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New to the neighborhood
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Growing up today is tough. Kids are faced with an almost absurd amount of entertainment decisions. From DVDs and video games to any number of internet social sites, the possibilities are endless. I can’t help but think that they are missing out. Growing up in Pennsylvania some 25 years ago, my version of entertainment was getting lost in the woods. After school my friends and I would spend countless hours exploring and adventuring in the forest behind my home. This is where my love of nature and the outdoors began. There was a whole world out there teeming with life; a world that was not my own, but a world that I wanted to be a part of none the less.

There were smaller aspects of this wild landscape that became particularly appealing to me. My neighbor, Mr. Moyer, would spend countless hours sitting on his back porch peering through his binoculars at the rolling hills in the distance. It wasn’t until I gazed through the glass that I saw what had always been so interesting, a gorgeous Red-tailed Hawk. Floating majestically above the tree tops behind my house, the Red-tailed Hawk launched my fascination of birds. At first my curiosity was casual, but soon their allure became undeniable. I studied them, observed them, and experienced them. Where ever I have been, whatever I was doing, I have always noticed the birds.

I am now many years removed from those carefree afternoons in Pennsylvania. I have been fortunate enough to have traveled extensively throughout my life and also to have lived in three significantly diverse environments, the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest and now the Southeast. I have much to learn about the avian topography of the Coastal Empire. Being new to the area, I am encountering new things everyday and reaching out to others for aid in my development as a Georgia birder.

Coastal Georgia is a hotbed for both resident and migratory birds, a hotbed that I am fully ready to take advantage of. The seasonal changes bring about transitions not only in the climate but in the bird life as well. I am very excited at the prospects of adding to an ever growing list of birds of the Southeastern United States.

Over time the responsibilities of being an adult begin to dim the memories of catching crayfish in the creek bed. We are often too tired or too busy to get out and see the wild wonders that we share this planet with. It is important to find time, no matter how short, to get out and experience our natural world. Even a walk through our own backyard can yield rewarding results. It is my sincerest hope to be able to share with you some of my journeys here and allow you to experience some of what the area has to offer through my words. Of course reading about it will never actually replace you being there, but maybe it will encourage you to get out and see it on your own.

- Heifert will write a twice-monthly column on bird watching.

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