Jekyll Island is one of Georgia’s premier sites for identifying birds. Since the island is on the Atlantic Flyway (and is one of the 18 sites along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail), it’s visited by a variety of feathered fliers migrating, like snow birds, to better climes.
The best times for identifying birds on Jekyll are the spring and fall seasons. A particularly good time is in October, during the Jekyll Island Birding and Nature Festival.
What type birds can you see on Jekyll Island? There are several prominent species that either visit the island or make it their home. This list, while not comprehensive, provides tips for recognizing some of the island’s winged visitors.
- Wood Storks – these large wading birds (part of the stork family) are mostly white, with brown heads and black faces. When these birds are in flight, look for a strip of black on the trailing edge of their wings. Their long, down-curved bills are yellowish.
- Sandhill Cranes – the Florida subspecies of this crane sometimes drops in on Jekyll Island. Sandhills are tall, long-legged birds colored gray overall, with white cheeks and bare, red-colored foreheads. These cranes are sometimes confused with the Blue Heron. Sandhill Cranes, however, fly with their necks outstretched; herons fly with their necks curved into an “S” shape.
- Blue Herons – another large wader, herons have slate-colored feathers, reddish-brown thighs, and white heads adorned with a pair of distinctive black plumes trailing from just behind the eyes to the back of their heads.
- Egrets – there are several different kinds of egrets, but most are white with gray legs and orange bills.
- Gulls – several dozen species either visit or live on Jekyll Island. Their sizes range from medium to large. For the most part, they have white and gray feathers with black markings on their heads and wings. Gulls like to hang out at the beach, and sometimes rare gulls will make an appearance.
- Piping Plovers – this is an…