February IBA of the Month: Outer Banks

Least tern adult and chick. Photo by Walker Golder, NC Audubon
Each month, the NC Audubon Society highlights one of their Important Bird Areas (IBAs). These are regions of the state containing "ecologically significant habitats and locations". This month, Outer Banks, Inshore Ocean is the subject of attention. Below is the announcement from Audubon:

The Outer Banks, Inshore Ocean is a rich and productive area of ocean that supports a diverse assemblage of birds and other marine life throughout the year. This site includes the inshore waters along the northern Outer Banks between Cape Hatteras and the North Carolina–Virginia state line. The eastern and western boundaries of the site include an area of ocean from the surf zone to approximately 3 miles offshore.

Due to commercial and recreational fishing, primary threats to birds at this site include bycatch of birds in commercial fishing gear and entanglement of birds in discarded monofilament fishing line. Additionally, commercial fishermen set nets that are responsible for the death of more than a thousand diving birds annually, according to studies. The primary species impacted include Northern Gannet, Common Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, and Double-crested Cormorant.

This site is important for coastal birds throughout the year. During spring and summer months, the site is a key foraging area for terns nesting on nearby beaches and islands. During migration, the site is a foraging area for many species of gulls and terns, as well as a key migration corridor for loons and sea ducks. During winter months, the site supports North Carolina’s largest population of Northern Gannets and Redbreasted Mergansers. These birds move throughout the site depending on the location of forage fish. The large concentration of gulls at Cape Point on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore routinely uses this Important Bird Area for its primary foraging area.

Birders: The Central Park Effect

Birders: The Central Park Effect reveals the extraordinary array of wild birds who grace Manhattan's celebrated patch of green and the equally colorful, full-of-attitude New Yorkers who schedule their lives around the rhythms of migration. Acclaimed author Jonathan Franzen, an idiosyncratic trombone technician, a charming fashion-averse teenager, and a bird-tour leader who's recorded every sighting she's made since the 1940s are among the film's cast of characters. Featuring spectacular wildlife footage capturing the changing seasons, this lyrical documentary transports the viewer to a dazzling world that goes all but unnoticed by the 38 million people who visit America's most famous park each year.


Christmas Bird Count: Going on now at a town near you!

The Christmas Bird Count is On!

Once the gifts are unwrapped and the turkey is eaten on Christmas Day, forgo that comfy couch and instead head outdoors with your binoculars and bird id guide in hand to participate in the longest-running citizen science survey in the world.

Now in its 113th Year, the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a perfect way for you to make an enormous contribution to bird conservation in North Carolina, regardless if you’re a backyard birder or a serious field observer. Best of all, it’s free and pretty easy to do, too. Just visit Audubon’s website to sign up and find a count near you.

According to Audubon, which organizes the annual count, the count takes place within “count circles,” which focus on specific geographical areas. Each circle is led by a count compiler and each count is conducted on a specific day. Once you sign up, you’ll find a list of more than 50 Christmas Bird Count circles located across the state, as well as the email addresses for the count compilers. Some count compilers request pre-registrations; others just advise you to show up on the day of the count.

By joining a circle, you’re guaranteed to have fun, but most importantly, you’ll be in a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.

Data from the Christmas Bird Count, along with other data, are used by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and other state and federal wildlife agencies to evaluate which bird species are in decline and which are expanding.

If you can’t find the time on Christmas Day to count birds, no worries. The Christmas Bird Count runs through Jan. 5.


Looking for a creative Christmas gift? How about a chimney swift brick?

The holiday season is just around the corner.  If you are looking for a creative gift for a bird-lover or conservation-minded relative, Wake County Audubon is selling commemorative bricks to be placed at their proposed roosting chimney at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Prairie Ridge Ecostation.

Chimney swifts historically roosted in large, old hollowed out trees. As humans began to significantly alter the forests and landscapes of North America 200 years ago, fewer of these trees were available. Fortunately for the swifts, we also built chimneys perfect for nesting and roosting of these acrobatic birds. Now, as chimneys are less common and many are capped, their habitat is declining once more.

To provide roosting habitat as well as a platform for research, Wake County Audubon is building a large chimney which could potentially house thousands of swifts. If you'd like to contribute to this effort by purchasing an engraved brick, see their website for more information.

Training Opportunity: Connecting People with Nature through Birds

OUT8163: Connecting People with Nature through Birds

June 3 – 6, 2013

: National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, WV

About the course:
Birds make a perfect means for connecting people to nature. Birds are awake and active when we are; they are relatively easy to spot and hear; and, birds are in every backyard. Moreover, research has shown that the ability to identify birds heightens awareness and creates a sense of stewardship among youth and adults. In this course, explore activities that engage people in bird watching. Even if you are not a birder you will find these activities easy to implement. Specifically, participants will learn to teach others basic bird identification; explore a variety of programs that connect people to nature including citizen science and mist netting birds; discuss current bird conservation issues; and discover the possibilities of inspiring interest in birds through Flying WILD.


After completing this course you will be able to:

  • · Apply various observation skills to identify common bird species by both sight and sound.

  • · Apply planning strategies in developing birding programs for various audiences, including the use of Flying Wild and other bird education curriculum.

  • · Utilize banding stations for bird education outreach.

  • · Apply education outreach strategies for engaging under-served youth in conservation and related natural resource careers.

  • · Utilize inquiry and citizen science methods and programs as tools for bird education outreach.

  • · Discuss key bird conservation issues in the USA.

  • · Make their visitor facility more birder-friendly.

Who should attend:
Educators, outdoor recreation planners, naturalists/interpreters,
community outreach specialists, extension agents, resource managers, and others involved in educating people about birds.

Tuition for FWS, NPS, and BLM is prepaid. Each participant’s office is responsible for expenses related to travel. For participants from other agencies and organizations there is a tuition charge of $796.00.

Cancellation policy:
All class applicants, including Service employees, who cancel their reservation four (4) weeks or less from the start of class without providing a substitute, will be charged in full for both tuition and lodging. Substitutions must be provided at the time of cancellation and will not be permitted two weeks or less from the start of a class.

How to Apply:
Register through DOI Learn system:

Course registration deadline is March 31, 2013.
After this date, please call for availability.

Michelle Donlan
Education Outreach
(304) 876-7685
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