Latin: Gavia stellata
An ever changing spectacle of wildlife - Pine Island hosts over 190 bird species and is home to one quarter of the climate threatened species in North America.
Tundra Swan in Flight Photo: Walker Golder
The Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Sanctuary at Pine Island provides essential habitat for birds along the Atlantic Flyway, a route that migratory birds use along the Atlantic Coast. Birds migrating south, including iconic waterfowl species such as Tundra Swans and Pintail Ducks, use the sanctuary as n overwintering or stopover spot from September through December each year. As a designated Globally Important Bird Area, Pine Island is a unique hotspot for avian biodiversity. The sanctuary is home to 194 bird species, including 96 species identified as climate-threatened in Audubon’s latest climate report, Survival By Degrees.
Over the past fifty years, waterfowl populations at Pine Island have drastically decreased due to habitat loss from threats like climate change and increased development pressure. Whereas waterfowl populations in the 1970s were around 300,000, recent surveys in Currituck Sound have counted only around 30,000 birds. By building resilience into the ecosystem using nature-based solutions, however, Currituck Sound can continue to adapt and provide critical habitat into the future.
Audubon centers our conservation efforts at Pine Island around a list of priority bird species that rely on the sanctuary and its natural resources.
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.