Displaying items by tag: birding

out natcornI think Lewis Carroll could have just as easily warned of the Timberdoodle as the Jubjub bird in the “Jabberwocky,” both could appear to be nonsensical avian entities. The timberdoodle, a.k.a. American woodcock, appears to be constructed from incongruous leftover avian parts.

out frIn a woodsy neighborhood up a winding mountain road from Franklin, late May is pretty quiet — at least from a human perspective. Many of the second-home owners who live there haven’t yet moved in for the summer, and with lots spanning as many as 40 acres, things are spread pretty far apart anyway. 

But the avian summer move-ins are there in force, and if you’re a bird, you’d probably say the forested neighborhood is anything but quiet. It’s full of tweets and chirps and chirrs, pretty sounds that actually mean things are a-stirring in the bird community.

out natcornNeotropical migrants can be flashy things — think scarlet tanager, Baltimore oriole, rose-breasted grosbeak or those tiny butterflies of the bird world like American redstart, blackburnian warbler, hooded warbler and northern parula, just to name a few. And often when we strike out in search of these colorful creatures we go to places like the Blue Ridge Parkway, where it is open and there is good light so we can see the amazing color. But sometimes beige is cool.

Avian adventures

out naturalistWhat better way to spring into the season than chasing migrants across Western North Carolina? I was with the Franklin Bird Club at Kituwah on April 27 and we had beautiful weather and good birding. I had teased that trip by noting that Kituwah is one of the most reliable places I know of for finding bobolinks in migration.

out natcornI’ve recently been seeing lots of posts like these on Carolina Birders’ FaceBook page:

“… My pine siskins have departed, I am sad to say. I have not seen one in a week... It was such a pleasure having them in abundance, this year. I hope that they return, next winter!”

Countin’ in the cold

out natcornI had originally intended to spend today (Monday, Feb. 16) doing a couple of short surveys for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count. But Sunday morning amid more and more (and more and more dire) weather forecasts warning of some pretty heavy winter weather coming our way I began to contemplate counting Sunday instead. Around 9 a.m. Sunday I peeked out the downstairs window. Well, in my yard were 17 wild turkeys. It looked like a large group of jakes and gobblers.

out natcornThe best way I know of to get a rare bird to fly the coop is to write about it. So by the time you see this article the two drake common goldeneyes that have been hanging out at Lake Junaluska for the past week or so will likely have vanished. But they have been consistently sighted along the shoreline on the “cross-side” of the lake a couple of hundred yards from the dam.

Double the fun

out natcornI had the pleasure of participating in two Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) this past weekend. The first was the Balsam CBC on Friday Jan. 2. This was our 13th count — 12th official — and we had 18 participants. Our unofficial tally for this year’s count was a little on the low side: we recorded 68 species and I believe average is (or was, before this year) 73.

Golden poster-bird

out natcornIt seems like the golden-winged warbler (GWWA) has become the non-game poster bird for everything from clearcuts to shelterwood cuts to overstory removal to seed tree harvests in our national forests. The philosophy appears to be “if you build it they will come,” see —www.srs.fs.usda.gov/compass/2014/07/03/young-forests-can-benefit-wildlife/

out frThere’s plenty of tradition and symbolism that goes along with the holiday season, but for birders no tradition is more part of the holiday than the annual Christmas Bird Count. 

The count is just what it sounds like: Every year around Christmastime, birding groups around the country get together for a full day outside to count as many bird species as possible in a circle that’s 15 miles wide. Local groups can set their own date, but they have to fall within about 10 days of Christmas Day. This year, bird counts are happening between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. 

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The Naturalist's Corner

Back Then with George Ellison

  • One of the Smokies’ finest poets
    One of the Smokies’ finest poets Editor’s note: This Back Then column by George Ellison first appeared in the Feb. 15, 2012, edition of The Smoky Mountain News. Olive Tilford Dargan is fairly well known in literary circles as the author of From My Highest Hill (1941), a delightful collection of autobiographical…
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