Photo by Bert Keller, I'On Swamp

About Arch

Hi, I'm Arch McCallum. Everywhere I go I look and listen for birds. If you do the same, or if you simply want to experience something new, I'm at your service. We can focus on maximizing species, or finding species you've never seen. Or we can just go to a beautiful place in the country and see whatever it offers. We can also listen. In addition to showing you the species that are in season, I can help you learn to identify some of them by voice. Or, if you'd like to learn about the ecosystems of the Lowcountry, consider an eco-tour.

I'm a lifelong birder and nature enthusiast. Until recently, I taught Animal Behavior, Conservation Biology, Ecology, and Ornithology at the College of Charleston. I'm a native South Carolinian, but have also lived for long stints in Oregon, and in New Mexico, where I got my Ph.D. My research interest is bird vocalizations. You can check out my work at Applied Bioacoustics.


The basic rate for my guiding service is $50 per hour, for the first person. The second person is half price, the third person is quarter-price, and the fourth person is free. This price scaling reflects the decrease in individual attention as each additional party-member is added. The main purpose of this structure is so you can bring less avid family members along without too much additional expense, but it also encourages friends to get together for a package deal. If you'd like to arrange a trip for a larger group, I'd love to do it. We'll discuss the transportation options and negotiate the price. If you want to meet me at a site, or have me teach you the birds on your own property, the clock starts when we meet. There is a two-hour minimum for this arrangement.

The minimum duration of a trip is two hours for a brief foray from downtown Charleston to Mt. Pleasant (salt marsh) or to Folly Beach (ocean, dunes, salt marsh). To get out of the metro area will require at least four hours. Six is better and eight is ideal.

I will pick you up and drop you off at your lodging or residence. In most cases, we'll have to do a bit of driving to get to the best birding spots, but the time will be well spent discussing what we're going to see and Lowcountry Natural History. If you're interested I can bring you up to date on the latest changes in bird taxonomy. I keep up with it, and can explain why it keeps changing. Before you know it, we'll be at our destination.

To establish contact, email sc at Include your phone number if you want me to call back, otherwise I will email you. Thanks, and good birding!

Planning Your Trip

Most of the iconic bird species of the Lowcountry are close to an hour's drive away from downtown Charleston. Below are estimates of the time we will need to see representative high-interest species. These are the bare minimum times to find and tick the species (including the driving time). In some cases this means just hearing them. Good looks at singing Bachman's Sparrows and Swainson's Warblers require more time, as I don't like to disturb birds with playbacks. And of course, we will see many other species along the way, which will take more time. Plan for success and book a longer trip.

Close to Charleston
2-hr roundtrip: MT. PLEASANT MARSHES: Clapper Rail (year-round), Marsh Wren (summer), Hooded Merganser (winter), Marbled Godwit and other shorebirds (low tide, winter)

2-hr roundtrip: FOLLY BEACH: Painted Bunting, Eastern Willet and Wilson's Plover (summer), Western Willet, Black Scoter, and loons (winter)

2-hr roundtrip: HEADQUARTERS CAUSEWAY: Seaside Sparrows (singing), Eastern Willet, and Black-necked Stilt (spring and summer), shorebirds (nearly year-round)

A Seaside Sparrow Sings in Charleston
Forests and Swamps Northeast of Charleston
The Francis Marion National Forest occupies 258,864 acres (1,050 km2) just northeast of the metro area. It is the destination for the two shorter trips. They can be combined into one 4.5 hour trip. Alternatively, a six-hour (minimum) trip to Santee Coastal Reserve will net all the birds of the Francis Marion plus many water birds.

3-hr roundtrip: PINE FOREST BIRDS: Red-cockaded Woodpecker (year-round) and Bachman's Sparrow (spring and summer)

3-hr roundtrip: BROADLEAF WOODS: Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler (spring and summer)

6-hr roundtrip: SANTEE COASTAL RESERVE: All species above plus Bald Eagles and many herons (year-round), shorebirds and ducks (winter), Black-necked Stilts and Swallow-tailed Kites (summer).

A Bachman's Sparrow Sings in Francis Marion National Forest
The ACE Basin
The ACE Basin is a the East Coast's largest protected wetland area. Former rice fields have been converted to freshwater wetlands managed for waterfowl, and many other species come along for the ride. Two Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Bear Island and Donnelly, provide excellent views of waterbirds, while the Edisto Nature Trail is the best place to see southern warblers, and Caw Caw County Park is excellent for kites in summer. Four hours is the minimum round trip for a visit to the ACE. Below are some sample itineraries.

4-hr roundtrip: EDISTO NATURE TRAIL with one add-on. The Nature Trail is the closest part of the ACE, and from April through June is excellent for Swainson's and Hooded Warblers, with Kentucky and Prothonotary likely. Add-ons could be a quick stop on the way for singing Seaside Sparrows or a 30-minute stop on the way back at Caw Caw for both kites.

4-hr roundtrip: DONNELLY WMA (nesting Wood Storks, Purple Gallinules, and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks) OR BEAR ISLAND WMA (American Avocets, Tundra Swans, American White Pelicans, Bald Eagles) for whichever waterbirds are in season. Which place to go is a last minute decision because it depends on water levels in the impoundments and which rarity (e.g., Ruff, Great Kiskadee, Eurasian Wigeon) has most recently been seen.

6-hour roundtrip: DONNELLY WMA AND BEAR ISLAND WMA . Adequate time to do both justice.

8-hour roundtrip: Add Caw Caw County Park to Donnelly and Bear Island.

Waders Feasting at Bear Island Wildlife Management Area
American Avocets are present at Bear Island WMA every winter.

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