Never in a million years would I have thought I would write a blog about bird watching at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast. But, like the garden centers in England which I was surprised to find myself happily visiting, sometimes the environment in which you live opens your eyes to new experiences and interests.
If you have visited the Carolina then you know that our rooms are named after birds. When James and I first bought the inn, we considered changing the room names as we thought they were a little cute, but they tell you when you buy a Bed & Breakfast to wait a while before making any changes and by the end of our first spring in Asheville we knew the bird’s names belonged in our inn. From Hummingbird to Mockingbird, Cardinal, Goldfinch and Robin, all of these birds can been seen in the gardens surrounding our house.
I grew up in the woodlands of Connecticut and my mother loved the birds. She fed them every winter (but never in the summer–it only encourages them to winter over!) and knew the name and habits of many of them. I have often thought how much she would love this place.
In the spring, the robins are among the first to arrive. Swiftly followed by sparrows and blue jays and tufted titmice (is that the plural for titmouse?). And by early April, I find myself woken by the “dawn chorus“. I don’t know why birds sing so loudly at daybreak. I tried researching it online and the best I could come up with was that sound travels more strongly and purely in the morning calm and so the birds like to use this time to establish their territory through song. One morning I tried counting the separate calls and came up with at least eight different songs. James and I don’t know enough about birds to match the song to the species so we call them by their sound. There is one that says, “She’s here! She’s here!” and one that knows our family well and calls out “Jeter! Jeter! Jeter!” on a regular basis.
I never saw a hummingbird before I moved to Asheville. But one day when I was in the gardens at the Biltmore Estate a hummingbird flew down into the flowers beside the bench where I was sitting. And shortly after that a hummingbird actually flew in the window our inn. We put a hummingbird feeder up in our garden last year but this year we have planted a “Butterfly Garden” with flowers designed to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. It’s a safer way to feed them: one has to be careful to clean and change the hummingbird food on a regular basis as the food can go off and make the birds sick if you don’t keep after it. That’s one thing I didn’t know before we moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina.
I also didn’t know that Mourning Doves are not particularly bothered by humans and are also very stubborn. When one decided she wanted to nest on a shelf in our garage, she scolded James until he moved his work outside and our car was parked in the driveway for three weeks!
Or how about the fact that the Asheville is on the migration path for Chimney Swifts? Two years ago, they decided to use one of our four chimneys as a temporary home on their way South. For a week we watched as they gathered in the air above our house before disappearing almost unseen down the chimney.
Asheville and Buncombe County have a number of sites on the North Carolina Birding Trail. Guests who come to see the birds in our area often head to the North Carolina Arboretum and the trails of the Blue Ridge Parkway. These pictures which were taken by one of our guests the morning before he left, attest to the fact that many of the song birds of this region are easily viewed right here at home!