Bird Key is a small barrier island at the mouth of the Stono River estuary. It is composed of open beach and intertidal flats. Bird Key is a major colonial nesting area for seabirds as well as an important foraging and loafing area for shorebirds.
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Ornithological Summary

Bird Key Stono is an important colonial seabird nesting area that is isolated from predators, but suffers from low elevation. As a rookery it supplements the activity on Deveaux Bank and Crab Bank when not overwashed by storm tides. In 1995 and 1996, Bird Key Stono had no nesting success due to the overwash problem. It does attract high numbers of colonial seabirds however and has been active since the early 1800's when Audubon visited the site and collected several species. The area has received more sand through a renourishment project conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in recent years.

Conservation Issues

The primary problem on Bird Key is tidal overwash due to extremely low elevation. This is acute during a hurricane, but also occurs on spring tides and strong northeast winds. The overwah results in heavy egg loss and nest abandonment. Disturbance by people and dogs is a minor threat during the summer months, but has recently been outlawed by SC DNR.


Bird Key Stono is owned by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Heritage Trust Division.


The beach portion of Bird Key is dominated by sea oats (Uniola paniculata), seaside panicum (Panicum amarum) and marsh hay (Spartina patens). The tidal flat/sandbar area is unvegetated. The area is open with very little cover, little elevation and no fresh water.

Land Use

Bird Key is maintained as a natural area for the nesting seabirds. There is some weekend fishing, but this has recently been curtailed to eliminate pressure on the bird populations.

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