5 Unique Coastal Birds of South Carolina near Charleston

Birds of South Carolina: A snowy egret takes flight from a Charleston shoreline.

Many may not know it, but Charleston is an excellent city to visit if you’re a birding enthusiast. Often, novice birdwatchers think only of rural areas as the best places to observe their favorite species, which is understandable given the bird’s preferred habitats. Still, the Lowcountry offers a plethora of coastal birds of South Carolina, and Charleston is no exception. So, if you or someone you know is a burgeoning birder planning a visit to “The Holy City,” this list of five unique coastal birds from Charleston Coast Vacations is a must-read.

Why Charleston is Excellent for Birdwatching

Although most birds prefer quiet rural environments, Charleston is somewhat unique. Unlike many cities, Charleston has plenty of nearby and local habitats where birds thrive. Inland marshes, piers, jetties, and golf courses are just a few spots these birds frequent. If you find yourself kayaking, fishing, or hanging out on the beach, you’ll likely encounter one of the many coastal birds of South Carolina. Let’s delve into five highly sought specimens!

Great Egret

As one of the most common migratory birds of South Carolina, great egrets live as far north as Wisconsin during summer. Their preferred cuisine is any aquatic animal smaller than they are, including frogs, small fish, and even tiny mammals. Great egrets are readily seen standing in shallow marshes, coastal estuaries, and pond edges.

Snowy Egret

Birds of South Carolina: Great Blue Heron

Once on the brink of extinction, the snowy egret has made a massive comeback in the last century. These beautiful coastal birds are characterized by regal-like white whisps on their chest, head, and tips of their wings. Much smaller than the Great Egret and with distinct yellow feet, snowy egrets are commonly seen standing up amid the shallows of marshes, swamps, and shores.

Roseate Spoonbill

Birds of South Carolina: Roseate Spoonbill

With their pinkish plumage and spoon-shaped beaks, roseate spoonbills take on a somewhat prehistoric appearance. Although these idyllic aves live in large colonies hanging out with egrets and other aquatic birds, spoonbills only inhabit Charleston’s waters during their mating season from late spring to early summer. Fun fact: You can tell how old a roseate spoonbill is by its pinkness because its feathers become brighter as it ages.

Black Skimmer

Perhaps the daredevil of South Carolina’s coastal birds, the black skimmer can be seen cruising above water, going after fish near the surface. These acrobatic avians sport bright orange beaks, which open along the top of the water, “skimming” for food. Unfortunately, human activity is extremely disruptive to their habitat, so ensure you use some binoculars to keep a safe distance while still enjoying their presence.

Brown Pelican

Birds of South Carolina: Brown Pelican

As one of the most common aquatic birds of South Carolina, you’ve probably seen the brown pelican at the beach or standing on a pier in Charleston. Taking formation much like a gaggle of geese, these unique coastal birds hunt for fish from high in the sky and store them in the “pouch” of their oversized beaks. You may also see American white pelicans sharing space with the brown variety. The easiest way to tell the difference is all in the name; white pelicans are white with yellow bills, and brown pelicans are brown with dark gray to black bills.

Beach Vacation Rentals in South Carolina

In all honesty, the list we shared merely scratches the surface regarding coastal birds of South Carolina, but it’ll still give you an excellent start. And if you’re staying with Charleston Coast Vacations, you may even see some of these unique specimens near your vacation rental in Folly Beach, Mount Pleasant, or Isle of Palms. No matter where you stay, Charleston Coast Vacations promises to provide the perfect place to plan all your getaway activities.

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