The Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is located at the north end of Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The refuge provides nesting, resting and wintering habitat for migratory birds such as the greater snow geese. Established in 1937, the refuge is 5,834 acres of land, about 13 miles long. The refuge contains ocean beach, dunes, upland, fresh and brackish water ponds, salt flats and salt marsh. With more than 365 species of birds, the refuge is known as a "Birder’s Paradise”. Other eco-tourists include canoeists, kayakers, beachcombers, surf and sound anglers and nature photographers. Visitors can also see 25 species of mammals, 24 species of reptiles and 5 species of amphibians. Here are some Natural History Facts about the refuge from the Pea Island website:
- Area was historically used for market waterfowl hunting, commercial fishing, farming, and livestock operations.
- Refuge is comprised of ocean beach, dunes, upland, fresh and brackish water ponds, salt flats, and salt marsh.
- Bird list boasts more than 365 species; wildlife list has 25 species of mammals, 24 species of reptiles, and 5 species (low number due to salt environment) of amphibians.
- Concentrations of ducks, geese, swans, wading birds, shore birds, raptors, neotropical migrants are seasonally abundant on refuge.
- Refuge has 1,000 acres of manageable waterfowl impoundments.
- Several shorebird nesting areas and wading bird rookeries are located on the refuge.
- Endangered and threatened species include: peregrine falcons, loggerhead sea turtles, and piping plovers.
Pea Island can be best seen either by its hiking trails or canoe/kayak trails. The wildlife trails wander through the refuge with observation platforms and double decker towers.
Enjoy either the North Pond trail or the Salt Flats trail. If by water is the way you want to go, visitors are welcome in the Atlantic Ocean or Pamilico Sound. There is a boat ramp for those who want to explore on their own or sign up for a guided kayak tour through the refuge. The Pea Island visitors center is open 9am to 4pm daily year-round. Volunteers are on site to answer any questions, schedule your canoe tour or give you a bird list or refuge leaflet.