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Hotspots Near You

92. Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve, Decatur, Georgia

This 28-acre greenspace near the North Dekalb Mall is a great spot to prowl for warblers, grosbeaks, orioles, sparrows, wrens, and thrushes. And it’s nothing short of a “magic spot” for witnessing the American Woodcock’s annual courtship display.

Amid the sprawl of Atlanta is a tranquil 28-acre suburban oasis where we love to bird with our family each time we visit. It is home to beavers, otters, frogs, and numerous birds. Mark grew up exploring the property, which a neighborhood organization has managed since 1995.

Spring and fall bring neotropical migrants. We love to prowl the woodland trails in search of warblers, grosbeaks, and orioles. Fox Sparrows and Winter Wrens skulk in the underbrush near the entrance in winter. The observation deck at the beaver pond offers views of American Bitterns, Wood Ducks, Marsh Wrens, and Swamp and Song Sparrows when the pond is dry. Shorebirds such as Solitary Sandpipers drop in during migration. A Belted Kingfisher captivated us once as it tackled a fish seemingly too large to swallow.

The preserve’s most exciting experience is the American Woodcock’s courtship display on January and February evenings. Follow the boardwalks eastward until the trail gets muddy. Where it runs between two small ponds, you’ve found the magic spot for one of nature’s amazing shows. — Mark and Selena Kiser

Mark and Selena Kiser are the project coordinator and assistant, respectively, for the Great Florida Birding Trail, a program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They described birdwatching at Stormwater Treatment Area 5 in our April 2009 issue. Mark Kiser also wrote about Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area, Christmas, Florida, Hotspot Near You No. 37. 


92. Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve, Decatur, Georgia


The Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve is a greenspace nestled between a residential area and North Dekalb Mall in Decatur. From I-285, exit at U.S. 78 west toward Decatur. Drive 2.7 miles and turn right on Medlock Rd. Go 0.5 mile and turn right on Wood Trail Lane. Travel another 0.5 mile to the preserve entrance.

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
33°48’21.72″N 84°17’2.11″W


Wetlands, pine forest, hardwood forest, seasonal ponds, creek.


Mostly flat but not wheelchair-accessible. Trails, observation deck, boardwalks.


More than 170 species. Spring and fall: 35 species of warblers, including Golden-winged, Blackburnian, and Tennessee, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole. Winter: ducks, American Bittern, Winter, Marsh, and Sedge Wrens, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Fox, Swamp, and White-throated Sparrows. Summer: Wood Thrush, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, Blue Grosbeak, Orchard Oriole. Year-round: Belted Kingfisher, Red-headed Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Eastern Screech-Owl, American Woodcock. Rarities: Philadelphia Vireo, Connecticut Warbler, Pine Siskin, Rusty Blackbird.

When to go

Spring, fall, and winter. Mornings and evenings are best times to visit.


A recent-sightings list is kept at the entrance kiosk. Checklist available on website. Bird walks led by Atlanta Audubon Society and by preserve volunteers. Bamboo blinds located at edge of seasonal beaver pond. No restrooms.


Non-profit nature preserve. No permission needed. No entrance fee. Open daily dawn to dusk. Free parking on Pine Bluff Dr. Bus service available to nearby Medlock Elementary School, 0.45 mile from the preserve entrance.


Portions of trails can be muddy at times; bring appropriate footwear. Mosquitoes can be prevalent in warm months.

Sites nearby

Fernbank Forest
4 miles southwest at 156 Heaton Park Dr. in Atlanta. Old forest habitat with paved walkway. Good urban spot for warblers, thrushes, owls, and hawks.

Kennesaw Mountain
Hotspot Near You No. 32. Located 35 miles from Decatur. Metro Atlanta’s best location for warblers and other migratory songbirds.

For more info

Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve, (678) 951-0105
Atlanta Audubon Society

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