Coastal Birds in South Carolina

South Carolina is home to many coastal bird species, including seabirds and shorebirds. Our state plays a vital role in the lives of these species from providing nesting and feeding habitat, to migration stopover and wintering grounds. South Carolina DNR protects areas where these birds roost, nest, feed, and raise their young. At the SCDNR coastal bird program, we monitor population trends, protect nesting and feeding areas, manage and enhance habitat, and conduct research to help coastal bird populations in South Carolina.

Seabirds nest together in large groups on coastal islands and barrier beaches and feed on schooling fish. By nesting in large colonies, seabirds can keep an eye out for predators and can actively defend their nests from unwanted intruders.

Shorebirds appear in many sizes and shapes with bills and legs that vary in length depending on how the shorebird feeds. They prefer to inhabit mudflats or inter-tidal areas, and feed on invertebrates found in the soil. Most shorebirds are migratory, traveling long distances from their breeding grounds to their wintering areas. They are solitary nesters and have camouflaged eggs.


Pelicans, Terns, Gulls, Skimmers, etc.

Diet of Fishes

Colonial Nesters

Defend Nests (dive bomb, call loudly, etc.)


Sandpipers, Plovers, Oystercatchers, etc.

Diet of Invertebrates

Solitary Nesters

Use camouflage and distraction to protect nest

Recent News Releases regarding Coastal Birds in South Carolina

March 1, 2018 - Stretch of SC coast designated internationally important for shorebirds

October 26, 2015 - 2015 a successful seabird nesting season

October 17, 2014 - 2014 seabird nesting season sees return of pelicans to Bird Key

June 16, 2014 - Horseshoe Crab spawning season a boon for shorebirds

Program Staff

Felicia Sanders Wildlife Biologist 220 Santee Gun Club Road McClellanville, SC 29458
Mary-Catherine Martin Wildlife Biologist 305 Black Oak Road Bonneau, SC 29431
Janet Thibault Wildlife Biologist 217 Fort Johnson Road Charleston, SC 29422