4 Helpful Tips for Birding in the Great Smoky Mountains
- November 15, 2018
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited park in the entire country, and it’s no wonder! Its exquisite beauty is found nowhere else, and while the park offers a great variety of scenery, it also provides an environment rich in native species. Over 60 types of birds live year-round within its wide mountain ranges. Even more stop in the Smokies during migration to forage for food. The list of birds that can be found here is always growing. Here are five great tips for Birders to enjoy these natural wonders!
1. Find the Perfect Spot
Cades Cove is a birding must. It is easily accessed with a drivable loop through the base of the land. On a typical day, the majority of visitors drive through for a quick look and then move along. However, there are multiple stops along the way where you can take short walks to a variety of trails. With its open fields, grasslands, and woodland edges, Cades Cove is sure to be a productive birding location. To learn more, check out these 6 stops along the Cades Cove loop.
2. Try These Apps
You came to the Great Smoky Mountains to get away from your smartphone! But since you have it nearby, you might as well use it to your full advantage. Birding is always better when you know what you’re looking for and there are loads of apps that help you do exactly that. There are field guide apps that even share with you the noises you might hear while you’re scouting. Birdseye pulls data straight from the eBird project and shows you recent maps, directions, and local birds near you.
3. Bring Some Binoculars
While any set of binoculars will keep your kids busy, a good set for a true birder will cost. With the birds you’ll see at Cades Cove though, they’ll be well worth the price. Spotting a bird isn’t nearly as fun if you can’t study its features. So make sure you pick a set that will give you that bright, crisp picture you’re looking for. Find some binoculars that suit your needs and your wallet. You’ll want to make sure they have great magnification and a wide frame of view.
4. Don’t Forget a Camera
Any longtime birder can tell you that their biggest regret is spotting a rare bird and not having a camera ready to snap a pic. With the natural beauty all around you, you’ll probably want to have one on you anyway. Even a smart phone will do the trick! Some birders choose to point their cameras straight through their binoculars. This way you not only have a record of your find, but you also don’t have to carry more equipment along for the ride. Keep steady, snap your pic, and crop out any signs of the binoculars themselves.
Birding is an extremely satisfying hobby. Checking off every bird on your list will be hard, but that’s exactly where the fun is. Once you’ve got a few photos, and spotted a rare bird or two, you’ll be wanting to get back out for more. If you’re taking a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, there is no better time to start. Before you visit, make sure that you are completely prepared and read up on what to pack.