American woodcock
Scolopax minor
ITIS Species Code:   176580         NatureServ Element Code:   ABNNF19020
NatureServe Global Rank: 
NatureServe State (NC) Rank: 
Federal Status: 
NC State Status: 
Southern Blue Ridge:  20 Southern Piedmont:  20 South Atl. Coastal Plain:  20
Land Unit

US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Forest Service
US National Park Service
US Department of Defense
NC State Parks
NC University System
NC Wildlife Res. Com.
NC Forest Service
NC Div. of Coastal Mgmt.
Local Governments
Non-Governmental Org.
Other Public Lands
Private Lands

GAP Status 1-2
All Protected Lands




% of Dist. on
Prot. Lands

8.1 %
55.6 %
4.0 %
14.9 %
4.4 %
1.2 %
6.6 %
1.0 %
0.8 %
1.8 %
1.8 %
0.4 %
< 0.1 %

39.7 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

0.7 %
4.7 %
0.4 %
1.3 %
0.4 %
0.1 %
0.6 %
< 0.1 %
< 0.1 %
0.1 %
0.2 %
< 0.1 %
91.4 %

3.4 %
Found throughout most of the state (Potter et al. 1980); occasional near the coast (Fussell 1994).

Breeds in open areas with sparse to medium deciduous shrubby growth, including grassy balds, burned areas (Simpson 1992), heavily grazed pastures, old fields with small grassy openings, agricultural fields, and young pine plantations. Roosts in adjacent damp woodlands (Nicholson 1997).

Uses open area for a breeding display (Nicholson 1997); nest is usually located within 300 feet of this site, under a bush, tree, or other vegetation, or in a rock crevice (Ehrlich et al. 1988).


Moist woodland, primarily deciduous or mixed, thickets along streams or in boggy areas, less frequently in wet grassy meadows and fields (AOU 1983). Often closely associated with young, second-growth hardwoods, though extensive use of conifer cover has been recorded in some wintering areas and in Maine during summer drought, and high use of older forest stands has been documented in some areas (Pace and Wood 1993). Requirements include moist forested areas for diurnal cover and feeding, clearings or fields for nocturnal use, open areas with scattered brush for courtship displays, and dense stands of saplings for nesting (Roberts 1989). Singing grounds range in size from less than 0.4 ha to over 40 ha (Sepik et al. 1981). During breeding, daytime habitat (areas with rich moist soil and dense overhead cover) of the male usually is close to the singing ground (Sepik et al. 1981). In Maine, most females left nests during the crepuscular period to feed in a different cover (McAuley et al. 1993). In early summer, begins to use roosting fields at night; many of these also served as courtship sites in spring; blueberry fields and reverting farm fields are common roosting areas (Sepik et al. 1981).

Winter habitats range from bottomland hardwoods to upland pine stands, young pine plantations, and mature pine-hardwoods, though in some pine habitats the birds tend to focus their activities in lowlands dominated by hardwoods (Roberts 1993); generally occupies moist thickets in daytime, and sometimes shifts to more open habitats such as pastures, fields (including agricultural), and young clearcuts at night. In Georgia, use of forested habitats at night was extensive whereas use of fields generally was low, though some fields were heavily used (Krementz et al. 1995). See Dwyer and Storm (1982) and Roberts (1989) for detailed information on habitat characteristics.

Nests on the ground. Nesting habitat varies geographically, includes drier woodland sites, young open woodlands, low shrubby cover, old fields, tall herbage bordering clearings, thickets, scrub oaks or pines, open woodland with dead leaf cover on ground, and flat bottomlands near water. High shrub stem density and presence of edge habitat may be important in nest site selection in some areas (Dwyer and Storm 1982). Male performs spectacular courtship flight over clearing (singing ground). Nests often are within 90 m of an occupied singing ground (Sepik et al. 1981). Broods often occur in forest edge or forest habitats, but brood habitat is affected by available nesting habitat because females do not move the young far from the nest (Sepik et al. 1993).

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
378 Ocean Beaches Open beach sand. Upper Beach
3 Tidal Marsh Fresh and brackish tidal marshes, including cord grass, wild rice, sawgrass and needlerush alliances. Brackish Marsh, Interdune pond, Maritime wet grassland
124 Maritime Scrubs and Tidal Shrublands Coastal shrubs including wax-myrtle, swamp rose, alder, yaupon, and greenbriar. Maritime Shrubs, Salt Shrub
375 Hypersaline coastal salt flats Tidal flats within salt marshes, including saltmeadow cordgrass or sea-purslane dominated alliances. Salt Marsh
372 Interdune Herbaceous Wetlands Dune swales with permanently flooded to intermittently exposed hydrology. Species composition depends on salinity and can include cut grass, spike-rush, mosquito fern, and hornwort. Interdune Pond, Maritime Wet Grasslands
371 Maritime Grasslands Dune grass community consisting of sea oats and beach grasses. Dune grass, Maritime dry grassland
75 Tidal Swamp Forest Swamp tupelo dominated forest with or without black tupelo and/or cypress trees. Restricted to the tidal zones in the coastal plain. May have inclusions of coastal red cedar woodlands. Tidal cypress - gum swamp
121 Maritime Pinelands Loblolly forests and woodlands of the outer coastal plain. Estuarine Fringe Loblolly Pine Forest
17 Maritime Forests and Hammocks Maritime forests and woodlands dominated by live or sand laurel oak. Estuarine Fringe forests dominated by loblolly pine. Coastal Fringe Evergreen Forest, Maritime Deciduous Forest, Maritime Deciduous Forest
126 Interdune Wooded Depression Swamp Includes swamps dominated by sweetbay and swampbay or dogwood dominated forests. Maritime Shrub Swamp, Maritime Swamp Forest
380 Coastal Plain Fresh Water Emergent Emergent vegetation in fresh water seepage bogs, ponds and riverbeds of the coastal plain. Includes alliances dominated by sedges, eelgrass, as well as cane found in unforested cane-brakes. Small Depression Pond, Sandhill Seep, Floodplain Pool, Unforested Floodplain Canebrake, Riverscour Prairies, Vernal Pools
173 Coastal Plain Riverbank Shrubs Shrub dominated riverbanks, commonly dominated by willows and/or alders. Sand and Mud Bar
50 Coastal Plain Mixed Bottomland Forests Includes forests dominated by a variety of hardwood species, including sweetgum, cottonwood, red maple. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwood (in part), Coastal Plain Levee Forest
49 Coastal Plain Oak Bottomland Forest Bottomland forests dominated by deciduous oak alliances. Oaks represented can include swamp chestnut, cherrybark, willow, and/or overcup oak. Inclusions of loblolly pine temporarily flooded forests occur in patches. Hydrology is temporarily to seasonally flooded. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwoods (in part) blackwater subtype, brownwater subtype
158 Coastal Plain Nonriverine Wet Flat Forests Loblolly pine - Atlantic white-cedar - red maple - swamp tupelo saturated forests as well as forests dominated by loblolly, sweetgum, and red maple in non-riverine flats. Non-riverine Wet Hardwood Forest
41 Peatland Atlantic White-Cedar Forest Dense stands of Atlantic white cedar with saturated hydrology. Can include swamp tupelo, red maple, and pond pines with a moderate shrub and herb layer. Peatland Atlantic White-Cedar Forest
15 Seepage and Streamhead Swamps Includes extensive peat flats in the coastal plain, dominated by swamp tupelo, maples, and Atlantic white cedar alliances. In the sandhills includes streamhead pond pine and bay forests alliances. Saturated hydrology. Bay Forest, Small Depression Pocosin, Streamhead Atlantic White Cedar Forest, Streamhead Pocosins
30 Cypress-Gum Floodplain Forests Swamps dominated by black or swamp tupelo with or without Taxodium. Seasonally to semi-permanently flooded hydrology. Cypress-Gum Swamps
78 Pond-Cypress - Gum Swamps, Savannas and Lakeshores Cypress dominated swamps and lakeshores. Can include bays dominated by pond cypress or shorelines of coastal plain lakes with a narrow band of cypress. Non-riverine Swamp Forest, Natural Lakeshores (in part)
385 Oak Bottomland Forest and Swamp Forest The swamp chestnut oak, cherrybark oak, shumard oak and sweetgum alliance is one representative. Other alliances are dominated by water, willow, and overcup oaks. Swamp forests can be dominated by sweetgum, red maple, and black gum being dominant. Loblolly can occur in combination with sweetgum and red maple, or with tulip poplar. Includes saturated and semi- to permanently flooded forests in the mountains. Piedmont/Mountain Bottomland Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Swamp Forest
63 Coastal Plain Mesic Hardwood Forests Beech dominated forests with white oak and northern red oak as possible co-dominants. Dry-mesic to mesic forests on slopes and small stream bottoms in the coastal plain. Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest, Basic Mesic Forests
138 Coastal Plain Dry to Dry-Mesic Oak Forests Oak dominated forests of the coastal plain. Includes white oak forests with water oak or northern red oak and hickories as co-dominants. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Basic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
87 Pocosin Woodlands and Shrublands Includes pond pine woodland, low pocosin and high pocosin shrub dominated areas. Canebrakes and bay forests may be present. Pond Pine Woodlands, Peatland Canebrake, Small Depression Pocosin
67 Wet Longleaf or Slash Pine Savanna Wet flatwoods and pine savannas, typically dominated by longleaf pines, but slash or pond pines may be the dominant pines. Wet Pine Flatwoods
97 Mesic Longleaf Pine Longleaf pine woodlands without a major scrub oak component. Slash or loblolly pines may be present as well. Mesic Pine Flatwoods
42 Xeric Longleaf Pine Sandhills including a range of longleaf pine density from predominantly wiregrass, scrub oak dominated to true longleaf pine woodland. This does not include mesic or saturated flatwood types. Xeric Sandhill Scrub, Pine/Scrub Oak Sandhill, Coastal Fringe Sandhill
46 Xeric Oak - Pine Forests Mixed forest dominated by yellow pines with white or northern red oaks co-dominating. Pine Oak Heath
232 Xeric Pine-Hardwood Woodlands and Forests Mixed forest dominated by yellow pines with drier oaks including southern red, post, and chestnut oaks. Dry Oak Hickory Forest
238 Piedmont/Mountain Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Seasonally to permanently flooded areas with aquatic vegetation. Waterlily, pondweed, hydrilla smartweed are a few of the species that can occur. Piedmont/Mountain Semipermanent Impoundment (in part)
239 Piedmont/Mountain Emergent Vegetation Emergent vegetation of all wetland hydrologies. Sites would commonly support species such as tussock sedge, rushs, and cattail alliances. Rocky Bar and Shore (in part)
267 Riverbank Shrublands Riverside shrubs with temporarily flooded hydrologies. Found in the both the Mountains and Piedmont. Containing dominants such as smooth alder and a Carolina or black willows. Sand and Mud Bar
269 Floodplain Wet Shrublands Saturated shrublands of the Piedmont, includes buttonbush, swamp-loosestrife, decodon and alders. Piedmont/mountain Semipermanent Impoundment
230 Piedmont Mesic Forest American Beech - Red Oak - White Oak Forests. Mesic Mixed Hardwood
384 Piedmont/Mountain Mixed Bottomland Hardwood Forests Includes temporarily to seasonally forests dominated by hardwood species. Hardwoods include sweetgum, red maple, sycamore which co-occur in a mosaic of bottomland and levee positions. Includes alluvial hardwood forests in the mountains. Hemlock and white pine may occur as inclusions, but are generally mapped separately. Piedmont/Mountain Alluvial Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Levee Forest
383 Piedmont Mixed Successional Forest Generally loblolly mixed with successional hardwoods. Sweetgum, tulip poplar and red maple are common co-dominants in these successional forests. No equivalent
228 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Oak and Hardwood Forests Primarily oak dominated forests, white oak is often dominant, with co-dominants including . Also represented by sweetgum and tulip poplar dominated forests. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Basic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
222 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Pine Forests Loblolly dominated forests resulting from succession following clearing. This type occurs on all moisture regimes following disturbance with the exception of the extremely xeric sites. No equivalent
382 Dry Mesic Oak Pine Forests Mixed forests of the coastal plain and piedmont. Includes loblolly pine with white, southern red and/or post oak and loblolly with water oak. On basic sites of the piedmont, eastern red cedar may co-occur with post, black, and blackjack oaks. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Xeric Hard Pan Forest, Chestnut Oak Forest, Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
220 Piedmont Xeric Pine Forests Dry to xeric pine forests dominated by Virginia pine, shortleaf pine or Eastern Red Cedar. Pine Oak Heath
226 Piedmont Xeric Woodlands Generally post and blackjack oak dominated woodlands. White ash and pignut hickory can be found in combination with Eastern red cedar on glades. Xeric Hardpan Forest
20 Coniferous Regeneration Regenerating pine stands. Predominantly loblolly pine, but slash and longleaf stands occur as well. No equivalent
21 Coniferous Cultivated Plantation (natural / planted) Managed pine plantations, densely planted. Most planted stands are loblolly, but slash and longleaf occur as well. No equivalent
51 Deciduous Cultivated Plantation Planted deciduous trees. Includes sweetgum and sycamore plantations. No equivalent
36 Successional Deciduous Forests Regenerating deciduous trees with a shrub stature. Commonly dominated by sweetgum, tulip poplars and maples. No equivalent
180 Agricultural Crop Fields Farm fields used for row crops. No equivalent
205 Agricultural Pasture/Hay and Natural Herbaceous Farm fields used for pasture grass or hay production, as well as old fields dominated by native and exotic grasses. No equivalent
213 Barren; quarries, strip mines, and gravel pits Quarries, strip mines, or gravel pits. No equivalent
214 Barren; bare rock and sand Areas of bare rock, sand or clay. No equivalent
60 Sand Exposed sand, predominantly in the sandhills region where disturbance or the extreme site conditions prevent natural regeneration. No equivalent
202 Residential Urban Includes vegetation interspersed in residential areas. Includes lawns, mixed species woodlots, and horticultural shrubs. Vegetation accounts for between 20 - 70% of the cover. No equivalent
203 Urban Low-Intensity Developed Highly developed areas with vegetation accounting for < 20% of the cover. No equivalent
204 Urban High-Intensity Developed and Transportation Corridors Highly developed areas including infrastructure such as roads, railroads. Vegetation represents < 20% of the cover. No equivalent
8 Open water Open water without aquatic vegetation. No equivalent
517 Hemlock Floodplain Forest Alluvial forest with hemlock and/or white pine in mountains and western piedmont. Hydrology is generally temporarily to seasonally flooded. Canada Hemlock Forest
521 Spruce/Fir Forest High Elevation Frazer-Fir - Red Spruce, Red Spruce and Red-Spruce-Yellow Birch Forests. Tree densities included here include both woodland to forest density. Highly intermixed with Northern Hardwoods, Grassy Balds, and Shrub Balds. Red Spruce--Fraser Fir Forest, Fraser Fir Forest
522 Northern Hardwoods High Elevation forests including yellow birch, American beech, and yellow buckeye. Includes forests with Hemlock and Yellow Birch. Northern Hardwoods Forest, Boulderfield Forest
523 Grassy Bald High Elevation grassy balds including Pennsylvania sedge, mountain oatgrass, as well as shrubby areas dominated by Alleghany and smooth blackberry. Grassy Bald
524 Shrub Bald Variable phenologies, predominantly evergreen balds with rhododendon and Mountain laurels. Deciduous shrubs including green alder and Alleghany and smooth blackberry are included as well. Red Oak - Chestnut Oak Woodlands may be included in cases where the density of the woodland species is low and the shrub component is dense. Heath Bald
525 Appalachian Oak Forest A variety of oak forest types including Black, White, Scarlet Oaks in dry to mesic situations. Includes forests historically co-dominated by American Chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
526 Appalachian Cove Forest Mixed Mesophytic forests of the mountains. Includes tuliptree, basswood, yellow buckeye and surgar maple. This class is mapped to include cove forests dominated or co-dominated by hemlock. Rich Cove Forest, Acidic Cove Forest
527 Appalachian Hemlock Upland hemlock forests of the moutains region. Vary from side slopes to steep slope positions. Canada Hemlock Forest
528 Appalachian Xeric Pine Forest Pine forests and woodlands on xeric sites. A variety of pines, including Virginia, Shortleaf, Eastern White Pine, Table Mountain and Pitch pine. Often small areas of dense pine within a matrix of Xeric Oak-Pine Forests. Pine Oak Heath
529 Appalachian Xeric Mixed Forest Mixed forests with Virginia, Shortleaf, Eastern White Pine, Table Mountain and Pitch pines in combination with xeric oak species. Oaks include, white, Southern Red, black, and rock chestnut. Pine Oak Heath
530 Appalachian Xeric Deciduous Forest Deciduous forests in the mountains dominated by Xeric Oak species. Species include, white, Southern red, black, and rock chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
533 Appalachian Swamp Forest Evergreen and deciduous forests with saturated hydrologies. This class may contain a variety of trees species, including hemlock - red maple, pitch pine, and white pine forests. Swamp Forest-Bog Complex, Southern Appalachian Bog, Southern Appalachian Fen
534 Appalachian Wet Shrubland/ Herbaceous Saturated shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. Often mapped as an inclusion in Appalachian Swamp Forest. Southern Appalachian Bog, Southern Appalachian Fen
535 Talus/Outcrops/Cliffs Includes seep talus slopes with sparce vegetation, as well as outcrops including, granitic outcrops. Some outcrops will have been mapped as barren rock. No equivalent
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Limited to edge habitats including forest/field borders, shrublands and woodlands.
Exclude areas of intensive human activity including moderately to highly developed landscapes.
Pettingill, O. S., Jr. 1936. The American woodcock PHILOHELA MINOR (Gmelin). Mem. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist. 9:169-391.

Dwyer, T. J., D. G. McAuley, and E. L. Derleth. 1983. Woodcock singing-ground counts and habitat changes in the northeastern United States. J. Wildl. Manage. 47:772-779.

Krementz, D. G., and J. T. Seginak. 1993. Habitat use and survival rates of wintering American woodcocks in coastal South Carolina and Georgia. Page 133 in J. R. Longcore and G. F. Sepik, editors. Proceedings of the eighth American woodcock symposium. U.S

McAuley, D. G., J. R. Longcore, and G. F. Sepik. 1993. Techniques for research into woodcocks:experiences and recommendations. Pages 5-11 in J. R. Longcore and G. F. Sepik, editors. Proceedings of the eighth American woodcock symposium. U.S. Fish and Wild

Pace, R. M., III, and G. W. Wood. 1993. Use of daytime microhabitat by wintering woodcocks in coastal South Carolina. Pages 66-74 in J. R. Longcore and G. F. Sepik, editors. Proceedings of the eighth American woodcock symposium. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser

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Sepik, G. F., and E. L. Derleth. 1993. Premigratory dispersal and fall migration of American woodcocks in Maine. Pages 36-40 in J. R. Longcore and G. F. Sepik, editors. Proceedings of the eighth American woodcock symposium. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Sepik, G. F., and E. L. Derleth. 1993. Habitat use, home range size, and patterns of moves of the American woodcock in Maine. Pages 41-49 in J. R. Longcore and G. F. Sepik, editors. Proceedings of the eighth American woodcock symposium. U.S. Fish and Wild

Sepik, G. F., and B. Blumenstock. 1993. Management and research on the American woodcock at the Moosehorn National wildlife Refuge. Page 136 in J. R. Longcore and G. F. Sepik, editors. Proceedings of the eighth American woodcock symposium. U.S. Fish and W

Tappe, P. A., and R. M. Whiting, Jr. 1993. Discrimination between constant-zero and non-zero survey routes on singing grounds of the American woodcock in eastern Texas. Pages 32-35 in J. R. Longcore and G. F. Sepik, editors. Proceedings of the eighth Amer

Vander Haegen, W. M., W. B. Krohn, and R. B. Owen, Jr. 1993. Effects of weather on earthworm abundance and foods of the American woodcock in spring. Pages 26-31 in J. R. Longcore and G. F. Sepik, editors. Proceedings of the eighth American woodcock sympos

Banks, R. C., and M. R. Browning. 1995. Comments on the status of revived old names for some North American birds. Auk 112:633-648.

Krementz, D. G., J. T. Seginak, and G. W. Pendleton. 1995. Habitat use at night by wintering American woodcocks in coastal Georgia and Virginia. Wilson Bulletin 107:686-697.

Bent, A.C. 1927. Life histories of North American shore birds. Part I. U.S. National Museum Bulletin No. 142, Washington, D.C.

Simpson MB Jr. 1992. Birds of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press.

Krementz, D. G., J. T. Seginak, G. W. Pendleton. 1994. Winter movements and spring migration of American woodcock along the Atlantic coast. Wilson Bull. 106:482-493.

Fussell, J.O. III. 1994. A birderís guide to coastal North Carolina. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.

Longcore, J. R., and G. F. Sepik, editors. 1994. Proceedings of the eighth American woodcock conference. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report 16. 139 pp.

Nicholson CP. 1997. Atlas of the breeding birds of Tennessee. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

Williamson, S. J. No date. Forester's guide to wildlife habitat improvement. Cooperative Extension Service, Univ. of New Hampshire. 56 pp.

Miner, J. G., and J. Bart. 1989. Woodcock abundance and hunter success:regional trends from hunter surveys. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 17:258-263.

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Dwyer, T. J., R. A. Coon, and P. H. Geissler. 1979. The technical literature on the American woodcock 1927-1978. USFWS Spec. Sci. Rep.--Wildl. 213:1-44.

Harrison, H.H. 1979. A field guide to western birds' nests. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 279 pp.

Potter, E. F., J. F. Parnell, and R. P. Teulings. 1980. Birds of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 408 pp.

Terres, J.K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Sepik, G. F., R. B. Owen, Jr., and M. W. Coulter. 1981. A landowner's guide to woodcock management in the Northeast. University of Maine Agricultural Experiment Station Misc. Rep. 253. 23 pp.

Dwyer, T. J., and G. L. Storm, technical coordinators. 1982. Woodcock ecology and management. USFWS, Wildl Res. Rep. 14:1-191.

American Ornithologists' Union (AOU), Committee on Classification and Nomenclature. 1983. Check-list of North American Birds. Sixth Edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas.

Ehrlich, P.R., D.S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook:a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

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Roberts, T. H. 1989. American woodcock (SCOLOPAX MINOR). Section 4.1.2, US Army Corps of Engineers Wildlife Resources Management Manual. Tech. Rep. EL-89-5. Waterways Expt. Station, Vicksburg, Mississippi. 56 pp.

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Sauer, J. R., and J. B. Bortner. 1991. Population trends from the American woodcock singing-ground survey, 1970-1988. J. Wildl. Manage. 55:300-312.

10 March 2005
This data was compiled and/or developed by the North Carolina GAP Analysis Project.

For more information please contact them at:
NC-GAP Analysis Project
Dept. of Zoology, NCSU
Campus Box 7617
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
(919) 513-2853