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Go Bird Watching in a Globally Important Bird Area in South Carolina

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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Bear Island Wildlife Management Area provides foraging habitat for wading birds like this juvenile black-crowned night heron.

If you’re one of those binocular-carrying, bird list-checking travelers always looking for a new spot to spy interesting or rare avian species, you’ve got 45 Important Bird Areas in South Carolina sure to help you score your next significant sighting.

Identified by the National Audubon Society, the areas include 17 sites considered globally important for the conservation of endangered, threatened or bird populations of concern. Located across the state, from the mountains to the Piedmont to barrier islands along the coast, these Important Bird Areas span all of the major habitat types.

Below is a list of South Carolina Globally Important Bird areas that are open to the public and some of the species that can be found there:

ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge – Edisto Unit 
Location: 6,500 acres in Charleston County
Bird species include: wood stork, bald eagle, barn owl, red-headed woodpecker, mottled duck and painted bunting

 

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area
Location: 12,000 acres in Green Pond
Bird species include: greater and lesser yellowlegs, dowitcher and common snipe, white and glossy ibis, bald eagle, wood stork

 

Beaufort Barrier Islands
Location: Chain of six barrier islands that includes Harbor, Hunting, Fripp, Pritchards, Capers and Old Island
Bird species include: red knot, willet, red-breasted merganser, Wilson’s plover, bald eagle, glossy ibis, black skimmer

 

Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge 
Location: 46,000 acres in Chesterfield County
Bird species include: red-cockaded woodpecker, Bachman’s sparrows

 

Deveaux Bank
Location: Small barrier island at the mouth of the North Edisto River in Charleston County
Bird species include: reddish egret, rusty blackbird, sandwich tern, American oystercatcher, piping plover

 

Donnelley Wildlife Management Area
Location: 8,000 acres in Green Pond
Bird species include: Chuck-will’s widow, clapper rail, painted bunting, short-billed dowitcher, whooping crane

 

Francis Marion National Forest
Location: 258,000 acres in Charleston and Berkeley counties
Bird species include: black-throated green warbler, brown-headed nuthatch, osprey, Swainson’s warbler, Bachman’s sparrow, bald eagle

Hobcaw Barony
Location: 16,000 acres in Georgetown
Bird species include: red-cockaded woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, wood stork, American oystercatcher, bald eagle, Bachman’s sparrow

 

Conestee Nature Preserve
Location: 400 acres in Greenville
Bird species include: rusty blackbird, osprey, snail kite, sandhill crane, black-crowned night heron, northern bobwhite

 

Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve
Location: 10,400 acres in Myrtle Beach
Bird species include: red-cockaded woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, wood thrush, bald eagle, brown-headed nuthatch and prothonotary, prairie and Kentucky warblers,

 

Sand Hills State Forest
Location: 46,800 acres in Chesterfield and Darlington counties
Bird species include: red-cockaded woodpecker, American kestrel, wood thrush, loggerhead shrike and prairie, prothonotary, Kentucky and Swainson’s warblers,

 

Sandy Island
Location: 12,000-acre island between the Waccamaw and Great Pee Dee rivers in Georgetown County
Bird species include: red-cockaded woodpecker, swallow-tailed kite

 

Santee National Wildlife Refuge
Location: 15,000 acres along Lake Marion in Clarendon County
Bird species include: Henslow’s sparrow, king rail, osprey, painted bunting, peregrine falcon, wood duck, black rail

 

Webb Wildlife Management Area
Location: 5,800 acres in Garnett
Bird species include: red-cockaded woodpeckers, northern bobwhite

 

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.