Jekyll Island is the smallest of Georgia's famed barrier islands, and notable for its pristine beaches, tidal salt marshes, and dense coastal forests of live oak, cedar, magnolia, pine and palmetto. As part of Georgia's coastline, it lies in the geologic crescent known as the Atlantic Embayment which stretches northward from Cape Canaveral, Florida to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The natural features include quiet beaches where endangered sea turtles nest, critical "stop-over" habitat for migrating shorebirds, and an abundance of wooded areas for millions of migrating birds, butterflies and dragonflies. A tidal creek and salt marsh border the island on its western side, while a rim of low dunes, beaches and the Atlantic Ocean border the eastern side. Jekyll Island is approximately 7.1625 miles long and 2.175 miles wide. It and Georgia's thirteen other barrier islands protect valuable salt marshes?marshes which represent 28 percent of all salt marsh habitat along the U.S. eastern seaboard.

Jekyll Island is owned by the state of Georgia, and state laws mandate that development be restricted to 35 percent, leaving the remaining 65 percent in a natural state. Commercial areas include a small airport, nine hotels, restaurants, gas stations, public marinas and fishing piers, and hundreds of private cottages and condo/rentals.

Ornithological Summary

Described in books as one of Georgia's "truly premier birding destinations" and not to be missed when birding the coast of Georgia. There is also a bird banding station located on the south end of Jekyll Island that has been providing research data for the last 28 years. In that time, over 40,000 birds have been banded.

Wilson's Plover; Least Tern (Source: IBA Nom. Form)

(Source: G. Beaton) There are rookeries for Wood Storks, herons, egrets; Observerd birds include Long-billed Curlew, Painted Bunting, Piping Plover

Sighting Source Key: 1=published reports,; 2=surveys (CBC; BBS; etc.); 3=personal observations; 4=other sources (specify)

Conservation Issues

Major threats to habitat on Jekyll Island include development, damage to nesting/feeding sites by uninformed tourists, storms such as hurricanes and tropical storms, floods and pollution.

Disturbance to birds - other (development, loss of habitat), foot traffic; Industrialization/Urbanization - Airport traffic, Commercial development, development, habitat destruction, highway/roads, residential development; Natural events - Hurricanes, Storm (other), sea level rise; Recreation/tourism - Building hotels, resorts and vacation homes; Pollution

Ownership

Jekyll Island is owned by the State of Georgia. It was purchased in 1947 from the Jekyll Island Club, which comprised some of the wealthiest and most affluent businessmen in America.

Habitat

Habitat types include salt marsh, sand dune/beach, maritime forest, and tidal saltwater flats, marine, urban/suburban, scrub/shrub

Land Use

65% nature conservation and research - Park (state park)

35% urban/industrial/transport - commercial development (land use is residential/commercial and aimed at recreation and tourism. This includes hotels, restaurants, retail shopping centers, privately-owned residences and a small airport. As a state park, there are over 200 camp sites scattered in several campgrounds, a 4-H center, a 63-hole golf course, public fishing piers and boat launch sites, clay tennis courts and horseback riding trails. There is an 18-acre Historic Preservation district in the central "downtown" area.