A Haven for Birds and Bird Lovers
From its riverbanks to its highest cliffs, Chimney Rock is a haven for North Carolina resident birds, migrating birds and of course, bird lovers. Deciduous forests on the north- and east-facing slopes attract many summer-breeding birds such as Scarlet Tanagers and as many as 15 varieties of warblers and vireos. The most elusive of these are the Cerulean and Swainson's Warblers. You can spot Cerulean Warblers in the tall trees immediately below the parking lot at the Chimney and Swainson's Warbler in the rhododendron thickets, especially along the Hickory Nut Falls trail.
A birder’s paradise, people have been flocking to Chimney Rock for years to catch a glimpse of their favorite North Carolina birds. Chimney Rock hosts guided bird walks spring through fall led by world-traveled expert Simon Thompson and the region’s premier fall migration birding event, Flock to the Rock, every September. Featuring live Birds of Prey programs, this weekend of birding activities includes bird walks guided by local ornithologists, workshops ranging from bird photography to hummingbirds and backyard feeding, hawk watches, family nature walks and kids’ activities.
Chimney Rock is an official site on the North Carolina Birding Trail.
Chimney Rock: Home to Peregrine Falcons
While you're here, don't forget to train your binoculars along our cliff walls and up into the surrounding sky. You just may have the chance to see the amazing acrobatics of a Peregrine Falcon high above the Gorge. Slicing through the air at more than 60mph or swooping on smaller birds in flight at the incredible diving speed of 200mph, Peregrine Falcons (Falco Peregrinus) once again grace the skies in the North Carolina mountains!
By the early 1960s, none of these striking birds were found in the area. In recent years, these magnificent birds have made a comeback thanks to captive-breeding programs. In 1990, three of these young birds fledged from the high, nearly-inaccessible cliffs of Chimney Rock and since then, Peregrines have been sighted in the area almost every year.
View the newest edition of "Your Guide to Birding at Chimney Rock," edited by Simon Thompson. You can even download a PDF copy to take out on the trails.