The Birds of Hilton Head

After soaking up an awesome multi-colored sunset your first night, complete with cocktails and singing frogs, don’t expect to sleep in too late on your first full day of island fun. The birds of coastal South Carolina will not allow it. It is quite the symphony of reeds and blasts, some of which could use a tuning. Hilton Head is home to numerous regional and migratory bird species; some as colorful as the Painted Bunting one would expect to see in the tropics and some delightfully oversized, almost prehistoric-looking, like the Great Blue Heron. These latter graceful creatures pose like sentinels on the lagoon banks watching and waiting, unafraid of the alligators – they almost seem like peers. And these birds don’t just nest… no, these birds roost. The Sea Pines Forest Preserve is a haven for ospreys and egrets, among many other exceptional fishing birds that require privacy and space to nest. Check with one of The Vacation Company’s knowledgeable reservationists about villas located near the Forest Preserve.

Hilton Head is well known to birdwatchers and environmentalists for its many trails and parks specially preserved to nourish and encourage our education about lowcountry wildlife while giving nature a chance to flourish safely away from human noise and interference. Wandering one of these, like the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is a great way to spend a day soaking up the best of what nature allows on this coast. And finding information on any kind of bird species or trail you might be interested in is as easy as going to Wild Birds Unlimited in the Festival Centre where they can help you learn the terrain. You can also get a checklist of birds published by The Hilton Head Audubon Society that will help you identify the noisy, colorful squawkers along the way. And if you’re visiting us during the upcoming weeks, take advantage of a special tour on May 25, 2010 led by an experienced bird watcher at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn.

For the rest of us, seeing White Pelicans dive-bomb the ocean for fish is enough of a spectator sport, while Herring Gulls swoop for the remains of our sandwiches. The great thing about Hilton Head is that the entertainment doesn’t stop when you roll up your towel, the show continues throughout the day if you remember to keep watching no matter where you are; beside a lagoon, walking through the dunes, riding the golf course, or sitting on your own back deck with a sunset and cocktail.

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