For the Birds

by Aug 30, 2022Animals, North Brunswick

Nature is calling at Halyburton Park in Wilmington.

North Carolina is home to more than 440 bird species, and every year nature enthusiasts enjoy birdwatching at many of the parks, preserves and forests statewide. Birdwatching is an easy way to connect with nature and observe birds in their natural habitats, whether done in your backyard or in a park setting.

If you’d like to learn more about the birds of southeastern North Carolina, Halyburton Park in Wilmington offers Free Bird Hikes on the first Friday of every month. A staff member guides visitors through the preserve, and birdwatchers can expect to see and hear a wide variety of birds on their stroll through the 60-acre park maintained by the City of Wilmington’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The program began approximately 10 years ago and stemmed from the third Thursdays birding programs offered by the North Carolina Bird Trail, a driving trail that connects birders with birdwatching locations across the state.

Halyburton Park Wilmington NC Birds

“Our program is a great way to introduce beginning birders to birdwatching,” says Andy Fairbanks, recreation supervisor at Halyburton Park. “We have identified almost 120 species in the park. It’s an opportunity to connect with nature and learn more about birds.”

Depending on the season, birders can expect to see year-round species as well as migrant birds at Halyburton Park.

“Consistently we see cardinals, chickadees, titmice, pine warblers and mockingbirds,” Fairbanks says. In the winter, we might see kinglets, red-breasted nuthatches and blue-headed vireos. And in the spring, we often spot red-shouldered hawks, mallards and gray catbirds.”

The majority of the park is a xeric sandhill scrub habitat, a very dry, sandy terrain with swampy areas and trees. A 4-acre pond surrounded by cypress trees is just behind the nature center, which is where the bird hikes are conducted.

Halyburton Jr Memorial Park Wilmington NC

“On some mornings, we’ve spent 45 minutes to an hour just watching birds near the pond. It’s an easy, enjoyable walk,” Fairbanks says.

The water level in the pond is currently 5 to 6 feet below normal, due to a lack of precipitation over the past year.

“The weather has changed the pond habitat; we are seeing more heron and white ibis this year due to the drier conditions at the park,” Fairbanks says.

Birdwatching is easily accessible and doesn’t have to be expensive.

All you really need is a pair of comfortable shoes and the desire to spend time outdoors exploring nature. Pick a nearby location and give yourself ample time to explore. Binoculars can help you spot birds and wildlife, but they are not necessary. Taking a smartphone along will allow you to document and identify some of the interesting birds you see and hear.

Halyburton Memorial Park Wilmington NC Birds

“It can be done anywhere and it is low budget,” Fairbanks says. “Whether you go on trips or you do it in your backyard, you are learning about birds and the places they live.”

For those who want to take birdwatching one step further, Fairbanks recommends putting up a bird feeder in your backyard, becoming a member of your local Audubon Society and attending birding workshops offered at the park.

“Take notice of different birds you see when out and about, even during a trip to the grocery store,” he says. “You’ll start noticing things, and birdwatching will become part of your life.”

Want to go birding?
Halyburton Park
4099 S. 17th Street, Wilmington
(910) 341-0075
wilmingtonnc.gov/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/2044/158
Free Bird Hikes are held the First Friday of every month from 9 to 10:30 am.
Halyburton Park has a nature and event center that is open to visitors Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. It also has nature trails, a playground, two picnic shelters and a 1.3-mile paved, handicap-accessible path that circles the park.
Additional Birding Resources:
North Carolina Bird Trail Map – ncbirdingtrail.org/sites/
Cape Fear Audubon Society – capefearaudubon.org/

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