Have you seen any of these birds on the Greenway? Please let us know where.
Brown Thrashers are found throughout the eastern US and live in North Carolina year-round. They belong to the same family as Northern Mockingbirds and Gray Catbirds, all of which mimic other songs and sounds. They can be found in similar habitat, thick shrubs and vines near the ground.
With reddish brown above and streaks below, these birds can sometimes be seen on the greenway path or in nearby shrubs. Listen for a series of songs that they copy from other bird species.
Chimney Swifts arrive in the spring and stay in our area all summer to breed. To spot a Chimney Swift on the greenway, you will need to find an open patch of sky, and look for it'92s small silhouette. Chimney Swifts cannot perch, and spend their time on the wing, or clinging to the insides of chimneys.
Look for a small bird with a cigar shaped body and long pointed wings. Listen for their high-pitched chattering as they feed in the air.
Red-winged Blackbirds occur throughout North America and are especially active and vocal along the greenway in spring. The males are glossy black with bright red and yellow shoulder patches, which they can puff up. Females are subdued with brown streaks and an orange tinge to their faces.
On the greenway, look for Red-winged Blackbirds in wetland areas such as cattail marshes, and listen for their call, “conk-la-lee”.
Like our other year round birds, the Eastern Phoebe becomes more visible and vocal in the spring. Listen for its call, “Phoebe”.
Phoebes sit upright on a branch and wag their tails. They are flycatchers, so watch for them taking flight, catching insects, and often returning to the same perch.
The Carolina Chickadee is found year round throughout the southeastern United States, and can be seen in all seasons on the greenway. Look for a small bird with a black cap and throat in the woods along the walking path. During spring and fall migration, listen for its “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call, which may alert you to migrating warblers, with which they often associate.
Carolina Chickadees frequently come to backyard feeders for seed and suet. They may use nesting boxes, such as the ones built for bluebirds, that have been placed in yards and farm fields.
Unlike other ducks which move down from the north in the winter, Mallards are here in western NC year round. Usually found in pairs, Mallards are recognized by the male’s iridescent green head. Females are brownish overall for camouflage and may have a brood of ducklings in the spring.
Mallards occur throughout North America and Eurasia. Look for Mallards in the creek or wetland areas off the greenway path.
The White-breasted Nuthatch is found year round in western North Carolina and throughout much of the United States. Look for it on the greenway on large tree trunks and branches, with its gray back, black cap, and large bill.
Although it is a small bird, it has a loud nasal honk and a unique style of foraging. Nuthatches have the ability to hang upside down and walk down tree trunks.
You can attract White-breasted Nuthatches to your feeders by providing seed and suet.
The American Robin is one of our most recognizable birds, occurring in forests as well as back yards. Robins are here in western NC year round, and feed on berries as well as worms.
Along the greenway, you may see a single bird, or large flocks in the Fall. Males and females have similar coloration, with males being slightly brighter. Robins have a dark head and back, and rusty “red” breast.
Tennessee Warblers pass through western North Carolina during spring and fall migration. In the fall they appear in larger numbers than in spring, and linger a little longer than other warbler species. Tennessee Warblers spend the winter in the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Warblers, in general, are tiny and active, making them challenging to see and identify. Look for a small, yellow-green bird with a pointy bill, and a streak through the eye. They may be seen foraging in the tall wildflowers such as those in the memorial garden near the kiosk.
Photo by Brian Plunkett
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been in our area since April, building nests and raising their young. By September they are actively feeding and preparing to migrate to South Florida and Central America for the winter.
Look for very small, hovering birds feeding on the nectar of the wildflowers on the greenway. You may notice the male’s brilliant red throat when it catches the sunlight.
You can attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to your yard by planting wildflowers such as Scarlet Bee Balm and Cardinal Flower. They will also visit feeders that provide sugar water. Mix one part table sugar with four parts water. Red dye is not necessary.
You may spot a Gray Catbird along the greenway after hearing its distinctive call, like the mew of a cat. Catbirds belong to the same family as mockingbirds and have the ability to mimic sounds.
Gray Catbirds breed in western NC in the summertime. Look for a dark gray bird with a black cap in the dense thickets. You can attract catbirds to your yard by planting native shrubs with berries.
Gray Catbirds are rare here in the winter, but a few have been spotted in our local parks during the annual Christmas Bird Count.
The Red-shouldered Hawk is a forest hawk which lives in much of the southeastern US year-round. It hunts small mammals, reptiles and amphibians in the woods around the waters edge.
The adult hawk is identified by its orange or peachy-colored breast and strongly banded tail. It also has red shoulder patches which can sometimes be visible when the bird is resting or in flight.
Listen for the Red-shouldered Hawk calling while at rest or in flight, as it is a very vocal bird of prey.
A year-round resident to much of the eastern US, the Pileated Woodpecker is our largest woodpecker in the area. Listen for it calling or pecking on large trees.
Pileated Woodpeckers are about the size of crows, with black and white plumage and a striking red crest.
These woodpeckers are cavity nesters and excavate holes in large dead trees. For this reason, dead trees are often left on the greenway to provide sources of food and nest cavities.
Indigo Buntings are returning to the greenway from wintering in Central and South America. They breed in our area and will migrate south again in the fall.
Breeding male Indigo Buntings are bright blue, and females and non-breeding males are brown. Like all blue birds, Indigo Buntings lack blue pigment. Their color comes from structures in their feathers which reflect and refract blue light.
Look for buntings in weedy or shrubby areas. Often male buntings will sing from the tallest perch of a tree.
The Eastern Towhee is a large, brightly colored sparrow that can be found on the greenway, usually scratching on the ground in the leaf litter.
At this time of year, the males sing “Drink your tea”, and at other times call “Tow - hee”.
Males are boldly patterned with black above, orange flanks and a white underbelly. Females have a warm brown color instead of the black.
Towhees are found on the greenway year-round but are especially vocal this time of year.
The bright red male Northern Cardinal is one of the most recognizable birds.
Cardinals don’t migrate and are therefore found on the greenway year-round.
Adult cardinals don’t molt their feathers so the males remain bright red all year. The females are a warm brown with red accents.
Look for cardinals foraging on the ground or perched in the trees, singing.