Currituck Sound is a shallow, brackish water system located between the northern Outer Banks and mainland, in the northeastern region of North Carolina. The Important Bird Area includes the extensive system of brackish marshes, creeks, channels, open water, and the adjacent Donal C. O?Brien, Jr. Audubon Sanctuary and Center at Pine Island. The Currituck Banks region of North Carolina has experienced rapid residential and commercial development in the past decade. In just a few years the 5 km (3 miles) of maritime shrub thicket, forest, and ponds on the Audubon Sanctuary will be one of the few natural areas remaining south of Corolla. The maritime shrub thickets of Pine Island are among the largest areas of this type remaining in the region.

Ornithological Summary

Currituck Sound has long been recognized for the great numbers of waterfowl that utilize the Sound during fall and winter. As many as 10% of the waterfowl on the Altantic Flyway once wintered in the area. Today, numbers have declined considerably, but the Sound still supports 20,000-25,000 ducks geese, and swans annually. A great diversity of songbirds utilize the maritime shrub thickets during fall migration and marshes support rails, bitterns, and wading birds. 170 bird species have been recorded on the Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary. The site has significant maritime shrub thicket and forest habitat (criteria 3).

Conservation Issues

Water pollution, disturbance to birds, natural pests, and residential and commercial development.

Water quality is an issue of concern for all of Currituck Sound. Declines in submerged aquatic vegetation and subsequent declines in waterfowl and fisheries have been attributed to increased salinity, turbidity, and non-point source pollution. With increased development and increased recreational activity on Currituck Sound, disturbance to birds has become a great concern in recent years. 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. Surveys of waterbirds, landbirds, and marsh birds during breeding, migration,and winter are needed.


Audubon North Carolina protects approximately 2,023 ha (4,999 acres). A private hunting club holds much of the remaining marsh acreage.


Maritime shrub thicket, mixed forest, estuary, brackish marsh, open water, shallow-water impoundments.

Land Use

Wildlife conservation, recreation and tourism, hunting, fisheries.

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