Despite its small size, South Carolina includes a wide variety of different habitats. And because of its small size, most of these can be visited in a relatively short time; the determined birder can visit both mountains and coastline in a single day.
Most of the best birding spots are along the coast. Even heavily developed areas like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head are prone to landbird fallouts during migration. Huntington Beach State Park, not far from Myrtle Beach, is renowned as the state's hottest hotspot, with abundant shorebirds, many waterfowl and landbirds, and good opportunities for observing marsh and ocean specialties; recent visitors have included White Wagtail and Smith's Longspur. Further south, the Low Country is full of lush forests, massive river deltas, and beautiful barrier islands. Painted Buntings are common breeders, and Swallow-tailed Kites also nest in the region.
Santee and Savannah National Wildlife Refuges can both host large waterfowl concentrations in winter, while Pinckney Island NWR has wide variety of herons, egrets, and other waders which breed or visit. Bear Island Wildlife Management Area is well known for its collections of waterbirds of all stripes, from rails to terns. While no pelagic birding trips operate in the state, birders on offshore fishing boats have encountered Black-capped Petrels and Band-rumped Storm-petrels, among other species. On the inland side of the coastal plain is the Congaree Swamp National Monument, a dazzling patch of virgin forest with a great variety of trees and many huge individuals. This ancient forest hosts a great abundance of woodpeckers of every eastern species, formerly even including the Ivory-billed; Red-cockaded still nests in one part of the park, as does Swainson's Warbler.
The Piedmont has few local specialties, and is the most heavily developed part of the state. However, the Congaree, Broad, and Saluda Rivers, among others, flow through this region, forming ribbons of rich riparian forest that harbor many landbird species, especially during migration. There are no natural lakes here, but the many artificial ones created for fishing and other recreation have become habitat for many wintering loons and other waterbirds, while waterfowl are particularly abundant in the impoundments of the Broad River and Enoree River Wildlife Management Areas. The many sprawling tracts of the Sumter National Forest include breeding habitat for many species. The many hummingbird feeders in this heavily populated region have attracted Rufous, Calliope, and even Buff-bellied hummingbirds.
Last but not least, the Blue Ridge Mountains poke through the western tip of the state, providing an escape from the summertime heat and humidity. Many northern species reach the edge of their breeding range here, including Ruffed Grouse, Common Raven, and Chestnut-sided and Black-throated Blue Warblers. High points like Caesar's Head, Table Rock, and Sassafras Mountain provide great vantage points for hawk-watching as well as migration and nesting habitat for abundant warblers of many species.
Joshua S. Rose
Department of Biology (Zoology)
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 411
State Bird - Great Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
Birds of Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A Field Guide Ernest P Edwards 142 pages, 55 full color pages. McDonald & Woodward Publishing 2006
ISBN: 0939923963Buy this book from NHBS.com
Compact Guide to South Carolina Birds
Curtis Smalling and Gregory Kennedy Lone Pine Publishing due March 2007
ISBN: 9789768200266Buy this book from NHBS.com
Audubon Society in South Carolina
The usual list of local chapters.
Audubon South Carolina
We encourage you to explore our website and learn what Audubon South Carolina does . . . what's happening to birds and their habitat in our state . . . and what you can do to protect the places that birds and other wildlife call "home" here in South Carolina…
The Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society serves the Central Savannah River Area and includes communities on both the Georgia and South Carolina sides of the river…
Carolina Bird Club
The Carolina Bird Club, Inc. is a non-profit educational and scientific association founded in 1937. Membership is open to those interested in the study and conservation of wildlife, particularly birds. Dues, contributions, and bequests to the Club may be deductible from state and federal income and estate taxes.The Club meets three times a year (Spring, Fall, and Winter) at different locations in North or South Carolina.
We are the Charleston Natural History Society – and Charleston‘s Audubon society – a South Carolina chapter of the National Audubon Society since 1970. Founded as the Charleston Natural History Society in 1905, we serve Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties…
Charleston Natural History Society
Serving the communities of Berkeley, Charleston, & Dorchester counties…
Columbia Audubon Society
We should get Winter Wrens and Black-and-white Warblers plus lots of Red-headed Woodpeckers, but not a chance of a mosquito. We will plan to bird the high boardwalk but may go to the Iron Bridge Trail if the group prefers. The boardwalk is easy walking and the views of Weston Lake are always invigorating. The river otters may even be out sunning…
Greenville County Bird Club
The Greenville County Bird Club serves birders in the Upstate/Piedmont region of South Carolina. It was founded in February, 2000 by a group of people from varied walks of life with one thing in common: a love of birds and a desire to know more about these fascinating and beautiful creatures. We have joined together to provide opportunities for observing, learning about, and protecting wild birds and their habitats. Whether you are a seasoned expert or have just discovered the joys of backyard birding, we`d like to have you join us in this enjoyable and worthwhile pursuit!
Hilton Head Island Audubon Society
The Hilton Head Island Audubon Society was founded in 1974. We have approximately 600 family memberships. We are proud of our Society and have tried to live up to our mission statement: to promote the awareness and appreciation of nature, to preserve and protect wildlife and natural ecosystems and to encourage responsible environmental stewardship.
Lowcountry Audubon Society
South Carolina's newest fledgling Chapter, the Lowcountry Audubon Society is a group dedicated to involving the Ridgeland area in bird and bird issues. Contact Wofford Malphrus at (843) 726-5663 for more information.
Nature Conservancy South Carolina
Together with our members and conservation partners, The Nature Conservancy has protected over 191,000 acres of critical natural lands in South Carolina…
Piedmont Audubon Society
200 East Saint John St., Spartanburg, SC 29306 - Carole Anderson, President
South Carolina Wildlife Federation
From the broad coastal marshes to the Blue Ridge escarpment, South Carolina is blessed with an incredible diversity of natural resources that are both beautiful and accessible. Drawing strength from a committed membership, the South Carolina Wildlife Federation is active in promoting sound stewardship of our natural treasures. Through educational and public awareness programs along with unique partnerships, the Federation works to establish policies which sustain, protect and enhance the natural systems which give life to us all.
Waccamaw Audubon Society
Waccamaw Audubon Society (WAS) is the local chapter of the National Audubon Society serving northeastern South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina. With over four hundred members, WAS has monthly programs and field trips (the public is invited). Waccamaw Audubon is especially proud of its recognition by the National Audubon Society, which awarded WAS one of the first-ever Rachel Carson Awards for its work in helping establish the new Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge…
Coastal Carolina University - Ornithology Course
Course goals: First, by taking this course you should come to a better understanding of evolution, physiology, behavior and ecology through the study of the abundant examples in avian biology. Second, you should acquire a basic competency in the study of birds yourself: you should be able to understand and use the vocabulary of ornithology, to describe the unique features of avian anatomy and physiology and their adaptive value, and to identify many common local birds by sight or sound or both. You should be able to formulate reasonable hypotheses about questions in ornithology and suggest practical tests of those hypotheses…
Riverbanks Zoo is in Columbia, SC.
Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1932. Since that time, in support of wildlife's battle for survival and the fight against constantly disappearing habitat. wildlife managers and biologists have employed a number of wildlife management techniques…
Francis Beidler Forest Sanctuary - in Four Holes Swamp
You have entered the Francis Beidler Forest website. Francis Beidler Forest is the largest virgin blackwater cypress-tupelo swamp forest left in the world! This 11,000-acre riverine sanctuary in the heart of Four Holes Swamp embraces 1,800 acres of ancient trees that tower over blackwater streams, clear pools and 300 species of wildlife…
The mission of Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is to conserve animals, plants, habitats, and other natural components of the Piedmont Region of the eastern United States through observation, scientific study, and education for students of all ages…
Silver Bluff Center and Plantation
The National Audubon Society owns or operates nearly 100 education centers and wildlife sanctuaries across the country, totaling over 150,000 acres. Located near Aiken, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia, Silver Bluff Center and Plantation, situated along the Savannah River is an integral part of that system. With 3,154 acres of upland pine forest, hardwood bottomlands, fields, lakes and streams, it is typical of much of the Coastal Plain of Georgia and the Carolinas…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2013 [May] - Jesse Fagan - South Carolina & Northern Georgia
…At other sites in the mountains we had Louisiana Waterthrush and breeding Scarlet Tanagers! Most memorable for some folks was our stop "to the mountains" at Francis Beidler Forest where we experienced a walk through a virgin cypress-tupelo forest with soaring Swallow-tailed Kites overhead. Wow! The group's favorite? A three-way tie between that Prothonotary Warbler, our cooperative Barred Owls, and the Sora at Ace Basin NWR. Nice choices…
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
As we are based in the Carolinas, we will continue to offer a wide range of popular day and weekend trip throughout the Carolinas, with a unique blend of birds, butterflies and wildflowers. Because of our joint experience in birding and tour organization, we are also able to offer a wide range of tours both within the United States and many other countries.
Places to Stay
Inn at Middleton Place
Middleton Place, an 18th century rice plantation and the home of a distinguished Colonial family, is an area of great natural beauty with a delicate ecosystem flourishing where rice culture once thrived…
The Inn at Merridun B&B
Located only about an hour from Columbia, Greenville, Asheville and Charlotte, (and a mere 3 hours from Charleston or Atlanta); you can do as much as you want or just take time to relax. When's the last time you spent an afternoon in the hammock reading (or napping)? Exercise the rocking chairs on the veranda or spend a gentle afternoon talking to your spouse or friend.
Forums & Mailing Lists
The Lowcountry Birder
The Lowcountry Birder is a labor of love produced by a “Damn Yankee” (Translation: a Northerner from “Away” who decided to stay instead of going back North when vacation was over!) who now lives with his wife and adult “special needs” son just a couple of miles inland (“as the Osprey flies”) from Pinckney Island NWR and Hilton Head Island….
Two Birders and Binoculars
John Mark is a dedicated birder who has participated in the Youth Birding Competition for six years. 2008 was the year his team finally won first place along with a close second place in 2007. Then, in 2012 his team won first place a second time! Sam Brunson is also an avid birder who has participated in the Youth Birding Competition for three years. He has won first place in 2008 in the middle school division, fourth place in the high school division in 2011, and first place overall in 2012. He enjoys spending time out in the outdoors, and painting wildlife….
Birding South Carolina
Links, Birldlines etc…
Birding the Charleston Area
Mild winters and a large variety of habitats,(beaches, barrier islands, tidal creeks, saltwater marsh, swamps, pine forests, hardwood bottoms & freshwater lakes & ponds) make the Charleston area a premier birding destination any time of the year. Spring & summer residents include; swallow tailed kite, Mississippi kite, painted & indigo buntings, several vireos & warblers, osprey, black necked stilt & purple gallinule among many others. Winter sees an influx of; sparrows, waterfowl, finches, waxwings, wrens, kinglets, shorebirds & many other species.
Checklist - Birds of South Carolina
International Center for Birds of Prey
The International Center for Birds of Prey (ICBP) is a non-profit educational, scientific and conservation organization located near Charleston, South Carolina.
South Carolina Breeding Bird Atlas
Although South Carolina has a long history of ornithological survey, dating back to the colonial era, much of this work was concentrated in the coastal zone and sporadic in nature. Large portions of South Carolina, especially the interior of the state, have never had an adequate natural history survey.