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Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

small state map showing location

Creswell, North Carolina


In July, 1989 the Conservation Fund, in conjunction with the Richard King Mellon Foundation purchased more than 104,000 acres of wetlands in northeastern North Carolina. On June 26, 1990, the Conservation Fund donated over 93,000 acres of this land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This led to the establishment of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, which includes this donated land and the adjacent 12,000+ acre Pungo National Wildlife Refuge. In the near future, 6,000 acres of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge will be added to Pocosin Lakes to form a single refuge of over 111,000 acres.

Vegetation of the Refuge

The predominant vegetation type of the proposal area is southeastern shrub bog, which is known as pocosin. This ecosystem is characterized by a very dense growth of mostly broadleaf evergreen shrubs and scattered pond pine. Most of this habitat has been subjected to some degree of drainage.

One of the best examples of a natural pocosin on the refuge is immediately adjacent to State Road 94 in Hyde County, 1/2 mile south of the northwest fork of the Alligatior River. Motorists on this paved highway can easily observe large numbers of pitcher plants and a forest of dwarf pond pine.

The Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge also includes 2,175 acres of land in eight tracts on or near the Scuppernong River or its tributaries. Most of this acreage consists of bottomland hardwood forest, of few stands of loblolly pine, and at least one Atlantic white cedar stand. The dominant species of the bottomland hardwood forest are blackgum and Carolina ash, with smaller components of red maple, water tupelo, loblolly pine, and bald cypress.

In addition to the bottomland hardwood forest along the Scuppernong River, there are also significant acreages of bottomland hardwoods along the northwest fork of the Alligator River, the Alligator River itself, Frying Pan Lake, and the north side of Pungo Lake. There are over 400 acres of marsh along the Alligator River.

Refuge Waters and Adjacent Water Areas

Pocosin Lakes Refuge includes Pungo Lakes (2,800+ acres), most of New Lake (4,100+ acres) and will include the Frying Pan Lake (2,000+ acres). The refuge is adjacent to the 16,000+ acre Lake Phelps. The refuge also borders or includes portions of the Scuppernong and Alligator Rivers.

Wildlife on the Refuge

The major types of "watchable wildlife" on the refuge include swans, geese, ducks, deer and bear. Pungo Lake, Lake Phelps, and the impoundments and farmland on Pungo refuge are the best places to observe large concentrations of waterfowl. Deer and bear are most easily observed in "edge" areas, near the interface of farmland and pocosin habitats. Two areas where bear seem especially abundant are the north side of Pungo Lake and the northeastern part of the large contiguous core area of the refuge.

In addition to deer, bear, and waterfowl, most of the other game animals indigenous to eastern North Carolina are found on the refuge. Bobwhite quail in particular are common on the 10,000 acres south of Lake Phelps. This acreage is dominated by broomsedge and other herbaceous plants as a result of its relatively recent history of cultivation.

Birds of the Pungo National Wildlife Refuge

The Pungo National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1963, is located in Hyde and Washington Counties, North Carolina, and is administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States Department of the Interior. The 12,230 acre refuge is composed of farmland,timber, freshwater marshes, brushland and Pungo Lake which is 2,800 acres in size.

The refuge is a wintering ground for large numbers of waterfowl which may be observed on Pungo Lake from October through March. An observation tower located on the south lakeshore provides a good view of the lake and of early morning flights of waterfowl. Thousands of Canada geese, snow geese, whistling swans, mallards, pintails, black ducks, teal and American wigeon can often be seen during the winter months. A few mallards, black ducks and wood ducks make the refuge their summer home. Bird watching for species other than waterfowl is best during the spring and fall migrations. Songbirds can be seen in thickets along refuge trails, roads and waterways. Herons, egrets and shorebirds are frequently observed around Pungo Lake and refuge waterways.

This folder lists 207 species of birds that have been observed on the refuge since its establishment.

Symbols of seasonal abundance of each species are defined as follows:

Sp - Spring - March-May
S - Summer - June-August
F - Fall - September-November
W - Winter - December-February

Seasonal Abundance
a - abundant- a common species which is very numerous
c - common- certain to be seen in suitable habitat
u - uncommon- present but not certain to be seen
o - occasional- seen only a few times during a season
r - rare- seen at intervals of 2 to 5 years

LOONS Sp S F W ___ Common Loon r - - r
GREBES Sp S F W ___ Horned Grebe - - - r ___ Pied-billed Grebe - - u u
PELICANS AND ALLIES Sp S F W ___ Double-crested Cormorant o o o o
HERONS, EGRETS AND ALLIES Sp S F W ___ Great Blue Heron c u c c ___ Great Egret u u u u ___ Snowy Egret u o o - ___ Louisiana Heron o o - - ___ Little Blue Heron u u - - ___ Cattle Egret c c c - ___ Green Heron c c u - ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron o o o o ___ Yellow-crowned Night-Heron r r - - ___ American Bittern u u u u ___ Least Bittern u u - -
IBISES Sp S F W ___ Glossy Ibis o o - -
WATERFOWL Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan u - c a ___ Canada Goose u r a a ___ Barnacle Goose - - - r ___ White-fronted Goose r - r r ___ Snow Goose u - c c ___ Fulvous Whistling Duck - r - - ___ Mallard u u a a ___ Black Duck u u a a ___ Gadwall - - u u ___ Pintail u - a a ___ Green-winged Teal u - c c ___ Blue-winged Teal u - u o ___ American Wigeon - - c c ___ Northern Shoveler o - o u ___ Wood Duck c c c c ___ Redhead - - o o ___ Ring-necked Duck - - o o ___ Canvasback - - o o ___ Lesser Scaup - - o o ___ Common Goldeneye - - - r ___ Bufflehead - - - r ___ Oldsquaw - - - r ___ Ruddy Duck - - o o ___ Hooded Merganser - - o o ___ Common Merganser - - r r ___ Red-breasted Merganser - - o o
VULTURES, HAWKS AND ALLIES Sp S F W ___ Turkey Vulture c c c c ___ Black Vulture u u u u ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk c - c c ___ Cooper's Hawk o o o o ___ Red-tailed Hawk c c c c ___ Red-shouldered Hawk c c c c ___ Golden Eagle - r - o ___ Bald Eagle o - o o ___ Marsh Hawk o - c c ___ Broad-winged Hawk - - o - ___ Osprey o o o - ___ Peregrine Falcon - - o o ___ Merlin o - c c ___ American Kestrel o - c c
GALLINACEOUS BIRDS Sp S F W ___ Bobwhite a a a a
RAILS, GALLINULES, COOTS AND CRANES Sp S F W ___ King Rail u u u u ___ Virginia Rail - - u u ___ Sora o - o o ___ Yellow Rail - - - r ___ Common Gallinule r r r - ___ American Coot u - u c
SHOREBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Killdeer u u u u ___ Black-bellied Plover r - o r ___ Ruddy Turnstone r - r r ___ American Woodcock o u o o ___ Common Snipe u - u u ___ Spotted Sandpiper u u u - ___ Solitary Sandpiper r - r - ___ Willet - - o o ___ Greater Yellowlegs u - u u ___ Lesser Yellowlegs o - o o ___ Upland Sandpiper - - o - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper r - r - ___ White-rumped Sandpiper r - r - ___ Least Sandpiper o - o o ___ Short-billed Dowitcher o - o - ___ Semipalmated Sandpiper o - o - ___ Western Sandpiper r - r - ___ American Avocet - r - - ___ Great Black-backed Gull r - r r ___ Herring Gull c o c o ___ Ring-billed Gull c o c o ___ Laughing Gull c o o - ___ Bonaparte's Gull - - - r ___ Common Tern - o - - ___ Forster's Tern r - r - ___ Royal Tern - r - - ___ Caspian Tern o - o - ___ Black Tern r - r -
PIGEONS AND DOVES Sp S F W ___ Rock Dove o o o o ___ Mourning Dove a a a a ___ Ground Dove - - r -
CUCKOOS Sp S F W ___ Yellow-billed Cuckoo u u - - ___ Black-billed Cuckoo r - r -
OWLS Sp S F W ___ Barn Owl u u u u ___ Long-eared Owl - - - r ___ Screech-Owl u u u u ___ Short-eared Owl - - - r ___ Great Horned Owl u u u u ___ Saw-whet Owl - - - u ___ Barred Owl u u u u
NIGHTJARS Sp S F W ___ Chuck-will's-widow - o o - ___ Whip-poor-will o o o o ___ Common Nighthawk - c c -
SWIFTS AND HUMMINGBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Chimney Swift - o o - ___ Ruby-throated Hummingbird u u - -
KINGFISHERS Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher u u u u
WOODPECKERS Sp S F W ___ Common Flicker c c c c ___ Pileated Woodpecker u u u u ___ Red-bellied Woodpecker u u u u ___ Red-headed Woodpecker u u u u ___ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - - u u ___ Hairy Woodpecker u u u u ___ Downy Woodpecker c c u u
FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Eastern Kingbird c c u - ___ Great Crested Flycatcher u u - - ___ Eastern Phoebe - - r r ___ Acadian Flycatcher u u - - ___ Least Flycatcher o - o - ___ Eastern Wood-Pewee u u - -
LARKS Sp S F W ___ Horned Lark - - - r
MARTINS AND SWALLOWS Sp S F W ___ Tree Swallow c c c u ___ Bank Swallow o o - - ___ Rough-winged Swallow u u - - ___ Purple Martin c c o - ___ Barn Swallow u u - -
JAYS AND CROWS Sp S F W ___ Blue Jay u u u u ___ Common Crow a a a a ___ Fish Crow c c c c
CHICKADEES AND TITMICE Sp S F W ___ Carolina Chickadee u u u u ___ Tufted Titmouse u u u u
NUTHATCHES Sp S F W ___ White-breasted Nuthatch - - o o ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch - - r r ___ Brown-headed Nuthatch u u u u
CREEPERS Sp S F W ___ Brown Creeper - - - o
WRENS Sp S F W ___ House Wren u u u - ___ Winter Wren - - - o ___ Carolina Wren u u u u ___ Marsh Wren u u u u ___ Sedge Wren - - - o
THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Mockingbird a a a a ___ Catbird c c u u ___ Brown Thrasher c c c u
BLUEBIRDS, THRUSHES AND ROBINS Sp S F W ___ American Robin a a a a ___ Wood Thrush c c u - ___ Hermit Thrush u - u u ___ Swainson's Thrush o - o - ___ Eastern Bluebird o o o o
KINGLETS AND GNATCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher o o o o ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet - - o o ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet - - o o
PIPITS Sp S F W ___ American Pipit - - - r
WAXWINGS Sp S F W ___ Cedar Waxwing o - o o
SHRIKES Sp S F W ___ Loggerhead Shrike o o o o
STARLINGS Sp S F W ___ Starling a a a a
VIREOS Sp S F W ___ White-eyed Vireo u u - - ___ Yellow-throated Vireo r u - - ___ Red-eyed Vireo u u - -
WARBLER Sp S F W ___ Black-and-white Warbler r r - - ___ Prothonotary Warbler u u - - ___ Swainson's Warbler o o - - ___ Northern Parula o o - - ___ Yellow Warbler o o - - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler u - c c ___ Magnolia Warbler r - - - ___ Yellow-throated Warbler u u - - ___ Pine Warbler u o u u ___ Palm Warbler - - r r ___ Prairie Warbler u u - - ___ Ovenbird - r - - ___ Common Yellowthroat c c u u ___ Northern Waterthrush r - r - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat o o o - ___ Hooded Warbler u u - - ___ American Redstart - c c -
WEAVER FINCHES Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow c c c c
BLACKBIRDS, GRACKLES, COWBIRDS AND ORIOLES Sp S F W ___ Bobolink o - o - ___ Eastern Meadowlark a a u u ___ Red-winged Blackbird a a a a ___ Orchard Oriole u u - - ___ Boat-tailed Grackle - - u u ___ Common Grackle a a a a ___ Brown-headed Cowbird c c c c
TANAGERS Sp S F W ___ Summer Tanager - o - -
NEW WORLD SEEDEATERS Sp S F W ___ Cardinal c c c c ___ Blue Grosbeak u u - - ___ Indigo Bunting u u - - ___ Evening Grosbeak - - o o ___ Purple Finch - - - u ___ House Finch u - - u ___ Pine Siskin u - - u ___ American Goldfinch - - o o ___ Rufous-sided Towhee o o u u ___ Savannah Sparrow u - u c ___ Grasshopper Sparrow - - - o ___ Dark-eyed Junco - - u u ___ Henslow's Sparrow - - - r ___ Chipping Sparrow u u u u ___ Field Sparrow u u u u ___ White-throated Sparrow u - c c ___ White-crowned Sparrow - - o o ___ Fox Sparrow u - u u ___ Swamp Sparrow u - u u ___ Song Sparrow u u u u ___ Vesper Sparrow - - - o
For further information, contact:
                     Refuge Manager
                     Pocosin Lakes NWR
                     3255 Shore Drive
                     Creswell, NC 27928
                     Telephone: 919/797-4431

This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1981.  Birds of the Pungo National Wildlife 
     Refuge.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1981.  Birds of the Pungo National Wildlife 
     Refuge.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.  Jamestown, 
     ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     (Version 22MAY98).

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