Beacon Island is a natural estuarine island located in southeastern Pamlico Sound, near Ocracoke Island.? The island is small, low in elevation, and dominated by grassy vegetation. Extensive shallow water sand and seagrass flats surround the island. Beacon Island has a long history of use by nesting colonial waterbirds. The site is posted and patrolled by Audubon North Carolina staff, and is off-limits to all visitors during the breeding season.

Ornithological Summary

Beacon Island has long been a nesting site for brown pelicans. It was here, in 1928, that the species was first recorded nesting in North Carolina. The island supports one of the state's largest colonies of Brown Pelicans. The island also support a colony Laughing Gulls that can range in number from 200 to more than 5000 pairs. Two to three pairs of American Oystercatchers nest on the island every year along with Clapper Rails, Herring Gulls, Great-Black-backed Gulls and Forster's Terns.

Conservation Issues

Disturbance to nesting birds, erosion.

The island is posted, patrolled and is entirely off-limits to visitors during the nesting season from March 1 until the last Pelican chicks fledge in September or October. Human disturbance is a threat and can result in egg or chick loss, nest abandonment, and colony abandonment. Erosion of the island also is a concern.


The site is protected and managed by Audubon North Carolina.


high saltmarsh

Land Use

wildlife conservation

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