How to Find the Best Spots – Smoky Mountains Bird Watching
Every one of us has a unique idea of what an exemplary vacation should be, and perhaps yours involves Smoky Mountains Bird Watching because you’re reading this. For some people though, they prefer to go to sandy beaches or travel to foreign countries to learn about different cultures. Whichever it may be, one thing’s for sure – we all need some quality rest and relaxation amidst our busy lives.
If you’re the type of person who likes to spend your ‘me time’ close to nature, specifically birds, then you can put this article to good use. Gatlinburg is one of the places in the world that bird watchers love to visit. It is located right at the border of the Great Smoky mountains; a high mountain range that is home to many bird species. It is also a part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Appalachian Mountain chain. Its forests are full and consist of over a hundred kinds of trees. The trees themselves are quite an attraction to see, with most of the old growth still existing. Tourists always come to visit when their leaves change in autumn. The Great Smoky Mountains is truly an ecological wonder and provides shelter to many wildlife, most especially he Smoky Mountains bird watching.
If this is your first time to bird-watch in the area, you would want to know where to go. So here’s a list to help you out:
- Alum Cave
- Grotto Falls
- Huskey Gap Trail
- Mount Leconte
You’re in for a real treat if you visit the Alum Cave! Not only does it encompass heart-stopping views, but also because it is where you get the chance to see a dark-eyed junco. There are plenty of treetops at the mouth of this concave bluff. As you enter the place, you can see some birds perching on the branches and quite a handful would be freely flying around. The perfect time to go to the Grotto Falls is during spring because plenty of flowers and plants are in bloom during this time. Visitors like going here because there is a variety of birds that populate the area and the hike is just very light. To top it all, you’ll get a glimpse of the majestic waterfall that’s nestled among the thick greenery of the trail.
The Huskey Gap Trail is one of the most popular spots for Smoky Mountains bird watching because a lot of birds call it home. They just find it irresistible because ithis filled with trees and shrubs – the perfect place to build their nests! Some of the species that you may spot here are goldfinches, sparrows and wrens. And if you walk along the trail, you will come across an old stone wall from an old homestead in the area. Mount Leconte, on the other hand, is probably the longest trail among these four. But it is definitely worth the hike if you’re a true blue bird-lover. You can reach this place through many access points, one of which will also pass by the Alum Cave. So it’s like hitting two birds in one stone! No pun intended. Mount Leconte is the best trail to visit if you’re looking forward to seeing woodpeckers and warblers.
The Great Smokies has over 240 species of birds to date, and this is because of its diverse habitats and microclimates. Here, the birds can freely soar around the high peaks and take shelter in the warm lowlands and vast forestry.
What to Bring During Your Smoky Mountains Bird Watching
After carefully planning your trip and doing your research on the best trails for the activity, you probably couldn’t contain your excitement and is more than ready to go. So, have you packed your bags already? Do you have everything that you will need? If you’re a beginner to bird-watching, you have to make sure to bring all the essentials. You can ask your tour guide, or anyone you know who is into this activity, for assistance. It is prime that you don’t forget anything to make your experience fun and memorable.
If you plan to go on an early morning hike, your must-haves should include binoculars, a camera, some snacks and plenty of water. If you’re not going with a field guy, then please throw in some map too. Keep in mind though that it is highly recommended for beginners to go with someone who knows the place well. You may also find it amusing to use a birding app – it has several search options, a built-in bird call, and many more. It’s convenient and guaranteed easy-to-use. It can help you identify any species that you may encounter during the trip.
As a friendly reminder, if this is your first time to do bird-watching in the Great Smoky Mountains, it is best to stick to the trails. By doing so, you can avoid getting lost or caught up in an unpleasant situation. Moreover, look for a place to stay that’s relatively near the trails. You can reserve your cabin with the Smoky Mountain Company at any time of the year. The prices are reasonable, the staff is helpful, and you’ll wake up to breathtaking views every morning – indeed the best way to start your day during your vacation!
The Different Kinds of Birds that You May Encounter on Your Smoky Mountains Bird Watching
As mentioned earlier, there are over 240 species of birds that can be found in the Great Smokies. The environment here is pleasing to many kinds of birds, which makes it a frequent destination for both amateur bird-watchers and ornithologists. Some birds use this place as a ‘stop-over’ during their migration in the fall or spring, while others only come to breed at the park. As of today, there are over 60 species that have established their settlement and stay in the mountain range for the entire year.
According to the National Park Service, they’re still adding more to the list of bird species in the area. Even after 75 years of observation, the number of inhabitants continues to change and grow because of some factors. One reason is the change in elevation. When this happens, the vegetation is affected and can cause some birds to flee to another habitat. However, there are also breeds that can survive in any type of environment.
For example, the spruce-fir forest is home to the Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Blackburnian and Canada warblers, Veery, and Winter Wren. On the other hand, the northern hardwood and cove hardwood forests are mixing grounds for some species. To name a few, these are the Blue-headed Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Black-throated Blue Warbler, southern Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Cardinal, and Hooded Warbler. The list can go on and on because of the large number of birds that come and go in this mountain range. You can get to know more about it if you visit the National Park Service’s website.
Now that you have quite a handful of information about the birds in the Great Smokies, you can start having a good time! Have fun bird-watching and enjoy nature!