Migration, migration, migration!
It's about that time of year already... Spring! Spring means warmer weather, flowers blooming, insects buzzing, and birds migrating! Considered a stop-over for migratory species travelling up and down the coast, Kiawah Island will see its fair share of different bird species in the upcoming months. Keep reading for what to expect when it comes to arrivals, departures, and resident species activity during the coming month.
We will have to say goodbye to our beautiful, beloved ducks. The most common wintering species on our island, the Hooded Merganser
, will both be heading back up north toward their breeding grounds. However, we may be suprised by a migratory species (or two) that decides to take a rest on Kiawah along its path. Our resident songbirds will begin the ritual of choosing a perfect mate and establishing their nesting territory. Osprey and hawks are incubating their unhatched youngsters while Bald Eagle babies have already hatched. You will also see that Laughing Gulls
have transitioned back into their breeding colors with those unmistakable black head feathers.
Arriving to the island, you can expect to find a myriad of different species: swallows, Chimney Swifts
, Purple Martins
, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers
, Yellow-throated Warblers
, Northern Parulas
, and even Black-necked Stilts
are all species marking the beginning of spring. On the beach, it is shore bird central as they begin to arrive and gather on the beach in preparation for migration. The arrival of one shorebird species in general, the Red Knot
, brings particular excitment to the island. While migration is extremely challenging for all bird species, the Red Knot's migration takes them from South America to their Arctic breeding grounds which is a distance of over 9,000 miles! 9,000 miles!! They will fly continuously for up to 8 days over the open ocean before stopping.
If you are visiting Kiawah sometime in the coming months, please be mindful of the bird species you may see on the island, especially on the beach. You may come across flocks of hundreds of birds attempting to rest or feed along the shoreline. Please give them plenty of space. Disturbances by people and dogs can have adverse effects on the bird's survival: each time a bird must fly while trying to focus on feeding or resting, it is using up essential energy that it is trying to save for their coming flights. So, as is always a good general rule with wildlife, admire shorebirds and other species from a distance and using binoculars if you want a closer view!
Check out the website at the bottom of this email to view all of our upcoming birdwatching excursions: from a leisurely one and a half hour walk around our park to a three hour van excursion around the island, we have something for everyone!