The Outer Banks offer spectacular opportunities for bird watching, both in the numerous areas to go birding, and also in the wide variety of different types of birds to be seen. Over 400 species have been documented in the wide array of Outer Banks habitats. While the area is home to many, others are seasonal visitors who stopover on spring and fall migrations.
ShorebirdsShore birds are the sand pipers and plovers that scurry along the beaches as they look for meals in the swash. Sanderlings, willets, black bellied plovers can easily be seen year round, while seasonal species such as marbled godwits and curlews make an appearance during certain times of the year. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the American Oyster Catcher that breeds in undeveloped areas of the Outer Banks.
Terns and GullsGraceful terns are always a delight to see. Common tern, royal tern, Caspian tern, gull billed tern, sandwich tern and least tern can all be viewed at different times of the year over the ocean, sounds and inlets. Gulls are easily seen in many locations. The easiest to recognize are the laughing gull with its black head and distinctive cry, and the great black-backed gull, which is a very large gull.
Wading birdsAs their name implies, wading birds make their home in shallow ditches, canals and ponds and marshes along the Outer Banks. Some species that are easily seen are the great blue heron, little blue heron, white heron, and snowy egret. Yellow crowned night heron, green heron, black crowned night heron, and American bitterns are also present along the Outer Banks, but are much more elusive.
WaterfowlDucks and geese are also present in the sounds, ponds and impoundments along the Outer Banks. Snow geese, swans, and many species of ducks winter-over in the area and are a striking to view and hear in the winter months.
Birds of PreySeveral types of birds of prey can be seen on the Outer Banks. One of the most easy to observe is the osprey, otherwise known as a fish hawk. These large birds hover over the ocean and sounds in search of a meal of fresh fish which they pluck from the water with their sharp talons. Eagles have also been spotted on the Outer Banks, as have been many species of hawks. An easily recognizable hawk is the northern harrier that flies low over the marshes and is identifiable by a large white spot at the base of the tail.
Places to see birdsPea Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Jockey's Ridge State Park, Duck Municipal Park, Buxton Woods Reserve, Currituck Heritage Park, Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve, Roanoke Island Festival Park, Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge are all great places to view Outer Banks bird life. Pea Island, Jockey's Ridge and the Currituck Center for Wildlife Education offer organized bird walks for both novice and experienced birders.
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