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Virtual Bird Sanctuary Experience Now Online

Brown Pelicans. Photo: Lindsay Addison, Audubon North Carolina

WILMINGTON – Audubon North Carolina is bringing nesting birds and birdwatchers together virtually by releasing a series of interactive 360-degree videos.

Audubon North Carolina manages eight sanctuary islands in Brunswick and New Hanover counties, protecting 50,000 birds and thousands of chicks from human disturbance during nesting season, which has arrived.

The 360-degree videos allow the public to be just a a few feet away from a colony of nesting brown pelicans on North Pelican Island while on South Pelican Island, royal and sandwich terns fly by within inches of the camera’s lens. On Battery Island, viewers will hear white ibis chicks begging for food.

“Island sanctuaries for birds on the Lower Cape Fear River are essential for successful nesting and migration,” Curtis Smalling, director of conservation for Audubon North Carolina, said in a statement. “The long-term impact of habitat that remains free from human disturbance is higher productivity rates for birds (more chicks each year), stable to growing islands, healthier fisheries and improved water quality for local communities.”

With renewed funding from The Orton Foundation, Audubon North Carolina biologists will use two decades’ worth of monitoring data to identify land management practices most successful at protecting and increasing nesting pairs and populations on these sanctuary islands, according to the release.

“We applaud Audubon North Carolina’s commitment to the beautiful nesting birds of the iconic Cape Fear River and are thrilled about the opportunity visitors will have to learn more about these essential sanctuaries while keeping a safe distance,” said Ann Colley, executive director and vice president of The Moore Charitable Foundation and its affiliates, in a statement. “Audubon North Carolina’s sanctuary management will benefit wildlife, the river, and coastal tourism and recreation.”

The Orton Foundation focuses on protecting the Cape Fear River Basin’s unique wetlands, lands, forest and wildlife habitats and is an affiliate foundation of the Moore Charitable Foundation.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.