15th Annual Wings Over Water Festival: Nov. 8-13

Mark your Calendars!  The 2011 Wings Over Water Festival will take place November 8-13.  This annual festival takes place every fall, bringing many birders to the coast of North Carolina!  Read on for more information or visit their website:
Welcome to Eastern North Carolina and the Outer Banks. Each year millions of visitors flock to the area to enjoy its beaches, attractions and laid back atmosphere. The ultimate attraction is the area's diversity of wildlife, natural history and scenic views. Dare County alone has more than a quarter of a million acres of property in conservation as compared to just 16,000 acres available for development. Dare, Currituck, Tyrell and Hyde counties boast a diverse and fascinating array of wildlife to view and waterways to paddle. In addition to a wealth of marine life, Eastern North Carolina is home to black bears, alligators, red wolves, deer and hundreds of species of birds. The waterways invite kayakers and canoeists to glide through the back waters, the sounds and even the ocean. And natural history attractions draw both young and old who want to know more about the place where the first English settlements were born. Year round, there are nature programs offered by state and federal agencies, as well as nonprofits. Annually in November, all the stops are pulled out for folks who come from across the country to participate in the Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival. The six day event celebrates the natural wonders of the area and offers many opportunities to explore and discover the richness of the region's environment.

articipants, for a modest cost, can select from such varied experiences as:

  • Venturing into areas with combined bird lists of nearly 400 species.

  • Learning from experts how to shoot photographs that capture the unique beauty of the region.

  • Traveling to historic landmarks like the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station.

  • Visiting North Pond on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on Hatteras Island, the hottest spot for fall birding in North Carolina - or even visit South Pond which is usually closed to visitors.

  • Taking a ferry to the pirate Blackbeard's hang-out on Ocracoke Island to enjoy the quaint fishing village and check out the birds.

  • Paddling the backwaters of the area or four-wheeling the area north of Corolla.

  • Visiting the ancient maritime forest of Kitty Hawk Woods for a look at this rare ecosystem.

  • Venturing into Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge at night in search of bear and other wildlife.

  • Absorbing the waterways' natural beauty during a sunrise or sunset kayak tour.

  • Wading in search of Clapper Rails, marsh sparrows and wrens at Oregon Inlet.

  • Exploring a Ghost Town on Portsmouth Island.

  • Experiencing a Red Wolf Howling where the nearly extinct animal is now fighting its way back.

  • And many other wild experiences......


Tracking Shorebird into Hurricaine Irene

An ongoing study of the migration of Whimbrels, scientists at the Center for Conservation Biology tracked one of their radio-tagged shorebirds into and through hurricane Irene.  See the recent news release:
Scientists Track Shorebird into Hurricane Irene

(Williamsburg, VA)---Scientists have tracked a migrating shorebird into Hurricane Irene.  The shorebird, a whimbrel migrating from Canada to South America left Southampton Island in upper Hudson Bay on Saturday, flew out over the open ocean and appears to have encountered the outer bands of Irene on Tuesday.  The bird named Chinquapin flew through the dangerous northeast quadrant of the storm during the day on Wednesday.  It is being tracked by a small satellite transmitter and is scheduled to transmit a new set of positions within the next day.  In 2010 this same bird flew around Tropical Storm Colin while a second bird flew into the storm and did not survive.

The long-term tracking study has documented several previous encounters between whimbrel and major storms.  Earlier in August one of the birds flew through Tropical Storm Gert in the North Atlantic.  This bird encountered high headwinds for 27 hours averaging only 9 miles per hour.  Once through the storm, flight speed increased to more than 90 miles per hour as the bird was pushed by significant tail winds and made it back to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In 2008, a bird was tracked into Hurricane Hanna and landed in the Bahamas only to be hit later by Hurricane Ike.

Updated tracking maps may be viewed online.

How migratory birds navigate around and survive major storm systems has been an open question to science.  Achieving an understanding of this process is important because the Caribbean Basin is a major flyway for many bird species moving from breeding grounds in North American to winter in South America and their migrations coincide with the period of highest hurricane formation.  Changes in storm frequency, intensity, or distribution may have implications for timing and routes of migratory movements.

This tracking project is a collaborative effort between The Center for Conservation Biology, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.

Media Contacs

Dr. Bryan D. Watts, Director, College of William and Mary& Virginia Commonwealth University,, (757) 221-2247 office Fletcher M. Smith, Biologist, Center for Conservation Biology, 757-221-1617 Tim Keyes, Wildlife Biologist, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, ,  (912) 262 3191 (office) Brad Winn, Manomet Center for Conservation Science,

Michael Wilson

Center for Conservation Biology

College of William and Mary & Virginia Commonwealth University P.O. Box 8795 Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795

phone: 757-221-1649

fax: 757-221-1650



Audubon NC Website for Mountain Events and Opportunities 

Audubon North Carolina recently launched a new website to help NC Mountain communities organize citizen science efforts, volunteers, and other projects related to their Important Bird Areas.  Check out the new website in their announcement:
With much anticipation, has launched!  This collaborative website is designed to consolidate information about environmental programming, volunteer opportunities, citizen science, and other IBA related information in one convenient location for residents of the Highlands Plateau.  This is part of a long term project with a variety of partners that began several years ago with our IBA dedication event.  We also have a Treasure Highlands Facebook page.  Funding for this and other components of the project have come from Together Green, the North Carolina Forest Service, and the National Science Foundation.

One of the principle components of the effort this year and next is our K to Gray Challenge to connect seniors with children (the K’s) and help them volunteer, do citizen science projects, and explore their world.  To find out more visit the website.  We’re continually adding content and calendar updates so check the site often.  Thanks to all of our partners including Highlands Plateau Audubon Society, Highlands Biological Station and Highlands Nature Center.  And a huge thank you to Doris Ratchford (our Volunteer of the Year for 2011) for all of her hard work making the website so interactive and appealing!

– Curtis Smalling

20-Year-Old Royal Tern Succumbs to... Fishing Line

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="288" caption="The Royal Tern and Laughing Gull chick ensnared in fishing line on Ferry Slip Island. By Lindsay Addison"]

Recent news from NC Audubon highlights the importance of bird banding and the harmful effects of fishing line on bird life. This bird was found on a beach dead, caught by a hook and tangled in fishing line. This particular tern was banded with a US Fish and Wildlife Service band, identifying the date and location where it was initially banded.  Read on for more details...

Announcement: Wildlife Tourism and Nature Viewing Working Group Meeting

At this years' Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska on Sept. 11th, the Wildlife Tourism and Nature Viewing Working Group will be meeting.  The Working Group is soliciting presentations from professional staff involved in wildlife diversity, wildlife viewing, nature tourism, communications, marketing and outreach who are looking for support and innovative ways to advance wildlife viewing and nature tourism programs.

The stated goals of the meeting are:

  • Developing a national strategy for state wildlife viewing and nature tourism programs within fish and wildlife agencies

  • Developing strategies for attracting and engaging a broader constituency for fish and wildlife conservation

Check out their announcement for more details.