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The Smoky Mountains: A Birder's Paradise

Pileated Woodpecker

When it comes to Birding North Carolina has much to offer. While many head for the Outer Banks to get their fill of birds, the western end of the state has just as wide a range of species and for those in the know it is just as popular a birding spot. If you enjoy the great outdoors and want to get up close and personal with numerous species of birds, then this is the place for you.

While the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains are best known for their breathtaking scenery, there is much more to this area than just scenic overlooks. In fact, the area is home to many different species and can provide a real challenge for avid birders. In terms of birding Smoky Mountains trails are some of the richest and most exciting you’ll find on the entire east coast.

So what exactly can you expect when you’re birding North Carolina style? The Smoky Mountain region is the site of regular migrations of both landbirds and raptors. You can find everything from warblers and flycatchers to hawks. There are some species of warblers and flycatchers that are rarely seen anywhere else in the state except for this rocky terrain. More than 240 species of birds have been found in the park. Sixty species are year-round residents. Nearly 120 species breed in the park, including 52 species from the neo-tropics. Many other species use the park as an important stopover and foraging area during their semiannual migration.

The mountains are also part of the breeding territory of several species and a trek through the mountains, especially in springtime, can often yield peeks at nesting flycatchers, black-capped chickadees and even the Northern Saw-whet Owl. Armed with hiking supplies and a good pair of binoculars, you can spend hours reveling in the natural life of this glorious region.

Birding is such a popular activity in North Carolina that there are several organizations devoted to it, including the North Carolina Audubon Society, which can provide information and historical background as well as point you toward the best spots for birding Smoky Mountains and the entire western region of the state.

There are also special birding events held throughout the state, including the western mountain region. Birding festivals and other programs let you get right to the heart of the action, with professional guides along in some cases to help you find the best places to look. You can pay for special birding packages that include camping and seeking out local species along the way or just carve out your birding trail as part of your North Carolina vacation.

Whichever option you choose, if you intend to enjoy the birding North Carolina is so well known for, make sure to bring high-powered binoculars and a journal and pen so that you can record your finds. This way you can note your run-ins with the red-cockaded woodpecker, Swainson’s warbler, Bachman’s sparrow or any other species you come across.

There is plenty to experience in the beautiful Smoky Mountain region of North Carolina, so why not make it your next vacation stop? If you’re a serious birder or just a nature lover who wants to revel in the great outdoors, this is the place for you. You’re guaranteed to have a birding adventure you’ll always remember!



For guests that would like to learn more about NC Birding please visite the following websites:

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