Culture, Conservation // 5 min Read

Birding 101

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Apr 18, 2019

Bird watching is an international hobby, with 51.3 million participants in North America alone. Close to 1000 bird species can be observed in North America and over 200 have been documented on Palmetto Bluff. Many species, including northern cardinals, eastern bluebirds, blue jays, and red-bellied woodpeckers, are year-round residents that can be common at bird feeders if provided the right food.

However, the changing seasons and our location on the coast are what truly makes Palmetto Bluff a great birding location. Summer brings migrants from Central and South America, which include summer tanagers, painted buntings, and swallow-tailed kites. These species grace us with their beautiful songs and plumage and turn the property into a tropical paradise. During the winter, snow birds in sedans are followed by snow birds on the wing. Yellow-rumped warblers, blue-winged teal, peregrine falcons, and more travel south to Palmetto Bluff to enjoy our typically mild winters. But it is the spring and fall migrations that make birding truly wild. Migrations are a time when a mix of winter and summer birds are seen alongside migratory species that do not stay in South Carolina. Sandhill cranes grace the sky, heading to their northern breeding grounds during the spring, while Cape May warblers forage through River Road Preserve during the fall. Some species, like black-throated blue warblers, can be seen during both the spring and fall migrations. This explosion of diversity caused by migrations gives birders multiple opportunities to see a wide range of species.

These seasonal shifts in diversity allow the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy to create a variety of interesting and fun educational programs on birds. The Conservancy is constantly adding more bird-related outings, like the PBC birding hikes, which are not only providing great community involvement, but also contributing data to the Conservancy’s research.