Buncombe County Hotspots

White-crowned Sparrow by Alan Lenk

Exploring the best birding spots in Buncombe County, NC

January 26, 2022

Pied-billed Grebe by Alan Lenk

Register by clicking the ‘book now’ button above, or by contacting the Ventures office. We accept credit cards for an additional fee (2.9% for MC, Visa, Discover; 3.9% for AmEx), but you may also pay by bank transfer, cash, check, or money order. This Venture is limited to 12 participants.

Meet: At Lake Julian Park in South Asheville, in the parking lot by the main park office/playground. Time: 9 AM Price: $60


An easy day birding along easy trails, roadsides and lake overlooks looking for a selection of waterfowl, sparrows, and other winter birds. Weather may be cold and windy - warm clothing and comfortable footwear are recommended.

On this new day trip, we visit the best winter birding hotspots in the Asheville area, staying totally within the confines of Buncombe County. Our exact itinerary will remain somewhat fluid to account for chasing any rare or otherwise noteworthy birds that may already be around at the time, and most of our time will be spent at those hotspots that have hosted numerous rare or uncommon species.

We will meet at Lake Julian in Arden, one of the county’s best waterfowl magnets, where we hope to find a nice selection of ducks in addition to other waterbirds like cormorants, loons, grebes, coots, and gulls. The park’s trees are also good for a variety of woodpeckers plus Brown Creeper, and recently a pair of Bald Eagles have tried nesting at the lake. Lake Julian has also had its fair share of rarities through the years – from Pacific Loon to American White Pelican, Eared Grebe to all 3 scoters, and many more.

Next, we will head over to the public trails at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa. These trails wind through agricultural fields and riparian woodland along the Swannanoa River. At this time of year in this predominately open country, sparrows will be our main quarry, with White-crowned, White-throated, Swamp, and Savannah Sparrows all being possible. We will also look for Rusty Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, and a selection of raptors in the open fields before checking the ponds at Owen Park for any ducks that have dropped in to join the Pied-billed Grebes. Gadwall, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead are just a few possibilities.

Depending on time, and what other birds of interest are around, we'll likely end our day on the boardwalk at Beaver Lake in North Asheville. Managed by the Blue Ridge Audubon Society, this 8-acre wetland is a great spot for a mix of wetland and woodland species, from Brown-headed Nuthatch and Pine Warbler to Great Blue Heron and a selection of ducks.