Species and Statuses

Wading Birds

Accounts From The SC Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy



The colonial wading birds of South Carolina are a diverse and fascinating group of birds. The purpose of this website is to provide information about the ecology, conservation, and management of wading birds in South Carolina. Thirteen species of wading birds (Orders: Pelecaniformes and Ciconiiformes) are known to nest in South Carolina (Table 1). Additionally, Roseate spoonbills are regularly observed in the state but have not been recorded nesting in South Carolina as of 2011.

The terminology used to describe wading birds can be confusing. In North America, the term “wading bird” is used to refer to storks, herons, and egrets. In other areas of the world, shorebirds such as oystercatchers and sandpipers are often referred to as wading birds. The sites where groups of wading birds nest are referred to as colonies or rookeries. Sites where groups of wading birds rest during the day or overnight are called roosts, and groups of feeding wading birds are referred to as flocks or foraging aggregations. Foraging is the term used to describe feeding activities.

Species Table. Colonial wading bird species that are regularly observed in South Carolina. Conservation status from SC Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS 2004).

Common Name Scientific Name Conservation Status
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax Highest priority
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Not classified in CWCS
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus Highest priority, Species of Concern (SC)
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias Moderate priority
Great Egret Casmerodius albus Moderate priority
Green Heron Butorides virescens Moderate priority
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea Highest priority, Species of Concern (SC)
Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens Not classified in CWCS
Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja Not classified in CWCS
Snowy Egret Egretta thula Highest priority
Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor Highest priority
White Ibis Eudocimus albus Highest priority
Wood Stork Mycteria americana Highest priority, Federal and SC Threatened
Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea Highest priority

Additional information about the status of wading birds in South Carolina can be found at the SC Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy website.

The “All About Birds” website by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides excellent species accounts.

Summaries of the history, ecology, and conservation of wood storks can be found in the Multi-Species Recovery Plan for South Florida and the Wood Stork Conservation and Management for Landowners Brochure (Adobe PDF).


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SCDNR Wading Bird Program
585 Donnelley Dr., Green Pond, SC 29446, wadingbirds@dnr.sc.gov