The bright blue wings and red breast of the male bluebirds make them instantly recognizable. Female bluebirds are more gray and lay pale blue eggs. / Special to WNC Parent
While warmer weather and longer days are a sure sign of spring returning, to the close observer there is a special sound that signals the changing seasons: birdsongs. The Southern Appalachians are home to a wide variety of birds, from the bright red Northern Cardinal to the curious, black-and-white-faced Carolina Chickadee.
A favorite among birdwatchers is the Eastern bluebird. The bright blue wings and red breast of the male bluebirds make them instantly recognizable. Female bluebirds are more gray and lay pale blue eggs. Another distinctly colored bird is the American Goldfinch, with its brilliant yellow feathers contrasting with its white and black wing tips. In fact, these are the only finches in our area that molt twice a year, making the brightening of the maleís feathers another sign of spring.
But itís not just high on an isolated mountaintop or deep in the Appalachian forest that youíll find songbirds. You can create a wildlife-friendly habitat in your own backyard to attract birds and other animals. An ideal habitat includes food, water, cover and a place to raise their young. A backyard garden designed specifically for birds might include a bird feeder, native shrubs that grow berries, a birdbath, and a nesting box.
Visit the WNC Nature Centerís Songbird Garden, a Certified Wildlife Habitat, to peak in on the amazing variety of birds flying through our mountains. You can also see examples of different bird nests and nesting boxes, and learn more about creating a wildlife friendly environment in your own backyard.
The WNC Nature Center is at 75 Gashes Creek Road, Asheville. For more information, visit www.wncnaturecenter.com.