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Birding in the Great Smoky Mountains

Mike Blevins photo

I was a real hotshot (in my own mind!) when I started birdwatching over 30 years ago. I took vacations to look at birds; pointed out species ad nauseam to friends and family; and became laser focused on my life list count. more

Mountain Explorer

When most people think of shorebirds they think of, well, shores and sleek fast flying wind birds that migrate in flocks and forage in groups. The mostly solitary, chunky, forest dwelling woodcock doesn’t seem to fit. more

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By Lacey Raper

A variety of activities are scheduled for April in the national park. more

Blog

It’s estimated that only 30,000 wild turkeys, Meleagris gallopavo, were left in North America by the early 1900s. European settlers regarded wild turkeys as a walking feast and they were hunted wherever they were encountered. more

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Indigo bunting

Holly Kays photo

It was only 8 a.m. when I parked my car in a dewy meadow near Franklin, North Carolina, but the bird banding crew I was meeting had already been at work for hours. more

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Rankin Bottoms

Photo special to Smoky Mountain Livin

About an hour’s drive from Waynesville, North Carolina, and you’ll be up to your ankles in mud, swatting mosquitoes and listening to cicadas hum from the willows and cottonwood trees of Rankin Bottoms Wildlife Management Area. more

Mountain Explorer

Louisiana waterthrush

Don Hendershot

The Louisiana waterthrush is one of — if not the — first wood warblers to return to nesting grounds in the Southern Appalachians. If you hear his song streamside, it’s worth your effort to seek the little songster out and watch him. more

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Holly Kays

As the days get warmer and longer, I find myself thinking about childhood and the periscope I once campaigned so diligently for my father to build me. more

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Seven Islands State Birding Park photo

With spring underway, it’s time to talk about the birds and the bees—and Seven Islands State Birding Park, Tennessee’s newest state park and its first dedicated to birding. more

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Sandhill Cranes

iStock/stuckreed Photo

The dead of winter may not seem like the best time to attend an outdoor performance. However, for those willing to brave the January chill, the stars of the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge promise one spectacular show. more

Mountain Explorer

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U.S. Geological Survey/Photo by Dennis Demcheck

Owls have had plenty of time to get under our skin; fossil records date back 60 million years and Paleolithic era drawings of owls on cave walls in France represent some of the earliest recognizable avian drawings in the world. more

Mountain Explorer

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Warren Beilenberg photo

For birders of all stripes, the Christmas Bird Count is as much a part of the holiday season as unwrapping presents on December 25. The diverse landscapes of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park make the season even more special for birders. more

Mountain Explorer

Like a hawk

Manjith Kainickara photo

Each September, the skies over Southern Appalachia set the stage for one of nature’s most beautiful and spectacular dances—the migration of the raptors. more

Mountain Explorer

Dyed Easter eggs are no match for the painted eggs on exhibit at the new C.E. Blevins Avian Learning Center at Chattanooga’s Reflection Riding Arboretum. Thirty bird nests hold eggs so realistic you’d never guess these replicas were made from clay. more

Departments

As the night skies fill with neotropical migrants on their way north to nesting grounds in the upper reaches of North America, birders have a fleeting chance to see and hear these special songbirds. more

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Golden winged warbler

­Mark Peck photo

The National Audubon Society recently released a study examining the potential effect of climate change on bird species in the continental United States and Canada, and the prognosis doesn’t look good. more

Departments

It’s June, spring migration has passed us by and some jaded birders are putting away their binoculars and field guides, getting out their fly rods and golf clubs, content to wait until September. more

Mountain Explorer

Couples are said to coo to one another or be lovely dovey, but have you ever wondered where amorous avian references come from? Doves have been symbols of deep and abiding love since there have been symbols. more

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Northern Cardinal

Judy Lundquist photo

My first foray into bird feeding began with a glimpse of an American goldfinch in the trees in my backyard. On my next visit to the supermarket, I spotted a “finch sock,” a long mesh bag full of thistle seed, designed especially for finches. more

Features

Fall migration has begun. Tens of millions of songbirds, raptors and shorebirds that nested across North America are returning to their wintering grounds in Central and South America. The Appalachians offer many opportunities to witness this odyssey. more

Mountain Explorer

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    Wolfgang Wander/Creative Commons

    Downy woodpecker.