If you want a chance to get a glimpse of bird life in the Lowcountry before all the development, head out to the Cypress Wetlands in Port Royal on Saturday.
The town of Port Royal and the Fripp Island Audubon Club are hosting the Third Annual Birthday Party for the Birds at the Port Royal Rookery and Cypress Wetlands Trail.
The event from 9 to 11 a.m. will celebrate the birth of hundreds of new wading birds in the Lowcountry. Biologist Bridge Lussier will speak. There will be music by Billy Drysdale, a scavenger hunt and various tours of the wetlands.
Fripp Audubon president and project coordinator Pete Richards said the Cypress Wetlands is special because it provides safe nesting areas above the water. Below the bird-filled limbs of the rookeries, alligators lurk, scaring off -- or eating -- predators interested in raiding the birds' nests.
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Here are some of the birds nesting in the wetlands:
This large white bird has a yellow bill with dark legs and feet. It was hunted nearly to extinction for its feathers. They wade in shallow water, stalking fish, frogs and other aquatic animals. They stand still and then lightning fast strike with their bill, stabbing their prey.
The snowy egret is also white with dark legs, but smaller than the great egret and has a dark bill with yellow feet. Its plumage adorned ladies' hats in less environmentally enlightened days. It hunts by standing and waiting, but will also sometimes use its feet to help corral aquatic morsels.
This is the smallest of the three egrets present. The cattle egret is also white, but during breeding season, its head and back are a brownish shade. Many are spotted along roadsides and in fields with livestock, pecking at the ground.
Little Blue Heron
This heron is a blue shade, but during breeding season, the head, neck, legs and feet are a reddish purple color. It prefers quiet waters where it stands and waits for a chance to catch a fish.
This heron has bluish upper parts and is white underneath. This medium-sized heron stalks its fish prey.
Black-Crowned Night Heron
The night heron is stocky with a short neck and stubby legs. Its head and back are completely black. As their name implies, night herons do most of their hunting at night, eating just about anything they can find.
The green heron is small with short yellow legs and a brown neck. It has green and blue upper parts. A master fisherman, they sometimes use insects and other objects to attract fish to stab with their bills.
This bird has a curved pink bill and white feathers with dark tips on the wings, which can be seen when they take flight. They dine on insects.
The anhinga is a large black bird that resembles a cross when in flight. It uses its bill as a spear to take fish. It can often be seen spreading its wings to dry after diving underwater.