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August 6th, 2019

Birds of North Carolina

Bird watching is a popular hobby in America, and North Carolina is certainly a good example. The beautiful state of North Carolina is home to a diverse population of avian life that include colorful, plain, large, medium and small. Yes, the Tar Heel State seems to have them all! But regardless of where you live in America, anyone with a love for birds can watch them, whether you're young, old, male or female, everyone can have fun and learn from watching birds. And it's easy because birds are everywhere - in your backyard, at the park, in the hot desert, even on a ledge of a downtown building.

Reasons

There are several reasons for bird watching:

  • Kids can watch them for fun.
  • Adults can watch them for photography.
  • Researchers can watch them for science and fact gathering.

Bird Watching in North Carolina

There are many states in America that are good for bird watching, and North Carolina is a good place to start. If you're a longtime resident of North Carolina, then you're most likely familiar with the plethora of bird species that call North Carolina home. Many North Carolinians have the privilege of simply "glancing" through their window to see anything from the Yellow Warbler to the Buff-bellied Hummingbird.

Birds in North Carolina seem to have their favorite areas to hang out. People who are traveling through the state will notice three natural divisions - the Appalachian Mountains in the west (including the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains), the central Piedmont Plateau, and the eastern Atlantic Coastal Plain. So if you're new to North Carolina and just driving through, keep an eye out for the changes in bird species as the scenery changes. Let's take a look at the Brown-headed Nuthatch...

Brown-headed Nuthatch

This small bird is found all over the U.S. and is very well-known in North Carolina. An unassuming bird that's just under 4" long, the Brown-headed Nuthatch is proudly known to Audubon North Carolina as their quintessential southern bird. You can spot a nuthatch by its tiny frame, short tail, sharp bill, brown cap, bluish-grey outer feathers and whitish belly. It can be found in many areas of the Piedmont and coastal plain, living in old growth pine and urban forests. The nuthatch population has experienced a significant decline, but Audubon North Carolina is making efforts to prevent further habitat loss by encouraging NC residents to place a nest box in their backyards. They believe this will help to conserve the Brown-headed Nuthatch in the Piedmont and other areas.

Tundra Swan

Going inland a bit and North Carolina turns into a water foul paradise. The tundra swan is a beautiful sight to see, and hard to miss as it ranks as one of the largest birds in North America. It makes Lake Mattamuskeet it's winter hangout, a large yet shallow natural lake. The tundra swan is a beautiful solid white bird with a black bill and long neck, and is even more noticeable when they make their grand appearance in large numbers during winter, descending upon the waters from the frigid north.

Acadian Flycatcher

The Acadian Flycatcher population is doing very well over the entire state of North Carolina. Unlike a number of other Eastern forest birds, numbers of Acadian Flycatchers seem to be steady and not showing any decline. They are a small bird (smaller than a sparrow), and found primarily in hardwood forests, usually near water. Their length is about 5.5" to 5.7" - weight is 0.4 to 0.5 oz, wingspan is 8.7"-9.1". A cute bird with a rather energetic two-part chirping sound, and a pleasure to watch, especially during courtship when the male displays rapid aerial chases of the female through the trees. The nest is built by the female Flycatcher and is loosely made cup of grass, weeds, twigs and other plant fibers. The 15 species of this family were once all thought to be the same bird when first discovered in Acadia (present day Nova Scotia). The Acadian Flycatcher is an extremely maneuverable flier, an is able to hover and even fly backward.

Painted Bunting

Yes, the Painted Bunting is a flying plethora of colors. So beautiful in fact that there a several bright colors that cover it's head, breast, wings and tail feathers - royal blue head, red belly, green back and olive brownish wings and tail feathers. You might be lucky enough to see a painted bunting some day, so make sure to always have your camera close by!

State Bird of North Carolina

In 1943, North Carolina designated the northern cardinal as it's official state bird. The cardinal has always been a favorite among bird enthusiasts across America, and not just bird-lovers, but also popular among state governments. So popular in fact that 6 other state legislatures have named the cardinal as their state bird, including Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia and West Virginia.

Both the male and female cardinal are distinctly different in color, as the male cardinal is a bright scarlet red, while the female cardinal is more of a brownish color with a bit of reddish brown in the wings. Both are about the same size with a heavy bill.

First-Time Visitors

if you're a traveling bird enthusiast, North Carolina is a good state to visit. If you've never been there before, you might want to make plans to go there and experience the many bird species that call North Carolina home.

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