The Ocracoke Village Heronry is located on the outskirts of Ocracoke Village at Horse Pen Point. The original Ocracoke Village heronry colony was discovered near Springer?s Point in the late 1980s. For more than two decades wading birds nested at this site, a stand of red cedars and wax myrtle with scattered pines surrounded by low and high marsh. The colony had been declining for several years and, in 2007, most wading birds from the Springer?s Point site moved to the northeastern side of the village at Horse Pen Point. In 2009, the Horse Pen Point colony remained active.

Conservation Issues

Disturbance to birds, predation, recreational overuse.

Disturbances from local tours and others visiting the heronry is a concern. The colony site should be posted, and human disturbances should be strongly discouraged. In addition, the portion of the site in private ownership should be acquired and protected. Predation from raccoons and possibly feral cats has never been investigated, but both are present in the vicinity and could have contributed to the decline in the Springer?s Point colony. These predators may eventually threaten the colony at Horse Pen Point.


The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust purchased about half of the Springer?s Point colony site for conservation in 2003. The remaining acreage is privately owned. The site was difficult to reach and was not posted or protected from human disturbances. The new location at Horse Pen Point is privately owned in part, and in part National Park Service property. It is not posted.


Shrub thicket, saltmarsh.

Land Use

Wildlife conservation, recreation and tourism.

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