In December 2016, 253 individuals participated in the Annual Christmas Bird Count held by Hilton Head’s chapter of the Audubon Society. It revealed 131 bird species and a total of 25,350 birds.
Large blue herons and white egrets pose handsomely beside lagoons and marshes. Dark and spooky anhingas look magnificent as they stretch their wings out to dry, and gulls and sandpipers scold you on the beach. Both the amateur and the avid birdwatcher quickly recognize Hilton Head and the Lowcountry as a prime place for birding.
The National Audubon Society has designated 17 important birding areas in the Lowcountry, including the 350,000 acre ACE Basin north of Beaufort. Two places on Hilton Head have qualified: Ibis Pond in the Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge and Lake Mary in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. Both sites are home to densely populated rookeries in springtime.
Another ideal birding locations include the 50-acre Audubon Newhall Preserve on Palmetto Bay Road, Fish Haul Creek Park on Mitchelville Road, Hunting Island east of Beaufort, and the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge on US 17 northeast of Savannah in Hardeeville.
Birding is an essential part of the Lowcountry experience. Most guided ecotours include bird watching as part of their excursions. The guides and naturalists will be able to identify the most common species for you. You can tour by kayak or on boats ranging in size from small six-passenger canopied boats to sailboats to double-deck excursion boats. Most nature tours are offered year around.
For more information, contact:
Backwater Cat Adventure (843-300-8556)
Commander Zodiac (843-671-3344)
Dolphin and Nature Cruises (843-681-2522)
Dolphin Seafari (843-785-2345)
Kayak Hilton Head (843-684-1910)
Live Oac Adventures (888-254-8362)
Lowcountry Wildlife Photo Safaris (843-524-3037)
Outside Hilton Head (800-686-6996)