The Knights did not choose this location for their hunting retreat randomly. It sits on the Atlantic Flyway, a primary migratory route for waterfowl. Currituck, as in Currituck County, comes from the Native American work carotank or "land of the wild goose". The Currituck Sound is eight miles wide in places, very shallow, and ringed with reeds that give shelter and aquatic grasses that provide food for migrating birds.
In the past the number of waterfowl attracted here each winter soared to great numbers. This caused a phenomenon referred to locally as "smoke." So many ducks and geese filled the sky they formed a dark cloud that blocked the sun. Although changes in water quality have reduced the numbers of waterfowl, many types of birds still rest in area waters.
These photographs show a selection of decoys owned by the Whalehead Preservation Trust and displayed at the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. They represent wildfowl common to the area.
[Text with upper right photo:] Binoculars. Courtesy of the Currituck Wildlife Guild
[Text with middle right photo:] Birds in flight over the Currituck Outer Banks.
[Text with decoys, left to right:]
Canada Goose. Canada Goose decoy made by Ned Burgess, ca. 1930.
Coot. Coot decoy made by Ellie Saunders, ca. 1925.
Ruddy Duck. Ruddy Duck decoy made by John Williams, ca. 1885.
Canvas Back. Canvas Back decoy made by Callie O'Neal, ca. 1945.
Swan. Swan decoy made by Mannie Haywood, ca. 1935.