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April Songbirds in Charleston!

The Springtime is an exciting time to go birding in Charleston, SC! Migration is underway and a great variety of birds visit the Lowcountry to refuel during their long trip north. Many of these birds will stay in the Lowcountry for the warmer months to breed. This April I focused on finding and experiencing songbirds! These small birds have incredible vocals and brilliant colors. Over the course of this month I have encountered and enjoyed nearly 60 different species of songbirds! Listen to the spectacular sounds of these songbirds at the Santee Coastal Reserve.

Maybe the most iconic eastern songbirds and a full-time resident of Charleston is the Northern Cardinal. These beautiful "backyard birds" may be the most common singers we hear during the Spring. They make a variety of loud songs and calls including the common cheer, cheer, cheer notes. The eastern US is fortunate to call these amazing birds common as they are rare in the western US.

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

Another favorite backyard songbird and year round resident is the Carolina Chickadee. These very small and adorable birds make the classic chick-a-dee-dee-dee call. The Carolina Chickadee also makes the short list of endemic birds of the Continental US.

Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Chickadee

The loudest singer in many backyards is undoubtedly the Carolina Wren. These small curious birds have an array of songs and calls. They often sing the repeated phrase tea kettle, tea kettle, tea kettle.

Carolina Wren
Carolina Wren

Throughout April I birded many different locations and habitats looking for a variety of birds. One of my favorite encounters was with a very secretive and shy warbler that nests in the dense swamp habitat throughout the Lowcountry. They can be extremely challenging to find unless they are singing. I was lucky enough to experience a singing Swainson's Warbler at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

One of the most striking songbirds that breed in the swamps of South Carolina is the Prothonotary Warbler. These amazingly bright yellow birds sing loud notes that sound like sweet, sweet, sweet. I observed a singing Prothonotary Warbler near the Washo Reserve at the Santee Coastal Reserve.

Another super cool looking songbird that can be found with mixed flocks is the Black and White Warbler. I enjoyed two close encounters with this sharp looking warbler at West Ashley Park.

Black and White Warbler
Black and White Warbler

Black and White Warbler
Black and White Warbler

A comforting and familiar sound many of us hear near marsh and wetland habitats is the conk-la-ree call of the Red-winged Blackbird. The Santee Coastal Reserve has acres of wetland habitat for these blackbirds to thrive.

One of the two blue feathered birds that migrate to South Carolina is the Blue Grosbeak. These awesome blue feathered birds have a rich warble song, typically singing from a high perch. I encountered this singing male at the Santee Coastal Reserve.

Blue Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak

Santee Coastal Reserve
Santee Coastal Reserve

Blue Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak

During my time birding the Santee Coastal Reserve I heard numerous Summer Tanagers, "the other red bird". The males are a bright red and the females are a beautiful yellow, it is very cool treat when you see both sexes in close proximity. The Summer Tanager's song is a musical 3-syllable phrase with brief pauses. Sometime they are more easily heard than seen as they can be high in the tree canopy. I was able to get a good look at this bright red singer.

An often overlooked and maybe less seen bird is the Common Yellowthroat. These small secretive songbirds prefer the thick edges of wetland habitats. They also like brushy fields and the understory of the Longleaf Pine habitat at the Santee Coastal Reserve. They sing a musical whistled wichety, wichety, wichety. The males are bright yellow with a black mask and a white border.

Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat

A favorite migrating songbird that spends the warmer months with us in the Lowcountry is the Painted Bunting! The males sing a sweet continuous whistled warble. I enjoyed my first of the season male sighting with 25 fellow birders during our April Bird Walk at West Ashley Park.

Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting

Pitt Street Bridge in Mount Pleasant, SC is a great place to see shorebirds and wading birds but there are also many songbirds thriving in this amazing habitat.

Boat-tailed Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird


Nelson's Sparrow
Nelson's Sparrow

Seaside Sparrow
Seaside Sparrow

Pitt Street Bridge
Pitt Street Bridge

Rural South Carolina provides lots of open habitats for birds like the Eastern Meadowlark and Loggerhead Shrike. I birded several farm fields in Elloree, South Carolina on a cool, clear morning in early April.

Farmland in Elloree, SC
Farmland in Elloree, SC



Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Meadowlark



Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike

House Wren

White-throated Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow

Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow

So far it has been an exciting April with so many beautiful birds. Migration continues into May with more birds making their way to and through South Carolina. So get outside to look and listen to all of the amazing BIRDS around us!


Happy Birding!

Charles



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Wow! So many amazing birds. Happy Earth Day! Last month I had a painted bunting pair coming to my feeders.


Thank you!

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