AVL Guides    Lifestyle, Uncategorized

17 birds you’ll see this spring + summer in Asheville, N.C.

eastern phoebe
Photo by Andrew Cannizzaro

Table of Contents

It’s possible that you’ve been noticing our local birds a little more while you’re hanging out at home. Maybe you even bought your first bird feederor remembered to refill it – so you could check out the visitors. 

In honor of the entertainment value our feathered friends are currently providing us – and the fact that #HellOfABird has been trending this week on Twitter (it’s a Doctor Who reference, but we avian aficionados will happily take over, err, jump on, the ship) – we thought we’d introduce you to some of the birds you’re seeing right here in the 828. Plus, Earth Day is next Wednesday, so now you have time to get your bird watching plans in order for your home celebration

N.C. is home to hundreds of year-round and migrating bird species, each with their own characteristics, habits, and songs. The sheer number of birds in our area, plus the start of the springtime breeding season + songbird migration, means that you may recently have been woken up by birds singing at the crack of dawn (a phenomenon known as the Dawn Chorus). And, you’ve likely seen more of them too — at your feeders, on your fence posts, or swooping overhead.  

Since so many birds are active right now, you may be wondering what they all are – and you don’t need a lot of expensive gear to figure it out. The most important things are your own two eyes… and a little curiosity

Here’s what you need to get started with birdwatching, 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. 
    • 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 N.C., 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

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

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina chickadee
Photo by Dan Pancamo

📍Southeastern and Central U.S. | 📅 Year-round | Song

Carolina Wren

Carolina wren
Photo by Ken Thomas

📍Eastern and Central U.S. | 📅 Year-round | Song

Eastern Bluebird

eastern bluebird
Photo by Dehaan

📍Eastern and Central U.S., Mexico + Central America | 📅 Year-round | Song

Eastern Phoebe

eastern phoebe
Photo by Andrew Cannizzaro

📍Eastern and Central U.S., Canada + Mexico | 📅 Year-round | Song

Eastern Screech-Owl

screech owl
Photo by Dick Daniels

📍Eastern and Central U.S. | 📅 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 U.S. | 📅 Year-round | Song

Great Blue Heron

great blue heron
Photo by Mike Baird

📍The U.S., 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 U.S., Southern Canada + Mexico | 📅 Year-round | Song

Northern Cardinal

northern cardinal
Photo by Dominic Sherony

📍Eastern + Central U.S., Southern Canada + Northern Mexico | 📅 Year-round | Song

Pileated Woodpecker

pileated woodpecker
Photo by Sheila Brown

📍Eastern + Western U.S., Canada | 📅 Year-round | Song

Red-Tailed Hawk

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

📍U.S., Canada, Mexico + the Caribbean | 📅 Year-round | Song

Red-Winged Blackbird

red-winged blackbird
Photo by Alan D. Wilson

📍U.S., Canada + Mexico | 📅 Year-round | Song

Song Sparrow

song sparrow
Photo by Becky Matsubara

📍U.S., Canada + Europe | 📅 Year-round | Song

Tufted Titmouse

tufted titmouse
Photo by @cmesker

📍Eastern + Central U.S. | 📅 Year-round | Song

Turkey Vulture

turkey vulture
Photo by Peter K. Burian

📍U.S., Southern Canada, Mexico + Central America | 📅 Year-round | Song

Wood Thrush

Wood thrush
Photo by Andy Reago + Chrissy McLarren

📍Eastern + Central U.S. + 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.