Species Journal

A journal of species observed in the Springcrest neighborhood of Chapel Hill, NC named for its natural springs. This beautiful shared habitat, provides a cherished home for families as well as an abundant diversity of plants and animals.  Photos by Ralph Perrine, taken in the Springcrest neighborhood.



  • Most Numerous: Cardinals, Carolina Wrens, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, House Finch, Downy Woodpecker, White Breasted Nuthatch, Mockingbirds, Crows.
  • Frequently Seen – Northern Flickers being seen with increasing consistency in fall 2014, Brown Thrasher, Brown Headed Nuthatch, Bluebirds, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Robin, Eastern Towhee, Catbird, Goldfinch, Blue Jays, American Crows.
  • Occasionally Seen – Hairy Woodpecker, Brown Creeper. Pileated Woodpecker seen in sweet gum tree Dec 2014. Three different wood thrushes heard singing during summer 2015. One seen at birdbath same summer on Green Willow Ct. Other two heard on each side of Perry Creek. Red Eyed Vireos heard from treetops in summer. Fish Crows from time to time.
  • Common in Winters – Junco, Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, Yellow Rumped Warbler, Golden Crowned Kinglet, Ruby Crowned Kinglet, White Throated Sparrows usually in groups of 4 or more, Song Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, Winter Wren.
  • Occasional in Winters – Hermit Thrushes, Cedar Waxwings, Pine Warblers. Brown Creeper, observed once or twice each winter since 2010. Pine Siskins wintered here in large numbers in 2012 and again in 2015. Groups of 8 or more commonly seen at feeders.
  • Spring/Fall Migration – Purple Finch, Black Throated Blue Warbler, Parula Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher.
  • Seen Once – Summer Tanager in top of tall oak at sunset, Aug 31 2015.
  • May have heard Cuckoo (kowp-kowp call) August 2015.

Birds of Prey

  • Barn Owls – Reports of sightings along Perry Creek road, near the Silver Creek stop sign. Heard winter 2011 and 2014 in early mornings near Green Willow Ct. Saw one at corner of Tabscott and Chippoaks around 5am Sept 11 2015.
  • Great Horned Owls – At least one sighting reported.
  • Barred Owl – Frequently seen. Multiple sightings. November 2014 seen early am on upper Dry Creek trail near the power lines. Winter 2009 dead one found by side of Providence Drive, by creek near Notting Hill Apartments.
  • Cooper’s Hawk – At least one juvenile and one adult on the Chippoaks vicinity and one more in the Silver Creek vicinity. Frequently seen.
  • Red Shouldered Hawk – Appears to be a pair in the Chippoaks/Perry Creek vicinity. Another 1 or 2 reside in the upper end of the Dry Creek Trail.
  • Red Tailed Hawk – Occasionally seen. Seen early am Jan 2015 in treetops near Orchard Lane.
  • Sharp Shinned Hawk – seen in the Notting Hill Apartments vicinity 2009. Near Green Willow Ct Dec 2014.
  • Vultures both Turkey and Black seen consistently.


  • Deer – Frequent sightings, including regular annual sightings of fawns.
  • Gray Gray Fox – Several frequently throughout 2016-2017 in Green Willow Ct area. In spring summer 2017 one would take naps on a large oak stump in our yard. Pups seen in summer of 2016. Winter 2009 seen in vicinity of Bible Church crossing Erwin Rd. Winter 2008 seen in vicinity of East Town office park.
  • Groundhog – first reported summer of 2017. Seen in our yard July 17 2017.
  • Gray Squirrels – ubiquitous.
  • Chipmunk – frequently seen in our yard and surrounding area.
  • Eastern Wood Rat – seen a few occasions in summer 2015
  • Flying Squirrel – Occasional sightings and sign. November 2014 feeding evidence – hickory nut with a round hole bitten out of it on the upper Dry Creek trail. Summer 2011 spotted at moth board on Green Willow Ct.
  • Possum – Active at night, with occasional daytime sightings. Multiple sightings. Also Caught on wildlife cams multiple occasions.
  • Raccoon – Active at night. Jan 2015 seen climbing tree off upper Dry Creek trail. Caught on wildlife cams multiple occasions.
  • Beaver – Winter 2009, saplings chewed, (not fresh) along with a small Beaver dam/lodge seen in the wetlands behind Notting Hill apartments
  • Red Fox – September 2008, seen in the vicinity of Notting Hill apartments.
  • Star Nosed Mole – seen occassionally. Accidentally dug one up while turning over the compost pile.
  • Voles – seen a couple of times. 

Reptiles and Amphibians

  • Black Snake – Observed near residence. Plunders House Finch nests in hanging plants. Good climber.
  • Ribbon Snake – Observed 5 inch specimen in dirt and accumulated leaf litter, next to a retaining wall (spring 2011).
  • Worm Snake – Found 14 inch specimen under old stump. Eats worms.
  • Eastern Box Turtle – Seen consistently in yards and trails. Can live to 50+ years. Some of these turtles may pre-date this neighborhood.
  • Five Lined Skink
  • Reports of a nest of copperheads at one residence prior to 2010. No sightings since.

Notable Insects

  • Swallowtail Butterflies: Tiger Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Pipevine Swallowtail (summer 2010-2014)
  • Moths: Clearwing /Hummingbird Moth (late summer in 2012, 2013), Luna Moth (2013 late summer, 2014 spring).
  • Other: Praying Mantis

Trees (16)

  • Ash
  • Magnolia
  • Redbud (2, 1 native, 1 planted by me)
  • Willow (Planted by me)
  • Maple
  • Fringe Tree
  • Peach Tree (Planted by me)
  • White Dogwood (2)
  • Pink Dogwood
  • Bald Cypress
  • Shagbark Hickory (?)
  • Turkey Oak (2)
  • Box Elder (?)
  • Winged Elm
  • Black Cherry
  • Blackjack Oak

Native Flowers and Plants (4+)

  • Wild Strawberries
  • May Applies – a wild colony exists in the wetlands behind Notting Hill Apartments. Have also been planted by residents in their yards. Available from Niche Gardens.
  • White clover
  • Dandelions


  • Bird nest fungi – observed close to the ground in clusters, sometimes along tree branches.
  • Morels – seen in yard in leaf and wood litter.

Planted/Non-native Flowers and Plants (10)

  • Day Lilies
  • Azaleas (5)
  • Mums
  • Tulips
  • Roses
  • Lilies
  • Irises
  • English Ivy (being removed)
  • Bamboo
  • Crepe Myrtle (2)

Species Known to frequent or pass through Orange County and vicinity, but not seen in Springcrest

  • Red Headed Woodpeckers. Some are known to live in the wetlands behind Notting Hill Apartments, along with a mix of Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Down Woodpeckers and Flickers, all who seem to compete for nesting holes in the dying trees.
  • Screech Owls
  • Whippoorwills
  • Meadowlarks
  • Turkeys – 2010-2013  seen within 2-3 miles (in the New Hope Creek vicinity of Duke Forest on Erwin Rd. Saw 2 off Mt Moriah August 2105.
  • Coyotes – have been seen within 3 miles.
  • Bobcats – one large cat-like track observed near creek in the vicinity of Notting Hill Apartments c.2009.
  • Bears – may move through the area in the spring and fall. Unclear whether there is a persistent population in residence. Some Hillsborough residents assert there are. One potential sighting of bear and cub at Mason farm in March 2009.

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