Wintering Birds at Bear Island WMA

Many birds decide they want to have the best of all worlds. Why stay in the cold north through the winter when you can fly to mild, beautiful South Carolina. Why compete with all the other animals in South Carolina in the summer when you can go north and have food in abundance, enough to feed those hungry chicks. When you have wings, use them!

Below is an example of a species map, the Northern Shoveler.  The blue represents areas it spends its winter in.  The red areas are where it goes to raise its young.  They have learned over thousands of years that this trip is worth it.  It is an evolutionary cost/benefit behavior. Many birds follow similar migratory patterns.

Northern-Shoveler_map.jpg

The ACE Basin of South Carolina provides winter habitat for birds that migrate. And the Bear Island WMA is an ideal winter home for a variety of wading and shore birds and ducks. These freshwater marshes and ponds are full of food.  It is worth the flight for these birds to come here for winter.

In March and April you can visit Bear Island WMA and see the birds as they begin to develop their breeding plumage and start to flirt with one another.  Below are pictures of some of the birds I have seen here recently. 

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis

Incredible iridescent coloring

Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal
American White Pelican
American White Pelican

When soaring on thermals, they are a ballet

Northern Shoveler
Northern Shoveler

Look at that beak!

Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs
American Avocet
American Avocet

One of my favorite birds

Black-bellied Plover
Black-bellied Plover
Marbled Godwit
Marbled Godwit
Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

So cute!

I encourage you to visit Audubon.org or some other bird site and explore the migration, behavior, and colors of these birds.  They are a privilege to observe each winter.