The Unique World That Is Bird Island







When I was a kid vacationing at Sunset Beach, I never really gave much thought to Bird Island. I was too concerned with surfing, my tan, building sand castles and playing arcade games at the now removed arcade. It wasn’t until my college years, when I became a permanent resident on the Grand Strand, that I had the time and motivation to walk to the famous Kindred Spirit mailbox. I’ve since introduced my fiancé and friends to the wonder that is Bird Island.

Recently, I had the opportunity to join Buddy and Judy Scruggs as they led a walking tour of Bird Island. It is an extremely educational tour of the famed island that meets every Wednesday morning at 9:00 on the 40th Street beach access in Sunset Beach. It was a treat to get out of the office and learn about Bird Island and the incredible history it preserves.

Bird Island is a small barrier island off the west end of Sunset Beach. It is one of only a few undeveloped islands throughout the area, thanks in a large part to the Bird Island Preservation Society. Before 1997, visitors had to cross Mad Inlet to get to Bird Island. The Inlet’s demise came from strong hurricanes and filled in, thus making it easier for beachcombers to make the journey.

One unique thing that you may notice when vacationing here is that we have lots of wildlife on our island. It isn’t unusual to spot foxes, goats, deer, alligators, sea turtles, crabs, and lots of birds. With the lack of development on the island, Bird Island is an excellent place to spot wildlife. Buddy does a great job highlighting the salt marsh environment behind the dunes, where you can find 95% of the local seafood. It’s the most important habitat on the island and the best place where you can see this diverse island ecosystem. This area serves as protection from predators, currents and waves found out in the open ocean that could limit a small animal’s life.

If you enjoy shell hunting while on vacation and are having trouble finding good shells on Sunset Beach, check out Bird Island. The preserved environment makes it a great location to spot whole sand dollars and local favorites such as knobbed welks, scotched bonnets (NC State Shell), and lettered olives. Judy has plenty of examples of our local shells and some tips on how to spot them. I took my fiancé and her family to Bird Island about a week after my tour and they found about a dozen whole sand dollars.

The tour ends at the Kindred Spirit mailbox “ tucked away in the dunes. Here, you can read the thoughts of many other visitors, or write something in one of the notebooks provided. This is also a great location to set up for a day on the beach. With very few people around, it feels like you’re on your very own piece of paradise. Just be prepared for a long walk back to the cottage.

I highly recommend this tour to all of our guests and thank Buddy and Judy Scruggs for a great time. Do take your family and friends for a unique experience while on vacation. The last day for this weekly tour is August 20. Remember to dress in beach related clothing because it can be pretty warm and sticky at 9:00 in the morning.
Written By: Jake Foutz, Marketing - Sunset Properties




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