Seabird Sanctuaries - Bird Key - Stono
This area has been designated as an "Important Bird Area" in South Carolina. The purpose of the Important Bird Area (IBA) program is to identify sites that provide vital habitat for birds using a scientific set of criteria. For additional information on SC Important Bird Areas visit SC Audubon Society.
Bird Key - Stono Seabird Sanctuary was established to protect significant nesting habitat of sea and shorebirds. Bird Key Stono Seabird Sanctuary encompasses approximately 35 acres in the Stono Inlet which drains the Stono, Kiawah and Folly Rivers in Charleston County. The size of this sanctuary varies from year to year. From the late 1980's to 1994, the island supported the largest number of nesting eastern brown pelicans in the range of the species.
Bird Key supports colonies of nesting waterbirds because of its isolated nature and lack of mammalian predators. Although all species may not nest on the island each year, examples of species that have used the island include: brown pelican, least tern, royal tern, black skimmer, gull-billed tern, sandwich tern, common tern, laughing gull, Wilson's plover, American oystercatcher, willet, great egret, snowy egret, tricolored heron and ibis. Besides providing nesting habitat, the sanctuary provides winter loafing and feeding areas for numerous species.
The colonial nesting behavior of these birds makes them very susceptible to disturbance. Birds are densely packed into breeding sites during the nesting season, rendering the entire colony susceptible to disruption or destruction. Therefore, the sanctuary is closed to public use from March 15 thru October 15. The area may be viewed from boats during these months and is accessible to the public below the high water tidal line from October 16 thru March 14. Dogs are prohibited year round and camping is not allowed.
Directions to Property
Bird Key Stono Seabird Sanctuary is an island, approximately 35 acres in size, in the Stono Inlet which drains the Stono, Kiawah and Folly Rivers in Charleston County.
Hours of Operation
Due to bird nesting activity, this Preserve is closed to public use from March 15 thru October 15. The area may be viewed from boats during these months and is accessible to the public below the high water tidal line from October 16 thru March 14.
Closed one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
Calendar of Events and Closures
Currently there are no events for this property.
Additional Regulations for Bird Key Stono Seabird Sanctuary
Regulation Number: 50-11-860
- No dogs are allowed.
- No person may enter any area of the preserve designated as a nesting area for birds.
- March 15 through October 15 the area is closed to all access including the intertidal zone between low and high tide waterlines.
- October 16 through March 14 access is allowed only in the intertidal zone between low and high tide waterlines.
- No motorized vehicles, bicycles or horses.
The information provided on these web pages are for information only. Changes are made on the DNR's web site as new legislation is passed. Any discrepancy between these web pages and any statute or regulation shall be governed by the statute or regulation.