Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
The 100 most recent account entries/updates.
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...**2022-04-27
Painted BuntingPasserina cirisThe adult male Painted Bunting is certainly the gaudiest-colored of North American songbirds. Thank...BreederDefinitiveSCS3BG5Summer resident along the southern coast, and sparse winter resident/visitor along the coast, even t...Very rare (but increasing) visitor, scattered over the year. About 29 records, all of single birds....Accidental visitor. The only known records are one at a feeder in Asheville, 9-12 Mar 2004; and a f...Should be easily found along the southern coast in late Apr, May, and Jun, at places such as Fort Ma...*** to ****2022-04-27
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 ****2022-04-27
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 close to 95 records. Very rare to rare in winter along ...Scarce "transient" and winter visitor, with well over 30 records. Very rare visitor, mainly from ea...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.*2022-04-27
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...****2022-04-27
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...****2022-04-27
Blackpoll WarblerSetophaga striataThe Blackpoll Warbler, at a glance at its breeding range, would seem to have a similar migration pat...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. In spring, fairly common over most of the region, likely less numerous in the central an...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....***2022-04-27
Yellow WarblerSetophaga petechiaThe Yellow Warbler has one of the most extensive breeding ranges of any warbler -- across nearly all...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Transient, and sparse breeder; a few winter records. In summer, formerly uncommon, but now apparent...Summer resident (strongly declining), and transient. In summer, now rare to uncommon in the western...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...***2022-04-27
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...**2022-04-27
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.****2022-04-27
Bullock's OrioleIcterus bullockiiThe Bullock's Oriole is the western counterpart to the Baltimore Oriole. Originally classified as s...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual to (formerly) very rare winter visitor; most records prior to 2010. There are about 10 recor...Casual to very rare winter visitor. There are about 15 records, with 7-8 birds over-wintering. Rec...No records.Your first Bullock's Oriole will likely be seen at someone's feeder.1/2*2022-04-27
Orchard OrioleIcterus spuriusThe Orchard Oriole breeding range covers the Eastern Deciduous Forest area of the continent -- nesti...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, with no obvious migratory movements. Common in summer, over the province as a whol...Summer resident, with no obvious migratory movements. Generally fairly common in summer in the east...Summer resident, with no obvious migratory movements. Uncommon in lower elevations, mainly in broad...None needed in the Coastal Plain in spring to early summer, by driving back roads, especially throug...****2022-04-27
Yellow-headed BlackbirdXanthocephalus xanthocephalusThe Yellow-headed Blackbird is practically a "waterbird", in that in its nesting range in the upper ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Sparse transient and winter visitor. Rare in fall along the immediate coast, more so along the Oute...Very rare visitor. There are only about 16 reports from the province -- six from late summer to ear...Very rare visitor. There are only about 10 reports from the mountains, all since 1988. All but one...The Yellow-headed Blackbird is a difficult bird to find in the state. When birding along the coast ...*2022-04-27
Red CrossbillLoxia curvirostraThe Red Crossbill is another of the erratic "winter finches" in the East. Unlike with most of these...BreederDefinitiveSCS3B,S3NG5Winter visitor, and apparently accidental breeder; declining. Currently, very rare to rare across t...Winter visitor, and accidental breeder; declining. Currently, rare and erratic in winter; formerly ...Summer resident at higher elevations, and winter visitor to all of the region. In summer, rare to l...Though the species is erratic in summer, it has been somewhat regular in recent years at Mount Mitch...**2022-04-27
White WagtailMotacilla albaNorth Carolina has, remarkably, three records of White Wagtail, of each of two distinct subspecies: ...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Two records (see above).One record (see above).No records.1/2 *2022-04-27
Varied ThrushIxoreus naeviusThis Far Western thrush was an embarrassing "miss" or "hole" on the North Carolina bird list for man...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5No records. 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 *2022-04-27
VeeryCatharus fuscescensThe Veery is one of five very similar-looking "small" thrushes, in the genus Catharus. It is...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Transient. Generally uncommon and easily overlooked, over the western two-thirds of the region; les...Transient. Generally uncommon in spring and fall, but can be fairly common in the western half, at ...Summer resident and transient. In summer, fairly common to common and widespread at middle and high...The Veery should be easily found (at least heard singing) in most forests above about 4,000 feet, an...****2022-04-27
Mountain BluebirdSialia currucoidesThis is a widespread and generally common species of the higher elevations of the Western States and...NonbreederProvisionalSAG5One record. A male was photographed at Wrightsville Beach (New Hanover) essentially daily fr...No records.One record (see above).1/2 *2022-04-27
Barn SwallowHirundo rusticaThe Barn Swallow, like most swallows, breeds from coast to coast, well into Canada; like most of the...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, with migratory movements. Common breeder over the entire province (except near ext...Summer resident. Common breeder throughout the region, and at times very common (at least near rese...Summer resident. Common breeder at low and middle elevations, to about 4,000 feet; uncommon to perh...None needed.****2022-04-27
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...***2022-04-27
Least FlycatcherEmpidonax minimusThe Least Flycatcher, as its name implies, is the smallest species of flycatcher in the Eastern Unit...BreederDefinitiveWS3BG5Transient. Rare along and very close to the coast, but seemingly casual to very rare farther inland...Transient. Rare, in both spring and fall, across the region; most records are for the eastern part ...Summer resident. Very local, generally uncommon as a whole, but locally fairly common, and rare to ...Good areas during the nesting season include the Highlands Country Club (Macon), Black Camp G...***2022-04-27
Scissor-tailed FlycatcherTyrannus forficatusThe beautiful Scissor-tailed Flycatcher nests in the south-central United States, primarily in Texas...BreederDefinitiveWSAB,SZG5Transient/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...*2022-04-27
Ash-throated FlycatcherMyiarchus cinerascensThe Ash-throated Flycatcher is another Western species, breeding from southern Washington to Texas. ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Greatly increasing in late fall and winter. Late autumn migrant/visitor, with birds attempting to o...Casual stray/visitor. Two sight reports are from the Raleigh area: one on 16 May 1973 (Chat 39:40-4...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...*2022-04-27
Snowy OwlBubo scandiacusArguably one of the most spectacular birds in North America, the Snowy Owl is, unfortunately, seldom...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Winter visitor. Until the late fall and winter 2013-2014, casual to very rare along the immediate co...Winter visitor; formerly (prior to about 1953) very rare. No records between that year and early wi...Winter visitor; accidental. Multiple reports from north of Weaverville, Buncombe, in 1891; an...Because it is too rare to search for in NC, you will need to keep abreast of listserves and websites...1/2*2022-04-27
Northern GoshawkAccipiter gentilisFor such a large hawk (being the state's largest Accipiter), the Northern Goshawk is remarkab...Nonbreeder (but Possible Breeder) DefinitiveSUBG5Visitor in migration and winter; about 33 reports. Rare, mainly in winter, to the northern coast (in...Visitor in migration and winter; only about 15 reports. Very rare to the northern half of the provin...Visitor in migration and winter; at least 20 reports. Very rare (though more numerous here than els...The species is much too rare to specifically search for, but people at hawk watches in the mountains...*2022-04-27
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. Very rare...Formerly accidental to casual, but now very rare and increasing, post-breeding visitor, with seven k...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 **2022-04-27
White IbisEudocimus albusOne of the most common of our coastal wading birds, the White Ibis has increased dramatically in the...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S3NG5Year-round breeding resident along the coast, with migratory movements. Common to locally very comm...Post-breeding visitor, essentially only in summer and fall. Rare to uncommon along the eastern edge...Post-breeding visitor. Rare at low elevations in the southern mountains; very rare in the central a...This species is difficult to miss along the coast, at mudflats, shallow waters of ponds and inlets, ...****2022-04-26
Green HeronButorides virescensThe Green Heron, formerly called the Green-backed Heron (and before that the Green Heron again), is ...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident and migrant. Fairly common breeder over most of the entire province, though somewha...Summer resident and migrant. Fairly common breeder over most of the region, though uncommon in the ...Summer resident and migrant. Generally uncommon breeder, but may be fairly common in low elevations...Though not uncommon in much of the state, it is hard to pinpoint specific places to search for them....***2022-04-26
Great Blue HeronArdea herodiasOur most familiar and frequently seen wader, the Great Blue Heron has shown a remarkable increase in...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S5NG5Year-round resident throughout the province, with some populations migratory. Essentially common al...Year-round resident, breeding locally but in most counties; increasing at all seasons. Common over ...Nearly year-round resident, though generally rare to uncommon in late spring and early summer; breed...This widespread species can be seen daily in most regions from late summer through spring, and findi...****2022-04-26
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...**2022-04-26
American BitternBotaurus lentiginosusBoth bittern species are secretive birds of marshes, sharing their home with rails and a very few ot...BreederDefinitiveSRS1B,S3NG5Transient and winter resident, and sparse and poorly known breeder. Uncommon migrant in coastal and...Transient and scarce winter visitor. Rare (to possibly uncommon, but easily overlooked) during migr...Transient. Rare in Apr-May and again early Aug to mid-Nov; one record in Dec and two in Jan, but not...Observers inland should look for bitterns during spring and fall migration at large marshes, general...**2022-04-26
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. Most are from large reservoirs, early Sep to mid-...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...***2022-04-26
Great CormorantPhalacrocorax carboThe Great Cormorant is still another species that has greatly increased in the East over the past se...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter resident and visitor along the coast. Uncommon and local, mainly around inlets; generally fro...Very rare migrant and winter visitor. About 13 records, all at reservoirs in the eastern and centra...No records.The species is reliably seen at just a few places along the NC coast. Your best bet is at Wrightsvi...***2022-04-26
Brown BoobySula leucogasterThe Brown Booby is (or at least was a few years ago) a rarer bird off our coast than is the Masked B...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Nonbreeding visitor, mainly offshore in the Gulf Stream, but there are quite a few records from shor...Casual, with five records. An adult female was seen and photographed on many dates at Lookout Shoal...No records.As with other rare pelagic species, you will have to take dozens of trips out of Oregon Inlet or Hat...*2022-04-26
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. Locally co...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 14 re...The species can almost always be found around the margins of the two freshwater ponds at Twin Lakes,...****2022-04-26
Yellow-nosed AlbatrossThalassarche chlororhynchosThe sight of any albatross off the Atlantic coast is a highlight in any pelagic birder's career, as ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG3Casual visitor. Four confirmed records, all by photographs: one a few miles off Salvo (Dare),...No records.No records.The species is too rare to specifically look for -- but on winter pelagic trips, carefully look at a...1/2 *2022-04-26
Caspian TernHydroprogne caspiaThe Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world, and it is also one of the most wide-ranging, as i...BreederDefinitiveTS1B,S2NG5Permanent resident (and sparse breeder), with migratory movements, along the coast; transient inland...Transient. Uncommon though regular in both spring and fall at larger lakes/reservoirs, but very rar...Transient. Rare, in the southern mountains only (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and Transyl...Caspian Terns can usually be found along most coastal areas in late summer and fall, especially arou...***2022-04-26
Heermann's GullLarus heermanniThe thought of a strictly West Coast gull species like Heermann's Gull showing up along the Atlantic...NonbreederProvisionalSAG4One record (see above). Some people might consider this as two records, but if a single bird is bel...No records.No records.1/2 *2022-04-26
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; 12 records. One was seen near ...Casual; four records. One was seen near Raleigh on 23 Oct 1965 (Chat 30:28), (Chat 54:56). Another ...No records.1/2 *2022-04-25
Great Black-backed GullLarus marinusFew native species are less popular than the Great Black-backed Gull, the largest of the world's gul...BreederDefinitiveS3B,S5NG5Permanent resident, with migratory movements. Fairly common and slowly increasing coastal breeder fr...Winter visitor. Rare but increasing in the Triangle area (mainly Falls and Jordan lakes and local l...No records.None needed.****2022-04-25
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 or accidental. The only records are a first-year bird photographed at the Hooper Lane Sod Fa...This species is easy to find in the large gull flocks that congregate at Cape Hatteras Point from la...*** to ****2022-04-25
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...*2022-04-25
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. Formerly very rare, but now uncommon and increa...No records.No records.Take a pelagic trip out of Hatteras or Oregon inlets in winter. In recent winters, several trips usu...**2022-04-25
RazorbillAlca tordaBy far the most numerous alcid in North Carolina waters is the Razorbill. In some recent winters, h...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter resident offshore and coastally, increasing. Formerly (prior to 1995) rare along the coast, ...No records.No records.The Razorbill is now seldom missed on winter pelagic trips, but on some trips the birds are infreque...***2022-04-25
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...1/2* to *2022-04-25
Common MurreUria aalgeFor a seemingly interminable time, North Carolina went without a record of this very common alcid. ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very scarce winter visitor offshore and along the coast; now (2022) rare off Oregon Inlet and Cape H...No records.No records.The increase in sightings in the past decade is gratifying for pelagic birders, but whether this sig...*2022-04-25
DunlinCalidris alpinaThough a Calidris species like most other small sandpipers, the Dunlin is often not considere...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Transient, and winter resident along and near the coast. Coastally, very common to abundant migrant ...Transient, lingering into early winter in the eastern portions. Rare spring migrant, and rare to un...Transient. Very rare spring and very rare to rare fall migrant, at low elevations, with all publish...Dunlins can hardly be missed on a birding trip to the coast in late fall or winter. ****2022-04-25
Stilt SandpiperCalidris himantopusThough the Stilt Sandpiper is a species in the genus Calidris, it looks hardly anything like ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, mainly along the coast. Uncommon in spring, and often fairly common to common in fall, a...Transient. Casual spring migrant, and rare to locally uncommon fall migrant (more numerous when ext...Transient. Casual in spring, and very rare in fall, with all but two published records so far from ...In Aug or early Sep, one has a good chance to see them at the impoundments at Pea or Bodie islands; ...** to ***2022-04-25
Sandhill CraneAntigone canadensisThe Sandhill Crane is one of the largest birds, in terms of size (standing about 4 feet tall), and t...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient and winter visitor/resident, mainly along the coast and in tidewater areas; increasing. R...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...**2022-04-25
Common GallinuleGallinula galeataThis species is a "cousin" of the Purple Gallinule, occurring in similar freshwater ponds, though th...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S2NG5Permanent resident near the coast, but with strongly migratory movements; farther inland, very local...Scarce transient. Very rare to rare and easily overlooked transient (as birds tend to be secretive ...Scarce transient (about 9 records). Very rare at low elevations in the southern mountains; late Apr...Your best chances for seeing this species are along the southern coast, where more widespread than f...***2022-04-25
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 one known breeding record, and several reports of po...The descending grunting call is easily heard in migration and winter in tidewater marshes, especiall...***2022-04-25
Allen's HummingbirdSelasphorus sasinThere are five state records for this species, which breeds only along the immediate Pacific coast o...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Two records (see above).Three records (see above).No records.1/2 *2022-04-25
Ruby-throated HummingbirdArchilochus colubrisThis is the only hummingbird that nests in the eastern part of North America, and the Ruby-throated ...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S2NG5Breeding summer resident, and winter visitor/resident mostly along or near the coast. Fairly common...Breeding summer resident, and now a very rare winter visitor. Fairly common breeder across the enti...Breeding summer resident. Fairly common at lower and middle elevations, mainly below 4,500 feet. L...The species can be difficult to intentionally search for, away from hummingbird feeders, mainly beca...*** to ****2022-04-25
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, and mainly at feeders...One has a reasonable chance to see one during the year, but only by visiting a feeder with a known b...* to **2022-04-25
Black-chinned HummingbirdArchilochus alexandriWith the advent of hummingbird feeders left up year-round, and not simply taken down in fall when th...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, essentially only at feeders in towns. Rare along the southern half of the coast, an...Winter visitor. Very rare, with at least 12 records -- Charlotte (two records), Gastonia, Bethania ...Accidental. One record: an immature male was seen at Brevard on 14 Dec 2002 (Chat 67:69).One has a fair chance to see the species in a given year, by visiting a feeder with one reported (an...*2022-04-25
Lesser NighthawkChordeiles acutipennisThis bird of Southwestern deserts is somewhat of a surprise on the North Carolina Bird List. Though ...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5One confirmed record, and one likely record (though not accepted).No records.No records.1/2 *2022-04-25
Western GrebeAechmophorus occidentalisWestern Grebes, and their close "cousin", the Clark's Grebe, are among the most elegant of waterbird...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, with about 19 records. Very rare along the northern coast, south to Cape Hatteras (b...Winter visitor. Casual, with apparently six records: 20 Dec 1961, Lake Johnson (Wake); 11-17...Accidental: one seen on Lake Julian (Buncombe) from 14-15 Dec 2002 (Chat 67:61).This species is too rare to offer tips in North Carolina. The only tip is that, once you find one, ...*2022-04-25
Eared GrebePodiceps nigricollisThe Eared Grebe also breeds, like the Red-necked and Horned grebes, in some Prairie pothole lakes an...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor and transient, and sporadic winter resident at Goldsboro. Rare but annual along the e...Winter visitor and transient. Very rare to rare on the larger reservoirs, and very rare elsewhere; s...Casual to very rare transient in the southern mountains. Records are of single birds at Brevard, 10 ...It was formerly seen each fall and winter at the Goldsboro sewage ponds; however, reports have been ...* to **2022-04-25
Long-tailed DuckClangula hyemalisThis species was long known as the Oldsquaw, but its name was changed in recent years to conform to ...Nonbreeder DefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident. Common in a fairly small area of northwestern Pamlico Sound near Swan Quarter; els...Transient and winter visitor. Rare, mainly at large reservoirs in the eastern and central parts of ...Winter visitor. Very rare, with only six known records, all but one of single individuals: in Bu...To see Long-tailed Ducks in NC, you should take the Swan Quarter to Ocracoke ferry. The species is ...***2022-04-25
Black ScoterMelanitta americanaThe Black Scoter streams southward over the inshore ocean in Oct and Nov, and an observer can at tim...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident. Common to abundant southbound migrant over the ocean, but by Dec only a fairly com...Transient. Rare, almost always at larger lakes/reservoirs; late Oct to mid-Dec, with only two repor...Transient. Surprisingly scarce, being casual to very rare, with just six records: 1, Lake Julian (<...The species can usually be seen from the two Pamlico Sound ferries -- Swan Quarter or Cedar Island; ...***2022-04-25
Surf ScoterMelanitta perspicillataThe Surf Scoter is the most common of the wintering scoters in North Carolina, though it is often ou...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident. Locally common near the northern half of the coast and the Tidewater areas, south ...Transient and winter visitor. Rare on reservoirs and other large bodies of water; mainly mid-Oct to...Transient. Very rare to rare, with brief stop-over time; nearly all records from the southern mount...As with the Black Scoter, it is normally easy to find the species on the two Pamlico Sound ferries, ...*** to ****2022-04-25
Wood DuckAix sponsaOne of the world's most beautiful ducks, the Wood Duck occurs statewide in the breeding season, the ...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S4NG5Fairly common to common summer resident, except mostly uncommon at that season along and very near t...Fairly common, though a bit local, summer resident. Mostly uncommon in winter, more frequent in the...Generally uncommon summer resident. Rare to uncommon in winter, mostly below 2,500 feet elevation. ...Though this is a reasonably common duck in the state, it can be a little bit difficult to find the s...***2022-04-25
Black-bellied Whistling-DuckDendrocygna autumnalisThe Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a recent stray to coastal and tidewater areas, with the only acc...BreederDefinitiveSZG5Now a rare to occasionally uncommon but strongly increasing visitor to the southern coastal areas an...Very rare but increasing; about 15 known records, though records should increase greatly over the ne...Very rare but increasing; about 7 records as of 2021. A flock of 12 was seen and photographed at th...The species is most likely to show up in the Twin Lakes area of Brunswick, based on closest p...**2022-04-25
Yellow-rumped WarblerSetophaga coronataThe Yellow-rumped Warbler, often called the "Butter-butt", is arguably the most abundant warbler on ...BreederDefinitiveSRS1B,S5NG5Winter 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, rar...None needed near the coast in winter.****2022-02-10
Kirtland's WarblerSetophaga kirtlandiiConsidering that North Carolina is about halfway between the species' wintering grounds in the Baham...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG3Remarkably, just a single convincing report -- one photographed at Duck (Dare), from 2-5 Oct ...Casual fall transient in the western portion of the province, but just one accepted record for the e...Very rare transient (with numbers increasing in recent years); now with 10 records (but only two of ...Some recent birds have stayed over for an extra day to three, for many observers to observe them. F...1/2*2022-02-10
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 ***2022-02-10
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, common along the southern half of the c...Transient, scarce. Casual to very rare fall migrant, with the few records between 10 Sep and 14 Oct...Transient, scarce. Very rare in spring and fall. In spring, six records -- 2 at Swannanoa, 25 May 1...The species is usually easy to find, especially at high tide, in marshes at Fort Fisher near the Aqu...***2022-02-10
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 16 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 have been seen semi-regularly in winter...**2022-02-09
Lark SparrowChondestes grammacusThe Lark Sparrow, as with the Vesper Sparrow, is by itself in a monotypic genus; no other sparrow is...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Sparse summer resident, transient, and winter straggler. In summer, rare and local, only in the San...Transient. Casual to very rare in spring, and very rare in fall; scattered over the region. Mainly...Transient. Casual in spring (five records), and very rare in late summer/fall (ten records). In sp...The breeding sites are generally off-limits to birders; thus, the best places to look are along the ...* to **2022-02-09
Thick-billed LongspurRhynchophanes mccowniiAccidental. This is a species of the short-grass prairies, nesting just east of Rocky Mountains in ...NonbreederProvisionalSAG4One record (see above).No records.No records.1/2*2022-02-09
Gray KingbirdTyrannus dominicensisThe Gray Kingbird is somewhat the Southern version of the Eastern Kingbird, being mainly a bird of F...Accidental BreederDefinitiveSZG5Stray/transient, essentially along the coast, and accidental/casual breeder. As a visitor, very rar...Casual. There are only three records, from Umstead State Park (Wake) on 16 Apr 1959 (Chat 23...No records.This is a long shot, but your best bet is to drive roads along the southern coastal islands, in late...*2022-02-09
MerlinFalco columbariusThe Merlin is a very feisty raptor for its size, and its dashing flight chasing down shorebirds and ...Probable breederDefinitiveSAB,S3NG5Transient, 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 ***2022-02-09
Snail KiteRostrhamus sociabilisThis rare (Federally listed) species is normally found only from central Florida southward, and is m...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG4G5Three records (see above).No records.No records.1/2*2022-02-09
Mississippi KiteIctinia mississippiensisMississippi Kites are a major success story in North Carolina and elsewhere in their breeding range,...BreederDefinitiveS3BG5Summer 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 ...Rare migrant/visitor (increasing) in the southern mountains (about 26 records). Casual north of H...Visiting the Lock and Dam #1 area or the NC 11 bridge over the Cape Fear River has been consistently...***2022-02-09
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 occasionally rare, but increasing, visitor in the warmer months; over 40 records, from ...Very rare visitor in the warmer months; about 19 records, with five coming in fall 2016 and three in...Birders can usually spot one to several birds, along with some Mississippi Kites, either close to th...**2022-02-09
Cattle EgretBubulcus ibisThis formerly Old World species has a most unusual history in the New World. Cattle Egrets apparent...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Summer resident and transient, and straggler in winter, but generally absent by late winter. Fairly...Transient and post-breeding visitor; records declining in recent years. Rare in the eastern countie...Transient, at low (to rarely middle) elevations. Very rare, mainly early Apr to early Jul; casual t...Unlike other waders, the Cattle Egret is seen mostly in pastures, but it may be seen in lawns, plowe...***2022-02-09
Yellow-green VireoVireo flavoviridisThis is a species of the Neotropics, nesting from northern Mexico into northern South America. Is i...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5One record (see above).No records.No records.1/2 *2022-02-09
Hammond's FlycatcherEmpidonax hammondiiHammond's Flycatcher is a species of the Western States, breeding primarily in coniferous forests, a...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5No records.One record (see above).No records.1/2*2022-02-08
Black TernChlidonias nigerThis is one of the few tern species in the state that is just a migrant, without a breeding or winte...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4G5Transient, though small numbers can be seen coastally during summer. Along the coast -- formerly fa...Transient. Very rare in spring and uncommon in fall, mainly at lakes/reservoirs; casual to very rar...Transient. Accidental/casual in spring, with the only records being one along the New River at Pine...Formerly, swarms of Black Terns could be seen by the dozens hawking insects over the marshes and imp...***2022-02-08
Gull-billed TernGelochelidon niloticaOf all of the breeding species in North Carolina, few are as strongly declining over the past decade...BreederDefinitiveTS1S2BG5Breeding summer resident, along and near the coast. Uncommon to fairly common -- fairly common prio...Accidental/casual, presumably a storm-carried visitor, but whether these reports were actually relat...Accidental, after storms. One in the Mills River area (Henderson) on 17 Sep 2004 (Chat 69:52...A few Gull-billed Terns can be usually be seen at Pea Island, at Fort Fisher, and at many areas alon...***2022-02-08
Least TernSternula antillarumThe smallest tern in North America, the Least Tern is a familiar yet slowly declining breeding speci...BreederDefinitiveSCS3BG4Breeding summer resident along the coast; declining until a few years ago, but recently has increase...Primarily a storm-carried visitor. Very rare at reservoirs, mainly during and after hurricanes; abo...No records.This species is not usually missed on coastal birding trips from May through Aug, though it isn't qu...***2022-02-08
Black-legged KittiwakeRissa tridactylaOf the remarkable 19 species of gulls on the North Carolina list (though two are only Provisional), ...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter resident offshore; clearly declining. From the late 1990's to about 2005, generally fairly c...Casual in late fall, with three records: an immature seen and photographed at Beaverdam Reservoir (<...Accidental: an immature was seen and photographed at Lake Julian (Buncombe) on the remarkably...If you take a pelagic trip from Cape Hatteras northward during the winter, you now have about a 50% ...**2022-02-08
Western SandpiperCalidris mauriThe third of three common "peeps" in the state, the Western Sandpiper is easily confused with the Se...Nonbreeder DefinitiveS4NG5Transient, and winter resident along the coast. Common to abundant on the coast in fall; in winter,...Transient. Very rare to rare in spring, and uncommon in fall, at least locally (such as at Falls an...Transient. Very rare in both spring and fall, nearly all records in valleys in the Henderson, Tr...The species is easily found along the coast from Jul to late fall.****2022-02-08
Buff-breasted SandpiperCalidris subruficollisThe Buff-breasted Sandpiper is one of our most beautiful shorebirds, and its dove-like appearance se...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Transient, only in fall. Very uncommon to occasionally uncommon on the Outer Banks, but generally r...Transient, only in fall. Rare to occasionally very uncommon (such as at extensive mudflats), scatter...Transient, only in fall. Rare but seemingly regular since 1996, in the Henderson/TransylvaniaThere are no consistent spots in fall to see the species. The turf farm just west of Creswell (Wa...**2022-02-08
Least SandpiperCalidris minutillaThe Least Sandpiper is the most widespread of the three small North American "peep" shorebirds in th...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Transient, and winter resident along and near the coast and very locally farther inland. Generally c...Transient, and sparingly into mid-winter. Generally uncommon in spring and fairly common, at least ...Transient. Rare to locally uncommon spring and fall migrant, with few published data. Mostly mid-A...Leasts are easily found along the coast in migration. ****2022-02-08
SanderlingCalidris albaThe Sanderling is one of the most familiar shorebirds to birders and the layman alike, as it scamper...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Transient and winter resident, essentially along the coast. Common to abundant and widespread along...Transient. Very rare in spring, and rare to locally uncommon in fall, with many more records in "dr...Transient. Casual in spring: one at Hooper Lane (Henderson) on 1 May 1999; one photographed a...Easily found on ocean beaches over most of the year.****2022-02-08
Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpresExcept for the closely related Black Turnstone of the Pacific Coast, the Ruddy Turnstone is a rather...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Transient and winter resident, mainly along the coast. Common migrant along the coast, though seldo...Transient. Casual to very rare in spring, and rare in fall, mainly at large reservoirs. In spring,...Transient. Very rare in spring and fall, with all records from Henderson except for a single...Turnstones are widespread along the coast, at least during the migrations, and are easily found, exc...****2022-02-08
Marbled GodwitLimosa fedoaThough this species is a godwit, it has quite a few similarities to the Long-billed Curlew; both bre...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Transient and winter resident, essentially along the coast. Uncommon to locally fairly common fall m...Fall transient only. Very rare (about 19 records) at reservoirs, where birds put down at night duri...Casual transient, in spring and fall. The only records (four) are of 2 birds, Hooper Lane (Hende...This species can usually be found along the coast in Aug and Sep, less so later in fall and winter. ...***2022-02-08
Hudsonian GodwitLimosa haemasticaThe Hudsonian Godwit has an unusual migration pattern. It migrates from its central and southern So...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Transient. Casual in spring, at Bodie/Pea Islands only; uncommon in fall at Bodie/Pea Islands; rare...Casual fall transient (only in the eastern and central portions), with four records: 1, Falls Lake, ...Accidental fall transient; two records -- 3 at Hooper Lane (Henderson), 8 Sep 2004* (after Tr...Look for them in Sep and Oct, especially after periods of strong NE winds. North Pond at Pea Island...**2022-02-08
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 five consecutive falls (2016-20) at the eastern end of Shacklef...*2022-02-08
Semipalmated PloverCharadrius semipalmatusThe Semipalmated Plover is the only one of the five Charadrius plovers in the state that bree...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Transient and winter resident. Common to briefly and locally abundant in spring and fall along the ...Transient. Rare to very uncommon in spring, and uncommon to occasionally fairly common, in fall; ma...Transient. Rare to very uncommon in the Henderson/Transylvania area; very rare elsewhere. U...The species is hard to miss near the coast in Aug and Sep.****2022-02-08
Pacific Golden-PloverPluvialis fulvaOne of the more remarkable shorebird records for the state was the discovery of a Pacific Golden-Plo...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Three-four records, presumably of the same individual (see above).No records.No records.1/2*2022-02-08
American Golden-PloverPluvialis dominicaUnlike its slightly larger cousin, the Black-bellied Plover, the American Golden-Plover is a good fi...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. Very rare in spring, rare in fall, along the entire coast, particularly the Outer Banks; ...Transient. Casual in spring (only about four records), rare but annual in fall, over most of the pr...Transient, but nearly all records are from Hooper Lane/Mills River area in Henderson, where v...The species is best located in Sep and Oct, especially after cold fronts. A few birds are present e...* to **2022-02-08
Black-bellied PloverPluvialis squatarolaThe Black-bellied Plover is one of the more familiar shorebirds of coastal areas, wintering in good ...Nonbreeder DefinitiveS5NG5Transient, and coastal winter resident. Common to very common in migration, and common in winter, a...Transient. Rare in fall, and very rare to rare in spring, in the eastern part of the province (such...Transient. Very rare (about 24 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...****2022-02-08
American AvocetRecurvirostra americanaOver most of the world, various species of stilts (genus Himantopus) and avocets (genus Re...Accidental BreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter resident and migrant, coastally; accidental breeder, along the coast. Fairly common to commo...Transient. Very rare to rare fall migrant, and accidental/casual spring migrant, with most records ...Transient. Very rare southbound migrant in summer and fall, with nine known records: 1, Cashiers (<...The only reliable spots are the impoundments at Pea Island NWR and adjacent Bodie Island. At least ...***2022-02-08
Clapper RailRallus crepitansThe Clapper Rail is, by far, the easiest rail to see in the state and is the most characteristic bir...BreederDefinitiveS4G5Permanent resident along the coast (tidal marshes); casual migrant elsewhere. Common to very common...Very rare transient in the eastern half of the province, but no records yet for the western portions...No records.The species is easily heard calling at dawn or dusk, and sporadically during the day and night, in m...**** 2022-02-08
Yellow-billed CuckooCoccyzus americanusThe Yellow-billed Cuckoo is a widespread breeding bird across the state, nesting in every county. H...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, breeding. Fairly common to common across the region, except uncommon to locally ab...Summer resident, breeding. Fairly common and reasonably widespread across the region, though only u...Summer resident, breeding. Uncommon in the lower elevations (below about 3,500 feet); rare to uncom...This species can normally be found away from the mountains in a day of birding. A count or 10 or mo...***2022-02-08
Common MerganserMergus merganserThe Common Merganser is both a breeder and a wintering bird in the state, but with different "popula...BreederDefinitiveWS1B,S1NG5Winter resident. Rare and local over the northern half of the province, with a flock averaging at l...Winter visitor, though possibly a winter resident at Roanoke Rapids Lake; casual breeder. Rare in m...Formerly casual to now (2022) rare but increasing breeder; scarce winter visitor. Generally rare in...To best see this species, look at Lake Phelps in the winter, with a good scope. The wintering flock...** to ***2022-02-08
Common EiderSomateria mollissimaThere are perhaps four times as many records of the Common Eider in the state as for the King Eider,...Nonbreeder DefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, with records increasing in recent years. Rare along the entire coast (though no rec...No records.No records.You should carefully check around jetties, piers, and bridges. Also check the Oregon Inlet groin an...* to **2022-02-08
Ring-necked DuckAythya collarisThe Ring-necked Duck is the most common of the diving ducks in winter on the state's inland waters, ...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Winter resident. Generally fairly common, to locally common, both coastally and well inland. Unlik...Winter resident. Fairly common to common, and even locally very common, most numerous in the easter...Winter visitor/resident. Fairly common transient but only uncommon in winter; mainly at lower eleva...This duck can be found in large numbers on Raleigh lakes such as Wheeler, Benson, and Raleigh. It i...*** to ****2022-02-08