This day trip features some of the best birding that the Blue Ridge Parkway has to offer. There will be minimal hiking – most of the birding will take place from overlooks, roadsides, and picnic areas. Higher elevations will be cooler if not cold and it could be very windy. Freezing conditions are still possible which could result in the closure of sections of the parkway. If so, we will spend more time in the lower elevations.
From the mixed hardwood, lower elevation forests, rich cove forest, to the high elevation spruce-fir forests around Mount Mitchell, the Blue Ridge Parkway traverses a variety of elevations and habitats. Spending time in each habitat will yield quite the variety of avian species, and as with most of our spring trips the focus will be on migrant warblers, vireos, tanagers and thrushes that breed along the parkway.
We will begin down at the Folk Art Center where we can expect to see Pine Warbler, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Chickadee, Eastern Bluebird and other birds typical of lower elevations. Heading north along the parkway we will make a series of stops in mid-elevation hardwood forest and should see Cerulean, Black-throated Green, Black-and-White, Worm-eating, Chestnut-sided and Hooded Warblers, American Redstart, Red-eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, and Broad-winged Hawk. We’ll wind our way through the Craggies and into the Blacks, the range that holds Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi River. In the spruce-fir forest around Mt. Mitchell we should expect to see a totally different selection of birds: Common Raven, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco, and Hermit Thrush. We will probably make it as far as the Bald Knob Ridge trail, which in recent years has been an excellent place to find Red Crossbills, which breed in the area.
Join Kevin for a great day of Blue Ridge Birding!