Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
The 100 most recent account entries/updates.
Blue GrosbeakPasserina caeruleaThe Blue Grosbeak breeds across the southern half to two-thirds of the United States, and winters in...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, with a few winter records. Common in summer across most of the province, but can b...Summer resident, with about 15 winter records. Common over the eastern and central portions, and fa...Summer resident at low elevations; little migratory movement through the region. In summer, uncommo...None needed in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain.****2024-05-15
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 ****2024-05-15
Western TanagerPiranga ludovicianaThe Western Tanager is a rare visitor and over-wintering "resident" in North Carolina, but it occurs...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Scarce "transient" and winter visitor, with about 100 records. Very rare to rare in winter along th...Scarce "transient" and winter visitor, with about 40 records. Very rare visitor, mainly from early ...Casual visitor. Only about six records, though only one since 1991. Oddly, the dates are "strangel...You likely will see your first in the state at a feeder near the coast. A handful are now occurring ...* to **2024-05-15
Summer TanagerPiranga rubraThe Summer Tanager is a characteristic bird of the Deep South, nesting north only to southern New Je...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, and winter straggler. Common in the southern half of the region, from the Croatan ...Summer resident, with a few winter records. Fairly common to common over most of the region, more n...Sparse summer resident, with little migratory movement noted. Uncommon in the extreme southwestern ...None needed in the southern Coastal Plain, such as in the Sandhills Game Land, Weymouth Woods Preser...****2024-05-15
Wilson's WarblerCardellina pusillaThe Wilson's Warbler has a very wide breeding range, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and southward in m...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and rare winter straggler. In spring, very rare in the western portions, and casual to v...Transient, and very rare winter straggler. Rare to very uncommon in both spring and fall, generally...Transient. Very rare to rare in spring, and rare in fall. Mainly early to mid-May, and early Sep t...There are no real hotspots for the species, but Jackson Park in Hendersonville may be the best bet, ...* to **2024-05-15
Yellow-throated WarblerSetophaga dominicaThe Yellow-throated Warbler is a "Southern" warbler, as it breeds in the eastern United States only ...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, and sparse winter resident near the southern coast. In summer, common over most of ...Summer resident, and very rare winter straggler. In summer, fairly common to locally common in the ...Summer resident. Uncommon along rivers and streams at low elevations, essentially below 2,500 feet;...The species is easily found in many parks and preserves, and Croatan National Forest, in the southea...****2024-05-15
Northern ParulaSetophaga americanaThe Northern Parula is a bird saddled with an awful common name, and this is even more so now that i...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident. Over most of the region -- common, to very common in several of the larger river f...Summer resident, with noticeable migratory movements. In summer, fairly common over most of the pro...Summer resident, with noticeable migratory movements. Uncommon to fairly common at lower to middle ...It is hard to miss in the Coastal Plain in spring or summer if birding close to rivers, such as the ...****2024-05-15
Nashville WarblerLeiothlypis ruficapillaThe Nashville Warbler, along with the Tennessee Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, and several Western...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and scarce straggler into early winter. Very rare in spring (essentially avoiding the re...Transient, and a very scarce straggler into early winter. In spring, rare in the western and centra...Transient; one recent record of a potential breeding bird. Rare to occasionally uncommon in spring, ...Pure migrant species can be hard to pin down in time and place, depending on cold fronts in fall, et...**2024-05-14
Tennessee WarblerLeiothlypis peregrinaIn 2010, the American Ornithologists' Union moved several warblers out of the genus Vermivora...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. In spring, very rare in the region (about 12 reports -- 3 in 2021). In fall, generally ...Transient. In spring, very rare to rare in the eastern portion, and rare farther west. In fall, fa...Transient. In spring, rare to uncommon, mainly in valleys and elsewhere below about 3,500 feet. In...The species is difficult to miss on a day of birding in the mountains during much of September, such...*** to ****2024-05-14
Northern WaterthrushParkesia noveboracensisThe Northern Waterthrush is one of the few warblers that nests from coast to coast, though this rang...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and a very sparse early winter straggler. In spring, generally uncommon in the western ha...Transient. Uncommon to fairly common essentially across the entire region, in both spring and fall;...Transient. Mostly uncommon, at lower to middle elevations; presumably quite scarce over about 4,500...If you bird in suitable damp wooded areas over a several-day period in early May, or in Sep, you sta...**2024-05-14
Worm-eating WarblerHelmitheros vermivorumThe Worm-eating Warbler is not one of better known warblers in North America. It is really not comm...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Summer resident, and transient. In summer, uncommon to locally fairly common in the eastern 60% of ...Summer resident, and transient. In summer, uncommon to locally fairly common in most foothill range...Summer resident. Uncommon to often fairly common (and not obviously local) below about 3,500 feet; ...The species should be heard, and hopefully seen, by driving roads through Alligator River NWR, the b...***2024-05-14
OvenbirdSeiurus aurocapillaThe Ovenbird recently "lost" its two nearest relatives -- the Louisiana and Northern waterthrushes -...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S1NG5Summer resident, and sparse winter visitor/resident. In summer, generally common over the northwest...Summer resident. Common over the region as a whole. Reasonably widespread, and common also in foot...Summer resident. Common at low to middle elevations, to about 4,000 feet, and fairly common to abou...None needed; easily heard in a morning of birding in most areas of the state in May and Jun.****2024-05-14
Baltimore OrioleIcterus galbulaThe male Baltimore Oriole is one of the more beautiful birds in North America, nesting over the nort...BreederDefinitiveS3B,S3NG5Transient, and scarce winter resident. In winter, numerically rare to very uncommon; however, in to...Transient, scarce winter resident, and very scarce and local summer resident. In summer, very rare ...Summer resident, with noticeable migratory movements. In summer, uncommon to fairly common, at leas...The species should be found in summer by driving along roads that parallel the New River, or South F...*** 2024-05-14
Bullock's OrioleIcterus bullockiiThe Bullock's Oriole is the western counterpart to the Baltimore Oriole. Originally classified as s...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very rare winter visitor; most records prior to 2010; however, there were four records during the 20...Very rare winter visitor. There are about 16 records, with 8-9 birds over-wintering. Records are s...No records.Your first Bullock's Oriole will likely be seen at someone's feeder.*2024-05-14
Vesper SparrowPooecetes gramineusThe Vesper Sparrow, a species in its own genus, has a wide breeding range, from the Western states e...BreederDefinitiveSCS2B,S2NG5Winter resident and transient; strongly declining. In winter, formerly fairly common in the souther...Transient, and sparse and local winter resident; strongly declining. In winter, rare to very uncomm...Summer resident and transient; declining in migration. In summer, uncommon and very local, mainly o...Breeding birds are usually well away from roads and require some hiking to reach, such as at Pond Mo...** to ***2024-05-14
Harris's SparrowZonotrichia querulaThis largest of all sparrows has a rather narrow migration route, from its northwestern Canada borea...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual (only in recent years) near the coast, in migration. One adult was seen at Cape Lookout (...Casual. One immature was found at Beaverdam Reservoir (Wake) on 21 Nov 1976 (Chat 42:60); on...Casual. One immature male was collected in the Mills River Valley (Buncombe) on 13 Mar 1933 ...1/2*2024-05-14
Clay-colored SparrowSpizella pallidaThe Clay-colored Sparrow was primarily a "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 21 records in fall a...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 were being seen semi-regularly in winte...* to **2024-05-14
Snow BuntingPlectrophenax nivalisThe Snow Bunting breeding range and abundance is remarkably similar to that of the Lapland Longspur,...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, mainly coastally; declining in numbers in the past several decades, though an upturn...Very sparse winter visitor. Casual to very rare; barely 15 reports for the province. Mainly late O...Very sparse winter visitor. Casual to very rare; about 18-19 records. Has occurred on a handful of...If you spend a lot of time walking or driving beaches in the winter, you might find a few each year....* 2024-05-14
Lapland LongspurCalcarius lapponicusThis is the only one of the four species of longspur that is not of accidental occurrence in the sta...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter visitor, and possibly winter resident (regular from winter to winter) in a few areas. Rare to...Winter visitor. Very rare to rare across the region, with no regular wintering sites. Certainly oc...Winter visitor. Very rare, essentially in lower elevations in wide valleys, though four were seen a...Though a scarce bird in the state, a diligent birder can at times find the species over a several-da...* to **2024-05-14
Evening GrosbeakCoccothraustes vespertinusPerhaps the epitome of "winter finches" is the Evening Grosbeak, and each fall or early winter, bird...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Erratic winter visitor; strongly declining. Currently, rare to uncommon in "good" winters; rarely e...Erratic winter visitor; strongly declining. Currently, uncommon in invasive winters; rarely fairly ...Erratic winter visitor; strongly declining. Currently, uncommon in invasive winters; rarely fairly ...The species is seldom seen in the state in recent years, though there were enough birds at feeders d...*2024-05-14
Varied ThrushIxoreus naeviusThis Far Western thrush was an embarrassing "miss" or "hole" on the North Carolina bird list for man...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5One record. One was photographed at Airlie Gardens (New Hanover) on 3 Feb 2024 (Chat 88:43);...Casual; five records. An adult female was seen on three dates between 19 and 29 Dec 2005 near Hills...Accidental. An adult male was photographed in Fletcher (Henderson) on 1 Feb 2010* (Chat 74:6...1/2*2024-05-14
Sedge WrenCistothorus stellarisCalled the Short-billed Marsh Wren many decades ago, the Sedge Wren is now restricted just to North ...NonbreederDefinitiveSUB,S4NG5Winter resident eastward, but otherwise a scarce transient. Generally fairly common, to locally com...Transient, and occasional straggler into winter. Generally rare (or at least secretive enough that ...Transient. Very rare (no records for many counties) to rare in spring and fall, mainly limited to l...The species is fairly easy in fall and winter in shrubby marshes, such as at Bodie Island (near the ...***2024-05-14
Blue-gray GnatcatcherPolioptila caeruleaThe Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is the only member of its small family found in the eastern half of the co...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S2NG5Summer resident regionwide, and a sparse winter resident in part of the region. Common (to locally ...Summer resident, with stragglers into winter. In summer, generally common to at least locally very ...Summer resident. Fairly common in lower elevations, at least in broad valleys below 2,500 feet; unc...None needed.****2024-05-14
Northern Rough-winged SwallowStelgidopteryx serripennisThis species, long known as the Rough-winged Swallow, had to have its common name changed several de...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Summer resident. Fairly common over the inner two-thirds of the province, but uncommon to locally f...Summer resident. Fairly common over nearly the entire region, perhaps slightly more frequent near r...Summer resident. Fairly common over the region, up to about 4,000 feet, and sparingly up to about 5...The species is normally seen in a day of birding in most sites away from coastal counties. The best...***2024-05-14
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. Generally, common to locally ve...Summer resident, remaining into late fall, and sparingly winters in the eastern portions; still slow...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...****2024-05-14
Warbling VireoVireo gilvusThe Warbling Vireo, along with the Red-eyed Vireo, has the most extensive breeding range of any vire...BreederDefinitiveSRS2BG5Transient, and possible accidental breeder. Very rare in both spring and fall. Records are increasin...Transient (mainly in spring), and scarce summer resident. In spring, rare in the western half, and ...Summer resident and transient. Uncommon in summer in the New River area of Ashe and Alleg...Though a scarce bird in the state, driving roads that parallel or cross the South Fork New River, wi...***2024-05-14
White-eyed VireoVireo griseusThe White-eyed Vireo breeds over the southeastern part of the United States, and it winters in parts...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S1NG5Summer resident throughout, and scarce winter resident near the coast. In summer, common essentiall...Summer resident, with some migratory movements; strays into early winter. In the breeding season, c...Summer resident. Fairly common in lower elevations (below 2,500 feet), and uncommon to about 4,000 ...A morning of birding in most parks, refuges, and other preserves in the Coastal Plain will yield the...****2024-05-14
Western FlycatcherEmpidonax difficilisThere are four state records of this species of western North America. Several dozen years ago, the...NonbreederDefinitiveSAOne record (see above), currently being reviewed by the NC BRC.Three records (see above), with the first two accepted by the NC BRC. The third has yet to be review...No records.1/2*2024-05-13
Ash-throated FlycatcherMyiarchus cinerascensThe Ash-throated Flycatcher is a Western species, breeding from southern Washington to Texas. Like ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Greatly increasing in late fall and winter near the coast; late autumn migrant/visitor, with birds a...Casual to perhaps now very rare stray/visitor. Two sight reports are from the Raleigh area: one on ...Accidental. One videotaped in Henderson on 28 Oct 1999 is the only record for the mountains....There have now been numerous recent records at Alligator River NWR, and somewhat fewer near Pungo La...* to **2024-05-13
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...**2024-05-13
Short-eared OwlAsio flammeusThe Short-eared Owl is the owl species most likely to be seen flying about in daylight hours, as a f...Accidental BreederDefinitiveWSUB,S3NG5Winter resident, and probable accidental/casual breeder. In winter, uncommon (to sporadically and l...Winter visitor. Very rare to rare, mainly from early Nov to late Mar; a preponderance of records we...Winter visitor. Very rare in the southern mountains, with nine records, six from Hooper Lane in ... A good technique for locating likely spots for Short-eareds is to find marshes or grasslands th...**2024-05-13
Golden EagleAquila chrysaetosThis very large and powerful raptor -- the largest in the state -- has always had a mysterious prese...Former Probable BreederDefinitiveSRSUB,S1NG5Migrant and winter visitor. Rare in the vicinity of lakes Mattamuskeet and Pungo and at Alligator R...Scarce migrant; about 29 reports. Very rare, mainly in fall and early winter, across the province; ...Scarce winter resident, and also a scarce year-round visitor and migrant. Presently, a rare fall mi...Over the years there has been a record of Golden Eagle every few winters in the Lake Mattamuskeet --...*2024-05-13
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; greatly increasing in recent years. Now rare ...Formerly accidental to casual, but now very rare to rare and increasing, post-breeding visitor, with...Casual post-breeding visitor, with all records from 2018 (Chat 82:112). Singles were seen on the Fr...Increasing annually now, and can now be tracked down to see, as some have lingered for a while, espe...* to **2024-05-13
Yellow-crowned Night-HeronNyctanassa violaceaThough the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron can be somewhat nocturnal, it frequently forages during the da...BreederDefinitiveSRS2BG5Summer resident and transient. Generally uncommon along most of the coast, but fairly common at lea...Transient, post-breeding visitor, and sparse breeder. Rare and local throughout, and no records for...Transient. Very rare, and only in the lower mountains, mostly from Henderson; nearly all rec...Areas where they can be seen somewhat regularly are the Twin Lakes ponds on the mainland part of Sun...**2024-05-13
Least BitternIxobrychus exilisThe Least Bittern is just as shy as its larger cousin, the American Bittern, but because it is much ...BreederDefinitiveSCS2S3BG5Summer resident and migrant; a handful of winter records. Occurs nearly throughout the Tidewater an...Transient and scarce summer resident. Rare (and easily overlooked) transient, and rare and local br...Casual to very rare transient, and perhaps has nested on rare occasions in the Hendersonville area. ...Most of the better sites are difficult for birders to reach. It is reportedly common as a breeder a...**2024-05-13
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 27 reports, mostly at large reservoirs (about one-third of these from F...Accidental/casual. Four reports (all single birds); Waynesville, 6 Aug 1979; Lake Junaluska (Hay...None needed; easily found along and near coastal areas.****2024-05-13
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...Rare (but increasing) migrant and winter visitor, and possible winter resident at one site. Most ar...Very rare migrant, with at least 11 records, nearly all from the southern mountains; records and num...Fortunately for the birder, individuals of this species often linger for a month or more in NC. Form...*** 2024-05-13
AnhingaAnhinga anhingaThe Anhinga is still another of the Pelicaniform species that has increased noticeably in the state ...BreederDefinitiveWS3BG5Breeding summer resident, increasing. Nests at least locally, scattered over most of the province, e...Nonbreeding migrant/visitor; increasing. Casual but likely increasing breeder (or probable breeder) ...Casual visitor. One was seen from a hawk watch at Mount Pisgah (Buncombe), 21 Sep 2003; one ...The spillway at Orton Pond is probably the best site in the state. Birds can also be seen at Orton ...***2024-05-13
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, greatly increasing; rare straggler in winter, though perh...Post-breeding visitor, greatly increasing. Formerly very rare to now locally rare, mainly from Jun ...Post-breeding visitor; very rare to now rare in the southern and central mountains, with about 15 re...The species can almost always be found around the margins of the two freshwater ponds at Twin Lakes,...*** to ****2024-05-13
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...****2024-05-13
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/resident. Rare to locally uncommon, but greatly increasing, at large lakes and landf...Casual. The only records are a first-year bird photographed at the Hooper Lane Sod Farms (Hender...This species is easy to find in the large gull flocks that congregate at Cape Hatteras Point from la...*** to ****2024-05-13
California GullLarus californicusDespite this being a very common to locally abundant nesting bird in the Canadian and United States ...Nonbreeder DefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor along the coast, with most records from Cape Hatteras Point. Typically occurs as sin...Accidental. The only record is of an adult seen at the Raleigh landfill on 22 Jan 2005* (Chat 69:80...No records.To see this species in the state, one should be in an ORV at Cape Hatteras Point in winter, carefull...*2024-05-13
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, now close to 20 records. Accidental in spring, with the only record being of one...Very rare visitor to the southern portion of the province. Nine records: 1 at Hooper Lane (Hender...The species is too rare to intentionally search for. However, birders should be aware of the specie...*2024-05-13
Little GullHydrocoloeus minutusLike the Black-headed Gull, the Little Gull is essentially an Old World species, though in the past ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, essentially only along the coast and in near offshore waters. From Hatteras Inlet n...Casual to now very rare winter visitor. Single birds noted at Jordan Lake: an immature seen from 5-...No records.This species is reliably found among the large flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls along the northern half o...**2024-05-13
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...Very rare winter visitor; nine records. One adult seen in a flock of Bonaparte's Gulls at Jordan La...No records.Individuals may hang around a coastal site for a week or more and thus can be chased with some chanc...* to **2024-05-13
Atlantic PuffinFratercula arcticaThe Atlantic Puffin is one of the most charismatic waterbirds in North America, very popular with th...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor/resident, essentially only offshore; greatly increasing in recent years. Formerly ve...No records.No records.Take a pelagic trip out of Hatteras or Oregon inlets in winter. In recent winters, several trips usu...**2024-05-11
Thick-billed MurreUria lomviaQuite similar to the Common Murre in appearance and in overall habits, the Thick-billed Murre is a s...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, essentially coastal (inshore ocean); perhaps slightly declining in recent years, tho...No records.No records.You will just have to luck into one along the coast in winter, though a more careful observer who sc...*2024-05-11
Common MurreUria aalgeFor a seemingly interminable time, North Carolina went without a record of this very common alcid. ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very scarce, but greatly increasing, winter visitor offshore and along the coast; now rare (to local...No records.No records.The increase in sightings in the past decade is gratifying for pelagic birders, but whether this sig...**2024-05-11
DovekieAlle alleThe Dovekie is, by far, the smallest of the six species of Atlantic alcids. It is one of three -- a...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Mostly an offshore winter visitor, quite erratic from winter to winter and month to month. There wer...Accidental. One record, during the memorable late 1950 flight, is from Raleigh on 7 or 8 Dec (1950) ...No records.To try to see the species in NC, you should sign up for a pelagic trip, preferably in Feb, to the co...**2024-05-11
Red PhalaropePhalaropus fulicariusIn breeding plumage, both sexes of the Red Phalarope are quite stunning, with the female a rich rufo...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Transient and winter resident, essentially offshore. Mostly uncommon in fall migration, but fairly ...Transient; the great majority of records in fall. Casual to very rare in fall, at reservoirs, with ...Casual. Pearson et al. (1959) list reports from "Smoky Mountain Park" in Dec and at Fontana (Grah...The only way to have a realistic chance of seeing a Red Phalarope is to take a winter or early sprin...**2024-05-11
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 20 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 could formerly be found with some regularity only at the Pea and Bodie island ponds; now...* to **2024-05-09
Lesser YellowlegsTringa flavipesAs the name implies, the Lesser Yellowlegs is very similar to the larger Greater Yellowlegs, and its...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Transient and winter resident. Locally common (to at times very common or abundant) migrant along t...Transient. Uncommon to locally fairly common in spring and fall, slightly more numerous in fall (wh...Transient. Rare to locally uncommon in spring; seemingly rare in most areas in fall. Definitely mo...The species is easily found at impoundments and other fresh water pools and flats near the coas at l...****2024-05-09
Purple SandpiperCalidris maritimaHardly any bird has as restrictive a habitat in North Carolina than does the Purple Sandpiper, and n...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter resident along the coast. Numerically very rare to rare, but in reality, uncommon at a handf...No records.No records.The best location in NC is the jetty at the south end of Wrightsville Beach, where up to 30 birds ar...***2024-05-09
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 ***2024-05-09
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 10+ fall reports, all from the coast, plus one in winter. T...No records.No records.As the species has been seen now for at least six consecutive falls (2016-21) at the eastern end of ...*2024-05-09
KilldeerCharadrius vociferusOver most of the state, the Killdeer is the most familiar and often seen shorebird, it being found i...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S5NG5Breeding permanent resident, with migratory movements. Along the coast, mostly uncommon as a breede...Breeding permanent resident, with migratory movements; increasing, at least slowly. Fairly common i...Breeding permanent resident, with migratory movements. Fairly common in the breeding season, at lea...This widespread species should not be hard to find around ponds, extensive lawns, or large plowed fi...*** to ****2024-05-09
Pacific Golden-PloverPluvialis fulvaOne of the more remarkable shorebird records for the state was the discovery of a Pacific Golden-Plo...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Six or seven records, nearly all presumably of the same individual (see above) seen annually from 20...No records.No records.Nearly all records have come in late summer or early fall from the sand and mud flats around the Sal...1/2*2024-05-09
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; casual to very rare in...Casual migrant or stray, mainly in late spring; 10 records. One was seen in Franklin on 5 Ju...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...***2024-05-09
Sandhill CraneAntigone canadensisThe Sandhill Crane is one of the largest birds, in terms of size (standing about 4 feet tall), and t...Accidental BreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient and winter visitor/resident, mainly along the coast and in tidewater areas; increasing. A...Transient and winter visitor. Very rare (formerly) to rare (now), increasing in recent years. Reco...Transient, mainly overhead; sparingly in winter. Rare to possibly uncommon migrant in the extreme s...There are typically one to several records in recent years from large fields in the lower Coastal Pl...**2024-05-09
LimpkinAramus guaraunaThe Limpkin breeds locally over much of the Neotropics, ranging north to Florida, and a few are now ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual to now very rare (eight records), nearly all in the southern Coastal Plain. One seen along t...Greatly increasing post-breeding(?) visitor, though still very rare to rare; now (2024) close to 25 ...Very rare visitor, increasing. Five reports: One was seen and photographed at Owen Park in Ashevil...Your best hope of finding one in NC by chance would be to paddle along a blackwater river in the sou...*2024-05-09
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. As a...Mostly a transient, but scattered summer and winter records, where status at these two seasons is un...Poorly known transient (about 19 reports), with two known breeding records, and several reports of p...The descending grunting call is easily heard in migration and winter in tidewater marshes, especiall...***2024-05-09
King RailRallus elegansSlightly larger than the Clapper Rail, and the freshwater/inland counterpart of that species, the Ki...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S3NG4Permanent resident near the coast, with migratory movements; status farther inland poorly understood...Poorly known, but transient and local summer resident (at least formerly, when there were scattered ...Accidental stray/migrant. Two records: one, downtown Asheville (grounded migrant), 25 Apr 2002; and...This species is somewhat local, and because freshwater marshes are spottily located in some areas of...**2024-05-09
Rufous HummingbirdSelasphorus rufusThe Rufous Hummingbird is the state's second-most numerous hummingbird, and though it breeds in the ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Transient and winter visitor. Very rare along the coast and in the Tidewater zone, mainly at feeders...Transient and winter visitor. Very rare to rare (essentially only at feeders) across the province, ...Fall transient and winter visitor, but primary in the fall season. Very rare to now rare, and mainl...One has a reasonable chance to see one during the year, but only by visiting a feeder with a known b...* to **2024-05-09
Eurasian Collared-DoveStreptopelia decaoctoThe Eurasian Collared-Dove is the latest of the relatively few species (along with Rock Pigeon, Euro...Breeder; IntroducedDefinitiveSEG5Breeding, permanent resident; nonmigratory though possibly nomadic; increasing. Locally uncommon to...Breeding permanent resident, but mainly in the southern and western Piedmont. Surprisingly scarce in...Scarce and poorly documented breeding permanent resident in low elevations. Relatively few records,...Not hard to find by driving around side streets of Morehead City, Beaufort, and Harkers Island -- al...***2024-05-09
Horned GrebePodiceps auritusOf our waterbirds, the Horned Grebe has showed one of the more alarming declines over the past few d...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident and migrant. Generally uncommon to fairly common, along the coast and in the Tidewat...Winter resident and migrant. Uncommon and local, to locally common, mainly on the larger lakes -- e...Winter visitor and migrant. Does not winter regularly in the region. Rare to occasionally and briefl...The Horned Grebe can now be missed on a day of birding along the coast in winter, though there are u...***2024-05-09
Harlequin DuckHistrionicus histrionicusThe Harlequin Duck is the third of the three "jetty/pier" sea ducks (along with the two eiders) that...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Rare winter visitor along the immediate coast, and very rare in estuarine waters of bays and sounds....Accidental; a single record, an immature male seen at Lake Brandt (Guilford) on 18 Feb 2007*,...No records.The finding tips are essentially the same as for eiders. Look especially under the southern end of ...*2024-05-09
Greater ScaupAythya marilaOf our regular wintering waterfowl, the range and abundance of the Greater Scaup is more difficult t...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter visitor/resident. Uncommon along the northern half of the coast and in Tidewater; rare to un...Transient and winter visitor. Rare over most of the province, occurring almost solely on large lake...Transient and winter visitor. Rare in the southern mountains, from Buncombe southward. Casua...This can be a difficult bird to find and identify. Nowhere does it occur in NC in any numbers, and ...** to ***2024-05-09
RedheadAythya americanaAs with the Canvasback, the Redhead had suffered continental population declines in recent decades, ...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident. Generally uncommon along the northern coast and in the Tidewater area, south to Co...Winter visitor/resident. Rare to locally uncommon, mostly in the eastern portion of the province. G...Winter visitor; rare to locally uncommon, essentially at lower elevations (below 3,000 feet). Mainly...One or two dense flocks winter on South Pond, New Field, and/or North Pond at Pea Island, and thus t...*** to ****2024-05-08
CanvasbackAythya valisineriaThe Canvasback has experienced continental population declines for several decades. It was formerly...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident; declining. Uncommon to locally fairly common, mainly along the northern coast and ...Winter visitor/resident; declining. Rare to briefly locally uncommon, most numerous along the north...Very rare to rare winter visitor, with only about 17 records, nearly all from the southern mountains...This species can be somewhat difficult to find in most areas. Formerly, it could usually be seen fr...** to ***2024-05-08
Northern ShovelerSpatula clypeataThe Northern Shoveler is one of the few species of waterfowl that has clearly increased in the state...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident; increasing. Generally fairly common, but locally common to very common, along the ...Locally uncommon fall and spring migrant, most frequent in Mar. Rare to locally uncommon in midwint...Rare spring and fall migrant, and very rare winter visitor, mainly in lower elevations. Late Oct to...It is easily found at most coastal NWR's, such as Mattamuskeet and Pea Island. You should be able t...****2024-05-08
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...Casual to very rare visitor in recent years. Two accepted records -- an immature was seen and photog...One report -- one seen and photographed on the French Broad River near Alexander (Buncombe), ...Your best hope to see a Trumpeter Swan is to search through large flocks of Tundra Swans, such as in...*2024-05-08
Cackling GooseBranta hutchinsiiThe Cackling Goose is a rare to very locally uncommon but increasing winter resident (near the coast...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Rare to locally uncommon winter resident, to the eastern (tidewater and north coastal) portions, alm...Formerly casual, but now a rare winter visitor to the western Piedmont, but still (oddly) very rare ...Very rare winter visitor (but nearly all in the southern counties). At least 8 reports: Lake Junalu...Look for this species in fields at Pungo refuge, at Lake Mattamuskeet or in nearby fields, or at Pea...**2024-05-08
Greater White-fronted GooseAnser albifronsThe Greater White-fronted Goose is a rare (but increasing) winter visitor across all portions of the...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, though not a winter resident (yet) like Ross's Goose and Cackling Goose. Most frequ...Winter visitor; very rare to now rare, somewhat increasing in recent years. Approximately 44 record...Winter visitor, notably increasing in recent years. Now rare in the southern mountains; no records ...There is a tendency for the species to appear with flocks of Canada Geese, both feeding in plowed fi...* to **2024-05-08
Ross's GooseAnser rossiiThe Ross's Goose is now a regular winter resident, in very small numbers, amid large flocks of Snow ...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG4Winter resident. Rare to locally uncommon but increasing in winter -- regular at a few sites -- in ...Winter visitor. Formerly casual; now rare but greatly increasing, with about 55 records. Scattered ...Winter visitor. Rare, but greatly increasing, in the southern counties, with about 46 records. All...In the past few winters, the species has been seen, generally with Snow Geese, in fields near Pungo ...**2024-05-08
Red-footed BoobySula sulaThis Tropical waterbird, found in the warmer portions of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, had b...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5One record (see above).One record (see above).No records.1/2*2024-05-08
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...**2024-02-11
Townsend's WarblerSetophaga townsendiThis close relative of the Black-throated Green Warbler breeds only from Alaska to the northwestern ...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Casual visitor, mainly in fall, with nine to ten published reports. Four have been reviewed and acce...No records.The only record is of a first-year female photographed at the Richland Balsam Overlook, along the <...1/2*2024-02-11
Prairie WarblerSetophaga discolorThe Prairie Warbler is another mis-named warbler, as it is not found in prairies (i.e., native grass...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S1NG5Summer resident, and sparse winter visitor/resident. In summer, common over most of the region, thou...Summer resident. Fairly common to common in the eastern portions, and fairly common in the central ...Summer resident. Uncommon over the region, as a whole; essentially below 3,000 feet. Fairly common...The species is easily found in the Coastal Plain and eastern Piedmont. Driving US 264 through Alliga...****2024-02-11
Blackpoll WarblerSetophaga striataThe Blackpoll Warbler, at a glance at its breeding range, would seem to have a similar migration pat...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. In spring, uncommon to at times fairly common over most of the region, likely less numer...Transient. Fairly common (formerly common) across the region in spring; in fall, generally uncommon...Transient. Fairly common in low to middle elevations in spring; rare at high elevations. In fall, g...Normally not hard to find between 5-20 May, especially around 10-15 May, in many parks in the state....***2024-02-11
Bay-breasted WarblerSetophaga castaneaThe Bay-breasted Warbler has a similar breeding range to that of the Cape May Warbler and the Tennes...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. In spring, very rare along the western edge, and very rare to rare near and along the co...Transient. In spring, rare to uncommon in the western half, and rare in the eastern half of the reg...Transient. In spring, rare to uncommon in the lower elevations, and rare at middle elevations. In ...You should be able to see the species in fall in late Sep or early Oct along the Blue Ridge Parkway ...***2024-02-11
Cape May WarblerSetophaga tigrinaThe Cape May Warbler has a breeding range similar to that of the Tennessee Warbler, being a classic ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and winter straggler. In spring, generally rare along the western border, but very rare ...Transient, and winter straggler. In spring, fairly common in the western third, uncommon in the cen...Transient. Fairly common in both spring and fall; in spring, mostly at low to middle elevations, bu...The best bets are perhaps the southwestern Piedmont, such as Polk, in spring, and along the B...***2024-02-11
Western MeadowlarkSturnella neglectaAccidental. There are two accepted state records of singing Western Meadowlarks: one at Pea Island ...NonbreederProvisionalSAG5One record (see above).One record (see above).One pending record (see above).1/2*2024-02-11
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, stil...Spring transient and former breeder; strongly declining. Currently, casual to very rare spring migra...Transient, and possible former breeder; strongly declining. Casual to very rare in spring; mainly A...The species can still be found at VOA site A, mostly in the eastern half of the site. Birds can be h...** to ***2024-02-11
Nelson's SparrowAmmospiza nelsoniIn 1995, the Sharp-tailed Sparrow was split into two species, instead of a potential three species. ...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident coastally, and transient inland. In winter, fairly common to common along the south...Transient, scarce. Very rare fall migrant, with the few records between 10 Sep and 14 Oct, with the...Transient, scarce. Very rare in spring and fall. In spring, eight records -- 2 at Swannanoa, 25 May...The species is usually easy to find, especially at high tide, in marshes at Fort Fisher near the Aqu...***2024-02-11
LeConte's SparrowAmmospiza leconteiiThe LeConte's Sparrow is another secretive grassland/marsh sparrow of the central part of the contin...NonbreederDefinitiveS1?NG5Winter resident, but scarce and easily overlooked. Fewer reports since about 2010, but whether that ...Transient, and straggler into winter; scarce and poorly known. Very rare in both fall (between 23 O...Transient, scarce. Casual, with only eight reports of single birds: in Franklin (Macon) on 1...The only reliable spot in recent years has been at a privately-owned conservation area -- North Rive...*2024-02-11
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 six records), and very rare in late summer/fall (about 11 records). In...The breeding sites are generally off-limits to birders on military reservations; thus, the best plac...* to **2024-02-11
Cave SwallowPetrochelidon fulvaHardly any bird has expanded its breeding range in the United States in recent years as has the Cave...Nonbreeder DefinitiveSZG5Fall transient, and straggler into early winter, essentially along the coast; greatly increasing in ...Accidental to casual, with three records: a single bird seen at Troutman (Iredell) on 20 Dec ...Accidental, if correctly identified. One was photographed and observed by several birders at Ecusta...The best bet may be to search the catfish ponds near the Tidewater Research Station, and the adjacen...* 2024-02-10
Cliff SwallowPetrochelidon pyrrhonotaThe Cliff Swallow nests from coast to coast across the continent, and it is much more abundant in th...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Transient, and very sparse and local breeder mostly near the coast; expanding its range in recent ye...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...****2024-02-10
Purple MartinProgne subisProbably no bird in the United States relies on man as does the Purple Martin. Prior to man providi...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, somewhat declining. Generally common in the eastern portions -- near the coast and...Summer resident, declining. Fairly common on the whole for the region, but in reality it is various...Summer resident. Generally uncommon to locally fairly common at low elevations, up to about 3,000 f...Usually easy to find on the Outer Banks in the early summer. The birds are not "miss-able" at the o...****2024-02-10
Yellow-throated VireoVireo flavifronsThe Yellow-throated Vireo has a breeding range that closely matches the "eastern deciduous forest" b...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Summer resident. Fairly common over the western and central portions, but rare to locally absent fa...Summer resident. Fairly common over most of the province, though likely slightly less numerous in t...Summer resident. Generally uncommon (to perhaps locally fairly common) in the lower elevations (to ...Usually a few can be found in a morning of birding in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, such as in a s...***2024-02-10
Bell's VireoVireo belliiThough the Bell's Vireo nests as far east as Illinois, there are relatively few records for the sout...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very rare along and near the coast in fall and early winter. One was briefly seen and photographed ...Accidental, though unconfirmed for the province. There is a sight record at Zebulon (Wake) o...Accidental. One was seen and photographed on the Warren Wilson College grounds (Buncombe) fr...Be alert to this secretive bird in the fall near the coast, and keep a camera handy; it can be diffi...*2024-02-10
Say's PhoebeSayornis sayaThe Say's Phoebe breeds over much of the Western United States and Western Canada, but it withdraws ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very rare fall migrant/stray, occasionally lingering into the winter; 14 records. One was seen near ...Casual; five or six records. One was seen near Raleigh on 23 Oct 1965 (Chat 30:28), (Chat 54:56). A...Accidental. One was photographed at Jackson Park (Henderson) on 19 Sep 2023 (Chat 88:16). T...The bird along Howerton Road in northeastern Guilford has been present for the past two falls...*2024-02-10
Gray FlycatcherEmpidonax wrightiiAs with the Hammond's Flycatcher, the Gray Flycatcher is a species of the Western States, but it is ...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5One record (see above).One record (see above). No records.1/2*2024-02-10
Fork-tailed FlycatcherTyrannus savanaThe Fork-tailed Flycatcher's normal range is in Central and South America, but it is famous for vagr...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Five records (see above).One record (see above).No records.1/2*2024-02-10
Tropical KingbirdTyrannus melancholicusThis abundant Neotropical species ranges north to extreme southern Texas and southern Arizona. Howev...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual stray. There are six records, four in late fall or early winter: one near Fairfield (Hyde...No records.No records.When birding along and near the coast, be aware of any kingbird with yellow underparts. A few decad...1/2*2024-02-10
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerSphyrapicus variusThe Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only true migratory woodpecker species in eastern North America....BreederDefinitiveSRS2B,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)2024-02-10
Swainson's HawkButeo swainsoniThough the Swainson's Hawk is a Western species, like the Broad-winged Hawk almost the entire breedi...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Formerly casual transient to the coast and Tidewater areas, but since about 2005, now very rare, wit...Casual visitor. Three reports, two accepted -- of birds seen overhead: one adult, Lake Benson (W...No records.Because a number of records have recently come from Alligator River NWR, this is the only place in t...*2024-02-10
Red-shouldered HawkButeo lineatusThis familiar hawk had for many decades been less numerous or less often seen than the Red-tailed Ha...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S5NG5Permanent resident, with some migratory movements; slightly increasing. Fairly common to often comm...Permanent resident, with barely noticeable migratory movements; increasing. Now fairly common to com...Permanent resident and migrant. Rare to uncommon in the lower elevations, and very rare over about ...This species is more easily heard than seen, as its "Kee-yar" call is often heard in swamps and bott...*** to ****2024-02-10
Mississippi KiteIctinia mississippiensisMississippi Kites are a major success story in North Carolina and elsewhere in their breeding range,...BreederDefinitiveS3BG5Summer resident, breeding; increasing in recent decades. Occurs primarily close to brownwater river...Increasing stray or overshooting migrant, as well as a post-breeding visitor; breeds at a few local ...Rare migrant/visitor (increasing) in the southern mountains (about 28 records). Very rare north of <...Visiting the Lock and Dam #1 area or the NC 11 bridge over the Cape Fear River has been consistently...***2024-02-10
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 sites in the souther...Very rare to rare, but increasing, visitor in the warmer months, surprisingly mostly to the western/...Very rare, but increasing, visitor in the warmer months; about 26 records, with five coming in fall ...Birders can usually spot one to several birds, along with some Mississippi Kites, either close to th...**2024-02-10