Beach


Black Scoter


Males are solid black with a yellow-orange knob at the base of bill. Females are brownish with a light colored cheek patch.

Where to see

Migratory, common in winter. Ocean, typically several hundred yards out.

Notes

Flocks of several thousand are seen offshore in winter. A strong pair of binoculars or scope is required to see them.

Lesser Scaup


Medium-sized duck. Males have purplish-black/green head and whitish-gray back. Females are brown with white face patch. Blue bill.

Where to see

Migratory, common in winter. Large ponds (Ibis, Willet and Bass) and ocean.

Notes

Often seen in large flocks diving for submerged vegetation, invertebrates, and mollusks. Also called “bluebills.”

Red Knot


Medium, stocky shorebird. Grayish-brown in winter, distinctive rusty color in spring/summer. Black bill.

Where to see

Migratory, common in winter and spring. Beach, especially on east and west ends.

Notes

Threatened. In spring, thousands stage on Kiawah before migrating north to breed.

American Oystercatcher


Large shorebird. Brown above, white below with a black head. Long, bright orange bill and eye-ring.

Where to see

Migratory, breeder, fairly common year-round. Beach, especially on east and west ends, river, and creeks.

Notes

Specialized in feeding on bivalves. Uses needlelike bill to sever the strong muscle that holds the shell closed.

Black Skimmer


Medium-sized seabird. Black above, white below. Large bill is black with red base.

Where to see

Migratory, fairly common year-round. Beach, ponds, and tidal creeks.

Notes

Feeds primarily at dusk or dawn (also at night) by skimming the surface of water with an open bill.

Ruddy Turnstone


Small, stocky shorebird. Head and chest patterned black and white, reddish above and white below. Orange legs. Short, pointed bill.

Where to see

Migratory, present year-round but common in winter. Beach, mudflats, and lagoons.

Notes

Often seen turning over beach debris in search of food.

Black-Bellied Plover


Medium-sized shorebird. Grayish above, whitish below turning a striking black and white in the spring. In flight, black “armpits” distinctive.

Where to see

Migratory, common in fall, winter, and spring. Beach, lagoons, mudflats, and driving range at the Ocean Course.

Notes

A stalking predator adapted to feed on a variety of prey items.

Wilson’s Plover


Small shorebird. Brownish above, white below with a dark breast band across chest. Large, thick, black bill. Flesh-colored legs.

Where to see

Migratory, breeder, common in spring, summer, and fall. Rare in winter. Beach, mudflats, marsh, and lagoons.

Notes

Specializes in feeding on fiddler crabs.

Piping Plover


Small shorebird. Pale gray above, white below with a narrow, pale band across chest that turns blackish in spring. Orange legs. Black bill turns orange in spring.

Where to see

Migratory, fairly common in fall, winter, and spring. Beach, lagoons, and mudflats.

Notes

Endangered. Picks invertebrates from surface of sand.

Semipalmated Plover


Small shorebird. Dark brown above, white below with a single dark breast band. Orange bill with dark tip and orange legs.

Where to see

Migratory, present year-round but common in winter. Beach, lagoons, and mudflats.

Notes

Forages on wet sand by picking invertebrates from the surface.