Coastal Birds in South Carolina - Shorebirds

Dunlins, Red Knots, Sanderlings, Marbled Godwits, and Ruddy Turnstones
feeding in the surf. Kaitlyn Hackathorn/SCDNR.

Shorebirds appear in many sizes and shapes with bills and legs that vary in length depending on how the shorebird feeds. In coastal South Carolina, shorebirds occur on shorelines, islands, marsh edges, inlets, mudflats, on mounds of washed oyster shells and in managed wetland impoundments. Three species of shorebirds nest on South Carolina beaches, while many other species migrate through or spend the winter on our coast.

Shorebirds are some of the world's most amazing migrants. Many species nest in the arctic and sub-arctic zones of the globe and spend the winter in the Southern Hemisphere. During their travels, they stop in large groups to rest and fuel themselves to sustain their migration. South Carolina provides both migration stop over sites for flocks of thousands of these birds and also wintering grounds for birds that do not travel as far south. To help understand shorebird populations, SCDNR conducts surveys of shorebirds throughout the year.

Migratory and/or Nesting Shorebirds of South Carolina

Common Name Scientific Name Conservation Status * Season
American golden plover Pluvialis dominica Highest Priority Migratory
American oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus Highest Priority Nesting/Migratory
American avocet Recurvirostra americana High Priority Migratory
Baird's sandpiper Calidris bairdii Moderate Priority Migratory
Black-bellied plover Pluvialis squatarola High Priority Migratory
Black-necked stilt Himantopus mexicanus Not Classified in SWAP Nesting
Buff-breasted sandpiper Calidris subruficollis Highest Priority Migratory
Dunlin Calidris alpina High Priority Migratory
Greater yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca High Priority Migratory
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus Not Classified in SWAP Nesting/Migratory
Least sandpiper Calidris minutilla High Priority Migratory
Lesser yellowlegs Tringa flavipes High Priority Migratory
Long-billed curlew Numenius americanus Highest Priority Migratory
Long-billed dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus Moderate Priority Migratory
Marbled godwit Limosa fedoa Highest Priority Migratory
Pectoral sandpiper Calidris melanotos Moderate Priority Migratory
Piping plover Charadrius melodus Highest Priority, Federally Endangered Migratory
Purple sandpiper Calidris maritima High Priority Migratory
Red knot Calidris canutus Highest Priority, Federally Endangered Migratory
Ruddy turnstone Arenaria interpres Highest Priority Migratory
Sanderling Calidris alba Highest Priority Migratory
Semipalmated plover Charadrius semipalmatus Moderate Priority Migratory
Semipalmated sandpiper Calidris pusilla High Priority Migratory
Short-billed dowitcher Limnodromous griseus Highest Priority Migratory
Solitary sandpiper Tringa solitaria Highest Priority Migratory
Spotted sandpiper Actitis macularius Moderate Priority Migratory
Stilt sandpiper Calidris himantopus High Priority Migratory
Upland sandpiper Bartramia longicauda Highest Priority Migratory
Western sandpiper Calidris mauri Highest Priority Migratory
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Highest Priority Migratory
White-rumped sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis Moderate Priority Migratory
Willet Tringa semipalmata High Priority Nesting/Migratory
Wilson's plover Charadrius wilsonia Highest Priority, State Threatened Nesting/Migratory

Kaitlyn Hackathorn/ SCDNR

* Conservation Status from SC State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) 2015