Springtime in Beaufort is best spent outside, and an abundance of migrating birds seem to agree with us! Around town, you’ll notice songbirds suddenly appear almost out of nowhere as your first sign that spring is officially here. Over 182 species, including many endangered and rare birds live in the salt marshes, tidal creeks, and rivers of Beaufort County. Our region also plays host to a variety of birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway. Read on to learn more about our favorite spots in the area and where to go for resources. Whether you’re a beginner birder or an expert, you’ll have a blast birdwatching in Beaufort.
A local favorite, Port Royal’s Cypress Wetlands offers 0.56 miles of trails around a protected Rookery offering sweeping views of Beaufort’s natural habitats. Enjoy a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk and read the informational signage regarding the many varieties of wildlife found at the wetlands. According to their website, the Cypress Wetlands not only provides a valuable habitat for the birds and other wildlife in Old Village Port Royal it also provides a place for stormwater runoff from the surrounding neighborhoods to collect and naturally remove pollutants before entering the local waterways.
Stop and listen to the sounds of the many species of birds as they soar about the skies. Keep an eye out for wrens and rare ducks. You can also observe the nuptial dances of some of the larger birds this time of year. If you’re looking to learn more, join Master Naturalist Jill Moore on the second Saturday and fourth Friday of every month for a free tour of the Cypress Wetlands. For more information you can visit them online here.
Savannah Wildlife Refuge
Well worth the short drive from Beaufort you’ll find one of the most popular wildlife refuges in the South. Savannah Wildlife Refuge is comprised of over 29,000 acres covering wooded forests and freshwater marshes. Walk along the interweaving pathways, take out some kayaks on the river, or bike around to see an incredible variety of birds year-round. More than 250 different species have been spotted in the refuge including ducks, geese, and shorebirds, and birds of prey such as ospreys, kites and great-horned owls.
The refuge offers several tours including the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Excursion hosted by Outside Savannah. This boat tour of the Savannah riverfront,m and the Wildlife Refuge, departs from Savannah Harbor. To book, you can call 843-686-6996 or visit their website here.
Hunting Island State Park
Hundreds of species of birds are resident on, or visit, Hunting Island including: painted buntings, tanagers and orioles, along with pelicans, oystercatchers, skimmers and terns, herons, egrets and wood storks. Perfect for nature lovers, the entire island is set aside for hiking, biking, and birdwatching. If you are an inexperienced birder, stop by the nature center and sign up for a guided walk with a naturalist who will gladly point out all the different species in the park. If you want to head out on your own, print off the Hunting Island Birding Checklist and see how many you can check off.
You can also take a ferry from Hunting Island for a naturalist-led tour of St. Phillips Island where you can explore trails, enjoy the beach and see wildlife of this pristine barrier island. Book a tour here
Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, attracts thousands of migratory birds annually. The refuge also provides nesting habitat for colonial wading birds such as ibis, egrets, and herons. In fact, The refuge is one of the best places in South Carolina to see breeding, yellow-crowned night herons. Other wading bird breeders include: snowy egrets, cattle egrets, tri-colored herons, little blue herons, and black-crowned night herons. Located on a barrier island situated between Beaufort and Hilton Head island, Pinkney Island is a great place to enjoy wildlife-dependent activities such as hiking, bicycling, and bird watching. With over 14 miles of trails ranging from 1.2 miles to 7.8 miles round-trip, the refuge is great for all experience levels. Click here for more information.
Check out our local resources!
Beaufort Photography Tours
Are you an eager birder looking to hone your photography skills and gain some knowledge of the area? Check our Beaufort Photography Tours! Your guide will pick you up directly from our inn and show you the wild side of Beaufort. Their Wildlife Refuge Birding and Nature Tour focuses on the wide variety of species including birds, dolphins, alligators, turtles who call the Lowcountry home. Expect an exciting day of searching for these beautiful creatures and learning how to maximize your camera settings to get the best shot.
For more information and booking check out their website here.
Wild Birds Unlimited
At our local Wild Birds Unlimited the staff is always helpful and friendly, so be ready to ask all of your best birding questions! The store is always fully stocked with many different options of seeds and supplies and the products are always fresh. Their Beaufort location is in The Beaufort Town Center on Boundary street. After breakfast at the Cuthbert House Inn, fill up one of our to-go cups with the best coffee in town and join one of their morning tours. Call (843) 379-5454 Monday through Saturday 9-5 for more information. Their Facebook page is also a great source for local birding tips and community.
Port Royal Sound Maritime Center
The Port Royal Sound Foundation established the Maritime Center to be an educational experience for all, especially those interested in the wildlife native to the Lowcountry. The center, located on Lemon Island, features exhibits, live animals, as well as indoor and outdoor hands-on educational opportunities where visitors can learn about the Port Royal Sound. There truly is something for everyone here. And one of the best parts is, admission is completely free! Tours are self-guided with volunteer docents available to answer questions and assist as needed.
If you’re interested in a group tour, you can contact 843-645-7774. To see their current calendar of events, click here.”
Our inn keepers Ed and Connie are avid birders! At the Cuthbert House Inn, we often awake to the songs and lively antics of our local Carolina wrens. Book a stay in one of our beautiful rooms and expect a front-row seat to interesting aviary views as well as tips and tricks from our experienced resident bird-lovers. Our location on the Beaufort waterfront is perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee on the porch with your binoculars. Guests are thrilled to observe the occasional roseate spoonbill or wood stork from the front porch. Let us help you plan your trip today.
Ready to go birding in Beaufort? Book your stay at The Cuthbert House Inn, an upscale B&B in a historic mansion with unique Bay views in the heart of Beaufort, SC.