Habitats: Mature hardwood urban forest.
Key birds: Summer: Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Common Nighthawk, Red-eyed Vireo, Chipping Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, and Eastern Towhee. Winter: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco. Year-round: Red-headed, Red-bellied, and Downy Woodpeckers, Brown-headed and White-breasted Nuthatches, Barred Owl.
Best times to bird: Spring migration.
Description: Latta Park is a relatively small inner city park. Mature oaks, hickories, and tulip poplars surround a small creek that runs through the entire length of the park. Wide gravel trails make for easy walking and the lawn areas under the tree canopy provide unobstructed views of ground-foraging birds. Best birding areas are at the east end of the park.
Directions: Latta Park is located in the historic Dilworth district just south of the center of Charlotte. From Interstate 277 in Charlotte take Exit 1E, South Boulevard, and go south away from the city. Go 0.4 of a mile to a left turn at East Park Avenue. Stay on East Park Avenue for four blocks to marked roadside parking spaces on the right. Park in the marked spaces and proceed down the small hill to the creek running through the center of the park.
Birding Highlights: Over 30 species of warblers have been documented at Latta Park. The trees and streamside brush come alive with neotropical migrants from mid-April to mid-May each spring. A creek through the center of the park and the extensive leaf canopy attracts numbers of warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, orioles, vireos, and thrushes. Cavities in the mature hardwoods provide nesting sites for Red-headed, Red-bellied, and Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted and Brown-headed Nuthatches, and Great Crested Flycatchers. Through gaps in the canopy Common Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, and raptors are often seen in the breeding season. The streamside shrubs provide nesting sites for Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, Eastern Towhee, and Song Sparrow. Chipping Sparrows are usually around in the grassy lawn areas. Check the lawns and natural areas for ground-loving species such as Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes, Veery, and Ovenbird. Barred Owl may be heard any time of day throughout the year.
General information: Latta Park is fairly busy throughout the year as walkers, joggers, and picnickers utilize the trails and lawns. There are some picnic tables, a restroom, water fountains, playground equipment, and basketball courts at the west end of the park. There is no staff on site and no food or drinks are sold. Restaurants and convenience stores are less than ¼ mile away.
DeLorme map grid: page 57, D6
North Carolina Travel Map grid: F3
For more information: Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, (704) 598-8857. http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/Park+and+Rec/Places+To+Go/Parks/LattaPK.htm