26 Birds You’ll See Along Georgia’s Coastline and Beaches

Written by Aaron Webber
Published: June 20, 2023
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Whether you’re an avid bird watcher, or just planning to enjoy the Georgia coastline, there is an abundance of beautiful and interesting local and migratory birds to capture your attention. We list here many of the birds you will see, how to recognize them, and interesting facts that will help you understand their behavior.

If you’re planning on vising the Georgia coastline soon, or just want to better appreciate the bird wildlife around you, learning about these 26 birds will help enrich your experience.

1. Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Brown Pelican in flight

Brown pelicans have a wingspan of more than seven feet.

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©Nagel Photography/Shutterstock.com

The brown pelican is one of the most frequent of the larger birds you will see on the Georgia coast. Their plumage changes with the seasons, with a brown neck and white strip in the summer, and in the winter they change to a full-white head and neck.

These birds often fly just above the water and can be seen diving head-first into the water after their prey.

2. American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

American white pelican in Wisconsin

American white pelicans have a wingspan of nine feet.

©Jerek Vaughn/Shutterstock.com

A very large bird with yellow feet and white plumage. Unlike the brown pelican, these birds feed in groups by floating on the water and dipping their bills below to catch fish.

3. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Phoenix - Arizona, Bird, Zoo, American Culture, Animal Wildlife

As you can see, the bald eagle is not actually bald but is covered by white feathers.

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The national bird of the United States. This bird has a brown body and an iconic white head. The bald eagle builds the largest nest of any species in the world, with their nests regularly reaching 13 feet deep, 8.2 feet wide, and weighing one ton. They were once listed as endangered, but have since recovered to “threatened” status. Still, if you see one, count yourself lucky!

4. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

An osprey flies off with a kokanee salmon

An osprey after a successful dive into the water.

©Gregory Johnston/Shutterstock.com

The osprey has a white head with a dark strip through the eyes, their bodies are dark brown with a white underside. They build their nests in many places, including dead trees and beach structures. You can see them flying lazily above shore waters before diving feet-first to catch their prey.

5. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) perched on a pole

You can see the red-tailed hawk in this position: watching patiently atop trees or poles.

©Richard G Smith/Shutterstock.com

The most common hawk in North America, you will recognize the red-tailed hawk by its red-brown color and white belly. This bird is more likely to hunt rodents and other small animals.

6. Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)

Northern gannet (Morus bassanus).Seabird, the largest species of the gannet family. Female squats in nest.The male invites her to mate as a gift by offering fresh herbs.

The northern gannet is seen in its natural nesting environment.

©Algirdas Gelazius/Shutterstock.com

This bird is recognizable by its bright white plumage, yellowish head, and white beak with piercing blue eyes. The northern gannet dives into the ocean water to hunt fish.

7. Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

Black vulture couple

Black vulture couple cuddling.

©iStock.com/Rejean Bedard

The first of two vulture species that frequent the area, the black vulture is a scavenger bird often seen near roadkill or soaring high over the landscape looking for easy prey. Since it lacks the vocal organ most birds possess (the syrinx) the black vulture only makes low grunting noises or hisses.

8. Turkey Vulture (Coragyps aura)

turkey vulture eating

Turkey vultures feed on carrion, which is why they are known as nature’s clean-up crew.


Our second scavenger along Georgia’s coastline, but arguably the more recognizable, the turkey vulture is often seen rocking on tree branches or telephone poles above roadkill or carrion.

9. Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)

semipalmated plover watching the water curiously

Given their penchant for setting their nests on the ground, make sure you watch your step in areas they inhabit.

©Dee Carpenter Originals/Shutterstock.com

A small bird with brown backs and white bellies, this bird forages for food on the beaches. They also build their nests on the open ground away from large plants. So, be careful if you go exploring inland.

10. Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous)

Killdeer feigning injury

Killdeers feign injury to lure predators away from their nests.


Recognizable by two black bands on its neck and white belly, the killdeer is actually incapable of killing deer, even if it wanted to!

However, the killdeer is one of the birds that can best use the “broken-wing” skill. When a predator is approaching their nest, the killdeer will pretend to have an injury, usually a broken wing, in order to lure the predator away with the hopes of easy prey.

11. Black-Necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)

Black-Necked Stilt walking in Myakka River in Myakka River State Park in Sarasota Florida USA

Thin legs and tiny bills make this bird easily identifiable.

©Jim Schwabel/Shutterstock.com

These birds can be recognized by their long legs and thin needle-like bills. They are often seen wading across the beaches sticking their bills into the sand to find small animals to eat.

Be careful if you get too close to their nests, though. They will often employ a “popcorn display” of flapping their wings and leaping up and down to warn that you’re approaching their home. If you continue to approach, the Black-necked Stilt has been known to attack humans from behind by hitting them with their legs.

12. American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)

A feeding technique called scything distinguishes American avocets.

©Shenille C, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

A truly fascinating and intelligent bird! This is a fascinating species to watch during their hunting routine if you ever get the chance. They will wade through shallow waters and feed using a technique known as “scything.” This is when they will sweep their bills back and forth like a farmer using a scythe, capturing fish as they go.

Additionally, the avocet can simulate the Doppler effect by making a loud series of notes that rise in pitch, which tricks any approaching predator by making them think the Avocet is approaching much faster than it really is.

The American avocet also practices a nesting style known as brood-parasitism. This is when they lay their eggs in the nests of other related species of Avocets or Gulls so that they raise their young as their own.

13. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)

greater yellowlegs

The sight of a greater yellowlegs is truly mesmerizing.


Bright yellow legs and a speckled coat make this bird a beautiful sight along Georgia’s coastline. They breed in the far north and spend the winters in the south of North America.

14. Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)

Lesser Yellowlegs on rocky shoreline

Lesser yellowlegs poking its beak in the sand looking for a meal.

©Dennis W Donohue/Shutterstock.com

Similar in appearance, though much smaller than the greater yellowlegs. The lesser yellowlegs have been known to migrate all the way to Western Europe, with up to five birds arriving each year.

15. Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)

spotted sandpiper feeding

The spots on a spotted sandpiper can indicate its health.

©Agami Photo Agency/Shutterstock.com

A common sight among birds along Georgia’s coastline, birdwatchers can identify the health of a spotted sandpiper by the spots on its belly. The more spots a bird has and the more vibrant those spots are, the healthier the bird.

16. Willet (Tringa semipalmata)

Eastern Willet. Tringa Semipalmata. Carolina Beach, NC.

Crabs are a primary part of the willet diet.


The willet got its name from its high-pitched and piercing territorial song which sounds like “pill-will-willet”. Although some describe them as the inelegant cousin of the lesser yellowlegs, willets are still graceful and beautiful shore hunters.

17. Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

A ruddy turnstone will find food by using its bill to flip stones over in the hope that food is underneath.

©Brian E Kushner/Shutterstock.com

As you might have guessed, the ruddy turnstone got its name from its habit of turning stones over. This they do by inserting their bills under all kinds of stones, small objects, and shells to look for food that might be hiding underneath. In fact, many have seen ruddy turnstones working together to flip over larger objects they wouldn’t be able to flip by themselves.

18. Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

Dunlin - young bird at a seashore on the autumn migration way

Particularly common along Georgia’s coastline are dunlins.

©Simonas Minkevicius/Shutterstock.com

The dunlin is one of the most common species of “wader” birds along Georgia’s coastline. They often form large flocks that swirl in synchronized flying patterns during migration season.

19. Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)

Least sandpiper reflecting in the water

Least sandpipers are capable of great patience in their search for insects.

©Carrie Olson/Shutterstock.com

The least sandpiper is the smallest shorebird along Georgia’s coastline. They are often covered in mud because they are so small and spend most of their time hopping through the wetlands in search of insects.

20. Long-Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

Long-billed dowitchers move their bills in peculiar patterns when they search for food in the water.

©1441292903/ via Getty Images

This species is an interesting one to watch if you get the chance. They hunt for fish by keeping their bill underwater and moving in a “sewing machine” pattern. The males also chase the females during mating season in exciting high-speed pursuits.

21. Short-Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)

Short billed Dowitcher resting at seaside beach, it is a plump, medium-sized shorebird with very long bill. Extremely similar to long billed Dowitcher, and often flocks with it.

Short-billed dowitchers look strikingly similar to their long-billed relatives, aside from the noticeably shorter bills.


Recognizable by their yellow legs, reddish belly, and dark brown spotted back. Like many other species of birds, their plumage changes during mating season, with breeding variants gaining more vibrant colors and patterns.

22. Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicate)

Wilson’s snipes have the propensity to stand on one leg. In fact, that’s how they sleep!

©Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)

The courtship behavior of the male Wilson’s snipe is known as “winnowing.” They fly in concentric circles high into the sky, then dive sharply back down. This dive produces a sound known as drumming when their tail feathers vibrate in the wind.

23. American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

The American woodcock having a drink of water

American woodcocks sometimes rock back and forth as they walk to aid their search for worms.


The American woodcock likes to spend most of its time on the ground along Georgia’s coastline. Because of this, it is a popular game bird in North America. This has contributed to its steady population decline. However, because of its beautiful courtship displays, many people see the American woodcock as a sign of springtime in many areas.

24. Black-Bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

black-bellied plover at water's edge

Black-bellied plovers are a particularly beautiful sight.

©Elliotte Rusty Harold/Shutterstock.com

Unique among most shore birds, the black-bellied plover earned its name from the dark black plumage on its belly. The fluffy white feathers on its back and head give this bird a striking appearance.

25. American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliates)

cape may

American oystercatchers looking for their preferred prey: mollusks.


A beautiful bird along Georgia’s coastline, the oystercatcher got its name from its feeding style of searching out clams, oysters, and mussels to feed on. They do this by looking for shells that are partially open and snapping the muscle that closes the shell, leaving it open for them to eat. This is a dangerous practice, however. If the Oystercatcher cannot sever the closing muscle in time, their beak will become trapped within the shell, and the bird will drown when the tide returns.

26. Red Knot (Calidris canutus)

Red knot. Protect the endangered species, biological diversity theme.3rd March, world day of endangered species.

You will rarely see a red knot alone like this in the wild. Most likely, they will be surrounded by thousands of other red knots.

©Buvana Bala/Shutterstock.com

The red knot is one of the longest-distance migratory birds in the world, often traveling as far as 9,300 miles from North to South. To help with these long journeys, red knots travel in massive flocks that are much larger than other migratory birds. They also visit the same stopping sites every year.

Common NameScientific Name
Brown PelicanPelecanus occidentalis
American White PelicanPelecanus erythrorhynchos
Bald EagleHaliaeetus leucocephalus
OspreyPandion haliaetus
Red-tailed HawkButeo jamaicensis
Northern GannetMorus bassanus
Black VultureCoragyps atratus
Turkey VultureCoragyps aura
Semipalmated PloverCharadrius semipalmatus
Killdeer  Charadrius vociferous
Black-Necked StiltHimantopus mexicanus
American AvocetRecurvirostra Americana
Greater YellowlegsTringa melanoleuca
Lesser YellowlegsTringa flavipes
Spotted SandpiperActitis macularius
WilletTringa semipalmata
Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpres
DunlinCalidris alpina
Least SandpiperCalidris minutilla
Long-Billed DowitcherLimnodromus scolopaceus
Short-Billed DowitcherLimnodromus griseus
Wilson’s SnipeGallinago delicate
American WoodcockScolopax minor
Black-bellied PloverPluvialis squatarola
American OystercatcherHaematopus palliates
Red KnotCalidris canutus

The photo featured at the top of this post is © TravisPhotoWorks/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Aaron Webber is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering history, spirituality, geography, and culture. He has over 13 years of writing for global marketing firms, ad agencies, and executive ghostwriting. He graduated with a degree in economics from BYU and is a published, award-winning author of science fiction and alternate history. Aaron lives in Phoenix and is active in his community teaching breathwork, healing ceremonies, and activism. He shares his thoughts and work on his site, The Lost Explorers Club.

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