Bald eagles are beautiful and large predatory raptors with a wide distribution in North America. At one point, these majestic birds were in danger of extinction. They were declared federally endangered in the United States in 1978. Now, there are more than 300,000 throughout the country. In South Carolina alone, there are at least 440 active breeding pairs. Although not as much as Alaska, which hosts 30,000 pairs, there are plenty of places to visit for a chance to see one. Follow along to discover the best time and places to see bald eagles in South Carolina.
When is the Best Time to See Bald Eagles in South Carolina?
The best time to see bald eagles in South Carolina is during winter, however, you always have a chance to see one. They are in South Carolina, all year round. The best months to see bald eagles are from October to March, with a peak around January.
The 5 Best Places to See Bald Eagles in South Carolina
Technically, there is always a chance you can see a bald eagle in this southern state. They are commonly spotted in the morning and evenings, feeding on fish from lakes. They nest in trees near water. While bald eagles can nest anywhere in the state, listed below are the 5 best places to see bald eagles in South Carolina. Bring your binoculars and quietly watch the trees for bald eagles and their nests!
Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
One spot you may encounter bald eagles in South Carolina is the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. This wildlife refuge is between Hilton Head Island and the mainland town of Bluffton. It’s a must-visit spot for birdwatchers as multiple bald eagle nests have been reported in the area.
The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public and receives nearly a quarter of a million visitors a year. Although a great place to spend all day, dogs are not allowed. This is to protect wildlife and dogs as there are large predators in the refuge like American alligators. Apart from bald eagles, visitors can also see herons and egrets.
Sea Pines Forest Preserve
Another excellent place to view bald eagles in South Carolina is the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. This lovely preserve has been around since 1970. It’s 605 acres of beauty. The many trails are very popular, especially with bird watchers. However, you don’t have to spend all your time at Sea Pines Forest Preserve hiking, you can also horseback ride and attend a boat or wagon tour. The preserve is open from sunrise to sunset. An important rule in the park is to not feed the wildlife and also remain on the trails and boardwalks at all times. American alligators are common in the park. To avoid a close encounter, stay away from the edges of any body of water.
Landsford Canal State Park
Continuing our list is the Landsford Canal State Park in Chester County along the Catawba River. There is a lot to do and see here. Not only have bald eagles been spotted in this state park, but also birds like great blue herons, northern cardinals, summer tanagers, double-crested cormorants, and indigo buntings.
Landsford Canal State Park is home to thousands of rocky shoals and spider lilies that attract visitors from all over the country. Also in the park are the historic canal remains. Popular hiking trails in this 448-acre park are the Eagle Point Trail, Nature Trail, and the 1.5-mile Canal Trail.
Croft State Park
Croft State Park is another great place to potentially see bald eagles in South Carolina. This state park is in Spartanburg County. It was once the site of land used during World War II. A favorite feature in the Croft State Park is Lake Craig, which provides users with 165 acres of fishing and paddling opportunities. While paddling, visitors may see bald eagles nesting in trees along the lake! Do you like cycling? The state park is also home to over 20 miles of biking trails.
Santee State Park
Last but not least is another state park, Santee State Park. It’s in Santee Cooper Country along Lake Marion. Bald eagle sightings are common in this 2,500-acre state park. The state park provides access to the 110,000-acre Lake Marion, including two boat ramps. Interestingly, you don’t have to spend all day searching for bald eagles or other wildlife. You can also spend the day in a wi-fi lounge.
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