Sand Bag Island is a dredged-sand island
located near Cape Lookout. The island is managed for nesting waterbirds that require bare to sparse vegetation habitats, such as terns. Royal Terns and Sandwich Terns are the dominant species.

Ornithological Summary

Sand Bag Island is one of North Carolina's most important nesting sites for Royal and Sandwich Terns. In some years, the island has supported nesting pelicans.

Conservation Issues

Disturbance to birds, erosion, loss of bare sand habitats.

The island is posted, patrolled, and entirely off limits to visitors during the nesting season, from April 1 to August 31. Sand Bag Island needs periodic sand renourishment to maintain its size, shape, and habitats. This has been accomplished by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in cooperation with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and the North Carolina Colonial Waterbird Management Committee.


The site is protected and managed by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.


Bare sand, sparse to moderate-density grasses and herbs.

Land Use

Wildlife conservation.

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