With coastal real estate in high demand, attempts to modify, protect or fortify shorelines have increased. These human-made efforts often include hardened structures like terminal groins, inlet modification and beach nourishment projects, and upset the natural life cycle and ecosystem of the shore. As a result, birds have difficulty adapting to these unnatural changes and the loss of their natural habitats.

Audubon’s North Carolina Coastal Islands Sanctuary Program, supported by Orton Foundation, protects and restores nesting habitats for water-birds in over 20 locations along the coast of North Carolina, focusing on key sites and habitats that shore-dependent birds require for nesting. The Orton Foundation also supports Audubon North Carolina’s efforts to conduct research and restoration work on the Cape Fear River to address shoreline erosion, restore and maintain bird habitat, including establishing oyster reefs on globally important sanctuary islands, enhance the health of bird populations that risk being listed under the Endangered Species Act, work with conservation leaders on initiatives to defend river health and educate local communities on improving the health of the river and nesting seasons. 


Orton Foundation funding supported the production of interactive 360-degree videos of nesting on the sanctuary islands. These are sights most bird watchers never get to experience up-close, if they follow best practices to keep a safe distance from nesting waterbirds like Brown Pelicans, Royal and Sandwich Tern, and White Ibis.