One of the Charleston’s most anticipated events is the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition each February, featuring world-class wildlife art, exciting live animal displays and exhibits, and some of the best parties on the planet.
Charleston is a natural for nature’s beauty, as our climate attracts an incredible array of wild indigenous and migratory species, and we have always had a kindred relationship with animals in the field.
Starting up above, we are blessed with winged creatures of every size, shape and color. Our official state bird, the Carolina Wren, is tiny, but emits a powerful whistling message that is distinctive and delightful on golden Spring mornings. Swamps and woodlands echo with the uplifting tomes of the Prothonotary Warbler, while marshes reverberate with the staccato sounds of the Clapper Rail.
Drifting high on warming thermals are a variety of birds of prey, from the imposing horizontal wing span of the Great Bald Eagle to the tilting V-shape of circling Vultures. Along the coast, great Blue Herons and Egrets stand statuesquely near tidal creeks, Eastern Brown Pelicans wing over for sensational dives into the sea, and lone Black Skimmers create long streaks in still waters with beaks that drag delicately inches above the surface.
Migratory and game birds abound aplenty in Charleston winters, from floating flocks of Trumpeter Swans and Canada Geese to formation flights of Mallard and Mottled ducks. Cold rivers swarm with American Coots that seem to walk on water as they dash in monstrous melees when startled, and woodlands come alive with gobbling Wild Turkeys, the state game bird, which is surprisingly swift for an animal better known as a dining centerpiece.
Formidable creatures linger in protected habitats, from massive American Alligators, our state reptile, that send shuddering calls during mating periods in the Summer, to graceful White-Tailed Deer, our state animal, that dart effortlessly through mazes of dwarf palmettos. Sightings have been frequently reported of Golden Panthers and Black Bears deep in area forests, and other less-frequently-seen species in the Lowcountry include the Fox Squirrel, the Grey Fox, and the Beaver.
A major star at SEWE has always been the retriever, whether it was a Labrador, a Golden, or a Boykin, which is our state dog, and some of the best athletes in town are the leaping four-leggers chasing Frisbees.