Nature | Seasonal
Winter Bird Watching
As a preserved estuary, Kiawah River is vibrant with bird species such as Roseate Spoonbills, Great Blue Herons, Dunlins and more. Found nesting near our moss-covered oaks and pines, creeks, ponds and wide spans of marsh grasses along the water, Kiawah River’s 2,000 acres are a bird’s paradise, no matter the season. This winter, be sure to keep an eye out for some of our favorite backyard birds.
Great Horned Owl
Winter is the Great Horned Owl’s mating season, meaning you’re likely to catch a glance of the bird’s long, earlike tufts and yellow-eyed stare. Better yet, its deep hooting voice can often be heard echoing through solemn wooded areas in the brisk early morning.
Seeing a Calliope Hummingbird is quite a rare find considering these birds are even smaller than the average hummingbird, measuring an average of 3 inches in length and weighing less than an ounce! Luckily, the hummingbird species’ magenta coloring on the male’s throat helps them stand out from the crowd.
Like a true snowbird, American Goldfinches typically spend their summers up in New Jersey, but they are a welcomed winter guest here in the beautiful sea islands. Male birds are known for their brilliant yellow color set against a shiny black feathered coat. These birds aren’t picky when it comes to their food, so any backyard feeder may attract an American Goldfinch to your yard.
You might hear this little guy before you see him. An often-acrobatic forager, Downy Woodpeckers are black and white, often finding a home on tiny branches or balancing on slender plant galls, sycamore seed balls and suet feeders.
An enterprising woodpecker that laps up the leaking sap, the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker is black and white with a red head (and throat for the males). To spot one, keep an eye out for rows of shallow holes in the bark of deciduous trees. Quieter during the winter months, this woodpecker becomes noisy in spring, with cat-like calls and staccato drumming.
Keep an eye out for our two resident bald eagles. We have two nests along the river, and you might be lucky enough to spot them in the late fall and winter months, when they return to breed and lay eggs (typically in late December or early January). Male Bald Eagles measure 3 feet from head to tail, weigh 7 to 10 pounds and have a wingspan of 6 to 7 feet; females are larger, some reaching 14 pounds with wingspans of 8 feet. Bald Eagles, their eggs, young and nest area are protected by federal and state laws, but you can admire them from a distance.
Happy winter birding!