South Carolina lies in the coastal Southeast and is known for its beach tourism, historic districts, and golfing destinations. The state features a humid subtropical climate and has three main regions, consisting of coastal plains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the piedmont. Its climate and geography provide suitable habitats for many animals, including birds. Discover 13 blue birds in South Carolina and learn about their migration, habitats, appearance, vocalizations, and nests.
Migration and Habitat: Tree swallows spend their winters along the South Carolina coast and migrate through the rest of the state. They will be in open or semi-open areas, such as fields, meadows, and marshes.
Features and Coloring: These birds have long, pointed wings and short, notched tails. Their coloring is blue-green above and white below, with dark brown, almost black wings and tails.
Food: They eat insects and berries.
Vocalizations: They emit three high-pitched sounds: chirp, whine, and gurgle.
Nests: They make a grass cup in a dead tree hole.
Migration and Habitat: Eastern bluebirds are permanent residents in South Carolina and throughout most of the Southeast. They prefer to live in open country near tree cover, like pastures, fields, golf courses, and parks.
Features and Coloring: This species has long wings and a round head with large eyes. The male eastern bluebird has bright blue plumage above and white below with brownish-red breasts.
Food: They consume insects and berries.
Vocalizations: They make soft, low-pitched warbles and calls.
Nests: They nest in a tree cavity lined with grasses and weeds.
Migration and Habitat: Blue jays live year-round in South Carolina and the rest of the East. This species is abundant in forests, especially in oak trees near the forest edge. You will also spot them in common areas near urban and suburban settings.
Features and Coloring: They feature prominent crests and long tails. Their plumage is a mixture of various blue shades, white, and black.
Food: Nuts, grains, berries, seeds, fruits, and insects make up their diet.
Vocalizations: Their calls are whispering clicks and whines.
Nests: A bulky twig cup in a tree fork is used as a nest.
Migration and Habitat: The indigo bunting breeds throughout South Carolina and most of the Eastern United States. They place their nests in brushy and weedy areas, like wood edges.
Features and Coloring: They have short tails and conical bills and feature bright blue feathers all over with darker heads and silver beaks.
Food: Seeds and insects make up their diet.
Vocalizations: They sing bright, high-pitched notes.
Nests: They build open grass cups in dense shrubs.
Migration and Habitat: Painted buntings breed along the South Carolina coast before heading to Southern Florida for the winter. They prefer semi-open habitats with scattered trees for breeding. Look for them in scrub and palmetto thickets.
Features and Coloring: They have long tails and thick bills. Their plumage is vivid and colorful, featuring blue, red, orange, and green.
Food: Seeds and insects are their favorite foods.
Vocalizations: They emit short musical notes.
Nests: Woven grass cups in dense bushes make a good nest.
Great Blue Heron
Migration and Habitat: The great blue heron is a permanent resident in South Carolina and across much of the United States, especially near southern coasts. They live in both freshwater and saltwater habitats, like swamps and marshes.
Features and Coloring: They have very long legs and necks and dark eye stripes. Their plumage is overall bluish-gray and white.
Food: Fish, amphibians, snakes, and insects make up their meals.
Vocalizations: The make sounds like squawking and clucking.
Nests: This species builds stick platforms in trees.
Little Blue Heron
Migration and Habitat: Little blue heron populations along the South Carolina coast stay there year-round, and those further inland live there during the breeding season. These birds stay near tide flats, marshes, swamps, lagoons, and other wetland habitats.
Features and Coloring: This species has long legs and necks but it’s smaller than the great blue. They are dark grayish-blue and maroon.
Food: Fish and crustaceans make up the bulk of their diet.
Vocalizations: The release hoarse croaks and bill snapping.
Nests: They nest in stick platforms in trees or shrubs.
Migration and Habitat: The cerulean warbler is an occasional migrant through South Carolina and stops to forage in scrub and forests.
Features and Coloring: These birds have small bills and short tails and feature sky blue, white, and black plumage.
Food: They mainly eat insects.
Vocalizations: Their trills are buzzy and metallic.
Nests: They craft small open cups on horizontal tree branches.
Migration and Habitat: Purple martins breed across South Carolina and the rest of the Eastern United States. They once bred along forest edges and rivers but now can be found almost exclusively in suburban and urban areas in nest boxes.
Features and Coloring: This species has long wings, slightly hooked bills, and broad chests. Their coloring is a deep metallic blue-purple and black.
Food: Insects are their main source of food.
Vocalizations: They have throaty croaks and rattles.
Nests: Look for grass and leaf cups in old woodpecker holes.
Migration and Habitat: The belted kingfisher is a permanent resident in South Carolina and throughout most of the United States. These birds must have access to water for feeding. Look for them near lakes, estuaries, rivers, ponds, and streams.
Features and Coloring: These birds have long dagger bills, shaggy crests, and large heads. Their plumage is grayish-blue, white, and chestnut.
Food: Small fish are their food source.
Vocalizations: Listen for their mechanical rattles.
Nests: They build tunnels in vertical banks.
Migration and Habitat: Barn swallows breed across South Carolina, especially away from the coast. You are likely to find them around farms, fields, ponds, and towns.
Features and Coloring: They have broad shoulders and long wings, featuring dark blue, cinnamon, and tawny plumage.
Food: These birds love to eat insects.
Vocalizations: This species has warbles and mechanical whirs.
Nests: They usually build mud cups under eaves, bridges, and docks.
Migration and Habitat: The white-breasted nuthatch lives year-round in South Carolina and a majority of the United States. This species prefers mature woods, specifically deciduous. But you can also spot them in common areas, like parks, yards, and other wooded suburbs.
Features and Coloring: These birds have short tails and long, pointed bills. They feature bluish-gray, black, and white coloring.
Food: Insects and seeds are their favorite treats.
Vocalizations: They have unique low, fast nasally notes.
Nests: A nesting nuthatch builds a simple bark cup in a large tree cavity or old woodpecker hole.
Migration and Habitat: The red-breasted nuthatch spends its winter in South Carolina and across much of the United States. You can find these birds almost exclusively in coniferous forests or deciduous woods.
Features and Coloring: This species has a short tail and a long, pointed bill. Their plumage is bluish-gray, rusty red, black, and white.
Food: They consume insects and seeds.
Vocalizations: Rapid nasal notes are their calling card.
Nests: They form cavities lined with soft grass in rotten stubs.
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