By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
Did you know that we are part of the official North Carolina Birding Trail and actually have six trails featured in North Carolina’s birding guidebook? The “North Carolina Birding Trail: Mountain Trail Guide” (2009) lists Mingo Falls, Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Oconaluftee Indian Village Botanical Garden, Oconaluftee Island Park, the Riverwalk at Riverbend and Ferguson Fields/Kituwah Farm as official bird watching locations. The Qualla Boundary is filled with varieties of migrating and non-migrating birds. Birds of every shape, size and song.
There are three recognized birding trails in North Carolina-mountains, piedmont and coastal. North Carolina is home to more than 440 bird species, according to the guide. In addition to the migrating waterfowl that are common at the Island Park, variations on woodpeckers, warblers and turkeys can be seen throughout the Boundary. I recently spotted a visiting bald eagle in the Big Cove area and several vultures in the Wolftown community.
Birding is an international pastime with millions of enthusiasts. Famous birdwatchers include Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Jimmy Carter (www.backyardbrevard.com). The hobby is an inexpensive one or at least you can determine how expensive you wish to make it. Many people travel the world in search of particular birds. Some set up a feeding station or bird house in their backyards and enjoy from their porches. It is a relaxing way to commune with nature. It is an enjoyable way to spend time with friends and family. Birding is a healthy activity as it gets you outdoors and moving to track down the different varieties and species of birds.
While birdwatching is a great year-round activity, it is especially satisfying in the spring of the year. Searching out different varieties of birds as the trees and vegetation begin to green up allows us to enjoy all that nature has to offer. Whether you are a visitor to the area or a resident, birding is an activity that will provide hours, and potentially days, of fun for members of the family at any age. If you would like more information on birding in the Cherokee area, pick up a copy of the Mountain Trail guide or go to www.ncbirdingtrail.org.