Important Bird Areas

A Look Back at 2012 Important Bird Areas of the Month

Short-billed Dowitchers, Willets, and American Oystercatchers roosting on a shellbed island behind Lea-Hutaff IBA by Lindsay Addison

Each month we feature one of the 97 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in North Carolina on our blog. IBAs are places that provide essential habitat for one or more species of birds at some time during their annual cycle, including breeding, migration, and wintering periods. Reminisce about each IBA of the month from 2012 below. We are always looking for volunteers to help us monitor the 90+ IBAs around the state. Visit the Adopt an IBA page of our website to learn how you can get involved!

January IBA of the Month: Currituck Marshes-Pine Island

The Currituck Marshes-Pine Island Important Bird Area (IBA) is famed for its large number of wintering waterfowl and its importance to a vast number of migrants that require habitats where they can quickly restore depleted energy resources. This site also houses  Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Sanctuary and Audubon Center at Pine Island, a hub for Audubon conservation activities in the region.

February IBA of the Month - Amphibolite Mountains

Tucked away in the northwestern corner of the state, over 90 percent of this IBA is privately owned. This site supports significant populations of neotropical migrant songbirds, species of conservation concern, and watchlist species, including the largest concentration of Vesper Sparrows in North Carolina.

March IBA of the Month - Lea-Hutaff Island

Lea-Hutaff Island is one of the few unbridged, undeveloped barrier islands in North Carolina. Both a haven for birds and wildlife as well as a popular destination for beachgoers, the site consists of barrier island beach habitat, saltmarsh, and the associated inlets.

April IBA of the Month - Bull Creek

Home to one of North Carolina's most significant populations of  Cerulean Warblers, Bull Creek is a 5-mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville that runs from Lane Pinnacle Overlook (milepost 372.1) to Craven Gap (milepost 377.3).

June IBA of the Month - Bald Head–Smith Island

Bald Head-Smith Island IBA consists of a chain of barrier islands located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County. The Islands have been visited by 210 species of birds to date and are part of the Southport Christmas Bird Count.

July IBA of the Month - Highlands Plateau

The southern terminus of the higher elevation parts of the Appalachians, the Highlands Plateau is home to 90 or so breeding species including Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Red Crossbill.

August IBA of the Month - Beacon Island

In addition to being home to North Carolina’s oldest colony of pelicans, this small marshy island near Ocracoke Inlet is also a rich habitat for nesting birds such as American Oystercatcher, Laughing Gull, and Forster’s Tern.

September IBA of the Month - Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain IBA is one of the most diverse breeding grounds for birds in North Carolina and a popular state park. At least 118 breeding season species have been recorded and others are expected.

October IBA of the Month - Masonboro Island

4,831-acre Masonboro Island is one of the few remaining undeveloped and relatively undisturbed barrier islands along North Carolina’s coast. Blue crabs, flounder, and baitfish scuttle and school in winding creeks. Migrating birds like the Semipalmated Plover, American Oystercatcher, and Seaside Sparrow arrive in the fall.

November IBA of the Month - The New River Corridor

Spanning both Ashe and Alleghany counties near the Virginia border, this IBA is thought to be the oldest river system in North America and one of the oldest in the world. Residential housing is quite common in this IBA and only a narrow fringe of shrubs and trees between the river and farmland or housing remains in many places. These riverside habitats are one of the best areas in North Carolina for breeding Warbling Vireos and Baltimore Orioles.

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