Nicholson Creek Swamp

Due to its significance to resident and migratory birds, the Francis Marion has been designated as an Important Bird Area by both the National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy. Important Bird Areas are defined as sites that have been documented to support significant populations of particular species or a significant diversity of species. The Francis Marion provides essential stopover habitat for autumn and spring migrating birds, as well as critical breeding habitat. Two species known to occur on the Francis Marion and listed on the National Audubon’s red list include the red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) and Bachman’s sparrow (Aimophila aestivalis). Both species can be found on the forest with great regularity.

Approximately 12 species of migratory birds listed on the National Audubon’s yellow list have been documented on the forest as well. Significant numbers of species with high conservation priority such as the black-throated green warbler (Dendroica virens), Swainson’s warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii), prothonotary warbler (Protonotaria citrea), worm-eating warbler (Helmitheros vermivora), brown-headed nuthatch (Sitta pusilla), RCW, Chuck-will’s Widow (Caprimulgus carolinensis), wood duck (Aix sponsa), and northern parula (Parula Americana) have also been documented.

Several recent reports of the ivory-billed woodpecker have surfaced from the Santee River and Wambaw Swamp Wilderness, but the species presence has yet to be confirmed by scientists. The swallow-tailed kite, a state endangered species, is frequently seen soaring over the forest with its long forked tail. The bird is known to nest 60-130 feet up in trees throughout the forest.

The red-cockaded woodpecker population has made a tremendous recovery since Hurricane Hugo devastated the forest in 1989. Today the forest functions as a donor population to help establish the birds in other locations.

At a Glance

Permit Info: A valid South Carolina fishing license is required to fish on the national forests. The U.S. Forest Service does not issue any licenses or permits for hunting or fishing. Please visit the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Web site for license and regulations information.


River and Stream Fishing

Viewing Wildlife

Species songbirds, wading birds

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities