coastal Wildlife Refuge Society

Supporting Northeastern North Carolina's National Wildlife Refuges


Jackie Orsulak



Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival

Wings Over Water 2023

October 17 thru 22 (main session)

Keynote speaker - Julie Zickefoose - author, artist, naturalist, speaker

December 8 thru 10 (WOW Encore session)

Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival is one of the premier wildlife festivals in the United States. It is comprised of over 85 birding, paddling, photography, art and natural history trips, tours and programs.  Participants come from all over America and the world to enjoy the beautiful scenery and amazing wildlife.

The main body of the festival is held in October (dates vary from year to year). This is when the potential for mild weather exists and when there is less road traffic and lodging rates are lower.

We also have a Wings Over Water session in December called Wings Over Water Encore (dates vary year to year) just for birding. Wings Over Water Encore is held in what is often colder weather especially for birders and photographers. The hope is that there is a better possibility of seeing large flocks of migratory birds and waterfowl over what is present during the October session.

Wings Over Water takes place over a six county northeastern North Carolina area. It includes six national wildlife refuges-Alligator River, Pea Island, Pocosin Lakes, Mattamuskeet, Mackay Island and Currituck National Wildlife Refuges.

The festival maintains reasonable fees per trip. Programs are kept small so that participants can easily get instructions and ask questions. There are both outdoor and indoor events.

Program leaders are all experts in their field and nearly every one is a volunteer, generously giving their time and energy in support of this annual refuge fundraising event. WOW leaders come from across North Carolina and the region. Wings Over Water has a high return rate of participants. One reason they come back year after year is because of our high-quality leaders.

The Wings Over Water region is part of the Atlantic Flyway, in which over 400 bird species live or migrate.  Besides being a haven for birds, Wings Over Water participants have the potential of seeing a variety of reptiles, amphibians and mammals such as, black bear, river otter, alligators and the endangered red wolf.

Wings Over Water is an annual refuge fundraising event sponsored by Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society. The CWRS is a non-profit group who exist to support regional national wildlife refuges. Besides providing educational grants to schools, the CWRS is a part of many refuge support projects such as maintaining trails and signs and other refuge structures. Also, CWRS provides volunteers and staff who are essential to the maintenance and operation of regional national wildlife refuges visitor centers.

Steve Brumfield, Wings Over Water Coordinator 252-216-9464. http://www.wingsoverwater.org/