Leadership on the Coast

Audubon North Carolina has a long history of protecting the birds of the coastal region and advocating for their habitat. 

What We Do

Audubon applies the best available science, sound public policy, and the ability to engage Audubon members, chapters, centers, sanctuaries, state offices and staff to implement our progressive conservation program at the flyway scale. 

We have protected high-quality habitats that support many of the priority species for the Atlantic Flyway, rallied grassroots support when necessary, engaged local communities to participate in stewardship programs, advanced knowledge through scientific research, advanced public policy to benefits birds and habitat conservation, and worked beyond the borders of the U.S. to engage in full life cycle conservation. And we have the ability to reach an estimated 4 million people nationally through Audubon’s magazine, web, social media and other communication vehicles.

Protecting Shorebirds

Protecting shore-dependent birds requires direct, on-the-ground conservation action led by professional staff and supported by a strong network of local volunteers. One of Audubon’s greatest strengths is the network of Audubon chapters that span the entire Atlantic coast of the U.S. This is a network positioned for action and able to implement local stewardship programs that will reduce threats and improve the quality of habitats for priority coastal birds during the breeding, migration, and winter. 

ANC has a well-established coastal sanctuary program, providing a head start on conservation efforts for coastal birds and their habitats. Audubon sanctuaries are models for protection and management of coastal birds and their habitats where the best available science is applied and advanced.  They are places for scientific research where we advance knowledge of coastal health, climate change impacts, connectivity of breeding, migration and winter, coastal birds, their habitats and conservation science.  

Atlantic Flyway Coastal Program

For three years, Audubon NC has worked to protect coastal birds through the Atlantic Flyway coastal program. This effort builds on decades of work in North Carolina. 

The five main goals of Audubon’s Atlantic Flyway coastal program are:

  1. Apply the best available science to identify, protect, and manage a network of the most important sites throughout the Atlantic Flyway that are essential to sustaining bird populations.
  2. Reduce threats to coastal birds by increasing awareness and changing behaviors through social marketing.
  3. Develop international partnerships to reduce threats and protect priority sites and essential habitats for target species outside the U.S.
  4. Strengthen conservation regulations to achieve no net loss of habitat.
  5. Advance the knowledge of target species, their habitats, food and foraging ecology, population stressors, conservation and management, and the habitats they require at critical points in their annual cycle (breeding, migration stopover, and winter) to improve the conservation of coastal birds.

Sharing our Seas & Shores

Sharing Our Seas & Shores, a strategic initiative of the National Audubon Society, takes a full life-cycle approach to the conservation of coastal birds by focusing on the protection of key sites and habitats that shore-dependent birds require at critical points in their annual cycle. 

The program combines local community engagement, the best available science and proven, site-based conservation methods to stabilize and recover populations of coastal birds. The cumulative effect of full life-cycle conservation will be to recover declining populations, achieve no net loss of habitat and stabilize populations by 2030.

This means that wherever a bird may go to breed, nest or winter, and the migration pathways in between, will be the focus of Audubon's protection efforts for high priority species. We are working across state and country boundaries for the protection of birds that spend any part of their life in North Carolina.

Beach Bird Stewards

Each year, the North Carolina coast attracts thousands of beachgoers enjoying the sand and surf, but it also attracts thousands of birds that depend on those same beaches at the very same time; birds nesting and protecting their young. Predators, severe weather, disturbance from people's movements and vehicles, and man-made developments are threatening the survival of these coastal birds by interfering with their ability to nest on our beaches. 

Audubon North Carolina recruits volunteers to educate beachgoers about beach-nesting birds on the south end of Wrightsville Beach. These beach bird stewards show visitors newborn chicks in spotting scopes, and explain how even brief disturbances cause parent birds to flush, exposing eggs and young to heat stress and predators. The stewards take this responsibility seriously while also having fun fostering an excitement and appreciation for bird conservation among local residents and visitors.

Beach Stewards have donated countless hours as ambassadors, spreading their knowledge and love of birds to beachgoers, and educating them on beach bird habits, habitats and how to help protect the many species that make our beaches their summer home. Equipped with their binoculars and spotting scopes, stewards show thousands of visitors how eggs are camouflaged directly on nests scraped into the sand, and how important it is to observe the symbolic fencing that protects these bird nurseries.

Priority Species

While many coastal species need our help, birds that are listed as species of concern will not have long-term survival without our help. Without human support and management, these species will be lost forever. 

The coastal species of concern in North Carolina include: American Oystercatcher, Piping Plover, Wilson's Plover, Red Knot, Western Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Sanderling, Common Tern, Least Tern and Black Skimmer

Conservation Goals

Over the next decade, Audubon North Carolina will:

  • Identify sites that support significant populations of target species and protect them.
  • Foster proper stewardship and management of a network of sites that support target species throughout their life-cycle.
  • Protect the 21 Coastal Sanctuaries and expand our network of Audubon sanctuaries.
  • Recover declining populations, and protect the habitats to achieve stable and viable populations of coastal birds.
  • Develop international partnerships at globally-significant sites, and complete full life-cycle conservation plans for target shorebird species by 2016.
  • Strengthen regulations with the goal of achieving no net loss or degradation of habitats that are important for priority coastal species within 10 years.
  • Engage Audubon's network in citizen-science projects to add to the existing knowledge of priority species at key sites.
  • Inform and engage the public for their assistance in improving productivity, reducing mortality and stabilizing target populations.
  • Engage Audubon's expansive chapter, national and partner networks to protect coastal birds and habitats.

Our team of scientists and conservation professionals will work to achieve these goals with the following tools:

  • Acquisition and land protection
  • Trained beach stewards and citizen scientists
  • Social marketing, modern media and engagement tools
  • Sound science, research and long-term monitoring
  • Hemispheric partnerships (Bahamas)
  • Partnerships with state, federal agencies, universities, communities and community groups

Did this issue get you fired up? Sign-up for our NC Action Alert network to stay informed as we work to protect birds in North Carolina.