Birding on Tybee Island, GA

Birding, Tybee Is., GA

"Skimming the Waters"

Tybee Island can be awesome and fun location for birding and bird photography. In the winter months, there is less people on the beach, making a better environment for them. The north end of Tybee supports a colony with a variety of birds that like to hang out there. 

"Royal Tern"

In the spring, when temperatures warm up, mating rituals begin and the birds become more active and start developing their breeding colors.

"Herring Gull"

In the summer there is more people, however birds can still be found in colonies along the beach with varieties of gulls, terns, pelicans, plovers, sanderlings, skimmers, turnstones, willets, and more!

"Ring-bill Gull"

PHOTO TIPS: I like to get a low angle of view and get down on their level when photographing bird portraits. I look for birds with just a little separation from the rest of the colony so that the other birds are not distracting the scene. I will usually look for what is happening in the background and try to catch a wave coming in to provide for some action in the scene. I will move in somewhat close, but not so close as to disturb the birds. I use a long lens and maintain a distance where the birds do not feel threatened by my presence. I use a fast shutter speed in case an action scene unfolds and there is an opportunity to catch a bird in flight or hunting for food. On this particular day, it was cold and windy and the birds were not as active, but provided some good portrait shots. I also captured a few rare ones like this Piping Plover (below). 

"Piping Plover"

Unfortunately, since many of our coastal birds build nests on the ground in the dunes, they are becoming threatened by development, beach erosion, predators such as raccoons and even dogs that are let out on the beach. People getting to close, even if they have no ill intention, can scare the adult birds from the nest leaving the eggs or chicks defenseless.


Oystercatchers are another rare bird for Tybee Island. On this cold January day, I was fortunate to see a group of 14 of them. In the spring, when they start mating, they will spread out and the two will become more territorial around their nest. It's rare for them to build a nest on Tybee because of the people encroaching this territory.

"Ring-billed Gull II"

FUN FACT: Ring-billed and Laughing Gulls are probably the most common gulls on the Coastal Georgia islands, however, did you know that technically, there is no such thing as a Sea Gull?

"Herring Gull II"

This is a little more mature Herring Gull. It still has some brown feathers in the neck area, so I'm guessing it a 2nd or 3rd year juvenile. They migrate north for breeding and once they become fully mature tend to stay north, even through the winter. It is only the younger juveniles that migrate this far south, so what we see down here are mostly the juveniles.

As with any wildlife, please do not feed the birds at the beach. It's usually not good for them and they need to keep up their natural hunting and surviving skills.

Coastal Bird photography can be an awesome addition to your home or office decor. They offer peaceful and interesting coastal beach scenes with a prominent object to catch the eye.

What's your favorite coastal bird? Leave a comment below...