Best Birding Spots in the Southern Appalachians

Brasstown Bald, Georgia: Species sighted here include Canada warbler, black-throated blue warbler, rose-breasted grosbeak, blackburnian warbler, scarlet tanager, and blue-headed vireo, ravens, and winter wrens.

Mount Mitchell, North Carolina: There has been massive and visible die-off of Fraser Fir here, making the mountaintop home to birds that prefer shrubs and thickets like the hermit thrush, winter wrens, chestnut-sided warblers, Canada warblers, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers.

Alum Cave Bluffs, Great Smoky Mountains National Park: A five-mile trek from Newfound Gap Road to the summit of Mount LeConte at 6,593 feet, where one can see high elevation species like the black-throated blue warbler, black-capped chickadees, and nesting peregrine falcons.

Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, Monangahela National Forest, West Virginia: An easy boardwalk path over high elevation cranberry bogs and through tangled rhododendron thickets will offer sightings of northern warblers and flycatchers
Cade’s Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
The cove is home to woodland species like wild turkeys as well as field dwelling birds like northern bobwhites, mourning doves, barn swallows, and eastern bluebirds. Cade’s Cove’s sewage ponds often attract water birds, including great blue herons, a variety of ducks, and black-crowned night herons.

Chimney Rock Park, North Carolina: The Hickory Nut Falls Trail may offer views of black-throated blue warblers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, solitary vireo, and Swainson’s warblers.

Highland County, Virginia: With a mix of high elevation spruce pine similar to the environment of Canada and sweeping valleys more common to southern ecosystems, Highland is a hotbed of bird activity, especially in spring. In the Laurel Fork/Locust Springs area in the county’s northwest corner one may see golden-crowned kinglets, and three varieties of warbler known to nest nowhere else in Virginia—the golden-winged warbler, the mourning warbler, and the magnolia warbler.

Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park: Here birders will find a variety of grassland species and middle elevation birds like downy woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, cedar waxwings, indigo buntings, and northern flickers.


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