North Carolina Nature

Birding North Carolina

From a biogeographic perspective, North Carolina can be roughly broken into thirds, with unique birding and nature opportunities to be had statewide. In the west, the ancient Appalachians offer not only incredible vistas, but hosts species more common to the boreal forests in the far north such as Northern Saw-whet Owls, Red Crossbills, Ruffed Grouse, and dozens of breeding warblers. On the other side of the state, North Carolina’s long coastline provides a birder with excellent opportunities for various shorebirds, gulls, and waders along the state’s extensive barrier islands and marshes. More specifically, the Outer Banks offer incredible year-round birding from Roanoke Island all the way to Hatteras, and is also the gateway to the Gulf Stream. Taking a boat out to the continental shelf can net you incredible looks at shearwaters, storm-petrels, and the enigmatic Black-capped Petrel - this is the only place on the continent where it is reliably found.

The big middle - called the Piedmont – is where much of the state’s population lives, but there are plenty of birding opportunities there, with parks, reservoirs, and protected areas throughout. Habitat specific birds like Bachman’s Sparrow and Red-cockaded Woodpecker can be found in the Sandhills, a region of Longleaf Pine savannah in the south-central part of the state. In addition to birds, North Carolina can boast incredible reptile, amphibian, and plant diversity, including the only place in the world where you can find wild-growing Venus Fly-traps. Contributor: Nathan Swick/ABA Blog.

What to See in North Carolina


Notable Birds in North Carolina (click species name to see related articles)

  • Bachmann's Sparrow
  • Black-capped Petrel
  • Northern Saw-whet Owl
  • Red Crossbill
  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  • Ruffed Grouse


Notable Mammals and Other Wildlife


Other Attractions


Where and When to Go


Nature & Birding Hotspots in North Carolina

  • Pea Island NWR, Outer Banks
  • Mattamuskeet NWR, Hyde County
  • Jordan Lake, Chatham Co
  • Blue Ridge Parkway, many counties
  • Fort Fisher SRA, New Hanover Co


North Carolina Birding and Nature Tours


North Carolina Ecolodges/Accommodations


Best Time to Go


Visit North Carolina


Resources