As one of the last remnants of the original Outer Banks landscapes, the Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Audubon Sanctuary is a vital resource for birds and wildlife along the Currituck Sound and across the entire Atlantic Flyway. With its extensive marshes, waterways and diversity of upland and maritime forest, the 2,600 acres of preserved land contribute to major environmental and wildlife conservation efforts for the health of our birds, wildlife and local community.
Named for Audubon's late board chair and legendary conservationist Donal C. O'Brien, Jr., the Sanctuary protects marshes along the Currituck Sound, bottomland areas, dry sandy areas and upland maritime forests that provide vital habitat and resources for birds and other wildlife to survive and thrive. 170 bird species, as well as 7 amphibian species, 17 reptile species, 19 mammal species and more than 350 species of plants have been recorded across the complex including migrant songbirds, rails, bitterns, wading birds and waterfowl. Audubon believes this is just the tip of the iceberg of the flora and fauna that inhabit the site, and will continue surveying the property and adding species to the list.
Known across the eastern seaboard for its huge concentrations of waterfowl, Currituck Sound still supported an estimated 300,000 waterfowl in the 1970’s. Today, numbers have declined considerably, but the Sound is home to about 30,000 ducks, geese and swans annually, including Snow Goose, Tundra Swan, American Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup and Northern Pintail.
The Sanctuary promises to be a conservation hub for Audubon North Carolina and the region with its vision to support the birds and wildlife that thrive here. Additionally, as a climate change stronghold for birds, the Sanctuary in Corolla will become a center for discussing and modeling appropriate responses to global warming and our changing climate, as well as concentrating on best practices for marsh restoration, protection of marsh birds and waterfowl, and other research topics.
Audubon North Carolina's proposed Conservation Plan for the Sanctuary and surrounding Currituck Sound includes the following:
- Protect, restore and adaptively manage Currituck Sound marshes and managed wetlands in the greater Currituck Sound region to provide high-quality habitats for diverse populations of birds and other wildlife.
- Maintain high-quality water that supports healthy submerged aquatic vegetation, fisheries, birds, other wildlife and people in the greater Currituck Sound region.
- Engage a coalition of diverse stakeholders that work toward sustaining a healthy Currituck Sound ecosystem.
- Protect Important Bird Areas in northeastern North Carolina.
- Develop a plan to sustain habitats for birds and other wildlife in the greater Currituck Sound region given projected sea level rise.
To learn more about the plans, events and opportunities taking place at the Sanctuary, sign-up for our eBulletin.
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Learn about the bird conservation research taking place at Pine Island and find nature-focused events happening at this Important Bird Area along the Outer Banks in our periodic eBulletin.