The Snowy Egret is just one of the many birds that call North Carolina home. They are usually found along the coastal areas and are commonly found breeding along the coastline and marshy areas. The Snowy Egret is easily recognized by its white plumage, jet black beak and legs with yellow feet. It is known to be the most charming of all the birds of the marsh. It prefers to feed on small fish in shallow waters. The Snowy Egret is one of the smallest birds of the wading species measuring in length of only about 2 feet with a wingspan of as much as 3½ feet. The Snowy Egret can be found breeding in North Carolina from the Currituck Sound to the mouth of the Cape Fear River. It is one of the species that actually stays in the area during the winter, whereas most birds tend to fly to a warmer climate.
The Osprey, which are excellent fish hunters, can be found along the coastal areas of North Carolina as well as inland where the rivers and lakes are abundant with fish. These magnificent birds can dive at 30 mph and some have been observed and recorded as fast as 50 mph. The Osprey is mostly a fish eater, however they have been known to include other prey in their diets such as birds, mammals, mollusks and snakes. The Osprey is a summer resident of NC, nesting and raising it’s offspring. The Osprey has been seen near the inland lakes and rivers as far up as the mountains of North Carolina. You can usually begin to see the Osprey in North Carolina sometime in the early part of March. They are usually 21 to 24 inches in length with a wingspan between 59 and 72 inches. The Osprey only weighs between 2.2 to 3.9 pounds and the female seems to always be somewhat larger than the males.
The Great Horned Owl can be found in all 100 counties of North Carolina. They have no preference where they hunt or nest, however you will find them mostly in any woodland habitat. It is the largest owl species located in North Carolina. Because it’s hunting technique is so accurate and precise, the Great Horned Owl has been called the feathered tiger of the air. The Great Horned Owl can digest mammals the size of a woodchuck or skunk, birds as large as a Canadian goose. It also will consume any insect, reptile or amphibian. Its appetite is varied. The Great Horned Owl will vary in length from 18 to 25 inches with a wingspan of 54 inches. Its weight is usually only about 53 ounces with the males being smaller than the females.
The Black Bear is the only bear species found in North Carolina. They are normally in the mountain and the coastal areas. They are hardly ever found outside these areas, such as the populated city areas. The average Black Bear is between 5 and 6 feet in length with a height, when on all four feet of about 2 to 3 feet. The weight of an average adult female Black Bear is between 100 and 300 pounds, where the average adult male is between 200 and 700 pounds. Craven, North Carolina claims fame to the current world record Black Bear in North Carolina, which weighed 880 pounds. They feast on a variety of Nature’s goodies such as acorns, carrion, corn, fish, frogs, fruits, grasses, grubs, honey, insets, larvae, leaves, nuts, peanuts, reptiles, roots, seeds, small mammals, soybeans and wheat. Their appetite is a varied smorgasbord. The average lifespan of the Black Bear is 4 to 5 years and most never life beyond 10 years, but they can live as long as 20 years, however this is very rare.
The Fox Squirrel lives mostly in the open, aged pine-oak forests of North Carolina. The most common food source for the Fox Squirrel are seeds from the mature and green pinecones, acorns, hickory nuts, buds and berries from a large number of plants and fungi and last but not least are insets. They are usually active from 8 to 14 hours a day. The size of the Fox Squirrel is normally between 20 and 26 inches in length with a weight of 1½ to 2½ pounds. Fox Squirrels maximum life span is generally 6 to 7 years, the average is only 3 to 4 years, but some have been known to live as long as 12 years. In North Carolina, the Fox Squirrel is mostly heavily populated in the southeastern part of the state, but can be found in the more isolated areas of the state as well.
I am sure we all remember Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Yes, there is such a creature found here in North Carolina. One might say if they saw it, that it reminds them of a bat with a tail, but it is very rare that we see them, so if you ever do, please take that picture and savor every moment, as you will be one of the chosen few. The Southern Flying Squirrel is the smallest of all the squirrel mammals as it weighs only 2 to 3 ounces and measures between 8½ to 9½ inches, including its 3 to 4-inch tail. The human ear never hears some of the sounds of the Flying Squirrel. This unique squirrel can be found throughout North Carolina, even at elevations of 4,500 to 5,000 feet, in the urban areas as well as in the lower elevations of the coastal areas. The Flying Squirrel feeds on acorns, nuts, fruits, berries, flowers blossoms and buds, bird nestlings and eggs, and they will also feed on animal carcasses. In the wild, these squirrels live no more than 5 years.