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Native Birds

Ship Island and its surrounding barrier islands are home to endless numbers of unique wildlife. Specifically, its sandy beaches, marshy wetlands, and saltwater coast have attracted hundreds of species of birds alone. Some stop on the shores in different seasons, and some make this island their home all year round. Here are some of the spectacular birds of the barrier islands to keep your eyes peeled for the next time you visit:

Brown Pelicans: Pelicans are one of the largest birds in the Gulf. Sometimes you will see them perched on the pier, drifting in the water, or flying with other birds of their kind. They mainly feed on fish and can be seen taking a deep dive from the sky into the water.

Black Skimmers: These birds will give you a show as they use their narrow orange beak to “skim” through the salty water of the Gulf while they search for their next meal. As they glide on top of the ocean, you will be able to see a line drawn in the water as they skim their beaks through. Alongside their beak, they can be identified by their stark black top and pure white underside.

Least Terns: There are many species of terns on the Gulf Islands National Seashore, the least terns being the smallest. On your visit to the island, you may see many areas of the sand roped off. Least terns commonly pay Ship Island a visit to nest, and because they are a vulnerable species to many predators, it is common to find measures of protection being implemented for their eggs while they are visiting Ship Island.

Red-Winged Blackbirds: One of the most notable birds on Ship Island is the Red-Winged Blackbird. They can be identified exactly as expected. They have a deep black coat with a touch of red on their wings and a hint of yellow peeking underneath. On your visit to the island, you may hear their unique call and loud singing throughout the marshes as you walk across the boardwalk.


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