Coastal Birds in South Carolina

Erin Weeks/ SCDNR

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.

Kaitlyn Hackathorn/ SCDNR

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.

Kaitlyn Hackathorn/ SCDNR


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

September 14, 2023 - Tropical Storm Idalia dramatically alters Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary

May 10, 2023 - Recent research shows importance of SC islands in migration of threatened red knots

March 30, 2023 - Nesting season has begun for coastal birds on South Carolina islands, beaches

October 11, 2022 - Successful shorebird nesting season on a newly restored Crab Bank

December 1, 2021- Ecosystem restoration project at SCDNR-managed Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary complete

September 13, 2021 - Corps of Engineers, SCDNR announce start of construction for the Crab Bank Restoration Project

February 7, 2020 - Corps awards option for Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary renourishment

October 29, 2019 - Seabird nesting season update for 2019

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
Camille Duquet Wildlife Biologist 217 Fort Johnson Road Charleston SC 29412