Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
The 100 most recent account entries/updates.
Painted BuntingPasserina cirisThe adult male Painted Bunting is certainly the gaudiest-colored of North American songbirds. Thank...BreederDefinitiveSCS3BG5Summer resident along the southern coast, and sparingly near the South Carolina border at least inla...Very rare (but increasing) visitor, scattered over the year; a few reports of males singing on terri...Casual visitor. The only known records are one at a feeder in Asheville, 9-12 Mar 2004; a female or...Should be easily found along the southern coast in late Apr, May, and Jun, at places such as Fort Ma...*** to ****2023-10-20
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...****2023-10-20
Pine WarblerSetophaga pinusThe Pine Warbler is certainly the best-named warbler species, as it is almost always found in pine t...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S4NG5Permanent resident, with migratory movements. Common to very common breeder across the region, bein...Permanent resident, with migratory movements. In summer, common to very common in the eastern and so...Summer resident, and sparse winter resident at lower elevations. In summer, fairly common in the ex...None needed.****2023-10-20
Magnolia WarblerSetophaga magnoliaThe Magnolia Warbler nests across most of the boreal forest zone of Canada and the northeastern stat...BreederDefinitiveSRS2BG5Transient. In spring, rare to uncommon in the western portions, rare over central portions, and ver...Transient. Mainly uncommon in spring, and fairly common in fall, over most of the province. Clearl...Scarce summer resident (at higher elevations), and transient. In summer, rare to locally uncommon (...It usually can be found in fall migration in the mountains, in various parks and along the Blue Ridg...***2023-10-20
Swainson's WarblerLimnothlypis swainsoniiThe Swainson's Warbler was once considered one of the rarest of warblers in the country. This perce...BreederDefinitiveS3S4BG4Summer resident. Breeds over essentially all of the region, as far west as Weldon (Halifax) ...Summer resident (sparingly), and scarce transient. In summer, uncommon and somewhat local along the...Summer resident. Breeds along the Blue Ridge Escarpment (see Piedmont notes), mainly at the base, u...Despite it not being common anywhere, you should be able to hear one to several in Alligator River N...***2023-10-20
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 six records), and very rare in late summer/fall (11 records). In sprin...The breeding sites are generally off-limits to birders on military reservations; thus, the best plac...* to **2023-10-20
Lapland LongspurCalcarius lapponicusThis is the only one of the four species of longspur that is not of accidental occurrence in the sta...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter visitor, and possibly winter resident (regular from winter to winter) in a few areas. Rare to...Winter visitor. Very rare to rare across the region, with no regular wintering sites. Certainly oc...Winter visitor. Very rare, essentially in lower elevations in wide valleys, though four were seen a...Though a scarce bird in the state, a diligent birder can at times find the species over a several-da...* to **2023-10-20
Loggerhead ShrikeLanius ludovicianusThe Loggerhead Shrike was historically rare to absent as a breeding species in the East, but with th...BreederDefinitiveSCS3B,S3NG4Permanent resident, with migratory movements. Nests east to about Roanoke Rapids, Washington, and W...Permanent resident, with slightly noticeable migratory movements. Formerly (prior to about 1975) ne...Transient and winter visitor/resident, and likely former breeder. Now a very rare transient in the ...Your best bet is to drive secondary roads in Robeson or Scotland counties, where the s...** to ***2023-10-20
Black-whiskered VireoVireo altiloquusFor a species that nests in the West Indies and north to the western and southern coasts of Florida,...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Now a very rare overshooting stray along and near the coast, in spring; a remarkable 14+ records so ...No records.No records.If one is birding along the southern coastline in May or early June, especially on islands, it doesn...*2023-10-20
Scissor-tailed FlycatcherTyrannus forficatusThe beautiful Scissor-tailed Flycatcher nests in the south-central United States, primarily in Texas...Sporadic BreederDefinitiveWSAB,SZG5Transient/vagrant, both in late spring/summer and again in fall; accidental breeder. Very rare to r...Transient/vagrant, and sporadic breeder (only three sites reported). Very rare in migration, with m...Accidental to casual. One was photographed in Swannanoa (Buncombe) on 10 May 1984 (Chat 48:1...Your best bet is to drive to a known nesting site. If none are available for an easy "tick", you ar...*2023-10-20
Western KingbirdTyrannus verticalisThe Western Kingbird history in North Carolina is a sad one. Back in the 1960's and early 1970's, o...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Fall transient, regularly lingering into early winter; declining, at least in fall. Along the coast...Fall stray/transient. Casual to very rare, with only 14 records. Eight of the records fall between ...Casual. Four records: three in fall (one in Aug and two in Sep). The report of two birds in Ash...Try driving NC 12 down the Outer Banks in fall, a day or two after a strong cold front. A bird coul...*2023-10-20
MerlinFalco columbariusThe Merlin is a very feisty raptor for its size, and its dashing flight chasing down shorebirds and ...Probable breederDefinitiveSAB,S3NG5Transient, and winter resident in the eastern part of the region. Uncommon to fairly common fall mi...Transient, with numerous winter reports. Rare fall and spring migrant, may be locally uncommon in f...Transient, with some winter reports. Very rare to rare fall and spring migrant; very rare winter vi...Your best chance to see a Merlin is to visit the coast in Oct, especially after a cold front. Birds...** to ***2023-10-20
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...***2023-10-20
Broad-winged HawkButeo platypterusThe Broad-winged Hawk is famous for its strongly migratory habits, as it completely leaves the Unite...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Migrant, and very scarce summer resident; declining. Rare to uncommon spring and fall migrant, over...Summer resident and migrant, but declining in recent years. Mostly uncommon migrant (spring and fal...Summer resident and migrant, slightly declining. In summer, uncommon to fairly common, and reasonab...If you visit a hawk-watch site in the mountains in fall, such as Pilot Mountain, you might be able t...***2023-10-20
Mississippi KiteIctinia mississippiensisMississippi Kites are a major success story in North Carolina and elsewhere in their breeding range,...BreederDefinitiveS3BG5Summer resident, breeding; increasing in recent decades. Occurs primarily close to brownwater river...Increasing stray or overshooting migrant, as well as a post-breeding visitor; breeds at a few local ...Rare migrant/visitor (increasing) in the southern mountains (about 27 records). Very rare north of <...Visiting the Lock and Dam #1 area or the NC 11 bridge over the Cape Fear River has been consistently...***2023-10-20
Northern HarrierCircus hudsoniusThe Northern Harrier is our only regularly occurring hawk that is strictly tied to marshes and field...BreederDefinitiveSRS1B,S4NG5Migrant, winter resident, and sparse breeder; somewhat declining. Rare and poorly known breeder near...Migrant and winter visitor/resident, declining. Rare to uncommon over the entire province from mid-...Migrant, and scarce winter visitor, probably declining. Rare spring migrant, mainly in May; very ra...This species is usually easily found near the coast at extensive marshes or extensive fields, from O...****2023-10-20
Swallow-tailed KiteElanoides forficatusArguably the most spectacular bird of prey in the world, especially when seen in flight, the Swallow...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Annual visitor, mainly in spring along and near the coast, and breeder at a few sites in the souther...Very rare to rare, but increasing, visitor in the warmer months, surprisingly mostly to the western/...Very rare, but increasing, visitor in the warmer months; about 25 records, with five coming in fall ...Birders can usually spot one to several birds, along with some Mississippi Kites, either close to th...**2023-10-20
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; greatly increasing in recent years. Now rare ...Formerly accidental to casual, but now very rare to rare and increasing, post-breeding visitor, with...Casual post-breeding visitor, with all records from 2018 (Chat 82:112). Singles were seen on the Fr...Increasing annually now, and can now be tracked down to see, as some have lingered for a while, espe...* to **2023-10-20
Yellow-crowned Night-HeronNyctanassa violaceaThough the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron can be somewhat nocturnal, it frequently forages during the da...BreederDefinitiveSRS2BG5Summer resident and transient. Generally uncommon along most of the coast, but fairly common at lea...Transient, post-breeding visitor, and sparse breeder. Rare and local throughout, and no records for...Transient. Very rare, and only in the lower mountains, mostly from Henderson; nearly all rec...Areas where they can be seen somewhat regularly are the Twin Lakes ponds on the mainland part of Sun...**2023-10-20
Black-crowned Night-HeronNycticorax nycticoraxThe Black-crowned Night-Heron is our only truly nocturnal waterbird. Birds roost in thickets, usual...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S3NG5Permanent resident coastally, and a transient inland. Along the coast, fairly common to locally com...Transient and post-breeding visitor; accidental breeder (in 2022-23). Rare and secretive, mostly in...Transient and post-breeding visitor. Rare, with close to 30 records, at low elevations in the south...This species is usually found along the coast at any season, but you might need to wait around tidal...***2023-10-20
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...**2023-10-20
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 25 reports, mostly at large reservoirs (about one-third of these from F...Accidental/casual. Four reports (all single birds); Waynesville, 6 Aug 1979; Lake Junaluska (Hay...None needed; easily found along and near coastal areas.****2023-10-20
AnhingaAnhinga anhingaThe Anhinga is still another of the Pelicaniform species that has increased noticeably in the state ...BreederDefinitiveWS3BG5Breeding summer resident, increasing. Nests at least locally, scattered over most of the province, e...Nonbreeding migrant/visitor; increasing. Casual but likely increasing breeder (or probable breeder) ...Casual visitor. One was seen from a hawk watch at Mount Pisgah (Buncombe), 21 Sep 2003; one ...The spillway at Orton Pond is probably the best site in the state. Birds can also be seen at Orton ...***2023-10-20
Magnificent FrigatebirdFregata magnificensThe Magnificent Frigatebird is a common coastal bird of subtropical and tropical waters around the w...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Nonbreeding visitor, almost always in flight over the immediate coast or over estuaries; seldom seen...Accidental/casual to the eastern edge of the province, with just three records: one seen and later p...Accidental, and remarkably for the winter season. An adult female was photographed over Ecusta Pond...North Carolina averages about three reports of this species per year, most often in July or August o...*2023-10-20
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, greatly increasing; rare straggler in winter. Locally co...Post-breeding visitor, greatly increasing. Formerly very rare to now locally rare, mainly from Jun ...Post-breeding visitor; very rare to now rare in the southern and central mountains, with about 15 re...The species can almost always be found around the margins of the two freshwater ponds at Twin Lakes,...*** to ****2023-10-20
Cory's ShearwaterCalonectris diomedeaThe Cory's Shearwater is the largest of the shearwaters in North Carolina waters and is one of the m...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Offshore visitor, mainly to the Gulf Stream. For the combined subspecies: common and easily seen on...No records.No records.This species is a gimme on pelagic trips that reach the Gulf Stream off the Outer Banks from late Ma...****2023-10-20
Wilson's Storm-PetrelOceanites oceanicusSome authorities consider the Wilson's Storm-Petrel to be the world's most abundant seabird. Certai...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Offshore visitor to the Gulf Stream, and less so to the cooler water zones. Common to abundant from ...Accidental to casual visitor, after hurricanes. Four records: 3 at Jordan Lake, 6 Sep 1996 (after H...No records.This is seldom missed on pelagic trips from May into Oct. ****2023-10-20
Forster's TernSterna forsteriThe Forster's Tern is the only tern that remains relatively common along the coast of North Carolina...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S5NG5Permanent resident, with migratory movements; primarily coastal. Fairly common breeder around the p...Transient. Rare spring migrant and uncommon fall migrant at larger lakes and reservoirs, occasional...Transient, essentially only in the southern mountains. Rare (to occasionally uncommon) in spring, a...Forster's are the most commonly seen terns from late Oct through Mar along our coast, and except dur...****2023-10-20
Roseate TernSterna dougalliiThe Roseate Tern is one of the more elegant and graceful of the tern species, and because it is a gl...Accidental Breeder DefinitiveEESHBG4Transient and summer visitor coastally and offshore. In the warmer months, rare along the northern ...No records.No records.The most likely spot to find this species used to be in the tern colony at Cape Hatteras Point, but ...*2023-10-20
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...***2023-10-20
Least TernSternula antillarumThe smallest tern in North America, the Least Tern is a familiar yet slowly declining breeding speci...BreederDefinitiveSCS3BG4Breeding summer resident along the coast; declining until a few years ago, but recently has increase...Primarily a storm-carried visitor. Very rare at reservoirs, mainly during and after hurricanes; abo...No records.This species is not usually missed on coastal birding trips from May through Aug, though it isn't qu...***2023-10-20
Heermann's GullLarus heermanniThe thought of a strictly West Coast gull species like Heermann's Gull showing up along the Atlantic...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG4Three to roughly six records (see above), all along the coast, though possibly the same adult indivi...No records.No records.1/2*2023-10-20
Laughing GullLeucophaeus atricillaHistorically, the Laughing Gull was North Carolina's only breeding gull species; however, in recent ...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Breeding summer resident and migrant, and early winter resident. Coastally, very common to abundant...Transient, at larger reservoirs. Generally rare in spring and in fall migrations, at times locally u...Transient. Very rare during spring (11 records) and fall (mostly after storms/ hurricanes), essenti...It takes no effort whatsoever to find the species along the coast from Mar through Nov.****2023-10-20
Wilson's PhalaropePhalaropus tricolorThe Wilson's Phalarope nests in the western half of the continent, at lakes, ponds, and other wetlan...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, mainly along the coast; declining over the past 20 years. Coastally, very rare in spring...Transient. Casual in spring migration, with only four reports -- 30 Mar, and 1-18 May (no Apr recor...Transient, mainly known from Henderson, where casual to very rare in each season. Records fro...The species could formerly be found with some regularity only at the Pea and Bodie island ponds; now...* to **2023-10-20
WilletTringa semipalmataThe Willet is one of the few shorebirds that nests in North Carolina, and essentially the only one t...BreederDefinitiveS4B,S4NG5Permanent resident, with migratory movements, along the coast, breeding in salt and brackish marshes...Transient. Very rare in spring, and rare in fall; quite erratic, and many records in fall are of st...Transient, nearly all records at low elevations in the southern mountains. Very rare in spring, with...Willets are noisy and hard to miss along the coast for most of the year.****2023-10-20
Pacific Golden-PloverPluvialis fulvaOne of the more remarkable shorebird records for the state was the discovery of a Pacific Golden-Plo...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Five or six records, presumably of the same individual (see above) seen annually from 2019-23.No records.No records.Nearly all records have come in late summer or early fall from the sand and mud flats around the Sal...1/2*2023-10-20
American AvocetRecurvirostra americanaOver most of the world, various species of stilts (genus Himantopus) and avocets (genus Re...Accidental BreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter resident and migrant, coastally; accidental breeder, along the coast. Fairly common to commo...Transient. Rare fall migrant, and accidental/casual spring migrant, with most records from larger r...Transient. Very rare southbound migrant in summer and fall, with nine known records: 1, Cashiers (<...The only reliable spots are the impoundments at Pea Island NWR and less so at the adjacent Bodie Isl...***2023-10-20
LimpkinAramus guaraunaThe Limpkin breeds locally over much of the Neotropics, ranging north to Florida, and a few are now ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual to very rare (five records), all in the southern Coastal Plain. One seen along the Waccamaw ...Greatly increasing post-breeding(?) visitor, with now (2023) nine records -- though some are clearly...One report: One was seen and photographed at Owen Park in Asheville (Buncombe) on 8 Jul 2019...Your best hope of finding one in NC would be to paddle along a blackwater river in the southern Coas...*2023-10-20
Virginia RailRallus limicolaOnly a few decades ago, relatively little was understood of the Virginia Rail's habitats and range i...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S5NG5Permanent resident near the coast, with migratory movements; mostly a transient farther inland. As a...Mostly a transient, but scattered summer and winter records, where status at these two seasons is un...Poorly known transient (about 19 reports), with two known breeding records, and several reports of p...The descending grunting call is easily heard in migration and winter in tidewater marshes, especiall...***2023-10-20
Common MerganserMergus merganserThe Common Merganser is both a breeder and a wintering bird in the state, but with different "popula...BreederDefinitiveWS1B,S1NG5Winter resident. Rare and local over the northern half of the province, with a flock averaging at l...Winter visitor, though possibly a winter resident at Roanoke Rapids Lake; casual breeder. Rare in m...Formerly casual to now (2023) rare but increasing breeder; scarce winter visitor. Generally rare in...To best see this species, look at Phelps Lake in the winter, with a good scope. The wintering flock...** to ***2023-10-20
Greater ScaupAythya marilaOf our regular wintering waterfowl, the range and abundance of the Greater Scaup is more difficult t...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter visitor/resident. Uncommon along the northern half of the coast and in Tidewater; rare to un...Transient and winter visitor. Rare over most of the province, occurring almost solely on large lake...Transient and winter visitor. Rare in the southern mountains, from Buncombe southward. Casua...This can be a difficult bird to find and identify. Nowhere does it occur in NC in any numbers, and ...** to ***2023-10-20
Plumbeous VireoVireo plumbeusA few decades ago, the Solitary Vireo was split into three species -- from east to west the Blue-hea...NonbreederProvisionalSAG5One record (see above).No records.No records.1/2*2023-10-18
Ring-necked DuckAythya collarisThe Ring-necked Duck is the most common of the diving ducks in winter on the state's inland waters, ...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Winter resident. Generally fairly common, to locally common, both coastally and well inland. Unlik...Winter resident. Fairly common to common, and even locally very common, most numerous in the easter...Winter visitor/resident. Fairly common transient but only uncommon in winter; mainly at lower eleva...This duck can be found in large numbers on Raleigh lakes such as Wheeler and Benson It is found on ...*** to ****2023-10-18
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 ****2023-10-18
Mute SwanCygnus olorThis familiar Old World species is seen locally across the state at ponds, residential lakes, and ot...Nonbreeder; IntroducedDefinitiveSEG5Visitor, essentially only to the northern coast. Rare and now declining, primarily in fall and wint...Casual to very rare visitor, but nearly impossible to differentiate true migrants from "countable" p...Accidental or casual visitor; again, nearly impossible to determine a true stray/migrant from feral ...Your best bet is North Pond at Pea Island, just about the only semi-reliable spot for them. They ca...* to **2023-10-18
American GoshawkAccipiter atricapillusFor such a large hawk (being the state's largest Accipiter), the Northern Goshawk is remarkab...Nonbreeder (but Possible Breeder) DefinitiveSUBG5Visitor in migration and winter; about 33 reports. Rare, mainly in winter, to the northern coast (in...Visitor in migration and winter; only about 15 reports. Very rare to the northern half of the provin...Visitor in migration and winter; at least 20 reports. Very rare (though more numerous here than els...The species is much too rare to specifically search for, but people at hawk watches in the mountains...*2023-08-25
Wilson's WarblerCardellina pusillaThe Wilson's Warbler has a very wide breeding range, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and southward in m...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and rare winter straggler. In spring, very rare in the western portions, and casual to v...Transient, and very rare winter straggler. Rare to very uncommon in both spring and fall, generally...Transient. Very rare to rare in spring, and rare in fall. Mainly early to mid-May, and early Sep t...There are no real hotspots for the species, but Jackson Park in Hendersonville may be the best bet, ...* to **2023-08-10
Townsend's WarblerSetophaga townsendiThis close relative of the Black-throated Green Warbler breeds only from Alaska to the northwestern ...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Casual visitor, mainly in fall, with seven to eight published reports. Four have been reviewed and a...No records.The only record is of a first-year female photographed at the Richland Balsam Overlook, along the <...1/2*2023-08-10
Cape May WarblerSetophaga tigrinaThe Cape May Warbler has a breeding range similar to that of the Tennessee Warbler, being a classic ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and winter straggler. In spring, generally rare along the western border, but very rare ...Transient, and winter straggler. In spring, fairly common in the western third, uncommon in the cen...Transient. Fairly common in both spring and fall; in spring, mostly at low to middle elevations, bu...The best bets are perhaps the southwestern Piedmont, such as Polk, in spring, and along the B...***2023-08-10
Prothonotary WarblerProtonotaria citreaThe Prothonotary Warbler has often been called the "Golden Swamp Warbler", with good reason -- the m...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident. Breeds over the entire province, even sparingly on the Outer Banks. Common to ver...Summer resident. Fairly common in the eastern and southern portions of the region, especially aroun...Scarce transient. Rare transient in spring, and very rare in fall. In early summer, a few reports ...The species is impossible to miss along Coastal Plain rivers in the breeding season. Good areas are...****2023-08-10
Golden-winged WarblerVermivora chrysopteraThe Golden-winged Warbler, though it looks completely different from its closest "cousin", the Blue-...BreederDefinitiveSCS2S3BG4Transient. In spring, casual (i.e., essentially avoids the region); in fall, very rare throughout, ...Transient. Rare in both spring and fall, slightly more "numerous" in the western half of the region...Summer resident, and transient; decreasing. In summer, formerly fairly common, at least locally, ov...There are still a few places/roads where birders have a likely chance to see the species in a given ...** to ***2023-08-10
Bullock's OrioleIcterus bullockiiThe Bullock's Oriole is the western counterpart to the Baltimore Oriole. Originally classified as s...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual to (formerly) very rare winter visitor; most records prior to 2010. There are about 11 recor...Casual to very rare winter visitor. There are about 15 records, with 7-8 birds over-wintering. Rec...No records.Your first Bullock's Oriole will likely be seen at someone's feeder.1/2*2023-08-10
BobolinkDolichonyx oryzivorusThe Bobolink is in a monotypic genus, with no close relatives among the other icterids (blackbirds a...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Transient. In spring, uncommon to occasionally fairly common in the western portions, but generally...Transient, and accidental nester. In spring, fairly common over the region. In fall, less common t...Sparse summer resident, and transient. In summer, very rare and local (though nests persistently at...If one knows where the specific nesting meadows are in the mountains, it might be readily found. Ot...** to ***2023-08-10
Henslow's SparrowCentronyx henslowiiThe Henslow's Sparrow has always been one of the rarest sparrows in North America, and being a grass...BreederDefinitiveES1B,S1NG4Summer resident, and winter resident, over parts of the region; strongly declining. In summer, stil...Spring transient and former breeder; strongly declining. Currently, casual to very rare spring migra...Transient, and possible former breeder; strongly declining. Casual to very rare in spring; mainly A...The species can still be found at VOA site A, mostly in the eastern half of the site. Birds can be h...** to ***2023-08-10
Vesper SparrowPooecetes gramineusThe Vesper Sparrow, a species in its own genus, has a wide breeding range, from the Western states e...BreederDefinitiveSCS2B,S2NG5Winter resident and transient; strongly declining. In winter, formerly fairly common in the souther...Transient, and sparse and local winter resident; strongly declining. In winter, rare to very uncomm...Summer resident and transient; declining in migration. In summer, uncommon and very local, mainly o...Breeding birds are usually well away from roads and require some hiking to reach, such as at Pond Mo...** to ***2023-08-10
Cave SwallowPetrochelidon fulvaHardly any bird has expanded its breeding range in the United States in recent years as has the Cave...Nonbreeder DefinitiveSZG5Fall transient, and straggler into early winter, essentially along the coast; greatly increasing in ...Accidental to casual, with three records: a single bird seen at Troutman (Iredell) on 20 Dec ...Accidental, if correctly identified. One was photographed and observed by several birders at Ecusta...The best bet may be to search the catfish ponds near the Tidewater Research Station, and the adjacen...* 2023-08-10
Bank SwallowRiparia ripariaThe Bank Swallow has a range that not only encompasses most of North America (and wintering south to...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Transient. In spring, generally uncommon (but as it occurs in flocks, can be sporadic from week to...Transient, and accidental (at least former) breeder. Nested along the Roaring River near Ronda (...Transient, and breeder (currently?) at one site. Rare to uncommon in both spring and fall. Nests a...As the quarry site is likely off-limits to birders, one must stumble onto them in migration. The bes...**2023-08-10
Say's PhoebeSayornis sayaThe Say's Phoebe breeds over much of the Western United States and Western Canada, but it withdraws ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very rare fall migrant/stray, occasionally lingering into the winter; 13 records. One was seen near ...Casual; five or six records. One was seen near Raleigh on 23 Oct 1965 (Chat 30:28), (Chat 54:56). A...No records.The bird along Howerton Road in northeastern Guilford has been present for the past two falls...*2023-08-10
Western FlycatcherEmpidonax difficilisThere are three state records of this species of western North America. Several dozen years ago, th...NonbreederDefinitiveSAOne record (see above), though not yet reviewed by the NC BRC.Two records (see above), both accepted by the NC BRC.No records.1/2*2023-08-10
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...***2023-08-10
Crested CaracaraCaracara plancusThe Crested Caracara is essentially a non-migratory "falcon" of dry grasslands, prairies, ranchlands...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Two accepted records, one record pending review, and two other non-accepted reports (see above).No records.No records.1/2*2023-08-10
Tricolored HeronEgretta tricolorThe Tricolored Heron is the third of a trio of closely related and easily found coastal waders. Unl...BreederDefinitiveSCS2B,S3NG5Permanent resident along the coast, being migratory and thus more numerous in spring, late summer, a...Essentially only a post-breeding visitor, mostly Jul through Sep. Rare in the eastern portion, and ...Casual to very rare visitor. Five known records: 1, Ashe, 6 May 1962; 2, near the French Bro...It is seldom missed along the coast from Mar into early winter. As a post-breeding bird inland, a f...****2023-08-10
Red-footed BoobySula sulaThis Tropical waterbird, found in the warmer portions of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, had b...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5One record (see above).One record (see above).No records.1/2*2023-08-10
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 ...*2023-08-10
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...**2023-08-10
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 **2023-08-10
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 (a handful of birds only) in a local area; man...Casual. Five 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 **2023-08-10
White-tailed TropicbirdPhaethon lepturusTypically, one of the most exciting birds to spot on a warm season pelagic trip to the Gulf Stream i...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Offshore visitor. Rare though regular in the Gulf Stream (mainly seen off Oregon and Hatteras inlet...Casual visitor (5 records), essentially only after hurricanes -- single individuals only: Jordan Lak...No records.As with so many other species, one must take to the seas to see one, and that means taking pelagic t...*2023-08-10
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...***2023-08-10
Lesser Black-backed GullLarus fuscusHardly any other gull species' status in North Carolina has changed as rapidly over the last 20-30 y...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter visitor/resident, greatly increasing in recent years. Formerly (prior to about 1990), rare a...Winter visitor/resident. Rare to locally uncommon, but greatly increasing, at large lakes and landf...Casual. The only records are a first-year bird photographed at the Hooper Lane Sod Farms (Hender...This species is easy to find in the large gull flocks that congregate at Cape Hatteras Point from la...*** to ****2023-08-10
Black-headed GullChroicocephalus ridibundusAs mentioned under the Bonaparte's Gull account, the Black-headed Gull has a new scientific name, af...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, essentially only along the coast and in the Tidewater zone. Rare, and perhaps sligh...Casual to very rare; seven records. One adult seen in a flock of Bonaparte's Gulls at Jordan Lake o...No records.Black-headed Gulls are somewhat more likely to be found with Ring-billed Gulls than with other gulls...*2023-08-10
Black-legged KittiwakeRissa tridactylaThe Black-legged Kittiwake is one of just two (along with the Sabine's) essentially pelagic gulls th...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter resident offshore; clearly declining. From the late 1990's to about 2005, generally fairly c...Casual in late fall, with three records: an immature seen and photographed at Beaverdam Reservoir (<...Accidental: an immature was seen and photographed at Lake Julian (Buncombe) on the remarkably...If you take a pelagic trip from Cape Hatteras northward during the winter, you now have about a 50% ...**2023-08-10
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. Very rare to rare, in both spring and fall, usually seen only during and after storms, an...Transient. Casual/very rare in spring; the only records are 1 in Linville (Avery) on 17-18 M...Take a pelagic trip out of Hatteras or Oregon inlets -- either in the latter part of May, or in the ...**2023-08-09
Western SandpiperCalidris mauriThe third of three common "peeps" in the state, the Western Sandpiper is easily confused with the Se...Nonbreeder DefinitiveS4NG5Transient, and winter resident along the coast. Common to abundant on the coast in fall; in winter,...Transient. Very rare to rare in spring, and uncommon in fall, at least locally (such as at Falls an...Transient. Very rare in both spring and fall, nearly all records in valleys in the Henderson, Tr...The species is easily found along the coast from Jul to late fall.****2023-08-09
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). Flights are e...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 **2023-08-09
Stilt SandpiperCalidris himantopusThough the Stilt Sandpiper is a species in the genus Calidris, it looks hardly anything like ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, mainly along the coast. Uncommon in spring, and often fairly common to common in fall, a...Transient. Casual spring migrant, and rare to locally uncommon fall migrant (more numerous when ext...Transient. Casual in spring, and very rare in fall, with all but two published records so far from ...In Aug or early Sep, one has a good chance to see them at the impoundments at Pea or Bodie islands; ...** to ***2023-08-09
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...Casual, with just five records: one at Hooper Lane, Henderson on 4-5 Sep 2012* (Chat 77:6-10)...The best area to see this species is at Portsmouth Island in late summer and fall, but a boat is nec...** to ***2023-08-09
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 but regular in fall, along the entire coast, particularly the O...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 **2023-08-09
Black-bellied PloverPluvialis squatarolaThe Black-bellied Plover is one of the more familiar shorebirds of coastal areas, wintering in good ...Nonbreeder DefinitiveS5NG5Transient, and coastal winter resident. Common to very common in migration, and common in winter, a...Transient. Rare in fall, and very rare to rare in spring, in the eastern part of the province (such...Transient. Very rare (about 25 records) in the Henderson/Transylvania area of the southern m...This species is easily found along the coast except during Jun. Inland birds are most often found o...****2023-08-09
Black-necked StiltHimantopus mexicanusThe Black-necked Stilt is one of the most unmistakable birds occurring in North Carolina, resembling...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Summer resident and sparse migrant along the coast and in the Tidewater zone. A very local breeder (...Casual migrant or stray, mainly in late spring; 10 records. One was seen in Franklin on 5 Ju...Accidental, with two records. One was seen at Hooper Lane (Henderson) on 25 Sep 2004, presum...The best -- at least most accessible -- places to see this species are the impoundments at Pea Islan...***2023-08-09
Sandhill CraneAntigone canadensisThe Sandhill Crane is one of the largest birds, in terms of size (standing about 4 feet tall), and t...Accidental BreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient and winter visitor/resident, mainly along the coast and in tidewater areas; increasing. A...Transient and winter visitor. Very rare (formerly) to rare (now), increasing in recent years. Reco...Transient, mainly overhead; sparingly in winter. Rare to possibly uncommon migrant in the extreme s...Cranes are more likely to be seen in the state in Cherokee in late fall or early spring, wher...**2023-08-09
SoraPorzana carolinaThe Sora is the least shy of the six rails in the state and is the one most often seen in freshwater...Nonbreeder DefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident and transient near the coast, but farther inland mainly a transient. Fairly common ...Transient, with a few winter records. Mostly rare to uncommon (records fairly scarce, but easily un...Transient, with one winter record; one record suggestive of breeding. Generally rare, to perhaps lo...During Apr and early May, and again in fall, the Sora can be heard in many fresh to slightly brackis...***2023-08-09
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; apparently slowly declining. Generally com...Breeding summer resident. Fairly common but somewhat declining in the extreme eastern and southern ...Seemingly increasing in recent years. Probable breeding summer resident in very low elevation areas...Hearing this species is seldom a problem. Simply, drive around a little bit after dusk, or before d...***2023-08-09
BuffleheadBucephala albeolaThe male Bufflehead is one of our most attractive ducks. Thankfully for birders, the species is a c...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Winter resident. Common to locally abundant on Pamlico Sound, and nearby waters such as the embayed...Winter resident. Uncommon to fairly common, though common in a very few areas. Favors larger reser...Winter visitor or resident. Generally rare to locally uncommon, mostly in the lower elevations of t...This species is easy to find on most of the ferry runs near the coast, and it is also found on lakes...****2023-08-09
White-winged ScoterMelanitta deglandiBy far the least common of the scoters along the mid-Atlantic coast, the White-winged Scoter can be ...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter 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...**2023-08-09
King EiderSomateria spectabilisUntil the 1980's, the King Eider was a casual to very rare winter visitor to the state's coastal are...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Scarce winter visitor; declining. Very rare along the entire coast, though somewhat more likely fro...No records.No records.The finding tips for King Eider are identical to that of the Common Eider; look around jetties, or p...*2023-08-09
Mottled DuckAnas fulvigulaThis is the only dabbling duck (excluding Wood Duck) that regularly nests as a natural population in...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4A recent visitor, currently rare but records greatly increasing, to the southern half of the coast. ...One male was seen by multiple observers and photographed at Riverbend Park (Catawba), 24 Jul ...No records.Your best bet is to look at ponds at Twin Lakes in summer, fall, and winter. The large pond by the F...*2023-08-09
Eurasian WigeonMareca penelopeThis Eurasian breeding species winters regularly in small numbers both along the Pacific and Atlanti...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Rare (but annual) winter visitor to the Tidewater and northern coastal areas, though primarily at Bo...Very rare winter visitor in Wake, with roughly 10 records, but accidental to casual elsewhere...No records.To find the species, you must go to where the American Wigeons are found. The species can be found ...* to **2023-08-09
Northern ShovelerSpatula clypeataThe Northern Shoveler is one of the few species of waterfowl that has clearly increased in the state...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident; increasing. Generally fairly common, but locally common to very common, along the ...Locally uncommon fall and spring migrant, most frequent in Mar. Rare to locally uncommon in midwint...Rare spring and fall migrant, and very rare winter visitor, mainly in lower elevations. Late Oct to...It is easily found at most coastal NWR's, such as Mattamuskeet and Pea Island. You should be able t...****2023-08-09
Greater White-fronted GooseAnser albifronsThe Greater White-fronted Goose is a rare (but increasing) winter visitor across all portions of the...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, though not a winter resident (yet) like Ross's Goose and Cackling Goose. Most frequ...Winter visitor; very rare to now rare, somewhat increasing in recent years. Approximately 40 record...Winter visitor, notably increasing in recent years. Now rare in the southern mountains; no records ...There is a tendency for the species to appear with flocks of Canada Geese, both feeding in plowed fi...* to **2023-08-09
Ross's GooseAnser rossiiThe Ross's Goose is now a regular winter resident, in very small numbers, amid large flocks of Snow ...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG4Winter resident. Rare to locally uncommon but increasing in winter -- regular at a few sites -- in ...Winter visitor. Formerly casual; now rare but greatly increasing, with about 50 records. Scattered ...Winter visitor. Rare, but greatly increasing, in the southern counties, with about 41 records. All...In the past few winters, the species has been seen, generally with Snow Geese, in fields near Pungo ...**2023-08-09
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 seven records are from the s...Though notably declining along the immediate coast, Snow Geese can often be seen in winter at Pea Is...***2023-08-09
Blue GrosbeakPasserina caeruleaThe Blue Grosbeak breeds across the southern half to two-thirds of the United States, and winters in...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, with a few winter records. Common in summer across most of the province, but can b...Summer resident, with about 14 winter records. Common over the eastern and central portions, and fa...Summer resident at low elevations; little migratory movement through the region. In summer, uncommo...None needed in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain.****2023-05-19
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 ****2023-05-19
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...****2023-05-19
Yellow-rumped WarblerSetophaga coronataThe Yellow-rumped Warbler, often called the "Butter-butt", is arguably the most abundant warbler on ...BreederDefinitiveSRS1B,S5NG5Winter resident. Along the coast and in Tidewater near sounds, abundant in winter, particularly on ...Winter resident, with noticeable migratory movements. In winter, common in the southeastern half, a...Very sparse (and recent) breeder, widespread transient, and winter resident/visitor. In summer, rar...None needed near the coast in winter.****2023-05-19
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...**2023-05-19
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, as the province is generally east of the migration routes; some...Scarce, though a regular transient. Rare in southern mountain valleys, and casual in the northern h...Arrangements to access Open Ground Farms have always been tricky, and this is not a good option. Re...*2023-05-19
American Tree SparrowSpizelloides arboreaOf the several dozen species of sparrows in North America, the American Tree Sparrow is the hardiest...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor to the northeastern corner of the province. Scarce and declining, with few recent re...Winter visitor, declining. Very rare along the northern two tiers of counties, and casual farther s...Winter visitor, declining. Very rare in the northern counties, casual to very rare in the central c...To look for this species, work weedy fields in the coldest part of the winter, and pour over flocks ...*2023-05-19
Grasshopper SparrowAmmodramus savannarumThe Grasshopper Sparrow is another sparrow that breeds from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but it nest...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S1NG5Summer resident in most of the region, and scarce winter resident; declining. In summer, uncommon ov...Summer resident, with a few winter stragglers; declining. In summer, rare to uncommon across the re...Summer resident; declining. Rare to locally uncommon (formerly uncommon but widespread) over the re...Still can be heard and seen reliably in a few places; the two large Voice of America fields in south...** to ***2023-05-19