Important Bird Areas

Altamaha River Delta

Georgia

The Altamaha River Delta found at the mouth of Georgia's largest river, includes sand spit and barrier islands to the north and south (Blackbeard, Sapelo, Wolf, Egg, Little Egg, and Little St. Simons Islands). Prominent features include extensive barrier beaches, dunes, maritime forest, and salt marshes.

Ornithological Summary

This area used by thousands of shorebirds for nesting and feeding during migration, and wintering waterbirds. Also good site for migratory land birds.

These islands provide exceptional sites for breeding,wintering, and migratory waterbirds and the surrounding waters and wetlands provide a readily available food source. In addition the islands and their associated habitats serve as resting stops for migrating shorebirds, waterbirds, and landbirds. These habitats often contain high concentrations of Partners-in-Flight target species such as Painted Bunting, and Georgia priority species such as Royal Tern (nesting: 18,000), Brown Pelican (nesting: 5,000), Gull-billed Tern (nesting: 80), Sandwich Tern (nesting: 600), American Oystercatcher (mig./winter: 250), Red Knot (mig. 5000), Dunlin (mig. 1500), Piping Plover (mig./winter: 65), Wood Stork (nesting: 30), and Black Skimmer (nesting: 400).

Sighting Source Key: 1=published reports,; 2=surveys (CBC; BBS; etc.); 3=personal observations; 4=other sources (specify)

Conservation Issues

As with many aquatic environments this site and the wildlife it supports faces a number of threats: pollution from farm pesticides and industrial wastes along Altamaha River, disturbances from human recreational activities, and hydrologic changes from water withdrawal. As an example of many on-going projects designed to protect this fragile environment, the state recently passed legislation to limit the recreational activities on the islands used for nesting (e.g., Little Egg Is. Bar), including the restriction of dogs on the beaches.

Ownership

This area encompasses the Atlamaha Delta, which includes barrier islands such as Little St. Simons Island (privately owned), Blackbeard NWR, Sapelo WMA, Egg Island Bar (state owned), etc. Thus, it has federal, state, municipal, and privately owned sectors to it.

Land Use

Mostly undeveloped saltmarshes, dunes, and barrier islands

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