high; Red-shouldered rescue in Athens; Georgia aster on our minds; The invisible threat.
  • June 10, 2014: Bogfathers, managers return to Rabun; Bat watchers needed; Meow? Catbirds on the prowl.
  • June 27, 2014: A new high for wood storks; Saving the day for dwarf sumac; ‘Hot’ invasive found near Jekyll.
  • July 8, 2014: Wildlife tag prices cut, benefits raised; Loggerhead nesting rates 'average'; You light up my yard.
  • July 18, 2014: Youth Birding Competition goes national; Working with wildlife is Greer’s life.
  • August 11, 2014: Rare birds at Joe Kurz; ‘We’re in it for the long haul’; Keeping your hummer feeder pest-free.
  • August 25, 2014: Found: a Holy Grail of Georgia grasses; State’s first wild snake with SFD confirmed.
  • September 12, 2014: Go watch at Go Fish; Average nest year no cause for alarm; A jewel of a weed (and one hummers love).
  • September 29, 2014: Test your wildlife tag smarts; Reign of the den master; Glory days of a Coastal Plain bog.
  • October 13, 2014: 3 reasons to see Ohoopee Dunes…now; ’Tis the season for superstition; From ditch to bog to classroom; Funding the battle for bats.
  • October 30, 2014: Predators vs. oystercatchers; How have alligator snappers recovered?
  • November 13, 2014: Why acorns=awesome; Be on the watch for whoopers; Keeping Georgia tops in aquatics.
  • November 25, 2014: Test your tag IQ—Part II; Ohio zoo makes clutch find for rare sally; Teaming up for montane longleaf.
  • December 18, 2014: Suspects cited for shooting wading birds; They're back...right whales return to GA; Out my backdoor: a wildlife Christmas tree; Wild stories worth telling again.

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  • January 25, 2013: Wonderful winter for whales, so far; Southern lessons in prescribed fire; How birds cope with cold; Georgia's wildlife checkoff at work.
  • February 28, 2013: Eggs mark leap forward for frog project; It's gonna be wild in Claxton; When scouts come calling; Sea Island’s big bird weekend.
  • March 22, 2013: New camera live-streams Atlanta falcons; Hummers have eye for red buckeye; Bat-killing disease found in Georgia.
  • April 11, 2013: Discovery adds mussel to shad outlook; Updated frog CD helps hone ears and eyes; Hate honeysuckle? Not this native; On the trail of a bat killer.
  • April 26, 2013: Survey probes disease's impact on eagles; Rx fire season in review.
  • May 14, 2013: Blind snake worms its way onto coast; Spring beauties on the wing; Giving credit to conservation tax credits.
  • May 31, 2013: On the trail of whimbrels; Biologists monitor Atlanta bats by water.
  • June 12, 2013: Rare river frog event seen in Lee County; Nongame rescues dolphins by ... hukilau?; Summer bird feeding: Why it's worth a try; Ducks common 'n not-so share Di-Lane nest.
  • June 29, 2013: 10 nongame stats that may surprise you; Nation takes note of GPCA's success.
  • July 12, 2013: Wood stork nesting not soaring, but solid; Tell us how we're doing...(we're all ears); Waiting for hummer fireworks.
  • July 27, 2013: DNR website reveals what's in your county; Video captures snake vs. egg-laying turtle.
  • August 13, 2013: Just in: Loggerheads top nest record again!; Can’t-miss websites for wildlife research; Swallowtails’ beauty is fragile and fleeting; A t-shirt for your thoughts...
  • August 23, 2013: How Facebook saved a hummer; Rare salamander found in Ridge and Valley; Help wanted? Citizen-science opps abound.
  • September 6, 2013: Counting shorebirds—across the continent; Turn your yard into a pit stop for migrants.
  • September 30, 2013: Hellbenders in a bottle; Survey says: enews effective for nongame.
  • October 11, 2013: Seen these reptiles in Georgia?; Do butterfly boxes work?
  • October 31, 2013: Surprising Coosawattee rich in rarities; A sea turtle summer to remember.
  • November 12, 2013: Dolphin virus migrates south; Decorating for the birds.
  • November 29, 2013: DNA hunt holds promise for hellbenders; Dolphin strandings spike in Georgia; Habitats project earns TERN teacher grant.
  • December 20, 2013: Hoping Caterpillar’s luck holds; Five unusual backyard birds in winter.

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  • January 2012: Change in rattlesnake festival cheered; Safeguard success for swamp pink; Winter's mystery mammals; An indigo for the photo album.
  • February 2012: Hunting WNS; Bluebird boxes; Shorebird count.
  • March 9, 2012: Give to wildlife; Rattler fascination; Get out app.
  • March 23, 2012: First hummers; What a whale; Burn season’s late rush fuels teamwork, learning.
  • April 9, 2012: Eagle nests up; Few whale calves; Botanist honored.
  • April 19, 2012: Tortoise aid; Fascinating flycatcher; New coastal network targets alien invaders.
  • May 4, 2012: Rare bat find; Dandy dandelions; Contest winners.
  • May 25, 2012: Banding birds; Sea turtle hat trick; Snake updates
  • June 13, 2012: Healthy burns; Butterfly magnet; Sea turtle case.
  • June 29, 2012: Wood stork survey; Tortoise test; Piedmont pelican.
  • July 12, 2012: Sunfish search; Anting answers; Newt news.
  • July 30, 2012: Sea turtle success; High-flying falcon; Osprey release.
  • August 13, 2012: Jackson mussels; Wild Olympians; Rare bird mark.
  • August 27, 2012: New tag designs; Bat lessons; Whimbrel wonders.
  • September 12, 2012: Army bird honors; Ironweed; Gopher plan; Fish history.
  • September 26, 2012: Plant rescue; Bog history; Beach-nesting birds.
  • October 15, 2012: Restoring longleaf; Out my backdoor; Teacher grant.
  • October 31, 2012: Loggerheads reach nesting milestone; Help pick the next bald eagle plate; Sign up for a silver Weekend for Wildlife.
  • November 15, 2012: A gopher frog first; Persimmon: forgotten wildlife food plant.
  • November 30, 2012: The right whales are coming!; What giving wildlife a chance means.
  • December 22, 2012: From owls to eagles...; The Christmas card bird.

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  • January 2011; Big indigos; Birding & poster contests; Winter butterflies; Athens teacher awarded conservation grant.
  • February 2011: 5th dead whooper; Moody Forest; Sandhills 'n spring; Views from the fireline.
  • March 2011: Rare sparrows sought; Alligator snappers; TERN volunteer of year.
  • April 2011: Rockcress rescue; Eagle update; Whales & sharks; Bluebird insights; Moody Forest visit inspires landowner’s vision for longleaf.
  • May 2011: Rare species insight; Walking Big Hammock; The brood is back.
  • June 2011: Sandhills Part 2; Dolphin Rescue; Public lands profile: Big Dukes Pond WMA.
  • August 2011: Loggerhead record; Buzz about bees; Whimbrel bests Irene; Outdoors education.
  • September 2011: Hellbenders; White hummer; Raccoon Creek restoration; TERN's top volunteer; North Georgia project aimed at conserving continent's largest salamander.
  • October 2011: Satilla flatheads; New WMA pass; Owl fears; Surprise sparrow.
  • November 2011: Tracking rare species; Wild Georgia books; Underground wildlife; Whoopers are here!
  • December 2011: Freshwater turtle regulations; Top stories of 2011; Restoring rare plant, habitat in Dooly; Our Christmas hummingbird?

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  • February 2010: Owls in the backyard; Restoring Pine Mountain longleaf; DNR chiefs call to get out; Trout lilies all a'bloom; The great outdoors awaits—make a date with your children.
  • April 2010: Learning at Ohoopee Dunes; Georgia herp hotspot; Carters Lake whoopers; Burns yield longleaf boom; King rail at Panola Mountain.
  • June 2010: Gulf spill experience; Best hummer food; Dawson addition; WRP wood storks.
  • July 2010: Sea turtle conservation; Caving cautions; Backyard treasure; ​Statewide acoustic transects help biologists monitor bats on the fly; Leading and learning at Charlie Elliott summer camp.
  • August 2010: Coosawattee surprise; Sandhills progress; Bull's-eye butterflies; Blitz promotes, explores Georgia bats.
  • September 2010: Trading places helps conserve red-cockaded woodpeckers.
  • October 2010: Where carnivorous plants thrive…and longleaf pines endure.
  • November 2010: Eagles' fatal prey; Ear for frogs; Shad & sturgeon; Winter hummers.
  • December 2010: Mapping coastal habitats; Gifts in red; Restoring grasslands.

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  • January 2009: Grassland; Bugs to beavers; Fall Line Sandhills.
  • February 2009: Ohoopee Dunes: A study in nature, sand; Adventures in disentangling a whale.
  • March 2009: Twister wipes out rare woodpecker habitat; Georgia part of program to bolster eagle estimates; Ft. Stewart woodpeckers.
  • April 2009: How we got our kids outdoors; Lichens poster, workshop offered to teachers.
  • May 2009: Interstate sandhills work; Our worthy state bird; Barring all but bats.
  • June 2009: Grand Bay; Searching South Georgia swamps for bats; Identifying the ebony jewelwing.
  • July 2009: Secret of Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center; Interns' diary.
  • August 2009: At Sapelo, ''light bulb moments'' inspire teachers, children alike.
  • September 2009: TALON: The teen birding camp that soared.
  • October 2009: Bat interns' full diary: "A summer we'll both remember".
  • November 2009: Dolphins catch, release for contaminant study a ''success''.
  • December 2009: Coosawattee's rare ranking; International aid for red knots; Strawberry bushes forever.

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