Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
The 100 most recent account entries/updates.
Black-bellied Whistling-DuckDendrocygna autumnalisThe Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a recent stray to coastal and tidewater areas, with the only acc...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very rare to now (2018) rare visitor to the southern coastal areas and Tidewater region; very rare e...Surprisingly, only four known records, though records should increase greatly over the next decade. ...Four records; casual but increasing. A flock of 12 was seen and photographed at the Super Sod farm a...The species is most likely to show up in the Twin Lakes area of Brunswick, based on closest p...* to **2019-06-12
Wood StorkMycteria americanaThe Wood Stork is probably the most significant wader in the state, because it is a Federally listed...BreederDefinitiveTTS1B,S1NG4Summer resident and post-breeding visitor, increasing. Locally common only at its primary breeding ...Post-breeding visitor, increasing. Very rare to now locally rare, mainly from Jun to Sep, but scatt...Post-breeding visitor; casual to (now) very rare in the southern and central mountains (only), with ...The species can almost always be found around the margins of the two freshwater ponds at Twin Lakes,...****2019-05-01
Kirtland's WarblerSetophaga kirtlandiiConsidering that North Carolina is about halfway between the species' wintering grounds in the Baham...NonbreederDefinitiveEESZG3G4Remarkably, just a single convincing report -- one photographed at Duck (Dare), from 2-5 Oct 2017 (C...Casual fall transient in the western portion of the province, but no accepted records yet for the ea...Casual to very rare transient, with six records (but only one of them in spring). A first-year fema...1/2 *2019-04-20
Townsend's WarblerSetophaga townsendiThis close relative of the Black-throated Green Warbler breeds only from Alaska to the northwestern ...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Casual, with four published reports. Three have been reviewed and accepted by the NC BRC: one photog...No records.The only record is of a first-year female photographed at the Richland Balsam Overlook, along the <...1/2 *2019-04-20
Lincoln's SparrowMelospiza lincolniiDespite the Lincoln's Sparrow having a very wide breeding range, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and so...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter resident, and poorly known transient. In winter, uncommon and easily overlooked in the south...Transient, with a few lingering into early winter. In fall, rare to uncommon and easily overlooked;...Transient. In fall, uncommon and easily overlooked, at least at the lower elevations; poorly known ...If you bird around brush piles and thickets in winter in the Lake Phelps to Lake Mattamuskeet areas,...**2019-04-20
Lark SparrowChondestes grammacusThe Lark Sparrow, as with the Vesper Sparrow, is by itself in a monotypic genus; no other sparrow is...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Sparse summer resident, transient, and winter straggler. In summer, rare and local, only in the San...Transient. Casual to very rare in spring, and very rare in fall; scattered over the region. Mainly...Transient. Casual in spring (five records), and very rare in late summer/fall (ten records). In sp...The breeding sites are generally off-limits to birders; thus, the best places to look are along the ...* to **2019-04-20
Clay-colored SparrowSpizella pallidaThe Clay-colored Sparrow was a primarily "Western"/Midwestern" species until a few decades ago. How...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and sparse winter resident, mainly near the coast. In fall, rare to uncommon along the c...Transient, essentially in fall and winter. Very rare in fall and winter (about 11 records in each s...Transient. Very rare in fall, winter, and spring, nearly all records in low elevations in the south...Your best bet is probably Fort Fisher in Sep and Oct. A few have been seen semi-regularly in winter...**2019-04-20
Swainson's ThrushCatharus ustulatusThe Swainson's Thrush is another thrush that nests across the boreal forest zone of Canada, south in...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Transient. In spring, uncommon in the western portion, but rare in the central and eastern portions...Transient. Uncommon to fairly common across the region, both in spring and fall; probably more nume...Summer resident, almost certainly breeding (both pre-1900 and after a lapse of over 100 years, post-...Finding the species in migration is always "chancey", so you need to bird at parks or refuges in the...** to ***2019-04-20
Marsh WrenCistothorus palustrisThe Marsh Wren was formerly named the Long-billed Marsh Wren, thus causing some confusion with the S...BreederDefinitiveS3B,S4NG5Permanent resident in coastal areas, with migratory movements; transient and scarce winter resident ...Transient, and straggler into winter (few overwinter). Rare to locally uncommon in spring and fall ...Transient. Rare (but easily overlooked) in low elevation valleys; casual to very rare at higher ele...The marshes along NC 615 through Great Marsh at Mackay Island NWR abound with them in summer. Howeve...*** to ****2019-04-20
Gray KingbirdTyrannus dominicensisThe Gray Kingbird is somewhat the Southern version of the Eastern Kingbird, being mainly a bird of F...Accidental BreederDefinitiveSZG5Stray/transient, essentially along the coast, and accidental/casual breeder. As a visitor, very rar...Casual. There are only three records, from Umstead State Park (Wake) on 16 Apr 1959 (Chat 23...No records.This is a long shot, but your best bet is to drive roads along the southern coastal islands, in late...*2019-04-20
Northern Saw-whet OwlAegolius acadicusThe smallest owl in eastern North America, the Northern Saw-whet Owl usually requires a special sear...BreederDefinitiveTS2B,S2NG5Winter visitor or resident. Status is poorly known, but generally rare (to possibly locally uncommo...Winter visitor. Very rare (or at least very rarely reported) in the northeastern portion, with abou...Breeder in the higher elevations; winter resident over most of the region. Uncommon to fairly commo...To find the species in the state, it is obviously more advantageous to try for it on the breeding gr...**2019-04-20
Broad-winged HawkButeo platypterusThe Broad-winged Hawk is famous for its strongly migratory habits, as it completely leaves the Unite...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Migrant and scarce summer resident. Uncommon spring migrant, and rare to uncommon fall migrant, ove...Summer resident and migrant. Mostly uncommon migrant (spring and fall); rare to (formerly) very unc...Summer resident and migrant. In summer, uncommon to fairly common, and reasonably widespread, over ...If you visit a hawk-watch site in the mountains in fall, such as Pilot Mountain, you might be able t...***2019-04-20
Swallow-tailed KiteElanoides forficatusArguably the most spectacular bird of prey in the world, especially when seen in flight, the Swallow...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Annual visitor, mainly in spring along and near the coast, and breeder at a few inland sites in the ...Very rare to occasionally rare, but increasing, visitor in the warmer months; about 36 records, from...Very rare visitor in the warmer months; about 13 records, with five coming in fall 2016. Mid-May to...Birders can usually spot one to several birds, along with some Mississippi Kites, either close to th...**2019-04-20
Roseate SpoonbillPlatalea ajajaHardly any bird is more easily identified than the Roseate Spoonbill. This tropical breeder nests no...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Post-breeding visitor and stray, mostly to the coast. Very rare to (now) rare along the southern co...Formerly accidental to casual, but now very rare, post-breeding visitor, with seven known records un...Casual post-breeding visitor, with all records from 2018 (Chat 82:112). Singles were seen on the Fr...This species is too rare to be searched for in the state. Typically, a bird is seen in shallow tida...*2019-04-20
Great Blue HeronArdea herodiasOur most familiar and frequently seen wader, the Great Blue Heron has shown a remarkable increase in...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S5NG5Year-round resident throughout the province, with some populations migratory. Essentially common al...Year-round resident, breeding locally but in most counties; increasing at all seasons. Common over ...Nearly year-round resident, though generally rare to uncommon in late spring and early summer; breed...This widespread species can be seen daily in most regions from late summer through spring, and findi...****2019-04-20
Brown PelicanPelecanus occidentalisThis species is one of the most familiar of all of the state's birds to the layman, as everyone know...BreederDefinitiveSRS3B,S4NG4Permanent resident, with migratory movements; breeding. Common to very common, though local, breede...Very rare visitor. At least 16 reports, mostly at large reservoirs (about one-half of these from Fa...Accidental/casual. Three reports (all single birds); Waynesville, 6 Aug 1979; Lake Junaluska (Ha...None needed; easily found along and near coastal areas.****2019-04-20
Masked BoobySula dactylatraAs with the tropicbirds, the two boobies recorded in North Carolina waters also are rare enough, and...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Nonbreeding visitor, mainly offshore in the Gulf Stream. Rare from early Jun to mid-Sep; very rare ...No records.No records.Finding the Masked Booby in North Carolina is a matter of persistence; you must be prepared to take ...*2019-04-20
Sooty ShearwaterArdenna griseaThe Sooty Shearwater is one of the most abundant birds in the world, as it occurs nearly worldwide, ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Offshore visitor, though frequently seen from shore, especially at Cape Hatteras Point and elsewhere...Accidental visitor; two records, one seen at Falls Lake (Wake/Durham) after Hurricane Fran, 6...Accidental visitor; one record, a specimen found at Twin Oaks, Alleghany, Aug 1939 (Auk 65:14...To find this species, you must make a conscious effort to look for it within its one-month window. ...** to ***2019-04-19
Trindade PetrelPterodroma arminjonianaThis species has a checkered taxonomic history, in part because what is considered as the "Herald Pe...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Offshore visitor. Rare but regular in the warmer months, seen a handful of times annually, with wel...No records.No records.You need to take a birding pelagic trip off Hatteras or Oregon inlets. Late May into early Septembe...* to **2019-04-19
White-faced Storm-PetrelPelagodroma marinaThough there are rarer pelagic birds in North Carolina waters than the monotypic White-faced Storm-P...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Scarce offshore visitor, but few records since 2000 (despite a large number of pelagic trips). Rare...No definite report. One probable White-faced was seen at Jordan Lake, 6 Sep 1996, after Hurricane F...No records.Though the species has been seen on a fair number of occasions in the edge of the Gulf Stream, on th...*2019-04-19
Common LoonGavia immerThe Common Loon is one of the best known waterbirds on the continent, known both to the layman and t...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Winter resident and transient. Along the entire coast, generally common, though less so along east-...Winter resident and transient. In midwinter, mainly uncommon on larger reservoirs, and very rare to ...Winter visitor and transient. Rare in midwinter on larger lakes (in the southern mountains), mainly...The Common Loon is more widespread in coastal areas than is the Red-throated Loon, being found on th...****2019-04-19
Pacific LoonGavia pacificaThis Arctic breeding species winters essentially along the Pacific coast. For unknown reasons, the ...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter visitor along the coast, and a winter resident in a local area; many dozen records, greatly i...Casual. Three records: one at L. Tahoma (McDowell) on 6 May 2007, in alternate plumage (Chat ...Accidental. A single record: one photographed at Lake Julian (Buncombe) on 5-6 Jan 2012* (Ch...To look for this species, you must be prepared to carefully scrutinize loons on the ocean, with a sc...* to **2019-04-19
Black SkimmerRynchops nigerThough no other bird in North America looks like, forages like, and is related to the Black Skimmer,...BreederDefinitiveSCS2B,S3NG5Permanent resident (breeding), with migratory movements, along the coast. Fairly common (to formerl...Storm-related visitor, to lakes and reservoirs; casual to very rare, with nine records, nearly all f...No records.The species is usually seen on a day of coastal birding from Apr into Oct, though numbers are seldom...***2019-04-19
Sandwich TernThalasseus sandvicensisThe Sandwich Tern is the Royal Tern's "little brother"; it always nests in flocks of Royal Terns, re...BreederDefinitiveS3S4BG5Summer resident (breeding) and migrant along the coast. Fairly common along the coast in summer and...Storm-related visitor, in early fall, to large lakes and reservoirs, but only close to the Fall Line...No records.This tern is usually seen in a day of birding at Oregon Inlet or near the Pea Island impoundments. ...***2019-04-19
Royal TernThalasseus maximusThe Royal Tern is the common large tern along the coast of the state for most of the year; however, ...BreederDefinitiveS4B,S4NG5Permanent resident (breeding), with migratory movements, along the coast. Common to very common alo...Storm-related visitor, in late summer and fall, to lakes and reservoirs. Very rare, from mid-Aug to ...No records.Easily found along the coast from Mar to Nov, but less so in winter.****2019-04-19
Arctic TernSterna paradisaeaTo see this species in North Carolina, one must take a pelagic trip in late spring, or less likely i...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, essentially offshore. Offshore -- uncommon in spring, and rare in fall; status in fall w...Casual storm-carried visitor. Five records: one at a parking lot in Shelby on 22 Sep 1989 (after Hu...No records.Your best bet, by far, is to take a pelagic trip out of Oregon or Hatteras inlets in the latter half...**2019-04-19
Common TernSterna hirundoUntil about 20 years ago, the common name of this species (Common Tern) was quite appropriate in Nor...BreederDefinitiveES2BG5Summer resident (breeding) and transient along the coast, and transient inland. Fairly common to co...Transient. Rare in spring, and rare to uncommon in fall, at larger lakes and reservoirs; highest co...Transient. Casual in spring, and very rare in fall, at lakes in the southern mountains; about ten r...It is still rather easily found from May into the fall along the coast, at least along the Outer Ban...****2019-04-19
Gull-billed TernGelochelidon niloticaOf all of the breeding species in North Carolina, few are as strongly declining over the past decade...BreederDefinitiveTS1S2BG5Breeding summer resident, along and near the coast. Uncommon to fairly common -- fairly common prio...Accidental/casual, presumably a storm-carried visitor, but whether these reports were actually relat...Accidental, after storms. One in the Mills River area (Henderson) on 17 Sep 2004 (Chat 69:52...A few Gull-billed Terns can be usually be seen at Pea Island, at Fort Fisher, and at many areas alon...***2019-04-19
Least TernSternula antillarumThe smallest tern in North America, the Least Tern is a familiar yet slowly declining breeding speci...BreederDefinitiveSCS3BG4Breeding summer resident along the coast; declining until a few years ago, but recently has increase...Storm-carried visitor. Casual at reservoirs during and after hurricanes; about nine records, from l...No records.This species is not usually missed on coastal birding trips from May through Aug, though it isn't qu...***2019-04-19
Sooty TernOnychoprion fuscatusThe Sooty Tern is sometimes considered to be the most abundant bird in the world, it being found com...Accidental BreederDefinitiveWSHB,S3NG5Mainly a pelagic visitor in the warmer seasons, but a sporadic breeder (at least formerly). Mostly ...Storm-carried visitor to the eastern portion of the province, plus one record for the southern porti...Casual storm-carried visitor. All but one record (of different birds?) came after the passage of Hu...Offshore, this species is normally less numerous than the Bridled Tern. The best times to look for ...**2019-04-19
Common Ringed PloverCharadrius hiaticulaThis Old World counterpart of the Semipalmated Plover is found primarily in North America as a rare ...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Two records (see above).No records.No records.1/2*2019-04-19
Tahiti PetrelPseudobulweria rostrataArguably the most remarkable pelagic discovery in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean was the photograph...NonbreederDefinitiveSAGNROne record (see above).No records.No records.1/2 *2019-04-19
Curlew SandpiperCalidris ferrugineaThe Curlew Sandpiper is one of just several species of Eurasian nesting shorebirds on the North Caro...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5?Transient along the coast, declining. Formerly rare in spring, and again from mid-summer into fall. ...No records.No records.The species seems to prefer the impoundments at Pea Island NWR, at least formerly the large tidal po...* 2019-04-19
Chestnut-collared LongspurCalcarius ornatusCasual stray. There are four records: one from the Piedmont, a female at the Charlotte Motor Speedw...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Two records (see above).One record (see above).One record (see above).1/2 *2019-04-19
Red-billed TropicbirdPhaethon aethereusUntil the mid- or late 1990's, there were very few records of the spectacular Red-billed Tropicbird,...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Offshore visitor. Rare in the Gulf Stream, and less regular than White-tailed, from spring to fall;...No records.No records.Seeing a Red-billed Tropicbird on an organized pelagic trip is simply a matter of luck, though there...*2019-04-19
Common MurreUria aalgeFor a seemingly interminable time, North Carolina went without a record of this very common alcid. ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very scarce winter visitor offshore and along the coast; now (2018) very rare off Oregon Inlet and C...No records.No records.The increase in sightings in the past decade is gratifying for pelagic birders, but whether this sig...*2019-04-19
Golden-crowned SparrowZonotrichia atricapillaThough this is a species of the northwestern portions of North America, breeding only from Alaska to...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5One record (see above).No records.No records.1/2*2019-04-19
Common SwiftApus apusOne of the more remarkable records for the state was the photographing of an unusual swift at Pea Is...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5One record (see above).No records.No records.1/2*2019-04-19
Black GuillemotCepphus grylleOf the six Atlantic alcids, the Black Guillemot was the last one to be added to the state's Definiti...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Casual winter visitor to the coast. The three accepted records are of single birds in basic plumage...No records.No records.1/2 *2019-04-19
Brown NoddyAnous stolidusThe Brown Noddy is a very common bird of tropical waters around the world, and a sizable breeding po...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Pelagic visitor in the warmer months. Very rare along the coast and in offshore waters, mostly from...Accidental, with a single record: 3 seen at Lake Norman on 23 Sep 1989 (Chat 54:76), after passage o...No records.There are only two suggestions for seeing this species in NC. The best chance, however, is somewhat...1/2 *2019-04-19
Lesser Black-backed GullLarus fuscusHardly any other gull species' status in North Carolina has changed as rapidly over the last 20-30 y...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter visitor/resident, greatly increasing in recent years. Formerly (prior to about 1990), rare a...Winter visitor. Rare to locally uncommon, but greatly increasing, at large lakes and landfills in t...Casual or accidental. The only records are a first-year bird photographed at the Hooper Lane Sod Fa...This species is easy to find in the large gull flocks that congregate at Cape Hatteras Point from la...***2019-04-19
Franklin's GullLeucophaeus pipixcanThe Franklin's Gull, the "cousin" of the Laughing Gull, does not breed along the ocean coasts, but i...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Visitor/transient, essentially along the coast, and mostly in fall. Coastally, casual in spring, wi...Very rare visitor (10 records). Accidental in spring, with the only record being of one in breeding...Very rare visitor to the southern portion of the province. Eight records: 1 at Hooper Lane (Hende...The species is too rare to intentionally search for. However, birders should be aware of the specie...*2019-04-19
Laughing GullLeucophaeus atricillaHistorically, the Laughing Gull was North Carolina's only breeding gull species; however, in recent ...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Breeding summer resident and migrant, and early winter resident. Coastally, very common to abundant...Transient, at larger reservoirs. Generally rare in spring and in fall migrations, at times locally u...Transient. Very rare during spring (ten records) and fall (mostly after storms/ hurricanes), essent...It takes no effort whatsoever to find the species along the coast from Mar through Nov.****2019-04-19
Sabine's GullXema sabiniThe Sabine's Gull is arguably the most beautiful gull in North America, and because it nests in the ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient; essentially offshore, with a scattering of onshore records. Generally very rare in both ...Transient, in fall migration only. Casual to very rare, with nine records, all but two of single in...Accidental; two records. One at Lake Junaluska (Haywood) on 8 Sep 2004 (after Tropical Storm ...The species is much too rare onshore to be hoped for, but taking a pelagic trip in late May or the l...*2019-04-19
Parasitic JaegerStercorarius parasiticusThough the Parasitic Jaeger is probably more numerous globally than the Pomarine Jaeger, in our wate...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Transient, and poorly-known winter visitor, to the offshore zone and the inshore ocean. Uncommon in...Visitor to lakes and reservoirs, mostly storm-related. Casual to very rare, with six records: 1 at ...No records.This species can be seen from shore almost anywhere along the coast, though Cape Lookout and Cape Ha...**2019-04-19
Red-necked PhalaropePhalaropus lobatusThe Red-necked Phalarope and the Red Phalarope are the two pelagic shorebirds, and to see both in th...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4G5Transient, primarily offshore. Generally a fairly common offshore migrant in both spring and fall, ...Transient. Casual/very rare in spring migration, and very rare in fall, usually seen only during an...Transient. Accidental/casual in spring; the only records are one in Linville (Avery) on 17-1...Take a pelagic trip out of Hatteras or Oregon inlets -- either in the latter part of May, or in the ...**2019-04-19
WilletTringa semipalmataThe Willet is one of the few shorebirds that nests in North Carolina, and essentially the only one t...BreederDefinitiveS4B,S4NG5Permanent resident, with migratory movements, along the coast, breeding in salt and brackish marshes...Transient. Very rare in spring, and very rare to rare in fall; quite erratic, and many records in f...Transient, only found so far at low elevations in the southern mountains. Very rare in spring, with ...Willets are noisy and hard to miss along the coast for most of the year.****2019-04-19
Pectoral SandpiperCalidris melanotosThough in the same genus as the Least, Semipalmated, and several other smaller sandpipers known as "...Nonbreeder DefinitiveSZG5Transient; generally widespread across the province, not much more frequent along the coast than inl...Transient; widespread across the province. Uncommon in spring, and uncommon to locally fairly commo...Transient. Very uncommon to uncommon in spring, and rare to locally uncommon in fall, generally at ...Where there are suitable mudflats around inland lakes, especially in fall, the species can usually b...** to ***2019-04-19
Buff-breasted SandpiperCalidris subruficollisThe Buff-breasted Sandpiper is one of our most beautiful shorebirds, and its dove-like appearance se...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Transient, only in fall. Very uncommon to occasionally uncommon on the Outer Banks, but generally r...Transient, only in fall. Rare to occasionally very uncommon (such as at extensive mudflats), scatter...Transient, only in fall. Rare but seemingly regular since 1996, in the Henderson/TransylvaniaThere are no consistent spots in fall to see the species. The turf farm just west of Creswell (Wa...**2019-04-19
White-rumped SandpiperCalidris fuscicollisThis and the Baird's Sandpiper are the two large "peep" species found in the state. Neither is comm...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. Uncommon to locally fairly common in spring along the northern coast, particularly at Bo...Transient. Rare to uncommon (at least locally) in spring and fall; mainly early May to early Jun, a...Transient, essentially only in low elevations in the southern counties. In spring, very rare to loc...This can be a difficult to find species away from the Bodie-Pea Island or Cape Hatteras area. You sh...** to ***2019-04-19
Stilt SandpiperCalidris himantopusThough the Stilt Sandpiper is a species in the genus Calidris, it looks hardly anything like ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, mainly along the coast. Uncommon in spring, and often fairly common to common in fall, a...Transient. Casual spring migrant, and rare to locally uncommon fall migrant (more numerous when ext...Transient. Casual in spring, and very rare in fall, with all but one published record so far from <...In Aug or early Sep, one has a good chance to see them at the impoundments at Pea or Bodie islands; ...** to ***2019-04-18
Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpresExcept for the closely related Black Turnstone of the Pacific Coast, the Ruddy Turnstone is a rather...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Transient and winter resident, mainly along the coast. Common migrant along the coast, though seldo...Transient. Casual to very rare in spring, and rare in fall, mainly at large reservoirs. In spring,...Transient. Casual to very rare in spring and fall, with all records from Henderson except f...Turnstones are widespread along the coast, at least during the migrations, and are easily found, exc...****2019-04-18
Bar-tailed GodwitLimosa lapponicaThis Eurasian shorebird has appeared along the East Coast much more often than the Black-tailed Godw...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Very rare visitor, with four spring and eight fall reports, all from the coast. The spring reports ...No records.No records.1/2 *2019-04-18
American OystercatcherHaematopus palliatusThe American Oystercatcher is one of the more spectacular shorebirds and is one of the few that rema...BreederDefinitiveSCS2S3B,S3NG5Breeding permanent resident along the coast, with migratory movements; slightly declining. Generall...Casual stray/vagrant, with only three records; 2, Roanoke Rapids Lake, 25 May 1998 (Chat 62:192); 1,...No records.This species is fairly easily found on barrier islands, such as at inlets, tidal flats, and especial...*** to ****2019-04-18
Clapper RailRallus crepitansThe Clapper Rail is, by far, the easiest rail to see in the state and is the most characteristic bir...BreederDefinitiveS4G5Permanent resident along the coast (tidal marshes); casual migrant elsewhere. Common to very common...Very rare transient in the eastern half of the province, but no records yet for the western portions...No records.The species is easily heard calling at dawn or dusk, and sporadically during the day and night, in m...**** 2019-04-18
Yellow-billed CuckooCoccyzus americanusThe Yellow-billed Cuckoo is a widespread breeding bird across the state, nesting in every county. H...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, breeding. Fairly common to common across the region, except uncommon to locally ab...Summer resident, breeding. Fairly common and reasonably widespread across the region, though only u...Summer resident, breeding. Uncommon in the lower elevations (below about 3,500 feet); rare to uncom...This species can normally be found away from the mountains in a day of birding. A count or 10 or mo...***2019-04-18
Black ScoterMelanitta americanaThe Black Scoter streams southward over the inshore ocean in Oct and Nov, and an observer can at tim...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident. Common to abundant southbound migrant over the ocean, but by Dec only a fairly com...Transient. Very rare to rare, almost always at larger lakes/reservoirs; late Oct to mid-Dec, with o...Transient. Surprisingly scarce, being casual, with just three records: 1, Lake Julian (Buncombe<...The species can usually be seen from the two Pamlico Sound ferries -- Swan Quarter or Cedar Island; ...***2019-04-18
Eurasian WigeonMareca penelopeThis Eurasian breeding species winters regularly in small numbers both along the Pacific and Atlanti...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Rare (but annual) winter visitor to the Tidewater and northern coastal areas, though primarily at Bo...Very rare winter visitor in Wake, with roughly 10 records, but accidental to casual elsewhere...No records.To find the species, you must go to where the American Wigeons are found. The species can be found ...* to **2019-04-18
Trumpeter SwanCygnus buccinatorThis relatively rare swan of the northwestern United States and western Canada formerly nested as fa...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Now a very rare (but increasing) winter visitor, but primarily just to the Pungo and Mattamuskeet re...One accepted record -- an immature was seen and photographed at Jordan Lake (Chatham) on 19 D...One report -- one seen and photographed on the French Broad River near Alexander (Buncombe), ...Your best (slim) hope is to search through large flocks of Tundra Swans, such as in the fields just ...*2019-04-18
Greater White-fronted GooseAnser albifronsThe Greater White-fronted Goose is a rare winter visitor across all portions of the state, but with ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor. Most frequent in areas where large numbers of geese and swans winter. Rare in the ...Winter visitor; very rare but somewhat increasing in recent years. Approximately 32 records, fallin...Winter visitor, slightly increasing in recent years. Very rare to rare in the southern mountains; n...There is a tendency for the species to appear with flocks of Canada Geese, both feeding in plowed fi...* to **2019-04-18
Fish CrowCorvus ossifragusUnlike the American Crow, the Fish Crow is poorly known to the layman -- "There are two kinds of cro...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S5NG5Permanent resident over most of the area, with migratory movements; apparently increasing. Generall...Summer resident, remaining into late fall, but seldom overwintering except in mild winters; noticeab...Sparse migrant/stray; recent arrival, since 2006. Five records for low elevations in the southern m...Easy to find, and not local, in the breeding season, in most of the Coastal Plain, especially around...****2019-04-18
Northern WheatearOenanthe oenantheThere are five state records of this primarily Eurasian species, all in Sep - Oct, with three from t...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Accidental or casual. There are three records from the coast: one was photographed at Avon (Dare...No records.Accidental. Surprisingly, there have been two "one-day wonders" in the mountains: a sight record in...1/2 *2019-02-28
Black RailLaterallus jamaicensisAs notoriously secretive as the Yellow Rail, this species at least can be coaxed into view on occasi...BreederDefinitiveSCPTS2S3B,S2NG3G4Permanent resident, with migratory movements, near the coast; decreasing in recent years. Seemingly...Poorly known breeder (at least formerly) and transient. Casual to very rare breeder, at least forme...Formerly casual breeder at low elevations; now essentially unknown/accidental. Formerly nested near...To hear a Black Rail, visit the Cedar Island marsh causeway (NC 12), or the Wanchese marshes east of...**2018-12-19
Golden-winged WarblerVermivora chrysopteraThe Golden-winged Warbler, though it looks completely different from its closest "cousin", the Blue-...BreederDefinitiveSCS2S3BG4Transient. In spring, casual (i.e., essentially avoids the region); in fall, very rare throughout, ...Transient. Rare in both spring and fall, slightly more "numerous" in the western half of the region...Summer resident, and transient; decreasing. In summer, formerly fairly common, at least locally, ov...There are still a few places/roads where birders have a likely chance to see the species in a given ...***2018-12-19
Cerulean WarblerSetophaga ceruleaThe Cerulean Warbler is one of the more strongly declining songbirds in the eastern part of the cont...BreederDefinitiveSCS2BG4Local summer resident, and sparse transient. In summer, uncommon, local, and declining, along the R...Transient; breeds along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, which forms the border between the Piedmont and M...Summer resident, and transient. In summer, mostly rare and local at lower elevations (below about 3...The species is best found by stopping at several overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway northeast of As...***2018-12-19
Black-capped ChickadeePoecile atricapillusThe Black-capped Chickadee is one of the most common and familiar species to people in Canada and th...BreederDefinitiveSCS3G5No records.No confirmed records. There are the occasional reports of "Black-capped Chickadees" from the provinc...Permanent resident, apparently with no migratory movements (though birds do move slightly down-slope...If you are coming from most of the state to look for the species, stop first at overlooks along the ...***2018-12-19
Bachman's SparrowPeucaea aestivalisThe Bachman's Sparrow is a rare and strongly declining species. It nests only in the southeastern p...BreederDefinitiveSCS3B,S2NG3Scarce permanent resident, but with migratory movements. In summer, locally fairly common near the ...Former summer resident in a portion of the region; possibly now absent. Prior to 1942, it nested in...Accidental. Historical records from Buncombe and Macon. The species is still easily found from Mar into about Jul in Holly Shelter Game Land (along Lodge Ro...***2018-12-19
Painted BuntingPasserina cirisThe adult male Painted Bunting is certainly the gaudiest-colored of North American songbirds. Thank...BreederDefinitiveSCS3BG5Summer resident along the southern coast, and sparse winter resident/visitor along the coast, even t...Very rare (but increasing) visitor, scattered over the year. About 20 records, all of single birds....Accidental visitor. The only known record is one at a feeder in Asheville, 9-12 Mar 2004.Should be easily found along the southern coast in late Apr, May, and Jun, at places such as Fort Ma...*** to ****2018-12-19
Red CrossbillLoxia curvirostraThe Red Crossbill is another of the erratic "winter finches" in the East. Unlike with most of these...BreederDefinitiveSCS3B,S3NG5Winter visitor, and apparently accidental breeder; declining. Currently, very rare to rare across t...Winter visitor, and accidental breeder; declining. Currently, rare and erratic in winter; formerly ...Summer resident at higher elevations, and winter visitor to all of the region. In summer, rare to l...Though the species is erratic in summer, it has been somewhat regular in recent years at Mount Mitch...**2018-12-19
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerSphyrapicus variusThe Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only true migratory woodpecker species in eastern North America....BreederDefinitiveSRS2S3B,S5NG5Winter resident. Fairly common to occasionally or locally common throughout; less common on barrier ...Winter resident. Fairly common essentially throughout. Mainly from late Sep to mid-Apr; dates rang...Breeder and winter resident, with strong migratory movements. Rare to uncommon and quite local as a...In the breeding season, check any of the areas listed above, for the mountains. From Oct through Mar...*** (winter)2018-12-19
Long-eared OwlAsio otusThe Long-eared Owl is one of the most elusive species to see in the state, even though it is undoubt...Nonbreeder (but Possible Breeder)DefinitiveSUBG5Winter visitor. Very rare (at least very rarely reported) over the northern half of the region, inc...Winter visitor. Very rare; about 18 records, with eight of these from Wake and five from W...Winter visitor, and possible breeding summer resident. Casual in winter, with only about six reports...There is a need to do some nocturnal listening for them, and all owls, in our northern mountain regi...*2018-12-19
Northern GoshawkAccipiter gentilisFor such a large hawk (being the state's largest Accipiter), the Northern Goshawk is remarkab...Nonbreeder (but Possible Breeder) DefinitiveSUBG5Visitor in migration and winter; about 30 reports. Very rare, mainly in winter, to the northern coas...Visitor in migration and winter; only about 15 reports. Very rare to the northern half of the provin...Visitor in migration and winter; at least 20 reports. Very rare (though more numerous here than els...The species is much too rare to specifically search for, but people at hawk watches in the mountains...*2018-12-19
Henslow's SparrowCentronyx henslowiiThe Henslow's Sparrow has always been one of the rarest sparrows in North America, and being a grass...BreederDefinitiveES1B,S1NG4Summer resident, and winter resident, over parts of the region; strongly declining. In summer, now ...Spring transient and former breeder; strongly declining. Currently, casual to very rare spring migra...Transient, and possible former breeder; strongly declining. Casual in spring; mainly Apr to early M...The species can now be difficult to find at VOA site A, as most birds are now (2015) found in the sh...** to ***2018-12-19
Common MerganserMergus merganserThe Common Merganser winters regularly in the state only at one to a few inland lakes, as North Caro...BreederDefinitiveWS1B,S1NG5Winter resident. Rare and local over the northern half of the province, with a flock averaging at l...Winter visitor, though possibly a winter resident at Roanoke Rapids Lake; casual breeder. Rare in m...Formerly casual to now (2018) very rare to rare breeder; scarce winter visitor. Generally rare in w...To best see this species, look at Lake Phelps in the winter, with a good scope. The wintering flock...** to ***2018-12-19
Black-headed GullChroicocephalus ridibundusAs mentioned under the Bonaparte's Gull account, the Black-headed Gull has a new scientific name, af...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, essentially only along the coast and in the Tidewater zone. Rare, and perhaps sligh...Casual; four records. One adult seen in a flock of Bonaparte's Gulls at Jordan Lake on 16 Jan 2005*...No records.Black-headed Gulls are somewhat more likely to be found with Ring-billed Gulls than with other gulls...*2018-12-12
DickcisselSpiza americanaAlthough there are numerous birds that are highly erratic wintering species in North Carolina and el...BreederDefinitiveSRS2BG5Sporadic and very local summer resident, and sparse winter visitor. In summer, very rare to rare ov...Sporadic and very local summer resident, and very sparse winter visitor. In summer, rare and sporad...Sparse transient; seldom in summer or winter. Despite many wide valleys with farmland at low elevat...From 2005 - 2018, the species has been easily found in summer at North River Farms, but this is a pr...**2018-11-09
Black-headed GrosbeakPheucticus melanocephalusThe Black-headed Grosbeak, the Western counterpart of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, is a casual to ver...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual visitor. There are six records: one in Wilmington, 8-16 Apr 1969 (Chat 33:4); one at Bodie I...Casual visitor. There are six records: one in Greensboro, 6 Jan - 12 Apr 1964 (Chat 28:2); a male i...Casual/accidental, with just one record: a breeding-plumaged male was photographed at a feeder on 11...1/2 *2018-11-09
Connecticut WarblerOporornis agilisThe Connecticut Warbler, poorly named, is one of the less common warblers in North America. It has ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4G5Transient, in fall. Accidental in spring -- the only report is one at Fort Macon (Carteret) ...Transient, primarily in fall. Casual to very rare in spring in the southwestern half of the region,...Transient, more frequent in spring than in fall. Rare in spring across the southern half of the pro...The only semi-reliable spots are Jackson Park in Hendersonville in mid-May, and Buxton Woods in D...* to **2018-11-09
Shiny CowbirdMolothrus bonariensisThe Shiny Cowbird, common and widespread in the Neotropics, spread northward through the West Indies...Accidental BreederDefinitiveSZG5Scarce visitor, and apparent breeder at one site in 2017. Essentially near the coast in the warmer ...Accidental, though none yet accepted by the NC BRC. There are two reports: one from Winston-Salem o...No records.Your best bet is to check any cowbirds you see close to the southern coast in the warmer months, par...*2018-11-09
Cliff SwallowPetrochelidon pyrrhonotaThe Cliff Swallow nests from coast to coast across the continent, and it is much more abundant in th...BreederDefinitiveS3BG5Transient, and very sparse and local breeder near the coast; expanding its range in recent years and...Summer resident, with noticeable migratory movements; slightly increasing as a breeder. In summer (...Summer resident, with migratory movements. In summer (as a breeder), mostly uncommon and local; not...Though numerically not a common bird in the state, they are practically impossible to miss in May or...****2018-11-09
American White PelicanPelecanus erythrorhynchosThis spectacular and huge species, which nests in the Great Plains and the Western states, has under...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG4Migrant and winter visitor, most frequent along the northern coast and Tidewater; increasing. Coast...Very rare to rare (but increasing) migrant and winter visitor, with at least 30 reports. Most are f...Casual to now very rare (since 2000) migrant, with at least eight records, all from the southern mou...Fortunately for the birder, individuals of this species often linger for a month or more in NC. Form...** to ***2018-11-09
Great CormorantPhalacrocorax carboThe Great Cormorant is still another species that has greatly increased in the East over the past se...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter resident and visitor along the coast. Uncommon and local, mainly around inlets; generally fro...Very rare migrant and winter visitor. About 11 records, all at reservoirs in the eastern half of th...No records.The species is reliably seen at just a few places along the NC coast. Your best bet is in the lower...***2018-11-09
Leach's Storm-PetrelOceanodroma leucorhoaAs the Leach's Storm-Petrel is one of the few tubenoses to breed in the northwestern Atlantic, and a...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Offshore transient and summer visitor. Generally uncommon (though regular) spring and fall migrant, ...Accidental to casual non-breeding visitor, during or after hurricanes. Three records: 1, Lake Norma...No records.This species is more unpredictable than is the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel. Birders have about a 40-50...**2018-11-09
European Storm-PetrelHydrobates pelagicusBirders looking at range maps of what pelagic species should have been seen in North Carolina waters...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG3G4Offshore visitor. Very rare to rare, and certainly easily overlooked, in the Gulf Stream off Oregon...No records.No records.Thankfully for birders looking for this rarity, nearly all records are concentrated in the last few ...* to **2018-11-09
Forster's TernSterna forsteriThe Forster's Tern is the only tern that remains relatively common along the coast of North Carolina...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S5NG5Permanent resident, with migratory movements; primarily coastal. Fairly common breeder around the p...Transient. Rare spring migrant and uncommon fall migrant at larger lakes and reservoirs, occasional...Transient, essentially only in the southern mountains. Rare (to occasionally uncommon) in spring, a...Forster's are the most commonly seen terns from late Oct through Mar along our coast, and except dur...****2018-11-09
Caspian TernHydroprogne caspiaThe Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world, and it is also one of the most wide-ranging, as i...BreederDefinitiveTS1B,S2NG5Permanent resident (and sparse breeder), with migratory movements, along the coast; transient inland...Transient. Uncommon though regular in both spring and fall at larger lakes/reservoirs, but very rar...Transient. Rare, in the southern mountains only (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and Transyl...Caspian Terns can usually be found along most coastal areas in late summer and fall, especially arou...***2018-11-09
Wilson's PhalaropePhalaropus tricolorThe Wilson's Phalarope nests in the western half of the continent, at lakes, ponds, and other wetlan...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, mainly along the coast; declining over the past 15 years. Coastally, very rare in spring...Transient. Casual in spring migration, with only four reports -- 30 Mar, and 1-18 May (no Apr recor...Transient, mainly known from Henderson, where casual to very rare in each season. Records fro...The species can be found with some regularity only at the Pea and Bodie island ponds, though it does...**2018-11-09
Short-billed DowitcherLimnodromus griseusAmong the most difficult identification problem facing birders is the separation of the two dowitche...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Transient and winter resident, mainly along the coast. Common to abundant spring and fall migrant a...Transient. Casual to very rare in spring, and rare to often uncommon (though local) in fall. Mainl...Transient, mainly in Henderson and Transylvania. Very rare in spring and in fall, at ...This species is hard to miss along the coast during the migrations.****2018-11-09
Red KnotCalidris canutusThis "dumpy" shorebird is one of the few that is routinely seen foraging along the ocean beaches, so...NonbreederDefinitiveTTS2NG4Transient and winter resident, essentially only along the coast. Formerly common (to at times very ...Transient. Very rare in fall, but no spring reports; generally at large reservoirs. All but three ...Accidental transient. The only record is a group of eight birds seen and photographed at Hooper Lan...Knots are most easily found along the coast from early May to early Jun. It is most common on the b...** to ***2018-11-09
Long-billed CurlewNumenius americanusThe Long-billed Curlew is the largest shorebird in North America, in length, and, considering the ex...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient and winter visitor/resident, declining in recent years (though never numerous). Formerly ...No records.Accidental. The only far inland record for the state is one photographed at Hooper Lane (Henders...The best places in recent years have been flats at or near the eastern end of Shackleford Banks and ...* 2018-11-08
WhimbrelNumenius phaeopusFor a large shorebird, the Whimbrel is quite numerous in North America, and it is not difficult to f...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and scarce winter resident/visitor along the coast. Along the coast, fairly common to lo...Transient. Casual in spring, and very rare in fall, with most records in the eastern portion, espec...Very rare fall transient, and accidental in spring. Three of the records surprisingly are from grass...This species is not difficult to find along the coast during migration. They are most common on bar...***2018-11-08
Piping PloverCharadrius melodusThe Piping Plover is one of the few Federally listed birds in North Carolina, especially now that th...BreederDefinitiveS1B,S1NG3Breeding permanent resident, with migratory movements, along the coast. Generally uncommon and decl...Transient. Very rare in fall; late July to early Oct; no spring records. About 13 records, mostly f...Casual, with just three records: one at Hooper Lane, Henderson on 4-5 Sep 2012* (Chat 77:6-10...The best area to see this species is at Portsmouth Island in late summer and fall, but a boat is nec...**2018-11-08
American Golden-PloverPluvialis dominicaUnlike its slightly larger cousin, the Black-bellied Plover, the American Golden-Plover is a good fi...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. Very rare in spring, rare in fall, along the entire coast, particularly the Outer Banks; ...Transient. Casual in spring (only about four records), rare but annual in fall, over most of the pr...Transient, but nearly all records are from Hooper Lane/Mills River area in Henderson, where v...The species is best located in Sep and Oct, especially after cold fronts. A few birds are present e...* to **2018-11-08
Black-bellied PloverPluvialis squatarolaThe Black-bellied Plover is one of the more familiar shorebirds of coastal areas, wintering in good ...Nonbreeder DefinitiveS5NG5Transient, and coastal winter resident. Common to very common in migration, and common in winter, a...Transient. Rare in fall, and very rare to rare in spring, in the eastern part of the province (such...Transient. Very rare (about 23 records) in the Henderson/Transylvania area of the southern m...This species is easily found along the coast except during Jun. Inland birds are most often found o...****2018-11-08
Black-necked StiltHimantopus mexicanusThe Black-necked Stilt is one of the most unmistakable birds occurring in North Carolina, resembling...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Summer resident and sparse migrant along the coast and in the Tidewater zone. A very local breeder (...Casual migrant or stray, mainly in late spring; nine records. One was seen in Franklin on 5 ...Accidental, with two records. One was seen at Hooper Lane (Henderson) on 25 Sep 2004, presum...The best -- at least most accessible -- places to see this species are the impoundments at Pea Islan...***2018-11-08
Purple GallinulePorphyrio martinicusThe beautiful Purple Gallinule has always been at the northeastern periphery of its breeding range i...BreederDefinitiveSRSHBG5Summer resident, at least formerly, and possibly still nests somewhere in the region annually, in th...Stray (about nine records). Casual in migration; mainly May-Jun. Two other records: 1, Camp Grayst...Accidental stray (three records): 1 found in emaciated condition, Hazelwood (Haywood), 18 Apr...Formerly, one could see the Purple Gallinule from the causeway at Orton Plantation. However, the ve...*2018-11-08
Virginia RailRallus limicolaOnly a few decades ago, relatively little was understood of the Virginia Rail's habitats and range i...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S5NG5Permanent resident near the coast, with migratory movements; mostly a transient farther inland. Loca...Mostly a transient, but scattered summer and winter records, where status at these two seasons is un...Poorly known transient (about 18 reports), with the possibility of local breeding not out of the que...The descending grunting call is easily heard in migration and winter in tidewater marshes, especiall...***2018-11-08
White-winged ScoterMelanitta fuscaBy far the least common of the scoters along the mid-Atlantic coast, the White-winged Scoter can be ...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter visitor. Uncommon and erratic (depending on the severity of the weather) along the immediate...Transient and winter visitor. Rare (but the most frequent scoter in the province), mainly to larger...Transient. Very rare to rare in the southern counties, and unknown as yet from north of Buncombe...This is a tough bird to find in the state, and many birders often require two or three winters to fi...**2018-11-08
Snow GooseAnser caerulescensThe Snow Goose is a winter resident, occurring in large numbers in the northern tidewater areas; it ...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident, mainly near the coast. Locally common to abundant in winter, mainly in several lar...Scarce winter visitor, though sightings increasing in the western portions in recent years. Rare, s...Scarce, but increasing, winter visitor. Very rare to now rare; all but five records are from the so...Though notably declining along the immediate coast, Snow Geese are usually seen in winter at Bodie a...****2018-11-08
Rose-breasted GrosbeakPheucticus ludovicianusThe Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a bird of the cooler hardwood and mixed forests of the eastern parts o...BreederDefinitiveS3S4BG5Transient. In spring, rare to uncommon along the western margin of the province, but generally rare...Transient. In spring, uncommon to at times fairly common in the western portion, but uncommon over ...Summer resident and transient. Fairly common (and common in a few ranges) in summer at middle to hi...You should be able to find the species in a morning of birding along the Blue Ridge Parkway at eleva...*** to ****2018-11-06