August 16, 2021
By Chelsea Reed
The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a truly special place, and not just for people, but for birds too! Did you know it is one of the great bird sanctuaries on the East Coast? From year-round residents to migratory birds, It is home to more than 400 species altogether. Naturally, this makes the Outer Banks one of the best places for bird watching in the United States.
Whether you are a bird-watching veteran or are curious about getting into the hobby, these four classic bird species are always fun to watch.
This majestic bird is the largest heron in North America! It stands four feet tall with a huge six-foot wingspan. They fly surprisingly fast for their size, about 30 mph. Great Blue Herons can be found fishing anywhere there is brackish water on the Outer Banks. Popular Great Blue hangouts include local creeks, ponds, and the marshy Soundside.
Who can’t birdwatch a pelican? These birds are super easy to spot on the ocean beaches and are a delight to observe. The most common sighting is the Brown Pelican. The tougher-to-spot American White Pelican also lives in the Outer Banks. And then there’s the legendary Black Pelican, whose namesake is...you guessed it, the Black Pelican Restaurant. This mythical bird helped the Lifesaving Station succeed in its ocean rescues. But that story is for another day.
Seagulls are everywhere in United States coastal areas, but there’s undoubtedly something special about the ones you see here in the Outer Banks. Several species call this place home, including the Herring Gull, Lesser Black Back Gull, Ring-Billed Gull, Great Black Back Gull, and Laughing Gull. Laughing Gulls are very fun to watch if you spot them year-round. They will gradually transform their mottled winter “outfit” into their handsome black, white, and red-billed summer plumage!
Sandpipers are very social creatures. You’ll rarely see them alone! These little guys have short legs and round sand-colored bodies. They spend their days flapping and running around digging their beaks into the sand for their next meal. This etching in particular perfectly captures the hurried behavior of sandpipers.
Four bird species barely scratch the surface of the 400 that visit the Outer Banks. From Spring to Winter, there is always feathered wildlife to discover in our natural areas. You can spot more beautiful birds at Seaside Art Gallery...in the form of artwork! And the best part is, these birds will never fly away from you.
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