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Join the Seabrook Island Birders Shorebird Stewards Program

Why?

To help birds at risk: Seabrook Island sits at a critical junction for a number of shorebird species! During the spring, birds like Piping Plovers and Red Knots need our beaches to pack on weight in preparation for migration. Birds fitted with transmitters have proven that some Red Knots, as part of their 9.300 mile trip from South American to its breeding ground, leave Seabrook Island and fly non-stop to the Hudson Bay in northern Canada over 1,200 miles away. Other birds like Least Tern and Wilson’s Plover use the beach area for nesting and food.

To honor Seabrook’s promise to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).  The USFWS and SCDNR allowed our town to relocate the inlet in part because we agreed to protect the birds that needed sustenance from our beaches.

The Purpose

To educate: Many people do not appreciate how important our sanctuary is. The stewards program asks you to be a volunteer to help educate people about the importance of our tiny piece of the world to the shorebirds that visit. This is not an enforcement effort, but an educational effort. 

Your Commitment

The Seabrook Island Birders Shorebird Stewards Program asks you to volunteer for two-hour shifts, signing up for as many or as few as your schedule allows. You will use an online sign up to pick and choose the times you want to give. Ideally, at least two people will be working together for each shift. Please honor your commitment to the times you choose. Be friendly and open.  Encourage people to approach you with questions but limit your answers to the depth of their curiosity.

The Seabrook Island Birders Stewards Program’s Commitment to You

Prior to accepting a commitment of your time, we, in cooperation with Audubon South Carolina, will train you. You will learn key ways to interact with the public. We will provide educational material to enhance your understanding of the birds and you will have a professional spotting scope provided by SCDNR to show folks these miraculous birds. You can use these tools to help educate our friends and neighbors as to how to interact with the birds while on the beach. You will also be provided a station containing a chair, an umbrella, some signs for people to read, and some information to share. You will be kept informed as to what birds are currently on the Island and, if known, where they are from.

Learn more

Come to the next Seabrook Island Birders Steward Program Training session on Friday February 28 at 3:00 pm at the Oyster Catcher Community Center. If you wish to join as a steward or just want more information, click here to complete a simple form.

Red Knots in spring plumage on North Beach at Seabrook Island – Ed Konrad

Great Backyard Bird Count-Ocean Winds Golf Course

Viewing the Rookery at Hole #4 on Ocean Winds (Jackie Brooks)

Monday Monday, February 17,2020 9:00-11:00 am
Birding on Ocean Winds Golf Course
Location: Meet at Island House (Golf Course Parking Lot next to Spinnaker Beach Houses) for ride along the golf course in golf carts.
Max: 20
Cost: None for members; $5 donation for guests

Each Monday one of the Golf Courses is closed, so join us for a morning of birding by RIDING in golf carts for at least 9-holes on Ocean Winds golf course. We expect to see a large variety of birds including Double-crested Cormorants, Egrets, Herons, Bald Eagles and other birds of prey. We should also see and hear some of the smaller birds like Tufted Titmice, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Cardinals and some of the many warbler species. 

As always, be sure to bring your binoculars/cameras, hats and sunscreen. Water will be provided.  

If you are not yet a 2020 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/ or we request a $5 donation to SIB. 

Once you are a member, please register no later than Saturday, February 15, 2020. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Sunday, February 16th.

Join SIB for 2020 Great Backyard Bird Count

Sunday February 16, 2020 8:00am – 5:00 pm
Great Backyard Bird Count
Location: Various locations around Seabrook Island
Max: 20 No cost to members, $5 to non-members

Join us in participating in Audubon’s Great Backyard Bird Count. The day will involve walks at various locations throughout the day. The schedule below allows for individuals to sign up for a portion of the day if the whole day is not of interest. We request you register for all sections you will be attending so we know if we should wait for you at any individual location.

  • Maintenance Area /Equestrian Center 8:00-9:30 am
    We’ll start at the Garden Parking Lot and explore the retension ponds of the Water Treatment Facility and its borders where Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks and songbirds and sparrows can be seen. From there, we will walk along the horse trail (or drive) to the Equestrian Center to see Starlings and Cowbirds plus numerous other birds that can be expected there.
  • Palmetto Lake 10:00 – 11:30 am
    Join us to explore the birds around the Lake House and the walks of Palmetto Lake. This is less than one mile of flat, paved walk around the lake. We welcome our Seabrook Island parents/grandparents to bring their children to this walk with no charge for parent or child.
  • North Beach – (High Tide 2:17 pm) – 1:00-3:00 pm
    The group will meet at the Owners Beach Access Parking Lot at Boardwalk 1 then walk the 2 miles to Captain Sam’s Inlet. Those unable to walk the entire distance may turn around at any time. The group will work together to identify those hard to distinguish plovers and sandpipers. Red Knots may even be sited. The walk is scheduled around the high tide when the birds will be consolidated on a narrower beach.
  • Jenkin’s Point 4:00-5:00 pm
    We will be exploring the birds seen along Jenkins Point lagoons and streets, including ducks, wading birds and shorebirds. Since this event will be primarily by car, it is appropriate for members with mobility issues.

For all events, bring sun block, bug spray, a hat, water, snacks and binoculars and/or camera.

If you are not yet a SIB member, you must first become a member for $10 by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/, or you may join each session for a Guest Fee of $5.

Once you are a member, please register to let us know which portions you plan to attend no later than Thursday, February 13, 2020. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Friday, February 14, 2020.

Join SIB for Valentine Backyard Birding at Live Oak Park

Bufflehead – Ed Konrad

Friday , February 14th at 4:00-6:00pm –
Location: 1729 Live Oak Park
Max: 12
Cost: None for 2019 members; $5 donation for guests

Come join us in Jerry and Diana’s Cohen’s back yard on Valentine’s Day. We won’t see love birds, but their yard faces the marsh at Horseshoe Creek. They also have a dock for additional bird viewing. Sunset will be at 6:05pm that evening. Many birds will be heading home to roost for the day. Our ducks will still be hanging around and so will the Robins, cedar waxwings and many other species.

As always, be sure to bring your water, binoculars, hats and sunscreen.

If you are not yet a 2020 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/. If you were a 2018 member but have yet to renew for 2019, you may renew following the instructions above or renew the day of the walk. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $5.

Please register no later than February 12th at 10am. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Thursday , February 13th.

Ask SIB … What can I do for Starling invasion?

We often receive questions about birds from our members and residents of Seabrook Island. This week, Carl recently sent us this question:

Starlings have taken over my feeders. They discovered it about a month ago. Now they arrive each morning and occupy every feeding slot for hours, consuming lots of birdseed and depriving the finches, chickadees, titmice, cardinals, wrens, sparrows, etc. With the starlings dominating the feeder, I doubt that we will see painted buntings this year.
Will these starlings move on or is this the new normal?
Any suggestions?

Carl, Deer Point
European Starlings at Feeder – Birdwatching HQ

Joleen Ardaiolo provided the following response:

This is a great question and one that most people who have bird feeders have needed an answer to at one time or the other, especially with various species of “bully birds.” I have had problems in the past with American Crows, Boat-tailed Grackles, and even Blue Jays at the end of their nesting season. Your question comes at an interesting time because at present, I am  having the same issue with Red-winged Blackbirds.

Because I have had problems in the past with bully birds, I had already made some adjustments to the feeders I use.  First, I decided to use smaller tube feeders. These have smaller perches that make it more difficult, even though not impossible, for large birds to perch on comfortably to eat. If the large bird does land on this feeder it won’t stay long. You might think that you will need to fill these feeders more often, but if you just have smaller birds eating at these feeders, you probably won’t be filling them more than once a week. Also, leaving seed in a tube feeder much longer will result in the seed at the bottom going rancid.

I also have used cages on my tube feeders when certain bully birds were being aggressive. These allow only small birds to get close to the feeder. This might be a great option for Painted Buntings since I have read that they are not group feeders. You could put out a couple small caged tube feeders that only contain millet, their seed of choice. Perhaps feeding inside the cage will make them feel more protected.

As for the other birds that you want to attract, I have found that using a tray feeder with a dome top works really well. The dome top is adjustable to only allow in the size bird that you want to feed. I have mine adjusted to allow in birds up to Northern Cardinal size and fill it with sunflower and safflower seed to make everyone happy.

One of the staff members from Wild Birds Unlimited also suggested I bring in my feeders for a few days to encourage the offending birds to go elsewhere for their snack. I read that European Starlings are ground feeders, so eating from your feeders might be more opportunistic than natural for them. I have seen flocks of Starlings on the ground at the Equestrian Center and farm fields so they might just need to be urged to move on.

I am hopeful that these suggestions will help, but I would also like to encourage anyone else who might have had success with getting rid of bully birds at their feeders to respond to this post.

If you have a question for SIB, either use this link or send an email to seabrookislandbirders@gmail.com

SIB Excursion to Santee Coastal

On Tuesday, February 4, eleven Seabrook Island Birders set off at 7:00 AM for Santee Coastal Reserve. After negotiating the traffic on Maybank Highway and the misdirection of the GPS, the group finally arrived at the gate where Felicia, a SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) employee, met us. At the gate, we strolled into a beautiful open longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forest. White paint bands circles some of the trees indicating trees that Red-cockaded Woodpeckers use for nesting. Mark Andrews quickly spied a Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The bird cooperated and stayed perched for most of the group to see through Mark’s scope. Felicia regaled the group with information about the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, an endangered species, and the efforts of the SCDNR to assist in this bird’s survival. Chittering away, sounding like a rubber duck, the Brown-headed Nuthatches were often audible, but rarely visible while we explored the longleaf pine forest.

Felicia announced that the next stop would be a walk on a boardwalk in to the Washo Reserve. People got in their cars and took off, but poor Mark’s car would not start. Thankfully, Dave and Ginna had not set off yet and were able to give Mark a jump. Mark decided that he needed a new battery and it would be best if he went right away. Bob and Eileen moved into Dave and Ginna’s car for the next leg.

The trail to the boardwalk offered views of other woodpeckers and four White Pelicans. The boardwalk, prominently marked to no more than 10 people, was a thin walk requiring single file travel for the eleven of us. It traversed a cypress/tupelo swamp that the SCDNR recently drained with plans to use fire as a management tool on portions of the swamp. As we approached the observation deck that overlooked open water, a mass of 25 duck rose up and vanished into the woods. Those in the front were able to identify the Gadwall. Felicia explained the uniqueness of the swamp and how the department maintained the whole preserve with an emphasis on waterfowl and access to hunters. The Nature Conservancy worked with the Santee Rod and Gun Club to preserve the more than 24,000 acres with the proviso that hunting be allowed in season. Certainly a fair compromise since the hunter’s license fees paid for the purchase. The Nature Conservancy still owns the 1,040 acre Washo Reserve, recognized as the oldest wading bird rookery in continuous use in North America!

We moved onto the headquarters, the old hunting lodge, as a restroom stop. Around the headquarters, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Hermit Thrush provided the nicest views. Dave and Ginna needed to leave early. If they wanted to stay, Bob and Eileen would need to squeeze into Judy’s already full car. Dave implored Bob and Eileen to travel with them, but Bob (if you know him, you will understand) was not done birding such a beautiful spot. When he looked at the pile of coats and gear in Judy’s car, he could see a soft bed, so agreed to ride in the boot for the return trip.

A short walk between some impoundments enabled everyone to enjoy a study of a female Belted Kingfisher, Blue-winged Teal, and Green-winged Teal. A river otter made a brief show, popping it head up to check us out as we checked it out.

Towards the end of the short walk, Cedar Waxwings poured out of the cedar trees, Red-winged Blackbirds called and displayed, giving everyone a great view.

With stomach’s growling, the group set off for T. W. Graham & Co., a seafood restaurant in McClellanville, SC, we all highly recommend now.

A total of 46 bird species were seen:

Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
Green-winged Teal
Pied-billed Grebe
Mourning Dove
Ring-billed Gull
Double-crested Cormorant
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Little Blue Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Belted Kingfisher
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
White-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Blue Jay
Fish Crow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Tree Swallow
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing
American Goldfinch
Chipping Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Red-winged Blackbird
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Northern Cardinal

Articles and photos submitted by: Bob Mercer

Bath Time

On January 28, 2020, we were delighted to see Eastern Bluebirds checking out our nest boxes and drinking from our birdbaths along with many Cedar Waxwings in our backyard on Deer Run Drive, Seabrook Island.

JANICE WATSON-SHADA

If you have bird encounters you would like to share with Seabrook Island Birders, go to Report a Bird Sighting on our website.