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Late summer birds
by Curtis Smalling

Latest Update: August 13, 2014

It won;t be long until Chimney Swifts are arriving in big numbers. Photo by Don Mullaney
We will have our regular walk this Wednesday August 13th at Valle Crucis Community Park. Start time 8:30 bring binos and a field guide.

Summer is winding down from the bird perspective with molting and fattening up the order of the day. Last week at Valle Crucis we had Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Black-and white Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and Indigo Buntings. Our Solitary Sandpiper is still on the pond, and Belted Kingfisher, red-tailed and Cooper's Hawks, and some others made an appearance.

We had a nice first county record for Avery County this weekend in the rain when a Forster's Tern showed up at Linville Land Harbor for the day. Laughing Gulls are at Lake Hickory and our only county records for Black Tern are from this time of year. So be on the look out for some interesting late season migrants.

Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is seeking volunteers to help with the HMANA hawkcount again this year. Whether you are a seasoned veteran at the hawkwatch or a newbie, everyone is welcome to participate. The more eyes on sky the better!! We are hosting our annual Hawkwatch orientation twice on August 27th, at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at the Top Shop Visitor's Center near the count site. During the training we will discuss logistics of participation in this year's count and go over some basic hawk I.D. tips, counting techniques, and educational resources. Hopefully everyone will be on the same page when we begin the count on September 1st!! We are trying to cover the count every day, and we still have some days weekly that need coverage. Please e-mail Lesley Platek, our volunteer coordinator, at if you are interested in participating. If you have count related questions feel free to shoot me an e-mail. Hope you will consider joining us at orientation and at the count this year.

For more information on birds in the High Country call the Watauga Birding Hotline at 828-265-0198. Also visit, and visit the Audubon North Carolina blog at and the High Country Audubon website at

Big flocks of Red-winged Blackbird Females and young are starting to assemble in area fields and wetlands. Photo by Don Mullaney

Red Crossbills were heard and seen at Bass Lake last week so be on the look and listen for these guys. Photo by Don Mullaney

There will be young American Goldfinches leaving the nest soon so be on the lookout for our last nester. Photo by Don Mullaney