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Get to know winter wildlife
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Those interested in nature, even when temperatures hover around freezing outside, will be delighted with the winter events planned at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center.

Events include a highway clean-up, nature walks and classes about birds and endangered species.

Adopt-A-Highway Clean-up: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 18

Linda May, CEWC volunteer coordinator and wildlife interpretive specialist, said volunteers have helped pick up litter on the stretch of Ga. Highway 11 between the north and south entrance of the center for at least a decade.

"It's about three miles and we have to do both sides," May said, "so if we don't get it all done it's OK because at least we enjoyed the outdoors and cleaned what we could."

Participants must sign a waiver form to volunteer, and are asked to dress for the outdoors and supply their own gloves. CEWC will provide orange safety vests and trash bags.

Family Nature Walk "Winter Wildlife Survival": 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 26

Karen Hoydick, CEWC wildlife interpretive specialist, will show participants how animals and plants survive during the winter cold.

She will discuss various survival strategies, such as hibernation, using live animals and taxidermy mounts as examples.

Participants will then walk around CEWC property to search for signs the animals are still scampering about, even in frigid weather.

Fascinated by Birds: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 30

Participants will watch a half-hour Eyewitness Bird feature, before May shares live birds of prey to emphasize points made in the video.

May said methods of hunting will be a focus. For instance a barn owl is adapted for night hunting and its features are designed for quiet flight, versus a hawk which relies on speed to catch its prey.

Endangered Species: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Feb. 20

CEWC wildlife interpretive specialist Pete Griffin will provide an overview of animals that are threatened and endangered and ways species can be removed from the list and continue to exist for years to come.

Exotic and domestic species will be discussed, and Griffin will likely feature a live bald eagle as an example of an endangered species.

"We try to mainly focus on native animals because so many kids learn about animals from Africa and Asia and then don't know what's in their own backyards," May said, "but those animals are just as fascinating."

Winter Bird Walk: 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Feb. 23

Participants will go on short walks and drives at the center to search for sparrows, ducks and birds of prey.

Tim Keyes, Department of Natural Resources expert birder, will lead participants in their avian exploration.

May said one of the birds which winters in Georgia, the Dark-eyed Junco (a kind of charcoal grey sparrow with a white underside and pinkish beak), should be found on the walk.

"Some people call them snow birds here because they only appear here in winter," May said.

She added the Winter Bird Walk and Fascinated by Birds class are part of CEWC gearing up for Georgia's annual Youth Birding Competition.

"Teams can certainly use those days for training," May said.

The competition is open to teams ranging in age from kindergarten to high school in four age divisions.

Groups may start anywhere in the state on May 2 and count as many different species of birds as possible. Teams must reach CEWC by 5 p.m. May 3 for a live animal show and awards banquet.

Fundraising is a voluntary component of this event where teams may raise money to support their chosen organization on a per-bird or lump-sum basis.

To register for an event or for more information about the Youth Birding Competition call CEWC at (770) 784-3059. More information about the Youth Birding Competition can also be found at