Birds of the Outer Banks

There are over 400 different species of birds that can be found in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There are many different factors that lead to great amount of birds that are found in the area. One of the main factors is that many different types of fish and other sea life that serves as food sources for the birds are available in the Outer Banks. The sea animals are drawn to the area by the warm water and climate. There is very little land located on the Outer Banks. This leads to a concentration of many different species of birds at that particular location. The best time to be bird watching along the Outer Banks is during the Spring and Fall. That is when the migration of many different birds occurs.

Types of Birds

Loons

Red-throated Loon

The Red-throated Loon can be spotted living along many different types of marine habitats. It is also one of the smallest types of loons. The height of the Red-throated Loon is 27 inches tall. The Red-throated Loon has a patch of red located on its throat. The main color of the bird is gray, with very few markings. For food, the Red-throated Loon eats fish, such as cod, frogs, mollusks, and insects. The bird dives into the water when it spots its' prey and scoops them out. The most common times to see the Red-throated Loon along the Outer Banks is during the months of January through March, and then November and December.

Common Loon

The Common Loon can be spotted living around protected bays and lakes. The main colors of the Common Loon are black and white. The Common Loon grows to be between 28 and 36 inches long. The main food source for the Common Loon is fish and insects that live near the water. The Common Loon prefers looking for its' prey in clear water. It is easier to spot the fish. The best time to look for the Common Loon is during the months between January and April. It is occasionally spotted in the area the rest of the year.

Grebes

Pied-Billed Grebe

The Pied-Billed Grebe is a small bird, growing to a length of 13 inches. The color of the bird is brown. There is a black ring that grows around the bill and it has a black chin. The Pied- Billed Grebe has the ability to stay underwater for a long period of time. While underwater, the bird can travel far distances, and they sink slowly when disturbed while sitting on the surface. They eat crayfish, insects, and fish. The most common time to spot a Pied-Billed Grebe is during the months of January through April and also October through December.

Horned Grebe

The Horned Grebe grows to be between 12 and 15 inches long. The Horned Grebe can be spotted living on marshes, ponds, lakes and rivers during mating season and on salt water during the winter months. The Horned Grebe has a dark colored head and gold colored around its' ears. The belly of the bird is white. For food, Horned Grebes eat fish. Like other species of Grebes, the Horned Grebe dives into the water to grab the fish. The Horned Grebe swallows its own feathers to prevent the fish bones from getting into the bird's intestines. The Horned Grebe can commonly be found along the Outer Banks during the months of January through March and occasionally spotted the rest of the year.

Red-necked Grebe

The Red-necked Grebe can be spotted living on shallow ponds and lakes. The bird grows to a length of 17 to 22 inches. The distinctive markings on Red-necked Grebes are their red throat and their gray-white cheeks. For food, the Red-necked Grebe eats fish, small frogs, salamanders, insects, and aquatic plants. Like other species of grebes, the Red- necked is a great diver. When swimming, the only part of the bird people can see is their head. The Red-necked Grebe is not commonly seen. It can occasionally be seen between the months of February and May. It is rarely seen the rest of the time on the Outer Banks.

Eared Grebe

The Eared Grebe can be found living on marshy lakes and ponds during the summertime months and on coastal lakes, bays and the ocean during the winter. Of all the Grebe species, the Eared Grebe resembles the Horned Grebe the most. It is not uncommon to see large flocks of Eared Grebes in an area, especially during the winter. The Eared Grebe grows to be a length of 14 inches. The head has a black neck and chest and gold colored ears. For food, the Eared Grebes eat fish and plants. You only occasionally spot an Eared Grebe. The most common time to spot them is during the months is January through March. The rest of the year it is very rare to see an Eared Grebe.

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Terms: The Birds of the Outer Banks

The Birds of the Outer Banks

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