The Great Dismal Swamp encompasses more than 40,470 ha (100,004 acres) of wilderness and largely inaccessible swamp forest on the border of North Carolina and Virginia. This Important Bird Area includes the North Carolina portion of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and Dismal Swamp State Natural Area on the Virginia?North Carolina line. The area contains significant nonriverine swamp forest, pond pine woodland, and pocosin, and some of the larger stands of Atlantic white cedar remaining in North Carolina.

Ornithological Summary

Great Dismal Swamp is a very important site for nesting Neotropical migrant birds (Criteria 4g). It contains among the largest populations of Swainsons Warblers and Black - throated Green Warblers for any site in the mid - Atlantic Coastal Plain. It also has large numbers of other warblers uncommon near the coast, such as American Redstart and Louisiana Waterthrush. Abundant species include Prothonotary Warbler, Ovenbird and Prairie Warbler. Large raptors such as Red - shouldered Hawk and Barred Owl are common. The federally Endangered Red - cockaded Woodpecker formerly nested in the swamp.

Conservation Issues

Succession and fire suppression, hydrology.

Acquisition of important tracts, such as the ?Green Sea? is needed. The National Wildlife Refuge portion of this Important Bird Area has a comprehensive conservation plan in place. More extensive surveys of landbirds during breeding, migration, and winter are needed.


Most of the Great Dismal Swamp is in public ownership and under the jurisdiction of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. However, there are significant private tracts adjoining the public lands that support significant habitat and birds.


Nonriverine Swamp Forest . Mature stands, dominated by red maple, with swamp tupelo, sweetgum, tuliptree and others. Bald - cypress and water tupelo are scarce and are most numerous in the wettest areas just east of the Suffolk Scarp. Cane and sweet pepperbush are abundant shrubs.
Pond Pine Woodland - A portion of the eastern section contains old - growth pond pine stands which are now being invaded by red maple. Some areas contain dense stands of pocosin shrubs, such as inkberry, generally under the pine canopy (i.e., very little low or high pocosin.)
White Cedar - Several thousand acres of Atlantic White Cedar. These dense stands have been fire - suppressed and some invasion by red maple is taking place.

Land Use

Other conservation, wildlife conservation, recreation and tourism.

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