Birding Basics Workshop - North Carolina

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Sunday May 19

8:00 AM  –  5:00 PM

Guide: Kevin Burke

Meeting Location: Oconaluftee Visitor Center - Administration building - Cherokee, Tennessee

Birding Basics will offer a comprehensive but brief look at the variety and depth of activities and opportunities associated with the world of birding! We’ll begin Birding Basics with a morning session of classroom instruction on how to go about birding anywhere, but especially here in the Great Smoky Mountains. We’ll cover how to choose appropriate tools for birding such as binoculars, spotting scopes, field guides, and apps for cellular devices, with demonstrations.

Then we will cover physical bird features important to species identification, how to separate birds groups by size, habitat, song, and behavior. We’ll go over how you can participate in recording your data in Cornell’s eBird website to provide information necessary to improve bird conservation efforts by agencies that use your data. This is often referred to as Citizen Science. Lastly, suggestions will be offered to help you participate in other agency and organization programs to enhance bird conservation through your Citizen Science efforts. 

Lunch is on your own from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

We will reconvene behind the visitor center to practice our tools and knowledge obtained in the morning as we walk along the Oconaluftee River Trail. If time permits, we might walk along Mingus Mill/Mingus Creek and Smokemont Loop Trails. 

Spring migration will be ongoing so there will plenty of birds to observe and hear! Over 110 species have been recording during April in the area including woodpeckers, flycatchers, over 20 species of warblers, vireos, swallows, and tanagers. We’ll look specifically for Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Blackburnian Warbler, Hooded and Kentucky Warblers, and Scarlet Tanager.

What to Bring: Sturdy shoes, binoculars, field guide(s), a notebook and enough food and water for your comfort. If you wish to participate in eBird, we recommend you download and create an account with the free eBird mobile app from your device "store" prior to the event kick-off. Don't worry, we'll help you from there!

About our Guide: Originally from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Kevin Burke, now resides in Hendersonville, North Carolina and leads trips in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park and beyond. Kevin has a degree in Resource Recreation and Tourism from the University of Idaho and honed his skills while teaching environmental education on the North Carolina coast. Birding is a lifelong journey for Kevin, and his passion for birding has given him the opportunity to bird in locations like Washington State’s San Juan Islands, the Southern Appalachians and around the world.