By Sherron Smith
Middle Georgia State University
At age 7, Paul Johnson mimicked bird paintings while taking art lessons. Now, he’s channeled his creativity into publishing books about them.
Johnson, Student Success Center coordinator at Middle Georgia State University’s Macon Campus, gave a talk at November’s Ocmulgee Audubon Society (OAS) meeting about the history of birding in Middle Georgia. His talk was based on his research for his newly released 2nd edition of Annotated Checklist of Birds of Middle Georgia.
“My interest in finding and identifying wild birds, “birding,” developed from my buying Familiar Birds of North America: Eastern Region – part of The Audubon Society Pocket Guides – when I was 10 years old. On that trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I remember seeing ravens for the first time.”
Shortly after, Johnson joined the OAS to share his passion with others and has since been a long-time member known for his exceptional bird call knowledge.
“Birders like to keep lists, i.e., the first sighting of a bird in spring, high counts on a Christmas Bird Count, etc., and share their sightings with other birders,” Johnson said. “My first edition was inspired by an earlier 1973 copy of Preliminary and Abbreviated Checklist of Birds of Bibb and Houston Counties, Georgia, by Hedvig S. Cater, an Ocmulgee Audubon Society member at that time. I’ve periodically worked on a second edition since 1998, and in September 2018, Amazon started selling my second edition.”
However, his book is not the only thing Johnson has expanded upon.
“In a few years my ‘life list’ – total species of birds seen – quickly grew from under 100 to over 300. Now my total is 480.”
Johnson’s newly released 2nd edition of Annotated Checklist of Birds of Middle Georgia is available on Amazon.