CRBO

Specialty Birds of the SC Coastal Plain (Eastern South Carolina)


In order to assist visiting and beginning birders, we have prepared the following information about sought-after 'specialty' birds of the South Carolina Lowcountry.   This web page is a work in progress, so keep checking back for updated versions.


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Black-capped Petrel - Seen 50+ miles offshore.  To see one, sign up for a CRBO pelagic trip or you may ride along aboard the Thunderstar fishing vessel (in Mount Pleasant, SC) for $40.  Aboard the Thunderstar, most often sighted in late April-early May and September-October.

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel - Rare and local 50+ miles offshore from late May through August.  To see one, sign up for a CRBO pelagic trip or for greatly reduced odds, you may ride along aboard the Thunderstar fishing vessel for $40.  

Anhinga - found on freshwater ponds, lakes, swamps and rivers.  Present on the immediate coast year-round, present inland nearly to the fall line in summer.  Large, easily viewed rookery at Magnolia Gardens in the Spring.  Other locations (not complete list): Webb Wildlife Center, Savannah NWR, Donnelley WMA, Bear Island WMA, ACE Basin NWR, Caw Caw County Park, Dungannon Heritage Preserve , Bulls Island , Francis Marion National Forest , Cypress Gardens, Beidler Forest, Santee NWR, Wee Tee State Forest, Santee Coastal Reserve, Santee Delta WMA, Hopsewee Plantation, South Island ferry landing, Sandy Island, Waccamaw NWR, Huntington Beach State Park, Brookgreen Gardens.

Least Bittern - freshwater marshes during spring and summer.  Coastal waterfowl impoundments are good places to find them.  Try: Savannah NWR, Ace Basin NWR, Donnelley WMA, Bear Island WMA, Santee NWR, Tibwin, Santee Coastal Reserve, Santee Delta WMA, Bulls Island .

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck - Try Donnelley WMA and Savannah NWR in late spring or summer.

Mottled Duck - Present year-round.  Coastal waterfowl impoundments are good places to find them.  Try: Savannah NWR, Ace Basin NWR, Donnelley WMA, Bear Island WMA, Tibwin, Santee Coastal Reserve, Santee Delta WMA, Bulls Island

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron - found along coastal salt marsh creeks, rivers and estuaries.  Easily-viewed rookeries in downtown Charleston at Washington Park and White Point Gardens.

Reddish Egret - present June-October.  Feeds on saltwater mudflats and beaches.  Best place to find them is Bulls Island .  Also try: Hunting Island State Park, mudflats and shallows around Hilton Head Island, northeast corner of Bulls Island , Seabrook Island (private), Kiawah Island (private except for Beachwalker Park), north end of Folly Beach, Pitt Street Causeway in Mount Pleasant, Sullivan's Island, Raccoon Key and Cape Island (boat required), Huntington Beach State Park.

Roseate Spoonbill - Present June-early October.  Try: Bulls Island, Bear Island WMA, and watch for Internet reports.

White Ibis - present year-round all over coastal SC around Salt Marshes and waterfowl impoundments.

Glossy Ibis - freshwater marshes during spring, summer and fall, plus occasional winter birds.  Rookery on Marsh Island in Cape Romain NWR.  Coastal waterfowl impoundments are good places to find them.  Try: Savannah NWR, Ace Basin NWR, Donnelley WMA, Bear Island WMA, Tibwin, Santee Coastal Reserve, Santee Delta WMA, Bulls Island .

Wood Stork - saltwater and freshwater marshes during spring, summer and fall, plus occasional winter birds.  Major Rookery at Dungannon Heritage Preserve .  Coastal waterfowl impoundments are good places to find them.  Try: Savannah NWR, Hilton Head Island, Hunting Island SP, Folly Beach, Ace Basin NWR, Donnelley WMA, Bear Island WMA, Caw Caw county park, Charleston Harbor area, Garris Landing, Bulls Island , Tibwin, Santee Coastal Reserve, Santee Delta WMA, Waccamaw NWR, Huntington Beach SP.

Swallow-tailed Kite - found in hardwood swamps along blackwater rivers and nearby feeding areas.  Present April - late July/early August.  Try: Webb WMA and nearby Bluff Landing, Martins Landing, West Bank Landing, Caw Caw County Park, Francis Marion NF, Wambaw Bridge, Santee Delta WMA, Waccamaw NWR.

Mississippi Kite - found throughout coastal SC mainland above open or forested areas from late April - August.

Peregrine Falcon - present during winter, as well as Spring and Fall migration.  Beaches, salt Marshes and waterfowl impoundments are good places to look.  Try: Savannah NWR, Hunting Island State Park, Hilton Head Island, Edisto Beach, Folly Beach (esp.  north end), Charleston Harbor area, Sullivan's Island, Bulls Island , Cape Romain NWR, Tibwin, Santee Coastal Reserve, Huntington Beach SP.

Clapper Rail - Salt Marsh resident.  The best place in the USA to see Clapper Rails is arguably the Pitt Street Causeway .  Also try: Hunting Island SP, Edisto Beach SP, marsh beside the Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston (early morning), Sullivan's Island Causeway (on an abnormally high tide), Bulls Island .

Purple Gallinule - Present late April - October.  Try: Savannah NWR, Donnelley WMA.

American Golden-Plover - Fall migrant September and October.  Try: Nimmer Turf Farm, Orangeburg Sod Farm.

Wilson's Plover - Present year-round, although in reduced winter numbers.  Best place to find them is Edisto Beach State Park (north end of park along beach).  Also try: Hunting Island SP, Folly Beach, Bulls Island , Huntington Beach SP.  

Piping Plover - Present July-April on certain beaches and mudflats.  Try: Hunting Island SP, Hilton Head Island (fish haul creek park), east Kiawah (private), Folly Beach County Park (weekday or cold weather w/out crowds), Morris Island (boat req'd), Sullivan's Island (the mid-island offshore sandbar), Bulls Island (northeast shoreline), Huntington Beach SP.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Present September and October.  Try Nimmer Turf Farm and Orangeburg Sod Farm.

American Oystercatcher - present around salt marshes and beaches year-round.  Try: Hunting Island SP, Hilton Head Island (try Port Royal Mudflats), Edisto Beach, Folly Beach, Charleston Harbor area, Sullivan's Island, Garris Landing, Bulls Island , Cape Romain NWR, Huntington Beach SP.

Long-billed Curlew - Present July-March at Raccoon Key, Cape Romain NWR (boat required).

American Woodcock - Francis Marion NF in December (nocturnal breeding displays) and Francis Marion NF in April-May (mother and broods can be seen crouching in little-used gravel roads).  

Gull-billed Tern - Present April - October.  Found near coastal beaches and estuaries, as well as waterfowl impoundments.  Try: Savannah NWR, Bear Island WMA, Hunting Island SP, Charleston Harbor area, Garris Landing, Bulls Island , Tibwin, Santee Coastal Reserve.

Sandwich Tern- Present April-October.  Found near coastal beaches and estuaries, as well as ocean waters up to ~20 miles from shore. Try: Hilton Head Island, Hunting Island SP, Edisto Beach, Beachwalker Park (Kiawah Island), Folly Beach, Charleston Harbor area, Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms, Bulls Island , Huntington Beach SP, Myrtle Beach SP.

Least Tern - Present April - October.  Found near salt marshes, coastal beaches and estuaries, as well as waterfowl impoundments.  Try: Savannah NWR, Hunting Island SP, Hilton Head Island, Edisto Beach, Folly Beach, Bear Island WMA, Caw Caw County Park, Charleston Harbor area, Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms, Garris Landing, Bulls Island , Tibwin, Santee Coastal Reserve, Huntington Beach SP, Myrtle Beach SP.

Black Skimmer - found near salt marshes, coastal estuaries and beaches from March-December.

Common Ground-Dove - rare and local year-round resident of coastal scrub habitat.  Also reoccupying agricultural lands in inland areas. Try: Folly Beach (north end shoreline to left of lighthouse), Bulls Island , Pitt Street Causeway , Donnelley WMA (around the central Dove fields / agricultural area), Capers Island HP (boat required), Cape Island (boat reqd), Murphy Island (boat reqd), Huntington Beach SP (esp.  early morning around nature ctr.  millet feeder) and the east tip of Kiawah Island (private island - need to be a guest of resident or a rental visitor.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker - resident of mature+open Longleaf Pine forest.  Try: Webb Wildlife Center, Francis Marion NF, Santee Coastal Reserve, Sandy Island.

Cave Swallow - present along the coast and around waterfowl impoundments during past 3 winters.  Try: Savannah NWR, Bulls Island , Huntington Beach SP.

Brown-headed Nuthatch - Year-round resident in mature pine forests.  Try: Webb Wildlife Center, Donnelley WMA, Bear Island WMA, Santee NWR, Francis Marion NF, Santee Coastal Reserve, Wee Tee State Forest, Sandy Island.

Yellow-throated Vireo - Present late April - July in mature hardwood forests and swamps.  Try: Webb Wildlife Center, road to Bear Island (hardwood forest immediately before first big impoundments & marshes), Edisto Nature Trail (Jacksonboro, SC), Caw Caw county park, Dungannon Heritage Preserve , Beidler Forest, Congaree National Park , Francis Marion NF (I'On Swamp Road and Wambaw Bridge), Santee Coastal Reserve, Wee Tee State Forest.

Black-throated Green Warbler (Wayne's subspecies) - Very rare and localized, present March - early July.  Try: Francis Marion National Forest .

Prothonotary Warbler - present April - July around blackwater rivers, streams and swamps.  Try: Webb Wildlife Center, Givhans Ferry SP, Colleton SP, Edisto WMA, ACE Basin NWR, Great Swamp Sanctuary, Donnelley WMA, Edisto Nature Trail, Dungannon Heritage Preserve , Magnolia Gardens, Beidler Forest, Santee NWR, Congaree National Park , Francis Marion NF, Wambaw Bridge, Santee Coastal Reserve, Santee Delta WMA, Wee Tee State Forest, Waccamaw NWR.

Swainson's Warbler - Present late April - early July in thick palmetto/cane/briar habitat along hardwood swamps.  Known for nesting in certain areas for 3-4 years and moving on, only to reoccupy during later years.  Try: Webb Wildlife Center, Francis Marion NF, Wee Tee State Forest, Congaree National Park .

Kentucky Warbler - Present late April - early July in thick understory habitat among hardwood forest/swamp.  Try: Webb Wildlife Center, Donnelley WMA (try beside east gate), Edisto Nature Trail, Caw Caw county park, Congaree National Park , Francis Marion NF, Santee Coastal Reserve, Wee Tee State Forest.

Bachman's Sparrow - year-round resident of mature+open longleaf pine forest.  Easily detected from late April - August.  Try: Webb Wildlife Center, Francis Marion NF, Santee Coastal Reserve, Sandy Island.

Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow - present in fall and winter in coastal salt marshes.  Try: Hunting Island SP, Folly Beach (north end - around corner to left of lighthouse), Pitt Street Causeway , Bulls Island , Huntington Beach SP.

Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow - present in fall and winter in coastal salt marshes.  Try: Hunting Island SP, Folly Beach (north end - around corner to left of lighthouse), Pitt Street Causeway , Bulls Island, Huntington Beach SP.

Seaside Sparrow - year-round resident of certain salt marsh areas.  Try: Hunting Island SP, Edisto Beach SP, Bear Island WMA (west side), Folly Beach (north end - around corner to left of lighthouse), Pitt Street Causeway , Bulls Island, Santee Coastal Reserve (large impoundment to the right of the main crossdike), Huntington Beach SP.

Painted Bunting - present in early successional and scrub habitat along coast and much of coastal plain from April - October, with the odd individual overwintering along the immediate coast.  Try: Webb WMA, Hunting Island SP, Hilton Head, Bear Island WMA, Donnelley WMA, Legare Farms, Folly Beach, Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms, Bulls Island, Francis Marion NF, Santee NWR, agricultural areas in Calhoun County, Tibwin, Santee Coastal Reserve, Santee Delta WMA, Huntington Beach SP, Myrtle Beach SP.

Shiny Cowbird - Summertime vagrant - less common in recent years.  Look for Shiny Cowbirds around summertime millet feeders at: Hilton Head, Edisto Beach, Folly Beach, Sullivan's Island and Huntington Beach SP (nature center feeders).




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