Bird watching comes into focus at Cartersville library, Red Top
by Marie Nesmith
Apr 16, 2013 | 941 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Known as the Armchair Birder, John Yow will provide the ins-and-outs of bird watching to patrons of the Cartersville Public Library Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The library will be one of two local organizations that will host programs on this topic, the second being Red Top Mountain State Park.

“I wrote a book in 2009 by that title,” said Yow, referring to his work, “The Armchair Birder: Discovering the Secret Lives of Familiar Birds.” “It was published by the University of North Carolina Press.

“The concept is that the armchair birder is a person who likes to watch birds but doesn’t want to go anywhere. He likes to watch the birds that come to him. I sit at my window and watch the birds that come to the feeder. And I wrote this book about that kind of bird, that is familiar birds.”

With the book’s subtitle being “Discovering the Secret Lives of Familiar Birds,” the Acworth resident reveals interesting facts about the birds people see on a regular basis.

“The idea is that these are the birds that everybody sees come into their yard and not everybody knows a lot about them,” said Yow, who also is the author of “The Armchair Birder Goes Coastal.” “So I took it upon myself to fill in some of those blanks and tell people the interesting things about the behavior of the birds that they probably already know the names of, [such as] cardinal, chickadee, titmouse, a wren — all of these birds that everybody who hangs a feeder will see day in and day out.

“A chickadee, for instance, is a tiny bird with an immense heart, very brave, very smart, willing to chase off bigger birds. The wren, and the one we have here is the Carolina wren, is a bird that’s best known for the places that it builds its nest. You can buy a wren box but it probably won’t use it. It would much rather come into the garage and build a nest on top of the end of a mop or in a tea cup it finds abandoned or in a man’s coat that might be hanging outside, that sort of thing.”

While Cartersville library — 429 W. Main St. — will feature a local author, Red Top Mountain State Park has enlisted Victor Williams, a board member for the Atlanta Audubon Society, for its program.

On Saturday from 8 to 10:30 a.m., Williams will lead the park’s Morning Bird Walk. Participants of all experience levels are invited to bring their binoculars to bird watch along the paved, 0.75-mile Lakeside Trail, which begins at the Park Office — 50 Lodge Road S.E., Cartersville.

“We will be seeing some of the common birds,” Williams said. “Those would be like the Northern cardinals, brown-headed nuthatch, Eastern bluebirds. Mainly this is [an] introduction to birding. So this is to help people learn about bird watching.

“There’s birding and there’s bird watching. There’s a little bit of a difference. Bird watching is just looking. Birding would actually encompass listening to, maybe going out on a field trip and doing some activities related to searching for the birds. You can find a lot of information on the Internet about the birds [but] this is really more about bird watching.”

Williams also wants to spread the word about International Migratory Bird Day, which will be observed May 11.

“The whole concept of International Migratory Bird Day is to make people aware of what migratory birds are,” Williams said. “It’s a whole scientific study. You’ve got these birds, like hummingbirds — those little ruby-throated hummingbirds — that migrate to Central America every year. They fly across the Gulf of Mexico and back every year and they come to the feeder in your yard.

“That would be a migratory bird that people enjoy watching. But here, they would be my backyard birds but in Central America, they’re someone else’s backyard birds. So we, as in the concerned public, would be concerned about the habitat because the major reason for bird decline is habitat loss. So down there where the birds go migrate to just in the winter, it’s somebody else’s backyard. Birds up here, it’s our backyard and we both need to be aware of that.”

While the Morning Bird Walk is open and free to the public, participants will need to display a $5 daily or an annual ParkPass in their vehicles to attend. For more information, call 770-975-0055 or visit

Further details on the Cartersville Public Library’s program can be obtained by visiting or calling 770-382-4203.