Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
The 100 most recent account entries/updates.
Red CrossbillLoxia curvirostraThe Red Crossbill is another of the erratic "winter finches" in the East. Unlike with most of these...BreederDefinitiveSCS3B,S3NG5Winter visitor, and apparently accidental breeder; declining. Currently, very rare to rare across t...Winter visitor, and accidental breeder; declining. Currently, rare and erratic in winter; formerly ...Summer resident at higher elevations, and winter visitor to all of the region. In summer, rare to l...Though the species is erratic in summer, it has been somewhat regular in recent years at Mount Mitch...**2023-01-23
Black RailLaterallus jamaicensisAs notoriously secretive as the Yellow Rail, this species at least can be coaxed into view on occasi...BreederDefinitiveTTS1G3Permanent resident, with migratory movements, near the coast; decreasing in recent years. Seemingly...Poorly known breeder (at least formerly) and transient. Casual to very rare breeder, at least forme...Formerly casual breeder at low elevations; now essentially unknown/accidental. Formerly nested near...To hear a Black Rail, visit the Cedar Island marsh causeway (NC 12), or the Wanchese marshes east of...**2023-01-23
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 visitor. Four known records: 1, Ashe, 6 May 1962; 2, near the French Broad River in <...It is seldom missed along the coast from Mar into early winter. As a post-breeding bird inland, a f...****2023-01-23
DickcisselSpiza americanaAlthough there are numerous birds that are highly erratic wintering species in North Carolina and el...BreederDefinitiveSRS2BG5Sporadic and very local summer resident, and sparse winter visitor. In summer, very rare to rare ov...Sporadic and very local summer resident, and very sparse winter visitor. In summer, rare and sporad...Sparse transient; seldom in summer or winter. Despite many wide valleys with farmland at low elevat...From 2005 - 2018, the species has been easily found in summer at North River Farms, but this is a pr...**2022-12-23
Painted BuntingPasserina cirisThe adult male Painted Bunting is certainly the gaudiest-colored of North American songbirds. Thank...BreederDefinitiveSCS3BG5Summer resident along the southern coast, and sparse winter resident/visitor along the coast, even t...Very rare (but increasing) visitor, scattered over the year; 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 ****2022-12-23
Black-throated Green WarblerSetophaga virensThe Black-throated Green Warbler has a fragmented breeding range, thanks to a separate subspecies --...BreederDefinitiveE*S4BG5Summer resident, and transient. In summer, variously rare to locally common in the eastern third to...Sparse summer resident, and transient. In summer, formerly common (but decreasing due to loss/death...Summer resident, with migratory movements. Breeds over the entire region, but local; can be common ...Should be easily found in late Apr or May in many areas of the higher mountains, such as along the B...****2022-12-23
Swainson's WarblerLimnothlypis swainsoniiThe Swainson's Warbler is often 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...***2022-12-23
Purple FinchHaemorhous purpureusThe Purple Finch is one of the several "winter finches" that birders eagerly wait in anticipation to...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident; declining. Generally uncommon and irruptive across the region; can be somewhat rar...Winter resident; declining. Formerly fairly common, on average -- uncommon in some winters and ofte...Winter resident, but declining; possible summer resident (at least formerly). Generally uncommon an...This species can be difficult to find in some winters, and late winter (Feb or Mar) is usually best....**2022-12-23
Blue-headed VireoVireo solitariusLong known as the Blue-headed Vireo, in the 1970's its name was changed to Solitary Vireo, for no ob...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S3NG5Primarily a transient and winter resident; sparse breeder. In the nesting season, rare to uncommon ...Primarily a transient, but also a summer resident in parts of the region, and a sparse winter visito...Summer resident. Breeds essentially at all elevation levels, though more numerous (common) above 3,...The species is easily found in spring and summer in the mountains. Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway a...****2022-12-23
Olive-sided FlycatcherContopus cooperiThe Olive-sided Flycatcher has a very wide breeding range, in the boreal forests from Alaska to Labr...Former Probable BreederDefinitiveWSUG4Transient. Very rare in fall, and casual/accidental in spring; only about 16 records. The only two...Transient. Rare in both spring and fall, across the region. Primarily from early May to late May, w...Transient and former summer resident, with current "breeding" status undetermined. Many scattered re...This bird is too rare to expect to see one. Your best bet is to drive roads in the mountains, especi...*2022-12-23
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 (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...*2022-12-23
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; strongly declining, at least in fall. Along ...Fall stray/transient. Casual, with only nine records. Six of the records fall between 17 Sep and 2...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...*2022-12-23
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; over 42 records, from late Apr to m...Very rare visitor in the warmer months; about 22 records, with five coming in fall 2016 and three ea...Birders can usually spot one to several birds, along with some Mississippi Kites, either close to th...**2022-12-23
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). Rare and secretive, mostly in Ap...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...***2022-12-22
Reddish EgretEgretta rufescensThis is one of the very few wading birds on the state list that does not breed in North Carolina. T...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Primarily a post-breeding visitor, though a few birds have lingered into winter (or overwintered) in...Two reports. One was seen at a small lake 13 miles southeast of Charlotte on 27 Jul 1947 (Birds of N...No records.Your best bet for finding the species is to check around the inlets in Brunswick in Jul and A...*2022-12-22
Least BitternIxobrychus exilisThe Least Bittern is just as shy as its larger cousin, the American Bittern, but because it is much ...BreederDefinitiveSCS2S3BG5Summer resident and migrant; a handful of winter records. Occurs nearly throughout the Tidewater an...Transient and scarce summer resident. Rare (and easily overlooked) transient, and rare and local br...Casual to very rare transient, and perhaps has nested on rare occasions in the Hendersonville area. ...Most of the better sites are difficult for birders to reach. It is reportedly common as a breeder a...**2022-12-22
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 21 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.****2022-12-22
Neotropic CormorantNannopterum brasilianumThis species is found across most of Latin America, north into eastern Texas and Louisiana. There a...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5One record (see above).One record (see above).No records.1/2*2022-12-22
Great CormorantPhalacrocorax carboThe Great Cormorant is still another species that greatly increased in the East over the past severa...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Winter resident and visitor along the coast. Uncommon and local, mainly around inlets; generally fro...Very rare migrant and winter visitor. About 13 records, all at reservoirs in the eastern and centra...No records.The species is reliably seen at just a few places along the NC coast. Your best bet is at Wrightsvi...***2022-12-22
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...***2022-12-22
Wedge-tailed ShearwaterArdenna pacificaThis is a very common shearwater of the warmer Pacific and Indian oceans but is essentially absent f...NonbreederProvisionalSAG5One record (see above).No records.No records.1/2 *2022-12-22
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. Common and easily seen on most pelagic trips off Orego...No records.No records.This species is a gimme on pelagic trips that reach the Gulf Stream off the Outer Banks from late Ma...****2022-12-22
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. Three records: 3 at Jordan Lake, 6 Sep 1996 (after ...No records.This is seldom missed on pelagic trips from May into Oct. ****2022-12-22
Royal TernThalasseus maximusThe Royal Tern is the common large tern along the coast of the state for most of the year; however, ...BreederDefinitiveS4B,S4NG5Permanent resident (breeding), with migratory movements, along the coast. Common to very common alo...Essentially only a storm-related visitor, in late summer and fall, to lakes and reservoirs. Very rar...No records.Easily found along the coast from Mar to Nov, but less so in winter.****2022-12-22
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...****2022-12-22
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 ...*2022-12-22
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. Very rare, with ten records, all but two of single individuals: ...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...*2022-12-22
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...**2022-12-22
Long-tailed JaegerStercorarius longicaudusThe Long-tailed Jaeger is certainly one of the most elegant of the "pelagic birds", and an adult wit...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, essentially offshore. Rare to uncommon during a brief period in late spring, and rare ov...Casual visitor. Three records: one found dead under a TV tower near Raleigh on 26 Aug 1960; an adult...No records.This species is best seen by taking a pelagic trip to the waters of the Gulf Stream in the latter ha...* to **2022-12-22
Pomarine JaegerStercorarius pomarinusThe Pomarine Jaeger is our most familiar jaeger/skua, being a regular component of the pelagic avifa...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and sparse winter visitor/resident, offshore, and rarely along the coast. Often fairly c...Visitor to lakes and reservoirs, though a few records do not appear storm-related. Casual, with fiv...No records.This species is occasionally seen from shore along the coast, although it is less likely than the Pa...***2022-12-22
South Polar SkuaStercorarius maccormickiAlthough there are many more records in the state of this Antarctic region breeder than there are fo...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Offshore migrant and summer visitor. Rare to occasionally uncommon in late spring, mostly from the ...No records.No records.A trip to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream is necessary to have a good chance of seeing this speci...* to **2022-12-22
Buff-breasted SandpiperCalidris subruficollisThe Buff-breasted Sandpiper is one of our most beautiful shorebirds, and its dove-like appearance se...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Transient, only in fall. Very uncommon to occasionally uncommon on the Outer Banks, but generally r...Transient, only in fall. Rare to occasionally very uncommon (such as at extensive mudflats), scatter...Transient, only in fall. Rare but seemingly regular since 1996, in the Henderson/TransylvaniaThere are no consistent spots in fall to see the species. The turf farm just west of Creswell (Wa...**2022-12-22
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 47 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 *2022-12-22
Pacific Golden-PloverPluvialis fulvaOne of the more remarkable shorebird records for the state was the discovery of a Pacific Golden-Plo...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Four or five records, presumably of the same individual (see above).No records.No records.1/2*2022-12-22
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...***2022-12-22
King RailRallus elegansSlightly larger than the Clapper Rail, and the freshwater/inland counterpart of that species, the Ki...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S3NG4Permanent resident near the coast, with migratory movements; status farther inland poorly understood...Poorly known, but transient and local summer resident (at least formerly, when there were scattered ...Accidental stray/migrant. Two records: one, downtown Asheville (grounded migrant), 25 Apr 2002; and...This species is somewhat local, and because freshwater marshes are spottily located in some areas of...**2022-12-22
Clapper RailRallus crepitansThe Clapper Rail is, by far, the easiest rail to see in the state and is the most characteristic bir...BreederDefinitiveS4G5Permanent resident along the coast (tidal marshes); casual migrant elsewhere. Common to very common...Very rare transient in the eastern half of the province, but no records yet for the western portions...No records.The species is easily heard calling at dawn or dusk, and sporadically during the day and night, in m...**** 2022-12-22
Rufous HummingbirdSelasphorus rufusThe Rufous Hummingbird is the state's second-most numerous hummingbird, and though it breeds in the ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Transient and winter visitor. Very rare along the coast and in the Tidewater zone, mainly at feeders...Transient and winter visitor. Very rare to rare (essentially only at feeders) across the province, ...Fall transient and winter visitor, but primary in the fall season. Very rare, and mainly at feeders...One has a reasonable chance to see one during the year, but only by visiting a feeder with a known b...* to **2022-12-22
White-winged DoveZenaida asiaticaThe White-winged Dove is a common and well-known migratory game bird from Texas west to Arizona. Ho...Accidental BreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and accidental to casual breeder, mainly coastally. Formerly, a very rare to rare fall m...Casual visitor; eight published records, scattered over the region. Most are of single individuals ...Accidental; two reports -- neither yet reviewed by the NC BRC. One seen at Brevard College (Tran...Driving around Beaufort might yield a White-winged Dove. Otherwise, one to several typically turn u...* to ** 2022-12-22
Surf ScoterMelanitta perspicillataThe Surf Scoter is the most common of the wintering scoters in North Carolina, though it is often ou...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident. Locally common near the northern half of the coast and the Tidewater areas, south ...Transient and winter visitor. Rare on reservoirs and other large bodies of water; mainly mid-Oct to...Transient. Very rare to rare, with brief stop-over time; nearly all records from the southern mount...As with the Black Scoter, it is normally easy to find the species on the two Pamlico Sound ferries, ...*** to ****2022-12-22
Ring-necked DuckAythya collarisThe Ring-necked Duck is the most common of the diving ducks in winter on the state's inland waters, ...NonbreederDefinitiveS5NG5Winter resident. Generally fairly common, to locally common, both coastally and well inland. Unlik...Winter resident. Fairly common to common, and even locally very common, most numerous in the easter...Winter visitor/resident. Fairly common transient but only uncommon in winter; mainly at lower eleva...This duck can be found in large numbers on Raleigh lakes such as Wheeler, Benson, and Raleigh. It i...*** to ****2022-12-22
Northern PintailAnas acutaThe Northern Pintail is predominantly a coastal puddle duck, wintering in some numbers on shallow br...Accidental Breeder DefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident. Fairly common to locally abundant along the northern coast and Tidewater, south to...Rare to uncommon transient, mainly in Oct-Nov and Feb-Mar; rare in midwinter. No regular wintering ...Rare winter visitor, generally at lower elevations. Essentially late Dec to mid-Feb. Peak counts: 50...This species can be seen by the hundreds to occasionally the thousands at a few places near the coas...****2022-12-22
Northern ShovelerSpatula clypeataThe Northern Shoveler is one of the few species of waterfowl that is clearly increasing in the state...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Winter resident; increasing. Generally fairly common, but locally common to very common, along the ...Locally uncommon fall and spring migrant, most frequent in Mar. Rare to locally uncommon in midwint...Rare spring and fall migrant, and very rare winter visitor, mainly in lower elevations. Late Oct to...It is easily found at most coastal NWR's, such as Mattamuskeet and Pea Island. You should be able t...****2022-12-22
Black-bellied Whistling-DuckDendrocygna autumnalisThe Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a recent stray and visitor to the state, mostly to the coastal a...BreederDefinitiveSZG5Now a rare to occasionally uncommon but strongly increasing visitor to the southern coastal areas an...Very rare but increasing; about 15 known records, though records should increase greatly over the ne...Very rare but increasing; about 7 records as of 2021. A flock of 12 was seen and photographed at th...The species is most likely to show up in the Twin Lakes area of Brunswick, based on closest p...**2022-12-22
Ivory-billed WoodpeckerCampephilus principalisAs most birders are fully aware, the spectacular Ivory-billed Woodpecker is either extinct, or proba...Extinct; Former Probable BreederDefinitiveEESXG1One was captured alive in the early 1800's by Alexander Wilson and kept briefly in a hotel room. Th...No records.No records.2022-10-30
Lazuli BuntingPasserina amoenaAccidental; three confirmed records, with one other currently under review. An immature male was se...NonbreederDefinitiveSAG5Two accepted records (see above). One accepted record (see above); another from 2022 is to be reviewed.No confirmed records, but one under review.1/2*2022-09-14
Northern WaterthrushParkesia noveboracensisThe Northern Waterthrush is one of the few warblers that nests from coast to coast, though this rang...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and a very sparse early winter straggler. In spring, generally uncommon in the western ha...Transient. Uncommon to fairly common essentially across the entire region, in both spring and fall;...Transient. Mostly uncommon, at lower to middle elevations; presumably quite scarce over about 4,500...If you bird in suitable damp wooded areas over a several-day period in early May, or in Sep, you sta...**2022-09-14
Savannah SparrowPasserculus sandwichensisThe Savannah Sparrow is one of the more abundant sparrows in North America, nesting commonly in a va...BreederDefinitiveSRS2B,S5NG5Winter resident, with migratory movements. In winter, common to very common in the eastern third of...Winter resident, and transient. Apparently now (2021) nesting in parts of Wilkes, as a juveni...Summer resident, transient, and sparse winter resident. In summer, rare to uncommon in the northern...None needed; easy to find in winter, at least near the coast.****2022-09-14
Nelson's SparrowAmmospiza nelsoniIn 1995, the Sharp-tailed Sparrow was split into two species, instead of a potential three species. ...NonbreederDefinitiveS4NG5Winter resident coastally, and transient inland. In winter, common along the southern half of the c...Transient, scarce. Casual to very rare fall migrant, with the few records between 10 Sep and 14 Oct...Transient, scarce. Very rare in spring and fall. In spring, eight records -- 2 at Swannanoa, 25 May...The species is usually easy to find, especially at high tide, in marshes at Fort Fisher near the Aqu...***2022-09-14
Clay-colored SparrowSpizella pallidaThe Clay-colored Sparrow was primarily a "Western"/Midwestern" species until a few decades ago. How...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and sparse winter resident, mainly near the coast. In fall, rare to uncommon along the c...Transient, essentially in fall and winter. Very rare in fall and winter (about 16 records in fall a...Transient. Very rare in fall, winter, and spring, nearly all records in low elevations in the south...Your best bet is probably Fort Fisher in Sep and Oct. A few have been seen semi-regularly in winter...**2022-09-14
Mountain BluebirdSialia currucoidesThis is a widespread and generally common species of the higher elevations of the Western States and...NonbreederProvisionalSAG5One record. A male was photographed at Wrightsville Beach (New Hanover) essentially daily fr...No records.One record (see above).1/2 *2022-09-14
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...**2022-09-14
Common RavenCorvus coraxThe Common Raven is considered to be the largest passerine in the world. It also is the one occurri...BreederDefinitiveWS3G5Formerly (prior to 1932), accidental/casual visitor to the coast: 2, Beaufort (Carteret), 4 J...Present, but scarce, all year over much of the province, occasionally breeding; mainly since about 1...Permanent resident, with migratory movements rather imperceptible. Little distributional change ove...Though uncommon number-wise in the mountains, it can be heard calling at long distances, so not hard...***2022-09-14
Black-whiskered VireoVireo altiloquusFor a species that nests in the West Indies and north to the western and southern coasts of Florida,...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Casual to very rare along and near the coast, in spring; a remarkable 13+ records so far. One was s...No records.No records.If one is birding along the southern coastline in May or early June, especially on islands, it doesn...1/2*2022-09-14
Say's PhoebeSayornis sayaThe Say's Phoebe breeds over much of the Western United States and Western Canada, but it withdraws ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very rare fall migrant/stray, occasionally lingering into the winter; 12 records. One was seen near ...Casual; four or five records. One was seen near Raleigh on 23 Oct 1965 (Chat 30:28), (Chat 54:56). ...No records.1/2 *2022-09-14
Gray KingbirdTyrannus dominicensisThe Gray Kingbird is somewhat the Southern version of the Eastern Kingbird, being mainly a bird of F...Accidental BreederDefinitiveSZG5Stray/transient, essentially along the coast, and accidental/casual breeder. As a visitor, very rar...Casual. There are only three records, from Umstead State Park (Wake) on 16 Apr 1959 (Chat 23...No records.This is a long shot, but your best bet is to drive roads along the southern coastal islands, in late...*2022-09-14
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 31 reports. Very rare, with a concentration of records in the Raleigh...Winter visitor, with at least 18 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 **2022-09-14
Broad-winged HawkButeo platypterusThe Broad-winged Hawk is famous for its strongly migratory habits, as it completely leaves the Unite...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Migrant and scarce summer resident. Uncommon spring migrant, and rare to uncommon fall migrant, ove...Summer resident and migrant. Mostly uncommon migrant (spring and fall); rare to (formerly) very unc...Summer resident and migrant. In summer, uncommon to fairly common, and reasonably widespread, over ...If you visit a hawk-watch site in the mountains in fall, such as Pilot Mountain, you might be able t...***2022-09-14
Mississippi KiteIctinia mississippiensisMississippi Kites are a major success story in North Carolina and elsewhere in their breeding range,...BreederDefinitiveS3BG5Summer resident, breeding. Occurs primarily close to brownwater rivers, and most numerous along the...Increasing stray or overshooting migrant, as well as a post-breeding visitor; breeds at a few local ...Rare migrant/visitor (increasing) in the southern mountains (about 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...***2022-09-14
White-tailed KiteElanus leucurusThe White-tailed Kite is another beautiful raptor, with a very graceful flight, hovering over fields...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Accidental visitor; four records, three accepted at the present time. One seen near Wilmington, 3 J...No accepted records. There is one published report mentioned in Pearson et al. (1959).One record: an adult seen at the Shining Rock Wilderness, 23 Jul 1993* (Chat 59:26-27).1/2*2022-09-14
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 to very rare visitor; with only seven known reports. One seen at Altamont (Avery) on 1...This species has been somewhat more difficult to find along the coast in the spring to fall seasons ...***2022-09-14
White IbisEudocimus albusOne of the most common of our coastal wading birds, the White Ibis has increased dramatically in the...BreederDefinitiveWS3B,S3NG5Year-round breeding resident along the coast, with migratory movements. Common to locally very comm...Post-breeding visitor, essentially only in summer and fall. Rare to uncommon along the eastern edge...Post-breeding visitor. Rare at low elevations in the southern mountains; very rare in the central a...This species is difficult to miss along the coast, at mudflats, shallow waters of ponds and inlets, ...****2022-09-14
American White PelicanPelecanus erythrorhynchosThis spectacular and huge species, which nests in the Great Plains and the Western states, has under...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG4Migrant and winter visitor, most frequent along the northern coast and Tidewater; increasing. Coast...Rare (but increasing) migrant and winter visitor. Most are from large reservoirs, early Sep to mid-...Very rare migrant, with at least 11 records, nearly all from the southern mountains; records and num...Fortunately for the birder, individuals of this species often linger for a month or more in NC. Form...***2022-09-14
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 breeder along the eastern edge of the region. Primar...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 ...***2022-09-14
Brown BoobySula leucogasterThe Brown Booby is (or at least was a few years ago) a rarer bird off our coast than is the Masked B...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Nonbreeding visitor, mainly offshore in the Gulf Stream, but there are quite a few records from shor...Casual, with five records. An adult female was seen and photographed on many dates at Lookout Shoal...No records.As with other rare pelagic species, you will have to take dozens of trips out of Oregon Inlet or Hat...*2022-09-12
Masked BoobySula dactylatraAs with the tropicbirds, the two boobies recorded in North Carolina waters also are rare enough, and...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Nonbreeding visitor, mainly offshore in the Gulf Stream. Rare from early Jun to mid-Sep; very rare ...No records.No records.Finding the Masked Booby in North Carolina is a matter of persistence; you must be prepared to take ...*2022-09-12
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, but with no confirmation as yet. One seen at Falls Lake (Wake/Durham) af...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 ***2022-09-12
Fea's PetrelPterodroma feaeThe Fea's Petrel, as with the Trindade Petrel, has a checkered taxonomic history and has also underg...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG1G2Offshore visitor. Distribution is very similar to that of the Trindade Petrel, however it is very s...No records.No records.Fortunately for the birder, the records for the species are mostly clumped into a one-month span; th...* to **2022-09-12
Trindade PetrelPterodroma arminjonianaThis species has a checkered taxonomic history, in part because what is considered as the "Herald Pe...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG4Offshore visitor. Rare but regular in the warmer months, seen a handful of times annually, with wel...No records.No records.You need to take a birding pelagic trip off Hatteras or Oregon inlets. Late May into early Septembe...* to **2022-09-12
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 **2022-09-12
Yellow-nosed AlbatrossThalassarche chlororhynchosThe sight of any albatross off the Atlantic coast is a highlight in any pelagic birder's career, as ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG3Casual visitor. Four confirmed records, all by photographs: one a few miles off Salvo (Dare),...No records.No records.The species is too rare to specifically look for -- but on winter pelagic trips, carefully look at a...1/2 *2022-09-12
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...*2022-09-12
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...Very rare storm-carried visitor. Seven records: one at a parking lot in Shelby on 22 Sep 1989 (afte...No records.Your best bet, by far, is to take a pelagic trip out of Oregon or Hatteras inlets in the latter half...**2022-09-12
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...**2022-09-12
Heermann's GullLarus heermanniThe thought of a strictly West Coast gull species like Heermann's Gull showing up along the Atlantic...NonbreederProvisionalSAG4Two records (see above). No records.No records.1/2 *2022-09-12
Atlantic PuffinFratercula arcticaThe Atlantic Puffin is one of the most charismatic waterbirds in North America, very popular with th...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor/resident, essentially only offshore. Formerly very rare, but now uncommon and increa...No records.No records.Take a pelagic trip out of Hatteras or Oregon inlets in winter. In recent winters, several trips usu...**2022-09-12
RazorbillAlca tordaBy far the most numerous alcid in North Carolina waters is the Razorbill. In some recent winters, h...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Winter resident offshore and coastally, increasing. Formerly (prior to 1995) rare along the coast, ...No records.No records.The Razorbill is now seldom missed on winter pelagic trips, but on some trips the birds are infreque...***2022-09-12
Thick-billed MurreUria lomviaQuite similar to the Common Murre in appearance and in overall habits, the Thick-billed Murre is a s...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, essentially coastal (inshore ocean); perhaps slightly declining in recent years, tho...No records.No records.You will just have to luck into one along the coast in winter, though a more careful observer who sc...1/2* to *2022-09-12
Common MurreUria aalgeFor a seemingly interminable time, North Carolina went without a record of this very common alcid. ...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Very scarce winter visitor offshore and along the coast; now (2022) rare off Oregon Inlet and Cape H...No records.No records.The increase in sightings in the past decade is gratifying for pelagic birders, but whether this sig...*2022-09-12
Parasitic JaegerStercorarius parasiticusThough the Parasitic Jaeger is probably more numerous globally than the Pomarine Jaeger, in our wate...NonbreederDefinitiveS1NG5Transient, and poorly-known winter visitor/resident, to the offshore zone and the inshore ocean. Un...Visitor to lakes and reservoirs, mostly storm-related. Casual to very rare, with six records: 1 at ...No records.This species can be seen from shore almost anywhere along the coast, though Cape Lookout and Cape Ha...**2022-09-12
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 ...**2022-09-12
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...**2022-09-12
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 ...**2022-09-12
Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpresExcept for the closely related Black Turnstone of the Pacific Coast, the Ruddy Turnstone is a rather...NonbreederDefinitiveS3NG5Transient and winter resident, mainly along the coast. Common migrant along the coast, though seldo...Transient. Very rare in spring, and rare in fall, mainly at large reservoirs. In spring, only in M...Transient. Very rare in spring and fall, with all records from Henderson except for a single...Turnstones are widespread along the coast, at least during the migrations, and are easily found, exc...****2022-09-12
Marbled GodwitLimosa fedoaThough this species is a godwit, it has quite a few similarities to the Long-billed Curlew; both bre...NonbreederDefinitiveS2NG5Transient and winter resident, essentially along the coast. Uncommon to locally fairly common fall m...Fall transient only. Very rare (about 19 records) at reservoirs, where birds put down at night duri...Casual transient, in spring and fall. The only records (five) are of 2 birds, Hooper Lane (Hende...This species can usually be found along the coast in Aug and Sep, less so later in fall and winter. ...***2022-09-12
Long-billed CurlewNumenius americanusThe Long-billed Curlew is the largest shorebird in North America, in length, and, considering the ex...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient and winter visitor/resident, declining in recent years (though never numerous). Formerly ...No records. As this species obviously migrates over the province in spring and fall to its breeding...Accidental. The only far inland record for the state is one photographed at Hooper Lane (Henders...The best places in recent years have been flats at or near the eastern end of Shackleford Banks, at ...**2022-09-12
American Golden-PloverPluvialis dominicaUnlike its slightly larger cousin, the Black-bellied Plover, the American Golden-Plover is a good fi...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. Very rare in spring, rare in fall, along the entire coast, particularly the Outer Banks; ...Transient. Casual in spring (only about four records), rare but annual in fall, over most of the pr...Transient, but nearly all records are from Hooper Lane/Mills River area in Henderson, where v...The species is best located in Sep and Oct, especially after cold fronts. A few birds are present e...* to **2022-09-12
American OystercatcherHaematopus palliatusThe American Oystercatcher is one of the more spectacular shorebirds and is one of the few that rema...BreederDefinitiveSCS2S3B,S3NG5Breeding permanent resident along the coast, with migratory movements; slightly declining. Generall...Casual stray/vagrant, with only three records; 2, Roanoke Rapids Lake, 25 May 1998 (Chat 62:192); 1,...No records.This species is fairly easily found on barrier islands, such as at inlets, tidal flats, and especial...*** to ****2022-09-12
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 ...Seven records -- though some are clearly of the same individual bird. One was seen and photographed...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...1/2 *2022-09-12
Purple GallinulePorphyrio martinicusThe beautiful Purple Gallinule has always been at the northeastern periphery of its breeding range i...BreederDefinitiveSRS1BG5Sparse and irregular visitor, and former (to possibly current) breeding summer resident; casual to v...Stray (about 10 records). Casual in migration; mainly May-Jun. Two other records: 1, Camp Grayston...Accidental stray (three records): 1 found in emaciated condition, Hazelwood (Haywood), 18 Apr...Formerly, one could see the Purple Gallinule from the causeway at Orton Plantation. However, the ve...*2022-09-12
Western GrebeAechmophorus occidentalisWestern Grebes, and their close "cousin", the Clark's Grebe, are among the most elegant of waterbird...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Winter visitor, with about 20 records. Very rare along the northern coast, south to Cape Hatteras (b...Winter visitor. Casual, with apparently six records: 20 Dec 1961, Lake Johnson (Wake); 11-17...Accidental: one seen on Lake Julian (Buncombe) from 14-15 Dec 2002 (Chat 67:61).This species is too rare to offer tips in North Carolina. The only tip is that, once you find one, ...*2022-09-12
Common MerganserMergus merganserThe Common Merganser is both a breeder and a wintering bird in the state, but with different "popula...BreederDefinitiveWS1B,S1NG5Winter resident. Rare and local over the northern half of the province, with a flock averaging at l...Winter visitor, though possibly a winter resident at Roanoke Rapids Lake; casual breeder. Rare in m...Formerly casual to now (2022) rare but increasing breeder; scarce winter visitor. Generally rare in...To best see this species, look at Lake Phelps in the winter, with a good scope. The wintering flock...** to ***2022-09-12
Rose-breasted GrosbeakPheucticus ludovicianusThe Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a bird of the cooler hardwood and mixed forests of the eastern parts o...BreederDefinitiveS3S4BG5Transient. In spring, rare to uncommon along the western margin of the province, but generally rare...Transient. In spring, uncommon to at times fairly common in the western portion, but uncommon over ...Summer resident and transient. Fairly common (and common in a few ranges) in summer at middle to hi...You should be able to find the species in a morning of birding along the Blue Ridge Parkway at eleva...*** to ****2022-04-27
Western TanagerPiranga ludovicianaThe Western Tanager is a rare visitor and over-wintering "resident" in North Carolina, but it occurs...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Scarce "transient" and winter visitor, with close to 95 records. Very rare to rare in winter along ...Scarce "transient" and winter visitor, with well over 30 records. Very rare visitor, mainly from ea...Casual visitor. Only about six records, though only one since 1991. Oddly, the dates are "strangel...You likely will see your first in the state at a feeder near the coast.*2022-04-27
Summer TanagerPiranga rubraThe Summer Tanager is a characteristic bird of the Deep South, nesting north only to southern New Je...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, and winter straggler. Common in the southern half of the region, from the Croatan ...Summer resident, with a few winter records. Fairly common to common over most of the region, more n...Sparse summer resident, with little migratory movement noted. Uncommon in the extreme southwestern ...None needed in the southern Coastal Plain, such as in the Sandhills Game Land, Weymouth Woods Preser...****2022-04-27
Yellow-throated WarblerSetophaga dominicaThe Yellow-throated Warbler is a "Southern" warbler, as it breeds in the eastern United States only ...BreederDefinitiveS5BG5Summer resident, and sparse winter resident near the southern coast. In summer, common over most of ...Summer resident, and very rare winter straggler. In summer, fairly common to locally common in the ...Summer resident. Uncommon along rivers and streams at low elevations, essentially below 2,500 feet;...The species is easily found in many parks and preserves, and Croatan National Forest, in the southea...****2022-04-27
Blackpoll WarblerSetophaga striataThe Blackpoll Warbler, at a glance at its breeding range, would seem to have a similar migration pat...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient. In spring, fairly common over most of the region, likely less numerous in the central an...Transient. Fairly common (formerly common) across the region in spring; in fall, generally uncommon...Transient. Fairly common in low to middle elevations in spring; rare at high elevations. In fall, g...Normally not hard to find between 5-20 May, especially around 10-15 May, in many parks in the state....***2022-04-27
Yellow WarblerSetophaga petechiaThe Yellow Warbler has one of the most extensive breeding ranges of any warbler -- across nearly all...BreederDefinitiveS4BG5Transient, and sparse breeder; a few winter records. In summer, formerly uncommon, but now apparent...Summer resident (strongly declining), and transient. In summer, now rare to uncommon in the western...Summer resident (strongly declining), and transient. In summer, fairly common to formerly common in...Driving back roads in the [open] "country" in the mountains in May and Jun should yield a few Yellow...***2022-04-27
Nashville WarblerLeiothlypis ruficapillaThe Nashville Warbler, along with the Tennessee Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, and several Western...NonbreederDefinitiveSZG5Transient, and scarce straggler into early winter. Very rare in spring (essentially avoiding the re...Transient, and a very scarce straggler into early winter. In spring, rare in the western and centra...Transient; one recent record of a potential breeding bird. Rare to occasionally uncommon in spring, ...Pure migrant species can be hard to pin down in time and place, depending on cold fronts in fall, et...**2022-04-27
OvenbirdSeiurus aurocapillaThe Ovenbird recently "lost" its two nearest relatives -- the Louisiana and Northern waterthrushes -...BreederDefinitiveS5B,S1NG5Summer resident, and sparse winter visitor/resident. In summer, generally common over the northwest...Summer resident. Common over the region as a whole. Reasonably widespread, and common also in foot...Summer resident. Common at low to middle elevations, to about 4,000 feet, and fairly common to abou...None needed; easily heard in a morning of birding in most areas of the state in May and Jun.****2022-04-27