Cumberland Island, GA
Cumberland Island National Seashore is a beautiful, largely undeveloped 36,000-acre barrier island, 9,906 acres of which is congressionally designated wilderness. Access is by ferry or private boat, so advanced planning is required to visit the island. Extensive salt marshes border the island to the west, and 18 miles of pristine, white-sand beaches border Cumberland on the east. The island has an amazing variety of wildlife and plant communities. More than 322 species of birds have been seen here. The Visitor Center and Museum are on the mainland in St. Marys.
Peregrine falcon, painted bunting, red knot, oystercatcher, black skimmer, warblers, Wilson's plover, snowy plover.
Look for peregrine falcons during fall migration, painted bunting in summer and warblers during spring and fall migrations. Shorebirds are best seen during summer, winter and spring. Most American oystercatchers nest between the Sea Camp access and the south jetty. Piping plovers may be spotted on the beach in winter. Recent years have found wintering snowy plovers, as well, so look carefully. Least terns typically nest at Long Point on the north end. Check tides for optimum times to see wading birds.
Other Wildlife Highlights
American alligators are often seen along marsh edges and in freshwater wetlands. Gopher tortoises can be found in the pine woods and armadillo and turkey are commonly seen on the island. Summer is a great time to watch for manatees near the docks. Feral horses also inhabit the island. Visit the NPS website to learn about the impact the horses have on Cumberland.
You can find great examples of coastal Maritime forests (Sea Camp, River Trail), salt marsh (boardwalk near Greene-Miller Cemetery, behind Dungeness), interdune meadows (Sea Camp and Dungeness beach crossings) and undeveloped beach on Cumberland's south end. The border between these different ecosystems is a great place to look for birds.
Best Birding Seasons
Entrance fee and ferry fee. Check the NPS website for up-to-date pricing.