Local Birding Sites

Red Bellied Woodpecker
There are many great birding spots in Wake and surrounding counties. For a more complete list and descriptions of birding sites throughout North Carolina, the best resource is the North Carolina Birding Trail. The following information has been collected from the North Carolina Birding Trail and from the cited web links.

Below are a few of the sites the Wake Audubon frequents on guided bird walks and for bird counts.


Abbott’s Creek Greenway

The bird walks typically begin at the dead end of Dunn Road.  Walk the dirt trail to the paved greenway and turn left.  It is about a mile walk east to th Neuse River Greenway, and then return by the same path. The marshy areas of Abbott’s Creek are good for Red-headed and Pileated Woodpeckers, Great Blue Herons, Barred Owls, Wood Ducks, and various sparrow in the winter.  This is typically a productive area with lots of bird species.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1597517

Location: end of the 2400 block of Dunn Road, Raleigh, NC

Wood Ducks at Abbott’s Creek. Photo by Lori White

 


Anderson Point Park

Blue-fronted Dancer, Anderson Point Park

Blue-fronted Dancer, Anderson Point Park

This Raleigh City Park is located on the eastern side of Raleigh and is bordered by the Neuse River and Crabtree Creek. The Neuse River Raleigh Greenway runs through Anderson Point. Wake Audubon adopted this park several years ago and helped develop the management plan for the small meadow in the center of the park. Wake Audubon also hosts at least one invasive species removal effort annually. Birds of interest include Loggerhead Shrike, Prothonotary Warbler, American Redstart, Hooded Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, and raptors.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L599964

Location: 20 Anderson Point Dr, Raleigh, NC 27610

For more information: City of Raleigh – Anderson Point Park


Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Raleigh’s first dedicated nature preserve was donated by Dr. Annie Louise Wilkerson, a renowned Raleigh doctor with many pioneering achievements in her 53-year career in medicine. Her will stipulated that the park be maintained as a “nature preserve park” used for the primary purpose of nature and wildlife education. This 157-acre nature preserve is composed of oak-hickory forest, open fields that will be maintained as Piedmont prairie, three farm ponds and five perennial streams that shelter various aquatic species. Falls Lake is the northern boundary of the property. Woodpeckers, Wood Trushes, Ovenbirds, Vireos, Blue Grosbeaks, and Indigo Buntings are among the birds commonly seen here. This “leave no trace” park is still in transition to honor Dr. Wilkerson’s wishes. It will be a dynamic and valuable resource for wildlife and wildlife education for Raleigh citizens.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L2607737

Location: 5229 Awls Haven Road, Raleigh, NC 27614

Park location for GPS: 11408 Raven Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC 27614

For more information: Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park


Blue Jay Point County Park

Blue Jay Point County Park is a 236-acre park located on the shores of Falls Lake in northern Wake County.  It is a good park for bird feeder birds as well as birds found in woodlands, edges, and lake shores.  

eBird hotspothttp://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L1459398

Location: 3200 Pleasant Union Church Road, Raleigh, NC

For more information: http://www.wakegov.com/parks/bluejay/Pages/default.aspx


Dorothea Dix Park

Dorothea Bix Park is Raleigh’s largest city park.  The 308-acre site blends historic architecture and rich landscapes into a unique destination in the heart of Raleigh.  

eBird hotspot: https;//ebird.org/hotspot/L3120814

Location: 2105 Umstead Dr, Raleigh, NC (there are several entrances to the park)

For more information: https://dixpark.org


Durant Nature Preserve

Durant Nature Preserve, formerly the Occoneechee Council of Boy Scouts’ Camp Durant, was purchased by Raleigh in 1979.  The 237-acre park was designated as a nature preserve in 2010 with the goal of protecting and preserving the area’s significant natural resources and providing nature-based recreation and environmental education experiences.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L599979

Location: 8305 Camp Durant Road, Raleigh NC

For more information: https://www.raleighnc.gov/places/durant-nature-preserve


Falls Lake State Recreation Area

Falls Lake State Recreation Area

Falls Lake State Recreation Area

Falls Lake was created in 1981 as a flood control project of the Neuse River. The resulting 12,000-acre lake is both the primary water supply for Raleigh and a recreation destination. Public lands around the lake host seven NC Birding Trail sites as well as a portion of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail on the western shore. Diverse habitats from open water to woodlands, sandy beaches to successional fields makes Falls Lake an excellent destination for birds and birders. This park has the largest bird list of any of the North Carolina State Parks.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L420846

For more information: Falls Lake State Recreation Area


Fred Fletcher Park

The park is the former campus of the Methodist Home for Children and was purchased by Raleigh in 1982.  The park is great for a beginner’s bird walk, with paved walkways, several habitats, and birds that tend to be used to humans.  The park has a very small marsh and thicket, plus some mowed fields with trees and shrubs. Fred Fletcher Park usually provides a surprising number of birds for an urban park.  About 100 species have been seen in this lovely urban park, including Rusty Blackbirds and Baltimore Orioles.  

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1060828

Location: 730 Washington Street, Raleigh, NC

For more information: https://www.raleighnc.gov/places/fred-fletcher-park


Green Hills County Park (formerly North Wake Landfill District Park)

This park offers a playground, picnic area and hiking/biking trails on a repurposed landfill property. There is access to the Abbott’s Creek Greenway trail. Birds often seen include Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Bluebird and a variety of hawks.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L3311880

Location: 9300 Deponie Drive, Raleigh, NC

For more information: http://www.wakegov.com/parks/greenhills/pages/default.aspx


Harold D Ritter Park

Ritter Park is the main trailhead for the Swift Creek Greenway, a 1.2 mile paved trail that runs along the northern border between Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve and Ritter Park. Many birds and other wildlife can be seen along this trail.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L998188

Location: 301 Lochmere Drive West, Cary, NC

For more information: https://townofcary.org/recreation-enjoyment/parks-greensways-environment/parks/harold-d-ritter-park


Harris Lake County Park

Harris Lake

Harris Lake

This 680-acre park in southwestern Wake County forms a peninsula on Harris Lake, where more than 90 bird species have been documented in recent years. The Peninsula Trail is a series of four loops varying from 0.25 to 5 miles in length. It traverses a variety of habitats and along the lake shoreline. This trail is good for forest and edge-related songbirds, as well as wintering waterfowl. Around the edge of the parking lot, beside an open play area, are large pines that are a great spot for Eastern Kingbird and Orchard Oriole during spring and summer. This area is also productive during winter. A nearby fishing pier provides easy access to Harris Lake to scan for osprey, wading birds, winter gulls and waterfowl. A longleaf pine management area at the back section of the longest loop of the Peninsula Trail provides chances to see Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Field Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, Prairie Warbler and other early successional songbirds. Most of the woodland trails are productive for woodpeckers, especially during spring and winter. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset every day. Admission is free.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L387371

Location: 2112 County Park Drive, New Hill, NC

For more information: Harris Lake County Park


Historic Yates Mill Pond

Historic Yates Mill Pond

Historic Yates Mill Pond

Historic Yates Mill County Park is a 174-acre site that features the only gristmill (circa 1756) still standing in Wake County. The park is located just south of Raleigh. The park habitats include oak forest & mixed hardwoods/pine, floodplain forest, and small wetland communities in addition to the mill pond. Summer-breeding songbirds include Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Wood Thrush, Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Parula, Prothonotary and Hooded Warblers, Summer and Scarlet Tanagers and Indigo Bunting. There are active Wood Duck boxes along the pond and boardwalks. In the winter, this is the best place in Wake County for waterfowl viewing. Over 160 bird species have been documented in the park on a list that grows each year. The park is open from 8:00 a.m. to sunset every day. Admission is free and restrooms are available starting at 8:30. Dogs are not allowed.

eBird Hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L486971

Location: 4620 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh, NC 27603

For more information: Historic Yates Mill County Park


Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Hemlock Bluffs is on an unusual geological formation that promoted the survival of a remnant stand of Eastern Hemlocks far from the mountains. These blend with mixed hardwoods and pines to create a diverse landscape. More than 130 bird species, including 28 warblers, have been documented at this 150-acre property in southern Cary. Trails at the top of the bluff provide tree-top views and creekside trails penetrate the wetland communities. Expected birds include Ovenbird, Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, and Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Great Crested and Acadian Flycatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Wood Thrush, Northern Parula, Hooded Warbler, and Louisiana Waterthrush. The preserve is open from 9:00 a.m. to sunset. The Stephens Nature Center, a small gift shop and restrooms open at 10:00 a.m. Dogs on 6-foot leashes are permitted.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L579849

Location: 2616 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary, NC 27518

For more information:
Stevens Nature Center at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve
Friends of Hemlock Bluffs


 Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve

Horseshoe Farm Park

Horseshoe Farm Park

Located in an oxbow of the Neuse River in northeast Raleigh, the nearly 146-acre Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve is a unique jewel in the Raleigh Parks & Recreation system. It consists of open upland fields as well as bottom land hardwood forests, wetlands and a system of natural river levees that have been designated a Significant Natural Heritage Area by the state. Wake Audubon works cooperatively with Raleigh Parks through an Adopt-a-Park agreement to provide and maintain birdhouses for Purple Martins and Bluebirds with owl boxes planned for the future. To date, 125 bird species have been confirmed in the Preserve along with numerous mammals, butterflies and native plants. Learn more.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1341989

Location: 2928 Horse Shoe Farm Rd, Raleigh, NC

For more information:
City of Raleigh – Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve


Howell Woods

Howell Woods

Howell Woods

Howell Woods, officially The Rudolph Howell & Son Environmental Learning Center, is approximately 45 miles southeast of Raleigh. The Center has a great diversity of habitats and wildlife species within 2,800+ acres situated between the Neuse River and Hannah and Mill Creeks. The property consists of over 1,600 acres of bottomland hardwood forests, over 600 acres of mixed hardwood/pine, nearly 400 acres of pine forest (both longleaf and loblolly type), and nearly 100 acres of early successional habitat. Breeding species include Mississippi Kite, Red-headed Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, a variety of wood warblers, Summer Tanager and Orchard Oriole, among others. Restrooms are available at the park entrance.

Location: 6601 Devil’s Racetrack Road, Bentonville, NC

For more information: The Rudolph Howell & Son Environmental Learning Center


Lake Betz

Lake Benz is not a park but a property in the Research Triangle near the intersection of Kit Creek Road and Louis Stephens Drive.  Limited parking is available along the shoulder of Louis Stephens Drive near the guardrail.  Parking is also available near the volleyball court. From the guardrail, the trail goes left over a metal bridge.  The trail is 1/2 miles long, bordered on one side by the lake and on the other side by several small swampy areas with many dead trees. This is a reliable spot for Red-headed Woodpeckers.  Often seen are Wood Ducks, other waterfowl and many sparrows.  So far, 170 bird species have been observed.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1471163


Lake Crabtree

Pine Warbler, Lake Crabtree Park

Pine Warbler, Lake Crabtree Park

Lake Crabtree County Park is a versatile 735-acre recreation site with a 520-acre flood control lake that dominates the park. Park trails pass through a variety of habitats including oak forest & mixed hardwoods/pine, floodplain forest, and small wetland communities offering outstanding birding opportunities. Bald Eagle is possible almost any month of the year, with an active nest on site, and Osprey are occasionally seen. There are abundant nesting songbirds, including Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Wood Thrush, Northern Parula, Ovenbird, Hooded and Yellow-throated Warblers, Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, and Indigo Bunting. Waterfowl frequent the lake during the winter.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L303621

Location: 1400 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville, NC 27560

For more information: Lake Crabtree County Park


Lake Lynn 

Lake Lynn is a multi-use 52-acre Raleigh city park created in 1996.  There is a 2.6 mile paved trail around the lake. The trail is heavily used and dogs on leashes are allowed.  This is a good trail for families. In spite of the foot traffic, wildflowers and a large variety of wildlife can be viewed from the trail. Warblers, ducks, woodpeckers and hawks are especially prevalent. 

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L616540

Location: 7921 Ray Road, Raleigh, NC

For more information: https://www.raleighnc.gov/places/lake-lynn-park


Lake Raleigh

Lake Raleigh is a 75-acre lake, open to the public, with a fishing pier and boat ramp for non-motorized watercraft.  Wake Audubon typically meets at the boat ramp off Main Campus Drive on the NC State University campus.  There have been over 170 bird species identified at the lake.  Parking is very limited, especially during the week.  There is a small parking lot at the boat ramp, but it required an NC State University parking permit Mon-Fri from 7am-5pm.. You can pick up a $2 visitor day pass from the visitor center or plan to go on the weekend or after 5pm.  The paved Walnut Creek Greenway trail passes along the north shore of the lake. 

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L876033

Location: Main Campus Drive, Raleigh, NC


Mid Pines Road

American Kestral, Mid Pines Road Park

American Kestral, Mid Pines Road Park

This gravel road is just north of the entrance to Yates Mill Pond County Park. The road goes through North Carolina State University agricultural lands, including poultry, cattle and field crop areas. Drive slowly along this road and bird from the roadside, being careful not to block driveways or enter the agriculture areas. After turning onto this road from Lake Wheeler Road, stop first at the small pond opposite the poultry facility. Then proceed to small creek – a good place to check from sparrows and warblers. Stop along the fields to look for Eastern Bluebirds, Kestrels, and sparrows. This is just a very birdy area. No website, restrooms or parking lot.  

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1263899


NC Museum of Art Park and Audubon Gallery

Museum of Art Park

Museum of Art Park

The NC Museum of Art is surrounded by a 164-acre art-and-nature park. The park trails wind through field and forest habitats. Nature-inspired sculptures are installed at strategic points on the trails. These include art you can go inside of, art that moves, and art that responds to the environment, including the memorable Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky. Inside the original Museum building is a gallery devoted to America’s greatest nature artist, John James Audubon. The Museum’s original, complete Audubon collection, recently treated to restore its condition, is displayed with bird specimens on loan from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science. Admission is free and dogs are allowed on the trails. The park is open dawn to dusk and the museum buildings, including restrooms, are open 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day except Monday and some holidays.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L2880549


Prairie Ridge Ecostation for Wildlife & Learning

Prairie Ridge

10-acre restored Piedmont prairie

Prairie Ridge is the Museum of Natural Science’s outdoor classroom located in Raleigh near the Museum of Art. The habitat here includes a 10-acre restored Piedmont prairie, along with a permanent pond and vernal pools that are an additional attraction for wildlife. There is also an arboretum of lowland forest trees and shrubs including some rare and unusual species. Two short trails of mowed grass loop around this site and include the observation blind by the pond. Wake Audubon’s Chimney Swift roost tower site is located here. Species seen at Prairie Ridge include Eastern Kingbird, Summer Tanager, Field Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, Orchard Oriole. Admission is free and the gate is open Monday-Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays noon to 4:30 p.m. Dogs are not allowed. Check their website for directions and information on their public programs.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L579187

Location: 1671 Gold Star Drive, Raleigh, NC 27607

For more information: Prairie Ridge Ecostation


Schenck Forest

Woodcock Walk

Woodcock Walk, Schenck Forest

The Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest is a 245-acre forest that is owned and managed by North Carolina State University for timber production and wildlife habitat. Yellow-breasted Chat, Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak nest in the recent timber harvests adjacent to the picnic shelter near the forest’s main entrance. During the breeding season, Northern Parula, Summer Tanager and Ovenbird are seen along the trails. Woodcock courtship displays and breeding are special features of this property. In winter, Hermit Thrush and Winter Wren are common in the brushy areas along the creek.

Location: Off Reedy Creek Road just west of Edwards Mill Road

For more information: Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest


Shelley Lake 

Bald Eagle, Shelley Lake

Bald Eagle, Shelley Lake

Shelley Lake is a City of Raleigh 53-acre flood control lake surrounded by approximately three miles of paved trails with additional connecting greenway trails. This city park offers a surprising variety of birds for a popular urban park. There is a growing Great Blue Heron rookery, nesting Piliated and Red-headed Woodpeckers, Belted Kingfishers and Wood Thrushes. Free admission. Restrooms available.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L882613

Location: 1400 West Millbrook Road, Raleigh, NC

For more information: City of Raleigh – Shelley Lake Park


Thornton Road access to Neuse River Greenway (NRG)

The NRG is 27.5 miles of paved trail with diverse features offering scenic

Cliff Swallows at Thornton Road. Photo by Lori White

views of the Neuse River, winding boardwalk areas through wetlands, historical sights, interpretive signs, and agricultural fields.  To access the greenway from Thornton Road, park in the parking lot at 6100 Thornton Road and walk to short Thornton Trail to the NRG.  Turn left to head west on the paved, flat trail.  Cliff Swallows and Barn Swallows nest under the Capital Blvd. bridge.  An Acadian Flycatcher nest has been observed along this part of the trail.  

 

eBird hotspot:  https://ebird.org/hotspot/L5692282

Location: 6100 Thornton Road, Raleigh, NC

For more information: https://raleighncgov/places/neuse-river-greenway-trail


Turnipseed Preserve

Wood Ducks, Turnipseed Preserve

Wood Ducks, Turnipseed Preserve

The Turnipseed Preserve is a 221-acre site located in eastern Wake County in the Marks Creek watershed, a sub-basin of the larger Neuse River watershed. Owned by Wake County, the preserve features a mixture of bottomland hardwood forest and marshes, along with open sandy meadows, rock outcrops, and mixed pine-hardwood forest. Exceptional flora and fauna of the preserve include Michaux’s sumac (Federally endangered), Sundial Lupine, Prothonotary Warbler, Northern Parula Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Orchard Oriole, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood-Peewee, among others, along with Spotted Salamander, Marbled Salamander, and the Eastern Box Turtle. The preserve has two entrances and well-established trails.  It is open only on the weekends most of the year; check the web site for extended hours in the summer and on federal holidays.  Wake Audubon is helping with Wood Duck nest box monitoring at this site. In the future, more land will be added and public access will be improved.

eBird hotspot:  https://ebird.org/hotspot/L5052420

Locations of two entrances:  7100 Hunt Valley Trail, Wendell, NC and 1525 Pleasants Road, Wendell, NC

For more information: Turnipseed Preserve


Walnut Creek Wetland Center

Walnut Creek Wetland Center

Walnut Creek Wetland Center

Walnut Creek and the surrounding wetland has grown from a poor neglected area to a green building Nature Center with access to Raleigh’s award-winning greenways, where resident and migrant birds continue to find suitable habitat. The resident Red-shouldered Hawks are sure to greet birders on this trip. Restrooms available in the Nature Center. Check their website for hours.

Location: 950 Peterson Street, Raleigh, NC 27610

For more information: Walnut Creek Wetland Center


Wendell Community Park

Wake Audubon leads regularly scheduled bird walks at this park in the eastern part of Wake County.  The park has a trail along edge and woodland and a boardwalk overlook of a marsh with bald cypress and cattails.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L5460345

Location: 601 West 3rd Street, Wendell, NC

For more information: https://www.townofwendell.com/departments/parks-and-recreation


William B. Umstead State Park

William B. Umstead State Park

William B. Umstead State Park

Umstead State Park provides a welcome natural retreat from the urban development that has grown up around it. The 5,579-acre park includes three small lakes and several miles of creeks offering birders a variety of different habitats to explore. Great Blue Herons and Belted Kingfishers can be seen at the lakes. Scarlet Tanager, Great Horned Owl, and woodpeckers are among the nesting species. Many of the woodland birds can be found here during migration.

eBird hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1334627

Locations of two entrances: 8801 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC and 2100 N. Harrison Ave., Cary, NC

For more information:
William B. Umstead State Park
The Umstead Coalition