Top Atlanta Birding Sites


The Atlanta metro area offers several excellent and diverse birding sites, the most prominent of which (“the big four”) are highlighted here. Atlanta Audubon leads birding field trips at many of these locations each year, with more trips offered during spring and fall migrations. Each of the locations represents a somewhat different habitat that attracts a variety of both local and migratory species.


Check the Field Trip schedule for weekly bird walks at these and other sites during migration.


Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area—Cochran Shoals Unit

I-285 & Northside-Powers Ferry Rd exit.

Riverside walk, marsh, and meadow: Wood Ducks, Herons, Woodpeckers.


Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Kennesaw, Cobb County

1.2-mile scenic walk up a paved road; Atlanta's best location for migratory birds.


Huie Ponds of the CCWA/Newman Wetlands Center

Clayton County

The drive around the treatment ponds is a prime spot for shorebirds and waterfowl.


Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve

Decatur, Dekalb County

Beaver pond, upland and floodplain trails: Migrants, Herons, woodland birds.


Other Birding Spots Around Atlanta

Some of the other birding spots in the metro area where birding can be seasonally rewarding.


Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area—Cochran Shoals Unit

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) is comprised of a series of protected areas along the Chattahoochee River corridor in the metro Atlanta area. Each unit is maintained by the National Park Service. The Cochran Shoals Unit in Cobb County is used daily by runners and cyclists. It's also a favorite spot for birders and is worth the effort to make a few evasive maneuvers to see the birds. (Photo courtesy of Joe and Monica Cook Photography.)


The Cochran Shoals unit is one of the key Atlanta Audubon sites for spring and fall migration, second only to Kennesaw Mountain. Wetland warblers can be found here. During the height of migration, the species totals here reach the high 60s, with occasional major finds popping up such as Olive-sided Flycatcher and Lincoln's Sparrow in the fall and Connecticut Warbler in the spring. All of Georgia's woodpeckers except the Red-cockaded are found here.


Read more about the state of the Chattahoochee and what the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is doing to protect the river.


For more information, see Birding Georgia by Giff Beaton (Falcon Publishing, 2000)


Directions: Cochran Shoals is located on the west bank of the Chattahoochee, just north of I-285, making it easy to find on the map at 10 o'clock" on the Perimeter. Take I-285 to the Northside-Powers Ferry Rd. exit (exit 22). If you are going west on I-285, turn right at the first light onto Interstate North Parkway. Stay on this road as it curves west, through an intersection and crosses the river. After crossing, the parking lot is an immediate right. If you are going east on I-285, continue east to the second light, then turn left (north) and cross the bridge over I-285 and continue through the traffic light on the other side onto Interstate North Parkway, then continue with instructions above. From this lot, a wide trail leads north along the river for about 1.5 miles before ending in a residential development. The trail loops around to come back out near the beginning point, for a nice overall 3-mile course. A wetland boardwalk and marsh trail are spurs off the main trail. There is a $3 parking fee using the pay boxes in the parking lots or a $25 annual pass from the Park Service.


Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park has excellent birding habitat, but is best known as a rich migrant stopover. It is the best Atlanta location for observing fall raptor migration movements. Additionally, the tree lines up and down the paved road to the summit can yield an exciting passerine display, especially during migration. This is one of the best spots east of the Mississippi to see a migrating Cerulean Warbler.


The 3,000-acre Kennesaw National Battlefield Park is the first location in Georgia to be designated by the Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area. (Photo by Robert Schwartz.)


For more information, see Birding Georgia by Giff Beaton (Falcon Publishing, 2000)


Directions: Take I-75 to exit 269, Barrett Parkway. Go west on Barrett Parkway approximately two miles to Old Route 41 and take a left (look for a little brown sign on the right at that intersection pointing left to the Battlefield). Go 1.3 miles and turn right on Stilesboro Road, then a quick left into the Visitor Center parking lot. From the Visitor Center, walk the paved road to the summit. Checklists are available at the Visitors Center.


E. L. Huie Land Application Facility and Newman Wetlands Center

These sites, owned and operated by the Clayton County Water Authority, are the metro area's singular best all-around birding area if you are looking for variance in habitat and species. The E. L. Huie facility is one of the best inland locations for shorebirds and waterfowl in the state. There are five ponds inside the facility, and birders can drive the dikes for good views at each pond. The Newman Wetlands Center has trails and boardwalks through wetlands and woodlands and yields a variety of birds, particularly during migration. The self-guided boardwalk tour through the wetlands can yield Prothonotary and Kentucky Warblers, and Louisiana Waterthrush during the breeding season. (Photo by Vic Williams.)


arrow For more information, see Birding Georgia by Giff Beaton (Falcon Publishing, 2000)


Directions: Take I-75 south beyond I-285 to US 19/41 (Tara Blvd., exit 235); drive south for 8.2 miles to Freeman Road and turn left. The Clayton County Authority office is a quarter-mile down Freeman Rd. on the right. The pond complex is across the street. The Wetlands Center is farther down Freeman Road on the right, just beyond the bridge. Call the Wetlands Center for information about birding at both sites: 770-603-5606.


Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve

Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve is a 28-acre property in the Medlock Park neighborhood of Decatur. The preserve opened in 1995 under the management of a neighborhood organization with the goal of preserving natural spaces in the South Peachtree Creek watershed.


The preserve includes wetlands, a four-acre beaver pond, emerging pine groves, wooded uplands, and floodplain bordering South Peachtree Creek. Wildlife habitat includes brush piles, deadfalls, dense brush, and the pond. These diverse habitats are home to beavers, foxes, turtles, snakes, frogs, rabbits, and dozens of species of birds.


Bird highlights include warblers, hawks, woodpeckers, flycatchers, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Hooded Merganser, Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, and Great-horned Owl. Wood Ducks nest around the beaver pond and adults and ducklings are regularly seen in spring. Regulars in the summer include Wood Thrush, Orchard Oriole, and Indigo Bunting. In the spring of 2013, this site was a hot spot: a Least Bittern, Wild Turkeys, Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos, and many warblers, tanagers, and grosbeaks were sighted.


An observation tower funded by a gift from Atlanta Audubon offers a great view of the pond area.


For more information, see CSNP website (


Directions: From I-285, take exit #39A, (Highway 78, Stone Mountain Freeway west toward Decatur). Immediately after passing North DeKalb Mall, you'll see a QuikTrip (QT) on your right. About 340 ft after the QT turn right on Harrington Drive. Go 0.6 miles to Wood Trail Lane and turn right. Go 1000 ft to Pine Bluff Drive and the preserve entrance. From I-85 north or south take North Druid Hills exit #89 east toward Decatur. In approximately 3 miles, turn right on Highway 78 (Lawrenceville Highway) at North DeKalb Mall and follow the directions as above.