Local Birding in Chatham, Durham, and Orange Counties

The following is a list of birding spots in our area. Click on a name for a short description of each and a link to a map. Where available, links are also provided to more detailed and extensive descriptions on other websites.

Beaver Marsh Nature Preserve, Durham (city), Durham County

Reclaimed and cleaned up by the Ellerebe Creek Watershed Association, there is a 10-acre pond with associated wetlands and some upland forest. The park is an oasis in the middle of a highly urbanized part of Durham. Year round.

Brumley Forest Nature Preserve, Orange County

The Triangle Land Conservancy owns this 613-acre preserve that includes multiple habitats–ponds, streams, swamps, fields and forests. Brumley North is quieter for birding; Brumley South is open to mountain biking but also has excellent birding areas. Year round.

Butner Gamelands (also known as Brickhouse Rd.), Durham and Granville Counties

One of the best birding areas near Falls Lake. A peninsula of land between the Flat River and Knap of Reeds Creek at the westernmost end of Falls Lake. Many different habitats including forests, fields, ponds, swamplands, and riparian river bottoms. Year round, but best birded on Sundays during hunting season.

Bynum Bridge Haw River
Bynum Bridge

Bynum Bridge, Haw River north of Pittsboro, Chatham County

This old bridge, now for pedestrians only, and its environs is a great place for viewing riparian birds, especially warblers in the spring.

Duke Forest Gate 10 to Gate 13 Road, opposite the intersection of Rt 751 and Kerley Rd, Durham County
Very birdy trail, popular for dog walking and running but not usually very busy.

Duke Forest, Gate 23, Mt. Sinai Rd, Orange County

Easy walking trails lead to both the ‘wooden bridge’ and ‘concrete bridge’ over New Hope Creek. Also a more difficult trail along the creek requires climbing over rock outcroppings. Good forest and riparian habitats. Year round.

Ebenezer Point, Jordan Lake, Chatham County

This is the best spot to view the center of Jordan Lake. Can be especially good for water birds (sometimes rare ones) fall, winter and spring. Can also be a migrant trap in fall.

Ellerbe Creek, 17-Acre Wood Nature Preserve, Durham (city), Durham County

Part of the restoration project of the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association. Forest and riparian habitats in a residential area of northwest Durham. Year round, but especially good in migration, spring and fall.

Prothonotary Warbler
Photo By William Majoros

Eno River State Park, Few’s Ford Access, Orange County

Fields, forest, and riparian habitat. Good year round, but especially nice in spring for migrants with lots of wildflowers.

Hickory Hill Boat Ramp, Falls Lake, Durham County

Good view of the lake for winter waterfowl, as well as forests (pine and/or deciduous) and beaches. Fall, winter, and spring.

Hillsborough River Walk, Orange County

This trail along the Eno River is paved along most of its length, making for easy access. Forest and riparian habitats. Year round.

Lake Crabtree, Wake County

Near RDU airport. Open water and shoreline can be good for waterfowl and shorebirds late summer through winter. Good spot for migrants, spring and fall.

Mason Farm Birding
Mason Farm

Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Chapel Hill, Orange County

Under the auspices of the NC Botanical Garden, this is perhaps the most popular birding spot in Chapel Hill. Access requires driving across a ford over Morgan Creek, but except for times of extremely high water, this is passable in most passenger cars. Fields, forests, wetlands. Great year round.

Sandy Creek Park

Matthews Road Trails, Durham County

The entrance is at roughly 7350 Matthews Road, on the left side of the road, and has street/shoulder parking for no more than 4 or 5 cars on the left side of the road only. While there is room for a car or two on the small driveway in front of the trailhead/next to the kiosk, we ask that this area be kept clear as access for maintenance or emergency needs. There are 2.1 miles of trails over the course of 3 stacked loops. The trails are regularly maintained and are moderately difficult with some considerable hills in a few spots. Access is permitted from dawn to dusk.

Rainbow Soccer Field Complex, 710 Cleland Rd., Chapel Hill, Orange County

134 bird species have been documented here. During spring and fall migration, you could see different kinds of warblers. Rare birds documented here include Olive-sided Flycatcher, Wilson’s Warbler, and Mississippi Kite.

Sandy Creek Park, Durham (city), Durham County

Though small, this is a wonderful park for forest and wetlands birding, especially spring and fall, but also year round. NHAS installed a Chimney Swift tower in the park.

Bald Eagle
Photo By Caroline Gilmore

Martha’s Chapel Wildlife Observation Site (formerly the Wildlife Observation Platform), Jordan Lake, Chatham County

Although the Wildlife Observation Platform had to be removed due to on-going erosion and safety issues, the site is still open and includes trails and a great view to the north up Jordan Lake towards nesting areas for bald eagles, ospreys, and other bird species. Year round.

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