South Carolina, with its warm climate, diverse habitats, and miles of coastline, is a haven for a multitude of water birds. From its sun-drenched beaches to its swampy marshlands, the state supports an incredible array of 27 distinct water bird species.
South Carolina water birds
South Carolina, with its rich mix of coastal areas, wetlands, and lakes, offers diverse habitats for a variety of water birds. Here are 25 of the most common species you might encounter in the state:
|Best Location to Find
|Swan Lake Iris Gardens
|Great Blue Heron
|Huntington Beach State Park
|Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
|Hilton Head Island
|American White Pelican
|Santee National Wildlife Refuge
|Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
|Bear Island Wildlife Management Area
|Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
|Lake Conestee Nature Park
|American Black Duck
|Santee Coastal Reserve
|Congaree National Park
|Myrtle Beach State Park
|Santee State Park
|ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge
Water Bird Species Found in South Carolina
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
The Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis)
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)
Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja)
Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger)
Where to Spot South Carolina’s Water Birds
South Carolina’s diverse landscapes, from its coastlines to its freshwater marshes and saltwater estuaries, provide an array of habitats for water birds. Here are some of the best places to observe them:
Congaree National Park, Hopkins: This biodiverse park is known for its large tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest. It’s an excellent place for spotting water birds like Wood Ducks, Belted Kingfishers, and Green Herons.
Santee National Wildlife Refuge, Summerton: Located on the north shore of Lake Marion, it attracts migratory water birds such as Northern Pintails, American Coots, and Ruddy Ducks.
Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, Green Pond: Renowned for its impressive waterfowl populations in winter, you might see a variety of water birds including Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Black-crowned Night-Herons.
Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge, Hollywood: Covering a massive area, the refuge hosts many species of water birds like the Glossy Ibis, White-faced Ibis, and Roseate Spoonbill.
Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet: This coastal preserve is a must-visit for birdwatchers. From Brown Pelicans to Double-crested Cormorants and American Avocets, the variety of water birds is astounding.