How To Get The Most From Birdwatching In Blue Ridge MountainsBookmark this
The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are an excellent place to go bird watching, as there are so many different species of birds that call the area home. As such, as a birder you'll want to take time to explore and see all the birds that live here. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your birdwatching trip.
Why Blue Ridge Mountains?
What is it about the Blue Ridge Mountains that make them such a hotspot for birds? The answer lies in the formation of the mountains themselves. During the last ice age, the north-south alignment of the mountains allowed a lot of bird species to survive as they could fly south to warmer climes. When the ice receded, many of these birds didn't return home, but instead started to fly to higher elevations in the summer instead.
There are many birds that still have this unique migratory pattern today, such as the slate colored junco and the black capped chickadee. You'll be able to see a whole range of different birds here, thanks to this phenomenon.
When To Visit
When's the best time to come visit the Blue Ridge Mountains and get the most out of your bird watching trip? Spring and fall are typically the best times to visit, as this is when most birds will be visiting the region. You'll be able to see a huge variety of birds, and spot them in their natural habitats.
Spring: In the spring, between March and May, there's so many different birds that you'll be able to spot. There are so many warblers that call the area home, such as Cerulean, Hooded, Yellow, Yellow rumped, Blackpoll, and other warblers too. On top of those you'll see Gray Catbirds, Ruby throated Humingbirds, the Indigo Bunting, Mourning Doves and so many more besides.
Summer: During the summer months you'll still see a lot of these birds, and few more will have joined them at this point. For example, the American Robin, Ovenbirds, the Louisiana Water Thrush and more can all be spotted during this time.
Fall: At this point you're still going to see the birds from the warmer months, as well as some others such as the American Kestrel, the Magnolia Warbler and the Sharp shinned and Broad winged Hawks too.
Winter: This is the least profitable time for bird watchers to come, understandably. However, you are still going to see some birds here. There are American Coots, Common Loons, and Great Blue Herons among others.
Protecting Migratory Birds
While you're visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains, you may see experts working to protect several species of birds here. There are lots of forest nesting birds that are suffering as their nesting areas have been reduced over the years, and they've been dealing with the effects of pesticides. Neotropical bird species, such as the scarlet tanager and Kentucky warbler, have especially seen dramatically declining numbers in the last ten years.
There are several agencies involved in monitoring the issues in the mountains, and looking to see how they can mitigate the damage. You may typically see them netting birds in sections of the parks, as this allows them to count them and get an idea of the current numbers. You'll be able to watch this work being done, and get some ideas as to how you'll protect birds in your own home.
Where To Bird Watch In The Blue Ridge Mountains
Many seasoned birdwatchers find that they can see more birds when they visit less populated spots in the area. If you know where to go, you'll find you can spot many birds you've never seen before.
For example, at James River Bridge you'll see White throated and Song Sparrows, as well as Yellow breasted Chats. At Solitude Road Marsh, you'll find the Black billed Cuckoo and several Warblers. Grab a guide book to find the best spots to see these birds.
Any bird watcher will want to come and visit the Blue Ridge Mountains at least once. The unique area allows for so many birds to make their home here, and it's fascinating to see so many different species in one place.