The Georgia Ornithological Society (GOS) was founded in Atlanta on December 13, 1936, to promote interest in and appreciation of the importance of birds and to encourage the gathering and dissemination of accurate information about birdlife in Georgia. Protection of the environment and bird habitat also has been a priority for GOS. From twenty-two founding members, GOS has grown to about 900 members.

One of the first actions taken by GOS was to assume publication of the quarterly journal The Oriole, which the Atlanta Bird Club had initiated earlier in 1936. The Oriole serves as the ornithological journal for the state of Georgia and publishes ornithological papers, important bird records, and detailed field notes for each season.

GOS has also encouraged the publication of books and pamphlets in its Occasional Publications series. As part of this series, GOS publishes the Annotated Checklist of Georgia Birds, a standard reference source for the status and occurrence of birds in the state. The GOS Checklist and Records Committee validates reports of new and unusual bird species in the state and is the source for the current and future editions of the Annotated Checklist of Georgia Birds.

Yellow Breasted Finch
Yellow Breasted Finch
Courtesy of Morris Museum of Art

For the first twenty-five years of its existence, GOS counted among its members such distinguished ornithologists as Ivan Tompkins, Herbert L. Stoddard (first president), J. Fred Denton, and Eugene Murphey. Eugene Odum, a committed ornithologist, served as president during World War II (1941-45). Much later he became universally known for his landmark work on ecology.

More recently, as interest in birds and bird-watching has increased rapidly among the general public, many dedicated amateurs have joined with professional biologists and ornithologists in the continuing quest for knowledge about birdlife in Georgia. GOS members participate in annual field activities such as the Breeding Bird Routes in summer and the Christmas Bird Counts each winter. Members also contribute their skills to bird-banding stations and have done much of the fieldwork for the Georgia Breeding Bird Atlas project.

The activities of GOS are administered by a seventeen-member executive committee consisting of five elected officers and the standing committee chairs. Although GOS does not maintain an office, it has established an Internet Web site that provides information about GOS programs and contacts, as well as a complete list of the society’s publications. Links and information about birding, bird clubs, and conservation organizations are also supplied.

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Yellow Breasted Finch

Yellow Breasted Finch

John Abbot painted his Yellow Breasted Finch (watercolor on paper, 11 1/8" x 8 3/4") in 1790, fifteen years after moving from Virginia to Georgia. A native of England, Abbot traveled to America in 1773 and spent the remainder of his life collecting and drawing specimens of New World birds, insects, and butterflies.

Courtesy of Morris Museum of Art