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Wintertime brings a more subtle beauty to our part of the North Carolina Coast. The maritime forest and salt-marshes provide year-round habitat for many species of waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds, and all sorts of migratory birds. The shortening days nudge us inside, while the residential neighborhoods light up with good cheer and colorful displays.

Hardwood Cuttings and the Christmas Bird Count

We've noticed that the Yaupon Holly and American Holly at our Southport office both have red berries at this time of year. They form an iconic Christmas backdrop that has the added benefit of feeding songbirds. This is also a good time to take hardwood cuttings of Yaupons and several other evergreens if you're so inclined. Our NC State University Ag Extension office gives detailed information here. It's a low-cost way to add more foundation plantings around your home and expand wildlife habitat!!

Speaking of songbirds, the Audubon Society conducts its annual Christmas Bird Count between Dec 14 and Jan 5. This early winter census is an important community science effort that's been collecting data for more than 100 years. Ornithologists and conservation biologists rely on it to monitor changes in population and migratory patterns over time. A summary of last year's North Carolina count can be found here.

A slightly different procedure is used again in February for the Great American Backyard Bird Count. The results of that count can be found here in list form.  If you are new to bird watching, or just curious to know more about the wildlife that surrounds you, these bird lists are a fantastic place to start! If you click through to our area's list on you'll find photos, videos, and audio clips of birds that stay with us year-round as well as seasonal visitors.

In December and January, we can look forward to some that are very distinctive: The Hooded Merganser, the Belted King Fisher and the Black Crowned Night Heron are water birds that favor the salt marshes and wetlands. The Norther Harrier is a medium sized hawk that soars over wetlands and open fields. The Yellow-Rumped Warbler, a visiting songbird, relies on holly and other berries during the winter. If you keep your eyes open you may even see a Painted Bunting, proving that wintertime here on the coast is anything but drab.

While we deeply miss the family gatherings, visits with neighbors, company parties, and community festivals that have always filled our hearts with Christmas cheer, the gifts of nature that surround us bouy our spirits as we look forward to being with you, in person, again soon.


One of the nicest things about birding as a hobby is how willing people are to share their knowledge and resources.  Years ago we were thrilled to discover Roy Slack's book Birds of the Brunswick County Islands: Oak Island, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach, North Carolina. But since it was published in 1994, it is no longer that easy to find.  Our county library has a few copies to loan and it can sometimes still be ordered online. 

The knowledgeable people at Wild Bird & Garden, who have brick and mortar stores in both Southport and Wilmington, were happy to suggest two other sources that have even more photos and maps, and include more recent data on habitat and migration routes. 

One is the authoritative source Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America published in 2016.  Don't let the serious title put you off!  It's not that expensive and the huge number of images and maps make it easy for you to identify the birds you see on the beach. 

Another great resource is Stan Tekiela's Birds of the Carolinas Field Guide, which also has a multitude of photos and a handy color-coded index in the front of the book that helps you quickly look up the bird according to the predominant color of its feathers. 

The folks at Wild Bird & Garden can be found at 105 Brown Street East in Southport (just off Howe Street, at the foot of the water tower).  Their website has a fantastic list of links that includes everything from local wildlife rescue groups to the most comprehensive national databases, user-friendly tools and even smartphone apps.  You can find them online at 

Their current hours in Southport are 10-2 Mon-Sat with curbside service, and we all look forward to the time when they can resume the tours, workshops, and other outings for which they are so well known! 

Hope to see you then!




















Sea Turtle

Sea turtle nesting season is here and from May 1st til September 30th we can help the endangered Loggerheads, and other species that return to Oak Island and Caswell Beach every year, by caring for their habitat. 

Did you know that bright lights at night disturb both nesting mothers and hatchlings?  They mistake it for moonlight on the water or phosphorescence and it can lead them away from safety to places where they fall victim to predators and road hazards. 

Similarly, sand-sculptures, holes, and equipment left on the beach after dark create hazards that can trap both nesting mother and hatchlings.  Why not take a photo of your masterpiece and post it to Facebook before filling it in at the end of the day?  Tag us - we love to see the fanciful creations dotting our shoreline!

There are many opportunities for you to learn more about these extraordinary creatures that visit our beach under cover of darkness.  You can also donate online or by mail through the following links.

The Oak Island Sea Turtle Protection Program has 130 dedicated volunteers who monitor the nests and watch over the emergence of the hatchlings.  Visit their website to view nest tracking data & view photos online.

The Caswell Beach Turtle Watch also has a nest monitoring program and an extensive list of educational resources on their website. 

The nearby Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center in Surf City, NC, even has a protocol for tracking turtles after they have been rehabilitated and released back into the wild!  To see more and learn how you can contribute, visit them at

Let us hear from you at and share what you've learned, what you've loved about your trip to the beach, and what you look forward to on your next visit!  Our sales agents are eager to help you find your niche, whether it's oceanfront, maritime forest, easy boating access, or the convenience of the mainland. The North Carolina coast is a beautiful place to make your nest!


Bald Head Island Coastal Reserve-Margaret Rudd & Associates

There are plenty of beautiful places to visit in North Carolina, but few can compare to the majestic grandeur of the barrier islands and the N.C. Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve. Their peaceful serenity has lured everyone from sailors to scholars for centuries.

The past year was an eventful one for the area, and while the winds and waves of Hurricane Florence left their mark, it wasn't enough to dampen the spirit of residents or dissolve their resolve to make Bald Head Island the state's most popular destination. It is because of their efforts that demand for Bald Head Island homes for sale is as strong as ever.  

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