Cataloochee Guest Ranch's Great Birding Weekend May 9-11

Cataloochee Guest Ranch's Great Birding Weekend! 

  May 9-11, 2014.  Registration is open.

    (800)868-1401 or (828)926-1401 

Cataloochee Guest Ranch's Great Birding weekend celebrates the return of migrating  birds from their winter residences and provides an opportunity to watch them settle into their summer territory for breeding. 

The weekend is going to be full of hikes, presentations  and birding on foot and horseback. Featured Guides include Jeremy Hyman, Professor of Ornithology at Western Carolina University, who will share his birding knowledge and experiences with Song Sparrows.   Also, Lena Gallitano will represent the NC Birding Trail and share details about this great NC resource.  The Saturday night "birds and beer" social hour will be a fun evening to share stories from the weekend.

Come join the beauty of the mountains  and a weekend of Spring birding  with  Cataloochee's warm hospitality!


Help Brown-Headed Nuthatches - Place a Nestbox Today!

brown-headed nuthatch ©Ken Thomas
The North Carolina Audubon Bird-Friendly Communities Program
has an audacious goal to deploy 10,000 brown-headed nuthatch boxes by the end of 2015! The brown-headed nuthatch is a small bird - just under 4" long - and sounds just like a rubber ducky squeaky toy. A quintessential Southern bird, with a home range from Virginia to east Texas, the nuthatch lives in old-growth pine or just about anywhere it can get its most important food - pine seeds. 

Audubon, Partners in Flight, and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission consider the brown-headed nuthatch a responsibility species for North Carolina. No big surprise, but humans had a hand in their decline of 2.2% a year from 1966 to 1996. More recent data are encouraging - nuthatches increased 1% a year from 2001 to 2011 - and humans can keep nuthatches headed in the right direction.

There are two easy ways to provide a cozy little home for the nuthatch. First, any nest box design approved by the North American Bluebird Society will work very well for brown-headed nuthatches but it is important to make the opening smaller - ideally 1" in diameter. Placing a nestbox is the best way to help keep the trend for nuthatches increasing. Check here for more detailed information on building your own, or purchase a box from one of these retailers.

But the fun doesn't end once you've installed your nestbox! Register with the NC Audubon Society for updates, and report your observations so they can track the success of this diminutive nuthatch in our state.

Wanna see a brown-headed nuthach near you? Check out your nearby Birding Trail sites.


Birding for Science

nighttime surveys ©Scott Anderson
You don't have to be a scientist or researcher to participate in scientific studies! Even casual observations of the natural world can reveal species declines or previously unknown populations. The NC Birding Trail has a new page of opportunities for novice to advanced birders and birdwatchers to collect data that will help scientists better understand bird populations.

Some upcoming projects:

1. Rusty Blackbird Blitz (recent post) - visit NCBT sites or other locations during the month of March and record any sightings of Rusty Blackbirds in eBird.

2. Nightjar Surveys - Travel a pre-determined route at night, listening for chuck-will's-widow, eastern whip-poor-will, and common nighthawks. Don't be intimidated, there's plenty of resources to learn their calls!

3. NestWatch - Find and record the success or failure of nests in your neighborhood, or nearby park. Nests could be in a nestbox or not!

Stay tuned for other opportunities!


Three Weekends Left for the Rusty Blackbird Blitz!

female rusty blackbird ©Lloyd Spitalnik

What is the Rusty Blackbird Blitz? It is a project designed to understand population dynamics of a cryptic species that winters in North Carolina. It is an effort by the Rusty Blackbird Working Group that relies on birders and birdwatchers like you! Many NC Birding Trail sites see Rusty Blackbirds, but we

need folks like you to build a larger dataset of observations for the month of March!

All you need to do to participate is to:

1. Learn how to identify Rusty Blackbirds with this handy identification guide

2. Find areas where they might congregate. Either check the detailed protocol., or check out which Birding Trail Sites can have Rusty Blackbirds and add to the map!!!

3. Visit those areas anytime during March, and record any observations (or no observations) on eBird, making sure to record your "Observation Type" as "Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz".

See this document for more detailed information. If you want more information about the project, check out the main Rusty Blackbird Blitz website.

If you are looking for more opportunities to "Birdwatch for Science", check out our new webpage of opportunities!


Basic Bird ID Webinar: March 18

The USFWS National urban Bird Treaty Coordinator will be hosting a public free webinar on March 18th from 2-3:30pm (EST) to teach the basics of bird indentification. From the annoucement: 

Want to learn the basics of bird id and how to lead a bird walk? This webinar will describe how to find and recognize birds. From an urban setting to a park or wildlife refuge, attendees will learn the basics of bird ID and how to find birds in their preferred habitats. Attendees will also learn the key elements to of basic bird id including the behavior, field marks, and calls and songs. We will also cover the basic tools of the trade and how to use them with a group on a field trip to watch birds and discover the top five tips for leading a birdwalk with children.

By the end of this webinar attendees will be able to:

• list the basics used to ID birds,

• identify basic habitats of common birds,

• recite the tools commonly used for leading a bird walk,

• recite the top five tips for leading a birdwalk with children.


Presented By: Alicia F King, USFWS National Urban Bird Treaty Coordinator

To Register for the Webinar:

1. Go to:

2. Enter the webinar title in the search box

3. Scroll down to find your webinar

4. Click the Register button to the right

5. Enter your name, e-mail address and company

6. Click register

Once registered, you will receive an email from WebEx with instructions on how to join the webinar.