North Carolina Birds

North Carolinians are blessed with an abundance of flora and fauna, and among the most beautiful are its birds. Yet many go about our lives without fully appreciating more than a handful. We all know Crows, Robins, and Cardinals; and, more generically, ducks and gulls, pigeons and “buzzards.” But with very little effort one can expand this list and begin to appreciate more fully what birds contribute to our visual and aural environment. 
 
Close to 470 species of birds have been seen in North Carolina. Of these, some are “accidental,” blown off course by bad weather or wandering over our border from other states or countries. Others are unique residents or migrants in certain regions: the mountains, the piedmont, or the coastal plain. Still others pass through the state quickly, on their way to nest farther north and then coming through again to winter in the tropics. 
 
This list consists of those that either reliably can be seen in many, if not all, months of the year; or are common summer residents or migrants that one can see in any of the state’s three ecological regions, in many cases on lands The Nature Conservancy has preserved. To encounter these species requires very little beyond good eyes and ears, a rudimentary sense of color and scale, and a heightened level of awareness. Familiarizing yourself with them will contribute immeasurably to your enjoyment of the outdoors; even in the depths of winter, some may visit backyard feeders. At a time when we are more and more immersed in “virtual” reality that distances us from the natural world, these creatures remind us of the pleasure of being alert to our surroundings as well as making us appreciate more nature’s wonderful diversity.
 
For each bird, we have taken the liberty to assign a term of “venery,” an archaic word that refers to a collection of similar individuals, like a flock of birds or a school of fish. See James Lipton’s An Exaltation of Larks for a wonderful modern rendering.
 
25 birds to see >
 
Written by Dr. Philip Gura 

 

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