Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
The 100 most recent account entries/updates.
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 just over 80 records. Very rare to rare in winter along...Scarce "transient" and winter visitor, with only about 16 records. Very rare visitor, mainly from e...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.*2019-08-14
Hooded WarblerSetophaga citrinaThe Hooded Warbler, as have so many other warblers, been shifted from one genus to another in 2011, ...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident. Generally common throughout the region, except on coastal islands, where absent in...Summer resident. Fairly common to common in most areas, away from heavily populated counties; proba...Summer resident. Fairly common to common over the region, up to about 4,000 feet, and much less com...It should easily be heard, if not seen, in most state parks and refuges in a morning of birding, in ...****2019-08-14
Clay-colored SparrowSpizella pallidaThe Clay-colored Sparrow was a primarily "Western"/Midwestern" species until a few decades ago. How...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and sparse winter resident, mainly near the coast. In fall, rare to uncommon along the c...Transient, essentially in fall and winter. Very rare in fall and winter (about 11 records in each s...Transient. Very rare in fall, winter, and spring, nearly all records in low elevations in the south...Your best bet is probably Fort Fisher in Sep and Oct. A few have been seen semi-regularly in winter...**2019-08-14
Pine SiskinSpinus pinusThe Pine Siskin is another "winter finch", but like the Red Crossbill, it also nests in the North Ca...BreederDefinitiveWSUB,S3NG5Winter visitor, erratic from season to season; declining. Currently, very rare to rare in some seas...Winter visitor, erratic from season to season; declining; apparently an accidental breeder. Current...Summer resident at higher elevations, and winter visitor elsewhere (but erratic and declining). In ...Your best bet is to bird the spruce-fir forests, such as Roan Mountain, Mount Mitchell, or in the De...**2019-08-14
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; about 36 records, from...Very rare visitor in the warmer months; about 13 records, with five coming in fall 2016. Mid-May to...Birders can usually spot one to several birds, along with some Mississippi Kites, either close to th...**2019-08-14
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...**2019-08-14
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, with at least 35 reports. Most are from large res...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 ***2019-08-14
Brown BoobySula leucogasterThe Brown Booby is a rarer bird off our coast than is the Masked Booby, even though both species bre...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Nonbreeding 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...*2019-08-14
Bermuda PetrelPterodroma cahowThe Bermuda Petrel is the rarest of the four Pterodroma petrels found somewhat regularly off ...NonbreederDefinitiveESZG1Offshore 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 ...*2019-08-14
European Storm-PetrelHydrobates pelagicusBirders looking at range maps of what pelagic species should have been seen in North Carolina waters...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG3G4Offshore visitor. Very rare to rare, and certainly easily overlooked, in the Gulf Stream off Oregon...No records.No records.Thankfully for birders looking for this rarity, nearly all records are concentrated in the last few ...* to **2019-08-14
Least TernSternula antillarumThe smallest tern in North America, the Least Tern is a familiar yet slowly declining breeding speci...BreederDefinitiveSCS3BG4Breeding summer resident along the coast; declining until a few years ago, but recently has increase...Storm-carried visitor. Casual at reservoirs during and after hurricanes; about nine records, from l...No records.This species is not usually missed on coastal birding trips from May through Aug, though it isn't qu...***2019-08-14
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.****2019-08-14
Red PhalaropePhalaropus fulicariusIn breeding plumage, both sexes of the Red Phalarope are quite stunning, with the female a rich rufo...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Transient and winter resident, essentially offshore. Mostly uncommon in fall migration, but fairly ...Transient; the great majority of records in fall. Casual to very rare in fall, at reservoirs, with ...Casual. Pearson et al. (1959) list reports from "Smoky Mountain Park" in Dec and at Fontana (Grah...The only way to have a realistic chance of seeing a Red Phalarope is to take a winter or early sprin...**2019-08-14
Red-necked PhalaropePhalaropus lobatusThe Red-necked Phalarope and the Red Phalarope are the two pelagic shorebirds, and to see both in th...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4G5Transient, primarily offshore. Generally a fairly common offshore migrant in both spring and fall, ...Transient. Casual/very rare in spring migration, and very rare in fall, usually seen only during an...Transient. Casual in spring; the only records are 1 in Linville (Avery) on 17-18 May 2009; 1...Take a pelagic trip out of Hatteras or Oregon inlets -- either in the latter part of May, or in the ...**2019-08-14
Short-billed DowitcherLimnodromus griseusAmong the most difficult identification problem facing birders is the separation of the two dowitche...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Transient and winter resident, mainly along the coast. Common to abundant spring and fall migrant a...Transient. Casual to very rare in spring, and rare to often uncommon (though local) in fall. Mainl...Transient, mainly in Henderson and Transylvania. Very rare in spring and in fall, at ...This species is hard to miss along the coast during the migrations.****2019-08-14
Baird's SandpiperCalidris bairdiiThe Baird's Sandpiper is the rarest of the five non-accidental "peep" species in North Carolina, and...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. 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 **2019-08-14
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. Accidental to casual in spring: one at Hooper Lane (Henderson) on 1 May 1999, and ...Easily found on ocean beaches over most of the year.****2019-08-14
Curlew SandpiperCalidris ferrugineaThe Curlew Sandpiper is one of just several species of Eurasian nesting shorebirds on the North Caro...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5?Transient along the coast, declining. Formerly rare in spring, and again from mid-summer into fall. ...No records.No records.The species seems to prefer the impoundments at Pea Island NWR, at least formerly the large tidal po...* 2019-08-14
LimpkinAramus guaraunaThe Limpkin breeds locally over much of the Neotropics, ranging north to Florida. Within this wide ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual to very rare (five records), all in the southern Coastal Plain. One seen along the Waccamaw ...Two records. An individual was seen and photographed in coves in northern Lake Norman in Catawba...No records.Your best hope of finding one in NC would be to paddle along a blackwater river in the southern Coas...1/2 *2019-08-14
Common MerganserMergus merganserThe Common Merganser winters regularly in the state only at one to a few inland lakes, as North Caro...BreederDefinitiveWS1B,S1NG5Winter resident. Rare and local over the northern half of the province, with a flock averaging at l...Winter visitor, though possibly a winter resident at Roanoke Rapids Lake; casual breeder. Rare in m...Formerly casual to now (2019) very rare to rare breeder; scarce winter visitor. Generally rare in w...To best see this species, look at Lake Phelps in the winter, with a good scope. The wintering flock...** to ***2019-08-14
Black-bellied Whistling-DuckDendrocygna autumnalisThe Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a recent stray to coastal and tidewater areas, with the only acc...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very rare to now (2018) rare visitor to the southern coastal areas and Tidewater region; very rare e...Surprisingly, only six known records, though records should increase greatly over the next decade. T...Five records; very rare but increasing. A flock of 12 was seen and photographed at the Super Sod far...The species is most likely to show up in the Twin Lakes area of Brunswick, based on closest p...* to **2019-08-14
GadwallMareca streperaThough not one of our more abundant ducks, the Gadwall is one of the few that nests in some numbers ...BreederDefinitiveS2B,S4NG5Uncommon to locally fairly common breeding summer resident along and near the northern and central c...Winter resident. Uncommon in most areas, but locally fairly common; generally late Oct to early Apr...Winter visitor. Rare, in low elevations (mainly below 2,500 feet). Very rare at higher elevations. ...The coastal NWR's are good for finding nearly all of the dabbling ducks, including the Gadwall. A d...****2019-07-31
American WigeonMareca americanaThis American Wigeon winters over much of the state and has a distribution like so many other waterf...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Winter resident. Common to locally very common in the Tidewater and coastal areas south to DareUncommon winter resident, though locally fairly common (but seldom common anywhere), generally in th...Rare winter visitor, mainly at low elevations. Late Oct into Apr. Peak counts:This species is easier to find than most other dabbling ducks near the coast, though it is still har...****2019-07-31
American Black DuckAnas rubripesThe American Black Duck is one of the few waterfowl species that breeds in the state. Unfortunately...BreederDefinitiveS3B,S4NG5Fairly common (but declining) breeding summer resident, in the Tidewater and northern coast regions,...Generally an uncommon winter resident, though can be locally fairly common. Early Oct to early Apr....Rare to locally uncommon winter resident/visitor. Most frequent at low elevations, especially in As with most waterfowl species, the Black Duck is readily found on national wildlife refuges such as...****2019-07-31
Blue-winged TealSpatula discorsUnlike nearly all other species of waterfowl in the East, the bulk of the population of Blue-winged ...Former BreederDefinitiveWSHB,S2NG5Common spring and fall migrant in the Tidewater section, including the coast; generally uncommon in ...Uncommon to often fairly common spring and fall migrant; mid-Mar to mid-May, and late Aug to mid-Oct...Uncommon spring and fall migrant, mainly at low elevations; early Apr to early May, and late Aug to ...This species is easily found at coastal impoundments and other freshwater bodies near the coast, in ...*** to ****2019-07-31
Northern ShovelerSpatula clypeataThe Northern Shoveler is one of the few species of waterfowl that is clearly increasing in the state...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident; increasing. Generally fairly common, but locally common to very common, along the ...Locally uncommon fall and spring migrant, most frequent in Mar. Rare to locally uncommon in midwint...Rare spring and fall migrant, and very rare winter visitor, mainly in lower elevations. Late Oct to...It is easily found at most coastal NWR's, such as Mattamuskeet and Pea Island. You should be able t...****2019-07-31
Northern PintailAnas acutaThe Northern Pintail is predominantly a coastal puddle duck, wintering in some numbers on shallow br...Accidental Breeder DefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident. Fairly common to locally abundant along the northern coast and Tidewater, south to...Rare to uncommon transient, mainly in Oct-Nov and Feb-Mar; rare in midwinter. No regular wintering ...Rare winter visitor, generally at lower elevations. Essentially late Dec to mid-Feb. Peak counts: 50...This species can be seen by the hundreds to occasionally the thousands at a few places near the coas...****2019-07-31
Green-winged TealAnas creccaAs with the Northern Pintail, many thousands of Green-winged Teals winter in our coastal region, esp...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Winter 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, ...****2019-07-31
American RobinTurdus migratoriusThe American Robin has been a true success story over the past 50 years. Historically, it was appar...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S5NG5Permanent resident, with migratory movements. In summer, common to very common in the western third...Permanent resident, with migratory movements. In summer, very common across the region. Very commo...Permanent resident, with migratory movements. In summer, very common at nearly all elevations; nest...None needed.****2019-07-31
Lark BuntingCalamospiza melanocorysIt has been more than 25 years (i.e., in 1991) since this conspicuous species of the short-grass pra...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Formerly a casual migrant (through 1970); now accidental. There are five records, four from Dare...Accidental. A singing male in breeding plumage at Dorothea Dix farm in Raleigh, 2-12 May 1978, is t...No records.1/2 *2019-07-14
Indigo BuntingPasserina cyaneaThe Indigo Bunting is one of the most successful of Eastern songbirds. It has been expanding its br...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, and scarce straggler into winter. In summer, very common across the province, exce...Summer resident, and scarce straggler into winter. Very common in summer, throughout the region. M...Summer resident. In summer, very common throughout, up to about 4,500 feet, and uncommonly to 5,500...None needed.****2019-06-26
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 ****2019-06-26
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...****2019-06-26
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...**2019-06-26
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.****2019-06-26
Brewer's BlackbirdEuphagus cyanocephalusThe Brewer's Blackbird is an abundant bird of the Western half of the country. It is somewhat migra...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter resident at one and possibly two sites, otherwise a sparse winter visitor and transient. Kno...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, and this is not a good option. Re...* to **2019-06-26
Golden-crowned SparrowZonotrichia atricapillaThough this is a species of the northwestern portions of North America, breeding only from Alaska to...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5One record (see above).No records.No records.1/2*2019-06-26
Swainson's ThrushCatharus ustulatusThe Swainson's Thrush is another thrush that nests across the boreal forest zone of Canada, south in...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Transient. In spring, uncommon in the western portion, but rare in the central and eastern portions...Transient. Uncommon to fairly common across the region, both in spring and fall; probably more nume...Summer resident, almost certainly breeding (both pre-1900 and after a lapse of over 100 years, post-...Finding the species in migration is always "chancey", so you need to bird at parks or refuges in the...** to ***2019-06-26
Orange-crowned WarblerLeiothlypis celataThe Orange-crowned Warbler breeds nearly from coast to coast, but essentially in the Western states ...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident, and poorly known transient. In winter, fairly common along the coast (i.e., coasta...Transient, and straggler into early winter. In migration, generally rare (or easily overlooked, as ...Transient. Rare in both spring and fall in the lower elevations, and very rare above 2,500 feet; as...You should be able to find the species in a morning along the Lake Mattamuskeet causeway (NC 94) in ...***2019-06-26
Tennessee WarblerLeiothlypis peregrinaIn 2010, the American Ornithologists' Union moved several warblers out of the genus Vermivora...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. In spring, casual in the region (about 9 reports). In fall, generally uncommon over mos...Transient. In spring, very rare to rare in the eastern portion, and rare farther west. In fall, fa...Transient. In spring, rare to uncommon, mainly in valleys and elsewhere below about 3,500 feet. In...The species is difficult to miss on a day of birding in the mountains during much of September, such...****2019-06-26
Band-rumped Storm-PetrelHydrobates castroHardly any bird in North Carolina has had such a dramatic change in status over a 10-15-year period ...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG3Offshore visitor to the Gulf Stream. Regular and often fairly common from late May to late Aug, wit...Accidental visitor, during or after hurricanes. One, Kerr Lake, 19 Sep 2003 (after Hurricane Isabel...No records.This species is being seen on about 2/3rds of the organized pelagic trips into deep waters from late...***2019-06-26
Leach's Storm-PetrelHydrobates leucorhousAs the Leach's Storm-Petrel is one of the few tubenoses to breed in the northwestern Atlantic, and a...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Offshore transient and summer visitor. Generally uncommon (though regular) spring and fall migrant, ...Accidental to casual non-breeding visitor, during or after hurricanes. Three records: 1, Lake Norma...No records.This species is more unpredictable than is the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel. Birders have about a 40-50...**2019-06-26
Swinhoe's Storm-PetrelHydrobates monorhisThe date 8 Aug 1998 was a red-letter one in North Carolina pelagic bird history. The second ever re...NonbreederDefinitiveSAGNRCasual 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 *2019-06-26
Common Ground DoveColumbina passerinaThe Common Ground Dove is one of the few species that North Carolina has lost as a breeder in the pa...Former BreederDefinitiveSRSXBG5Formerly a permanent resident along the southern coast. At the present time (2018), a very rare to ...Casual to very rare visitor, with about 9 records. Records are for Raleigh, Jordan Lake, Falls Lake,...Casual stray, with four records: 1 collected at Weaverville on 29 May 1891; 1 seen at Fairview (B...Currently, one must luck into one, or (of course) chase someone else's find.*2019-06-26
White-winged ScoterMelanitta deglandiBy far the least common of the scoters along the mid-Atlantic coast, the White-winged Scoter can be ...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter visitor. Uncommon and erratic (depending on the severity of the weather) along the immediate...Transient and winter visitor. Rare (but the most frequent scoter in the province), mainly to larger...Transient. Very rare to rare in the southern counties, and unknown as yet from north of Buncombe...This is a tough bird to find in the state, and many birders often require two or three winters to fi...**2019-06-26
Common RavenCorvus coraxThe Common Raven is considered to be the largest passerine in the world. It also is the one occurri...BreederDefinitiveWS3G5Formerly (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...***2019-06-26
Tropical KingbirdTyrannus melancholicusThis abundant Neotropical species ranges north to extreme southern Texas and southern Arizona. Howev...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Accidental. There are four records, three in late fall or early winter: one near Fairfield (Hyde...No records.No records.1/2 *2019-06-26
Northern Saw-whet OwlAegolius acadicusThe smallest owl in eastern North America, the Northern Saw-whet Owl usually requires a special sear...BreederDefinitiveTS2B,S2NG5Winter visitor or resident. Status is poorly known, but generally rare (to possibly locally uncommo...Winter visitor. Very rare (or at least very rarely reported) in the northeastern portion, with abou...Breeder in the higher elevations; winter resident over most of the region. Uncommon to fairly commo...To find the species in the state, it is obviously more advantageous to try for it on the breeding gr...**2019-06-26
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 one in Jan, but not...Observers inland should look for bitterns during spring and fall migration at large marshes, general...**2019-06-26
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, increasing. Locally common only at its primary breeding ...Post-breeding visitor, increasing. Very rare to now locally rare, mainly from Jun to Sep, but scatt...Post-breeding visitor; casual to (now) very rare in the southern and central mountains (only), with ...The species can almost always be found around the margins of the two freshwater ponds at Twin Lakes,...****2019-06-26
Manx ShearwaterPuffinus puffinusThough the Manx Shearwater is not a rare pelagic species in North Carolina waters, it wasn't until t...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Offshore visitor, but at times seen from shore. Generally uncommon, from Dec thru Mar, though can b...No records.No records.The several winter pelagic trips that are currently taken off Hatteras or Oregon inlets often produc...**2019-06-26
Pacific LoonGavia pacificaThis Arctic breeding species winters essentially along the Pacific coast. For unknown reasons, the ...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter visitor along the coast, and a winter resident in a local area; many dozen records, greatly i...Casual. Three records: one at L. Tahoma (McDowell) on 6 May 2007, in alternate plumage (Chat...Accidental. A single record: one photographed at Lake Julian (Buncombe) on 5-6 Jan 2012* (Ch...To look for this species, you must be prepared to carefully scrutinize loons on the ocean, with a sc...* to **2019-06-26
Glaucous GullLarus hyperboreusThe very large Glaucous Gull is quite similar to the Iceland Gull in plumage patterns and general ra...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, mainly coastal. Rare to locally and occasionally uncommon (mainly at Cape Hatteras ...Winter visitor. Casual to now very rare (about 12 records) in the Triangle area and around Greensbo...No records.Finding tips are similar to that for Iceland Gull. The gull concentrations at Cape Hatteras Point u...* to **2019-06-26
Lesser Black-backed GullLarus fuscusHardly any other gull species' status in North Carolina has changed as rapidly over the last 20-30 y...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter visitor/resident, greatly increasing in recent years. Formerly (prior to about 1990), rare a...Winter visitor. Rare to locally uncommon, but greatly increasing, at large lakes and landfills in t...Casual or accidental. The only records are a first-year bird photographed at the Hooper Lane Sod Fa...This species is easy to find in the large gull flocks that congregate at Cape Hatteras Point from la...***2019-06-26
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...Accidental: an immature was seen and photographed at Beaverdam Reservoir (Wake) on 29 Nov 201...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% ...**2019-06-26
Black GuillemotCepphus grylleOf the six Atlantic alcids, the Black Guillemot was the last one to be added to the state's Definiti...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Casual winter visitor to the coast. The three accepted records are of single birds in basic plumage...No records.No records.1/2 *2019-06-26
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...***2019-06-26
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. Ve...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 *2019-06-26
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 (2019) very rare off Oregon Inlet and C...No records.No records.The increase in sightings in the past decade is gratifying for pelagic birders, but whether this sig...*2019-06-26
Parasitic JaegerStercorarius parasiticusThough the Parasitic Jaeger is probably more numerous globally than the Pomarine Jaeger, in our wate...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Transient, and poorly-known winter visitor/resident, to the offshore zone and the inshore ocean. Un...Visitor to lakes and reservoirs, mostly storm-related. Casual to very rare, with six records: 1 at ...No records.This species can be seen from shore almost anywhere along the coast, though Cape Lookout and Cape Ha...**2019-06-26
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 portion), with four records: 1, Falls Lake, 21-23 Aug 199...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...**2019-06-26
Bar-tailed GodwitLimosa lapponicaThis Eurasian shorebird has appeared along the East Coast much more often than the Black-tailed Godw...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Very rare visitor, with four spring and eight fall reports, all from the coast, plus one in winter. ...No records.No records.1/2 *2019-06-26
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, 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...*2019-06-26
Virginia RailRallus limicolaOnly a few decades ago, relatively little was understood of the Virginia Rail's habitats and range i...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S5NG5Permanent resident near the coast, with migratory movements; mostly a transient farther inland. Loca...Mostly a transient, but scattered summer and winter records, where status at these two seasons is un...Poorly known transient (about 18 reports), with the possibility of local breeding not out of the que...The descending grunting call is easily heard in migration and winter in tidewater marshes, especiall...***2019-06-26
Western GrebeAechmophorus occidentalisWestern Grebes, and their close "cousin", the Clark's Grebe, are among the most elegant of waterbird...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, with about 14 records. Very rare along the northern coast, south to Cape Hatteras (b...Winter visitor. Casual, with apparently five records: 20 Dec 1961, Lake Johnson (Wake); 11-1...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, ...*2019-06-26
RedheadAythya americanaAs with the Canvasback, the Redhead had suffered continental population declines in recent decades, ...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident. Generally uncommon along the northern coast and in the Tidewater area, south to Co...Winter visitor/resident. Rare to locally uncommon, mostly in the eastern portion of the province. G...Winter visitor; rare to locally uncommon, essentially at lower elevations (below 3,000 feet). Mainly...This can be an elusive bird to find, even though thousands winter in the state. One or two dense fl...***2019-06-26
CanvasbackAythya valisineriaThe Canvasback has experienced continental population declines for several decades. It was formerly...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident; declining. Uncommon to locally common, mainly along the northern coast and Tidewat...Winter visitor/resident; declining. Rare to locally uncommon, most numerous along the eastern edge ...Very rare winter visitor, with only about 10 records, nearly all from the southern mountains (Bun...This species can be somewhat difficult to find in many areas. It is usually found, particularly fro...** to ***2019-06-26
Cinnamon TealSpatula cyanopteraThe Cinnamon Teal is a stray to the Eastern states from the western half of the continent. As with ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual to very rare visitor. At least 12 records, all of single birds, and just one since 2001 (in ...No records.No records.The species, of course, cannot be searched for in NC with any realistic hope of finding. However, t...1/2*2019-06-26
Tundra SwanCygnus columbianusThe only common swan in eastern North America, the Tundra Swan (formerly named the Whistling Swan) h...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Locally abundant winter resident in the northeastern quarter of the province, south to Pea Island NW...Rare winter visitor; no regular wintering locales. Seen mainly on larger reservoirs; typically late...Very rare winter visitor; extreme dates are 8 Nov - 30 Mar. Peak counts: 12 in flight over Valle Cru...This species can often be seen by the thousands at places such as Pea Island, Bodie Island, Pungo La...****2019-06-26
Trumpeter SwanCygnus buccinatorThis relatively rare swan of the northwestern United States and western Canada formerly nested as fa...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Now a very rare (but increasing) winter visitor, but primarily just to the Pungo and Mattamuskeet re...One accepted record -- an immature was seen and photographed at Jordan Lake (Chatham) on 19 D...One report -- one seen and photographed on the French Broad River near Alexander (Buncombe), ...Your best (slim) hope is to search through large flocks of Tundra Swans, such as in the fields just ...*2019-06-26
Cackling GooseBranta hutchinsiiThe Cackling Goose is a rare but increasing winter resident (near the coast) and winter visitor inla...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Rare to locally uncommon winter resident, to the eastern (tidewater and north coastal) portions, alm...Formerly casual, but now a rare winter visitor to the western Piedmont, but still (oddly) very rare ...Casual to now very rare winter visitor (but only in the southern counties). At least 5 reports: Lak...Look for this species in fields at Pungo refuge, at Lake Mattamuskeet or in nearby fields, or at Pea...**2019-06-26
Greater White-fronted GooseAnser albifronsThe Greater White-fronted Goose is a rare (but increasing) winter visitor across all portions of the...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, though seemingly not a winter resident (yet) like Ross's Goose and Cackling Goose. ...Winter visitor; very rare to rare but somewhat increasing in recent years. Approximately 34 records...Winter visitor, slightly increasing in recent years. Now rare in the southern mountains; no records...There is a tendency for the species to appear with flocks of Canada Geese, both feeding in plowed fi...* to **2019-06-26
Ross's GooseAnser rossiiThe Ross's Goose is a regular winter resident, in very small numbers, amid large flocks of Snow Gees...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG4Winter resident. Rare to locally uncommon but increasing in winter -- regular at a few sites -- in ...Winter visitor. Formerly casual; now rare but greatly increasing, with about 40 records. Scattered ...Winter visitor. Rare, but greatly increasing, in the southern counties, with about 36 records. All...In the past few winters, the species has been seen, generally with Snow Geese, in fields near Pungo ...**2019-06-26
Black-whiskered VireoVireo altiloquusFor a species that nests in the West Indies and north to the western and southern coasts of Florida,...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual along and near the southern coast, in spring. One was seen at Wrightsville Beach (New Han...No records.No records.If one is birding along the southern coastline in May or early June, especially on islands, it doesn...1/2 *2019-06-18
Kirtland's WarblerSetophaga kirtlandiiConsidering that North Carolina is about halfway between the species' wintering grounds in the Baham...NonbreederDefinitiveEESZG3G4Remarkably, just a single convincing report -- one photographed at Duck (Dare), from 2-5 Oct 2017 (C...Casual fall transient in the western portion of the province, but no accepted records yet for the ea...Casual to very rare transient, with six records (but only one of them in spring). A first-year fema...1/2 *2019-04-20
Townsend's WarblerSetophaga townsendiThis close relative of the Black-throated Green Warbler breeds only from Alaska to the northwestern ...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Casual, with four published reports. Three have been reviewed and accepted by the NC BRC: one photog...No records.The only record is of a first-year female photographed at the Richland Balsam Overlook, along the <...1/2 *2019-04-20
Lincoln's SparrowMelospiza lincolniiDespite the Lincoln's Sparrow having a very wide breeding range, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and so...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter resident, and poorly known transient. In winter, uncommon and easily overlooked in the south...Transient, with a few lingering into early winter. In fall, rare to uncommon and easily overlooked;...Transient. In fall, uncommon and easily overlooked, at least at the lower elevations; poorly known ...If you bird around brush piles and thickets in winter in the Lake Phelps to Lake Mattamuskeet areas,...**2019-04-20
Lark SparrowChondestes grammacusThe Lark Sparrow, as with the Vesper Sparrow, is by itself in a monotypic genus; no other sparrow is...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Sparse summer resident, transient, and winter straggler. In summer, rare and local, only in the San...Transient. Casual to very rare in spring, and very rare in fall; scattered over the region. Mainly...Transient. Casual in spring (five records), and very rare in late summer/fall (ten records). In sp...The breeding sites are generally off-limits to birders; thus, the best places to look are along the ...* to **2019-04-20
Marsh WrenCistothorus palustrisThe Marsh Wren was formerly named the Long-billed Marsh Wren, thus causing some confusion with the S...BreederDefinitiveS3B,S4NG5Permanent resident in coastal areas, with migratory movements; transient and scarce winter resident ...Transient, and straggler into winter (few overwinter). Rare to locally uncommon in spring and fall ...Transient. Rare (but easily overlooked) in low elevation valleys; casual to very rare at higher ele...The marshes along NC 615 through Great Marsh at Mackay Island NWR abound with them in summer. Howeve...*** to ****2019-04-20
Gray KingbirdTyrannus dominicensisThe Gray Kingbird is somewhat the Southern version of the Eastern Kingbird, being mainly a bird of F...Accidental BreederDefinitiveSZG5Stray/transient, essentially along the coast, and accidental/casual breeder. As a visitor, very rar...Casual. There are only three records, from Umstead State Park (Wake) on 16 Apr 1959 (Chat 23...No records.This is a long shot, but your best bet is to drive roads along the southern coastal islands, in late...*2019-04-20
Broad-winged HawkButeo platypterusThe Broad-winged Hawk is famous for its strongly migratory habits, as it completely leaves the Unite...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Migrant and scarce summer resident. Uncommon spring migrant, and rare to uncommon fall migrant, ove...Summer resident and migrant. Mostly uncommon migrant (spring and fall); rare to (formerly) very unc...Summer resident and migrant. In summer, uncommon to fairly common, and reasonably widespread, over ...If you visit a hawk-watch site in the mountains in fall, such as Pilot Mountain, you might be able t...***2019-04-20
Roseate SpoonbillPlatalea ajajaHardly any bird is more easily identified than the Roseate Spoonbill. This tropical breeder nests no...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Post-breeding visitor and stray, mostly to the coast. Very rare to (now) rare along the southern co...Formerly accidental to casual, but now very rare, post-breeding visitor, with seven known records un...Casual post-breeding visitor, with all records from 2018 (Chat 82:112). Singles were seen on the Fr...This species is too rare to be searched for in the state. Typically, a bird is seen in shallow tida...*2019-04-20
Great Blue HeronArdea herodiasOur most familiar and frequently seen wader, the Great Blue Heron has shown a remarkable increase in...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S5NG5Year-round resident throughout the province, with some populations migratory. Essentially common al...Year-round resident, breeding locally but in most counties; increasing at all seasons. Common over ...Nearly year-round resident, though generally rare to uncommon in late spring and early summer; breed...This widespread species can be seen daily in most regions from late summer through spring, and findi...****2019-04-20
Brown PelicanPelecanus occidentalisThis species is one of the most familiar of all of the state's birds to the layman, as everyone know...BreederDefinitiveSRS3B,S4NG4Permanent resident, with migratory movements; breeding. Common to very common, though local, breede...Very rare visitor. At least 16 reports, mostly at large reservoirs (about one-half of these from Fa...Accidental/casual. Three reports (all single birds); Waynesville, 6 Aug 1979; Lake Junaluska (Ha...None needed; easily found along and near coastal areas.****2019-04-20
Masked BoobySula dactylatraAs with the tropicbirds, the two boobies recorded in North Carolina waters also are rare enough, and...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Nonbreeding visitor, mainly offshore in the Gulf Stream. Rare from early Jun to mid-Sep; very rare ...No records.No records.Finding the Masked Booby in North Carolina is a matter of persistence; you must be prepared to take ...*2019-04-20
Sooty ShearwaterArdenna griseaThe Sooty Shearwater is one of the most abundant birds in the world, as it occurs nearly worldwide, ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Offshore visitor, though frequently seen from shore, especially at Cape Hatteras Point and elsewhere...Accidental visitor; two records, one seen at Falls Lake (Wake/Durham) after Hurricane Fran, 6...Accidental visitor; one record, a specimen found at Twin Oaks, Alleghany, Aug 1939 (Auk 65:14...To find this species, you must make a conscious effort to look for it within its one-month window. ...** to ***2019-04-19
Trindade PetrelPterodroma arminjonianaThis species has a checkered taxonomic history, in part because what is considered as the "Herald Pe...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Offshore visitor. Rare but regular in the warmer months, seen a handful of times annually, with wel...No records.No records.You need to take a birding pelagic trip off Hatteras or Oregon inlets. Late May into early Septembe...* to **2019-04-19
White-faced Storm-PetrelPelagodroma marinaThough there are rarer pelagic birds in North Carolina waters than the monotypic White-faced Storm-P...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Scarce offshore visitor, but few records since 2000 (despite a large number of pelagic trips). Rare...No definite report. One probable White-faced was seen at Jordan Lake, 6 Sep 1996, after Hurricane F...No records.Though the species has been seen on a fair number of occasions in the edge of the Gulf Stream, on th...*2019-04-19
Common LoonGavia immerThe Common Loon is one of the best known waterbirds on the continent, known both to the layman and t...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Winter resident and transient. Along the entire coast, generally common, though less so along east-...Winter resident and transient. In midwinter, mainly uncommon on larger reservoirs, and very rare to ...Winter visitor and transient. Rare in midwinter on larger lakes (in the southern mountains), mainly...The Common Loon is more widespread in coastal areas than is the Red-throated Loon, being found on th...****2019-04-19
Black SkimmerRynchops nigerThough no other bird in North America looks like, forages like, and is related to the Black Skimmer,...BreederDefinitiveSCS2B,S3NG5Permanent resident (breeding), with migratory movements, along the coast. Fairly common (to formerl...Storm-related visitor, to lakes and reservoirs; casual to very rare, with nine records, nearly all f...No records.The species is usually seen on a day of coastal birding from Apr into Oct, though numbers are seldom...***2019-04-19
Sandwich TernThalasseus sandvicensisThe Sandwich Tern is the Royal Tern's "little brother"; it always nests in flocks of Royal Terns, re...BreederDefinitiveS3S4BG5Summer resident (breeding) and migrant along the coast. Fairly common along the coast in summer and...Storm-related visitor, in early fall, to large lakes and reservoirs, but only close to the Fall Line...No records.This tern is usually seen in a day of birding at Oregon Inlet or near the Pea Island impoundments. ...***2019-04-19
Royal TernThalasseus maximusThe Royal Tern is the common large tern along the coast of the state for most of the year; however, ...BreederDefinitiveS4B,S4NG5Permanent resident (breeding), with migratory movements, along the coast. Common to very common alo...Storm-related visitor, in late summer and fall, to lakes and reservoirs. Very rare, from mid-Aug to ...No records.Easily found along the coast from Mar to Nov, but less so in winter.****2019-04-19
Arctic TernSterna paradisaeaTo see this species in North Carolina, one must take a pelagic trip in late spring, or less likely i...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, essentially offshore. Offshore -- uncommon in spring, and rare in fall; status in fall w...Casual storm-carried visitor. Five records: one at a parking lot in Shelby on 22 Sep 1989 (after Hu...No records.Your best bet, by far, is to take a pelagic trip out of Oregon or Hatteras inlets in the latter half...**2019-04-19
Common TernSterna hirundoUntil about 20 years ago, the common name of this species (Common Tern) was quite appropriate in Nor...BreederDefinitiveES2BG5Summer resident (breeding) and transient along the coast, and transient inland. Fairly common to co...Transient. Rare in spring, and rare to uncommon in fall, at larger lakes and reservoirs; highest co...Transient. Casual in spring, and very rare in fall, at lakes in the southern mountains; about ten r...It is still rather easily found from May into the fall along the coast, at least along the Outer Ban...****2019-04-19
Gull-billed TernGelochelidon niloticaOf all of the breeding species in North Carolina, few are as strongly declining over the past decade...BreederDefinitiveTS1S2BG5Breeding summer resident, along and near the coast. Uncommon to fairly common -- fairly common prio...Accidental/casual, presumably a storm-carried visitor, but whether these reports were actually relat...Accidental, after storms. One in the Mills River area (Henderson) on 17 Sep 2004 (Chat 69:52...A few Gull-billed Terns can be usually be seen at Pea Island, at Fort Fisher, and at many areas alon...***2019-04-19
Sooty TernOnychoprion fuscatusThe Sooty Tern is sometimes considered to be the most abundant bird in the world, it being found com...Accidental BreederDefinitiveWSHB,S3NG5Mainly a pelagic visitor in the warmer seasons, but a sporadic breeder (at least formerly). Mostly ...Storm-carried visitor to the eastern portion of the province, plus one record for the southern porti...Casual storm-carried visitor. All but one record (of different birds?) came after the passage of Hu...Offshore, this species is normally less numerous than the Bridled Tern. The best times to look for ...**2019-04-19
Common Ringed PloverCharadrius hiaticulaThis Old World counterpart of the Semipalmated Plover is found primarily in North America as a rare ...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Two records (see above).No records.No records.1/2*2019-04-19
Tahiti PetrelPseudobulweria rostrataArguably the most remarkable pelagic discovery in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean was the photograph...NonbreederDefinitiveSAGNROne record (see above).No records.No records.1/2 *2019-04-19
Chestnut-collared LongspurCalcarius ornatusCasual stray. There are four records: one from the Piedmont, a female at the Charlotte Motor Speedw...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Two records (see above).One record (see above).One record (see above).1/2 *2019-04-19
Red-billed TropicbirdPhaethon aethereusUntil the mid- or late 1990's, there were very few records of the spectacular Red-billed Tropicbird,...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Offshore visitor. Rare in the Gulf Stream, and less regular than White-tailed, from spring to fall;...No records.No records.Seeing a Red-billed Tropicbird on an organized pelagic trip is simply a matter of luck, though there...*2019-04-19