Go Birdwatching in the ACE Basin

By:Marie McAden


Bottomland hardwoods. Check. Managed wetlands. Check. Maritime forests. Check.

With such diverse habitats, it’s no wonder the ACE Basin offers some of the best birdwatching in South Carolina. More than 265 species of resident and migrant birds have been sighted in the 79,000 acres of public lands.

Here is a list of properties designated Important Bird Areas by the National Audubon Society:

  • ​Bear Island Wildlife Management Area. The 12,000-acre property features two observation platforms and miles of dikes to observe wintering waterfowl, bald eagles, wading birds, shorebirds and songbirds.
  • ​Donnelley Wildlife Management Area. This unique property is a cross-section of the Lowcountry with diverse wetland and upland habitats. It has two designated nature trails and miles of dirt roads.
  • ​ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge. From late fall to early spring, the 11,815-acre refuge is a haven for wood ducks, pintails, shovelers, mallards and wigeons, among other wintering waterfowl. It also is crucial to the survival of endangered wood storks and other threatened species.
  • ​Dungannon Heritage Preserve. One of the top nesting colonies for wood storks in South Carolina, this 643-acre preserve also provides a nesting and feeding habitat for ospreys, anhinga, great egrets and great blue herons.
  • ​Audubon Beidler Forest. A 1.75-mile boardwalk provides the perfect perch to observe such favorites as painted buntings and prothonotary warblers.

If you want to know what birds frequent the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge, see the ​checklist. Some of the wildlife managed areas close to the public during scheduled hunts. Be sure to check with state or federal wildlife officials before visiting these areas. 

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Ernest F. Hollings Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge




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The 350,000-acre ACE Basin Project is one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the East Coast, named for the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers. The 11,815-acre Erne ...

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