Fall is Prime Time for Bird-Watching on the Grand Strand

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Seagulls are the most commonly spotted birds in Myrtle Beach during the summer season, and the winter months attract a completely different type of snowbird to the Grand Strand. But in the time between, this 60-mile stretch of Carolina coastline is a major layover site for some of the most rare migratory birds in North America making their way south.

For guests at The Strand who are bird enthusiasts or even those who have an appreciation for the beauty of nature, the Grand Strand offers some of the best places on the Eastern Coast to spot a wide range of our fine-feathered friends. Watch these colorful creatures flock to scenic landscapes in the pristine wetlands and maritime woodlands of the Carolina coast.

The Strand attracts many hard-core “birders” who have discovered the abundance of species who make this area their temporary homes. But you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy the unique experience of bird-watching. Simply pick up a pair of binoculars, slip on some hiking boots and head to one of these five hot spots for spotting birds around Myrtle Beach:

Bird Island: There’s an obvious reason this wildlife refuge on the Carolina border got its name. It happens to be a popular gathering place for a variety of waterfowl, shorebirds and land birds. Located on the North Carolina side of the Intracoastal Waterway’s entrance to the coastline, Bird Island is reachable by car or boat. Charter boats out of Little River offer bird-watching tours, or a 45-minute drive allows you to enjoy some isolation in the beautiful setting.

Brookgreen Gardens: Plant life and artwork are the main attraction at this Murrells Inlet botanical sculpture garden, but this former rice plantation offers the ideal habitat for migratory birds. Take one of the boat tours through the Waccamaw Neck area and witness a broad spectrum of waterfowl living alongside alligators sunning on the islands and banks. For those who want a guaranteed encounter with rare birds, the on-site Lowcountry Zoo features a large aviary that is home to rescue year-round residents like owls, eagles and falcons.

Huntington Beach State Park: Located just across Highway 17 from Brookgreen gardens is the ultimate bird-watching spot on the Grand Strand. Featuring salt marshes and tidal swamps where migrating flocks return year after year, Huntington Beach offers frequent sightings of the jaeger, gray-cheeked thrush, tundra swan, and purple sandpiper, just to name a few. The on-site nature center offers self-guided tours and information about how and where to find and identify the rare birds.

Myrtle Beach State Park: Perfect for beginners, Myrtle Beach State Park features a nature center offering guided tours and special programs to learn all about rare birds like the Eastern Phoebe and other migratory species. Hiking trails through maritime forests offer the chance to spot an array of wildlife, including birds of prey and nesting fowl. The bird-watching programs are free with regular park admission.

Waccamaw River: Stretching from Lake Waccamaw just over the North Carolina state line all the way to Winyah Bay in Georgetown, this tea-colored river serves as prime real estate for migratory birds. Reserve a cruise through Waccamaw River Tours in Socastee area and check out the abundance of bird activity around Sandy Island and the Waccamaw Neck.

After a long but inspiring day of watching birds in the natural habitat, return to your favorite environment at The Strand Resort in downtown Myrtle Beach. Clean, comfortable accommodations provide the ideal nest for our guests, and a dip in the hot tub and a nightcap at The Strand Bar give guests the perfect ending to a fun day of bird-watching.


(Posted: 10/12/15)