Spring in the High Country is the perfect season to view the migration of birds returning after winter. With so many undeveloped areas in the mountains of North Carolina, it is easy to find birds anywhere. The High Country is home to over 160 species of birds with over 250 species stopping by on their migratory routes. Many rare and endangered birds can be found from the peaks of Grandfather Mountain, an international biopreserve, to the banks of Kerr Scott Dam and along the roadsides of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Here is a list of popular birding areas in the High Country:
Grandfather Mountain’s massive vertical drops into the Linville River Valley and Catawba Basin creates conditions that support 16 distinct ecological communities ranging from rich cove forests and acidic cove forests to heath balds and high elevation rocky summits. The range of soil, terrain, wind, water, sunlight and microclimates create habitats for as many as 200 different bird species. About 100 of these are documented breeding colonies, which is the highest number of breeding birds in the east. When visiting Grandfather Mountain, the most convenient place to see birds is on the feeders outside the Nature Museum Restaurant. You can also view many rare species along the Profile Trail or the Black Rock Trail. Click here for more information
Bluff Mountain Preserve in Ashe County features high-elevation hardwood forests providing ideal nesting habitat for many neotropical migratory bird species including the black-throated green warbler, veery, rose-breasted grosbeak, scarlet tanager, and blue-headed vireo. Access to Bluff Mountain is restricted by the Nature Conservancy but guided hikes are available. Click here for more information
New River State Park features the New River, believed to be one of the oldest rivers in the world. New River State Park is home to several nesting birds uncommon in other parts of North Carolina. You’ll likely see wild turkeys in the lowland forests and ruffled grouse in the higher elevations. Ospreys, red-tailed hawks, scarlet tanagers, American goldfinches and indigo buntings are also seen. Click here for more information
Beech Mountain’s Buckeye Lake Recreation Area was recognized by the High Country Audubon Society as one of the High Country’s birding “hot spots.” Around 127 bird species are found on Beech Mountain and many of their natural habitats are easily accessible from the network of trails. Click here for more information
The Boone Greenway is a premier place for birding. The Greenway follows the South Fork of the New River through open meadows and colorful forests. It’s an easy walk and many bird species can be spotted along the way. Click here for more information
Valle Crucis Community Park is not only a great place to spot birds on your own, but also features a bird walk on Wednesdays from 8:30 to 10:30 am. Click here for more information
W Kerr Scott Lake and Reservoir is a great place for bird lovers because of the birding trails that pass through a variety of habitats. Bald eagles, peregrine falcons and a variety of songbirds can be found in the oak forest surrounding the lake.
Blowing Rock features several locations that are prime for bird watchers. Moses Cone Memorial Park and Julian Price Memorial Park feature a variety of bird habitats. Click here for more information.
Birds You Might Spot From Milepost 299-317 on the Blue Ridge Parkway
- Red-tailed Hawks
- Chestnut-sided Warblers
- Black-throated Blue Warblers
- Canada Warblers
- Slate-colored Juncos
- White-breasted Nuthatches
- Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
**Find most of these on Grandfather Mountain or Beech Mountain.
For more information:
- Call the Watauga County Birding Hotline at: 828-265-0198
- Visit the High Country Audubon Society website: http://www.highcountryaudubon.org/
- Attend the “Boone Birding Festival: Birds of the Bard” on Saturday, April 26th 2014 at Horn in the West in Boone North Carolina. https://www.facebook.com/events/704173386265830/?fref=ts