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Where to Go Birding

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Mild winters and a large variety of habitats, (beaches, barrier islands, tidal creeks, saltwater marsh, swamps, pine forests, hardwood bottoms, and freshwater lakes and ponds) make the Charleston area a premier birding destination any time of the year.

Spring and summer residents include; swallow-tailed kite, Mississippi kite, painted and indigo buntings, several vireos and warblers, osprey, black necked stilt and purple gallinule among many others. Winter sees an influx of; sparrows, waterfowl, finches, waxwings, wrens, kinglets, shorebirds and many other species. The Peterson CD ROM lists 329 species for SC. All but a few can be found in the low country, over the course of a year.

The following are just a few of the many good birding areas in the Charleston area. Any place you want to take a few minutes to explore can be a good spot. for other birding spots in our area.

Near Downtown:

Pitt Street Bridge
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Old bridge which went from Mt. Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island. Now a walking area in Mt. Pleasant, overlooking the Charleston harbor, the marshes and Sullivan's Island. Great to see wading birds, including herons, egrets and a favorite; American oystercatchers. In the fall and winter, look for marbled godwits. Keep eyes and ears open for a resident kingfisher. Try to time visits for a couple of hours either side of low tide.
Folly Beach
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Both ends of the island offer good birding opportunities. The north end of the island offers public parking to the right, just before the road ends. The Old Coast Guard Stateion lies beyond the gate and it is just a short walk to the beach thru shrubby areas (often teaming with songbirds). From the northern tip of the island you can see the Morris Island Lighthouse and (depending on the tide) look for shorebirds along the sandbars and sea ducks and loons around the rocky groins.

The South end of the island holds the Folly Beach County Park: Recent expansion of the parking lots destroyed much of the dune and marsh habitat here, but where the beach overlooks the Stono Inlet is still a fine place to see shorbirds. Black Skimmers, assorted terns and occasionally Lesser Black-Backed Gulls aren't unusual finds.