Cowan's Ford Wildlife Refuge
Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 9:00AM
ncbtadmin in Greater Charlotte West, Mountain, Trail maps/information, Viewing platforms

Description

More than 200 species of birds have been documented at this 900+ acre county-owned wildlife refuge lying along the banks of the Catawba River. Other state and local agencies protect adjoining lands, preserving a total of more than 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat along both sides of the river. Public access to the wildlife refuge is limited to the entrance road and an observation stand overlooking two waterfowl impoundments, but birders will find a great variety of birds viewable year-round. In addition to the ponds, other habitat types on the refuge include an assortment of native grass fields, shrub areas, and both pine and mixed-hardwood forests. Spotting scopes are recommended for viewing from the parking area and observation platform. The courtship flight of the American Woodcock can be observed here each winter and Wild Turkey are also easily seen. Several unusual species have wintered on the refuge, including LeConte's Sparrow, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren and Virginia Rail. Waterfowl on the ponds in winter frequently include Hooded Merganser and Bufflehead. Bobolink are often observed in spring. Eastern Whip-poor-will, Great Horned Owl and Barred Owl can be heard in spring at dawn and dusk. Nesting Osprey can be observed during the breeding season, and in some years there are great numbers of Black and Turkey Vultures roosting on the power lines and towers. Also, the first Kirtland’s Warbler to be documented with photos in North Carolina was found here. Other special species found at Cowan's Ford Wildlife Refuge include Bald Eagle, nesting Brown-headed Nuthatch, Wood Thrush, Acadian Flycatcher, Common Yellowthroat, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Orchard Oriole, and a small population of Northern Bobwhite, which are more likely to be heard in spring than seen.

Species of Interest (Full Bird List)

Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, American Woodcock, Prairie Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, wintering waterfowl, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Great Horned Owl, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Wood Thrush, Acadian Flycatcher, Common Yellowthroat, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Orchard Oriole, and a small population of Northern Bobwhite, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead

Habitat

dry coniferous woodlands, oak forest & mixed hardwoods/pine, early successional, lake

Access and Parking

Cowan's Ford Wildlife Refuge is open daily from 7am to sunset. Public access to this site is limited to birding along the entrance road, and at the observation platform at the parking lot at the road's end.

Directions

From I-77 South, take Exit 23 (Huntersville). Turn right off of the exit on Gilead Road. (From I-77 North turn left off the exit). Proceed west for 5 miles. At the stop sign, turn left on Beatties Ford Road and proceed south for 3.5 miles. Turn right on Neck Road and continue for 4 miles until the road bears left and turns to gravel. Continue 0.5 miles to the refuge entrance.

Google Directions

Delorme Gazetteer Page

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Bird List
Eastern Whip-poor-will as a species that can be heard in spring at dawn and dusk, as well as Great Horned Owl and Barred Owl
Article originally appeared on NC Birding Trail (http://ncbirdingtrail.org/).
See website for complete article licensing information.