Spring Birding in NC’s Brunswick Islands

plovers - birding

The beginning of spring is just days away and with it’s promise of warmer weather, spring also means the beginning of migration and nesting seasons for birds. The five barrier islands that make up NC’s Brunswick Islands – Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island and Bald Head Island- encompass a large network of bird sanctuaries.  Situated along the coast of Southeastern North Carolina, the Brunswick Islands’ varied ecosystems make it a natural haven for hundreds of species of birds. In fact, there have been more than 330 species of birds spotted in Brunswick County.  Brunswick County is also home to eight of the birding sites along the North Carolina Birding Trail!

white ibis

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has more than 45 miles of unspoiled shoreline, pristine estuaries, and salt marshes that sustain a wide variety of wading birds and shorebirds during the spring nesting season.  Battery Island, located in the Cape Fear River across from the Southport waterfront, alone is home to nearly 10 percent of the North American population of White Ibis. White Ibis is one of the most visible and prolific species with their bright white plumage that contrasts the colors in the sky. In 2012, there were more than 5,000 documented nesting pairs of this species on the six-acre island. Battery Island is a bird sanctuary protected by the National Audubon Society.

Black Skimmers - birdingIn addition to White Ibis, other shore birds and wading birds visitors to the Brunswick Islands are likely to encounter include several species of terns and gulls, American Oystercatchers, Black Skimmers, Plovers, Egrets, and Herons. Away from the shore, in nature preserves such as the Green Swamp PreserveEv-Henwood Nature Preserve, and Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve, visitors may see a variety of warblers and sparrows as well as Brown-headed Nuthatches, Summer Tanagers, and Indigo Buntings.

More on birding and bird walks in the Brunswick Islands with Greg Loomis with Wild Bird & Garden in Southport:

We spoke with local bird enthusiast, Greg Loomis with Wild Bird & Garden in Southport about bird walks, birding in the area, and some of his favorite bird spots. His answers are shared below.

How can a visitor to Brunswick Islands get involved in birding?

“Wild Bird & Garden hosts free monthly bird walks that are open to residents and visitors. These bird walks are held on the third Wednesday of every month at 8:30 a.m. Our group walks down to the waterfront of the Southport Riverwalk & Pier. The people who participate on these walks are so knowledgeable and passionate about birding, some can even identity the type of bird by their song alone.”

What species of birds can participants on these walks expect to see?

“We see a lot of different birds on these walks including White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Seaside Sparrow, Painted Bunting, Carolina Chickadees and more.”

What is the rarest bird that you have encountered on a bird walk in the area?

“I once saw a painted bunting in Southport!” (For those who don’t know, painted buntings are one of the most spectacularly colored and visually impressive birds in the United States. Males can be easily identified by their blue head, green back, and red rump and belly. )

Are there any suggested materials or equipment participants should bring on the bird walks?

“We suggest that guests bring a pair of binoculars, but visitors or residents are able to rent them from Wild Bird & Garden if they don’t bring a pair with them.”

To learn more about birding in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and to plan your trip, visit www.NCBrunswick.com

Follow NC’s Brunswick Islands on social media at www.facebook.com/NCBrunswick/and www.instagram.com/ncbrunswickislands/

 

Experience Marsh Madness in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

as spring rounds the corner, and everyone is caught up in the madness happening on the basketball court, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands beckons both new and returning visitors to look for exciting activities and hidden treasures nestled within the Brunswick Islands. Here, you are the coach. Get off the bench and get involved in Marsh Madness at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands!

Kayak Through the Marsh

Go on a guided kayak tour through the marshes and waterways around the Brunswick Islands and check out the wildlife that calls the marsh home.  Take a trip to Bird Island, venture down the Intracoastal Waterway, or take a twilight tour to watch the sunset over the marsh.  Excursions are available for all experience levels and ages – including first timers – and guides provide a wealth of knowledge about local wildlife and history.  Or rent a kayak and head out on your own.

DSC_0126_OIB Paddleboard_LRPaddle Your Way to Adventure

Visitors can also try their hand at stand-up paddle boarding. Take a break from the waves and paddle the Intracoastal Waterway, creeks or island canals. Outfitters will deliver and pick up any rentals directly to your condo or beach house. If you are new to the sport, sign up to take a lesson.

Catch a Meal

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a top hot spot for salt and freshwater fishing on the East Coast. Depending on the season, fishermen can find red drum, black drum, specked trout, sheepshead, flounder, redfish, shrimp and mullet in the marshes. You can also try your hand at a favorite family activity and go crabbing off a canal or waterway dock.

Spot a Bird

IMG_6999 largeFor bird enthusiasts, or visitors simply seeking to soak in nature’s bounty, the marshes in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are home to a multitude of bird species. Common sightings include great blue heron, little blue heron, green heron, great egrets, snowy egrets, clapper rail, white ibis, American oyster catchers and many more. There are eight sites in Brunswick County included in the North Carolina Birding Trail perfect for spotting the 330 bird species known to inhabit the various Brunswick County ecosystems.

Beat the buzzer, and don’t miss Marsh Madness at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.