State of North Carolina
When birders discuss North Carolina, the first region that usually comes to mind is the Outer Banks. This chain of barrier islands, over 100 miles long, includes the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, and several other protected areas. Many more National Wildlife Refuge tracts such as Mattamuskeet, Alligator River, Pocosin, Cedar Island, and others protect large nearby areas. Due to all this protection, the banks have escaped the rampant development that has degraded much of the coastline further south. They host the annual Wings Over Water festival and attract birders from all over the US, and for good reason. The Outer Banks are a magnet for migrating birds, ranging from northern species such as Harlequin Duck to southern ones such as Roseate Spoonbill, and from western wanderers like Cinnamon Teal to Eurasian vagrants like Ruff.
The southern NC coast has less of a national reputation than the Outer Banks, but might actually have a greater variety. Areas like Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Fisher, and Fort Macon State Park attract many migrants and rarities. Christmas Bird Counts in Wilmington and Southport occasionally rank among the highest species totals in the US outside of Texas and Florida.
The banks and adjacent areas like Mattamuskeet are famous for their diversity and sheer numbers of waterfowl, shorebirds, gulls and other migrants that must be seen to be believed. The banks are also the staging area for year-round pelagic trips that combine tropical species (Masked Booby) with arctic (Dovekie) and even Antarctic (South Polar Skua). These trips are virtually the only proven method of observing certain species in North America, including Bermuda Petrel, Fea's Petrel, Herald Petrel, Bulwer's Petrel, and White-faced and Swinhoe's Storm-Petrel, and so attract participants from all across the country. On the inland side of the coastal plain, the Sandhills region contains the northernmost breeding colonies of the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Mississippi Kites also reach their northernmost breeding limits in coastal North Carolina, while Henslow's Sparrows reach their southernmost.
The other area of North Carolina most frequented by birders is the mountainous western end of the state. The Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains are best known for their scenery; however, they are also the location of some spectacular migrations of landbirds and raptors. Hawk-watchers are becoming increasingly common along the Blue Ridge Parkway in spring and fall. Many warblers and flycatchers that are rarely seen elsewhere in the state migrate regularly through the mountains. These mountains represent the southernmost extent of breeding range for many species east of the Mississippi, including Northern Saw-whet Owl, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, & Black-capped Chickadee.
Between these two famous ends lies the relatively unexciting and more heavily developed Piedmont, which has few resident species that cannot be found elsewhere. However, for both economic and strategic reasons, the Piedmont is home to the vast majority of North Carolina's birders, and so gets a disproportionate amount of attention. Thanks to all this attention, the central part of the state has had more than its share of exciting rarities discovered. Recent vagrants to this area have included Green-breasted Mango, Pacific-Slope Flycatcher, Smith's Longspur, Harris' Sparrow, WhiteWagtail, Western Grebe, White Pelican and Long-billed Murrelet.
The abundance of feeders brings in a surprising number and variety of wintering hummingbirds, mostly Rufous, but Anna's, Calliope, Broad-tailed and Black-chinned have also been recorded. The region is pocked with artificial lakes, originally created by damming rivers for recreation and drinking water, but now home to breeding Bald Eagles and many migrating shorebirds and wintering waterfowl, and even the occasional jaeger. Following the hurricanes that drift through North Carolina almost annually, these same lakes often host pelagic species such as Bridled and Sooty Terns and on rare occasions even tubenoses and tropicbirds.
The Atlantic Ocean off Cape Hatteras is generally the best spot in the western North Atlantic day in and day out for seeing a variety of pelagic seabirds, including a Gulf Stream specialty, the Black-capped Petrel. The Black-capped Petrel is a striking member of the genus Pterodroma, which nests in the West Indies, but regularly disperses northward into the blue waters of the Gulf Stream to feed. It can be seen off Hatteras year-round, but it is most common from May to October. During that time period, birders on pelagic trips here can expect to see 8 to 12 species of pelagic seabirds, including birds which breed in the Southern Ocean, the Eastern Atlantic, the Bahamas & West Indies, and the Arctic tundra. Both the Gulf Stream and deep water are within 20 to 30 miles of Cape Hatteras, so a day offshore is mostly is mostly spent in productive waters. A number of species have been added to the North Amaerican list as a result of organized bird watching trips in recent years. These include Bermuda Petrel, Cape Verde Shearwater, and Black-bellied Storm-Petrel. During the spring and summer, trips are available almost weekly aboard Brian Patteson's boat, the Stormy Petrel, and trips are also available on several winter weekends as well.
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 483
As at May 2015
Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
The North Carolina Birding Trail
Piedemont Trail Guide 2008
ISBN: 0807859176Buy this book from NHBS.com
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Audubon in North Carolina
For nearly 100 years, the National Audubon Society has served as a voice for the environmental movement in the North Carolina. The Audubon Society of North Carolina was formed in 1902 to be the voice for birds, especially our magnificent wading birds and seabirds, which were being slaughtered by the thousands at the hands of market hunters. Early in this century, Audubon hired wardens to enforce game laws and protect colonies of wading birds and seabirds, and served as the first game commission of any southern state. The Society purchased critical habitats for birds and protected these sanctuaries so that birds would have safe havens to nest and raise their young. They worked closely with state legislators to pass laws that protected the birds of our state, and educated all North Carolinians, young and old, about the importance of birds in our lives…
Audubon North Carolina
Established in 1997, the state office of Audubon North Carolina grew out of decades of volunteerism through chapters. Audubon North Carolina’s mission is to conserve and restore NC's ecosystems, focusing on the needs of birds. Our approach combines historic strengths of solid, deliberate science with direct protection, public education and grassroots advocacy. With 10,500 Audubon members and 7 chapters across the state, grassroots activists are the foundation of Audubon's history and its future in North Carolina…
Audubon Society of Forsyth County
Winston-Salem is a nice place to visit, and a growing number of people are living here. If you will drive a little and walk a bit, there are times and places for you to see most of the birds in the eastern United States. The purpose of this guide is to help you get to the places…
Cape Fear Audubon Society
Welcome to the Cape Fear Audubon Society, the local chapter of the National Audubon Society, serving Brunswick, Pender, New Hanover, and Onslow counties. We are proud to be serving such an exciting area of the North Carolina coast, rich in biodiversity and population…
Carolina Bird Club
The Carolina Bird Club, Inc. is a non-profit educational and scientific association founded in 1937. Membership is open to those interested in the study and conservation of wildlife, particularly birds. Dues, contributions, and bequests to the Club may be deductible from state and federal income and estate taxes. The Club meets three times a year (Spring, Fall, and Winter) at different locations in North or South Carolina.
Carolina Raptor Center
In September 1975 an injured Broad-winged Hawk was brought to the Biology department at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. The resident ornithologist, Dr Richard Brown, along with his students, took care of this bird and released it later that year. During the course of the next four years, about a dozen birds were brought to the university. By 1980 the need for a facility that cares for these birds became evident. While attending a national conference, Dr Brown and one of his students, Deb Sue Griffin decided to form an organization to rehabilitate injured raptors. The Carolina Raptor Rehabilitation and Research Center (CRRRC) was hatched - the name was later shortened to Carolina Raptor Center.
Carolina Records Committee
List of committee members and how to submit records…
Chapel Hill Bird Club
Founded in the 1930's, the CHBC now has about 150 members. It is the only remaining bird club in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, though New Hope Audubon and Wake Audubon also have occasional bird stuff…
Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society
Welcome to the Asheville Area's own chapter of the Audubon Society. If you live in this area, we hope you'll join us, and if you don't we hope you enjoy your stay.
Foothills Bird Club
The Foothills Bird Club is open to all who are interested in birding and nature. There are NO dues, although donations are accepted. We invite everyone in the area who are interested, to join us on any of our trips and walks…
Great Smoky Mountains Audubon Society
Great Smoky Mountains Audubon Society - PO Box 1262 - Maggie Valley - NC - 28751 - To promote an awareness and appreciation of nature and to encourage responsible environmental stewardship through education, protection, conservation, and restoration of natural ecosystems; focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats…
High Country Audubon Society
High Country Audubon Society is North Carolina's newest Audubon chapter. Located in the northwest corner of the state the Chapter includes Avery, Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga and Wilkes Counties. We are dedicated to enjoying and helping to protect our local birds…
Highland Plateau Audubon Society
WILMINGTON, NC, September 13, 1999 - The National Audubon Society's North Carolina State Office has named the state's first Important Bird Areas (IBAs). These sites, ranging from far out at sea to high in the mountains, represent natural areas of special significance to birds that breed, migrate, winter and feed in North Carolina. Designated as Audubon Important Bird Areas are: The Point, in the Atlantic northeast of Cape Hatteras, where rare and endangered seabirds feed; the Outer Banks, a 70-mile stretch of barrier islands, which supports a great diversity of bird life year-round; the Catawba River, flowing from Lake Norman to the outskirts of Charlotte, an important watershed for songbirds and waterfowl; the Triangle's Jordan Lake, known for its Bald Eagles; and the Highlands Plateau, at the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a hotspot for neotropical migrants and classic mountain breeders…
Mecklenburg Audubon Society
Established as an official chapter of the National Audubon Society in the early forties through the efforts of Elizabeth and Eddie Clarkson of Wing Haven, Mecklenburg Audubon has a long, productive history of bird conservation in the Charlotte area. The current membership of over 1,000 members comes from all walks of life but has one common interest protecting habitat for birds and other wildlife. We want to share our love of nature with others through educational outreach, citizen science and community partnerships.
Nature Conservancy in North Carolina
Not quite the normal NC website - which is a shame because most are really very good now. This one has lots of info and is well laid out but doesn't have quite the flair of some other states…
New Hope Audubon
The mission of the New Hope Audubon Society is to promote the conservation of birds, other wildlife, and natural ecosystems through public education, field research, advocacy and direct citizen action. New Hope Audubon Society (NHAS) is the chapter of the National Audubon Society that serves Orange, Durham, and Chatham counties in central North Carolina. Membership in NHAS and subscription to the monthly newsletter is automatic for members of National Audubon Society residing in this area.
North Carolina Bluebird Society
The North Carolina Bluebird Society, Inc. is a nonprofit organization formed in Greensboro, N.C. in 1986. It is dedicated to ensuring the future of the Eastern Bluebird and other cavity-nesting birds native to North Carolina. The Society will work toward its goals by promoting bluebird conservation projects among its members and other interested groups in the state, conducting educational programs and workshops, distributing educational materials, collecting and sharing nesting data, encouraging and aiding in the development of nestbox trails and undertaking any other endeavors that will aid our native cavity-nesting birds.
North Carolinas Partners in Flight
North Carolina Partners in Flight is a driving force in the field of neotropical migratory bird conservation…
Piedmont Bird Club
The Piedmont Bird Club was established in 1938. Club members have always taken an interest not only in birds, but also in nature in general and in the conservation of our natural resources. Education of the public in various ways, as well as active community involvement is of special interest to the members. Club activities include meetings, field trips, community services and social activities. Local birding trips to enjoy the beauty and variety of birds in the Piedmont area are regularly scheduled. Meeting programs include information about local birding, unusual sightings, and talks and presentations about birds and other wildlife from experts in the field…
T Gilbert Pearson Audubon Society
Guilford County North Carolina…
Wake Audubon Society
Join us on Saturday, March 11 as we travel with Wake Audubon vice-president Jeff Beane to the Carolina Bays of the Sandhills in search of breeding amphibians and basking reptiles. This is one of those rare field trip opportunities that should not be missed¼but there is limited space. We hope to find tiger salamanders, Mabee`s salamanders, gopher frogs and more. Birding should be good as well.
Alligator River NWR
Established in 1984 and located on the mainland of eastern North Carolina, Alligator River contains over 152,000 acres. Many species of wildlife call Alligator River home. The refuge bird list suggests at least 200 species of birds spend at least a portion of their year here…
Chimney Rock Park
Chimney Rock Park offers excellent opportunities for bird watching throughout the seasons due to its endless variety of habitats ranging from riverbank to high cliffs. Along the Rocky Broad River, floodplain trees and wet thickets attract Yellow and Yellow-throated Warblers. Belted Kingfishers may be seen sitting on a branch surveying the river…
Great Dismal Swamp NWR
Located in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was formed in 1974 when Union Camp Corporation donated 49,100 acres of forested wetlands to The Nature Conservancy. This land was then conveyed to the Department of the Interior, and the Refuge officially established. The Refuge consists of over 107,000 acres, with Lake Drummond, a 3,100 acre natural lake in the center of the Swamp…
Mattamuskeet Lake is the winter birding capital of the Pocosin. Tucked away in a sparsely populated corner of North Carolina roughly 170 miles due east of Raleigh, this is the favorite haunt of birders from the eastern part of the state as well as Virginia and South Carolina…
North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation
The North Carolina State Parks System exists for the enjoyment, education, health, and inspiration of all our citizens and visitors. The mission of the state parks system is to conserve and protect representative examples of the natural beauty, ecological features and recreational resources of statewide significance; to provide outdoor recreational opportunities in a safe and healthy environment; and to provide environmental education opportunities that promote stewardship of the state's natural heritage.
Pea Island NWR
Located on the north end of Hatteras Island, this refuge was established in 1938 for the protection of wildlife, especially migratory waterfowl. Stretching twelve miles from the Oregon Inlet to Rodanthe, it encompasses 6000 acres of land and 25,700 acres of boundary water of the Pamlico Sound, where hunting is off-limits. Pea Island is named for the wild pea vine which grows in there abundance.
Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary and Center
The Pine Island Sanctuary also harbors a great diversity of plants and animals. More than 350 species of plants have been recorded, including at least three rare and threatened species. In addition, 202 species of vertebrates have been recorded, including 7 amphibian species, 17 reptile species, 19 mammal species, and 159 species of birds that inhabit the waters, marshes, and surrounding woodlands, from Brown Pelicans to Prairie Warblers, depending on the season…
Pocosin Lakes NWR
The refuge has been working on re-introducing red wolves Canis rufus to the wild in efforts to prevent extinction of the species and to restore the habitat in which red wolves once occurred. On the brink of extinction, the eastern North Carolina red wolf population had been eliminated from the wild and the total population was believed to be less than 100 individuals…
Forums & Mailing Lists
List contact: email@example.com.
To subscribe to list: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mailing List – Discussion Group - Discussion of birds in North and South Carolina - This mailing list serves as a forum to discuss wild birds, birders, and birding in the Carolinas, including rare birds, bird finding, bird identification, bird behavior, backyard birding, trip reports, bird counts, and bird club information.
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
Patteson Pelagic Trips
Brian Patteson has been organizing pelagic trips for birders since 1986. Brian Patteson, Inc. is offering an extensive schedule of pelagic trips from North Carolina's Outer Banks as well as Virginia Beach, Virginia. Trips are scheduled at different seasons so as to see the fullest spectrum of pelagic birds and animals possible in the region.
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2012 [05 May] - Matt Denton
…The first tour of North Carolina for Birdquest was a wonderful week of birding in one of North America’s most bird-rich regions. Some of the highlights from our Gulf Stream pelagic included such species as Black- capped Petrel, Cory’s, Great, Sooty and Audubon’s Shearwater and Wilson’s, Leach’s and Band-rumped Storm-Petrels. Non-pelagic birding was very enjoyable as well with many memorable sightings of such birds as Mississippi Kite, Eastern Screech-Owl, six species of woodpeckers including Red-headed and Red- cockaded Woodpeckers, and Bachman’s Sparrow….
2012 [05 May] - Simon Thompson
…We finished the week with 29 warblers (30 next year?) including Nashville, Golden-wing, Blue-wing, Tennessee, Magnolia and several Cape May and Blackpolls en route to Canada and points north…
2013 [06 June] - Michael O'Brien
…We began with a nice introduction to the Southeast at Wilmington’s Greenfield Lake, with its mix of pine, sweetgum, and Bald Cypress, all festooned in Spanish Moss. Here we found such typical species as Wood Duck, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Brown Thrasher, and a wonderful little family of Northern Parulas…
2015 [06 June] - Michael O'Brien
...Although well-manicured, the lake’s swampy margins provided ample habitat for a wide variety of birds, including Anhinga, Green Heron, Northern Parula, and Yellow-throated Warbler. Already well into the breeding season, the sights and sounds of baby birds were all around: Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Brown Thrasher were all feeding young.
2016 [05 May] - Bruce Wedderburn - Southeast USA
This was a two-month trip to southeast USA for Yvonne and myself, from late March through to late May, with a focus on the Spring migration, in particular the highly varied and colourful warblers. The trip commenced in Dallas in early Spring and involved touring through Texas along the Mexican border, following the Gulf of Mexico around to Florida as far south as Key West, then heading north up the east coast of the USA, then inland to the Appalachian Ranges in North Carolina, before heading west for our return trip to Dallas. Qantas has direct flights from Sydney to Dallas which avoids flying on any internal flights within the USA.
2016 [06 June] - Michael O'Brien
Inspired by our popular “Birding Across America by Train” tour, our first “Warbler Train” was a busy and fun-filled adventure.
Places to Stay
Cape Pines Motel - Buxton
Cape Pines Motel, nestled in the heart of the quiet village of Buxton, is a beautiful, family owned and operated establishment. [Owned by a birder!]
Family run motel…
Duke of Dare Motor Lodge
Often hosts birders headed for NC pelagic trips…
Egret On The Sound - cottage rentals
… cottage on the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina, USA, a very popular area for birders. In fact, we are surrounded by thousands of acres of preserved land in our county, and the two adjoining. There are very few lodging options inland where we are (although we are on the water of the Albemarle Sound)…
Hawk & Ivy B&B
Nature lovers will find countless varieties of rare wildflowers, unusual birds, and diverse animal habitats.
The Boxley B&B
The Boxley is situated on over an acre right in the downtown Madison, come and enjoy the peacefulness and serenity of the yard and gardens. Relax and listen to the birds, smell the flowers and watch the beautiful sunset.
Village Realty offers over 600 Outer Banks vacation rentals from two-bedroom condos to twelve-bedroom homes. From the oceanfront to the soundfront, we specialize in Outer Banks rentals in Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Corolla. Customer service is our number one priority, and we will go the extra mile to make your Outer Banks vacation special. Village Realty will help you vacation… Outer Banks Style!
Wray House B&B
During the summer, tables tucked away under the grape arbor are a favorite place for breakfast or quiet conversation. Birds of every feather provide songs and entertainment as they feed and fuss.
Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival
The Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival is an annual six-day celebration of the wild side of the Outer Banks area that takes place each year in early November. The event offers dozens of programs in themes ranging from birding and paddling, to wildlife photography, natural history, and more…
Duke University - Dr. Steve Nowicki
The Nowicki laboratory studies the ecology and evolution of animal behavior, especially questions about the evolution of diversity and complexity in animal communication signals. Steve Nowicki`s current work focuses on birdsong…
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
In 1999 the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences began investigating occurrences of unusual and unexpected hummingbirds in the state during the months from October to March. This work is being carried out by longtime Research Affiliate Susan Campbell, in collaboration with Master Banders Bob and Martha Sargent, founders of the Hummer/Bird Study Group…
North Carolina State University - Jaime Collazo
Thesis and Dissertation - Status and population ecology of the brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, in the Greater Puerto Rican Bank. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Animal Ecology, Iowa State University, 1985. Breeding biology and food habits of the great blue heron at Heyburn State Park, Benewah County, Idaho. M.S. Thesis, Department of Zoology, University of Idaho, 1979…
North Carolina State Zoo
The North Carolina Zoological Park offers a variety of motivating learning experiences that enable participants to discover the interconnections of all living things, inspiring a positive life-long environmental ethic…
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Dr. Haven Wiley
Professor of Biology and Ecology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill…
University of North Carolina at Charlotte - Rob Bierregaard
Browse around to find out about my research and publications on birds of prey, birds of the New World Tropics (Neotropics); habitat fragmentation in the Amazon, ecology, and conservation, as well as my graduate students, courses taught (ornithology and sometimes field ecology); and links to interesting pages on the Web, including a number of local conservation organizations with which I`m involved…
Exploring Nature in NC
Paula Page exploring wildlife in North Carolina with primary focus on birds…
A collection of notes and photos - most of them taken at our home on Lake Gaston, North Carolina.
Laugh or cry with me while i reflect on human nature and the beauty i find outdoors - I'm a native Marylander, now enjoying sunny North Carolina with my husband, two Boston Terriers, and our daughter close by. Life is good.
Nathan Swick - The Drinking Bird
Musings on birds and probably other things too… but mostly birds…
Wild birds in North Carolina…
The Birder's Conundrum
Birding is a conundrum, in both senses of the word. Here at The Birder's Conundrum, an up-and-coming birding blog, we strive to explain this dual meaning to the best of our abilities. The simple act of birding is riddled with "confusing and difficult problems or questions" - perplexing identifications, new science, and why we do what we do as birders. We also will ask difficult (and sometimes embarrassing) questions for your reading pleasure, by exploring the pastime's quirks and obsessive characters that can make birding funny as hell. Nothing is off-limits. So welcome, and get excited. This is going to be Great(er).
Barred Owls (Strix varia) are among the most diurnal of all the owls and can be heard frequently at RibbonWalk -especially in late afternoon. Their standard nine-syllable call sounds like Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all, but they also produce a wide variety of monkey-like vocalizations. Barred Owls are the only Piedmont owls with dark eyes…
Cape Lookout National Seashore
The seashore is a 56 mile long section of the Outer Banks of North Carolina running from Ocracoke Inlet on the northeast to Beaufort Inlet on the southeast. The three undeveloped barrier islands which make up the seashore - North Core Banks, South Core Banks and Shackleford Banks - may seem barren and isolated but they offer many natural and historical features that can make a visit very rewarding…
Dare County - Currituck County - Hyde County Birding
The Seashore is famous for its great concentration of migratory birds on the Atlantic Flyway. Nearly 400 species of birds have been sighted within the Parks boundaries and adjacent waters. Bird watching is best during the spring and fall migrations. In Buxton Woods at Cape Point, visitors can explore the largest surviving maritime forest in North Carolina. Hawks are especially predominant here, and a variety of fresh-water reptiles such as yellow-bellied sliders can be found in the freshwater ponds.
Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History
The centre has collected many years of bird-banding data and other bird information…
Hummingbirds of North Carolina
Just as the title implies
International Center for Birds of Prey
The International Center for Birds of Prey (ICBP) is a non-profit educational, scientific and conservation organization located near Charleston, South Carolina.
North Carolina Outdoors
Exploring, Enjoying, and Protecting the Natural and Cultural Heritage of North Carolina.
North Carolina Pelagic Birding
The Gulf Stream is a warm water current that begins off the tip of Florida, where it is called the Florida Current, and ends off the coast of Ireland. In North America, the Stream passes closest to shore off North Carolina`s Outer Banks…
Will Cook's Web Site
Lots of terrific information and links for Carolina birders!
Photographers & Artists
Photographer - Fred Hurteau
NCBirds.com is a collection of original photos by Fred Hurteau. Presently the identification collection and gallery contain well over 800 photos covering more than 70 species. Nearly all species represented here are common to North Carolina….
Photographer - Randy L Emmitt
These are just a few of my favorite bird slides. Some are very high quality and others are unusual or rare sightings. If you see a image number that means its a full slide and listed in my stock photography database and can be licensed for publication or high quality Ilfochrome prints can be made for purchase…