List of birds of South Carolina
In the U.S. state of South Carolina, 427 species of bird have been recorded. This number includes the bird species that have been sighted in South Carolina and are believed to be of wild origin. In addition, sixteen species are confirmed as being sighted in South Carolina but whose wild origin has been questioned. A further fourteen species are referred to as hypothetical, where the species was reported in North American Birds or The Chat but the record was not submitted to the committee. The South Carolina Bird Records Committee maintains the records for bird sightings in South Carolina and produces the list used by most birders to objectively evaluate species recorded in the state. The committee votes on the validity of new records of bird species in the state. The committee last met in 2008; since then at least five birds with the potential to be first state records were observed in South Carolina. On September 18, 2008, a likely gray flycatcher was reported in South Carolina. Also on September 18, 2008, three potential wandering tattlers were reported along the coast. On November 22, 2008, a bronzed cowbird was reported in Charleston, South Carolina. On February 8, 2009, a tropical kingbird was reported in South Carolina. On January 5, 2010, a California gull was reported in Horry County, South Carolina. These records will be reviewed by the South Carolina Bird Records Committee to determine their validity.
Official bird lists are sorted by taxonomic sequence. The taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families, genera and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) used by the South Carolina Bird Records Committee follows the conventions of the American Ornithologists' Union's (1998) Check-list of North American Birds, the recognized scientific authority on the taxonomy and nomenclature of North American birds. The American Ornithologists' Union's Committee on Classification and Nomenclature, the body responsible for maintaining and updating the Check-list, "strongly and unanimously continues to endorse the biological species concept (BSC), in which species are considered to be genetically cohesive groups of populations that are reproductively isolated from other such groups". Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy provides an alternative phylogenetic arrangement based on DNA-DNA hybridization.
Unless otherwise noted, all species listed below are considered to occur regularly in South Carolina as permanent residents, summer or winter visitors, or migrants. The following codes are used to denote certain categories of species:
- (I) – Introduced: Birds that have been introduced to North America by people, either directly or indirectly.
- (E) – Extinct
- (P2) – Birds confirmed as being sighted in South Carolina whose wild origin is unconfirmed
- (H) – Hypothetical: These birds have records published in North American Birds or The Chat, but have not been reviewed by the South Carolina Bird Records Committee
Note: Birds marked with an asterisk (*) are not identified to species, but are distinct enough to be considered as a separate entry.
Ducks, geese, and swans
The Anatidae family includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, bills that are flattened to a greater or lesser extent, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to special oils. In South Carolina, forty definitive species have been recorded and two of questionable origin have also been reported.
- Black-bellied whistling duck, Dendrocygna autumnalis
- Fulvous whistling duck, Dendrocygna bicolor
- Greater white-fronted goose, Anser albifrons
- Snow goose, Chen caerulescens
- Ross's goose, Chen rossii
- Brant, Branta bernicla
- Barnacle goose, Branta leucopsis (P2)
- Cackling goose, Branta hutchinsii
- Canada goose, Branta canadensis
- Mute swan, Cygnus olor
- Trumpeter swan, Cygnus buccinator (P2)
- Tundra swan, Cygnus columbianus
- Wood duck, Aix sponsa
- Gadwall, Anas strepera
- Eurasian wigeon, Anas penelope
- American wigeon, Anas americana
- American black duck, Anas rubripes
- Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mottled duck, Anas fulvigula
- Blue-winged teal, Anas discors
- Cinnamon teal, Anas cyanoptera
- Northern shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Northern pintail, Anas acuta
- Green-winged teal, Anas crecca
- Canvasback, Aythya valisineria
- Redhead, Aythya americana
- Ring-necked duck, Aythya collaris
- Greater scaup, Aythya marila
- Lesser scaup, Aythya affinis
- King eider, Somateria spectabilis
- Common eider, Somateria mollissima
- Harlequin duck, Histrionicus histrionicus
- Surf scoter, Melanitta perspicillata
- White-winged scoter, Melanitta fusca
- Black scoter, Melanitta americana
- Long-tailed duck, Clangula hyemalis
- Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola
- Common goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
- Hooded merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus
- Common merganser, Mergus merganser
- Red-breasted merganser, Mergus serrator
- Ruddy duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
Pheasants, turkeys, and grouse
The Phasianidae is a family of birds which consists of the pheasants and their allies. These are terrestrial species, variable in size but generally plump, with broad relatively-short wings. Many species are game birds or have been domesticated as a food source for humans. Turkeys have a distinctive fleshy wattle that hangs from the underside of the beak, and a fleshy protuberance that hangs from the top of its beak called a snood. As with many galliform species, the female (the hen) is smaller and much less colorful than the male (the tom). With wingspans of 4.9–5.9 feet (1.5–1.8 m), the turkeys are the largest birds in the open forests in which they live and are rarely mistaken for any other species. Grouse inhabit temperate and subarctic regions of the northern hemisphere. They are game birds and are sometimes hunted for food. In all of South Carolina's species, males are polygamous and have elaborate courtship displays. These heavily built birds have legs feathered to the toes. Most species are year-round residents, and do not migrate. Three species have been recorded in South Carolina.
- Ring-necked pheasant, Phasianus colchicus (P2)
- Wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo
- Ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus
New World quail
The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Northern bobwhite, Colinus virginianus
Loons are aquatic birds the size of a large duck, to which they are unrelated. Their plumage is largely gray or black, and they have spear-shaped bills. Loons swim well, and fly adequately, but, because their legs are placed towards the rear of the body, are extremely poor at walking. In South Carolina, three species have been recorded.
Grebes are small- to medium-large freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. In South Carolina, five species have been recorded.
- Pied-billed grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Horned grebe, Podiceps auritus
- Red-necked grebe, Podiceps grisegena
- Eared grebe, Podiceps nigricollis
- Western grebe, Aechmorphorus occidentalis
Fulmars, petrels, and shearwaters
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterized by united nostrils with medium septum, and a long outer functional primary. In South Carolina, eight species have been recorded.
- Northern fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis
- Black-capped petrel, Pterodroma hasitata
- Cory's shearwater, Calonectris diomedea
- Great shearwater, Puffinus gravis
- Sooty shearwater, Puffinus griseus
- Manx shearwater, Puffinus puffinus
- Audubon's shearwater, Puffinus lherminieri
- Barolo shearwater, Puffinus baroli
The storm-petrels are the smallest of seabirds. They are relatives of the petrels, and feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. Their flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. In South Carolina, three species have been recorded.
- Wilson's storm-petrel, Oceanites oceanicus
- Leach's storm-petrel, Oceanodroma leucorhoa
- Band-rumped storm-petrel, Oceanodroma castro
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their long wings have black markings, as does the head. In South Carolina, two species have been recorded.
Boobies and gannets
- Masked booby, Sula dactylatra
- Brown booby, Sula leucogaster
- Red-footed booby, Sula sula
- Northern gannet, Morus bassanus
Pelicans are large waterbirds with a distinctive pouch under the beak. Like other birds in the order Pelecaniformes, they have four webbed toes. In South Carolina, two species have been recorded.
Cormorants are medium-to-large aquatic birds, usually with mainly dark plumage and areas of colored skin on the face. The bill is long, thin, and sharply hooked. Their feet are four-toed and webbed, a distinguishing feature among the Pelecaniformes order. In South Carolina, two species have been recorded.
Darters are cormorant-like water birds with long necks and long, straight beaks. They are fish eaters and often swim with only their neck above water giving them the appearance of a snake. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga
Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black or black-and-white, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have inflatable colored throat pouches. They do not swim or walk, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Magnificent frigatebird, Fregata magnificens
Bitterns, herons, and egrets
The Ardeidae family contains the herons, egrets, and bitterns. Herons and egrets are medium- to large-sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter-necked and more secretive. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises, and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. In South Carolina, twelve species have been recorded.
- American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus
- Least bittern, Ixobrychus exilis
- Great blue heron, Ardea herodias
- Great egret, Ardea alba
- Snowy egret, Egretta thula
- Little blue heron, Egretta caerulea
- Tricolored Heron, Egretta tricolor
- Reddish egret, Egretta rufescens
- Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis
- Green heron, Butorides virescens
- Black-crowned night heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
- Yellow-crowned night heron, Nyctanassa violacea
Ibises and spoonbills
Threskiornithidae includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings and their bodies tend to be elongated, the neck more so, with rather long legs. The bill is also long, and decurved in the case of the ibises, and straight and distinctively flattened in the spoonbills. In South Carolina, three species have occurred along with one species of questionable origin.
- American white ibis, Eudocimus albus
- Scarlet ibis, Eudocimus ruber (P2)
- Glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus
- Roseate spoonbill, Platalea ajaja
Storks are large, heavy, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills and wide wingspans. They lack the powder down that other wading birds such as herons, spoonbills, and ibises use to clean off fish slime. Storks lack a pharynx and are mute. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Wood stork, Mycteria americana
Flamingoes are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m) tall, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down. There are six species worldwide, of which one species of questionable origin and one hypothetical species have been recorded.
New World vultures
The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers. However, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they locate carcasses. In South Carolina, two species have been recorded.
The osprey is a medium-large fish-eating bird of prey or raptor. It is widely distributed because it tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location that is near a body of water and provides an adequate food supply. It is the only member of its family.
- Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
Hawks, kites, and eagles
The Accipitridae family of birds of prey includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers, and Old World vultures. These birds have large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. In South Carolina, fifteen species have been recorded as well as one hypothetical species.
- Swallow-tailed kite, Elanoides forficatus
- White-tailed kite, Elanus leucurus
- Snail kite, Rostrhamus sociabilis
- Mississippi kite, Ictinia mississippiensis
- Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus
- Northern harrier, Circus cyaneus
- Sharp-shinned hawk, Accipiter striatus
- Cooper's hawk, Accipiter cooperii
- Northern goshawk, Accipiter gentilis
- Red-shouldered hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Broad-winged hawk, Buteo platypterus
- Swainson's hawk, Buteo swainsoni
- Red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
- Rough-legged hawk, Buteo lagopus
- Short-tailed hawk, Buteo brachyurus (H)
- Golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
Caracaras and falcons
Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey, notably the falcons and caracaras. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet. In South Carolina, three species have been recorded as well as two of questionable origin.
- Crested caracara, Caracara cheriway (P2)
- American kestrel, Falco sparverius
- Merlin, Falco columbarius
- Prairie falcon, Falco mexicanus (P2)
- Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus
Rails, gallinules, and coots
Rallidae is a large family of small- to medium-sized birds that includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. Most members of this family occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, making them difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes that are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers. In South Carolina, nine species have been recorded as well as one hypothetical.
- Yellow rail, Coturnicops noveboracensis
- Black rail, Laterallus jamaicensis
- Clapper rail, Rallus crepitans
- King rail, Rallus elegans
- Virginia rail, Rallus limicola
- Sora, Porzana carolina
- Purple gallinule, Porphyrio martinica
- Common gallinule, Gallinula galeata
- American coot, Fulica americana
- Caribbean coot, Fulica caribaea (H)
The limpkin is a large bird in a monotypic family. It is similar in appearance to the rails, but skeletally it is closer to the cranes. It is found in marshes and gets its common name from its appearance of limping as it walks. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Limpkin, Aramus guarauna
Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances". In South Carolina, two species have been recorded.
Lapwings and plovers
The Charadriidae family includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small- to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks, and long, usually pointed, wings. They are usually found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water. In South Carolina, nine species have been recorded.
- Northern lapwing, Vanellus vanellus
- Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- American golden plover, Pluvialis dominica
- Snowy plover, Charadrius nivosus
- Wilson's plover, Charadrius wilsonia
- Semipalmated plover, Charadrius semipalmatus
- Piping plover, Charadrius melodus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus
- Mountain plover, Charadrius montanus
The oystercatchers are large and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prying open molluscs. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- American oystercatcher, Haematopus palliatus
Stilts and avocets
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds that includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. In South Carolina, two species have been recorded.
Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes, and phalaropes
The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small- to medium-sized shorebirds, including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers, and phalaropes. The majority of Scolopacidae species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. In South Carolina, thirty-five species have been recorded in addition to two hypothetical species.
- Spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularius
- Solitary sandpiper, Tringa solitaria
- Spotted redshank, Tringa erythropus (H)
- Greater yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
- Willet, Tringa semipalmata
- Lesser yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes
- Upland sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda
- Eskimo curlew, Numenius borealis (E?)
- Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
- Long-billed curlew, Numenius americanus
- Black-tailed godwit, Limosa limosa (H)
- Hudsonian godwit, Limosa haemastica
- Marbled godwit, Limosa fedoa
- Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Red knot, Calidris canutus
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Semipalmated sandpiper, Calidris pusilla
- Western sandpiper, Calidris mauri
- Red-necked stint, Calidris ruficollis
- Least sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
- White-rumped sandpiper, Calidris fuscicollis
- Baird's sandpiper, Calidris bairdii
- Pectoral sandpiper, Calidris melanotos
- Sharp-tailed sandpiper, Calidris acuminata
- Purple sandpiper, Calidris maritima
- Dunlin, Calidris alpina
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea
- Stilt sandpiper, Calidris himantopus
- Buff-breasted sandpiper, Tryngites subruficollis
- Ruff, Philomachus pugnax
- Short-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus griseus
- Long-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus
- Wilson's snipe, Gallinago delicata
- American woodcock, Scolopax minor
- Wilson's phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor
- Red-necked phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus
- Red phalarope, Phalaropus fulicarius
Gulls, terns, and skimmers
Gulls are typically medium-to-large birds, usually gray or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills, and webbed feet. The large species take up to four years to attain full adult plumage, but two years is typical for small gulls. In South Carolina, thirteen species have been recorded. Terns are in general medium-to-large birds, typically with gray or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. They have longish bills and webbed feet. They are lighter bodied and more streamlined than gulls, and look elegant in flight with long tails and long narrow wings. In South Carolina, fourteen species have been recorded. Skimmers are tropical and subtropical species. They have an elongated lower mandible which they use by flying low over the water surface skimming the water for small fish. One species has been recorded in South Carolina.
- Black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla
- Sabine's gull, Xema sabini
- Bonaparte's gull, Chroicocephalus philadelphia
- Black-headed gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus
- Little gull, Hydrocoloeus minutus
- Laughing gull, Leucophaeus atricilla
- Franklin's gull, Leucophaeus pipixcan
- Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
- California gull, Larus californicus
- Herring gull, Larus argentatus
- Iceland gull, Larus glaucoides
- Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus
- Glaucous gull, Larus hyperboreus
- Great black-backed gull, Larus marinus
- Brown noddy, Anous stolidus
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscata
- Bridled tern, Onychoprion anaethetus
- Least tern, Sternula antillarum
- Gull-billed tern, Gelochelidon nilotica
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia
- Black tern, Chlidonias niger
- White-winged tern, Chlidonias leucopterus
- Roseate tern, Sterna dougallii
- Common tern, Sterna hirundo
- Arctic tern, Sterna paradisaea
- Forster's tern, Sterna forsteri
- Royal tern, Thalasseus maxima
- Sandwich tern, Thalasseus sandvicensis
- Black skimmer, Rynchops niger
The skuas are in general medium-to-large birds, typically with gray or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They have longish bills with a hooked tip, and webbed feet with sharp claws. They look like large dark gulls, but have a fleshy cere above the upper mandible. They are strong, acrobatic fliers. Three species have been recorded to species level in South Carolina, while a skua has been seen but its species was not identified. Additionally, there is a hypothetical record of a south polar skua.
- *skua species, Stercorarius species
- South polar skua, Stercorarius maccormicki (H)
- Pomarine jaeger, Stercorarius pomarinus
- Parasitic jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus
- Long-tailed jaeger, Stercorarius longicaudus
Auks, murres, and puffins
Alcids are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colors, their upright posture, and some of their habits; however, they are not related to the penguins and are able to fly. Auks live on the open sea, only deliberately coming ashore to nest. In South Carolina, six species have been recorded.
- Dovekie, Alle alle
- Common murre, Uria aalge
- Thick-billed murre, Uria lomvia
- Razorbill, Alca torda
- Black guillemot, Cepphus grylle
- Long-billed murrelet, Brachyramphus perdix
Pigeons and doves
Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. In South Carolina, seven species have been recorded, one of which is extinct, in addition to one species of questionable origin.
- Rock dove, Columba livia (I)
- Band-tailed pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata
- Eurasian collared-dove, Streptopelia decaocto (I)
- African collared-dove, Streptopelia roseogrisea (P2)
- White-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica
- Mourning dove, Zenaida macroura
- Passenger pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius (E)
- Common ground dove, Columbina passerina
Lories, parakeets, macaws, and parrots
Parrots are small-to-large birds with a characteristic curved beak. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two at the back. In South Carolina one extinct species has been recorded as well as three species of questionable origin.
- Carolina parakeet, Conuropsis carolinensis (E)
- Budgerigar, Melopsittacus undulatus (P2)
- Monk parakeet, Myiopsitta monachus (P2)
- Green parakeet, Aratinga holochlora (P2)
Cuckoos, roadrunners, and anis
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners, and anis. These are birds of various sizes with slender bodies, long tails, and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. In South Carolina, four species have been recorded.
- Yellow-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus
- Black-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus erythropthalmus
- Smooth-billed ani, Crotophaga ani
- Groove-billed ani, Crotophaga sulcirostris
Barn owls are medium- to large-sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Barn owl, Tyto alba
Typical owls are small-to-large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. In South Carolina, eight species have been recorded.
- Eastern screech owl, Megascops asio
- Great horned owl, Bubo virginianus
- Snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus
- Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia
- Barred owl, Strix varia
- Long-eared owl, Asio otus
- Short-eared owl, Asio flammeus
- Northern saw-whet owl, Aegolius acadicus
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs, and very short bills. Most have small feet that are of little use for walking and long, pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically colored to resemble bark or leaves. In South Carolina, three species have been recorded.
- Common nighthawk, Chordeiles minor
- Chuck-will's-widow, Antrostomus carolinensis
- Eastern whip-poor-will, Antrostomus vociferus
The swifts are small birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or boomerang. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Chimney swift, Chaetura pelagica
Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards. In South Carolina, eight species have been recorded in addition to one hypothetical species.
- Cuban emerald, Chlorostilbon ricordii (H)
- Broad-billed hummingbird, Cynanthus latirostris
- Buff-bellied hummingbird, Amazilia yucatanensis
- Blue-throated hummingbird, Lampornis clemenciae
- Ruby-throated hummingbird, Archilochus colubris
- Black-chinned hummingbird, Archilochus alexandri
- Calliope hummingbird, Selasphorus calliope
- Rufous hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus
- Allen's hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Belted kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
Woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and flickers
Woodpeckers are small- to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails, and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks. In South Carolina, nine species have been recorded, one of which is presumed extinct.
- Red-headed woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus
- Red-bellied woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus
- Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius
- Downy woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
- Hairy woodpecker, Picoides villosus
- Red-cockaded woodpecker, Picoides borealis
- Northern flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Pileated woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus
- Ivory-billed woodpecker, Campephilus principalis (E?)
Tyrant flycatchers are passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust with stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, have rather plain plumage. As the name implies, most are insectivorous. In South Carolina, fifteen species have been recorded as well as three hypothetical species.
- Olive-sided flycatcher, Contopus cooperi
- Eastern wood pewee, Contopus virens
- Yellow-bellied flycatcher, Empidonax flaviventris
- Acadian flycatcher, Empidonax virescens
- Alder flycatcher, Empidonax alnorum (H)
- Willow flycatcher, Empidonax traillii
- Least flycatcher, Empidonax minimus
- Eastern phoebe, Sayornis phoebe
- Say's phoebe, Sayornis saya
- Vermilion flycatcher, Pyrocephalus rubinus
- Ash-throated flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens (H)
- Great crested flycatcher, Myiarchus crinitus
- Tropical/Couch's kingbird, Tyrannus melancholicus/couchii (H)
- Western kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
- Eastern kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus
- Gray kingbird, Tyrannus dominicensis
- Scissor-tailed flycatcher, Tyrannus forficatus
- Fork-tailed flycatcher, Tyrannus savana
Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Loggerhead shrike, Lanius ludovicianus
The vireos are a group of small- to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish and resemble the wood warblers, except for their heavier bills. In South Carolina, seven species have been recorded.
- White-eyed vireo, Vireo griseus
- Bell's vireo, Vireo bellii
- Yellow-throated vireo, Vireo flavifrons
- Blue-headed vireo, Vireo solitarius
- Warbling vireo, Vireo gilvus
- Philadelphia vireo, Vireo philadelphicus
- Red-eyed vireo, Vireo olivaceus
Jays, crows, magpies, and ravens
The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show high levels of learned behavior. In South Carolina, four species have been recorded as well as one species of questionable origin and one hypothetical.
- Blue jay, Cyanocitta cristata
- Black-billed magpie, Pica hudsonia (H)
- House crow, Corvus splendens (P2)
- American crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Fish crow, Corvus ossifragus
- Common raven, Corvus corax
Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. They feed on insects and seeds. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Horned lark, Eremophila alpestris
Swallows and martins
The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings, and a short bill with a wide gape. Their feet are designed for perching rather than walking and the front toes are partially joined at the base. In South Carolina, seven species have been recorded.
- Purple martin, Progne subis
- Tree swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Northern rough-winged swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis
- Bank swallow, Riparia riparia
- Cliff swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
- Cave swallow, Petrochelidon fulva
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica
Chickadees and titmice
The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet that includes seeds and insects. In South Carolina, two species have been recorded as well as one hypothetical species.
- Carolina chickadee, Poecile carolinensis
- Black-capped chickadee, Poecile atricapillus (H)
- Tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor
Long-tailed tits are a group of small passerine birds with medium-to-long tails. They make woven bag nests in trees. Most eat a mixed diet that includes insects. One hypothetical species has been recorded in South Carolina.
- Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus (H)
Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds, which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails, and powerful bills and feet. In South Carolina, three species have been recorded.
- Red-breasted nuthatch, Sitta canadensis
- White-breasted nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
- Brown-headed nuthatch, Sitta pusilla
Treecreepers are small woodland birds with brown backs and white underparts. They have thin, pointed, down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Brown creeper, Certhia americana
Wrens are small and inconspicuous birds, except for their loud songs. They have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. In South Carolina, six species have been recorded.
- Carolina wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus
- Bewick's wren, Thryomanes bewickii
- House wren, Troglodytes aedon
- Winter wren, Troglodytes hiemalis
- Sedge wren, Cistothorus platensis
- Marsh wren, Cistothorus palustris
The kinglets are a family of small insectivorous birds in the genus Regulus. The adults have colored crowns, giving rise to their name. In South Carolina, two species have been recorded.
These dainty birds resemble Old World warblers in their structure and habits, moving restlessly through foliage while seeking insects. The gnatcatchers are mainly a soft bluish gray in color and have the long sharp bill typical of an insectivore. Many species have distinctive black head patterns (especially males) and long, regularly cocked black-and-white tails. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Blue-gray gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea
Old World flycatchers
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- Northern wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe (H)
The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that are mainly but not exclusively in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small- to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. In South Carolina, nine species have been recorded, in addition to one hypothetical species.[which?]
- Eastern bluebird, Sialia sialis
- Townsend's solitaire, Myadestes townsendi
- Veery, Catharus fuscescens
- Gray-cheeked thrush, Catharus minimus
- Bicknell's thrush, Catharus bicknelli
- Swainson's thrush, Catharus ustulatus
- Hermit thrush, Catharus guttatus
- Wood thrush, Hylocichla mustelina
- American robin, Turdus migratorius
- Varied thrush, Ixoreus naevius
Mockingbirds and thrashers
The mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalization, especially their remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. The species' appearance tends towards dull grays and browns. In South Carolina, three species have been recorded.
- Gray catbird, Dumetella carolinensis
- Northern mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Brown thrasher, Toxostoma rufum
Starlings are small- to medium-sized Old World passerine birds with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct, and most are gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. The plumage of several species is dark with a metallic sheen. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- European starling, Sturnus vulgaris (I)
Wagtails and pipits
The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws, and pipits. They are slender, ground-feeding insectivores of open country. In South Carolina, three species have been recorded.
The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterized by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Cedar waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum
Longspurs and snow buntings
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- Lapland longspur, Calcarius lapponicus
- Smith's longspur, Calcarius pictus
- Snow bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis
The New World warblers are a group of small, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal but some, such as the ovenbird, are more terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores. In South Carolina, forty species have been recorded, including one that may be extinct.
- Bachman's warbler, Vermivora bachmanii (E?)
- Blue-winged warbler, Vermivora cyanoptera
- Golden-winged warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera
- Tennessee warbler, Oreothlypis peregrina
- Orange-crowned warbler, Oreothlypis celata
- Nashville warbler, Oreothlypis ruficapilla
- Northern parula, Setophaga americana
- Yellow warbler, Setophaga petechia
- Chestnut-sided warbler, Setophaga pensylvanica
- Magnolia warbler, Setophaga magnolia
- Cape May warbler, Setophaga tigrina
- Black-throated blue warbler, Setophaga caerulescens
- Yellow-rumped warbler, Setophaga coronata
- Black-throated gray warbler, Setophaga nigrescens
- Black-throated green warbler, Setophaga virens
- Blackburnian warbler, Setophaga fusca
- Yellow-throated warbler, Setophaga dominica
- Pine warbler, Setophaga pinus
- Kirtland's warbler, Setophaga kirtlandii
- Prairie warbler, Setophaga discolor
- Palm warbler, Setophaga palmarum
- Bay-breasted warbler, Setophaga castanea
- Blackpoll warbler, Setophaga striata
- Cerulean warbler, Setophaga cerulea
- Hooded warbler, Setophaga citrina
- American redstart, Setophaga ruticilla
- Black-and-white warbler, Mniotilta varia
- Prothonotary warbler, Protonotaria citrea
- Worm-eating warbler, Helmitheros vermivorum
- Swainson's warbler, Limnothlypis swainsonii
- Ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapilla
- Northern waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis
- Louisiana waterthrush, Parkesia motacilla
- Connecticut warbler, Oporornis agilis
- Kentucky warbler, Geothlypis formosa
- Mourning warbler, Geothlypis philadelphia
- Common yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas
- Wilson's warbler, Cardellina pusilla
- Canada warbler, Cardellina canadensis
- Yellow-breasted chat, Icteria virens
The tanagers are a large group of small- to medium-sized passerine birds that inhabit the New World, mainly in the tropics. Many species are brightly colored. They are seedeaters, but prefer fruit and nectar. Most have short, rounded wings. In South Carolina, one species of questionable origin has been recorded.
- Red-crested cardinal, Paroaria coronata (P2)
American sparrows, towhees, and juncos
The Emberizidae are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are called buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows, which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. In South Carolina, twenty-seven species have been recorded.
- Green-tailed towhee, Pipilo chlorurus
- Spotted towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Eastern towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus
- Bachman's sparrow, Peucaea aestivalis
- American tree sparrow, Spizella arborea
- Chipping sparrow, Spizella passerina
- Clay-colored sparrow, Spizella pallida
- Field sparrow, Spizella pusilla
- Vesper sparrow, Pooecetes gramineus
- Lark sparrow, Chondestes grammacus
- Lark bunting, Calamospiza melanocorys
- Savannah sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
- Grasshopper sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum
- Henslow's sparrow, Ammodramus henslowii
- Le Conte's sparrow, Ammodramus leconteii
- Nelson's sparrow, Ammodramus nelsoni
- Saltmarsh sparrow, Ammodramus caudacutus
- Seaside sparrow, Ammodramus maritimus
- Fox sparrow, Passerella iliaca
- Song sparrow, Melospiza melodia
- Lincoln's sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii
- Swamp sparrow, Melospiza georgiana
- White-throated sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis
- Harris's sparrow, Zonotrichia querula
- White-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Golden-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
- Dark-eyed junco, Junco hyemalis
Cardinals, saltators, and grosbeaks
The cardinals are a family of robust, seed-eating passerines with strong bills. They typically live in open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumage. In South Carolina, eleven species have been recorded.
- Summer tanager, Piranga olivacea
- Scarlet tanager, Piranga olivacea
- Western tanager, Piranga ludoviciana
- Northern cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
- Rose-breasted grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus
- Black-headed grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus
- Blue grosbeak, Passerina caerulea
- Lazuli bunting, Passerina amoena
- Indigo bunting, Passerina cyanea
- Painted bunting, Passerina ciris
- Dickcissel, Spiza americana
Blackbirds, meadowlarks, cowbirds, grackles, and orioles
The icterids are a group of small-to-medium sized, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds, and New World orioles. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange, or red. In South Carolina, fourteen species have been recorded, in addition to one species of questionable origin.
- Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus
- Red-winged blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Eastern meadowlark, Sturnella magna
- Western meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
- Yellow-headed blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
- Rusty blackbird, Euphagus carolinus
- Brewer's blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Common grackle, Quiscalus quiscula
- Boat-tailed grackle, Quiscalus major
- Shiny cowbird, Molothrus bonariensis
- Brown-headed cowbird, Molothrus ater
- Orchard oriole, Icterus spurius
- Troupial, Icterus icterus (P2)
- Bullock's oriole, Icterus bullockii
- Baltimore oriole, Icterus galbula
Finches are seed-eating passerines that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. In South Carolina, nine definitive species have been recorded along with one species of questionable origin.
- Pine grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator
- Purple finch, Haemorhous purpureus
- House finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Red crossbill, Loxia curvirostra
- White-winged crossbill, Loxia leucoptera
- Common redpoll, Acanthis flammea
- Pine siskin, Spinus carduelis
- American goldfinch, Spinus tristis
- European goldfinch, Carduelis tristis (P2)
- Evening grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus
Old World sparrows
Old World sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, these sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or grayish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. In South Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- House sparrow, Passer domesticus (I)
Weavers and allies
The weavers are small passerine birds related to the finches. They are seed-eating birds with rounded conical bills. The males of many species are brightly colored, usually in red or yellow and black. Some species show variation in color only in the breeding season. One species of questionable origin has been seen in South Carolina.
- Village weaver, Ploceus cucullatus (P2)
- List of birds
- Lists of birds by region
- List of North American birds
- List of mammals of South Carolina
- List of snakes of South Carolina
- ""Official list of the birds of South Carolina" (PDF). Carolina Bird Club. Retrieved 2010-02-20.
- "Great Carolina Wren". Birds of America. Audubon. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
- "Official list of the birds of South Carolina" (PDF). Carolina Bird Club. Retrieved 2010-02-20.
- "Official list of the birds of the Carolinas". Carolina Bird Club. Retrieved 2010-02-20.
- "Check-list of North American Birds, Seventh Edition". American Ornithologists' Union. Archived from the original on 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2007-12-15.