ASHEVILLE NC – Chimney Rock is known for its colorful fall and stunning 75-mile views overlooking Lake Lure, but the Park is also a well-known destination for year-round birding. Birding enthusiasts often visit the Park to look for birds such as warblers, vireos and Peregrine Falcons. The region’s premier fall migration birding event, Flock to the Rock, hosted by Chimney Rock for the past six years, has brought more attention to the Park’s abundant birding opportunities. Flock to the Rock will be held on Saturday, September 19. This prime birding weekend coincides with the annual hawk migration when dozens, sometimes hundreds, of hawks can be seen during their flight south.
The weekend is packed full of bird walks guided by Park naturalists, including a Naturalist Niche: Early Bird Walk from 7:30-9:30am and educational birding activities for families, live bird programs and a hawk count at the top of Chimney Rock. Special to the event are Wings to Soar Birds in Flight shows in the Indoor Classroom on the Meadows.
“Chimney Rock is one of the most spectacular locations in Western North Carolina to spot a wide range of birds throughout the year, from countless warblers and vireos to tanagers and birds of prey. Flock to the Rock is held during the peak of fall migration and draws enthusiastic birders of all levels to the Park,” said Emily Walker, Chimney Rock Management, LLC Education Manager.
Flock to the Rock is included with paid Park admission, which is $13 for adults, $6 for youth (ages 5-15) and free for kids 4 years and under. An additional fee applies only to the Naturalist Niche: Early Bird Walk, which requires advance registration. Chimney Rock is an official site on the N.C. Birding Trail. For more details and a schedule of birding activities, visit http://www.chimneyrockpark.com/events/event_detail.php?EVENT_ID=394.
A Premier Birding Destination
From its winding riverbanks to its dramatic cliffs, Chimney Rock is a haven for North Carolina resident birds, migrating birds and, of course, bird lovers. From beginner to experienced, people have long been flocking to the Rock to catch glimpses of their favorite birds. Chimney Rock is home to more than 130 species of birds throughout the year, including over 25 warbler species, vireos, tanagers, woodpeckers, thrushes, owls and a wide selection of birds of prey, including Peregrine Falcons. For more information on birding at the Park, visit chimneyrockpark.com/park/nature/northcarolinabirds.php.
Home to World’s Fastest Bird of Prey
While at Chimney Rock, train your binoculars along the Park’s soaring cliffs and up into the surrounding sky for a chance to see the amazing acrobatics of a Peregrine Falcon high above Hickory Nut Gorge. Peregrine Falcons (Falco Peregrinus) may slice through the air at more than 60mph or dive on smaller birds in flight at speeds up to 200mph. By the early 1960s, no Peregrines were found in this area, but these magnificent birds have made a comeback thanks to captive-breeding programs. Since 1990 when three of these young birds fledged in the Park, Peregrines have been sighted here almost every year.
About Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is a developing international outdoor destination located 25 miles southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. It is recognized as one of the Southeast’s most iconic sites and popular travel destinations. The Park’s 535-million-year-old monolith called Chimney Rock can be accessed via a 499-step Outcroppings Trail and offers guests 75-mile panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. The Park features one of the highest waterfalls of its kind east of the Mississippi River, Hickory Nut Falls, at 404 feet. Hickory Nut Gorge, one of the state’s most significant centers of biodiversity, is home to 36 rare plant species and 14 rare animal species. The Rumbling Bald section of the greater State Park off of Boys Camp Road in Chimney Rock is the only other area of the Park that is currently open to the public. A destination for travel groups, weddings and special events, the Chimney Rock section of the Park also hosts innovative educational programs for schools, homeschoolers, scouts and summer camps. Visit Chimney Rock’s website at chimneyrockpark.com.
About Wings to Soar
Wings to Soar is a nonprofit organization based in Trenton, GA. Their mission is to create awareness about the vital role birds of prey play in the natural world. Their free-flying raptor program gives audiences a unique opportunity to view and interact with birds of prey up close. Their goals are to facilitate a connection to the natural world, to spark curiosity and to create a sense of value for all forms of life.