CRYSTAL COCKMAN COLUMN: A Stanly County youth bird hike

Published 3:53 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2022

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On a recent Saturday, Three Rivers Land Trust, with the support of the Stanly County Community Foundation, hosted a Youth Birding hike at Morrow Mountain State Park.

Crystal Cockman writes a column for The SNAP through the Three Rivers Land Trust.

The fall leaf color in the park was spectacular, as we hiked from the parking lot where the main park office and the history museum are located on the Backpacking Trail to its intersection with the Morrow Mountain Trail and back, approximately two miles.

Brian O’Shea, collections manager for ornithology for the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, joined us for this trip. Some of the birds we spotted while out included Ruby-crowned kinglet, Downy woodpecker, Tufted titmouse and Carolina Chickadee.

Although most neotropical migratory birds are easier seen in spring and early summertime, fall migration is another opportunity to see some of these species, as well.

Participants also saw deer and squirrels as we hiked through the woods.

Morrow Mountain State Park is a great place to spot wildlife of a variety of types, with its mature hardwood forests and river and stream habitats.

We crossed over three footbridges early on the hike, although with the dry summer and fall that we’ve had, there was very little water in these smaller streams.

Land managers at Morrow Mountain State Park have also begun implementing prescribed fire to help improve habitat at their park. As a result, there are more standing dead trees and snags for woodpeckers and other critters to use as nesting or roosting sites.

Although we didn’t see any on this Saturday, there are a number of red-headed woodpeckers that call Morrow Mountain State Park home, which rely heavily on these standing dead trees.

Thanks to the grant from the Stanly County Community Foundation, participants received a T-shirt as well to commemorate the event.

TRLT has planned another birding trip in December at Weymouth Woods in Southern Pines that will be open to the public, as well.

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