This weekend is for the birds

With the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count in full swing we’ve got birds on the mind this weekend. For birders, amateurs and experienced alike, it’s an especially good time to do the count: Migrants from northern climes are descending upon the state, particularly the coastal part, to wait out the winter months, adding even more variety to the state’s mix. And, as it turns out, it’s an especially good time for birding programs.


Northern pintails in flight. Photo courtesy N.C. State Parks

We mentioned the winter migrants flocking to the coast. It’s all very exciting, but who are these snowbirds? Where do they come from? What is it they like our coast? Those questions and more will be answered at Saturday’s “Winter Birding Basics” at Dismal Swamp State Park in the northeast corner of the state.

Logistics: Saturday, Dec. 28, 2 p.m. Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills. Free. More info: 252.771.6593

Saturday forecast: High of 58 with sunny skies.


Canada geese: a familiar sight at Umstead State Park. Photo courtesy N.C. State Parks

The program Friday morning at Umstead State Park in Raleigh is called “Birding for the Young,” but we’re guessing mom and dad, grandma and grandad, will be able to learn a thing or two about the birds common to the Piedmont in winter. Minimum age is 5; there is no maximum.

Logistics: Friday, Dec. 27, 10:30 a.m. Umstead State Park, Raleigh. Free, but preregistration required, by calling 919.571.4170.

Saturday forecast: High of 51, mix of clouds and sunshine.


A peregrine falcon roosts at Chimney Rock State Park, not far from Sunday's Henderson County Christmas Bird Count.

Since we mentioned that the Christmas Bird Count is currently on, we would be remiss not to include at least one count for this weekend, and to let you know where you can find out about others. The one count this weekend in the mountains is Sunday in Henderson County. The way the count works is this: citizen scientists such as yourselves fan out over an area 15 miles in diameter and conduct an inventory of the birds they see. Aren’t that great at identifying birds? Not a problem, since each count will have plenty of experienced birders on hand who can help those of you earning your feathers.

Logistics: Sunday, Dec. 29. Contact organizer Wayne Forsythe for details and to be assigned a coverage area: 828.697.6628 or . To find out about other local Christmas Bird Counts, visit the Carolina Bird Club website.

Sunday forecast: High of 46, occasional rain.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below.

Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).


Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times
From the main page, click on “Calendars,” then Main Events.

Todd’s Calendar



Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.


Great Outdoor Provision Co.
Calendar includes three weekly events for each of its seven markets: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Search by market.

Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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