PHOTOS BY WALKER GOLDER
Top: White ibis. Above: Brown pelican, royal and Caspian terns with laughing gulls
gather at Rich Inlet.
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shorebirds it begins as early as July. Southbound migration, usually called fall migra-tion,
ends in December for most species that choose to overwinter in the area.
Northbound migration, called spring migration, begins for some species in
February and continues until June.
The National Audubon Society has designed a conservation blueprint called
Important Bird Areas (IBAs) — areas important to birds at some time during their
annual cycle, including breeding, migration, and wintering periods. To date, 30 North
Carolina IBAs have been approved by BirdLife International as globally significant,
including on Masonboro Island and Lea-Hutaff Island (shorebirds, waterfowl, marsh
birds, marsh-dependent songbirds) and on the Lower Cape Fear River (shorebirds,
waterfowl, marsh birds, songbirds, wading birds, marsh-dependent songbirds).
“Our region of the state has a great diversity of habitats and therefore of birds.
We have lots of migratory seabirds, shorebirds, songbirds, waterfowl, marsh birds,
raptors and others in this area — making it a wonderful place to live,” Golder says.
For the past eight years, Lindsay Addison has been a coastal biologist with
Audubon North Carolina. She manages, monitors, and helps protect 15-20 nest-ing
sites annually that support over one-third of North Carolina’s nesting coastal
waterbirds, including Lea-Hutaff Island, the south end of Wrightsville Beach, and
islands on the Cape Fear River. The breeding work includes monitoring species like
American oystercatchers, pelicans, terns and wading birds. Many species, like sand-erling,
dunlin, short-billed dowitcher, ruddy turnstone and marbled godwit, only
appear during the non-breeding season.