Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

While recent statistics show that gardening hails as America’s favorite pastime, birding follows it as a close second, with a big chunk of the population a casual birder. Discussion on birds in North Carolina would easily direct it to the Outer Banks region, a chain of islands of over 100 miles long that includes the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and other protected areas. Birding is essentially a hobby pretty much immortalized via photography; it’s unlikely for hobbyists to take home birds for souvenirs. Other remarkable locations for bird watching are the National Wildlife Refuges: Alligator River, Pea Island, Mattamuskeet, Pee Dee, Pocosin Lakes, and Roanoke River and the Nature Conservancy of North Carolina including Grandfather Mountain, Nags Head Woods Preserve and Big Yellow Mountain Preserve. Here are places where you can enjoy watching a wide array of species of ducks, sparrows, shorebirds, warblers and other southern species.

Outer Bank’s annual Wings Over Water Festival is just in time to attract tourists and take advantage of birds’ migrating the season, which welcomes a variety of species like Harlequin Ducks, spoonbills, teals and ruffs. The Wings Over Water Festival is a six-day event that celebrates the natural wonders of the area. November 2013 will mark the festival’s twelfth year anniversary. Other birding events are Manns Harbor Purple Martin Roost (every August), Goose Creek State Park’s Annual International Migratory Bird Day Festival (April to May), Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge Open House Tours (December) and Core Sound Waterfowl Weekend (December).

Many bird clubs have been established in North Carolina, attracting bird enthusiasts to converge and discuss possible ways to suggest and transform the hobby into a more endearing and worthwhile activity. First in the list of the organizations devoted to birding and environmental movement in North Carolina is the Audobon Society in North Carolina (which also led to the formation of a smaller group devoted to the Forsyth County). This 105-year old society (formed in 1902) has been an advocate against the slaughter of wild birds which also led their purchasing of land that will serve as protected sanctuaries for birds. They also educated the North Carolinians and instill in them the importance of protecting the birds. Other clubs advocating the preservation of bird species include are the following: Carolina Bird Club (1937), Carolina Raptor Center (1975), Chapel Hill Bird Club (the 1930s), Nature Conservancy in North Carolina, North Carolina Bluebird Society (1986), Piedmont Bird Club and more.