Carolina bays are unique landscape features found primarily in the southeastern United States. They are generally shallow, elliptical depressions with a northwest-southeast axis and an elevated sandy rim along the southern edge. They vary in size from less than half a hectare to several thousand hectares and can be predominantly open water or entirely covered by dense, woody vegetation. Carolina bays can be hard to distinguish on the ground but, viewed from the air, can easily be picked out on the landscape. Carolina bays have received much attention from scientists in many different fields, but only very limited attention from ornithologists or others interested in birds. Dunahoe Bay is an undisturbed and permanently flooded Carolina bay located near the town of Red Springs. It is an excellent example of a Carolina bay and supports a significant colony of nesting colonial waterbirds.

Ornithological Summary

This site supports North Carolina's largest colony of nesting Anhingas and is one of the State's largest inland waterbird colonies.

Conservation Issues

Water pollution, agriculture conversion, water diversion, and disturbance to birds.

Efforts should be made to prevent human disturbance during the nesting season (March? August) and secure a buffer sufficient to maintain the integrity of the bay. Numbers of breeding wading birds have plummeted since 1999, including most of the Cattle Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Little Blue Herons. Few studies of birds during breeding season, migration periods, or winter have been conducted.


The Nature Conservancy currently owns the entire Carolina Bay and a partial buffer zone.


Permanently flooded Carolina bay dominated by pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) and black gum (Nyssa biflora). Open water areas are dominated by water lily (Nymphaea odorata) and bladderworts (Utricularia inflata and U. purpurea).

Land Use

Wildlife conservation, other conservation.

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