Important Bird Areas

Pungo - Pocosin Lakes

North Carolina

The site includes two large natural lakes? Phelps and Pungo?extensive agricultural lands, and forest, which provide habitat for a wide variety of birds. The agricultural lands provide foraging habitat in the winter months for tens of thousands of Tundra Swans and Snow Geese. Also included are several flooded fields and impoundments, mature hardwood forests along the north shore of Lake Phelps, and pocosin. The site encompasses Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Pettigrew State Park, including Lake Phelps, and private farmland west of these two lakes.

Ornithological Summary

The site probably rates of National significance for its very large wintering populations of Tundra Swans, Snow Geese, and other waterfowl. Pungo Refuge has 80,000 to 100,000 waterfowl during an average winter, of which the above two species combine for more than half of this total. Common Mergansers winter regularly on Lake Phelps and on several occasions over 200 birds have been reported, representing 80% or more of the state's wintering population. The fields west of Lake Phelps have a good wintering population of the uncommon Short - eared Owl; sometimes 5 - 10 have been reported.

Species Population:
Tundra Swan (W) - 20-30,000
Snow Goose (W)- 25-30,000
American Black Duck (W) - 2230
Other waterfowl (W) - 22,700
Common Merganser (W) - 250-300
Short-eared Owl (W) - 5-10

Conservation Issues

Current threats include invasive species (Phragmites), groundwater extraction, drought, drainage,
disturbance to birds, and global climate change impacts.

Phragmites is starting to appear at Pungo. The National Wildlife Refuge portion of this Important Bird Area has a comprehensive conservation plan in place.

Ownership

The majority of the site is under state or federal protection.

Habitat

Two lakes and cropland comprise over 90% of the site. The forest on the N shore of Lake Phleps is very mature, with scattered bald - cypress among tuliptrees and other hardwoods such as redbay. Pawpaw is suprisingly abundant in the understory. The pocosins were burned severely in a fire=1984 but are growing back. Small pond pines are present along with bay species - sweetbay, loblolly - bay, and redbay, gallberries, fetterbush, titi, and other pocosin shrubs.

Land Use

Wildlife conservation, agriculture (cultivation for waterfowl), recreation and tourism, hunting.

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