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Purple Finches Everywhere
by Curtis Smalling

Latest Update: November 5, 2014

Red Crossbills are still to be heard and seen at Bass Lake. Photo by Don Mullaney
Thanks to everyone for a great Wednesday walk series this year. Thanks especially to Valle Crucis Park for their commitment to keeping the park birdy and for their support of the walks. It is always great to spend time with friends and make new ones. So no Wednesday walks now until April. But get out there and see what around every week regardless.

This is shaping up to be a great winter finch year with lots of Purple Finches already around as well as lots of Pine Siskins overhead moving around most days. I had Red Crossbills at Bass Lake still (they were there most of the summer) and there are still American Goldfinches around as well.

We also had Rusty Blackbirds last week at Valle Crucis and this is our best time of year to see them. There are also a few Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and occasionally still some Common Grackles moving through.

Sparrows continue to be a highlight this time of year and yesterday I had my first Fox Sparrow of the year at Meat Camp. White-crowned, White-throated, Swamp, Chipping, Savannah, Song, Field, and maybe a Vesper should all still be found for a couple more weeks, then numbers will start to drop off.

Waterfowl numbers are also increasing with Wood Duck, American Coot, Ring-necked Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Mallards, Canada Goose, Hooded Mergansers, and others seen this week on area ponds and lakes.

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

I had my first Fox Sparrow at Meat Camp yesterday. Photo by Amy Cooke

Hooded Mergansers were at Price Lake late last week. Photo by Don Mulaneyy

Purple Finches are common right now. Dwayne Martin has had lots at Stephens Park in Hickory.