Ventures runs many day trips throughout the Carolinas every year, especially in the western portion of the region. From warblers and woodpeckers in the highest peaks and spruce fir forests around Mt. Mitchell to tanagers and cuckoos in the rich lowland woodlands of the South Carolina Piedmont, we find new and exciting birding destinations throughout our area. Some places are "must visit" spots from year to year but others are new to the birding world. Join us as we explore our own backyard in the Carolinas.




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Tryon & Polk County Explorer, NC

April 5, 2017

Leader: Simon Thompson


   We will start our day at FENCE, where we will walk the trails listening and looking for newly arrived spring/summer residents. Both Indigo Bunting and Common Yellowthroat should have already set up territories at the pond while the nearby thickets may still have a few late White-throated Sparrows. We'll then move along River Road where Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Yellow-throated Warblers nest before climbing into lovely cove forest habitat near Saluda. Black-and-white, Worm-eating and Black-throated Green Warblers should be back by now and we should be able to see them as the leaf canopy should only be starting to emerge. Join us for an enjoyable day exploring some of the varied habitats that make up Polk County, one of North Carolina's smallest, yet most diverse counties.

Salamanders & Birds 2

Pink Beds, Pisgah National Forest, NC

April 9, 2017

Leader: Emilie Travis


     This day trip will serve as an introduction to salamander natural history and identification. The day will be spent looking for salamanders and other amphibians at Pink Beds, a site managed by the US Forest Service and located within the Cradle of Forestry. This area will also be great for birding, so please bring binoculars if you have them! The trails here are relatively flat and easy, but can be wet and uneven in places, so bring comfortable, waterproof hiking footwear. Bring appropriate layers and rain gear as weather can be variable! If you need reading glasses, please remember those, as we will be closely studying these critters to help you learn safe and proper identification. All ages are welcome!

Birding the Green River Gamelands

April 19, 2017

Leader: Aaron Steed


   Along the Green River, Louisiana Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo and Yellow-throated Warbler should be plentiful and we will check the grassy powerline cuts and early successional habitats for Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat and Prairie Warbler. Swainson's & Kentucky Warblers can also be found in this area, often singing from territories right along the road.
   We will make our way all the way to Lake Adger, where we will look for Prothonotary Warbler, Wood Duck and Common Yellowthroat. We will also keep our eyes out for any migrating Osprey or Bald Eagle around the lake as well as the usual species of Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Fish Crow, Red-shouldered Hawk and others. We may even get lucky and see one of the few Common Mergansers that have bred in this area the past few years.

Stecoah Gap

Graham County, NC

April 25, 2017

Leader: Aaron Steed


   The neotropical migrant birds that breed in the southern Appalachian mountains arrive earlier than those going further north. They seem to overfly the Piedmont and the foothills and go straight to their mountain habitat where they set up their breeding territories. By this time in April they should be well established, singing heartily. We can expect many warbler species (including American Redstart, Black-and-white, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Cerulean & Golden-winged), Blue-headed, Yellow-throated & Red-eyed Vireos, Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, American Goldfinches, and more.

Blue Ridge Birding

April 27, 2017

Leader: Kevin Burke


   From the mixed hardwood, lower elevation forests, rich cove forest, to the high elevation spruce-fir forests around Mount Mitchell, the Blue Ridge Parkway traverses a variety of elevations and habitats. Spending time in each habitat will yield quite the variety of avian species, and as with most of our spring trips the focus will be on migrant warblers, vireos, tanagers and thrushes that breed along the parkway.

Spring Warbler Workshop Max Patch, Haywood Co., NC

May 3, 2017

Leader: Aaron Steed


   This being a Spring Warbler Workshop, our focus will be on finding as many different warbler species as possible, listening for differences in each species' song, and marveling at the diversity of colors and patterns on show. We should find 15-20 different species, such as: Ovenbird; Lousiana Waterthrush; Common Yellowthroat; Northern Parula; American Redstart; Golden-winged, Black-and-white, Hooded, Cape May, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Pine, Yellow-rumped, Yellow-throated, & Canada Warblers.

Grandfather Mountain

May 7, 2017

Leader: Clifton Avery


   Spring is a wonderful time to visit Grandfather, as the majority of spring and summer residents will be back on territory and actively singing. There should still be migrants passing through as well with Blackpoll, Cape May, Magnolia, and Bay-breasted Warblers all possible. Don't miss this excellent spring day trip to one of North Carolina's most well-known landmarks!

Golden-winged Warblers!

Little Yellow Mountain, NC
May 13, 2017

Leader: Clifton Avery


   Little Yellow Mountain Natural Area sits on a high-elevation ridge and is home to an assortment of species. We will focus on spotting Ruffed Grouse, Cooper's Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, American Woodcock, Acadian Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Veery, Brewster's Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Field Sparrow and many more.

Spring Big Day

A Thorough Birding Exploration Of WNC
May 14, 2017

Leaders: Kevin Burke
Aaron Steed


   Our day will begin before sunrise with the hope of finding nocturnal species such as Great Horned, Eastern Screech and Northern Saw-whet Owl, as well as Eastern Whip-poor-will. Once the sun comes up, we plan on visiting as many different habitats as possible to maximize our species total. Between cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Green River Gamelands, we will expect a whole host of warblers, vireos, thrushes, flycatchers and more. We'll check the broad Mills River Valley for open country species like Eastern Meadowlark, raptors, and any shorebirds that might still be passing through.

Bird Songs Workshop 1

"The Basics" Asheville, NC
June 4, 2017

Leader: Emilie Travis


   This is part 1 of a 2-part introductory field course to the world of bird vocalizations. We will learn the difference between songs & calls as well as many helpful tips for learning how to recognize the vocalizations of our most common bird species. Much of our morning will be spent listening and watching at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, identifying each singer in the spring chorus. Birding and pace will be slow & easy.

Birding the Balsams

Asheville, NC

June 14, 2017

Leader: Aaron Steed


   We will head south and visit various locations in the Blue Ridge, looking for some of the area's most exciting birds such as many species of warblers, vireos and several hard-to-identify Empidonax flycatchers. We will probably head as far as Heintooga Overlook, one of the most reliable areas for Red Crossbills in the last few years.
   Typical breeding birds of the higher elevations include Common Raven, Brown Creeper, Dark-eyed Junco, Winter Wren, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Northern Saw-whet Owl. Hermit Thrush and Red Crossbill can be found as well.

Wildflowers & Butterflies 1

Venture to the Higher Reaches of the Blue Ridge & Mt. Mitchell

June 21, 2017

Leader: Simon Thompson


   We'll drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mt. Mitchell, stopping at the Balsam Gap Overlook to hike a short distance out on the Big Butt Trail.
   We should see showy butterflies such as Eastern Tiger and Pipevine Swallowtails.
   Butterflies tend to "hilltop" later in the day and we will look for Red Admiral, Great Spangled Fritillary and Green Comma (although we may be a little early for this rare species) among many others.