Tennessee in Migration: May 19th-29th, 2013

Published by Mike Nelson (madbirder AT surfbirder.com)

Participants: Mike Nelson + two


East Tennessee has an abundance of different habitats, and our 10-day tour enabled us to pick up many Neotropical migrants and breeding residents that were back from warmer southern climes during the winter. The weather held out in most cases, with a bit of afternoon rain on a few occasions, which was fine, as we were driving at the time so it caused little interruption with our birding. Having a small group gave us flexibility when we had covered many of the species early on in the trip, which allowed us to hit a few spots we hadn’t planned on in the beginning. Being based out of one hotel was also nice, so there was no packing and unpacking each night. Everyone arrived on the 19th and we were ready to go the next day.

Day 1, May 20th. Birding around Knoxville

We started out with one of the local migrant traps, picking up some of the common species like Red-eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Grey Catbird, Eastern Towhee and Brown Thrasher. We encountered some good Warblers, with Cape May and Magnolia being the two stand-outs.

After lunch we headed to a local park, where the pine forest holds several species we were looking for, including Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pine Warbler, Orchard Oriole, and Chipping Sparrow. Here we also had Great Crested Flycatcher, and a Blue-grey Gnatcatcher building a nest. We enjoyed watching several Western Ospreys on their nests as well as the Great Blue Heron colony, but the Belted Kingfisher we saw only gave us passing views, as it flew out of sight.

After dinner we headed out to a spot to check for some owls and we birded till it got dark finding a close Prairie Warbler. Where we had stopped to enjoy this bird we saw two Common Nighthawks flying over the woods in the dusk light. We moved round into our position as it became darker and listened out for our targets. Once it was dark we began hearing the constant song of Chuck-wills-widow but despite some playback it never emerged from its cedar wood hiding place. We tried playback for Northern Barred Owl but go no response.

Day 2, May 21st. Birding Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Today we drove up into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we walked a trail amid some rhododendron forest mixed with hemlock, pine, and deciduous forest. The damp, muggy air was filled with the sound of breeding warblers, but our main target began calling only 300 meters up the trail. We soon had our first of six Swainson’s Warblers close by in some rhododendron. The similar sounding Louisiana Waterthrush was coaxed out from another thicket, and in another grove of rhododendron and hemlock we found our first Acadian Flycatcher. It was also along here that we found a Carolina Wren with chicks and a gorgeous Pileated Woodpecker boring into a dead snag after some grubs.

Worm-eating Warbler, Wood Thrush, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Hooded Warbler were all found along the first part of the trail, with the Black-throated Green Warbler singing in a bough just above us for some great views.

We then hit a small trail into the forest, where we found more Hooded Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher, as well as Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers plus Brown Creeper. Scarlet Tanager continued to sing from high above us, and the fluted whistles of Wood Thrush accompanied us from time to time. There were few people out here today, and we had the place to ourselves for most of our hike.

From here we headed up to Cades Cove to have a picnic lunch. Then we drove the loop road, which afforded us looks at Wild Turkey and great close views of Yellow-throated Warbler near one of the old churches. Several white-tailed deer were spotted, and the musical notes of an Eastern Meadowlark echoed across the grassy fields. Blue-headed Vireo sang from a stand of pine behind us on one occasion, but it refused to show itself.

Near the end we came up to a bear jam, a traffic jam for bears, and we were treated to the sight of a sow and her three cubs. Everyone with a camera was out, and one ranger was trying to keep the traffic moving, while keeping all the avid photographers at a good distance. The bear ignored us, while her three cubs frolicked around her and insects buzzed at her ears. Having had satisfying looks at her, we moved on and continued our drive through the park. Sadly, afternoon rain kept us from trying for Eastern Whip-poor-will, but we had other chances to come back.

Day 3, May 22nd. Birding Cove Lake State Park and Foothills Parkway

We drove north today to Cove Lake State Park, where we first checked the slopes overlooking the lake on Cross Mountain for some birds in the secondary and emergent forest growing up here. Our first target was heard almost as soon as we got there in the buzzy song of Golden-winged Warbler. The warbler was soon accompanied by a close American Redstart in his black-and-orange finery, showing quite smartly in a tree close to us. Yellow-breasted Chats churred and rumbled from the thick foliage near the road, and the occasional glimpse was had up the slope, when one would come out to the edge of a branch to sing.

Another less common warbler, a lovely Cerulean Warbler, began to sing from behind us, and we had great looks at this bird too. Scarlet Tanagers could be seen and heard regularly as we began to walk the track, and the rising song of an Ovenbird emanated from the steep slope below us. Our next find was a Kentucky Warbler, with its robber mask skulking through the low-lying brush to have a look at us, before crossing the road like a yellow dart and popping up in some brambles to inspect these intruders in his neck of the woods. The bright red blaze from a couple of male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks gave their position away, as they foraged for food in a close-by tree. The Yellow-billed Cuckoo, though, didn’t present us with any looks and never showed at all.

Having picked up some great birds, we headed down to the lake to look for some more species. No sooner had we walked the first section of the pathway that we heard a Prothonotary Warbler singing from a dead snag. It showed really well and moved about us while continuing its song. Grey Catbirds and Brown Thrashers mumbled song and whistles from the shrubbery next to the lake, while Red-winged Blackbirds took prominent perches on the dead trees in the flooded forest. A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks screamed at each other in the distance, showing us nice flight views.

We continued along a trail into the woods, where we could hear Wood Thrush and saw a Common Yellowthroat. Then we took the trail that leads out to the beaver dam and along the way stopped to check the flooded forest again. In the cedars we found several Wood Thrushes and one Grey-cheeked Thrush, which was nice to find on its migration north. Little else was discovered out here, but a Louisiana Waterthrush along the dirt path on the way back was a nice touch. We then continued our circuit round the park, picking up Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-throated Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Hooded Warbler, and Grey Catbird.

After a nice picnic lunch we walked back to the flooded forest but didn’t pick up anything we hadn’t seen already. But we did hear the distant call of a Red-headed Woodpecker, which we could lure no closer, however, and only heard it that once.

After an afternoon rest and some dinner we headed up onto Foothills Parkway for the night show. We drove up to Look Rock to see if we could find Ruffed Grouse, but without any luck. Once back in the parking lot we were getting ready for the darkness to settle in, when one of our participants called out that he had seen something land in a close-by pine. As it was already rather dark we couldn’t make out any details, but with my torch in hand I shone the beam into the trees and got the eyeshine reflecting back at me of a Ruffed Grouse. It perched absolutely still, while we had a good look at it and then left it to its roost for the night.

As darkness was almost upon us we began to hear Chuck-will’s-widow from the valley below, which was soon followed by the more rapid song of Eastern Whip-poor-will down the road. We proceeded until we were directly opposite the song, and I recorded it and played it back. Soon enough the bird flew over our heads and did a circle, before landing in a pine hanging over the road. Here it began its song, pumping its whole body, while we watched in the torch light. Satisfied with some great looks we left it to sing away into the night and headed home for a good night’s rest.

Day 4, May 23rd. Birding the Cherohala Skyway and Chota Wildlife Refuge

We began our drive at 6:30am for the Cherohala Skyway, getting there around 8:00am to the first overlook. It was still a bit misty, but we managed to pull out some great birds, with scope views of Blue Grosbeak and Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and behind us in the pines we could hear a Pine Warbler singing. We continued up to our next spot, which was a flooded forest, where we came to look for Red-headed Woodpecker. Our first bird, though, was a very vocal Louisiana Waterthrush, singing from the water’s edge but out of view. One of our group found our first Red-headed Woodpecker, sitting atop a dead snag, and for the next thirty minutes we had great looks at several birds circling the trees around us. We also had American Goldfinch, a fly-by of Pileated Woodpecker, a perched Great Crested Flycatcher, and in the woods behind us an Eastern Wood Pewee singing “pee-a-wee…….pewee”, but it remained hidden back in the dense deciduous forest.

From here we continued driving up higher and higher, with a few stops along the way to enjoy the amazing scenery. On our first stop we found a pair of Hooded Warblers, while we surveyed the rolling forest as it disappeared into the distance in constant waves of green. Our second stop was not as fruitful, as there were already people about. So we abandoned the thought of walking the trail here and moved onto the next spot, which turned out to be great. Here the slope dropped considerably below our vantage point, and we could see down into the forest. A close Chestnut-sided Warbler and Blackburnian Warbler provided amazing flashes of color from the trees right below us, as they chased each other around.

Our next spot was amongst our first rhododendrons and hemlocks. We could hear many Least Flycatchers when we arrived, and soon had one we could see in the thick vegetation around us. GreyCatbirds and Veery sang and called from the bushes near us, and to our surprise the loud call of Northern Barred Owl echoed from the forest behind us. We managed to track down the culprit and got some brief views of the bird, as it moved back into the forest, from where it continued to call for some time. Here we also tracked down a Veery, and a Canada Warbler that wouldn’t show itself.

Frustrated with the Canada Warbler, we moved to a different area of rhododendron and found a much more obliging bird that showed well, as it moved through the brush and stopped to sing from time to time. We also had great looks at a Black-throated Blue Warbler that sat in a birch just above us and sang it buzzy song.

From here we continued up to Hooper Bald, across the state line into North Carolina. As we walked the trail we came across more Least Flycatchers and a Blue-headed Vireo, which came into the birches above us. Then our attention was drawn to a close-by Hairy Woodpecker. Veery continued to call from the slopes below as we made our way up and out onto the bald. The grassy areas and shrubs harbored Grey Catbird and Chestnut-sided Warbler, as Chimney Swift whistled over our heads. An Indigo Bunting added a splash of color to the greenery. But now it was getting time for some lunch, and we headed back to the parking area to find a nice table overlooking the fantastic scenery. During lunch a close, singing Eastern Towhee entertained us.

After lunch we moved on to Huckleberry Knob, where we walked the trails up to the first and second balds, picking up more Chestnut-sided Warbler and Indigo Bunting, before we found the spot for our main target, Hermit Thrush. This is the furthest south one of them has established its territory, and this bird has been here for four years. There may be territories further south by now, but I’ve not found any reports on that. The bird showed up soon, followed by a Veery, and it was nice to be able to compare them side by side. Once we’d all had great looks at this bird, we hiked back to the car and began the slow drive back, stopping at Tellico Beach for some ice cream and milkshakes.

Our next destination was the Chota Wildlife Refuge. Once there, we drove to the fields on the far side, where we found another Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and walking the ponds we saw a pair of nesting Eastern Phoebe and a pair of Orchard Orioles. A Great Blue Heron took flight from the reeds there, and a black rat snake was also found, sunning itself in the grass. A huge adult Bald Eagle alighted a tree overlooking the lake, but as soon as it saw us it flew off, so not everyone got a look at the bird. We pursued it down the river, but to no avail. It had moved somewhere out of sight.

We made our way to the end of the reserve and walked out to the Cherokee Indian Memorial, picking up Prairie Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Yellowthroat, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, and a pair of Wood Ducks out on the water, hiding in the edge vegetation.

Back at the parking lot it was now a waiting game for darkness. We ate some dinner and waited for the night to settle in. Eventually the sun settled below the horizon, and the first Chuck-will’s-widow began to sing. Several birds moved close in the pine forest, before we lured one out over the parking area and were able to watch it in flight. It landed close by on a pine, where we could spotlight it, but as soon as the light hit it the bird knew that the game was up and moved to another spot. We listened for a while as the birds sang around us, before we headed home for some well-earned rest.

Day 5, May 24th. Birding the Oak Ridge area, North Boundary Trails, Eagle Bend Fish Hatchery

Today we headed out to the Oak Ridge area to bird a few spots, our first being one where I know that Blue-winged Warbler breeds. Once we had parked, we hiked in about a hundred meters before I found the spot I wanted and tried some playback from a bird I’d recorded here. Soon enough the male showed up with a glowing yellow body and steel-blue wings. His buzzy song echoed around, while we also watched close Great Crested Flycatcher, Prairie Warbler, and Indigo Bunting.

Having enjoyed this bird really well, we left for our next spot along North Boundary Trail. The open areas yielded little apart from Common Yellowthroat, but farther into the woods we began to pick up some good birds. Acadian Flycatchers sang next to the river, while overhead in a tulip poplar we first heard, then saw a nice male Cerulean Warbler. This was followed by good looks at Northern Parula. A rather skulking Kentucky Warbler didn’t show so nicely, but its boisterous song continued from the brush long after we were gone.
Near a stand of pine I heard a Summer Tanager, and with a recording I made of it I played it in, and we had some fabulous looks as it sang from a tree close to hand. The warbler theme continued as we made our way back along this wooded trail in the form of a singing first spring male American Redstart. Red-eyed Vireos sang from the upper boughs of the canopy hidden from view, with only their sporadic voices letting us know they were there.

We had lunch at a really nice Mexican restaurant and there picked up the daily ration of House Sparrow and Common Starling, before we made our way to Clinton and the Eagle Bend Fish Hatchery. The hatching ponds here are good for migrant shorebirds and the open fields for grassland species. We began walking the tree line in hopes of some warblers, but our first stop was for a pair of Least Sandpipers in one of the empty hatching ponds. We were surrounded by the more common species like Tree, Barn, and American Cliff Swallows as well as some circling Purple Martins, and Red-winged Blackbirds amid the grasses, foraging with Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Along the tree line we watched a pair of Eastern Meadowlarks singing, while along the banks of some of the other ponds we found several Spotted Sandpipers in their polka-dot vests ready for breeding. At the back of the grounds we saw several empty hatching ponds, and in one we found several Killdeer and four Semipalmated Plovers, which was a nice find. Some American Goldfinches added a splash of color, while a slightly blue and brown Blue Grosbeak did a less than perfect show in some trees.

As we continued round to the top of the highest pond, we flushed a female Bobolink, which was only seen in flight as she disappeared into the distance. We made our way across the edge of the top pond, picking up several Canada Geese, of which we’d already seen quite a few. At the end we found the familiar, buzzy “fitz-bew” song of a Willow Flycatcher. We located it in a tree before it dropped down to some bushes and began to hawk for insects along a fence.

Having had quite a few long days, it was nice to have an early day so we could rest from the afternoon heat. We finished up here and headed home. We had a relaxed afternoon and a pleasant dinner to end the day.

Day 6, May 25th. Birding high elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Today we headed for some higher ground, this time driving up into the Smokies at their highest point. We began birding along a cold Alum Cave Trail, where we saw little but some Golden-crowned Kinglets, before we retreated to the car to avoid the crowds. Once out in the sunlight it warmed up considerably, and before long we were up at Newfound Gap. We started by checking the far end of the parking lot in some pines, where we found a pair of Pine Siskins.

We continued along the forest trail here and found Black-throated Blue Warbler as well as Black-throated Green Warbler. Several Veery called from the shrubs beside the trail, and a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches did their kazoo songs, while foraging upside down along tree branches.

Back at the parking lot we checked the spruces along the wall and found a very responsive Golden-crowned Kinglet, with his orange-red crest raised. He was attracting the attention of a female, which he promptly mated with. A female Blackburnian Warbler was seen among the pine boughs, but she didn’t hang around long, as the two-note calls of several Black-capped Chickadees alerted us to their presence here. This is their most southerly extent in range and only up here at this altitude. Beyond the bathrooms we hiked a short trail along the ridge, here finding a nice, vocal Blue-headed Vireo as well as more Golden-crowned Kinglet, Dark-eyed Junco, and a new mammal for the trip, two red squirrels.

From Newfound Gap we made our way up the Clingmans Dome Road to the top, where we parked. The walk was nice and sunny with spectacular views. We also picked up Winter Wren, Chestnut-sided Warbler,and many Pine Siskins. We hiked along the paved pathway leading to the tower on the summit. It having rained heavily the day before, we had excellent views after a cold front had moved through and had cleaned the air. We had 150-mile visibility from the top and could see distant Mt. Mitchell. Along the hike we had eye level views of Myrtle Warbler, our 26th warbler of the trip – another high altitude warbler that makes its southernmost outpost here at the top of this mountain. We were buzzed by several Chimney Swifts, while the drone of Dark-eyed Juncos rattled away below us as they picked through the dead firs that lay scattered and bleached white like bones of once great trees. The sprigs of new growth and life rebuilding lay a green carpet before us, which hopefully will one day show how the firs have rebounded.

We spent the late afternoon in the town of Gatlinburg, taking in the sights and sounds of this tourist town. Then we enjoyed a nice dinner at the brewery, before heading home for the night after another great day of birding.

Day 7, May 26th. Birding the Sequatchie Valley

Today we made our way to some open country in the Sequatchie Valley to find some grassland species. Our first stop was next to a large agricultural hay field, where we listened for one of our targets. Soon enough I could make out the high-pitched cricket-like call of a Grasshopper Sparrow. With some playback I saw it pop out of its grassy abode and drop back down closer towards us. I could hear it calling, as it moved through the grass. Another brief spot of playback, and the bird popped out again, this time landing on a barbed wire fence, where it sat for some time, giving us some fantastic looks. It soon dropped down to collect grit from the side of the road, before flying up onto the phone wires to sing out across the grassy field that was its domain. Behind us a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers were busy working on their nest cavity, providing us with great views of this stunning woodpecker.

We then made our way farther down the road listening for birds, until I heard a new warbler for us. Along a tree line of sycamore and tulip poplars I could make out the “sweet, sweet, sweet, I am so sweet” song of an American Yellow Warbler. Playback soon had this bird over our heads and into the brush next to the road, where we got some great looks at this bright warbler. This was our 27th and final new warbler of the trip.

While moving on from here I soon could hear the onomatopoeic song of Northern Bobwhite out in a distant field. We continued to hear it, though it wouldn’t come any closer. Brown Thrasher and Northern Mockingbird sang from the power lines, while Eastern Bluebirds searched intently in the grasses below for their next meal.

We patrolled the roads around Ninemile Crossroads, picking up Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, and finally another onomatopoeic bird in the form of a Dickcissel. Its “dick, dick, siss, siss, siss” song reached our ears from a bird perched on a wire. Soon we found that there were three around us, singing at different intervals. We all enjoyed some nice scope views of these birds, before we moved off to our next target.

It came soon after as we crept down the empty country roads out in this valley. The long, white-and-black tail of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher gave away the position of this bird. It remained seated on the wires, watching for insects, as we parked below it. We were treated to some great views of it. At one time it sallied out, fanning its tail, as it hawked for an insect, before alighting on the wires again right above us. Its salmon-pink sides were revealed as it preened under its wings – a real showy bird among the drabber Field and Grasshopper Sparrows and Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Then we continued down the road, once everybody had had good looks at the flycatcher. We finally drummed up a few Northern Bobwhites, although they didn’t show very well and we only managed a flight view as one crossed the road. We did much better by the main road, when we stopped next to a farm, where there was a large Purple Martin colony. We watched and listened to these deep-purple birds as they twittered and buzzed in song, while Tree and Barn Swallows came and went. A pair of Eastern Bluebirds was using one nest box, while another one was being patronized by a pair of Field Sparrows.

From here we made our way down to Standifer Gap Marsh where we located a close Sora which I flushed from the side of a small pond into some grasses where it was seen briefly before disappearing into the greenery. We made our way along the line of trees to the back of the marsh and took a gravel road up a ways till we could find a Virginia Rail which proved to be tough though it was calling close by we only saw the movement of some reed stalks.

After lunch we birded along Brainer Levee and despite the rising heat of the day we found a few species we didn't run into on the rest of the trip in a Northern Shoveler and an American Coot. We also had plenty of Great Blue Herons here and some Canada Geese.

Day 8, May 27th. Birding Roan Mountain

The previous afternoon’s rest was a means of saving our energy up for today, as we had a long day in store for us. We began early with a lengthy drive up into the north-eastern part of Tennessee to Roan Mountain. Our first stop after the long drive was at Carvers Gap. As soon as we were out of the car we were inundated by the song of Alder Flycatchers in the parking lot. Several were circling around in a patch of common alder, calling and chasing each other. Once we had taken in these birds we began our hike up to the top of Carvers Gap.

As we hiked we found several Dark-eyed Juncos and a Grey Catbird vocalizing in the stubby brush lining the trail. Once inside the conifer forest, we were inundated once more, this time with Golden-crowned Kinglets singing constantly. The short trail led out to the grassy bald at the top. From here we could take in the beautiful vistas of the surrounding mountains. All around us there were birds singing, and we could hear American Robin and more juncos. But the song of another bird up on the bald got our attention. It was somewhat familiar to a couple of us, but we couldn’t put a finger on it. I recorded the bird and found it singing on a large boulder up-slope in the open grassy area. Once it had finished singing it dropped down off the rock, and we couldn’t lure it out. So we hiked up through the ankle-high grass to the boulder to see what we could find. Once there we listened for a while, and I tried the playback I had made earlier. After a few minutes we heard the bird singing again, and I saw where it popped up on a smaller rock. It looked like a sparrow, but with the light behind it there wasn’t a good shot to ID it. It did sing again, which was good as I got a better recording. With the playback of this new recording I lured the bird onto the boulder again. This time, with the light hitting it right, the big white eyering was visible and gave away its ID as a Vesper Sparrow. We watched as it continued to sing, and it was soon joined by a second one on the same rock. Mystery solved, we enjoyed the bird for a while, before continuing to the top of the bald. From up here there was a stunning vista, accompanied by Eastern Towhee singing close by. Below us the haunting call of Hermit Thrush echoed out of the alder forest. Soon we decided to head back down and see what else we could find.

We began to walk along the road into North Carolina, where we could hear Grey Catbird singing from the roadside. A Canada Warbler sang from the alders across the road, and we soon lured it in and had some fantastic looks. In the trees above us we found a Chestnut-sided Warbler, and on the way back to the parking lot we picked up a glowing pair of American Goldfinches.

Next we tried the pine forest on the Tennessee side of the ridge, finding Winter Wren and Golden-crowned Kinglet, but it was fairly quiet in here. So we decided to drive up to explore the top of Roan Mountain. As we drove the loop at the top I picked up a warbler song, and once parked I recorded the song and played it back. This attracted a Myrtle Warbler, which sadly perched out of good visibility range and continued to sing from the firs that were predominant up here.

On our hike to the overlook, the damp fir forest was home to several birds, and we picked up another Myrtle Warbler, Brown Creeper, and Dark-eyed Juncos. Our next bird took some coaxing, as it had selected a rather thick stand of fir to sing in. Once recorded and played back it moved constantly, but with some time we managed to get enough of the bird in our sights to discover it was a Magnolia Warbler. We managed some nice looks at its bright yellow-and-black plumage. Satisfied, we moved on to the overlook, where we heard a Northern Raven and then watched as it glided down the slope away from us. Now hungry for lunch, we headed back for our picnic among the firs.

After lunch we birded the lower slopes on each side of the mountain. We started on the Tennessee side, where at our first stop we picked up Rose-breasted Grosbeak singing and an Eastern Wood Pewee. There were several Least Flycatchers singing here as well. On our continuing downward drive we pulled over once more to find several birds, including American Redstart, and we could hear Blue-headed Vireos singing in the trees around us. We also heard a wonderful Hermit Thrush and found it singing from a dead snag overlooking the valley below.

As we crossed over to the North Carolina side, we stopped along the way for Eastern Towhee at a spot where we had seen a Wild Turkey crossing the road. We heard Hairy Woodpecker and more Least Flycatchers on this side of the mountain. A stop at a local strawberry stall yielded some delicious fresh fruit, which was very refreshing. Now the long drive back awaited us, but we made it home while enjoying fond memories of a good day’s birding.

Day 9, May 28th. Birding Fort Loudon Dam and Kyker Bottoms Refuge

Today was a bit of a cleanup day. We started at Fort Loudon Dam to see if the Brown Pelican that had been seen here was still about, but sadly it was not. We did pick up some Black-crowned Night Herons and Great Blue Herons, along with many Double-crested Cormorants feeding in the outflow from the dam.

Then we birded some back roads near Greenback, picking up Eastern Meadowlark, Red-tailed Hawk, Mourning Dove, and finally our only Loggerhead Shrike, sitting on the wires overlooking the fields.

We also birded Kyker Bottoms Refuge for some open habitat birds, finding several Northern Bobwhite singing when we got there, but we had to struggle to flush them out. Field Sparrows were singing in the fields, and we made our way around to look for the nest boxes of Eastern Screech Owl, but several mist nets had been set up, which blocked our access to where we wanted to go. Disappointed, we looked around for who had set up the nets, but could find no one. So we made our way back to the car to head for lunch and for some time to let everyone pack for their flights the next day.

Day 10, May 29th. Departure

Overall this was a great trip with some fantastic scenery, and though we missed a few warblers we did manage a respectable 27 species of them. We did well with the thrushes, picking up six species in that family, and had great looks at both the tanagers we were expecting. Several unexpected species were found, like Least Sandpiper and Vesper Sparrow, but it’s always nice to have some write-ins.

Species Lists


Northern Bobwhite Colinus virginianus

Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo
Ruffed Grouse Bonasa umbellus


Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Wood Duck Aix sponsa
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata


Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Green Heron Butorides virescens
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias


Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus


Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Black Vulture Coragyp satratus

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis

American Kestrel Falco sparverius


Virginia Rail Rallus limicola
Sora Porzana carolina
American Coot Fulica americana


Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus

Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla


Rock Dove Columba livia
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura


Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus


Northern Barred Owl Strix varia


Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor
Chuck-will's-widow Antrostomus carolinensis
Eastern Whip-poor-will Antrostomus vociferus


Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris


Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon


Red-headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus


Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
Eastern Wood Pewee Contopus virens
Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens
Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii
Alder Flycatcher Empidonax alnorum
Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus
Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus

Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus

White-eyed Vireo Vireo griseus
Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons
Blue-headed Vireo Vireo solitarius
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus

Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
Northern Raven Corvus corax

Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum

Carolina Chickadee Poecile carolinensis
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor

Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Purple Martin Progne subis
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
American Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota

Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa

Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
Winter Wren Troglodytes hiemalis
House Wren Troglodytes aedon

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea

Brown-headed Nuthatch Sitta pusilla
Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis

Brown Creeper Certhia americana

Grey Catbird Dumetella carolinensis
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum

Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis
Veery Catharus fuscescens
Grey-cheeked Thrush Catharus minimus
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
American Robin Turdus migratorius

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Pine Siskin Serinus pinus
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus

Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla
Worm-eating Warbler Helmitheros vermivorum
Louisiana Waterthrush Parkesia motacilla
Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera
Blue-winged Warbler Vermivora cyanoptera
Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia
Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea
Swainson's Warbler Limnothlypis swainsonii
Kentucky Warbler Geothlypis formosa
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
Hooded Warbler Setophaga citrina
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
Cape May Warbler Setophaga tigrina
Cerulean Warbler Setophaga cerulea
Northern Parula Setophaga americana
Magnolia Warbler Setophaga magnolia
Blackburnian Warbler Setophaga fusca
American Yellow Warbler Setophaga aestiva
Chestnut-sided Warbler Setophaga pensylvanica
Black-throated Blue Warbler Setophaga caerulescens
Pine Warbler Setophaga pinus
Myrtle Warbler Setophaga coronata
Yellow-throated Warbler Setophaga dominica
Prairie Warbler Setophaga discolor
Black-throated Green Warbler Setopha gavirens
Canada Warbler Cardellina canadensis
Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens

Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula
Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna
Bobolink Dolichonyx oryzivorus

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
Grasshopper Sparrow Ammodramus savannarum
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
Field Sparrow Spizella pusilla
Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus
Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Summer Tanager Piranga rubra
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
Dickcissel Spiza americana
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Blue Grosbeak Passerina caerulea
Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea