Habitats: Mixed hardwood/pine forest, flooded bottomland, evolving marsh.
Key birds: Summer: Great Blue Heron, Red-eyed Vireo, Wood Thrush, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Winter: Yellow-rumped Warbler, Brown Creeper, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush. Year-round: Great Horned Owl, Pine Warbler, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker.
Best times to bird: Year round and especially spring migration.
Description: The name Reynolda Gardens can refer either to the formal gardens bordering Reynolda Road or to the larger natural area separating the Reynolda Village shopping area from the Wake Forest University campus. The natural area consists largely of a marsh and wooded slopes flanking two streams.
Directions: From US421/Business I-40 in Winston-Salem, exit northbound on Silas Creek Parkway. Go north approximately four miles to the Wake Forest University/Reynolda Road exit. Turn right at the light onto Reynolda Road, then left at the first traffic signal into Reynolda Village. There are several parking areas within Reynolda. The one most used by birders is at the back of the shopping area, below the bicycle shop.
Birding Highlights: The combination of mature forest habitat and flowing water in a natural area in the middle of a city makes Reynolda a magnet for migrants. Twenty-nine warbler species, six vireo species, and all four Catharus thrushes have been recorded here.
From the parking area you will see the marsh. The marsh edge can be good for sparrows. Follow the edge to the left across an old bridge, which provides a good vantage spot from which to scan the lower marsh. Red-winged Blackbirds inhabit the cattails in summer, and small birds of all types like the willows along the stream. Continue across the bridge to a dirt footpath leading downhill to the right to the edge of a swamp. Look for Northern or Louisiana Waterthrush and other passerines during migration and for Wood Duck and Pileated Woodpecker year round. Continue on the path and cross the bridge to the Wake Forest campus. Check the area along the small stream for Hooded Warbler and other migrant passerines.
Return to the parking area. Follow the marsh edge to the right, through the gate and past the old boathouse. This path goes below Reynolda House and along the edge of the marsh. Look for American Bittern and Great Blue Heron. When the trail reaches an elevated stone gazebo, you have options as to which way you can go. The habitat and birdlife along the three trails that separate near the gazebo are similar. The trail to the left crosses the creek and follows a fence to another trail junction and splits into two trails. The trail to the left at this junction will follow along Silas Creek. The Silas Creek trail has a little more open understory. Watch for Wood Thrush in summer, Hermit Thrush in winter, and Swainson's Thrush and Veery in migration as well as woodpeckers year round. The trail to the right at the junction will take you along the Fence Trail.
The main trail at the gazebo parallels the fence trail, but on the other side of a small, spring-fed creek. These two trails join together half a mile upstream, near the source of the creek, to form a loop.
The two trails along the smaller creek provide access to some areas where the streamside vegetation is fairly thick. Look for Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the summer, and Rose-Breasted Grosbeak and a variety of warblers in spring.
Another area in Reynolda that is easily birded and productive in springtime is the road leading to the Reynolda House museum. This road is accessible from Reynolda Road, about half a mile south of the main entrance to Reynolda Village. Drive in through the stone gate on the left and follow the road past the big field and through a small stand of trees. Turn right on a side road. The side road cuts across the field into the woods, then turns left toward the house. The stretch from the left turn to the end of the road is known to local birders as “Warbler Lane” because of the number and variety of warblers that show up there during migration.
General Information: Reynolda Village, Reynolda Gardens, and the Wake Forest University campus together comprise the former country estate of the R. J. Reynolds family. Reynolda Village, an up-scale shopping complex includes public rest rooms and places to take a lunch break or to stop for a cup of coffee or fresh-squeezed lemonade.
The trails at Reynolda are open during daylight hours year-round. The roads near Reynolda House, however, are gated and are locked every evening. Pay attention to the posted hours. Birders have been known to have their cars parked on Warbler Lane when the gates were locked, and have been unable to retrieve them until the following day.
DeLorme map grid: page 16, D3
North Carolina Travel Map grid: F1
For more information: Reynolda Gardens, (336) 758-3485. http://www.reynoldagardens.org/