Trip Report

Exploring the Spruce/Fir Forests
of the Black Mountains
July 5, 2020
Guide: Clifton Avery

What a lovely day birding the Blue Ridge of North Carolina. It might be midsummer, but the birds were still quite active high up in the spruce/fir forest. We began our day birding at the highest elevations of the eastern United States. We quickly observed some of our target species, including a Winter Wren that was perched high on a conifer singing incessantly! We summited Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern US, and saw some more target species including Red-breasted Nuthatch and Slate-colored Junco. Winter Wrens and Indigo Buntings continued singing loudly throughout the area. Golden-crowned Kinglets softly sang high up in the dark forest while the Brown Creeper’s high-pitched song echoed all around us. As we exited the forest the temperature noticeably rose about 10 degrees to a pleasant 75 degrees. We then turned our attention to some of the early successional specialists quickly spotting an Alder Flycatcher and Chestnut-sided Warbler that both allowed us excellent looks as they sang at their respective perches.

We then drove down to Balsam Gap and began hiking up the Mountains to Sea Trail hoping to find a nice spot for lunch. Lunch was momentarily forgotten as a mixed flock of warblers, nuthatches, chickadees, sparrows, and thrush engulfed us for about 15 minutes. We all had especially great looks at Canada and Blackburnian Warblers. We then broke out our lunch. Our walk back to the vehicles remained birdy as we saw 2 beautiful Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Upon returning to the cars Hermit Thrush beautiful song filled the humid forest as we all acknowledged what a lovely day we had just experienced in the mysterious Spruce/Fir Forest of Southern Appalachia.

Exploring the Spruce/Fir Forests of the Black Mountains
July 5, 2020

Birds seen or heard: 42 species

Ruffed Grouse
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Chimney Swift
Turkey Vulture
Broad-winged Hawk
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Alder Flycatcher
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Common Raven
American Crow
Carolina Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

    Red-breasted Nuthatch
    Brown Creeper
    Golden-crowned Kinglet
    House Wren
    Winter Wren
    Carolina Wren
    Gray Catbird
    Wood Thrush
    Hermit Thrush
    American Robin
    Song Sparrow
    Dark-eyed Junco
    Eastern Towhee

    Cedar Waxwing

    Brown-headed Cowbird
    Canada Warbler
    Common Yellowthroat
    Hooded Warbler
    Northern Parula
    Blackburnian Warbler
    Chestnut-sided Warbler
    Black-throated Blue Warbler
    Black-throated Green Warbler
    Pine Warbler
    Rose-breasted Grosbeak
    Indigo Bunting