Lowcountry Pastimes: Birding at Kiawah River

Did you know South Carolina’s abundant avian life includes more than 430 bird species, many of which are unique to the Southeastern region? As a popular stopover for migrating songbirds, the Charleston sea islands are a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers. Just ask Kiawah River’s Chief Environmental Officer, Jeff Snyder who manages the community’s woods, waterways, and wildlife. “To measure the health of the property, we look at the birds. For example, bald eagles are picky about where they nest, so the fact that we have two pairs of bald eagles means the water has plenty of fish for them to eat. The brush throughout the wooded area provides berries for food and shelter for smaller birds’ nests. In these areas, we see Baltimore orioles and yellow-throated warblers. The presence of animals like these means we’re on the right track in our land conservation efforts,” Snyder says.   

In addition to Kiawah River’s numerous bald eagle pairs, the Carolina chickadee, the Carolina wren and the eastern bluebird are longtime residents at Kiawah River and are fairly easy to spot in their natural sea islands habitats.  

The Carolina chickadee, known for its black cap, white cheeks and grey body, is an inquisitive and acrobatic bird commonly found in forested areas and suburban yards with large trees throughout the Southeast. Perfect for beginners, the Carolina chickadee call notes are easy to learn when starting out and can be identified by a four-note chickadee-dee-dee-dee.  

Identified by their reddish-brown coat, white eyebrow stripe and dark bill, the Carolina wren is the official state bird of South Carolina. Carolina wrens are often found in dense vegetation and in warmer climates, making Kiawah River a perfect home.  

With a vivid, deep blue topcoat and brick-red throat, the eastern bluebird is easy to spot among the natural backdrop of Kiawah River. Often found perched on posts or low branches, the eastern bluebird feeds by dropping to the ground after spotting their next meal – typically berries or small insects.    

From its thriving marsh flats to luscious vegetation, Kiawah River is the perfect sanctuary for native and migratory birds. An activity for all skill levels, birding can be enjoyed year-round. For a full checklist of birds found at Kiawah River from our Field Guide, see below!  

Checklist of Birds at Kiawah River


Bald Eagle  

Belted Kingfisher 

Brown Pelican 

Carolina Chickadee 

Carolina Wren 

Common Grackle 


Eastern Bluebird 

Great Blue Heron 

Great White Egret 

Little Blue Heron 

Mourning Dove 

Northern Cardinal 

Painted Bunting 

Pileated Woodpecker 

Red-Tailed Hawk 

Red-Winged Blackbird 

Wild Turkey 

Wood Stork  

Roseate Spoonbill