Carl the Traveling Cardinal has landed at his first destination on his journey across the state – the Carolina coast! Carl is fluttering across North Carolina to raise awareness of and increase membership in Audubon North Carolina’s monthly giving program, the Cardinal Club. The Cardinal Club allows donors to make an influential, ongoing impact on Audubon's mission to protect treasured wildlife and ecosystems across the Old North State.
Carl began his visit by dropping in on the local bird-champions at Audubon NC’s coastal office. Lindsay Addison, Audubon’s resident Coastal Biologist, and Carl boarded a boat and sailed to Lea-Hutaff Island, a nearby designated Important Bird Area, to conduct a shorebird survey. Coastal surveys during migratory and winter periods are used to understand how the birds use coastal habitats locally. The data collected from surveys are used to develop or reevaluate Audubon’s monitoring priorities and conservation plans. The Lea-Hutaff IBA is a wintering site for many shorebirds that migrate south all the way from the Arctic. On their trip, Lindsey and Carl spotted over some Short-billed Dowitchers, newly arrived Bonaparte's Gulls, Sanderlings, Western Sandpipers, and over 800 Dunlin!
Psst, did you know? By joining the Cardinal Club for just $10 a month, YOU can fund a 6-hour coastal inlet
survey to monitor shorebird populations. Audubon protects 30% of North Carolina’s shorebirds!
Later during their exploration, Carl and ANC staff came across and rescued a trapped Brown Pelican on Lea Island. Entangled in discarded fishing line, the bird was unable to fly and very fortunate to be found. It is now recuperating at Skywatch Bird Rescue in Wilmington. Brown Pelicans are unmistakable with their large bodies and hefty throat pouches. Interestingly, they are the only truly marine, dark-plumaged pelican species. The oldest known Brown Pelican lived 43 years; but, Carl is betting that the one he and the ANC team saved will break that record no problem.
If you are gearing up for a coastal adventure of your own, be sure to keep an eye out for resident and migratory bird friends and share the beach with them! Some of Carl’s Piping Plovers pals love to flock to and party on the same shores that attract people. Regrettably, as a result, only 8,000 adult Plovers remain in the wild. These and other shorebirds depend on us to respect their environment so their babies can hatch and fledge. Carl encourages you to do your part to protect his friends by taking the pledge to share the beach with nesting birds.
Beyond sharing your prime sunbathing spots with coastal birds, you can also support their populations thrive by becoming a member of Audubon NC’s Cardinal Club. Your monthly donation ($5/month minimum) will stay in North Carolina to care for local flora and fauna – with a particular emphasis on birds. Giving a little bit every month adds up to a big annual donation and a huge impact on the continued safety and well-being of our favorite feathered friends.
Bonus! Become a Cardinal Club member by December 31st to receive your very own singing plush cardinal! Once you receive your bird, give him a name and share photos of your own quests with him on Facebook!