Hiking Info For The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians In GSMNP
More than 230 species use the Park, and over 110 species breed within Park boundaries. Birds are most active early in the morning, starting about 45 minutes before sunrise. Good birding spots include the Sugarlands Visitor Center, Cades Cove, and Oconaluftee. Some common species include juncos, mourning doves, chimney swifts, eastern phoebes, barn swallows, blue jays, indigo buntings, cardinals, towhees, sparrows, eastern bluebirds, eastern meadowlarks, field sparrows, red-winged blackbirds, crows, chickadees, wild turkeys and warblers. Summer species includes the eastern kingbirds, barn swallows, yellow warblers, and indigo buntings. Golden eagles come through the Park in autumn. The pileated woodpecker, habituates stands of dead and dying pines. The barred owl is the most common night bird.
Copperhead and Timber Rattler - The Park's only poisonous snakes are the northern copperhead and timber rattler. The copperhead is most common below 3,000 feet while the timber rattler up to 6,000 feet. Neither have a lethal poison, and death from a snake bite in the Smokies is extremely rare.
The most common non-poisonous snakes are black rat, garter, and common water snake. The black rat snake is known for its ability to climb trees. They grow to six feet long. Rats and bats are their main prey. The garter snake grows to about four feet. They like to warm on sunny rocks. The common water snake often gets confused with the cottonmouth. They sit in the water, preying on small fish.
Other reptiles include the eastern box turtle, common snapping turtle, and southeastern five-lined skink.
Amphibians thrive in the Great Smokies. Frogs, toads, and salamanders are all common Park residents. The Smokies 27 species of salamanders make them the salamander capital of the world. Notable species include Jordans Salamander, found only in the Smokies, and the Hellbender. It grows up to five feet long.