17 birds you’ll see this season in Asheville, NC

eastern phoebe
Photo by Andrew Cannizzaro

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According to a recent piece by Forbes magazine, birds bring people joy. In fact, more birds make you as happy as more money does. And it just so happens that NC is home to hundreds of year-round and migrating bird species, meaning there’s plenty of opportunities to enjoy the free and joyful hobby of peeping our feathered friends by birdwatching. 

Here’s what you need to get started with birdwatching in Asheville, plus a few of the bird species you might see + hear this season (or year-round).

There’s an app for that 

Websites + apps have made birdwatching more accessible than ever. Here are a few we recommend.

    • Merlin: This free identification app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology includes photos, an identification + browsing tool, and a database of songs + calls for every bird you’re likely to come across in your area. ProTip: Merlin has recently added a sound id. You just click “record” in the app and aim it out at the bird(s) that are  chirping/singing, and it gives you who the bird is, or even if there are several.
    • ebird.org: Also from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, ebird is the best website for birders to find birds, keep track of bird lists, explore the latest sightings + contribute to science. The best part of ebird is the hotspots locator. Asheville has 20+ local spots where birders have seen more than 100 species.
    • Carolina Bird Club: All of the bird species recorded in NC, including information on habitat, breeding, and abundance levels. 
    • North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission: Resources for birders include trail maps, birdwatching checklists, and a guide to how to build your own birdhouses + feeders. 
    • Audubon North Carolina: State-specific information on species, conservation, resources + tips for birdwatching, bird-friendly gardening + more.  

B(u)y the book 

Armed with a good field guide, a little knowledge can go a long way. Here are a few of our favorite books:

Join the club

Since WNC is such a hotspot for birders, there are several ways to get involved with birdwatching and other activities, including bird banding.

Look closer

Binoculars (“Bins”)

You could spend some hard coin on binoculars – and you should spend what you can afford – but there’s no reason to spend $1,000+ on optics unless you get seriously into the hobby. Bins are important, though, so you should invest in something that will give you the best experience. This hobby is all about visuals + listening. It’s hard to see the birds if you can’t see the birds, right? Here are some good binoculars + scopes:

Feed the Birds

The easiest way to view birds is to bring them to you. Retailers like Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Walmart + Lowes and all have good selections of bird feeders in different shapes and sizes. No backyard? You can get a simple window feeder for your apartment. This link has some ideas on the best types of bird feeders to purchase + what kind of food (seed, suet, or nectar) to offer.

ProTip: The folks at Wild Birds Unlimited (946 Merrimon Ave. in North Asheville + 10 Crispin Ct., Ste. D in South Asheville) can hook you up with a great bird feeder + locally-sourced seed and suet (a birdseed cake). They’re also extremely knowledgeable about all things birds.

Here are 17 of the birds you may be seeing (or hearing) in your backyard now.

American Goldfinch

American goldfinch
Photo by Ken Thomas

📍US, Southern Canada + Northern Mexico | 📅 Year-round in N.C. | Song

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina chickadee
Photo by Dan Pancamo

📍Southeastern and Central US | 📅 Year-round | Song

Carolina Wren

Carolina wren
Photo by Ken Thomas

📍Eastern and Central US | 📅 Year-round | Song

Eastern Bluebird

eastern bluebird
Photo by Dehaan

📍Eastern and Central US, Mexico + Central America | 📅 Year-round | Song

Eastern Phoebe

eastern phoebe
Photo by Andrew Cannizzaro

📍Eastern and Central US, Canada + Mexico | 📅 Year-round | Song

Eastern Screech-Owl

screech owl
Photo by Dick Daniels

📍Eastern and Central US | 📅 Year-round | Song
ProTip: Listen for its distinctive whinnying call at night.

Eastern Towhee

eastern towhee
Photo by Andy Reago + Chrissy McLarren

📍Eastern and Central US | 📅 Year-round | Song

Great Blue Heron

great blue heron
Photo by Mike Baird

📍The US, Canada + Mexico | 📅 Year-round | Song
ProTip: Look for this leggy bird around or in bodies of water, like the French Broad.

House Finch

house finch
Photo by Andy Reago + Chrissy McClarren

📍The US, Southern Canada + Mexico | 📅 Year-round | Song

Northern Cardinal

northern cardinal
Photo by Dominic Sherony

📍Eastern + Central US, Southern Canada + Northern Mexico | 📅 Year-round | Song

Pileated Woodpecker

pileated woodpecker
Photo by Sheila Brown

📍Eastern + Western US, Canada | 📅 Year-round | Song

Red-Tailed Hawk

red-tailed hawk
Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

📍US, Canada, Mexico + the Caribbean | 📅 Year-round | Song

Red-Winged Blackbird

red-winged blackbird
Photo by Alan D. Wilson

📍US, Canada + Mexico | 📅 Year-round | Song

Song Sparrow

song sparrow
Photo by Becky Matsubara

📍US, Canada + Europe | 📅 Year-round | Song

Tufted Titmouse

tufted titmouse
Photo by @cmesker

📍Eastern + Central US | 📅 Year-round | Song

Turkey Vulture

turkey vulture
Photo by Peter K. Burian

📍US, Southern Canada, Mexico + Central America | 📅 Year-round | Song

Wood Thrush

Wood thrush
Photo by Andy Reago + Chrissy McLarren

📍Eastern + Central US + Central America / the Caribbean | 📅 Migrates to Central America for winter | Song
ProTip: You’ll likely hear the beautiful song of the wood thrush in summertime forests, but you may never glimpse it.