If you’re a bird enthusiast, you know that nothing beats the thrill of spotting a beautiful blue bird in the wild. And lucky for you, South Carolina is home to some of the most stunning blue birds in North America!
In this blog post, I’ve rounded up 15 of the most amazing blue birds you can find in South Carolina. But this isn’t just any bird-watching guide – I’ve got photo and ID guides to help you identify each of these feathered beauties with ease.
1 – Eastern Bluebird
Quick Identification Guide of Eastern Bluebird
- Small songbird, about 6.5 to 7 inches in length, with a wingspan of about 10 inches
- Males have bright blue upperparts, rusty-red throats and breasts, and white belly
- Females have duller blue upperparts, grayish heads and back, and rusty-orange breast
- Both males and females have a short, straight black bill and a blackish tail with white outer feathers
- Legs and feet are grayish-blue in color
The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) is a small but striking songbird native to eastern North America.
You can often find these birds in open woodlands, farmlands, and suburban areas with scattered trees and nest boxes.
Their diet consists mainly of insects and other small invertebrates, which they catch by perching on branches and swooping down to the ground or air. In winter, they may also eat berries and other fruits.
Eastern Bluebirds are well known for their bright blue plumage, especially on the males, which is a result of the refraction of light by specialized feathers.
This blue coloration is not just for show, however, as it helps these birds attract mates and defend their territory.
If you’re looking to spot an Eastern Bluebird in South Carolina, head to open grassy areas with scattered trees, such as parks, golf courses, and meadows.
Keep an eye out for a flash of blue in the trees or a small bird perched on a fence post, and listen for their sweet, warbling song.
2 – Blue Jay
Quick Identification Guide of Blue Jay
- Medium-sized songbird, about 9 to 12 inches in length, with a wingspan of 13 to 17 inches
- Blue jays have striking blue upperparts, a white face, and a black collar around their neck. Their underparts are white to grayish-white, and they have black bars on their wings and tail
- They have a distinctive crest on their head, which they can raise or lower depending on their mood
- Their bill is black and strong, and their legs and feet are also black
The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a beautiful and noisy bird that is a common sight in much of North America, including South Carolina.
These birds are native to eastern and central parts of the continent. But they have expanded their range westward over the past few centuries.
Blue jays are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, from deciduous and coniferous forests to parks, backyards, and urban areas.
They are omnivores, feeding on a wide range of foods including insects, fruits, nuts, seeds, and even small animals such as mice and frogs.
Blue jays are known for their raucous calls and mimicry abilities. And you can often hear them before see.
To spot a Blue Jay in South Carolina, look for them in wooded areas and parks, or listen for their loud calls and whistles.
They can also be attracted to bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds or peanuts. Keep an eye out for their bright blue plumage and distinctive crest, which make them easy to recognize.
3 – Purple Martin
Quick Identification Guide of Purple Martin
- Large swallow, about 7 to 8.5 inches in length, with a wingspan of 15 to 16 inches
- Males have a dark, glossy purple-blue plumage, while females are slightly duller in color
- Their bill is short and slightly hooked, and their legs and feet are grayish-black
- Purple Martins have a unique shape, with a forked tail and long, pointed wings
- They have a distinctive, chattering call that is often heard before they are seen
The Purple Martin (Progne subis) is a highly social and migratory bird that is a favorite among birdwatchers in South Carolina.
These birds are native to North America and breed in the eastern and central parts of the continent before migrating to South America for the winter.
Purple Martins are highly dependent on man-made nesting structures, such as birdhouses and gourds. And they are often found nesting in large colonies in open areas such as fields, meadows, and golf courses.
Their diet consists mainly of flying insects, which they catch on the wing while in flight.
Purple Martins are highly vocal and can be heard chattering and calling to each other in flight or while perched.
If you’re looking to spot a Purple Martin in South Carolina, the best time to see them is during their breeding season, which typically lasts from late March to early August.
Look for them flying over open areas or perched on the roofs of birdhouses or other structures.
Keep an eye out for their glossy purple-blue plumage and unique shape, which make them easy to recognize.
4 – Tree Swallow
Quick Identification Guide of Tree Swallow
- Size: Small to medium-sized bird, about 5.5 to 6.7 inches (14 to 17 cm) in length and 11 to 13 inches (28 to 33 cm) in wingspan.
- Body color: The upperparts are iridescent dark blue-green, while the underparts are white.
- Unique distinguishable colors or patterns: The forehead and face are white, and the wings are long and pointed. The tail is slightly forked and is also blue-green.
- Bill: The bill is short and black.
- Legs and feet: The legs and feet are short and black.
- Both male and female Tree Swallows have blue-green upperparts, but the female’s coloration is usually duller.
The Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) is a small migratory bird found throughout North America. This species prefers open areas near water, such as marshes, ponds, and lakes, where it can feed on flying insects.
In the breeding season, you can see Tree Swallows in South Carolina from late March to early September. During this time, they build their nests in tree cavities or nest boxes, often in colonies with other Tree Swallows.
Their nests are made of grasses, feathers, and other soft materials, and the female typically lays 4 to 7 eggs.
Tree Swallows are known for their acrobatic flight displays, and they are often seen swooping and diving over bodies of water as they catch insects on their wing.
Their blue-green upperparts make them easily distinguishable from other swallows, and their white underparts and long, pointed wings further aid in identification.
In the winter months, Tree Swallows migrate to southern parts of the United States, Mexico, and Central America.
5 – Indigo Bunting
Quick Identification Guide of Indigo Bunting
- Size: Indigo Buntings are small birds, about 5 to 6 inches long.
- Body Color: The male Indigo Bunting is a bright blue all over, while the female is brownish with blue on the wings and tail.
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: The male has a unique metallic blue coloration, while the female has a streaked breast and a light stripe above the eye.
- Bill: The bill of both male and female Indigo Buntings is short and conical.
- Legs and Feet: The legs and feet are black in color.
The Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) is a striking bird with a male that is completely blue and a female that is mostly brownish with a blue tinge on the wings and tail.
These birds are migratory and can be found in a variety of habitats, including fields, wood edges, and brushy areas throughout much of the eastern United States.
In South Carolina, they can be seen in the breeding season from late April to early October, with the peak of their migration occurring in May and June.
Indigo Buntings feed on insects, seeds, and fruits, and can often be found perched on branches or on the ground foraging for food.
Their bright blue coloration and sweet songs make them a favorite among bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike.
6 – Blue Grosbeak
Quick Identification Guide of Blue Grosbeak
- Size: Blue Grosbeaks are medium-sized birds, about 6 to 7 inches long.
- Body Color: The male Blue Grosbeak is mostly blue with rust-colored wing bars and a brownish-black tail, while the female is brownish with a bluish-gray head and rusty wing bars.
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: The male has a large, conical bill that is silver-blue in color, while the female has a smaller, brownish bill.
- Legs and Feet: The legs and feet are brown in color.
The Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea) is a beautiful bird with a striking blue coloration in the male and a more muted brownish-gray in the female.
These birds are native to North America and can be found in a variety of habitats, including fields, open woods, and shrubby areas throughout much of the eastern United States.
In South Carolina, you can see them from late April to early September, with the peak of their migration occurring in May and June.
Blue Grosbeaks feed on a variety of insects, seeds, and fruits, and can often be found perched on fence posts or on the ground foraging for food.
Their sweet songs and beautiful coloration make them a favorite among bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike.
7 – Belted Kingfisher
Quick Identification Guide of Belted Kingfisher
- Size: Roughly the size of an American Robin, 11-13 inches (28-33 cm) in length with a wingspan of 19-22 inches (48-56 cm).
- Body Color: Blue-gray upperparts, white underparts, and a white collar around the neck.
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: A large, shaggy crest on the head, and a long, straight bill that is mostly black with a white spot near the tip.
- Bill: Long, straight, and pointed, with a black upper mandible and a mostly orange lower mandible.
- Legs and Feet: Short and gray with webbed feet.
- Both male and female have a blue-gray back and wings.
The Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) is a striking bird native to North America, known for its distinctive appearance and unique behavior.
These birds can be found throughout most of the United States and Canada, as well as in parts of Central America and the Caribbean.
Belted Kingfishers prefer to live near bodies of water such as rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal shorelines, where they hunt for fish, insects, and small amphibians.
In South Carolina, Belted Kingfishers are common year-round residents, with breeding populations found in wetlands and forested areas throughout the state.
These birds are known for their distinctive call, which is a loud, rattling cry that can be heard from a distance.
If you’re interested in seeing a Belted Kingfisher in South Carolina, head to a local waterway and keep an eye out for a small, blue-gray bird with a shaggy crest and a long, straight bill.
8 – White-breasted Nuthatch
Quick Identification Guide of White-breasted Nuthatch
- Size: About 5.5 inches in length with a wingspan of 8-10 inches.
- Body Color: Blue-gray upperparts, black cap, and white underparts.
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: A distinctive black stripe on the head, and a short, straight bill that is slightly upturned.
- Bill: Short, straight, and pointed, with a gray-black coloration.
- Legs and Feet: Short and sturdy with sharp claws.
- Both male and female White-breasted Nuthatches have a blue-gray back and wings.
The White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) is a small, energetic bird that is commonly found in deciduous forests throughout North America.
These birds are known for their distinctive appearance and unique behavior, which includes climbing headfirst down tree trunks and branches in search of insects and seeds.
In South Carolina, White-breasted Nuthatches are common year-round residents, with breeding populations found in wooded areas throughout the state.
These birds are typically seen foraging in trees and shrubs, and can be heard making a variety of vocalizations, including a loud, nasal “yank yank” call.
If you’re interested in seeing a White-breasted Nuthatch in South Carolina, head to a local wooded area and keep an eye out for a small, energetic bird with a distinctive black stripe on its head.
9 – Painted Bunting
Quick Identification Guide of Painted Bunting
- Size: About 5 inches (13 cm) in length with a wingspan of 7-9 inches (18-23 cm).
- Body Color: Males have a bright, multi-colored plumage with blue-green heads, red underparts, and green-yellow backs. Females are a duller green color with yellow-green underparts.
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: Male Painted Buntings are known for their bright, multi-colored plumage, with no two birds looking exactly alike. Females have a distinctive eye-ring and a yellow-green head.
- Bill: Short, conical, and gray-black in color.
- Legs and Feet: Short and gray with sharp claws.
The Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) is a colorful and distinctive bird that is native to the southern United States and parts of Mexico and Central America. The male bird has a very distinctive blue head.
Painted Buntings prefer to live in thickets, woodland edges, and brushy areas, where they feed on seeds, insects, and berries.
In South Carolina, Painted Buntings are considered rare summer visitors, with breeding populations found in the coastal plain and southern part of the state.
These birds can be difficult to spot, as they tend to stay hidden in dense vegetation, but can occasionally be seen visiting bird feeders.
If you’re interested in seeing a Painted Bunting in South Carolina, your best bet is to head to a local nature reserve or birding hotspot during the summer months, and keep an eye out for a flash of bright color in the brush.
10 – Great Blue Heron
Quick Identification Guide of Great Blue Heron
- Size: Up to 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) in height with a wingspan of 6.6 feet (2 meters).
- Body Color: Mostly blue-gray with a white face, black plume on the head, and a rusty-brown neck.
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: The Great Blue Heron has long, yellow legs and a sharp, pointed bill. They also have a distinctive “S” shape neck when flying.
- Bill: Long, pointed, and yellow in color.
- Legs and Feet: Long and yellow with sharp claws.
- Males and females have similar coloration.
The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is a large wading bird found throughout North America. These majestic birds are often seen standing motionless at the water’s edge, waiting to catch fish or other aquatic prey.
Great Blue Herons prefer to live in wetland habitats, such as marshes, swamps, and rivers, where they build nests in tall trees or on the ground.
They are known for their distinctive blue-gray coloration, white face, and long, yellow legs and bill. And they have a white morph too, and it is sometimes called “Great White Heron”.
Great Blue Herons are present in South Carolina year-round. But, most commonly you can see them during the summer months when they are breeding and raising their young.
If you’re interested in spotting a Great Blue Heron in South Carolina, head to a local wetland or marshy area during the early morning or late afternoon, when these birds are most active.
Keep an eye out for their long, pointed bills and “S” shaped necks as they gracefully fly overhead or stand patiently in the water.
11 – Little Blue Heron
Quick Identification Guide of Little Blue Heron
- Size: Up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) in height with a wingspan of 3.2 feet (1 meter).
- Body Color: Juveniles are white with slate blue to purplish-blue feathers on their wings and back and transitioning to all dark blue-gray as adults.
- Bill: Long, thin, and pointed, with a pale bluish-gray color.
- Legs and Feet: Long and slender, with a blackish-gray color.
- Males and females have similar coloration.
The Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) is a small heron found throughout much of the Americas.
These birds are often seen wading in shallow water or perched on a tree limb, patiently waiting for fish or other small aquatic prey to swim by.
Little Blue Herons prefer to live in wetland habitats, such as marshes, swamps, and estuaries, where they build nests in tall trees or shrubs.
In South Carolina, Little Blue Herons can be seen year-round in the southern parts, but are most commonly spotted during the summer breeding season.
To spot a Little Blue Heron in South Carolina, head to a local marsh or wetland area during low tide, when these birds are likely to be feeding.
Look for their long, thin bills and slender legs as they hunt for food in the shallow water.
12 – Cerulean Warbler
Quick Identification Guide of Cerulean Warbler
- Size: 4.3 inches long, with 7.9 inches wingspan.
- Body color: Bluish-gray upperparts, white underparts
- Unique distinguishable colors or patterns: Black eyeline, blue-gray wings with white wing bars, black bill and legs.
- Bill: Short and pointed
- Legs and Feet: Black
- Male is blue with blue-gray wings, while the female has bluish-green upperparts with yellowish underparts.
The Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea) is a small, migratory songbird that breeds in the eastern United States and winters in South America.
The males are particularly impressive, as they are bright blue with blue-gray wings. Females are less colorful but still attractive with their bluish-green upperparts and yellowish underparts.
Cerulean Warblers prefer to breed in mature deciduous forests with a dense canopy. But they can also be found in younger forests and riparian areas.
During migration, they can be seen in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, parks, and suburban areas.
In South Carolina, they can be seen during the migration season from late May to early September. They feed mainly on insects and spiders, but also eat berries and other fruits.
Conservation efforts are underway to protect the Cerulean Warbler, which has experienced population declines due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts should keep an eye out for this stunning bird during its migration through South Carolina.
13 – Barn Swallow
Quick Identification Guide of Barn Swallow
- Size: 5.9 – 7.5 inches (15-18 cm) long, with a wingspan of 11.4-12.6 inches (32-34 cm).
- Body color: Metallic blue-black upperparts, cinnamon-buff underparts, with a rusty-red throat and forehead
- Unique distinguishable colors or patterns: Long, forked tail, pointed wings, and a short, wide bill.
- Bill: Short and wide, black
- Legs and Feet: Short and black
- Both males and females have the same plumage, but females have shorter tail streamers.
The Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) is a migratory bird that can be found all over the world, from North America to Europe, Asia, and Africa.
This bird is easily recognizable, with its metallic blue-black upperparts, cinnamon-buff underparts, and rusty-red throat and forehead. Its long, forked tail, pointed wings, and short, wide bill also make it easy to identify.
Barn Swallows are known for their aerial acrobatics, swooping and diving through the air as they catch insects on the wing.
They prefer open habitats, such as farmlands, meadows, and wetlands, where they can find ample food.
In South Carolina, Barn Swallows can be seen during the breeding season from March to September. They build their cup-shaped nests out of mud and grass, often attaching them to the sides of barns, sheds, and other structures.
Barn Swallows are an important part of the ecosystem, helping to control insect populations and serving as indicators of habitat quality.
However, they are also vulnerable to habitat loss and other threats, so it is important to protect their breeding and foraging areas.
Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts can enjoy watching these beautiful birds as they soar through the skies of South Carolina.
14 – Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Quick Identification Guide of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
- Size: Small songbird, about 4.5 inches in length
- Body Color: Bluish-gray upperparts and white underparts
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: Black tail with white edges, thin white eye-ring, and long, thin bill
- Male or Female: Both have blue-gray plumage, but males may have slightly brighter blue coloring
- Bill: Long and slender, slightly curved downward
- Legs and Feet: Blackish-gray legs and feet
The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) is a delightful little bird that can be found throughout much of the eastern United States, including South Carolina.
One of the most distinguishing features of this bird is its pointed bill and the black supercilium which does not go beyond the eye.
Both males and females have blue-gray plumage, though males may have a slightly brighter blue coloring. The tail is black with white edges, and the bird has a thin white eye-ring.
Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are common in a variety of habitats, including deciduous forests, mixed woods, and scrubby areas.
They can be seen in South Carolina from spring through fall, as they migrate to breed in the state. Insects make up the majority of their diet, which they catch by constantly flitting through the trees and shrubs.
They are often heard before they are seen, with their high-pitched calls and songs.
If you’re in South Carolina during the spring and summer months, keep an eye out for these lively bids.
15 – Northern Parula
Quick Identification Guide of Northern Parula
- The Northern Parula is a small songbird, measuring around 4.3 inches in length
- Both males and females have bluish-gray backs, with a greenish-yellow patch on their upper back. They both have a yellow throat and breast with a broken necklace of black spots.
- Males have a distinctive blue-gray head, while females have a more subdued greenish-gray head.
- They have a thin, pointed bill, black legs, and feet.
- Their wings are mostly bluish-gray, with two white wing bars.
The Northern Parula is a small, colorful songbird that breeds in the boreal forests of North America, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and southward to the southern United States.
It’s not specifically blue but you can see a fair blue tinge on the gray upper parts.
This bird is a common resident of the Southeastern United States, including South Carolina, during the breeding season from March to July.
They can be found in a variety of habitats, including deciduous and mixed forests, wooded swamps, and suburban areas with mature trees.
Northern Parulas feed on insects, including beetles, flies, and caterpillars, which they catch by foraging in the canopy and mid-story of trees.
During the breeding season, male Northern Parulas are known for their distinctive buzzy, trilled song, which they use to establish and defend their territories.
If you’re in South Carolina during the spring and early summer, keep an eye out for these small, blue-headed birds flitting through the trees and singing their hearts out.
Summary of Information about Birds with Red Heads in South Carolina!
Refer the following table to get the best times of the year and the best regions in South Carolina to see each above-listed blue bird. You can also refer ebird for real sighting data and all about birds for range map and more facts of each of these listed birds.
In addition, this table provides additional information on these birds such as the length, wingspan, and food preferences as well.
|Bird with Blue color||Place and time of the year to see them in South Carolina||Length||Wingspan||Food|
|Eastern Bluebird||All regions during breeding||6.5 – 7 inches||10 inches||insects and other small invertebrates|
|Blue Jay||All regions during breeding||9 – 12 inches||13 – 17 inches||insects, fruits, nuts,, mice and frogs|
|Purple Martin||All regions during breeding||7 – 8.5 inches||15 – 16 inches||flying insects|
|Tree Swallow||All regions during breeding||5.5 – 6.7 inches||11 – 13 inches||flying insects|
|Indigo Bunting||All regions during breeding||5 – 6 inches||7.5 – 8.7 inches||insects, fruits and seeds|
|Blue Grosbeak||All regions during breeding||6 – 7 inches||11 inches||insects, seeds, and fruits|
|Belted Kingfisher||All regions||11 – 13 inches||19 – 22 inches||fish, insects, and small amphibians|
|White-breasted Nuthatch||All regions||5.5 – 6 inches||8 – 10 inches||insects and plant matter (acorns, nuts)|
|Painted Bunting||Southern parts of the state||5 inches||7 – 9 inches||Seeds, especially of grasses|
|Great Blue Heron||All regions||4.5 feet||65.8 – 79.1 inches||fish, amphibians, invertebrates, reptiles, mammals, and birds|
|Little Blue Heron||Northern parts during migration and Souther year round||2 feet||3.2 feet||small fish, small amphibians, and invertebrates|
|Cerulean Warbler||Northern parts in migration||4.3 inches||7.9 inches||insects and spiders|
|Barn Swallow||All regions during breeding||5.9 7.5 inches||11.4 – 12.6 inches||flying insects|
|Blue-gray Gnatcatcher||All regions during breeding||3.9 – 4.3 inches||6.3 inches||Small insects and spiders|
|Northern Parula||All regions during breeding||4.3 – 4.7 inches||6.3 – 7.1 inches||beetles, flies, and caterpillars|
Well, there you have it – 15 amazing blue birds that you might be lucky enough to spot in the beautiful state of South Carolina!
From the stunningly blue Blue Grosbeak, to the diminutive but lively Cerulean Warbler, these feathered friends are sure to delight and enchant bird lovers of all ages.
So, grab your binoculars, lace up your hiking boots, and head out into the great outdoors – South Carolina’s blue birds are waiting to be discovered! Happy birding!
Before you leave, have a peek at the following articles to add more amazing birds to your checklist: