This site is located in northeastern North Carolina, near the town of Ahoskie. The Chowan River is a blackwater river that empties into Albemarle Sound near Edenton. Most of the Important Bird Area is in the riverine swamp forest along the Chowan River from Colerain to Parkers Ferry. The site also includes Merchants Millpond State Park, the Chowan Swamp Game Lands, and the Chowan River.

Ornithological Summary

The site is significant for breeding landbirds (Criteria 4g), wood ducks, barred owls, and woodpeckers. In addition, the site holds a significant diversity and abundance of species associated with cypress-tupelo swamp forest habitat (Criteria 3).

Conservation Issues

Disturbance to birds, commercial development, logging and tree cutting on private lands.

Logging resulting in the fragmentation and loss of privately owned swamp forest is a primary concern. Buffer zones along the river and swamp forest should be established. Audubon North Carolina, The Nature Conservancy, and other organizations have formed the Albemarle-Pamlico Conservation and Communities Cooperative to plan for conservation in the region, including planning for sea level rise. More extensive surveys of landbirds, waterbirds, and waterfowl during breeding, migration, and winter are needed.


Approximately 50 percent of the site is in state ownership and includes Merchants Millpond State Park and Chowan Swamp Game Lands, which are protected and managed by North Carolina State Parks and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission respectively. Recent acquisitions from private industrial forestlands owners have added to the protected lands in this Important Bird Area. The remaining acreage is privately owned.


Swamp Forests with bald cypress, red maple, tupelo and loblolly pine; mixed forests with beech and mesophytic oaks; lake with cypress-tupelo swamp and a diversity of floating and submerged aquatics.

Land Use

Wildlife conservation, hunting, recreation and tourism.

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