The Binocular Site

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina

Located between the Oregon Inlet and the village of Rodanthe, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of 5,834 acres of coastal barrier island, and 25,700 acres of Proclamation Boundary Waters in the Pamlico Sound. It was established in 1937 as a sanctuary for wintering waterfowl.

Pea Island Refuge offers two wildlife trails open during daylight hours, year round. They provide full disabled access. Visitors can also enjoy boating, fishing, and hiking. The island's Visitor Center is open daily, year round, and visitors can schedule guided canoe tours, and obtain bird checklists. A refuge support group operates a gift shop within the Visitor Center which offers books and other educational items.

Two of the main goals the Pea Island Refuge has are to provide a resting and nesting habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl, and to provide a habitat and protection for endangered or threatened species. The best birding takes place in the fall and winter, when most birds are migrating south.

The Refuge is home to more than 365 bird species, including the red-throated loon, brown pelican, snowy egret, purple sandpiper, and the majestic bald eagle. See the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge website for more information.

The North Carolina state bird is the Northern Cardinal and you can find a checklist of birds to watch for in North Carolina here.

Photo credit to fixlr, used with permission under the creative commons license.

If you've visited Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, please take the time to share your experience and any tips or insight you have about this North Carolina bird watching location below.

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Average User Rating 

  • Mark Minasi

    It's hard NOT to see something interesting at Pea Island. So much of the Outer Banks is currently built up that it's a lot harder to see wildlife of any kind than it was years ago, but Pea Island always provides a nice cross-section. Even on its "worst" day, you can probably see great egrets, snowy egrets, blue herons, mallards, brown pelicans and monster turtles. In my few trips, I've also seen snow geese (in winter), kingbirds, oystercatchers, shovelers, teals, white and glossy ibises. If you'd like a nice walk in the dunes and a chance to see some local shorebirds, make a trip to Pea Island when you're next in the Outer Banks.

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