Ventures runs many day trips throughout the Carolinas every year, especially in the western portion of the region. From warblers and woodpeckers in the highest peaks and spruce fir forests around Mt. Mitchell to tanagers and cuckoos in the rich lowland woodlands of the South Carolina Piedmont, we find new and exciting birding destinations throughout our area. Some places are "must visit" spots from year to year but others are new to the birding world. Join us as we explore our own backyard in the Carolinas.




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Blue Ridge Birding Asheville, NC

April 25, 2018

Leader: Kevin Burke

1 Space Left

   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.

Golden-winged Warblers! Little Yellow Mountain, NC

April 29, 2018

Leader: Clifton Avery

Trip is Full
Waiting List Only

   Little Yellow Mountain Natural Area is one of the newest state-owned preserves, and was donated by the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy. Located on the preserve is an old, rustic cabin that provides both incredible views and excellent birding. Golden-winged Warblers breed here and we will have the opportunity to see them up close and learn about what is being done to protect this rapidly-declining species. Though the Golden-winged Warblers will be the focus of our day, we will of course be on the lookout for other spring migrants as well! An added treat will be hearing SAHC trustee Jay Leutze speak about the natural history of the Roan Highlands while we enjoy our picnic lunch.

Stecoah Gap

Graham County, NC
April 30, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed


   The neotropical migrant birds that breed in the southern Appalachian mountains arrive earlier than those going further north. They seem to overfly the Piedmont and the foothills and go straight to their mountain habitat where they set up their breeding territories. By this time in April they should be well established, singing heartily. We can expect many warbler species (including American Redstart, Black-and-white, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Cerulean & Golden-winged), Blue-headed, Yellow-throated & Red-eyed Vireos, Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, American Goldfinches, and more.

Spring Warbler Workshop

Max Patch, Haywood Co., NC
May 2, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed

Trip is Full
Waiting List Only

   This being a Spring Warbler Workshop, our focus will be on finding as many different warbler species as possible, listening for differences in each species’ song, and marveling at the diversity of colors and patterns on show. We should find 15-20 different species, such as: Ovenbird; Lousiana Waterthrush; Common Yellowthroat; Northern Parula; American Redstart; Golden-winged, Black-and-white, Hooded, Cape May, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Pine, Yellow-rumped, Yellow-throated, & Canada Warblers. By the end of the day we could very well have seen 60-70 species in total!

Seven Islands State Birding Park

Knox County, TN
May 5, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson


   We will spend all morning and part of the afternoon exploring the birds along several miles of walking pathways through a rich mosaic of habitats.  An abundance of early successional habitat harbors high numbers of Yellow-breasted Chat, Common Yellowthroat, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Field Sparrow and some Northern Bobwhite, easy to hear but not see.  Along the river bank, expect to find a wide variety of waterbirds, swallows, Orchard Oriole, Prothonotary Warblers, and Wood Duck. In the uplands, plenty of warblers should be present and this is one area where Black-billed Cuckoo has been seen in the spring.   It is possible to observe or hear 80 species in one day at this outstanding park!

Sevier County Marathon

(International Migratory Bird Day)
May 12, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson


   We are going to attempt to see or hear at least 125 species of birds on this day, hopefully more.  Spring migration is in full swing and some winter residents are likely to still be around.  Over 160 species have been recorded in Sevier County at this time, including 22 species of warblers, 5 vireos, 8 flycatchers, 7 woodpeckers, 10 raptors, 7 thrushes, and more sparrows, tanagers, grosbeaks, and orioles!

   We will look for Red Crossbills, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, and Common Raven.  Moving down to Sugarlands Visitors Center should be productive for warblers, vireos, and flycatchers. From there we will go to Pittman Center and search the fields and farms, then travel adjacent to the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River into Richardson’s Cove to Sevierville checking hotspots, then to the French Broad River fields to look for Dickcissel and Bobolink.

Spring Big Day

A Thorough Birding Exploration Of WNC
May 12, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed

& Kevin Burke


   Our day will begin before sunrise with the hope of finding nocturnal species such as Great Horned, Eastern Screech and Northern Saw-whet Owl, as well as Eastern Whip-poor-will. Once the sun comes up, we plan on visiting as many different habitats as possible to maximize our species total. Between cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Green River Gamelands, we will expect a whole host of warblers, vireos, thrushes, flycatchers and more. We’ll check the broad Mills River Valley for open country species like Eastern Meadowlark, raptors, and any shorebirds that might still be passing through. We will also visit several city lakes for any straggling ducks or wading species, as well as any spots where there are rare, uncommon or otherwise unusual birds hanging out.

Cades Cove Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

Explore One of the Most Scenic & Birdy Places in the Great Smoky Mountains
May 16, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson


   Cades Cove is one of the most picturesque and historic landscapes in the Southern Appalachians.  Located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove boasts of splendid views of the main Smokies crest, historical cabins, and open fields and woodlots, surrounded by mature mixed hardwood/pine forests.  Habitats here provide sanctuary for a great variety of wildlife, including Black Bear, White-tailed Deer, Coyote, and over 200 species of birds annually.  In May, we are more likely to see many of the documented 140 species documented during that month in the Cove.

Alum Cave Bluff Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

Hike the Alum Cave Bluff Trail to Observe High Elevation Specialties
May 19, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson


   This trail is one of the most productive areas in the park for high elevation summer residents and permanent residents including Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Veery, and probably one of the best areas in the park for Black-throated Blue Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Canada Warbler.  A total of 83 species have been seen here in mid-May, but we’re more likely to see fewer, but let’s target 40 for the day!  The highlight of the trip is a good opportunity to observe nesting Peregrine Falcons near Alum Cave Bluff which have been using this area for several decades.

Hampton Creek Cove & Roan Mountain, TN

May 23, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed


   Hampton Creek Cove is a 693-acre natural area located in Carter County outside of the town of Roan Mountain near Roan Mountain State Park. The Cove is in the Southern Appalachian Mountains between 3,000 to 4,800 feet elevation and is managed by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC). Hampton Creek forms a prominent feature which bisects the length of the natural area, draining young and mature forests, seeps, and farmland in the cove. The old field/early succession at the lower mountain elevation, maintained by a caretaker and grazing cattle, provides excellent nesting habitat for Golden-winged Warblers. On past trips, we’ve even seen Brewster’s Warbler here – a hybrid of Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers.

Hike to Mt. Buckley

On the Appalachian Trail South Loop
June 10, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson


   Any time of year, a hike along the Appalachian Trail (AT) near Clingmans Dome is a rewarding endeavor, but the same hike in early June will offer spectacular views of the Unaka and Balsam Highlands, a vast area of tree-dominated landscape that seemingly goes on forever.  Then consider the Canadian-like montane coniferous forest dominated by Red Spruce, Fraser Fir, Yellow Birch, bursting wildflowers and a plethora of singing resident and migrant birds and you have the recipe for an outstanding high-elevation Smokies experience - this is it!

Birding the Balsams

Asheville, NC
June 13, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed


   We will head south and visit various locations in the Blue Ridge, looking for some of the area’s most exciting birds such as many species of warblers, vireos and several hard-to-identify Empidonax flycatchers. We will probably head as far as Heintooga Overlook, one of the most reliable areas for Red Crossbills in the last few years.
  Typical breeding birds of the higher elevations include Common Raven, Brown Creeper, Dark-eyed Junco, Winter Wren, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.  Hermit Thrush and Red Crossbill can be found as well. The Appalachian race of the hardy Northern Flying Squirrel, closely related to the more familiar Southern Flying Squirrel of lower elevation broad-leaved woodlands, also occurs at this elevation.

Andrews Bald Hike

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC
June 24, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson


   Andrews Bald at 5747 feet (1752 m) is the highest grassy bald in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offering spectacular displays of the Unaka and Balsam Highlands of the Southern Appalachians.  Hiking the 1.71 miles to Andrews Bald from Clingmans Dome parking area will take us through a montane coniferous forest similar to the boreal forest of Canada, but entirely unique to any ecosystem in North America. Here, Red Spruce, Fraser Fir, Yellow Birch, Mountain Ash, and Pin Cherry dominate the overstory while a variety of high elevation shrubs, mosses, and ferns occupy the understory.  On the bald itself, the incredible show of flowering Flame Azalea and Catawba Rhododendron in late June accent this wonderful high elevation floral experience.  The first mile is downhill, the remainder is a mixture of up and down.  On the return hike, the last mile is uphill, but we’ll take plenty of breaks and have our lunch.