News & Events

Birdwatching – The Owls of Western North Carolina


If you are fortunate enough to awaken every morning in your new cozy mountain home in The Coves, now there’s the leisure time to relish your carefree and active lifestyle. So many possibilities lay before you in this incredible region of the country, and The Coves make these possibilities effortless.  In fact, they lay right outside your door. 

Due to our temperate winters, you can explore so many peaceful hiking trails in Western NC 365 days a year, trails that are accented with vistas of the mountains as well as the miraculous waterfalls of Western North Carolina.  These trails near our North Carolina mountain homes, are beautifully maintained at The Coves with more than 39 miles for your recreation, over 3,200 acres with a variation of elevation from 1,040 to 1,700 feet, and no matter your fitness level, there is the perfect hike for you and your companions.  For those of you who adore horseback riding, thirteen miles of the trails are ideal horse trails. 

Be sure to try all of our trails without ever having to get in your car and drive: Switchback Trail, is seven miles skimming along Mila Cascading Falls, and crosses over several streams; Spine Trail is also seven miles adjacent to a stocked fishing pond and a wildlife viewing area; Winding River Trail is a slightly shorter four-mile hike along the Johns River and the River Park to Coleton’s Swimming Hole; Magnolia Trail is a mere three miles that overlooks the river; Tranquility Vineyard Trail brings you on a two-mile journey into the woods; Little Waterfall Trail leads you past several waterfalls and is a brief 1.5 miles; Cedar Cove Trail is a short mile that leads to the well-tended community gardens and stables; Waterfall Trail is also a mile down to Waterfall Park and the community gardens; and Hawks Nest Trail is a one-mile walk down Waterfall Lane and a peaceful stream to the community gardens and stables.

If you’re wondering about the waterfalls of Western North Carolina that await you at The Coves, there are four right in our neighborhood you can access along the trails.  Grandfather Gorge Falls has a 50-foot triple tier waterfall that spills into a pool.  Mila Cascading Falls is reminiscent of a stairway, and has an easy access; this fall empties into the Johns River at Mila Park.  Highland River Falls also empties into the Johns River, and has easy access for all levels of hikers.  And Penelope Cascading Falls has easy access near Coves River Park, with an impressive 40-foot layered fall accented with splash areas. 

The Coves is truly unique in terms of what residents are afforded while living in their North Carolina mountain homes.  What hobbies are you now free to enjoy?  Whether it’s outdoor recreation, like canoeing, kayaking, hiking, or bird watching, you have acres and acres of pristine nature to make these hobbies real. 

Over five miles of our property parallels the incredible Johns River—a peaceful place to get lost in your favorite book, or the perfect backdrop for those nature shots you want to take with your camera and share with friends and family. 

If bird watching is your passion, those of us who have settled into our North Carolina mountain homes are the most lucky.  The North Carolina Bird Records Committee maintains the records for bird sightings in the state and amazingly nearly five hundred species of birds have been noted in the past decade.  Most of these birds live in the region all year long, which creates quite a haven for bird watchers and other nature enthusiasts–whether you’re on the hiking trails in Western NC, having packed a nutritious lunch, to get some exercise, or perhaps you’re out for a productive photo session with your camera in hand.  

There are many scenic backdrops to inspire your exercise or your hobbies.  Lift your binoculars and you’ll discover a wide variety of birds like lively-colored finches, cardinals, and wood warblers, or traipse along the Johns River or the waterfalls of Western North Carolina and you’ll likely find the ducks and loons, as well as the herons and egrets that wade along.  Pause beneath the trees for a cold drink and listen for the tapping of a pileated woodpecker, or the loud song of a wren.  And who doesn’t adore the sight of the rapid flight of a ruby-throated hummingbird?

The variety of birds of North Carolina doesn’t end there, however, since there are four species of owls in the state that add an air of mystique and majesty to the area—like the Barred Owl which is one of our all-time favorites due to its hooting call.  This owl gets its name from the barred pattern on its feathers. Adults are up to 25 inches long with a four foot wing span, which is quite a sight if you catch it swooping down from a tree—the spot they prefer as opposed to open areas.

Most of us know the Great Horned Owl, named because of the tufts of feathers on either side of its head that look like attentive ears. This owl is the largest of the species in the state, ranging from 17-25 inches, and lives in both wooded and open areas.  You can spot the Great Horned Owl nesting in trees if its found a handy hollow to call home.  

If your meandering along the hiking trails of North Carolina, the Screech Owl you are more than likely to discover, is the Eastern Red Screech Owl. These are small to medium-sized, typically  7-10 inches with wingspans up to 24 inches. They can be mistaken for the Horned Owl since they share the same tufts of feathers on the sides of their heads. This species of owl does not actually screech but emits a fast sequence of notes.  Real bird aficionados who reside in The Coves can differentiate between the various species of Screech Owls that are typically heard in our relatively open areas.

There’s also one type of Barn Owl that calls North Carolina its home, and are rarely seen during the day or night.  They have an easily recognizable heart-shaped pale face, and are 10-20 inches with a three-foot wing span.  Barn Owls make their nests in tree hollows, caves and barns, and bird watchers may hear their shrieking hiss even if they cannot spot them diving for a rodent. 

Simply open the door of your beautiful North Carolina mountain home and discover the nature that surrounds you.  The summit of your neighborhood is accented by eagles that drift overhead. Take a stroll up to our Pisgah Mountain Lodge for breath-taking panoramic views of Grandfather Mountain and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Coves is truly the place where “the High Country begins.”

Come take a tour and explore our amenities. We’re confident you won’t find anywhere like The Coves.

Call us now 828.754.0700. 

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The Coves Mountain River Club magazine