We’re on our way to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to witness something magical.
By the hundreds, flocks of songbirds, ducks, swans, skimmers and other shorebirds will touch down on this chain of islands and wildlife preserves to take advantage of nature’s perfect pit stop.
When it comes to the fall migration, an 85-mile swath of northeastern North Carolina, from roughly the Virginia line to Cape Hatteras, won the geographic lottery. It has some of the richest and most diverse natural habitats for birds in the United States.
“This area is the halfway stopover point on the Atlantic Flyway for birds that are migrating to tropical areas,” said Becky Harrison, head biologist for the N.C. Coastal Refuge Complex. “And there is a continuous stretch of geographic features and habitats that’s easy for the birds to follow.”
Flying thousands of miles requires enormous energy, so periodically birds must stop, rest and refuel. “Birds are following the resources,” Harrison said. “Because this area is so connected, it means there aren’t a lot of decisions for them to make.”