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panola mountain state park

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

On a pollen-saturated spring morning, Panola Mountain naturalist and interpretive ranger Lieren Forbes hops and twirls in her khaki uniform on a rock outcrop of the mountain. The exercise, which Forbes calls "Stay on the Gray," is similar to the children's game "The Floor Is Lava," but it's not just for fun.

Charlie Muise checks the feathers on a common yellowthroat at his bird banding station in Panola Mountain State Park.
Molly Samuel / WABE

It’s the time of year when baby birds start to leave their nests. A research project south of Atlanta is revealing more about the birds that nest here by catching them.

Just after dawn on what will be a sunny, late-spring day, Charlie Muise is standing at a fold-out card table, set up on a dirt road. He’s in a damp, dewy meadow at Panola Mountain State Park in southern DeKalb County at his bird banding station.

A volunteer brings him a little drawstring cotton bag that’s twitching. He sticks his hand in.