Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Brown Noddy - Anous stolidus
LARIDAE Members:
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General Comments The Brown Noddy is a very common bird of tropical waters around the world, and a sizable breeding population nests on the Dry Tortugas of Florida. Despite it being numerous in the warmer months in the Bahamas and southern Florida region, unlike the Sooty Tern and the Bridled Tern this species is only rarely seen in North Carolina waters, and then mostly during and after hurricanes. The dozens of annual pelagic trips into the Gulf Stream usually fail to find a Brown Noddy, yet there are over a dozen records along our coastline right after the passage of a hurricane or tropical storm. The biggest known fallout came after the passage of Hurricane David, on 5-6 Sep 1979. And, there is even one inland record, after the passage of Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Pelagic visitor in the warmer months. Very rare along the coast and in offshore waters, mostly from Cape Hatteras southward; most records following hurricanes. Essentially accidental before Jul, with only three such records -- one on a pelagic trip off Oregon Inlet on 25 May 1991; a noddy (presumably of this species) on a pelagic trip off Hatteras on 5 Jun 2016; and one on a pelagic trip off Hatteras on 31 May 2017. Only a modest number of other pelagic records. No Tidewater or farther inland records. Nearly all records are for the period from 27 Jul to 23 Sep. Peak counts, all associated with Hurricane David: 10, Bogue Banks, 5-6 Sep 1979; 3, offshore (locale not specified), 9 Sep 1979; 3, Wrightsville Beach, 5 Sep 1979. Two on a pelagic trip out of Hatteras (Dare), 31 Aug 2018, and two on a trip off Hatteras, 23 Aug 2019, might be the only offshore reports of more than a single bird apparently not associated with a tropical storm.
Piedmont Accidental, with a single record: 3 seen at Lake Norman on 23 Sep 1989 [Chat 54:76 link], after passage of Hurricane Hugo.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips There are only two suggestions for seeing this species in NC. The best chance, however, is somewhat out of one's control. You must plan on being at the coast immediately after a hurricane's eye passes onshore. For all of us except those who already live or who have lodging at the coast, this strategy is a poor one, as security personnel typically keep non-property owners away from the coast during such times. The other strategy is to take lots of pelagic trips in Aug and Sep and hope, by chance, that one appears!
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-14], LeGrand[2020-02-08], LeGrand[2019-11-04]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.