obx birding

The Outer Banks is an outstanding location for spotting a variety of birds. More than 400 species have been spotted here, with the majority of those numbers sighted in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Maritime forests at Kitty Hawk Woods, Nags Head Woods and Buxton Woods are good birding sites, along with Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary north of Duck. You can also visit the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service website for a list of northeastern North Carolina wildlife refuges.

Pea Island Bird Walks

Pea Island is for the birds- literally! Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on Hatteras Island offers guided bird walks year-round. The guide leads groups on a casual stroll along North Pond, and the birds you’ll see varies depending on the season. Meet at the Pea Island Visitor Center, 3.5 miles south of Oregon Inlet. Bring field guides and binoculars, if possible. Some binoculars and scopes are available for participants to borrow.

For information on guided tours, call 252.987.2394. For a list of other programs offered at Pea Island and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuges, including Guided Canoe Tours, Wolf Howlings, Bear Sightings and Turtle Talks, visit the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge website.

Wings Over Water

A six-day celebration of wildlife and wild lands in eastern North Carolina, this festival offers dozens of guided birding trips in the Outer Banks region, as well as guided paddling trips, hikes, photography trips, history programs and more. Programs are very reasonably priced and registration is easy. For information, visit the Wings Over Water website.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Bird Walks

During the summer and fall months, Cape Hatteras National Seashore typically offers morning bird walks through Bodie Island. These programs are dependent on annual funding. Call (252) 441-5711 to inquire or check the In the Park newsletter.

Purple Martin Roost


The Outer Banks is also home to one of the largest purple martin roosts in the eastern United States. In July and August, more than 100,000 martins roost under the Umstead Bridge crossing the Croatan Sound. Every night at sunset, the birds fly in and roost under the bridge for the night. At sunrise, they depart to feed for the day, building up their fat stores in preparation for their annual 2,600-mile migration to Brazil. The Coastal Carolina Purple Martin Society and the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge co-sponsor sunset-hour trips to see the birds arrive at the bridge. Visit the Purple Martin Roost website for more information.

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