Habitats: Mixed hardwood/pine, upland oak/hickory, wetlands, shoreline
Key Birds: Summer: Scarlet Tanager, Broad-winged Hawk. Year-round: Brown-headed Nuthatch.
Best Time to Bird: Fall.
Description: These three parks are operated by the city of Hickory. Hickory City and Geitner Parks are connected by a two mile long paved bikeway. The parks are heavily wooded and are located on Lake Hickory. At Glenn Hilton Park, there is a 150-yard boardwalk that goes through a wooded wetland area.
Directions: Take exit 123-B (Hwy. 321 north) off of Interstate 40. Go north approximately 3.5 miles to the stoplight in front of the Arby's Restaurant. Turn right and go to the railroad tracks and take Old Lenoir Rd which is the first road on the left. Take an immediate right onto 15th Ave. NW. Go to the stop sign and turn left onto 12th St. Dr. NW. Hickory City Park is on the left 0.1 of a mile. Geitner Park is 1.3 miles on the left and Glenn Hilton Park is 2.5 miles on the right.
Birding Highlights: All three parks have basically the same birds during the breeding season. Brown-headed Nuthatches are quite common at all of the parks. Cooper's Hawks nest at Glenn Hilton Park and in late summer you can see the fledglings hunting around the park. A walk through the three parks on a September morning can easily produce a large number of species of warblers, vireos and flycatchers. Warblers include Connecticut, Cerulean, Golden-winged, Blue-winged, Nashville, and Wilson's. Philadelphia Vireos are seen in good number most every year.
At Hickory City Park the bikeway is the best site for birding. Check the first 300 yards of the bike way for birds until you reach the scrub area on the left. This is a excellent spot to look for migrants. At the other end of the bikeway is Geitner Park. Birding on this end is good for about 0.5 mile. The entire area of Glenn Hilton Park is good during fall migration.
General Information: These parks are very popular on the weekends in the warmer months. Get there early to avoid the crowds and to see the best birds. The parks open at 7:00 am and close at dark. All three parks have picnic shelters and restrooms available.
DeLorme map grid: page 34, C2
North Carolina Travel Map grid: E2
For more information: City of Hickory (828) 322-7046; http://www.hickorygov.com/recreation/cityparks.html