Summer is in full swing here in western North Carolina. With the hot days come flocks of song birds and swarms of insects. Many of these insects play an important role in our ecosystem. While bees may be something you think of more as a nuisance than a benefit, without them we wouldn’t have plants like beans, tomatoes, onions, carrots, or hundreds of other vegetables and fruits that depend on bees for pollination. Not to mention the tasty honey and royal jelly.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a prime location for bird watching. Within the park there are about 240 species of birds. At least 60 of those call the area home year round. The rest are migratory birds that use the park to forage, nest, or breed. This high number is due to the diversity of habitats. The park offers everything from evergreen forests to hardwood coves and even some open grassy balds, perfect for hawks and other large birds of prey to hunt. The large bird with babies in the picture is a turkey. It is very common to see them around the park, crossing roads or in open fields. The blue bird pictured here is a male Indigo Bunting. A small seed-eating, migratory bird seen here on a bird feeder at a cabin in Bryson City, NC. Listening to the beautiful bird songs can be therapeutic and relaxing. A simple bird identification book can turn a Smoky Mountain vacation into a fun learning experience for the kids.