of the Outer Banks
Blue Heron, near Whalehead Club, Corolla
coastal region of North Carolina is a birding hot spot. It consistently
provides some of the highest species counts in the world. No less
than ten national wildlife refuges, two national seashore parks and
many nature reserves provide at least a quarter million acres of protected
habitat (see listing here).
This rich environment makes North Carolina's coastal lands and the
Outer Banks a magnet for hundreds of bird species. It also attracts
many thousands of people who watch and photograph them.
Silver Lake, Ocracoke
Great flocks of Snow Geese, Tundra Swans, Canada
Geese and many species of ducks draw birders from around the world.
Egrets, cranes and shorebirds of every description abound. Osprey
nest here, and Brown Pelicans cruise the surf with their spectacular
dives for fish. Terns give them great competition with their diving
acrobatics as well.
The grasses and thickets provide habitat for
all manner of small birds. The proximity to fresh and salt waters
draws a great variety and abundance of species, both year-round and
transient, that makes birding here a thoroughly satisfying experience.
Yellowlegs, near Currituck Beach Lighthouse, Corolla
at dusk,Bodie Island Lighthouse grounds
Warbler at sunrise, near Currituck Beach Lighthouse, Corolla
Willet, near Avon,
Favorite spots for bird watching include the
pond in front of Bodie Island Lighthouse and two ponds on Pea Island
at the visitor center. These are easy to reach and attract many of
the more casual birders, as well as the serious. There are several
places along Pea Island with boardwalks, viewing stands, and even
a blind just north of the visitor center. Another popular spot is
behind the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Park at the lighthouse parking
lot, and walk to the west side of the loop drive. From there a dirt
road leads toward the sound side. It is likely there will already
be others there who are regulars to this spot.
Whalehead Club, Corolla
Cormorant, south horse fence, Corolla
There is an annual "Wings Over Water" wildlife
festival on the Outer Banks each fall. Beginning in 2005 there will
be one in the spring as well. This festival attracts a great number
of people, with events planned all along the Outer Banks to coincide
with the festival period. Many bird watchers and nature photographers
are attracted to the events surrounding this festival
Flicker at the author's rental unit in Kill Devil Hills.
with fish catch on an overcast day, near Whalehead Club, Corolla
Egret foraging a large fresh water puddle in the road, Carova
Pelican, near sunset at a marina, Harkers Island
The big excitement comes in the winter with
the migration of waterfowl. Many thousands of birds, including Tundra
Swans, Snow Geese and other popular species crowd the airways and
waterways all along the coast. Pea Island, Lake Mattamuskeet and many
other reserves and preserves are filled with these flocks of ducks,
geese and swans. Almost anywhere you look you will find flocks gathered.
It is a time when the serious bird watcher makes his or her yearly
migration to these wonderful Outer Banks to see them.
with crab catch, North Pond, Pea Island NWR
Egret, Salter Path,
Ibis and Snowy Egret, North Pond, Pea Island NWR
Hundreds more photos of North Carolina's birds
can be found at Fred Hurteau's NCBirds.com
web site, including many of his photographs of the Birds of the Outer
Banks. You can also see them in our next section - Gallery
of Outer Banks Birds