Best Bird Watching Destinations & Clubs In Georgia (Free & Paid)

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Birding in Georgia

Birding in Georgia is a joy but if you are visiting, or just looking for a new birdwatching destination, you’re in luck. Here, we have compiled some of the best birding destinations in Georgia, free & paid. Also, I’ve included birding clubs for your reference as well!

And, if you are looking for birding destinations in states neighboring Georgia, be sure to check out Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Alabama.

So, without further ado, here we go…

Bird Watching Destinations In Georgia: Free Destinations

There are many wonderful destinations for Georgia birders to visit each year. Whether you’re a born and bred Georgian or someone visiting in the future, our free and paid recommendations will help you discover exciting birding locations and tours to check out the next time you’re in the Peach State.

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge – Free Bird Watching

Birders and outdoor enthusiasts will truly love visiting the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. It’s filled with many wonderful hiking trails, Wildlife Drive, fishing piers, and other fun activities like hiking, bicycling, photography, hunting, and more. Visit the information kiosk at the entrance or the Contact Station for more information.

Location:

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
5000 Wildlife Dr.
Townsend, GA 31331
Phone: 912-832-4608

GPS: 31.6300° N, 81.2857° W

Contact Info

Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex
694 Beech Hill Ln.
Hardeeville, SC 29927
Phone: 843-784-2468

Hours Of Operation:

The wildlife refuge is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year during daylight hours from sunrise to sunset.

Normally, the Visitor Contact Station is typically open on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 AM to 2 PM with the exception of all federal holidays. But at the moment, the Visitor Contact Station is currently closed because of precautions due to the Covid 19 virus.

Popular Birds Found At This Destination:

  • Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Wood Stork
  • Clapper Rail
  • Northern Bobwhite
  • Blue Grosbeak
  • Northern Parula
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Tricolored Heron
  • Anhinga
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Black-Crowned Night-Heron

Hiking Trails:

Although the wildlife refuge is filled with a number of trails located throughout the entirety of the grounds, they’ve only given one of these trails a name. The trail in question that I’m referring to is called:

  • Harris Neck Airport Trail – the terrain for this trail is relatively easy to walk along because there aren’t too many twists, turns, or natural obstructions to make it difficult to travel. The total trail is actually 5 miles long, so there’s definitely a bit of walking involved to say the least. On average, it should take hikers around two hours and five minutes to complete the trail from start to finish.

Jekyll Island – Free Bird Watching, Paid Parking

Jekyll Island is a 7-mile barrier island with more than 300 different bird species represented in this location, which makes it perfect for birders spending time in Georgia. In the past, wealthy members of society like the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts were members of the Jekyll Island Club and spent time on the island. Now, it’s a beautiful campground, vacation facility, and filled with hotels that make it the perfect location for birding, hiking, spending time on the beach, and other fun outdoor activities.

Location:

Jekyll Island Guest Information Center
901 Downing Musgrove Causeway
Jekyll Island, GA 31527
Phone: 912-635-3636

GPS: 31.0735° N, 81.4114° W

Hours Of Operation:

The natural trails and scenery on Jekyll Island are open 24/7, every day of the year from dusk till dawn.

The guest information center hours are as follows:

  • Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM
  • Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM

Popular Birds Found At This Destination:

  • Wood Stork
  • American Avocet
  • Northern Gannet
  • Great Shearwater
  • Common Eider
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Osprey
  • Marsh Wren
  • Seaside Sparrow
  • Nelson’s Sparrow
  • Saltmarsh Sparrow
  • Greg Kingbird

Hiking Trails:

Jekyll Island is an excellent location for hiking and bird watching. As a matter of fact, there are three wonderful hiking trails and bike trails that you can make the most of the next time you visit this place.

The hiking trails are called the following:

  • Driftwood Beach Trail – this is the shortest recommended trail and it’s also very easy to walk along because it’s flat and simple terrain. It’s 0.3 miles in length, which could take between 5-10 minutes to finish.
  • Ocean View Trail – this trail is definitely a bit longer coming in at 3.5 miles in total distance. This trail is very easy to walk along and navigate, which makes it possible to complete in one hour and 25 minutes.
  • Jekyll Island Bike Trail – this is by far the longest trail of the bunch since it’s technically a bike trail, but brave hikers and runners can certainly go forward on foot if they prefer. The total distance is 14.8 miles, which should take about six hours to complete.

Parking:

  • Single day parking – $8 per vehicle, $12 for vehicles exceeding 8 feet
  • Annual Pass – $55 per year, or $100 per year for vehicles exceeding 8 feet

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge – Free Admittance

Located about 25 miles north of Macon, GA, this 3500-acre refuge is one of the best places in inland Georgia to go bird watching. There are roughly 50 miles of gravel roads scattered throughout the refuge for guests, that you can drive or walk along while visiting. There are numerous types of birds in the area, and you may even come across the occasional endangered species living in the wild at this preserved location.

Location:

718 Round Oak-Juliet Road
Round Oak, GA 31038
Phone: 478-986-5441

GPS: 33°07′31″N, 83°44′59″W

Hours Of Operation:

The Piedmont Refuge Visitor Center is open on Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM, but they are closed on federal holidays. The hiking trails and most of the roadways are open all year round 24 hours a day.

Popular Birds Found At This Destination:

  • Red-Shouldered Hawk
  • Brown-Headed Nuthatch
  • Bachman’s Sparrow
  • Red-Cockaded Woodpecker
  • Blue Grosbeak
  • Hooded Warbler
  • Kentucky Warbler
  • Wild Turkey
  • Northern Bobwhite
  • Prairie Warbler
  • Wood Thrush
  • Pileated Woodpecker

Hiking Trails:

Just like the other locations that we’ve discussed in Georgia, there are a few crucial hiking trails on the premises but there isn’t an overwhelming amount of them to walk along. This certainly makes it easy to choose the best hiking path to travel at any particular moment.

The two hiking trails that I’d like to tell you about today are called:

  • Allison Lake Wildlife Trail – this trail is moderately difficult to walk along because the trail isn’t clearly defined, but it isn’t difficult to navigate either. Plus, it provides a beautiful view of the lake. The trail is 2.4 miles long and should take about an hour and 10 minutes to complete.
  • Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Trail – I’m not surprised that they have a trail dedicated to seeing the red cockaded woodpecker, since it’s currently an endangered species. Overall, this is an easy trail to walk along without any difficult navigation whatsoever. It’s also 2.3 miles in total distance, and it should take about an hour and five minutes to complete.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park – Free Admittance, Paid Parking

This grand location is the perfect spot for birders in the Atlanta area. There are 18 miles of trails that encompass the 2965-acre park. As you walk through the park, there are many opportunities to see a wide array of birds at this pristine destination. Go to the visitor center while you’re here to pick up pamphlets, brochures, and a checklist of local birds.

Location:

900 Kennesaw Mountain Dr.
Kennesaw, GA 30152
Phone: 770-427-4686

GPS: 33.9467° N, 84.5988° W

Hours Of Operation:

The visitor center is open from 9 AM to 5 PM every day all year round.

The park hours are from 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM during standard time, and 6:30 AM to 8:30 PM during daylight savings time between March and November.

Visitor Center parking remains open from 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM during daylight savings time and 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM during standard time.

Popular Birds Found At This Destination:

  • Cerulean Warbler
  • Red-Tailed Hawk
  • Wood Thrush
  • Summer Tanager
  • Chuck-Will’s – Widow
  • Mourning Dove
  • Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
  • Chimney Swift
  • Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
  • Brown-Headed Nuthatch
  • Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
  • Northern Mockingbird

Hiking Trails:

As I mentioned above, there are well over 18 miles of hiking trails located in the Kennesaw Mountains. These gorgeous trails present a beautiful opportunity to see many species of bird out in their natural habitat.

The names of the hiking trails include:

  • 24 Gun Trail – 2.8 miles, one hour and 15 minutes to complete
  • Old John Ward Connector Trail and Cease Fire Trail – 2.6 miles, one hour and 10 minutes to complete
  • Kennesaw Mountain Park Full Loop – 17.4 miles, 8 ½ hours to complete
  • Pigeon Hill Loop – 2.9 miles, one hour and 35 minutes to complete
  • Kennesaw Mountain Overlook via Pigeon Hill Trail – 2.3 miles, one hour and 20 minutes to complete
  • Kennesaw Mountain Peak Trail – 1.7 miles, one hour and five minutes to complete
  • Kolb’s Farm Kennesaw Mountain East and West Loop – 11.1 miles, five hours and 40 minutes to complete
  • Pigeon Hill to East and West Loop Trail – 5.6 miles, three hours to complete
  • Kolb’s Farm Loop Trail – 5.2 miles, two hours and 25 minutes to complete
  • Burnt Hickory Trail – 3.6 miles, one hour and 45 minutes to complete

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge – Free Bird Watching, Paid Parking

This wildlife refuge is enormous in size and covers more than 620 mi.². It’s also one of the most beautiful natural areas on the entire North American continent. It’s home to bobcats, alligators, black bears, and more than 230 different types of birds including gorgeous, rare bird species. Remember to visit the recreation area and visitor center the next time you stop by.

Location:

2700 Suwannee Canal Rd.
Folkston, GA 31537
Phone: 912-496-7836

GPS: 30.7395° N, 82.1394° W

Hours Of Operation:

The boardwalk, hiking trails, and Swamp Island Drive are open a half hour before sunrise each day and close at 7:30 PM between March 1 through October 31 and 5:30 PM between November 1 through the end of February. The park is also closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

The Visitor Center hours are as follows:

  • December 1 – February 28/29 – Open Tuesday – Saturday
  • March 1 – May 31 – Open every day
  • June 1 – August 31 – Open Tuesday – Saturday
  • September 1 – November 30 – Open every day

Popular Birds Found At This Destination:

  • Pine Warbler
  • Wood Duck
  • Bald Eagle
  • Redheaded Woodpecker
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Red Cockaded Woodpecker
  • Brown-Headed Nuthatch
  • White Ibis
  • Swallow-Tailed Kite
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Bachman’s Sparrow

Hiking Trails:

There are definitely some beautiful and simple to travel hiking trails and canoe trails located on this beautiful piece of majestic property. Many of these trails are easy to walk along and navigate, and they certainly vary in length.

The names of the hiking trails in the area include:

  • Seagrove Lake Trail – this trail is very easy to walk along because the area is flat and it doesn’t have a lot of inclines, hills, or obstructions in the way. It’s 1.6 miles long, which should take you about an hour or a little more than an hour to finish.
  • Okefenokee Swamp – don’t worry about this trail at all because you aren’t actually going to walk through the swamp! There’s a boardwalk trail that is 0.9 miles long, and it takes you through the heart of the swamp without ruining your shoes. All in all, it should take about 25 minutes to complete this boardwalk trail.
  • Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trails – if you plan to visit the park and go canoeing while here, you’ll definitely enjoy the canoe trails located in the heart of the wilderness. These trails are 10.2 miles long, and I honestly couldn’t tell you how long it will take to canoe across them.
  • Okefenokee East Entrance Paddle – just like the previous trail, this one will take you on the water, so it obviously requires a canoe, kayak, or some type of boat to get across. The entire trail is 4.9 miles in length, which may or may not take a long time depending on how fast you paddle.

Bird Watching Destinations In Georgia: Paid Destinations

Wings Tours

This private birding company was first formed in 1973 by Will Russell and Davis Finch. The original name of the company was called Northeast Birding, although it has morphed into Wings Tours over the years.

Specifically, you’ll be interested in learning more about their South Carolina and Georgia birding tour that they host every year.

This company has a lot to offer. And if you’re really adventurous, you can go on one of their many worldwide tours that take place in the US, the UK, Asia, Europe, Mexico, and Central and South America.

But as I said, this is all about the great state of Georgia.

The name of their Georgia inspired birding tour is called:

Georgia and South Carolina
Birding the American Civil War: Savannah to Charleston

This exciting tour is less than a year away. It starts on Saturday, April 16, 2022 and ends on Friday, April 22, 2022. This tour is being led by Jon Dunn and the price is currently pending.

But to give you an idea, they last held this tour around the same time in 2019 and back then the price was $3125 for the week.

Location:

Wings
1643 N. Alvernon Way
Suite 109
Tucson, AZ 85712
Local Phone: 520-320-9868
Toll-Free Phone: 866-547-9868

Georgia Birdwatching Clubs

Birdwatching clubs abound in the beautiful state of Georgia. This shouldn’t surprise anyone because the weather is often warm and this provides plenty of opportunities to see gorgeous birds in their natural environment. If you live in this state, you’re bound to find an active and lively bird watching club in your community. Keep reading to discover the best clubs to join now or in the future.

Georgia Audubon Society

This beautiful organization strives to make sure that nature remains diverse and lush with life. They also work together as a community to maintain bird diversity, healthy ecosystems, and they promote beautiful human experiences in nature. You’ll love becoming a member of this organization if you’re committed to conservation, birding, and protecting the environment.

Past and Future Events

  • Sweetwater Creek State Park – this event was held on June 12 from 8 to 10 AM and it was led by Jamie Vidich and Gus Kaufman. During the event, the main focus was to look at residential bird species and seasonal migrants. On the trip, participants got to see a wide array of local and migratory birds in the wild.
  • Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve – this event is being held on Saturday, June 19 between 9 AM to 12 PM. Stephen Ramsden is the event leader and the nature preserve address is found at 2580 Pine Bluff Dr., Decatur, GA 30033. The focus of the event is to look at insects, amphibians, mammals, and birds of a wide variety that can be found in plentiful supply on the preserve.
  • Sams Lake Bird Sanctuary – this beginner event is being held on Saturday, June 26 between 8 AM to 10 AM in Fayette County in Georgia. Stephen Ramsden and Joy Carter are the event leaders. Since this trip is for beginners, it will cover about 1 ½ miles of terrain and take between one and a half to two hours to look at permanent residents including woodpeckers, songbirds, and wading birds.

Membership Fees

  • Individual Membership – $35
  • Family Membership – $50
  • Pine Warbler – $100
  • Brown Thrasher – $250
  • Peregrine Falcon – $500
  • Bald Eagle – $1000
  • Nonprofit Organization Membership – $250
  • Business Membership – $500
  • Student Membership (K-12 or University Students) – $20
  • Junior Membership (Ages 12 and Under) – $12

To become a member, please fill out the online form here to create an account. Afterward, follow the on-screen instructions to become a member.

Coastal Georgia Audubon

This chapter of the National Audubon Society works hard to increase community engagement for environmental stewardship and coastal bird conservation. Their mission is to provide education and community outreach that focuses on preserving and protecting the birds and the local population. Members of this group include environmental activists, wildlife biologists, and ordinary backyard birdwatchers.

Past and Future Events

  • Okefenokee Swamp NRW – this field trip is about to resume in the near future, although they do not have it scheduled just yet. During the trip, attendees will meet in the parking lot of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Upon meeting up, you will enter the refuge and walk around the habitat, walk along the boardwalk trail, and travel through the swamp to find beautiful birds like the Bachman’s Sparrow and the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker.
  • Tupelo Trail on Jekyll Island – this event previously took place on April 14, and it was a midweek walk that they took around Horton Pond on Tupelo Trail. The group met at 8 AM and viewed a wide array of beautiful songbirds during migration season.
  • Andrew’s Island – they visited this beautiful location on May 23 at 8 AM in Brunswick. Gene Keferl led the group, and even though this area is typically closed to the public at this time of year, they were able to see thousands of wintering ducks and shorebirds, which really was a wonderful treat!

Membership Fees

If you’re ready to become a member, you can click here to join the society or renew your membership. Membership dues are as follows:

  • Individual Membership – $15
  • Household Membership – $20

You can only sign up online, so please visit this page to get started.

Southern Wings Bird Club

This exciting bird club meets every second Monday of the month for their monthly meeting. They also host regular birding events throughout the year. If you love birding and live in Gwinnett County in Georgia, you’ll definitely want to become a member of this wonderful club in the near future.

Past and Future Events

  • Mill Creek Nature Center – this is a regular birding hotspot that event organizers like to bring members of the club to and enjoy wonderful bird watching experiences. It’s a great location that even has a birdwatcher’s supply store, 80 acres of land, and a wide array of birds, flowers, insects, and wildlife.
  • Little Mulberry Park – this birdwatcher’s paradise has meadows, a lake, an overlook area, a playground, pavilions, and more. It’s a beautiful place to visit as a group and there are trails, fishing, and plenty of birdwatching as well.
  • Collins Hill Park – located in Lawrenceville, GA, this park is made up of 95 acres of land with a fishing lake, paved trails, a nearby aquatic center, and it provides many opportunities to see stunning birds in their ordinary environment.

Membership Fees

  • Individual Membership – $15
  • Family Membership – $20

Fill out the membership application found here, print it out, and bring a check or cash for your membership amount to the next meeting. While there, give your application and dues payment to the club treasurer. Find out meeting details by visiting here.

Final Thoughts On Birding in Georgia Destinations & Clubs

I hope you enjoyed our collection of Georgia birdwatching locations and biding clubs. Please feel free to contact us with any other birding locations or clubs that you feel should be added to this article! 

Our goal is to provide our readers with the absolute best Georgia birding resources right here.