Little Saint Simons Island--Norms Pond

About this Location

For years, a variety of wading birds has gathered at Norm’s Pond to nest. Wading birds typically look for islands surrounded by freshwater wetlands. These freshwater wetlands are home to American alligators, who act as the birds’ best defense against mammalian predators, such as raccoons. According to Tim Keyes, coastal bird biologist for Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Non-game program, there are 10 other nesting colonies, or rookeries, like this one on the coast. All of these colonies are monitored by GADNR at least twice a season by fly-overs and some are monitored additionally on the ground.

In 2013 we saw activity begin at the end of February. Breeding season varies between species and this is to ensure less competition in the highly desirable nesting locations. Little St. Simons Island’s rookery at Norm’s Pond provides great nesting habitat for up to 7 species of wading birds. The first of the wading birds to arrive are typically the great egrets, shortly followed by snowy egrets, tricolored herons, anhinga’s, cattle egrets, white ibis, and black-crowned night herons. Nest building, courtship, and copulation may be observed as the birds bring sticks to the islands and dance with their partners to show off their brilliant breeding plumage.

The two-story observation tower provides a spectacular view of the nests on one of the two islands at Norm’s Pond and along the perimeter of the pond. It also allows us to more accurately monitor the nests. We have been following the nests the last few seasons and have found that as predicted, the nests on the islands fare better than the nests on the edge of the pond. This provides a perfect example of the important role that American alligators play as a keystone species here on the coast. Without the American alligators to patrol the waters at the rookery, raccoons and other predators would be more likely to take advantage of the buffet of bird eggs.

The middle of the nesting season is the busiest time at the rookery. In May of 2013, we had over 80 nests that could be observed from the viewing tower! We knew of additional nests on the far side of the pond and deep in the vegetation on the islands that could not be easily seen from the tower.

Overall, the rookery has been successful the past few years and we are fortunate to be able to have such up-close and personal viewing opportunities during such an important part of the wading birds’ life cycle.

About Little Saint Simons Island

See all hotspots at Little Saint Simons Island

About Little Saint Simons Island birding locations

In general terms, these are the Island’s birding hotspots:

  • North Pond, Goose Pond, Skimmer Pond: Herons, Egrets, Ibis, and Spoonbills
  • Main Beach: Pelicans, Terns, Skimmers, Plovers, and Gannets
  • Sancho Panza Beach: Shorebirds and Waders
  • Myrtle Pond Observation Towers: Waterfowl and Egrets
  • Myrtle Pond Blind: Wood storks and Roseate Spoonbills
  • South End Road: Osprey, Eagles, Kingfishers
  • Middle Woods Road: Owls and Woodpeckers
  • North End Road, Old House Road, Backbone Trail: Flycatchers, Vireos, and Warblers

About Little Saint Simons Island

One of the crown jewels of Georgia’s famed Golden Isles, Little St. Simons Island offers 7 miles of pristine beaches and 11,000 acres of undeveloped wilderness for exploration and relaxation. Privately owned and accessible only by boat, The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island has retained the charm and unhurried pace of coastal living. Moss-draped live oaks and glistening marshes surround comfortable accommodations for no more than 32 overnight guests.

Guests have been visiting Little St. Simons Island to experience its natural beauty, sweeping coastal landscapes, and abundant wildlife since the island opened to the public in 1979. Although the Lodge has won numerous hospitality awards, the number one attraction has always been the island itself. Conservation organizations, too, have long recognized the importance of the island’s natural, intact habitats, and healthy populations of rare and threatened wildlife. In 2015, the owners of Little St. Simons Island donated a conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy on the entire 11,000 + acre island. This easement ensures that the preservation efforts that have been practiced by the island’s owners for many years will be permanent. Our guests and conservationists alike can now rest assured that the natural beauty and the ecological integrity of the island will forever be protected.

In addition to being a model for conservation, Little St. Simons Island is committed to being a sustainable operation. Our seed-to-table program is one example. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs are grown in our organic garden and used by our chefs in preparing delicious meals for our guests. Fresh local seafood is also a staple in our meals.

The island is a paradise for nature lovers and offers a host of recreational, naturalist-led activities including birding, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, bicycling, interpretive tours, beach combing, fishing, and swimming. Creature comforts include gracious accommodations in six charming cottages, superb family-style dining, and genuine Southern hospitality.

Content from Official Website and Little Saint Simons Island website