Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
The 100 most recent account entries/updates.
comNamesciNamespecies_accountbreeding_statuslist_typestate_statusfed_statusS_rankG_rankcoastal_plainpiedmontmountaintipstips_codeupdate_on
Henslow's SparrowAmmodramus henslowiiThe Henslow's Sparrow has always been one of the rarest sparrows in North America, and being a grass...BreederDefinitiveSummer 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 ***2018-01-12
Black-throated Green WarblerSetophaga virensThe Black-throated Green Warbler has a fragmented breeding range, thanks to a separate subspecies --...BreederDefinitiveSummer resident, and transient. In summer, variously rare to locally common in the eastern third to...Sparse summer resident, and transient. In summer, common in the South Mountains, and locally in the...Summer resident, with migratory movements. Breeds over the entire region, but local; can be common ...Should be easily found in late Apr or May in many areas of the higher mountains, such as along the B...****2018-01-11
Common TernSterna hirundoUntil about 20 years ago, the common name of this species (Common Tern) was quite appropriate in Nor...BreederDefinitiveSummer 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 casual to very rare in fall, at lakes in the southern mountains; a...It is still rather easily found from May into the fall along the coast, at least along the Outer Ban...****2018-01-11
Swainson's ThrushCatharus ustulatusThe Swainson's Thrush is another thrush that nests across the boreal forest zone of Canada, south in...BreederDefinitiveTransient. 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 ***2017-12-18
Shiny CowbirdMolothrus bonariensisThe Shiny Cowbird, common and widespread in the Neotropics, spread northward through the West Indies...Accidental BreederDefinitiveScarce 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...*2017-12-18
Yellow-headed BlackbirdXanthocephalus xanthocephalusThe Yellow-headed Blackbird is practically a "waterbird", in that in its nesting range in the upper ...NonbreederDefinitiveSparse transient and winter visitor. Rare in fall along the immediate coast, more so along the Oute...Very rare visitor. There are only about 13 reports from the province -- six from late summer to ear...Very rare visitor. There are only about ten reports from the mountains, all since 1988. All but on...The Yellow-headed Blackbird is a difficult bird to find in the state. When birding along the coast ...*2017-12-18
DickcisselSpiza americanaAlthough there are numerous birds that are highly erratic wintering species in North Carolina and el...BreederDefinitiveSporadic 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 - 2015, the species has been easily found in summer at North River Farms, but this is a pr...**2017-12-18
Painted BuntingPasserina cirisThe adult male Painted Bunting is certainly the gaudiest-colored of North American songbirds. Thank...BreederDefinitiveSummer 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 16 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 ****2017-12-18
Seaside SparrowAmmodramus maritimusThe Seaside Sparrow is an unusual sparrow, in that most individuals within its coastal range apparen...BreederDefinitivePermanent resident in coastal marshes, with some migratory and habitat movements. In summer, fairly...Accidental; the only record is one seen at Falls Lake on 2 Sep 2007 (Chat 72:38).No records.The species is easily found at all seasons at Federal Point and near the Aquarium at Fort Fisher, or...****2017-12-18
Savannah SparrowPasserculus sandwichensisThe Savannah Sparrow is one of the more abundant sparrows in North America, nesting commonly in a va...BreederDefinitiveWinter resident, with migratory movements. In winter, common to very common in the eastern third of...Winter resident, and transient. In winter, fairly common in the eastern and southern parts of the r...Summer resident, transient, and sparse winter resident. In summer, rare to uncommon in the northern...None needed; easy to find in winter, at least near the coast.****2017-12-18
Lark SparrowChondestes grammacusThe Lark Sparrow, as with the Vesper Sparrow, is by itself in a monotypic genus; no other sparrow is...BreederDefinitiveSparse 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 (nine records). In s...The breeding sites are generally off-limits to birders; thus, the best places to look are along the ...* to **2017-12-18
Yellow-rumped WarblerSetophaga coronataThe Yellow-rumped Warbler, often called the "Butter-butt", is arguably the most abundant warbler on ...BreederDefinitiveWinter resident. Along the coast and in Tidewater near sounds, abundant in winter, particularly on ...Winter resident, with noticeable migratory movements. In winter, common in the southeastern half, a...Very sparse (and recent) breeder, widespread transient, and winter resident/visitor. In summer, ver...None needed near the coast in winter.****2017-12-18
Hermit ThrushCatharus guttatusThe Hermit Thrush is the only Catharus thrush that winters in the United States, even though ...BreederDefinitiveWinter resident. Formerly fairly common, but now common over the eastern half of the region, and fa...Winter resident. Fairly common over the southeastern half or two-thirds of the province, but uncomm...Summer resident at high elevations, and winter resident throughout. In summer, uncommon to locally ...This species is reasonably easy to find in winter in forests near the coast that have much broadleaf...*** to ****2017-12-18
Marsh WrenCistothorus palustrisThe Marsh Wren was formerly named the Long-billed Marsh Wren, thus causing some confusion with the S...BreederDefinitivePermanent 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 ****2017-12-18
Tropical KingbirdTyrannus melancholicusThis abundant Neotropical species ranges north to extreme southern Texas and southern Arizona. Howev...NonbreederDefinitiveAccidental. There are four records, three in late fall or early winter: one near Fairfield (Hyde...No records.No records.1/2 *2017-12-18
MerlinFalco columbariusThe Merlin is a very feisty raptor for its size, and its dashing flight chasing down shorebirds and ...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient, and winter resident in the eastern part of the region. Uncommon to fairly common fall mi...Transient, with some winter reports. Rare fall and spring migrant, may be locally uncommon in fall ...Transient, with some winter reports. Very rare to rare fall and spring migrant; very rare winter vi...Your best chance to see a Merlin is to visit the coast in Oct, especially after a cold front. Birds...** to ***2017-12-18
Mississippi KiteIctinia mississippiensisMississippi Kites are a major success story in North Carolina and elsewhere in their breeding range,...BreederDefinitiveSummer resident, breeding. Occurs primarily close to brownwater rivers, and most numerous along the...Increasing stray or overshooting migrant, as well as a post-breeding visitor; breeds at a few local ...Very rare to (now) rare migrant/visitor in the southern mountains (about 20 records). Casual north o...Visiting the Lock and Dam #1 area or the NC 11 bridge over the Cape Fear River has been consistently...***2017-12-18
Swallow-tailed KiteElanoides forficatusArguably the most spectacular bird of prey in the world, especially when seen in flight, the Swallow...BreederDefinitiveAnnual visitor, mainly in spring along and near the coast, and breeder at one area; records increasi...Very rare to occasionally rare, but increasing, visitor in the warmer months; about 32 records, from...Very rare visitor in the warmer months; about 11 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...**2017-12-18
Roseate SpoonbillPlatalea ajajaHardly any bird is more easily identified than the Roseate Spoonbill. This tropical breeder nests no...NonbreederDefinitivePost-breeding visitor and stray, mostly to the coast. Very rare to (now) rare along the southern co...Casual post-breeding visitor, with four known records. One was seen at Lake Twitty (Union) f...No records.This species is too rare to be searched for in the state. Typically, a bird is seen in shallow tida...*2017-12-18
Least BitternIxobrychus exilisThe Least Bittern is just as shy as its larger cousin, the American Bittern, but because it is much ...BreederDefinitiveSummer 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...**2017-12-18
Wood StorkMycteria americanaThe Wood Stork is probably the most significant wader in the state, because it is a Federally listed...BreederDefinitiveSummer resident and post-breeding visitor, increasing. Locally common only at its primary breeding ...Post-breeding visitor, increasing. Very rare to now locally rare, mainly in Jun and Jul, but scatte...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,...****2017-12-18
Great ShearwaterArdenna gravisIn 2010, the American Ornithologists' Union changed the common name of Greater Shearwater to Great S...NonbreederDefinitiveOffshore visitor, mainly to the Gulf Stream. Generally fairly common, to occasionally common in mid...No records.No records.This shearwater is best seen by taking a chartered birding trip to the Gulf Stream off Oregon or Hat...***2017-12-18
South Polar SkuaStercorarius maccormickiAlthough there are many more records (over 75) in the state of this Antarctic region breeder than th...NonbreederDefinitiveOffshore migrant and summer visitor. Rare (to occasionally uncommon) in late spring, mostly from th...No records.No records.A trip to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream is necessary to have a good chance of seeing this speci...* to **2017-12-17
WilletTringa semipalmataThe Willet is one of the few shorebirds that nests in North Carolina, and essentially the only one t...BreederDefinitivePermanent 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. Casual to very rare in spr...Willets are noisy and hard to miss along the coast for most of the year.****2017-12-17
Long-billed DowitcherLimnodromus scolopaceusFor much of the last century, the Long-billed Dowitcher was a very poorly known species, most likely...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient and winter resident; mainly along the coast and at Mattamuskeet NWR and vicinity. Coastal...Transient. Accidental in spring (two reports), very rare to locally rare (at Falls and Jordan lakes...Transient; casual or accidental. The only report is one photographed at Osceola Lake (Henderson<...You should be able to find the species in mid- to late fall at the impoundments at Pea and Bodie isl...***2017-12-17
Snowy PloverCharadrius nivosusIn 2011, the American Ornithologists' Union split the European subspecies and the American subspecie...NonbreederDefinitiveVery rare stray along the central and southern coast, from spring to fall; one winter record. There ...No records.No records.In the warmer months, it doesn't hurt to carefully scrutinize small plovers along the beaches and in...*2017-12-17
American CootFulica americanaThe American Coot is one of the state's most familiar waterbirds, often occurring in large and dense...Accidental BreederDefinitivePrimarily a winter resident, but a sporadic breeder. Common to locally abundant in winter along the...Winter resident, and accidental breeder. Variously uncommon (mainly in western portions) to locally ...Mainly a transient, and scarce winter resident. Rare to uncommon migrant, and rather rare in winter...Coots should require no finding tips during the cooler months, at least near the coast at fresh wate...****2017-12-17
SoraPorzana carolinaThe Sora is the least shy of the six rails in the state and is the one most often seen in freshwater...Nonbreeder DefinitiveWinter resident and transient near the coast, but farther inland mainly a transient. Fairly common ...Transient, with a few winter records. Mostly rare to uncommon (records fairly scarce, but easily un...Transient, with one winter record; one record suggestive of breeding. Generally rare, to perhaps lo...During Apr and early May, and again in fall, the Sora can be heard in many fresh to slightly brackis...***2017-12-17
Chuck-will's-widowAntrostomus carolinensisThis strictly nocturnal species is a characteristic breeding bird of our drier forest edges and open...BreederDefinitiveBreeding summer resident, and occasional winter visitor. Generally common in the warmer months over...Breeding summer resident. Fairly common in the extreme eastern and southern portions of the provinc...Probable breeding summer resident in a few very low elevation areas, in the southern half of the mou...Hearing this species is seldom a problem. Simply, drive around a little bit after dusk, or before d...***2017-12-17
Mottled DuckAnas fulvigulaThis is the only dabbling duck (excluding Wood Duck) that regularly nests as a natural population in...NonbreederDefinitiveA recent visitor, currently rare but records greatly increasing, to the southern half of the coast. ...One male was seen by multiple observers and photographed at Riverbend Park (Catawba), 24 Jul ...No records.Your best bet is to look at ponds at Twin Lakes in summer, fall, and winter. The large pond by the F...*2017-12-17
Yellow WarblerSetophaga petechiaThe Yellow Warbler has one of the most extensive breeding ranges of any warbler -- across nearly all...BreederDefinitiveTransient, and sparse breeder; a few winter records. In summer, formerly uncommon, but now apparent...Summer resident (strongly declining), and transient. In summer, now (2017) rare to uncommon in the ...Summer resident (strongly declining), and transient. In summer, fairly common to formerly common in...Driving back roads in the [open] "country" in the mountains in May and Jun should yield a few Yellow...***2017-12-13
Kirtland's WarblerSetophaga kirtlandiiConsidering that North Carolina is about halfway between the species' wintering grounds in the Baham...NonbreederDefinitiveNo accepted records. It is quite a surprise that, as of 2017, there are still no documented records...Casual fall transient in the western portion of the province, but no accepted records yet for the ea...Casual/extremely rare transient. A first-year female was seen by five birders along the Blue Ridge ...1/2 *2017-12-13
Golden EagleAquila chrysaetosThis very large and powerful raptor -- the largest in the state -- has always had a mysterious prese...Former Probable BreederDefinitiveMigrant and winter visitor. Rare in the vicinity of lakes Mattamuskeet and Pungo; very rare elsewhe...Scarce migrant; about 26 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 --...*2017-12-08
Western TanagerPiranga ludovicianaThe Western Tanager is a rare visitor and over-wintering "resident" in North Carolina, but it occurs...NonbreederDefinitiveScarce "transient" and winter visitor, with over 70 records. Very rare to rare in winter along the ...Scarce "transient" and winter visitor, with only about 14 records. Casual to very rare visitor, mai...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.*2017-12-08
White-crowned SparrowZonotrichia leucophrysThe White-crowned Sparrow, though nesting from Alaska east to Labrador, and south through much of th...NonbreederDefinitiveWinter resident, and transient (mainly in fall). In winter, uncommon to fairly common but very loca...Winter resident, with little migratory movements. Uncommon to fairly common, though local, in the w...Winter resident, with little migratory movements. Uncommon to fairly common in lower elevations (be...It is not hard to find at a few localized places in the state in winter, such as along Leggett Road ...***2017-12-08
Nelson's SparrowAmmodramus nelsoniIn 1995, the Sharp-tailed Sparrow was split into two species, instead of a potential three species. ...NonbreederDefinitiveWinter resident coastally, and transient inland. In winter, common along the southern half of the c...Transient, scarce. Casual fall migrant, with the few records between 10 Sep and 14 Oct. Surprisingl...Transient, scarce. Casual in both spring and fall. In spring, four records -- 2 at Swannanoa, 25 Ma...The species is usually easy to find, especially at high tide, in marshes at Fort Fisher near the Aqu...****2017-12-08
Black-throated Blue WarblerSetophaga caerulescensCompared with most warblers, the Black-throated Blue has a relatively small breeding range, found in...BreederDefinitiveTransient, and casually into early winter. In spring, uncommon to fairly common in the western port...Transient, and sparse breeder (currently?) in foothill ranges. Fairly common over the region in spr...Summer resident, and transient. In summer, common and relatively widespread over the province, main...The species is hard to miss in several hours of birding at middle to somewhat high elevations in the...****2017-12-08
Mourning WarblerGeothlypis philadelphiaThe Mourning Warbler, until 2011, was placed in the same genus (Oporornis) with the Connectic...Probable BreederDefinitiveTransient. Casual in spring, so far only along or near the coast; very rare in fall along the immed...Transient. In spring, casual to very rare throughout the region (mainly in the western half of the ...Transient; also very rare (in the past few years) in summer, and probable breeder, though as yet wit...This is a difficult bird to find in the state, because relatively few pass through, and then mainly ...*2017-12-08
American PipitAnthus rubescensThe American Pipit, named the Water Pipit until a few decades ago, nests in the coldest and most bar...NonbreederDefinitiveWinter resident. Along the coast (at least the immediate mainland), mostly fairly common, though ca...Winter resident and transient. Fairly common to common across most of the region, in spring and fal...Transient, and very sparse winter visitor/resident. Generally uncommon (to occasionally fairly comm...You should be able to find pipits in large plowed fields in the Coastal Plain in winter, more likely...***2017-12-08
Cliff SwallowPetrochelidon pyrrhonotaThe Cliff Swallow nests from coast to coast across the continent, and it is much more abundant in th...BreederDefinitiveTransient, 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...****2017-12-08
Alder FlycatcherEmpidonax alnorumPrior to 1973, Alder and Willow flycatchers were considered as a single species -- Traill's Flycatch...BreederDefinitiveTransient. Status very poorly known, but apparently very scarce. There are only two reports, of a ...Transient; apparently very rare to rare. Very poorly known, though perhaps regular in both spring a...Summer resident; breeding, mainly above 3,500 feet elevation. Generally uncommon and local, with th...Some of the better sites for finding the species are the road to the Shining Rock Wilderness and Bla...***2017-12-08
Little Blue HeronEgretta caeruleaDespite the fact that adult Little Blue Herons are dark-colored, this species and the Snowy Egret ar...BreederDefinitivePermanent resident along the coast, being migratory and thus more numerous in spring, late summer, a...Transient, though mainly a post-breeding visitor. Formerly fairly common, at least in the eastern p...Transient, though mainly a post-breeding visitor. Rare from mid-Apr to early Sep, essentially only ...This species is slightly less numerous than the Tricolored Heron and Snowy Egret, but you should be ...***2017-12-08
Great Blue HeronArdea herodiasOur most familiar and frequently seen wader, the Great Blue Heron has shown a remarkable increase in...BreederDefinitiveYear-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...****2017-12-08
American White PelicanPelecanus erythrorhynchosThis spectacular and huge species, which nests in the Great Plains and the Western states, has under...NonbreederDefinitiveMigrant and winter visitor, mainly along the northern coast and Tidewater; increasing. Coastally, r...Very rare to rare (but increasing) migrant and winter visitor, with at least 29 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 ***2017-12-08
Brown BoobySula leucogasterThe Brown Booby is a rarer bird off our coast than is the Masked Booby, even though both species bre...NonbreederDefinitiveNonbreeding visitor, mainly offshore in the Gulf Stream, but there are quite a few records from shor...Accidental, with two records. An adult female was seen and photographed on many dates at Lookout Sh...No records.As with other rare pelagic species, you will have to take dozens of trips out of Oregon Inlet or Hat...*2017-12-08
Masked BoobySula dactylatraAs with the tropicbirds, the two boobies recorded in North Carolina waters also are rare enough, and...NonbreederDefinitiveNonbreeding 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 ...*2017-12-08
Swinhoe's Storm-PetrelOceanodroma monorhisThe date 8 Aug 1998 was a red-letter one in North Carolina pelagic bird history. The second ever re...NonbreederDefinitiveCasual offshore visitor to the Gulf Stream; the only records for the United States or Canada are of ...No records.No records.As with many other rare pelagic species, you need to take a lot of trips out of Hatteras Inlet.1/2 *2017-12-08
European Storm-PetrelHydrobates pelagicusBirders looking at range maps of what pelagic species should have been seen in North Carolina waters...NonbreederDefinitiveOffshore 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 **2017-12-08
Fea's PetrelPterodroma feaeThe Fea's Petrel, as with the Trindade Petrel, has a checkered taxonomic history and has also underg...NonbreederDefinitiveOffshore visitor. Distribution is very similar to that of the Trindade Petrel, however it is slight...No records.No records.Fortunately for the birder, the records for the species are mostly clumped into a one-month span; th...* to **2017-12-08
Bermuda PetrelPterodroma cahowThe Bermuda Petrel is the rarest of the four Pterodroma petrels found somewhat regularly off ...NonbreederDefinitiveOffshore visitor. Very rare, but now seen almost annually, though no records from 2010-2012. Occur...No records.No records.As with all Pterodroma petrels, you need to get far offshore, taking organized pelagic trips ...*2017-12-08
Red-billed TropicbirdPhaethon aethereusUntil the mid- or late 1990's, there were very few records of the spectacular Red-billed Tropicbird,...NonbreederDefinitiveOffshore 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...*2017-12-08
Arctic TernSterna paradisaeaTo see this species in North Carolina, one must take a pelagic trip in late spring, or less likely i...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient, essentially offshore. Offshore -- uncommon in spring, and rare in fall; status in fall w...Accidental to casual storm-carried visitor. Three records: one at a parking lot in Shelby on 22 Sep...No records.Your best bet, by far, is to take a pelagic trip out of Oregon or Hatteras inlets in the latter half...**2017-12-07
Brown NoddyAnous stolidusThe Brown Noddy is a very common bird of tropical waters around the world, and a sizable breeding po...NonbreederDefinitivePelagic 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 *2017-12-07
Laughing GullLeucophaeus atricillaHistorically, the Laughing Gull was North Carolina's only breeding gull species; however, in recent ...BreederDefinitiveBreeding 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. Casual/very rare during spring (eight records), and very rare in fall (mostly after stor...It takes no effort whatsoever to find the species along the coast from Mar through Nov.****2017-12-07
Red-necked PhalaropePhalaropus lobatusThe Red-necked Phalarope and the Red Phalarope are the two pelagic shorebirds, and to see both in th...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient, 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 ...**2017-12-07
Short-billed DowitcherLimnodromus griseusAmong the most difficult identification problem facing birders is the separation of the two dowitche...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient 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.****2017-12-07
Semipalmated SandpiperCalidris pusillaThe Semipalmated Sandpiper is, at times, the most abundant of the confusing "peep" sandpipers in the...Nonbreeder DefinitiveTransient. Common to abundant along the coast in spring; common to abundant from Cape Hatteras nort...Transient. Rare to occasionally uncommon in spring, and uncommon in fall, though occasionally quite...Transient. Rare in spring and fall (though no published records in fall?), May and late Jul into Oc...This is one of our most abundant coastal birds in migration, and is easily found.****2017-12-07
White-rumped SandpiperCalidris fuscicollisThis and the Baird's Sandpiper are the two large "peep" species found in the state. Neither is comm...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient. 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. At least in spring, essentially only in low elevations in the southern counties; very ra...This can be a difficult to find species away from the Bodie-Pea Island or Cape Hatteras area. You sh...** to ***2017-12-07
American Golden-PloverPluvialis dominicaUnlike its slightly larger cousin, the Black-bellied Plover, the American Golden-Plover is a good fi...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient. 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 **2017-12-07
Black-bellied PloverPluvialis squatarolaThe Black-bellied Plover is one of the more familiar shorebirds of coastal areas, wintering in good ...Nonbreeder DefinitiveTransient, 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 21 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...****2017-12-07
Black-necked StiltHimantopus mexicanusThe Black-necked Stilt is one of the most unmistakable birds occurring in North Carolina, resembling...BreederDefinitiveSummer 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; one was seen at Hooper Lane (Henderson) on 25 Sep 2004, presumably brought there ...The best -- at least most accessible -- places to see this species are the impoundments at Pea Islan...***2017-12-07
Sandhill CraneAntigone canadensisThe Sandhill Crane is one of the largest birds, in terms of size (standing about 4 feet tall), and t...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient and winter visitor, mainly along the coast and in tidewater areas; increasing. Rare and u...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...Cranes are more likely to be seen in the state in Cherokee in late fall or early spring, wher...*2017-12-07
Clapper RailRallus crepitansThe Clapper Rail is, by far, the easiest rail to see in the state and is the most characteristic bir...BreederDefinitivePermanent resident along the coast (tidal marshes); casual migrant elsewhere. Common to very common...Casual to very rare transient. At least 11 records: records from Raleigh on 13 Apr and 21 Apr (year ...No records.The species is easily heard calling at dawn or dusk, and sporadically during the day and night, in m...**** 2017-12-07
White-winged DoveZenaida asiaticaThe White-winged Dove is a common and well-known migratory game bird from Texas west to Arizona. Ho...Accidental BreederDefinitiveTransient, and accidental to casual breeder, mainly coastally. Formerly, a very rare to rare fall m...Casual visitor; seven published records, scattered over the region. Most are of single individuals ...No records.Driving around Beaufort might yield a White-winged Dove.** 2017-12-07
Common MerganserMergus merganserThe Common Merganser winters regularly in the state only at one to a few inland lakes, as North Caro...BreederDefinitiveWinter 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...Winter visitor, and casual to now (2017) very rare breeder. Generally very rare, with nearly all rec...To see this species, look at Lake Phelps in the winter, with a good scope. The wintering flock usua...** to ***2017-12-07
RedheadAythya americanaAs with the Canvasback, the Redhead had suffered continental population declines in recent decades, ...NonbreederDefinitiveWinter 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...This can be an elusive bird to find, even though thousands winter in the state. Several thousand wi...***2017-12-07
Green-winged TealAnas creccaAs with the Northern Pintail, many thousands of Green-winged Teals winter in our coastal region, esp...NonbreederDefinitiveWinter resident, common to locally abundant in the northern coastal and Tidewater areas, particularl...Uncommon winter resident/visitor over most of the region; locally fairly common, but seldom common. ...Rare to locally uncommon winter visitor; mostly found in lower elevations (below 3,000 feet). Late S...Numbers in the hundreds to several thousands can often be found at refuges such as Alligator River, ...****2017-12-07
Greater White-fronted GooseAnser albifronsThe Greater White-fronted Goose is a very rare to rare winter visitor across all portions of the sta...NonbreederDefinitiveWinter 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 31 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...*2017-12-07
Cackling GooseBranta hutchinsiiThe Cackling Goose is a rare, or overlooked, winter visitor, mainly in large concentrations of Canad...NonbreederDefinitiveProbably a rare (but annual) winter visitor, to the eastern (tidewater and north coastal) portions, ...Formerly casual, but now a very rare winter visitor; records greatly increasing in recent years. On...Casual winter visitor. At least 5 reports: Lake Junaluska (Haywood), 27 Dec 2004 - 8 Jan 200...Look for this species in fields at Pungo refuge, at Lake Mattamuskeet or in nearby fields, or at Pea...**2017-12-07
Black-bellied Whistling-DuckDendrocygna autumnalisThe Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a recent stray to coastal and tidewater areas, with the only acc...NonbreederDefinitiveVery rare to now (2017) rare visitor to the southern coastal areas and Tidewater region; very rare e...Surprisingly, only two known records, though records should increase greatly over the next decade. T...Three records; casual but increasing. A flock of 12 was seen and photographed at the Super Sod farm ...The species is most likely to show up in the Twin Lakes area of Brunswick, based on closest p...* to **2017-12-07
Eurasian Collared-DoveStreptopelia decaoctoThe Eurasian Collared-Dove is the latest of the relatively few species (along with Rock Pigeon, Euro...Breeder; IntroducedDefinitiveBreeding, permanent resident; nonmigratory though possibly nomadic; increasing. Locally uncommon to...Mostly a visitor, but a breeding permanent resident at only a few sites, mainly in the southern Pied...Visitor, but expected to become a breeding permanent resident in low elevations. Relatively few rec...Not hard to find by driving around side streets of Morehead City, Beaufort, and Harkers Island.***2017-10-24
Northern FulmarFulmarus glacialisNorthern Fulmars are among the most charismatic of our seabirds, as they seem to enjoy flying in ver...NonbreederDefinitiveWinter visitor and transient offshore; somewhat declining. Uncommon (to occasionally fairly common)...No records.No records.Your best bet to see a fulmar is to take a winter pelagic trip, but even then it is an iffy proposit...**2017-10-10
Magnolia WarblerSetophaga magnoliaThe Magnolia Warbler nests across most of the boreal forest zone of Canada and the northeastern stat...BreederDefinitiveTransient. In spring, rare to uncommon in the western portions, rare over central portions, and ver...Transient. Mainly uncommon in spring, and fairly common in fall, over most of the province. Clearl...Scarce summer resident (at higher elevations), and transient. In summer, rare to locally uncommon (...It usually can be found in fall migration in the mountains, in various parks and along the Blue Ridg...***2017-09-28
Brewer's BlackbirdEuphagus cyanocephalusThe Brewer's Blackbird is an abundant bird of the Western half of the country. It is somewhat migra...NonbreederDefinitiveWinter resident at one site, otherwise a sparse winter visitor and transient. Known to winter regul...Scarce transient and winter visitor; some published records are certainly of mid-identifications. ...Scarce transient. Very rare in southern mountain valleys, and casual in the northern half of the pr...Arrangements to access Open Ground Farms have always been tricky. Thus, you must try to find one on...*2017-08-25
BobolinkDolichonyx oryzivorusThe Bobolink is in a monotypic genus, with no close relatives among the other icterids (blackbirds a...BreederDefinitiveTransient. In spring, uncommon to occasionally fairly common in the western portions, but generally...Transient, and accidental nester. In spring, fairly common over the region. In fall, less common t...Sparse summer resident, and transient. In summer, very rare and local (though nests persistently at...If one knows where the specific nesting meadows are in the mountains, it might be readily found. Ot...** to ***2017-08-25
Black-headed GrosbeakPheucticus melanocephalusThe Black-headed Grosbeak, the Western counterpart of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, is a casual visito...NonbreederDefinitiveCasual visitor. There are six records: one in Wilmington, 8-16 Apr 1969 (Chat 33:4); one at Bodie I...Casual visitor. There are five records: one in Greensboro, 6 Jan - 12 Apr 1964 (Chat 28:2); a male ...Casual/accidental, with just one record: a breeding-plumaged male was photographed at a feeder on 11...1/2 *2017-08-25
Rose-breasted GrosbeakPheucticus ludovicianusThe Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a bird of the cooler hardwood and mixed forests of the eastern parts o...BreederDefinitiveTransient. 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 ****2017-08-25
Lincoln's SparrowMelospiza lincolniiDespite the Lincoln's Sparrow having a very wide breeding range, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and so...NonbreederDefinitiveWinter 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,...**2017-08-25
Clay-colored SparrowSpizella pallidaThe Clay-colored Sparrow was a primarily "Western"/Midwestern" species until a few decades ago. How...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient, and sparse winter resident, mainly near the coast. In fall, rare to uncommon along the c...Transient, essentially in fall and winter. Casual to very rare in fall and winter (about 10-11 reco...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...**2017-08-25
Common RavenCorvus coraxThe Common Raven is considered to be the largest passerine in the world. It also is the one occurri...BreederDefinitiveFormerly (prior to 1932), accidental/casual visitor to the coast: 2, Beaufort (Carteret), 4 J...Present, but scarce, all year over much of the province, occasionally breeding; mainly since about 1...Permanent resident, with migratory movements rather imperceptible. Little distributional change ove...Though uncommon number-wise in the mountains, it can be heard calling at long distances, so not hard...***2017-08-25
Philadelphia VireoVireo philadelphicusThis is the only Eastern vireo that does not nest in North Carolina. Instead, the Philadelphia Vireo...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient, essentially only in fall; very sparse in spring. In fall, rare along the coast, and very...Transient. Rare to uncommon (and easily overlooked) across the province in fall, and very rare in s...Transient; more numerous in this province in both spring and fall than downstate. Uncommon in fall,...Jackson Park in Hendersonville in the latter part of September provides a decent chance to see the s...* to **2017-08-25
Scissor-tailed FlycatcherTyrannus forficatusThe beautiful Scissor-tailed Flycatcher nests in the south-central United States, primarily in Texas...BreederDefinitiveTransient/vagrant, both in late spring/summer and again in fall; accidental breeder. Very rare to r...Transient/vagrant, and sporadic breeder at two known sites. Very rare in migration, with more recor...Accidental. One was photographed in Swannanoa (Buncombe) on 10 May 1984 (Chat 48:100). Your best bet is to drive to a known nesting site. If none are available for an easy "tick", you ar...*2017-08-25
Ash-throated FlycatcherMyiarchus cinerascensThe Ash-throated Flycatcher is another Western species, breeding from southern Washington to Texas. ...NonbreederDefinitiveLate autumn stray, with birds attempting to overwinter (though none apparently have been completely ...Accidental. Two sight reports are from the Raleigh area: one on 16 May 1973 (Chat 39:40-43), (Chat ...Accidental. One videotaped in Henderson on 28 Oct 1999 is the only record for the mountains....There have now been multiple records at Alligator River NWR, near Pungo Lake, and along the NC 94 ca...*2017-08-25
Belted KingfisherMegaceryle alcyonFew other birds in the state are as readily identifiable as the Belted Kingfisher, as it is found ac...BreederDefinitivePermanent resident, with some migratory movements. Fairly common over nearly all the province in su...Permanent resident. Fairly common essentially throughout, with little evidence of migratory movemen...Permanent resident. In summer and during migration, generally fairly common at lower elevations (to...Spending an hour or two around a reservoir or other sizable lake, or boating down a river such as th...*** to ****2017-08-24
Broad-winged HawkButeo platypterusThe Broad-winged Hawk is famous for its strongly migratory habits, as it completely leaves the Unite...BreederDefinitiveMigrant 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 very uncommon summe...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...***2017-08-24
Magnificent FrigatebirdFregata magnificensThe Magnificent Frigatebird is a common coastal bird of subtropical and tropical waters around the w...NonbreederDefinitiveNonbreeding visitor, almost always in flight over the immediate coast or over estuaries; seldom seen...Accidental/casual to the eastern edge of the province, with just three records: one seen and later p...No records.North Carolina averages about three reports of this species per year, most often in July or August o...*2017-08-24
White-faced Storm-PetrelPelagodroma marinaThough there are rarer pelagic birds in North Carolina waters than the monotypic White-faced Storm-P...NonbreederDefinitiveScarce offshore visitor, but very few records since 2000 (despite a large number of pelagic trips). ...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...*2017-08-24
Sooty TernOnychoprion fuscatusThe Sooty Tern is sometimes considered to be the most abundant bird in the world, it being found com...Accidental BreederDefinitiveMainly 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...No records.Offshore, this species is normally less numerous than the Bridled Tern. The best times to look for ...**2017-08-24
Buff-breasted SandpiperCalidris subruficollisThe Buff-breasted Sandpiper is one of our most beautiful shorebirds, and its dove-like appearance se...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient, 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...**2017-08-24
Baird's SandpiperCalidris bairdiiThe Baird's Sandpiper is the rarest of the five non-accidental "peep" species in North Carolina, and...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient. Casual in spring, and rare to locally uncommon in fall, mainly along the coast. Three s...Transient. Rare in fall, mainly at the larger reservoirs (when mudflats are present); no spring rec...Transient, though essentially only in low elevation valleys in Henderson, and single records ...In mid-autumn, the impoundments at Pea and Bodie islands, and the tidal pool at Cape Hatteras point,...* to **2017-08-24
Curlew SandpiperCalidris ferrugineaThe Curlew Sandpiper is one of just several species of Eurasian nesting shorebirds on the North Caro...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient 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...* 2017-08-24
Marbled GodwitLimosa fedoaThough this species is a godwit, it has quite a few similarities to the Long-billed Curlew; both bre...NonbreederDefinitiveTransient and winter resident, essentially along the coast. Uncommon to locally fairly common fall m...Fall transient only. Very rare (about 18 records) at reservoirs, where birds put down at night duri...Accidental to casual, in spring and fall. The only records (three) are of 2 birds, Hooper Lane (...This species can usually be found along the coast in Aug and Sep, less so later in fall and winter. ...***2017-08-24
Bar-tailed GodwitLimosa lapponicaThis Eurasian shorebird has appeared along the East Coast much more often than the Black-tailed Godw...NonbreederDefinitiveCasual to very rare visitor, with three spring and six fall reports, all from the coast. The spring...No records.No records.1/2 *2017-08-24
Piping PloverCharadrius melodusThe Piping Plover is one of the few Federally listed birds in North Carolina, especially now that th...BreederDefinitiveBreeding 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 12 records, mostly f...Accidental, with just one record: one at Hooper Lane, Henderson on 4-5 Sep 2012* (Chat 77:6-1...The best area to see this species is at Portsmouth Island in late summer and fall, but a boat is nec...**2017-08-24
American AvocetRecurvirostra americanaOver most of the world, various species of stilts (genus Himantopus) and avocets (genus Re...Accidental BreederDefinitiveWinter resident and migrant, coastally; accidental breeder, along the coast. Fairly common to commo...Transient. Very rare fall migrant, and accidental/casual spring migrant, with most records from lar...Transient. Casual fall migrant, with five known records: 1, Cashiers (Jackson), 3 Jul 1985; ...The only reliable spots are the impoundments at Pea Island NWR and adjacent Bodie Island. At least ...***2017-08-24
Virginia RailRallus limicolaOnly a few decades ago, relatively little was understood of the Virginia Rail's habitats and range i...BreederDefinitivePermanent 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...***2017-08-24
Yellow-billed CuckooCoccyzus americanusThe Yellow-billed Cuckoo is a widespread breeding bird across the state, nesting in every county. H...BreederDefinitiveSummer 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...***2017-08-24
Baltimore OrioleIcterus galbulaThe male Baltimore Oriole is one of the more beautiful birds in North America, nesting over the nort...BreederDefinitiveTransient, 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...*** 2017-08-23
Bullock's OrioleIcterus bullockiiThe Bullock's Oriole is the western counterpart to the Baltimore Oriole. Originally classified as s...NonbreederDefinitiveCasual to (formerly) very rare winter visitor; sadly, the last record was in 1994, except for a sing...Casual winter visitor. There are about 8 records, with three birds over-wintering. Records are sca...No records.Your first Bullock's Oriole will likely be seen at someone's feeder.1/2*2017-08-23
Blue GrosbeakPasserina caeruleaThe Blue Grosbeak breeds across the southern half to two-thirds of the United States, and winters in...BreederDefinitiveSummer resident, with a few winter records. Common in summer across most of the province, but can b...Summer resident, with about 11 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.****2017-08-23