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Bird Watching on the Outer Banks National Seashore

Bird Watching on the Outer Banks National Seashore


The North Carolina Birding Trail

The Outer Banks offer a variety of birding opportunities. Our coastline, marshes, waters and maritime forests provide a home for many types of birds and we are a "flyway" stopover for many migrating species. Novice or expert, the Outer Banks is a great place to indulge in your birding passion!

The NC Birding Trail is not a ‘trail’ in the traditional sense of the word. It is a series of locations throughout the state of NC for great birding sites. The NC Birding Trail is separated into 3 distinctive sections:

  1. Mountains-western state line to I-77
  2. Piedmont-I-77 to I-95
  3. Coastal-I-95 to the coast

The coastal portion of the NC Birding Trail has numerous birding sites to visit. Click on the individual links below for more information on each location, birds you'll see as well as the type of facility they offer.

  • Northern Outer Banks-includes Elizabethan Gardens, Roanoke Island Marsh Game Land, Jockey's Ridge State Park, Cape Hatteras National Seashore/Bodie Island and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge
  • Southern Outer Banks-includes Cape Hatteras National Seashore/Hatteras Island, Seabirding Pelagic Trips and Cape Hatteras National Seashore/Ocracoke Island
What's the difference between a Birder and a Birdwatcher?
According to Wikipedia the most basic distinction between a birder and a birdwatcher lies in the dedication and intensity of the individual. Birders tend to take the activity more seriously, often traveling for the sole purpose of birding. Using the term "birder" denotes a certain level of expertise and dedication.

What type of birds can I expect to see while I'm on the Outer Banks?

It depends on where you are and what time of the year you visit.  Check out these sites for a checklist of the different birds you'll see. 

What other birding sites are there in the state of NC?

The NC Birding Trail has a total of 102 hot spots for birding across the coastal region of the birding trail.  For more information on all sites visit


Birds play an important part in our delicate ecosystem.  Birds help pollinate flowers, aid in seeding, eat insects and more.  Educate yourself and find out how you can help keep the bird population in your area safe and healthy. Four basic changes that can help save the bird population in your area.

  • Provide cover.  Plant trees and bushes in your yard…birds need places to hide and rest.
  • Limit chemical use around your home. Healthier choices for pest control.
  • Plant native vegetation! Not only are they great for wildlife but native vegetation also generally easier and less expensive to maintain. 
  • Cats are the #1 threat to birds…if you’re unable to keep your cats indoors consider a bell collar which will alert birds to the cats presence.

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