Birding Guide For Your Stay In The Outer Banks

27 December 2022 | Published By: Hotels OBX

By Jennifer LeVine, AGM Comfort Inn South Oceanfront
While the weather outside is (or can be) frightful, birding is simply delightful. The winter months bring many rare birds to The Outer Banks for your viewing pleasure. I would say that the most “famous” visitor during December and January is the Snowy Owl. He was last spotted near Ramp 4 in Oregon Inlet. This handsome fella has been visiting The Outer Banks for several years now and is definitely a delight to see. Our friend, Sally, from Birdwatching NC, has some great pictures from this year. As you make plans to book your oceanfront hotel in Kitty Hawk, NC also take time to create a bucket list of birds you’d like to see.

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

There are many popular places to see rare birds throughout the Outer Banks. The most recent one was a Harlequin Duck on Pea Island. A website called eBird helps many of our repeat birders each year. Other sightings within the last few weeks have been the Black-legged Kittiwake, the Iceland Gull, and the Snow Bunting. While you are at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, you can learn a lot about the local birds. Located only 15 miles from OBX hotels in Nags Head, you must include it on your bucket list of places to visit. You will see such seasonal visitors as snow geese, white tundra swans, white pelicans, gadwalls, northern pintails, and many other waterfowl species.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Another popular place is the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a quick trip from OBX hotels in Nags Head. There are miles of driving and walking trails to explore here. The Refuge floods several fields to enrich the area and it provides a scenic spot for visiting birds. Don’t worry though, you will not be driving or walking to any areas where they have flooded. There is still plenty to see and the flooded fields only add to the number of birds you have the opportunity to view. While Woodpeckers and Tundra Swans are quite common here, there is a list of over 250 species that you might have the good luck of seeing. You may be surprised to discover that the vast majority of the birds to view on this list visit our little island in the winter

Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

If you are up for a little bit of a drive, then the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is the place to visit. This refuge is located in Columbia, NC, and is about a 40-minute ride from our beautiful oceanfront hotels in Kitty Hawk, NC. The drive on US-64 takes you past the Alligator River Refuge, so it is a pretty drive as well. Many of our birders like to go to Pocosin Lake because they swear they see many birds on their wish list of birds to observe. They are always hopeful of spotting Short-eared Owls or maybe even a Red Wolf or two. Sure, Red Wolves are not birds, but who wouldn’t want to see one? They are beautiful! The Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge also has reason to boast. They receive the largest concentration of Snow Geese and White Tundra Swans. In fact, it is said that 70-80% of the Eastern population of Tundra Swans spend their winter in North Carolina. They are so majestic to see moving along the water.

Dress For Success While Birdwatching On The Outer Banks

Here’s a tip for you about the weather from someone who lives here. Layer, layer, layer. In the wintertime, the temperature can fluctuate from 35 degrees to 60 degrees and then back to 40 degrees all within a few hours. Layering would definitely be my suggestion as to how to dress. You might think you don’t need a hat and gloves when you head out, but they are always a good idea to have with you. I would also say wear something on your feet that you don’t mind getting a tad soggy if you are also taking pictures. The mud can last for a while after the rain here in the winter.

OBX Oceanfront Hotel Options in Nags Head and Kitty Hawk


 • Comfort Inn On The Ocean

The best oceanfront hotel in Kitty Hawk, NC is the Comfort Inn on the Ocean. Imagine walking out the back door to the deck and then out to the beach. While staying on the property enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast. Parking at our oceanfront hotel is complimentary.

 • Comfort Inn South Oceanfront

Our favorite OBX hotel in Nags Head is the Comfort Inn South Oceanfront. This oceanfront hotel provides scenic views of Roanoke Sound or the Atlantic Ocean. During your stay take time to enjoy a complimentary delicious breakfast. Parking at the hotel is complimentary as well. The sunrise from a hotel on the beach is breathtaking.
Whether you choose to stay close to one of our oceanfront hotels in Kitty Hawk, or Nags Head, NC or venture out you have a big chance of seeing the birds you hope for along the Outer Banks. Any one of our Front Desk Agents will be more than willing to help you with directions to whichever location you choose. There are also two visitor centers on the beach with more than enough information on where to go to observe common and rare birds. We hope you have fun and see the birds you desire on your visit. Reserve your room in our hotels in OBX like Comfort Inn South Oceanfront and Comfort inn on the ocean on the beach or  Contact us at 2524416333 and 2524416315  Safe travels! We will see you soon!

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