Battery Island is a natural island guarding
the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Many years ago, Battery Island received deposits of dredged sand, which formed the southern upland area of the island, commonly referred to as the ?South Colony.? This is where the majority of wading birds gather to nest in the red cedars (Juniperus virginiana), yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), and other shrubs. During late spring and summer, visitors to the nearby Southport waterfront can witness the early-morning departure of thousands of White Ibises as they leave for inland foraging grounds. The sky over Southport is again filled with ibises during the last two hours of daylight as flocks from 20 to 200 ibises return to Battery Island for the evening. Battery Island supports North Carolina?s largest colony of wading birds, which include approximately 10 percent of North America?s White Ibises. The riverside beachfront is prime nesting habitat for American Oystercatchers, and the grassy uplands support nesting Willets.

Ornithological Summary

Battery Island the site of North Carolina's largest colony of nesting wading birds, supporting 10-15,000+ nesting pairs of 9 wading bird species. The site is globally significant for white ibises. At least 10 pairs of oystercatchers nest on the island annually, along with willets, numerous clapper rails, seaside sparrows and an occasional marsh wren or two. Research and monitoring projects have been ongoing since 1982 and have contributed significantly to the knowledge of wading birds and their habitats.

Species Population:
White Ibis (B) - 15, 463 prs
Great Egret (B) - 231 prs
Tricolored Heron (B) - 251 prs
Little Blue Heron (B) - 217 prs
Black-crowned Night-heron (B) - 43 prs
Other wading birds (B) - 65 prs
American Oystercatcher (B) - 10 prs

Conservation Issues

disturbance to birds, erosion, invasive plants

The island is posted, patrolled and is entirely off-limits to visitors. Disturbance to nesting birds is a primary concern. Audubon Wardens patrol the island throughout the nesting season and regularly during other times of the year. The island is also patrolled by North Carolina Wildlife Enforcement Officers. American Oystercatchers are susceptible to nest loss from high tides, and boat and ship wakes. In addition, the possible construction of a new port facility in Southport could have profound effects on this Important Bird Area depending on the final outcome of this project.


The site is protected and managed by Audubon North Carolina


coastal shrub thicket dominated by red cedar, yaupon; saltmarsh; upland sand beach

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