Cedar Island is located on the northeastern tip of the Carteret County peninsula. This site includes all of the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, along with adjacent marsh and uplands. The Cedar Island marsh consists of thousands of hectares of regularly and irregularly flooded saltmarsh dominated by black needlerush (Juncus romerianus),
saltmeadow hay (Spartina patens), and big cordgrass (Spartina cynosuroides). The adjacent woodlands are primarily pocosin and pine forest. This Important Bird Area also includes the adjacent portions of Core and Pamlico Sounds.

Ornithological Summary

The marshes of Cedar Island are probably most well-known among birders for Black Rails, which can be heard call from the marsh during late spring and early summer months. The marsh also holds Seaside Sparrows, Marsh Wrens, Clapper Rails, Virginia Rails, Common Yellowthroats, Northern Harriers, and waterfowl, among other bird life. This is the only site in North Carolina where Northern Harriers have been found nesting. Songbirds are abundant in shrub thickets and forest on the refuge. Black Ducks and Gadwall breed on the refuge and on nearby marsh islands. A small colony of wading birds and laughing gulls is present on

Conservation Issues

Sea level rise, global climate change, eutrophication from adjacent farmlands, low-elevation overflights by military aircraft.

Few studies of landbirds during breeding season, migration periods, or winter have been conducted. The impact of regular low-altitude flights by military aircraft is poorly understood. Overall numbers of waterfowl appear to be declining in recent years. The National Wildlife Refuge portion of this Important Bird Area has a comprehensive conservation plan in place.


Much of this site is part of the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, protected and managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.


Saltmarsh, shrubland, coniferous forest.

Land Use

wildlife conservation, fishing, hunting, residential development

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