25 Thrilling Backyard Birds of South Carolina for you to watch

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Backyard Birds of South Carolina

If you’re a bird watcher or enjoy seeing birds in your backyard, South Carolina has what you need! The Palmetto State has a diverse range of bird species due to its location on the East Coast and varied terrain. South Carolina offers a birdwatching location for every birder, from coastal areas to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The habitats of South Carolina offer a diverse range of bird species. Coastal areas are home to wading birds such as egrets and herons and seabirds such as pelicans and gulls. 

The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to various songbirds, including the Carolina chickadee and the American goldfinch. 

In the lowlands and forests, you can find bird species such as woodpeckers, songbirds, and birds of prey.

This blog post will look at 25 of the most common backyard birds of South Carolina by surveying residents and utilizing data from ebird and other citizen science databases.

By reading this article, we hope you will identify some new species and find out which ones live near you at any time of the year.

No matter where you are in South Carolina, there are bound to be some backyard birds you can enjoy!

Backyard Birds Of South Carolina

According to the latest data from ebird, there are 448 observed species of Birds in South Carolina. This data comes from over 558,000 checklists from over 22,000 avid birdwatchers.

Identifying and seeing all 448 may be an overwhelming challenge, so we have chosen to focus on the birds you are more likely to see in your home, backyard, or bird feeders.

Here are some things to know about Backyard Birds of South Carolina:

  • 448 observed species
  • The Northern Cardinal is the most common backyard bird of South Carolina.
  • The Brown-headed Nuthatch is the smallest most common feeder bird in South Carolina.
  • The American Crow is the largest backyard bird on this list.
  • The Carolina Wren is South Carolina’s state bird.

What Are The Most Common Backyard Birds Of South Carolina?

  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. Carolina Chickadee
  3. Tufted Titmouse
  4. Carolina Wren
  5. House Finch
  6. Mourning Dove
  7. American Goldfinch
  8. Downy Woodpecker
  9. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  10. Northern Mockingbird
  11. Eastern Bluebird
  12. Blue Jay
  13. Chipping Sparrow
  14. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  15. Pine Warbler
  16. American Robin
  17. Purple Finch
  18. White-breasted Nuthatch
  19. Brown-headed Cowbird
  20. Brown Thrasher
  21. White-throated Sparrow
  22. Brown-headed Nuthatch
  23. American Crow
  24. Pine Siskin
  25. Dark-eyed Junco

Top 5 Hotspots For Birdwatching In South Carolina

If you prefer to venture away from home to do birding, visit one of South Carolina’s best hotspots for birdwatching. These hotspots are determined by the number of species observed by fellow birdwatchers in South Carolina.

  1. Huntington Beach State Park
  2. Bear Island Wildlife Management Area
  3. Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
  4. Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
  5. East Kiawah Island

Top 25 Backyard Birds Of South Carolina

The list below is determined by the number of bird watchers in South Carolina who have seen a species visiting their feeder at least once, divided by the number of bird feeder sites in the state.

1. Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is a common species of bird found in the United States and can be seen in South Carolina backyards all year round.

Northern Cardinals are small songbirds, with males and females generally weighing less between 42 – 48g (1.5 – 1.7 oz), and are 21-23cm (8.3-9.1 inches) long.

Northern cardinals have a distinctive crest on their head that can be raised when they feel threatened or aggressive; however, this behavior is not often observed in wild populations and has been lost to captive ones.

The Northern Cardinal’s feathers range from bright red in males to brownish orange in females, and their bills are short but wide at the base – giving them an upturned appearance, making them easy to identify.

Northern Cardinals have a varied diet that consists of fruits, seeds, berries, and insects and are very common at most bird feeders but prefer to eat seeds such as sunflower, safflower, and cracked corn from the ground.

The Northern Cardinal has been seen at 97% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Tube feeder
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet
  • Milo

2. Carolina Chickadee

The Carolina Chickadee is a small species found primarily in the southeastern United States and is a year-round resident of South Carolina.

Carolina Chickadees are only about 11cm (4 inches) long and weigh between 8-12g (0.3-0.4oz). They have gray-white feathers with a distinct dark cap on their head and dark throat with white cheeks and gray bill, giving them the “chickadee” appearance from which they get their name.

Their preferred habitat is deciduous or mixed woods with large trees for roosting and nesting. They also inhabit woodlands around towns, suburbs and parks. 

Carolina Chickadees are omnivorous birds that eat both insects and seeds – making them widespread backyard visitors. They prefer feeding on seeds and sunflower seed mixes from bird feeders but will also eat suet in wintertime.

The Carolina Chickadee has been seen at 96% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube Feeder
  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil & Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Suet
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

3. Tufted Titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse is a small species of bird that can be found throughout much of the Eastern half of North America and can be seen in South Carolina backyards all year round.

They are gray above and white below with a crested head and small black forehead. Tufted Titmice are only about 14 – 16cm (5.5-6.3 inches) long and weigh around 18-26g (0.6-0.9oz).

Tufted Titmice are sociable birds found in pairs or groups living in deciduous woods, towns, wooded suburbs, and parks. They are omnivorous with a diet that consists mainly of insects and some seeds and berries.

Although they prefer to glean foliage for their preferred food, Tufted Titmice will readily visit bird feeders searching for sunflower seeds, peanuts or suet.

The Tufted Titmouse has been seen at 95% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube Feeder
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Suet Cage
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Suet
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

4. Carolina Wren

The Carolina Wren is a common bird species in the eastern part of North America and is a year-round resident of South Carolina.

Carolina Wrens are small backyard birds typically between 12 – 14cm (4.7-5.5 inches) long and weigh between 18-22g (0.6-0.8oz), with males slightly larger than females.

They have rusty-brown feathers with white spots on their tails and wings, with lighter brown-orange chest and belly, and a bold white line above the eye, making them very easy to identify from other birds.

Carolina Wrens spend most of their time in thick vegetation such as brushy woods, underbrush or shrubs, looking for insects and spiders to eat – making it easy to see when they fly out from their hiding place.

They are the only wren that will visit backyard bird feeders regularly and typically prefer suet feeders.

The Carolina Wren has been seen at 93% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Tube feeder
  • Suet Cage
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

5. House Finch

The House Finch is a small bird found in most of North America, including parts of the United States and Southern Canada.  These tiny birds can be seen in South Carolina all year round.

House Finches are 12-15cm (5.1-5.5 inches) long and weigh between 16-27g (0.6-0.9oz).

They have short wings that allow for a quick flight, and their beaks are stubby and slightly curved on top with a long flat head. The males are known for their bright red heads and breast with brown wings, tails, and back.

Their preferred habitat is open, grassy areas with some trees – often near farmlands. They will also be found around towns and suburbs to find food quickly on the ground, such as birdseed spilled from backyard bird feeders (or even at pet food bowls left out for our furry friends).

They are ground forages whose preferred diet consists mainly of seeds, buds, and fruit. They are common at backyard bird feeders and will often feed in large numbers, especially when black oil sunflowers seeds are present in your feeders.

The House Finch has been seen at 89% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube Feeder
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer

6. Mourning Dove

The Mourning Dove is a common species of bird found throughout North America and is a year-round resident of South Carolina.

They are about the size of an American Robin, with adults between 23-34cm (9.1-13.4 inches) long and weighing between 86-170g (3-6oz). Mourning Doves have grayish-brown feathers, and their heads are pale gray; however, they lack crests or head adornments.

Mourning Doves prefer open habitats in rural and urban areas and weedy fields.

Mourning Doves are ground foragers meaning that they eat seeds, grains, and other vegetation found on the ground. They have a varied diet but prefer to eat weed seeds such as dandelions or grasses in open fields rather than forest floors.

Mourning doves also drink water from puddles created by rain which they find near trees and shrubs.

They are frequent visitors to backyard bird feeders and typically eat seeds that have fallen on the ground or platform feeders.

The Mourning Dove has been seen at 87% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Hopper
  • Platform feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet & Milo
  • Oats

7. American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is a common species of bird found throughout North America. These tiny birds can be seen in western South Carolina all year round and in the eastern half of the state during the colder non-breeding months.

They are small songbirds 11-13cm (4.3-5.1 inches) long and weigh between 11-20g (0.4-0.70 oz), with males being slightly larger than females. 

Breeding adult males have a bright yellow color on their heads and rump with a black cap and black-tipped wings, making them easy to identify from other birds. Winter adult males are tan above and pale gray below with a yellow face and throat. 

Breeding adult females are olive-brown above and yellow below, and winter adult females are generally gray overall.

Their preferred habitat is overgrown, weedy fields, pastures, and well planted suburban areas and backyards.

They mainly eat seeds from wild sunflowers, composite flowers or thistles, and very few insects. 

American Goldfinches are frequent visitors of backyard bird feeders – making them easy to spot around the yard. They prefer hulled sunflower and nyjer seeds.

The American Goldfinch has been seen at 79% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube feeder
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer

8. Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker is a small woodpecker found throughout North America and can be seen in South Carolina backyards all year round.

They are smaller than most woodpeckers at about 14-17cm (5.5-6.7 inches) long and weigh between 21-28g (0.7-1oz).

Downy Woodpeckers have a black back and white stripe down the middle. They are white below, and their wings have a checkered black and white detailing them.

The males have a red patch at the back of the head, and females have a black head. They have a petite-looking bill compared to their other woodpecker relatives.

Their beaks are short, solid, and pointed at the end, which they use to chisel wood for excavation or peck at the bark to find food underneath.

Their preferred habitat is wooded areas with plenty of trees near rivers, ponds, or wetlands – even urban areas with a mix of grasslands, shrubs, and woodlands.

They are acrobatic foragers whose main diet consists of insects it can glean and probe from trees. They will also eat seeds, berries, or fruit when needed and are more common at bird feeders than their larger relatives.

They prefer suet feeders and enjoy black oil sunflower seeds, peanut butter, seeds, and millet.

The Downy Woodpecker has been seen at 79% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil & Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

9. Red-bellied Woodpecker

The Red-Bellied Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker with a long, chisel-like bill. They are the most commonly observed woodpecker in South Carolina and can be seen in the state all year round.

Males and Females are about 24cm (9.4 inches) long and weigh around 56-91g (2-3.2oz). Red-bellied Woodpeckers have black-and-white stripes above and a paler below.

The male has red from its bill to its nape, while the female only has a red nape. Red bellies can be seen during flight but are more challenging to see when perched.

They live in various habitats, including woodlands, bottomland forests, swamps, riversides, and parks. They are most commonly found near water to find insects to eat. 

They will seldom peck at the wood of trees to find food but instead will forage for insects whenever the opportunity presents itself. They also feed on nuts, fruits, and seeds and store their food in bark crevices.

Red-bellied woodpeckers also visit backyard bird feeders that offer suet, sunflowers seeds, or peanut butter mixed with birdseed.

While at backyard feeders, they are bullish birds and will often dominate other smaller birds and their cousins (Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers).

The Red-bellied Woodpecker has been seen at 77% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Types:

  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Nectar Feeder
  • Suet Cage

Feeder food:

  • Black Oil & Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Cracker corn
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Sugar Water
  • Fruit
  • Mealworms

10. Northern Mockingbird

The Northern Mockingbird is a common species of bird found in the United States, Mexico and some areas of Central America. They can be seen in South Carolina backyards all year round.

They are very similar to American Robins except for their size – with both sexes 21-26cm (8.3-10.2 inches) long and weighing between 45-58g (1.6-2oz).

They have grayish-brown feathers with black spots on their wings and tails; however, they also have white bellies, making them recognizable.

Northern Mockingbirds are not migratory but instead stay in the same location year-round. They prefer dense shrubby areas with open patches nearby, descriptive of most backyards.

Northern Mockingbirds build open-cup nests found high in trees or bushes – making them easy to see. They are primarily carnivorous, feeding mainly on insects during the summer months and switching to berries or fruit in autumn and winter.

They are a frequent visitor to backyards and will typically visit suet feeders.

The Northern Mockingbird has been seen at 73% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Mealworms

11. Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern Bluebird is a small thrush that is common throughout the Eastern half of North America. These beautiful birds can be seen in South Carolina backyards all year round.

They are about 16-21cm (6.3-8.3 inches) long and weigh only 28-32g (1-1.1oz). The males are known for their beautiful blue feathers above and a rusty reddish-brown throat and breast

Females are gray above with blue wings and blue tail and a more orange-brown breast. You can find them in other colors depending on the region they live in – such as black or white bodies instead of blue, grayish underparts, or orange neck patches.

Their preferred habitat is an open area such as pasture or farmland with short grasses and some trees.

Their preferred diet consists mainly of insects and other small invertebrates that they find by probing the ground. They may also eat some small fruits in winter, but insects make up many of their diets.

They are very social birds, often found in pairs or flocks – especially during migration to warmer climates for wintertime.

Eastern Bluebirds will visit bird feeders when mealworms are offered.

The Eastern Bluebird has been seen at 73% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Mealworms
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Suet

12. Blue Jay

The Blue Jay is a common species of bird found throughout North America and is a year-round resident of South Carolina.

Blue Jays are about 25-30cm (9.8-11.8 inches) long and generally weigh between 70 – 100g (2.5-3.5oz). They have a very short neck and bill with a thick blue crest on their head.

They have very distinctive bright blue feathers on the top with white spots and gray-white color below, making them easy to identify from other birds.

Blue Jays are loud, boisterous birds that will eat almost anything they can find – making them one of the most common backyard visitors.

They are widespread at backyard bird feeders and will typically dominate smaller birds that visit simultaneously. They love sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and whole peanuts.

The Blue Jay has been seen at 68% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Tube feeder
  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Hulled & Black oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Mealworms 

13. Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrows are ubiquitous sparrows that are found throughout North America and can be seen in South Carolina during the spring and summer breeding months.

They are about 12-15cm (4.7-5.9 inches) long, weigh between 11-16g (0.4-0.6oz). Chipping Sparrows are slender, long-tailed birds with gray faces, chestnut heads, and a white belly. They have a black line through the eye, back and wings.

They have relatively short wings that allow for quick travel through thick vegetation or high into the trees where they will find their nests on a thin branch close to the trunk of a tree.

Their beaks are short but thick at the end for catching insects and eating seeds from grasses or trees.

Their preferred habitat is open woodland, forest edges, and clearings. It will also be found in parks and residential areas.

Chipping Sparrows eat insects they can glean from the ground, vegetation, or the air in summer months and forage for seeds in wild grasses and weeds in the fall and winter months.

They are frequent visitors at bird feeders and prefer to eat seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds, millet, or cracked corn from a platform feeder or the ground. You will often see them in small flocks around your feeders.

The Chipping Sparrow has been seen at 68% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer
  • Cracked Corn
  • Millet

14. Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers are small songbirds found throughout North and Central America from Canada down to Panama. These beautiful birds can be seen in South Carolina during the colder non-breeding months.

They are about 12-14cm (4.7-5.5 inches) long, weigh between 12-13g (0.4-0.5oz) and have long wings that allow for quick travel in thick vegetation or high into the trees where they will find their nests on a thin branch close to the trunk of a tree.

Their beaks are short, solid, and pointed at the end, which they use to catch insects.

They are light gray with flashes of white in their wings. They have a yellow patch under their chin and yellow sides. Females’ colors are duller than the males, and winter plumage for both is a pale brown.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler prefers coniferous and mixed woodland habitats that provide plenty of shrubs, underbrush, and leafy trees for protection. They can also be found in parks and residential areas in the fall and winter.

They are insectivores that will prey on many insects they can catch. They will also eat small fruits or berries from early fall to spring.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler has been seen at 67% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube Feeders
  • Suet Cage
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Nectar Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Sugar Water
  • Fruit
  • Mealworms

15. Pine Warbler

Pine Warblers are heavy warblers found in the eastern United states and are year-round residents of South Carolina.

They are about 13-14cm (5.1-5.5 inches) long and weigh 9-15g (0.3-0.5oz). They have stout bills and long notched tails. They are primarily yellow with an olive-green back, gray-white bellies, and two white wing bars.

Males and females look alike, but female warblers are a bit duller in coloration than males.

They are. As the name suggests, they prefer to live in pine forests, mainly along the edges of open fields, but can also be found in residential areas with similar deciduous woods.

Pine Warblers are insectivores that eat insects they catch or glean from vegetation like leaves or bark or even find on the ground when seeds aren’t around. They will supplement with berries and seeds in winter.

They will often visit bird feeders in the winter, especially if suet is offered in an elevated feeder. They will also eat millet, peanut hearts, sunflower seed, and cracked corn if presented.

The Pine Warbler has been seen at 65% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube feeder
  • Suet Cage
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Hulled Sunflower Seed
  • Suet
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms
  • Millet

16. American Robin

The American Robin is a common species of bird found throughout North America and is a year-round resident of South Carolina.

American Robins are 20-28cm (7.9-11 inches) long and weigh 77-85g (2.7-3oz).

American Robins have a distinctive orange chest with black spots; however, their back feathers are brownish gray. Their beaks are tiny but comprehensive at the base, giving them a very distinct appearance.

They are common in most environments across North America, especially in gardens, parks, and wooded areas around towns and suburbs.

The American Robin is known to poke around in leaf litter, looking for insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and earthworms to eat in the summer months. They prefer berries or fruit during the autumn and winter months.

They are also known for being very friendly birds found at most bird feeders and prefer feeders that offer live mealworms.

The American Robin has been seen at 62% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Mealworms

17. Purple Finch

The Purple Finch is a small finch found mainly in the eastern half of the North American continent. They can also be seen on the west coast of the United States and southern Canada. 

They are residents of South Carolina during the colder non-breeding months.

Males and Females are about 12-16cm (4.7-6.3 inches) long and weigh between 18-32g (0.6-1.1oz). They are about the same size as a house finch but with a chunkier appearance. They have short notched tails and a robust conical bill, perfect for cracking seeds.

Contrary to the name, Purple Finches are not really purple. The males have a raspberry-colored head, breast, and rump, with their wings and back having a pinky tinge.

The females have no red and a patterned head and are more brown and white above and streaked below.

They live in coniferous forests, woodlands, gardens, and parks. They primarily forage on the ground or in trees for seeds, buds, fruit, and some insects and spiders

They are also common at backyard bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, thistle, or nyjer seed during the winter.

The Purple Finch has been seen at 55% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large and Small Tube Feeder
  • Large and Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer
  • Millet

18. White-breasted Nuthatch

The White-breasted Nuthatch is an exciting species to observe and can be found from southern Canada down into Central America and are year-round residents of South Carolina.

White-breasted Nuthatches are small in size – only about 13-14cm (5.1-5.5 inches) in length and weighing between 18-30g (0.6-1.1oz). They have short tails with a thick dark bill.

They have a distinctive appearance with blue-gray feathers on their back and a white face with a darker “hood” that runs from the top of their beak to the back, making them easily identifiable from other birds.

White-breasted Nuthatches prefer mature mixed forests and wooded areas in towns, suburbs and parks.

White-breasted Nuthatches are very energetic birds that spend most of their time climbing trees and searching for food in the bark. They mainly eat insects they can glean from bark and foliage but will also eat seeds in winter.

They are known to visit backyard bird feeders and prefer suet feeders, shelled peanuts, and sunflower seeds.

The White-breasted Nuthatch has been seen at 54% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube Feeder
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Suet Cage
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

19. Brown-headed Cowbird

The Brown-headed cowbird is a small blackbird found across North America and can be seen in South Carolina backyards all year round.

The males range between 19-22cm (7.5-8.7 inches) long and weigh between 42-50g (1.5-1.8oz). The females range between 16-20cm (6.3-7.9 inches) long and weigh 42-50g (1.3-1.6oz). They have a short tail and thick sharp-tipped beak.

The males have a glossy black body with a dark brown head, and the females are grayish-brown above and a paler color below.

They prefer open areas with scattered trees like grasslands, pastures, meadows, marshes, or even agricultural fields.

The Brown-headed cowbird is a brood parasite, which means that it doesn’t build a nest of its own, but instead lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species. The host birds will then incubate and raise the cowbird chick as their own.

Cowbirds can be seen hopping around on the ground or flying low to the ground looking for food. They eat mainly seeds and grain but will also eat insects and spiders if given a chance.

Since they don’t build their own nests,  they will often be found close to humans in places like parks, golf courses, and even the backyard, which means they will often visit backyard bird feeders, especially if you use a  platform feeder or scatter seed on the ground. 

Brown-Headed cowbirds can often be a nuisance, and some people even take their feeders down in the spring or summer if they see too many cowbirds visiting.

The Brown-headed Cowbird has been seen at 51% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground Feeding

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Milo

20. Brown Thrasher

The Brown Thrasher is a common species of songbird found in North America and can be seen in South Carolina all year round.

Males and Females are about 23-30cm (9.1-12 inches) long and weigh between 61-89g (2.1-3.1oz). They are slender birds with long legs, bills, and tails that often cock up much the same way as a Carolina Wren.

Brown thrashers have dark brown feathers above and a lighter white color with dark streaks below. They have long tails that are usually about the same length as their bodies, and their wings have two white wing bars, which also aids in distinguishing them from other species of birds. They have a gray-brown face with yellow eyes.

Brown Thrashers have a varied diet but prefer to eat insects such as grasshoppers or beetles found under rocks, leaves, or logs in the summer and fruits, nuts (acorns), and seeds in the winter.

Brown thrashers are most commonly found in forests near open fields where they can forage for insects on the ground; however, you can find a brown thrasher hanging around a bird feeder in the backyard, especially if suet and seeds are offered.

The Brown Thrasher has been seen at 50% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder type:

  • Platform
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled sunflower seeds
  • Suet
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanut Hearts

21. White-throated Sparrow

The White-Throated Sparrow is a medium-large sparrow that lives primarily in the eastern half of the United States and can be seen in South Carolina during the colder non-breeding months.

Males and Females are about 16-18cm (6.3-7.1 inches) long and weigh between 22-32g (0.8-1.1oz). They have a round head, long legs, and long tail.

Both sexes are brown above and gray below with a black and white striped head and a yellow spot above the eye and bill. Another morph is tan striped instead of black and white striped. Both morphs have a strongly outlined white throat.

They live in brushy woodlands, forest edges, wooded urban areas, parks, and gardens across the Eastern United States. Most often seen in backyards during the winter months.

They are ground foragers that often flock together to eat insects in summer and seeds and berries the rest of the year. They are common backyard birds that will visit feeders in the winter, especially ones that offer seeds scattered on the ground or a platform feeder.

The White-throated Sparrow has been seen at 50% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Types:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Cracker Corn
  • Millet
  • Milo

22. Brown-headed Nuthatch

The Brown-headed nuthatch is a tiny songbird found in the southeastern half of North America and is a year-round resident of South Carolina.

They are about 10-11cm (3.9-4.3 inches) long and weigh approximately 10g (0.3oz). The brown-headed nuthatch is a compact bird that seems round thanks to its short legs, tail, and neck.

Its plumage is blue-gray above and whites below with a brown head. The males and females are identical in coloring and size.

Brown-headed nuthatches live in a variety of pine habitats in the Southeast. They are most common in an open pine forest, where they can spend most of their time zigzagging through the canopy.

They are very active birds often seen climbing up and down tree trunks or hopping from one branch to the next, searching for food, sometimes even upside down.

Brown-headed nuthatches usually build their nests in a hole in a tree cavity but will also use old woodpecker holes or manufactured nest boxes if available.

They feed primarily on insects and spiders but feed on seeds and cones when needed.

The Brown-headed Nuthatch is a common bird to see at backyard bird feeders, especially if a suet cake is offered. 

They are active birds and will often come to the feeder while perched on a nearby branch and then fly over to the feeder to take a bite. This tiny songbird is a fun bird to watch and observe.

The Brown-headed Nuthatch has been seen at 49% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Feeder Tube
  • Suet Cage
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

23. American Crow

The American Crow is a large bird found throughout most of North America, except in some areas in the southern United States along the border with Mexico.

American Crows are large at about 40-53cm (115.8-21 inches) long and weigh between 316-620g (11.2-22oz). They are black all over, including their legs, feet, bill, and eyes.

They have a very distinct, short tail with broad wings that allow for a quick flight. They are known to be brilliant birds – able to use tools to obtain the food they otherwise couldn’t reach.

Their preferred habitat is open areas such as pastures with some trees – either deciduous or coniferous to roost at night when they sleep. They will often be found in urban areas where food is plentiful – for example, at dumpsters behind supermarkets or garbage bins.

They are omnivores and very opportunistic and will eat small mammals, insects, and amphibians but may also be found eating fruits or grain in the wintertime when other food sources are scarce.

We have even personally seen crows stealing chicks from other nests and flying away to eat them.

Not your typical visitor to backyard bird feeders but may hang around yards that offer a compost heap, easy access to garbage, or pet food lying around.

The American Crow has been seen at 48% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil & Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Millet & Milo
  • Oats

24. Pine Siskin

The Pine Siskin is widespread throughout North America and some parts of Canada and Mexico. They can be seen in South Carolina during the colder non-breeding months.

Both males and females are about 11-14cm (4.3-5.5 inches) long and weigh between 12-18g (0.4-0.6oz). Both males and females are brown, with dark streaking throughout their bodies. They are a small finch with a sharply pointed bill and a short notched tail.

They are slightly darker above and paler below with two whitish-yellow wing bars. A yellow wing stripe can be seen during flight but is more difficult to see when perched.

They prefer open coniferous forests where they can forage in trees, looking for seeds among needles of the branches. Pine siskins are social birds and often travel in a few hundred bird flocks.

They are very active and can be seen hopping around on the ground or flying quickly from tree to tree.

Pine siskins eat seeds almost exclusively but will take insects or larvae when available if seeds are not readily accessible. They are also frequent visitors to backyard bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, or nyjer seeds.

The Pine Siskin has been seen at 47% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large and Small Tube Feeder
  • Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer

25. Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-Eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow found in the Northern Hemisphere from Alaska to Newfoundland and can be seen in South Carolina during the colder non-breeding months.

Males and Females are about 14-16cm (5.5-6.3 inches) long and weigh between 18-30g (0.6-1.1oz). They have a round head, short conical bill, and long tail.

The Dark-Eyed Junco varies in color depending on what region you are in but are mainly dark gray or brown with a light/pale pink bill and white outer tail feathers that are noticeable in flight.

The three most common sub-types and colors are:

  • Slate-colored Junco – Alaska, and East of the Rocky Mountains
  • Oregon Junco – Northern Rockies and Farther West
  • Gray-headed Junco – Southern Rockies

They live in coniferous forests, woodlands, scrubland, and tundra across the United States and Canada. You are more likely to find them in open areas like backyards, fields, and parks in winter.

They are ground foragers and eat insects, seeds, and berries. They eat mostly insects in the spring and summer and seeds and berries in the fall and winter.

They are also expected at backyard bird feeders in the winter, especially ones that offer sunflower seeds, millet, or cracked corn.

The Dark-eyed Junco has been seen at 45% of all feeder sites in South Carolina.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower seed
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet & Milo
  • Oats

What Are The Most Common Backyard Birds All Year Round In South Carolina?

  • Northern Cardinal (63% frequency)
  • Carolina Wren (51% frequency)
  • Carolina Chickadee (47% frequency)
  • Tufted Titmouse (43% frequency)
  • Mourning Dove (43% frequency)
  • American Crow (39% frequency)
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker (38% frequency)
  • Northern Mockingbird (38% frequency)
  • Blue Jay (37% frequency)
  • Eastern Bluebird (31% frequency)

What Are The Most Common Winter Backyard Birds Of South Carolina?

  • Northern Cardinal (59% frequency)
  • Carolina Chickadee (49% frequency)
  • Carolina Wren (47% frequency)
  • Tufted Titmouse (43% frequency)
  • Mourning Dove (40% frequency)
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler (39% frequency)
  • American Crow (38% frequency)
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker (37% frequency)
  • Northern Mockingbird (36% frequency)
  • Eastern Bluebird (32% frequency)

Birds To Spot Beyond The Backyard In South Carolina

If you decide to birdwatch away from your home, these are some of the other birds to look out for:

  1. Purple Martin
  2. Tree Swallow
  3. Barn Swallow
  4. Fish Crow
  5. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  6. Black Scoter
  7. Western Sandpiper
  8. Boat-tailed Grackle
  9. Broad-winged Hawk
  10. Savannah Sparrow
  11. Cedar Waxwing
  12. Wood Stork
  13. Swainson’s Thrush
  14. Black-bellied Plover
  15. Bobolink
  16. Gray Catbird
  17. Bank Swallow
  18. Great Egret
  19. Rusty Blackbird
  20. Common Nighthawk
  21. Killdeer
  22. Palm Warbler
  23. Gray-cheeked Thrush
  24. Swallow-tailed Kite
  25. Great Crested Flycatcher
  26. Osprey
  27. Eastern Meadowlark
  28. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  29. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  30. Indigo Bunting

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Many Species Of Birds Are In South Carolina?

There are 448 documented species of birds in South Carolina.

What kind of birds are native to South Carolina?

South Carolina is home to many native species of birds that range in size from small Song Birds to larger Water Birds and Birds of Prey. The most common of which include the Northern Cardinal (63% frequency), Carolina Wren (51% frequency), Carolina Chickadee (47% frequency), Great Blue Heron (23% frequency), Belted Kingfisher (12% frequency), Turkey Vulture (27% frequency), Red-shouldered Hawk (14% frequency) and the Osprey (12% frequency).

What birds of prey live in South Carolina?

South Carolina is home to many raptor species such as Falcons, Hawks, Eagles, Owls and Vultures. Some of the most common include the American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Northern Harrier, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl and the Turkey Vulture.

What Is The State Bird Of South Carolina?

The Carolina Wren is the state bird of South Carolina.

What Is The Most Common Backyard Bird In South Carolina?

The Northern Cardinal is the most common backyard bird of South Carolina.

Keep an eye out

No matter where you are in South Carolina, there are bound to be some backyard birds you can enjoy! The state has a wide variety of habitats, resulting in a similarly diverse range of bird species.

If you’re looking to venture out and do some birding, then visit one of South Carolina’s best hotspots for birdwatching.

We would also love to hear about your favorite birdwatching spots or experiences in South Carolina.

If you have questions about identifying more species or finding out which ones live near you, let us know! We would love to help identify new bird species for our readers.

We hope this article has inspired you to get outside and start birdwatching or even just appreciating the birds in your backyard!

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Author
I am an avid birdwatcher with a passion for learning all I can about these fantastic creatures. I love finding new species of birds in my backyard, neighborhood, or when I travel. I enjoy sharing everything I learn about how these creatures live their lives; feedback and experience is much appreciated!

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