Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
The 100 most recent account entries/updates.
comNamesciNamespecies_accountbreeding_statuslist_typestate_statusfed_statusS_rankG_rankcoastal_plainpiedmontmountaintipstips_codeupdate_on
Painted BuntingPasserina cirisThe adult male Painted Bunting is certainly the gaudiest-colored of North American songbirds. Thank...BreederDefinitiveSCFSCS3BG5Summer 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 17 records, all of single birds....Accidental visitor. The only known record is one at a feeder in Asheville, 9-12 Mar 2004.Should be easily found along the southern coast in late Apr, May, and Jun, at places such as Fort Ma...*** to ****2018-06-11
Rose-breasted GrosbeakPheucticus ludovicianusThe Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a bird of the cooler hardwood and mixed forests of the eastern parts o...BreederDefinitiveS3S4BG5Transient. In spring, rare to uncommon along the western margin of the province, but generally rare...Transient. In spring, uncommon to at times fairly common in the western portion, but uncommon over ...Summer resident and transient. Fairly common (and common in a few ranges) in summer at middle to hi...You should be able to find the species in a morning of birding along the Blue Ridge Parkway at eleva...*** to ****2018-06-11
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 75 records. Very rare to rare in winter along ...Scarce "transient" and winter visitor, with only about 14 records. Casual to very rare visitor, mai...Casual visitor. Only about six records, though only one since 1991. Oddly, the dates are "strangel...You likely will see your first in the state at a feeder near the coast.*2018-06-11
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...****2018-06-11
Northern ParulaSetophaga americanaThe Northern Parula is a bird saddled with an awful common name, and this is even more so now that i...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident. Over most of the region -- common, to very common in several of the larger river f...Summer resident, with noticeable migratory movements. In summer, fairly common over most of the pro...Summer resident, with noticeable migratory movements. Uncommon to fairly common at lower to middle ...It is hard to miss in the Coastal Plain in spring or summer if birding close to rivers, such as the ...****2018-06-11
Cape May WarblerSetophaga tigrinaThe Cape May Warbler has a breeding range similar to that of the Tennessee Warbler, being a classic ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and winter straggler. In spring, rare to uncommon along the western border, but generall...Transient, and winter straggler. In spring, fairly common in the western third, uncommon in the cen...Transient. Fairly common in both spring and fall; in spring, mostly at low to middle elevations, bu...The best bets are perhaps the southwestern Piedmont, such as Polk, in spring, and along the B...***2018-06-11
American RedstartSetophaga ruticillaThe very active American Redstart was, until 2011, in a genus all to itself; however, all of the for...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, and transient. In summer, mainly uncommon and local over the region as a whole (bu...Summer resident, and transient. In summer, breeds over most of the region, but highly local; can be...Summer resident, and transient. Breeds over the entire region; generally fairly common, mainly to 3...The species is easy to find from late Apr into Jun along the Roanoke and Neuse rivers, such as at Ho...****2018-06-11
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 **2018-06-11
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; sadly, the last record was in 1994, except for a sing...Casual to very rare winter visitor. There are about 9 records, with four birds over-wintering. Rec...No records.Your first Bullock's Oriole will likely be seen at someone's feeder.1/2*2018-06-11
Lark SparrowChondestes grammacusThe Lark Sparrow, as with the Vesper Sparrow, is by itself in a monotypic genus; no other sparrow is...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Sparse summer resident, transient, and winter straggler. In summer, rare and local, only in the San...Transient. Casual to very rare in spring, and very rare in fall; scattered over the region. Mainly...Transient. Casual in spring (five records), and very rare in late summer/fall (nine records). In s...The breeding sites are generally off-limits to birders; thus, the best places to look are along the ...* to **2018-06-11
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. Casual to very rare in fall and winter (about 11 records...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...**2018-06-11
Warbling VireoVireo gilvusThe Warbling Vireo, along with the Red-eyed Vireo, has the most extensive breeding range of any vire...BreederDefinitiveSRS2BG5Transient, and possible accidental breeder. Very rare in both spring and fall. Records are increasin...Transient (mainly in spring), and scarce summer resident. In spring, rare in the western half, and ...Summer resident and transient. Uncommon in summer in the New River area of Ashe and Alleg...Though a scarce bird in the state, driving roads that parallel or cross the South Fork New River, wi...***2018-06-11
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...***2018-06-11
White-eyed VireoVireo griseusThe White-eyed Vireo breeds over the southeastern part of the United States, and it winters in parts...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S1NG5Summer resident throughout, and scarce winter resident near the coast. In summer, common essentiall...Summer resident, with some migratory movements; strays into early winter. In the breeding season, c...Summer resident. Fairly common in lower elevations (below 2,500 feet), and uncommon to about 4,000 ...A morning of birding in most parks, refuges, and other preserves in the Coastal Plain will yield the...****2018-06-11
Red-cockaded WoodpeckerDryobates borealisFew birds in the state, and in the Southeast, have declined as strongly over the past 50 or more yea...BreederDefinitiveEES2G3Permanent resident; nonmigratory. Formerly over nearly the entire province, except absent along bar...Former permanent resident. The species was present in very small numbers as a permanent resident in ...No records.The species is quite local, and because it is very habitat-specific, it can be targeted easily at pl...***2018-06-11
Snowy OwlBubo scandiacusArguably one of the most spectacular birds in North America, the Snowy Owl is, unfortunately, seldom...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter 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. Needless t...1/2*2018-06-11
Golden EagleAquila chrysaetosThis very large and powerful raptor -- the largest in the state -- has always had a mysterious prese...Former Probable BreederDefinitiveSRSXB,S1NG5Migrant and winter visitor. Rare in the vicinity of lakes Mattamuskeet and Pungo and at Alligator R...Scarce migrant; about 27 reports. Very rare, mainly in fall and early winter, across the province; ...Scarce winter resident, and also a scarce year-round visitor and migrant. Presently, a rare fall mi...Over the years there has been a record of Golden Eagle every few winters in the Lake Mattamuskeet --...*2018-06-11
Rough-legged HawkButeo lagopusNorth Carolina lies at and just south of the regular wintering range of the Rough-legged Hawk, meani...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor. Rare in the Tidewater area, mainly at Alligator River NWR; very rare to rare along ...Winter visitor, with at least 30 reports. Very rare, with a concentration of records in the Raleigh...Winter visitor, with at least 17 reports. Very rare in the extreme northern counties (such as Al...Since about 2000, one to occasionally two birds have been seen at the extensive farm fields at Allig...* to **2018-06-11
Swainson's HawkButeo swainsoniThough the Swainson's Hawk is a Western species, like the Broad-winged Hawk almost the entire breedi...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Formerly casual transient to the coast and Tidewater areas, but since about 2005, now very rare, wit...Casual visitor. Three reports, two accepted -- of birds seen overhead: one adult, Lake Benson (W...No records.Because a number of records have recently come from Alligator River NWR, this is the only place in t...*2018-06-11
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 one area; records increasi...Very rare to occasionally rare, but increasing, visitor in the warmer months; about 34 records, from...Very rare visitor in the warmer months; about 12 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...**2018-06-11
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 15 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.****2018-06-11
American White PelicanPelecanus erythrorhynchosThis spectacular and huge species, which nests in the Great Plains and the Western states, has under...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG4Migrant and winter visitor, most frequent along the northern coast and Tidewater; increasing. Coast...Very rare to rare (but increasing) migrant and winter visitor, with at least 29 reports. Most are f...Casual to now very rare (since 2000) migrant, with at least eight records, all from the southern mou...Fortunately for the birder, individuals of this species often linger for a month or more in NC. Form...** to ***2018-06-11
Great ShearwaterArdenna gravisIn 2010, the American Ornithologists' Union changed the common name of Greater Shearwater to Great S...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Offshore visitor, mainly to the Gulf Stream. Generally fairly common, to occasionally common in mid...No records.No records.This shearwater is best seen by taking a chartered birding trip to the Gulf Stream off Oregon or Hat...***2018-06-11
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; one record, 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 ***2018-06-11
Black-capped PetrelPterodroma hasitataThe Black-capped Petrel is, by far, the most often seen of the gadfly petrels (genus PterodromaNonbreederDefinitiveFSCS1NG1Offshore visitor (at all seasons). Generally fairly common to often common in the Gulf Stream, at l...Accidental: 1, Jordan Lake, 6-7 Sep 1996 (during and after Hurricane Fran) (Nat. Audubon Soc. Field ...No records.This is an easy bird if you take a pelagic trip that goes into the deeper waters of the Gulf Stream....*** to ****2018-06-11
Northern FulmarFulmarus glacialisNorthern Fulmars are among the most charismatic of our seabirds, as they seem to enjoy flying in ver...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter visitor and transient offshore; somewhat declining. Uncommon (to occasionally fairly common)...No records.No records.Your best bet to see a fulmar is to take a winter pelagic trip, particularly later in winter (Feb to...**2018-06-09
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...*2018-06-09
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 record is a first-year bird photographed at the Hooper Lane Sod Farm...This species is easy to find in the large gull flocks that congregate at Cape Hatteras Point from la...***2018-06-09
Iceland GullLarus glaucoidesThe Iceland Gull is one of the more subtly "beautiful" of the gulls, it being somewhat dainty, thoug...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, essentially coastal, with a preponderance of records from Cape Hatteras and offshore...Winter visitor; very rare, primarily to the eastern edge of the province.

Kumlien's: Very rare...

No records.To find Iceland Gulls (both taxa), you must have patience and some knowledge of gull identification,...* to **2018-06-09
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% ...**2018-06-09
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 (2018) uncommon and...No records.No records.Take a pelagic trip out of Hatteras or Oregon inlets in winter. In recent winters, several trips usu...**2018-06-09
RazorbillAlca tordaBy far the most numerous alcid in North Carolina waters is the Razorbill. In some recent winters, h...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter visitor offshore and coastally, increasing. Formerly (prior to 1995) rare along the coast, b...No records.No records.The Razorbill is now seldom missed on winter pelagic trips, but on some trips the birds are infreque...***2018-06-09
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 *2018-06-09
Common MurreUria aalgeFor a seemingly interminable time, North Carolina went without a record of this very common alcid. ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very scarce winter visitor offshore and along the coast; now (2018) very rare off Oregon Inlet and C...No records.No records.The increase in sightings in the past decade is gratifying for pelagic birders, but whether this sig...1/2 * to *2018-06-09
Great SkuaStercorarius skuaNot until pelagic trips were taken off our coast in the depths of winter, mostly after the mid-1990'...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG4G5Offshore visitor in winter. Rare to uncommon, but regular, off the northern half of the coast, at l...No records.No records.Take a winter pelagic trip out of Hatteras Inlet. It is being seen each winter on these trips, with ...**2018-06-09
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...**2018-06-09
American WoodcockScolopax minorThe American Woodcock is one of just seven shorebird species that regularly breeds in North Carolina...BreederDefinitiveS4B,S4NG5Permanent resident, with migratory movements, over most of the province, though poorly known as a br...Permanent resident, with migratory movements. Generally uncommon all year over most of the province...Primarily a summer resident and transient; scarce in winter. Uncommon as a breeder over most of the...As woodcocks are crepuscular and nocturnal in their feeding and calling habits, they are not often e...**2018-06-09
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...**2018-06-09
Broad-billed HummingbirdCynanthus latirostrisA number of hummingbird species breed essentially or primarily in the United States only in Arizona....NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Casual summer and fall/visitor, lingering into winter. A male was seen in the Fairfield Harbour are...No records.No records.1/2 *2018-06-09
Chuck-will's-widowAntrostomus carolinensisThis strictly nocturnal species is a characteristic breeding bird of our drier forest edges and open...BreederDefinitiveWS5BG5Breeding summer resident, and occasional winter visitor. Generally common in the warmer months over...Breeding summer resident. Fairly common in the extreme eastern and southern portions of the provinc...Probable breeding summer resident in a few very low elevation areas, in the southern half of the mou...Hearing this species is seldom a problem. Simply, drive around a little bit after dusk, or before d...***2018-06-09
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.*2018-06-09
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 former winter resident at Goldsboro. Rare but annual along the ent...Winter visitor and transient. Very rare to rare on the larger reservoirs, and very rare elsewhere; s...Casual transient in the southern mountains. Records are of single birds at Brevard, 10 Nov 1996; Lak...It has been seen each fall and winter for the last few years at the Goldsboro sewage ponds; however,...* to **2018-06-09
Hooded MerganserLophodytes cucullatusAnother beautiful duck, the Hooded Merganser is also one of the few species of waterfowl that nests ...BreederDefinitiveWS1B,S4NG5Winter resident, and local breeding resident inland. Common in winter in most areas near the coast ...Winter resident, and local breeding resident. In winter, generally fairly common, being more numero...Winter resident or visitor, and summer resident in very small numbers. Generally uncommon, and most...The species can usually be found on most of the coastal impoundments in the winter, such as at Pea I...*** to ****2018-06-09
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. Casual to very rare, with only five known records, all but the last of single indiv...To see Long-tailed Ducks in NC, you should take the Swan Quarter to Ocracoke ferry. The species is ...***2018-06-09
White-winged ScoterMelanitta fuscaBy far the least common of the scoters along the mid-Atlantic coast, the White-winged Scoter can be ...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter visitor. Uncommon and erratic (depending on the severity of the weather) along the immediate...Transient and winter visitor. Rare (but the most frequent scoter in the province), mainly to larger...Transient. Very rare in the southern counties, and unknown as yet from north of Buncombe. S...This is a tough bird to find in the state, and many birders often require two or three winters to fi...**2018-06-09
Lesser ScaupAythya affinisThe Lesser Scaup winters over most of the state, though primarily near the coast, with numbers being...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Winter resident. Fairly common to locally common, and reasonably widespread, along the entire coast...Winter visitor or local winter resident. Uncommon to fairly common, at least locally; more numerous...Transient and winter visitor. Uncommon transient and winter visitor, mainly to lower elevations in ...Though not abundant in NC, the species is reasonably widespread, particularly in the Tidewater area....***2018-06-09
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 count: 50,...This species can be seen by the hundreds to occasionally the thousands at a few places near the coas...****2018-06-09
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...****2018-06-09
Cackling GooseBranta hutchinsiiThe Cackling Goose is a rare, or overlooked, winter visitor, mainly in large concentrations of Canad...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Rare (but annual) winter visitor, to the eastern (tidewater and north coastal) portions, almost alwa...Formerly casual, but now a very rare winter visitor; records greatly increasing in recent years. On...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...**2018-06-09
Greater White-fronted GooseAnser albifronsThe Greater White-fronted Goose is a rare winter visitor across all portions of the state, but with ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor. Most frequent in areas where large numbers of geese and swans winter. Rare in the ...Winter visitor; very rare but somewhat increasing in recent years. Approximately 32 records, fallin...Winter visitor, slightly increasing in recent years. Very rare to rare in the southern mountains; n...There is a tendency for the species to appear with flocks of Canada Geese, both feeding in plowed fi...* to **2018-06-09
Ross's GooseAnser rossiiThe Ross's Goose is a somewhat regular winter visitor/resident, in very small numbers, amid large fl...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG4Winter visitor/resident. Rare (to locally uncommon) but increasing winter visitor, and a winter res...Winter visitor. Formerly casual; now very rare to rare but greatly increasing, with about 36 records...Winter visitor. Very rare to now rare (2017), but greatly increasing, in the southern counties, wit...In the past few winters, the species has been seen, generally with Snow Geese, in fields near Pungo ...**2018-06-09
Snow GooseAnser caerulescensThe Snow Goose is a winter resident, occurring in large numbers in the northern tidewater areas; it ...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident, mainly near the coast. Locally common to abundant in winter, mainly in several lar...Scarce winter visitor, though sightings increasing in the western portions in recent years. Rare, s...Scarce, but increasing, winter visitor. Very rare to now rare; all but five records are from the so...Though notably declining along the immediate coast, Snow Geese are usually seen in winter at Bodie a...****2018-06-09
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...*2018-06-09
Bell's VireoVireo belliiThough the Bell's Vireo nests as far east as Illinois, there are surprisingly few records for the so...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual along and near the coast in fall and early winter. One was briefly seen and photographed at ...Accidental. There is a sight record at Zebulon (Wake) on 10 August 1974 (Chat 39:92-93). Al...Accidental. One was seen and photographed on the Warren Wilson College grounds (Buncombe) fr...1/2 *2018-06-09
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...Accidental/casual storm-carried visitor. Both records (of different birds?) came after the passage ...Offshore, this species is normally less numerous than the Bridled Tern. The best times to look for ...**2018-06-09
Long-billed DowitcherLimnodromus scolopaceusFor much of the last century, the Long-billed Dowitcher was a very poorly known species, most likely...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Transient and winter resident; mainly along the coast and at Mattamuskeet NWR and vicinity. Coastal...Transient. Accidental in spring (two reports), very rare to locally rare (at Falls and Jordan lakes...Transient; casual or accidental. The only report is one photographed at Osceola Lake (Henderson<...You should be able to find the species in mid- to late fall at the impoundments at Pea and Bodie isl...***2018-06-09
Swinhoe's Storm-PetrelOceanodroma 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 *2018-06-09
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 *2018-06-09
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...Accidental to casual storm-carried visitor. Three records: one at a parking lot in Shelby on 22 Sep...No records.Your best bet, by far, is to take a pelagic trip out of Oregon or Hatteras inlets in the latter half...**2018-06-09
Trumpeter SwanCygnus buccinatorThis relatively rare swan of the northwestern United States and western Canada formerly nested as fa...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Casual (but increasing) winter visitor, but only to the Pungo and Mattamuskeet refuge areas (so far)...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 ...1/2 *2018-06-09
Anna's HummingbirdCalypte annaThis would seem to be one of the more unlikely birds on the state list, but Anna's Hummingbirds, lik...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Two records (see above).One record (see above).No records.1/2 *2018-06-09
Mountain PloverCharadrius montanusThis Western shorebird had been recorded in Virginia as early as 1976, and it was seen and photograp...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG3One record (see above).No records.No records.1/2 *2018-06-09
Barn OwlTyto albaThe Barn Owl is a completely nocturnal feeder; thus, its presence in a given area can be difficult t...BreederDefinitiveSCS2S3B,S3NG5Permanent resident, with migratory movements; noticeably declining (since around 1970). Along the c...Permanent resident, probably with migratory movements; undoubtedly declining. Rare to locally uncom...Permanent resident, likely with migratory movements. Rare in valleys in the southern counties (belo...Barn Owls must be searched for intentionally. You are not likely to stumble upon them in general bi...* to **2018-03-21
Kirtland's WarblerSetophaga kirtlandiiConsidering that North Carolina is about halfway between the species' wintering grounds in the Baham...NonbreederDefinitiveEESZG3G4No accepted records. It is quite a surprise that, as of 2017, there are still no documented records...Casual fall transient in the western portion of the province, but no accepted records yet for the ea...Casual to very rare transient, with five records (but only one of them in spring). A first-year fem...1/2 *2018-02-21
American PipitAnthus rubescensThe American Pipit, named the Water Pipit until a few decades ago, nests in the coldest and most bar...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident. Along the coast (at least the immediate mainland), mostly fairly common, though ca...Winter resident and transient. Fairly common to common across most of the region, in spring and fal...Transient, and very sparse winter visitor/resident. Generally uncommon (to occasionally fairly comm...You should be able to find pipits in large plowed fields in the Coastal Plain in winter, more likely...***2018-02-21
Tree SwallowTachycineta bicolorThe Tree Swallow is by far the most cold-hardy swallow in North America, being the only one to winte...BreederDefinitiveS3B,S4NG5Breeder and winter resident, with noticeable migratory movements; scarce but increasing as a breeder...Transient, and sparse breeder, slightly increasing as a breeder. In summer, very rare to locally un...Summer resident, with migratory movements; increasing as a breeder. Uncommon to fairly common breed...The species is most easily seen at large lakes toward the coast in the cooler months. Though never a...****2018-02-21
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...*2018-02-21
Eastern KingbirdTyrannus tyrannusThe Eastern Kingbird is another flycatcher that nests in essentially every county in the state -- an...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident and transient. Formerly common throughout as a breeder; now, common over much of the...Summer resident and transient. Formerly common over much of the province, but now fairly common ove...Summer resident and transient. Formerly fairly common at lower elevations (below 2,500 feet), and u...The species is generally easy to find in mid- or late May into early summer by driving back roads th...****2018-02-21
Ash-throated FlycatcherMyiarchus cinerascensThe Ash-throated Flycatcher is another Western species, breeding from southern Washington to Texas. ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Late autumn migrant/stray, with birds attempting to overwinter (though none apparently have been com...Casual stray. Two sight reports are from the Raleigh area: one on 16 May 1973 (Chat 39:40-43), (Cha...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...*2018-02-21
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; 11 records. One was seen near ...Accidental; two records. One was seen near Raleigh on 23 Oct 1965 (Chat 30:28), (Chat 54:56). Anoth...No records.1/2 *2018-02-21
Willow FlycatcherEmpidonax trailliiIn 1973, the American Ornithologists' Union split Traill's Flycatcher into two "song type" species -...BreederDefinitiveWS3BG5Transient. Poorly known because of difficulty of identification. Very rare to rare (probably) alon...Transient, and sparse summer resident. Rare and local breeder in scattered sites in the western half...Summer resident. Uncommon, to very locally fairly common, at lower elevations throughout the region...Good places to look for the species are to drive along roads that parallel the New River, or the Sou...***2018-02-21
Alder FlycatcherEmpidonax alnorumPrior to 1973, Alder and Willow flycatchers were considered as a single species -- Traill's Flycatch...BreederDefinitiveSRS2BG5Transient. Status very poorly known, but apparently casual to (at best) very rare. There are only ...Transient; apparently very rare. Very poorly known, though possible regular in both spring and fall...Summer resident; breeding, mainly above 3,500 feet elevation. Generally uncommon and local, with th...Some of the better sites for finding the species are the road to the Shining Rock Wilderness and Bla...***2018-02-21
Short-eared OwlAsio flammeusThe Short-eared Owl is the owl species most likely to be seen flying about in daylight hours, as a f...Accidental BreederDefinitiveWSUB,S3NG5Winter resident, and probable accidental/casual breeder. In winter, uncommon (to sporadically and l...Winter visitor. Very rare to rare, mainly from early Nov to late Mar; a preponderance of records we...Winter visitor. Very rare in the southern mountains, with eight records, six from Hooper Lane in A good technique for locating likely spots for Short-eareds is to find marshes or grasslands th...**2018-02-21
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 ...Very rare to (now) rare migrant/visitor in the southern mountains (about 22 records). Casual north o...Visiting the Lock and Dam #1 area or the NC 11 bridge over the Cape Fear River has been consistently...***2018-02-20
Turkey VultureCathartes auraThe Turkey Vulture is our most frequently seen "raptor" -- there is some question whether New World ...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S5NG5Permanent resident, though partially migratory. Common to very common (for a raptor) over nearly al...Permanent resident, though partially migratory. Common to at least locally very common (for a rapto...Permanent resident, but with noticeable migratory movements. Common in lower elevations all year, b...Except along the immediate coast, it is easily seen in the state, except on rainy or overly cloudy d...****2018-02-20
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. ...No records.This species is too rare to be searched for in the state. Typically, a bird is seen in shallow tida...*2018-02-20
Glossy IbisPlegadis falcinellusThe history of the Glossy Ibis is somewhat the reverse of that of the White Ibis. Though it also is...BreederDefinitiveSCS1S2BG5Breeding summer resident along the coast, but sparse in winter; post-breeding visitor or migrant inl...Migrant and post-breeding visitor. Rare in the eastern portion (mainly in the Jordan and Falls lake...Casual visitor; with only four known reports. One seen at Altamont (Avery) on 12 Apr 1998; on...This species has been somewhat more difficult to find along the coast in the spring to fall seasons ...***2018-02-20
Great CormorantPhalacrocorax carboThe Great Cormorant is still another species that has greatly increased in the East over the past se...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter resident and visitor along the coast. Uncommon and local, mainly around inlets; generally fro...Very rare migrant and winter visitor. About 10 records, all at reservoirs in the eastern half of th...No records.The species is reliably seen at just a few places along the NC coast. Your best bet is in the lower...***2018-02-20
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,...****2018-02-20
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 ove...No records.No records.You need to take a birding pelagic trip off Hatteras or Oregon inlets. Late May into early Septembe...* to **2018-02-20
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 nine ...It is still rather easily found from May into the fall along the coast, at least along the Outer Ban...****2018-02-20
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...***2018-02-20
Caspian TernHydroprogne caspiaThe Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world, and it is also one of the most wide-ranging, as i...BreederDefinitiveTS1B,S2NG5Permanent resident (and sparse breeder), with migratory movements, along the coast; transient inland...Transient. Uncommon though regular in both spring and fall at larger lakes/reservoirs, but very rar...Transient. Rare, in the southern mountains only (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and Transyl...Caspian Terns can usually be found along most coastal areas in late summer and fall, especially arou...***2018-02-20
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.****2018-02-20
Little GullHydrocoloeus minutusLike the Black-headed Gull, the Little Gull is essentially an Old World species, though in the past ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, essentially only along the coast and in near offshore waters. From Hatteras Inlet n...Casual winter visitor. Five records of single birds at Jordan Lake: an immature seen from 5-26 Mar ...No records.This species is reliably found among the large flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls along the northern half o...**2018-02-20
Sabine's GullXema sabiniThe Sabine's Gull is arguably the most beautiful gull in North America, and because it nests in the ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient; essentially offshore, with a scattering of onshore records. Generally very rare in both ...Transient, in fall migration only. Casual, with eight records, all but two of single individuals: a...Accidental; two records. One at Lake Junaluska (Haywood) on 8 Sep 2004 (after Tropical Storm ...The species is much too rare onshore to be hoped for, but taking a pelagic trip in late May or the l...*2018-02-20
DovekieAlle alleThe Dovekie is, by far, the smallest of the six species of Atlantic alcids. It is one of three -- a...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Mostly an offshore winter visitor, quite erratic from winter to winter. There were several notable ...Accidental. One record, during the memorable late 1950 flight, is from Raleigh on 7 or 8 Dec (1950) ...No records.To try to see the species in NC, you should sign up for a pelagic trip, preferably in Feb, to the co...**2018-02-20
Parasitic JaegerStercorarius parasiticusThough the Parasitic Jaeger is probably more numerous globally than the Pomarine Jaeger, in our wate...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Transient, and poorly-known winter visitor, to the offshore zone and the inshore ocean. Uncommon in...Visitor to lakes and reservoirs, mostly storm-related. Casual, with four records: 1 at Jordan Lake ...No records.This species can be seen from shore almost anywhere along the coast, though Cape Lookout and Cape Ha...**2018-02-20
Red-necked PhalaropePhalaropus lobatusThe Red-necked Phalarope and the Red Phalarope are the two pelagic shorebirds, and to see both in th...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4G5Transient, primarily offshore. Generally a fairly common offshore migrant in both spring and fall, ...Transient. Casual/very rare in spring migration, and very rare in fall, usually seen only during an...Transient. Accidental/casual in spring; the only records are one in Linville (Avery) on 17-1...Take a pelagic trip out of Hatteras or Oregon inlets -- either in the latter part of May, or in the ...**2018-02-20
Short-billed DowitcherLimnodromus griseusAmong the most difficult identification problem facing birders is the separation of the two dowitche...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Transient and winter resident, mainly along the coast. Common to abundant spring and fall migrant a...Transient. Casual to very rare in spring, and rare to often uncommon (though local) in fall. Mainl...Transient, mainly in Henderson and Transylvania. Very rare in spring and in fall, at ...This species is hard to miss along the coast during the migrations.****2018-02-20
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, essentially all records in valleys in the Henderso...The species is easily found along the coast from Jul to late fall.****2018-02-20
White-rumped SandpiperCalidris fuscicollisThis and the Baird's Sandpiper are the two large "peep" species found in the state. Neither is comm...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. Uncommon to locally fairly common in spring along the northern coast, particularly at Bo...Transient. Rare to uncommon (at least locally) in spring and fall; mainly early May to early Jun, a...Transient, essentially only in low elevations in the southern counties. In spring, very rare to loc...This can be a difficult to find species away from the Bodie-Pea Island or Cape Hatteras area. You sh...** to ***2018-02-20
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 **2018-02-20
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. ****2018-02-20
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 in spring: one at Hooper Lane (Henderson) on 1 May 1999; very rare to r...Easily found on ocean beaches over most of the year.****2018-02-20
RuffCalidris pugnaxThis Old World breeder makes annual visits to the eastern shore of North America, and its appearance...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient/visitor during the warmer months, essentially along the coast. There are at least 42 repo...Accidental in spring, and casual in fall (four reports), with all five reports from the eastern Pied...No records.The species is simply too rare in the state to hope to find on your own. Check impoundments and sew...1/2 * to *2018-02-20
Bar-tailed GodwitLimosa lapponicaThis Eurasian shorebird has appeared along the East Coast much more often than the Black-tailed Godw...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Casual to very rare visitor, with three spring and seven fall reports, all from the coast. The spri...No records.No records.1/2 *2018-02-19
Piping PloverCharadrius melodusThe Piping Plover is one of the few Federally listed birds in North Carolina, especially now that th...BreederDefinitiveS1B,S1NG3Breeding permanent resident, with migratory movements, along the coast. Generally uncommon and decl...Transient. Very rare in fall; late July to early Oct; no spring records. About 13 records, mostly f...Accidental to casual, with just two records: one at Hooper Lane, Henderson on 4-5 Sep 2012* (...The best area to see this species is at Portsmouth Island in late summer and fall, but a boat is nec...**2018-02-19
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; casual to very rare els...The species is hard to miss near the coast in Aug and Sep.****2018-02-19
American Golden-PloverPluvialis dominicaUnlike its slightly larger cousin, the Black-bellied Plover, the American Golden-Plover is a good fi...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. Very rare in spring, rare in fall, along the entire coast, particularly the Outer Banks; ...Transient. Casual in spring (only about four records), rare but annual in fall, over most of the pr...Transient, but nearly all records are from Hooper Lane/Mills River area in Henderson, where v...The species is best located in Sep and Oct, especially after cold fronts. A few birds are present e...* to **2018-02-19