Ocracoke Island is a birdwatcher’s dream. More than 400 species have been observed here, including rarities blown in from major storms. Much like the people on the island, some birds are year-round residents, seasonal visitors, or just passing through on their way farther north or south.
During the summer months, you’ll see Brown Pelicans and several species of gulls and terns flying overhead. Near the surf, you’ll find scurrying Sanderlings and stately Willets. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is home to Eastern Meadowlarks, Boat-tailed Grackles, White Ibis, and several species of herons and egrets. In fall, you might spot a Peregrine Falcon or Double-crested Cormorant, while winter brings Snowy Owls and Northern Gannets.
Appreciating birdlife can run from casual interest to hardcore birding—Ocracoke has participated in the annual Audubon Bird Count since 1981. Binoculars and a spotting scope make for the easiest viewing. And as with all wildlife, don’t get too close. This island is their safe space after all.