Birds

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  • American Bittern

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  • American Coot

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  • American Kestrel

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    While this small, colorful falcon is declining in the east, it is still easily found in the Mattamuskeet area, primarily on roadside wires. They feed on insects, small rodents and small birds.

  • American Widgeon

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    Present from October until April, American Wigeon are common at Lake Mattamuskeet. Birders like to sort through flocks of these birds in hopes of finding the rare Eurasian Wigeon. Wigeon feed primarily on aquatic plants.

  • Bald Eagle

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    This majestic symbol of our nation is increasing in numbers and now nests in this area, in huge stick nests built high in trees. Adult birds have the easily recognizable white heads and white tails. Immature birds are dark – it takes four years for a Bald Eagle to grow to maturity. Bald Eagles feed mostly on fish and waterfowl, often scavenging. Scan distant cypress trees from the causeway to find Bald Eagles at Mattamuskeet, although they frequently fly over, as well.

  • Belted Kingfisher

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  • Black-crowned Night Heron

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  • Blue Grosbeak

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  • Blue-winged Teal

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  • Canada Goose

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    These familiar geese from the north make Lake Mattamuskeet their winter home. Easy to find in winter along Wildlife Drive or along the causeway. Birders like to search through the flocks looking for “Cackling Geese” a similar but smaller goose that is rare in the east.

  • Canvasback

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  • Eurasian Widgeon

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  • Eastern Bluebird

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  • Forster's Tern

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  • Gadwall

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  • Glossy Ibis

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    Mattamuskeet is one if the best refuges in the state to find Glossy Ibis. Similar to the more common White Ibis, “glossies” are iridescent with dark legs and a brownish, down-curved bill. They probe the mud for crayfish, insects and frogs.

  • Golden Eagle

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  • Great Blue Heron

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    These large herons can be found here year-round. They are often seen as they wade slowly, searching for prey. They will eat a great variety of small animals, but fish make up the bulk of their diet. Great Blue Herons nest in heavily wooded areas.

  • Great Egret

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  • Green-winged Teal

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    These tiny dabbling ducks occur in large numbers each year beginning in September. The drakes are beautiful birds, with red heads and a green patch through the eye. Green-winged Teal feed on insects, seeds and aquatic plants.

  • Indigo Bunting

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  • Northern Pintail

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    One of the most abundant ducks in North Carolina in winter, pintails are present from September through April. Pintails are so named for the elongated central tail feathers.

  • Northern Mockingbird

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  • Northern Shoveler

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    This common duck is usually found in very shallow water where it strains food particles from the water’s surface with its comblike “teeth” on the upper and lower mandibles of its bill. Drake Northern Shovelers are chestnut and white below with a green head. Females are brown. Both sexes sport the oversized bill. “Shovelers” usually first appear in the fall in early September and leave in early April.

  • Orange-crowned Warbler

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    The Mattamuskeet area is one of the best places in the state to find this rather drab warbler, a winter resident here. It is easiest to find if you can recognize their distinct chip-note. Search for them along the causeway.

  • Prothonotary Warbler

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  • Snow Goose

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    The Snow Geese at Mattamuskeet are primarily found in the impoundments, and primarily from early November until February or March. Snow Geese come in two color phases. The dark phase, known as “blue goose,” although ordinarily less common than the white phase, is relatively common at Mattamuskeet, and is primarily the Lesser Snow Goose subspecies. Snow Geese feed mainly on the roots and tubers of marsh plants.

  • Song Sparrow

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  • Swamp Sparrow

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  • Tree Swallow

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  • Tundra Swan

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    Many thousands of Tundra Swans over-winter on Lake Mattamuskeet. They usually can be easily seen from the causeway. These huge birds are as noisy as they are beautiful. Tundra Swans primarily feed on submerged aquatic vegetation, but will also feed in farm fields.

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  • White Ibis

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  • Wood Duck

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    Wood Ducks are resident species on the Mattamuskeet River National Wildlife Refuge and they live forested swamps and nest in trees near open water. They use natural cavities in trees, but will use artificial nest boxes.