Short-eared Owls and Winter Residents

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Sunday January 27

1:00 PM  –  7:30 PM

Guide: Keith Watson
Fees: $20 Current GSMA members / $45 New or renewing buckeye level members / $0 Hemlock members

Location: Cades Cove Orientation Shelter - Located at the entrance of Cades Cove one-way Loop Road - Cades Cove, Tennessee
Winter birding in Cades Cove can be a real treat, especially in the later hours of the day when a wide variety of avian species can be heard and observed in this naturally rich valley of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Spotting and identifying raptors will be the main focus of the event, but we're beginning our adventure early enough in the day to explore some of the recently restored grasslands for sparrows and other wintering species at several key locations in the Cove.
Our adventure begins with a short orientation and carpool arrangement. Then, we'll take a short walk to the horse pasture while scanning the fields and wood edges for Wild Turkey, Red-shouldered Hawks, blackbirds and hopefully, American Pipits.
At Sparks Lane, we will try to roust wintering sparrow species and look for waterfowl at the retention ponds. After stopping at the Burchfield cemetery location for another observation opportunity, we'll head to Hyatt Lane where we'll likely see or hear raptors on the hunt. Listen carefully and we may hear the American Woodcock "peenting" on their breeding grounds. This will be a great way to experience Cades Cove in a different light.
*Carpooling will be necessary to reduce crowding on Cades Cove Loop Road.
Mileage: 2 miles maximum

Activity Rating: Easy to moderate - Much of our observations will be done close to our vehicles.  

What to bring: In addition to plenty of water, an appropriate amount of food for your comfort, comfortable walking shoes and your favorite field guide, we recommend that you bring binoculars, something to take notes with, and dress in layers with hats and gloves, bring along a backpack and rain gear. A personal first-aid kit and trekking poles may be helpful as well.

About our guide: Keith Watson, a native to Sevier County, has over 35 years of national (coast to coast) birding experience, including East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains. He began birding as a conservationist in the mid-1970’s in Knoxville, TN as a student at the University of Tennessee. While working in several national park units such as Shenandoah National Park, Virgin Islands National Park and more. During that time, Keith had the support of National Park Service management to promote and coordinate bird conservation and partnerships and developed an Avian Conservation Implementation Plan for each national park unit in the southeastern region of the NPS (57). Currently, Keith is leading bird tours for local organizations including, the Great Smoky Mountains Association, Smoky Mountain Outdoors, Buckhorn Inn, the City of Gatlinburg and Wilderness Wildlife Week. Together with fellow birders, he has documented birds never before reported for Sevier County, TN. 

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Questions about joining this event? Call 865.436.7318 extension 349 or email Dana Murphy.