Ask SIB … Why do I hear the Great Horned Owl in the Fall?

Great Horned Owl – Ed Konrad

Question:  For a few weeks each spring and again in the fall we hear Great Horned Owls calling back and forth out here on Jenkins Point. I’ve seen them on our roof ridge and chimney. The rest of the year we don’t hear them at all. Spring could be breeding season but why in the fall? Do these owls migrate? Submitted by Andy Allen

Answer:  Great Horned Owls are resident birds who maintain some type of territory through the year. Singing in the fall probably identifies the resident’s ownership and tells new young to go somewhere else… Neat birds – I slept in a chicken coop next to two young owls for a summer in New England. We didn’t bother each other as long as I stayed on my side of the wall… The joys of working with Audubon! Response from Carl Helms

 Thanks to Andy for the question, Carl for the response and Ed for the photo!


Seabrook Island Birders – ABCs – Activities, Bingo and Calls

Friday’s evening “Bird Bingo and Games” was not quite in alphabetical order.  We started with “D” for Drinks and of course “S” for Socialization then jumped on to “Y” for Year in Review.  Then we returned to the front of the alphabet with enjoyment of the Food provided by contributions from SIB and the various members.  Next was “C” for Calls.  This first “game” was a group session of call identification.  20 common birds were presented with their most familiar calls.  Since it was a group activity, all participated in trying to identify the various birds.  Some members expressed they were surprised they recognized many of the calls. Others commented they learned a few new calls without being intimidated by their inexperience prior to the evening.  The fun and learning experience continued with “B” for Bingo.  Instead of hearing B10 or whatever for placement of the chits, bird pictures were presented on the screen.  Again, the group helped in identifying the bird then found them on their unique Bingo card.  20 lucky people won a prize for their efforts.  Great job by all in providing food, friendship and fun!

“A” is for Activities with a number remaining for the rest of the year.  Use the links provided to register for those that interest you.

Learning Together at the Crooked Oaks – Originally scheduled for Ocean Winds on November 19, this has been changed to Crooked Oaks on November 26.  These golf course “walks” are always enjoyable as we search for birds while riding in golf carts on a closed golf course.

Learning Together on Kiawah River Development – On November 29, we will meet at 9am to explore this new birding location with the biologist from this new neighboring development.  The activity will be walking areas of the property while driving between them.  .

Learning Together at the Maintenance Area – The ducks have returned to the water treatment pond.  A good variety of birds have often been seen as Seabrook Island Utilities allows us behind their gates to see what we can find.

Backyard Birding at the Boat Ramp – Melanie and Rob Jerome once again share their Creek Watch deck to observe birds in the marsh, looking towards North Beach and the trees and grounds near their home.  A walk to the Marsh Tower and possibly the Fire Station marshes are also likely.

Christmas Bird Count – Annually Seabrook Island Birders in cooperation participates in the Sea Island Christmas Bird Count.  This year, we’ll count on January 4 hopefully without the snow we experienced last year.  Once again, we are looking for members who can help us with counts from the comfort of their homes.  All “feeder counts” are welcome but a special request has been made for people who see hummingbirds, Baltimore Orioles or Painted Buntings during the winter.  If you participated last year or register on this form, we will be contacting you at year end with more information.

Submitted by: Judy Morr

Photos by: Jackie Brooks


Close Encounters of the SIB Kind

Article by Aija Konrad, photos by Ed Konrad

Ed and I just returned from a trip to the great state of Washington as part of our Big Year! It was our first trip out to the state and we fell in love with all it’s beauty. Snow capped mountains, fall colors, and water, water, everywhere….how incredible were all the bays and sounds!

1 Semiahmoo Spit WA (Ed Konrad)

We spent 3 of our days at the Semiahmoo Spit, near Blaine, up by the Canada border. I reached out to a dear friend of SIB, David Gardner, who was formerly at Camp St. Christopher. David is now the Adult and Family Programs Manager at the North Cascades Institute. We met up for a great day of birding. I wanted to bird Pt. Roberts Lighthouse, which required us to go into Canada and dip back down to the spit in US waters. It turned out to be David’s first trip to Canada, however brief! (which cannot be said for our return to the US, that took over 30 min at border control…LOL)

2 Aija and David at Pt Roberts (Ed Konrad)

At Pt Roberts we had some great birding with some good seabirds, Pacific and Common Loons, Common Murres, Horned and Red-necked Grebes, White-winged and Surf Scoters, Pigeon Guillemot. One of our target species was the Northern Shrike, which we dipped on, but both found it independently in the next few days. We then returned to the Semiahmoo Spit where we had a wealth of White-winged and Surf Scoters and Harlequin Ducks. It was a great day and fun to reconnect with David. I know that SIB misses David and his love and enthusiasm for birding.

Our 2018 US Big Year adventure continues to go well! I am up to 566 species for the US this year, 66 more than I ever expected to get. We have traveled through 31 states, visited 14 National Parks, driven 25,000 miles, flown many more miles. And we’ve walked and walked a countless number of miles! We’ve been gone from home for 95 days so far this year, with trips to TX, CO/NE, IL/OH, AZ, CO/UT, FL, CA, and WA. Ed has been really enjoying helping me spot, and of course photographing the birds and incredible scenery. It’s been like a giant scavenger hunt across the US, and we are having more fun than we ever expected to have at this point in our lives. Bird on Seabrook!
Here’ the URL for Ed’s Flickr site which chronicles our Big Year.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – a “rare” bird siting

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Jackie Brooks

Early Sunday, November 4, the SIB members at Charley Moore’s Backyard Birding were “cuckoo” over an extended sighting of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. It stayed around long enough for Jackie Brooks to capture a picture. We all were able to get a good look at the bird and confirm its identification.


If you are like me, when you first heard someone mention Yellow-billed Cuckoo, you thought the person was jerking your chain about some fictitious bird. (I’ll write some other time about Snipes). I looked on eBird and its descriptions says, “Brown above and white below with yellow bill. Long tail with black-and-white spots on underside. Wings flash rufous in flight. Stealthy and shy as it moves through dense forests and riparian areas. Favors tent caterpillars. Winters in South America.” So the bird exists!

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo – Charley Moore

In April 2016, David Gardner heard a “Yellow-billed Cuckoo” on one of SIB’s Camp St. Christopher walks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear it and it was too hidden in the trees to see. I still wasn’t convinced it was a real bird. Then in June 2016, Charlie Moore reported a stunned Yellow-billed Cuckoo was hanging out front of the Lake House. It stayed around long enough for him to get a picture.

I finally caught a glimpse of one at Caw Caw in August 2016 but still none on Seabrook Island for me! Fast forward 2 years, and I saw one on the SIB trip to Bear Island and Donnelly Wildlife Area on October 27. Still not on Seabrook Island!  Then, last week I began receiving “Charleston County Rare Bird Alerts” for Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. Research said this alert was due to the frequency normally seen in Charleston County.

After Melanie Jerome posted our eBird list for Sunday morning, we also were included on the “Rare Bird Alert”. The eBird reviewers were quick to “Confirm” our siting with the assistance of Jackie’s picture. So now I have to put a different bird on my list to find.

Submitted by: Judy Morr

Photos by: Jackie Brooks and Charley Moore

It’s not too late to Sign up for SIB’s 3rd Anniversary Celebration!

2018 Bird Bingo & Game Night

Register Now!

You still have time to sign up for Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) celebration of our 3rd Anniversary at “Bird Bingo & Game Night.” SIB will provide beef tenderloin sliders and cake. as well as beverages of wine, water and coffee. Otherwise you can BYOB and we’ll provide ice and cups. Just sign up to bring a heavy hors d’oeuvre or dessert. We will socialize as we eat, drink and be merry playing Bingo and trivia games during a fun-for-all evening! We even have a silent auction item that one of our lucky participants will take home!

Date: Friday November 9, 2018
Registration & Social: 5:30 pm
Program Starts:  6:00 pm
Location:  Live Oak Hall at the Lake House on Seabrook Island
Maximum Attendees:  80

We ask everyone to RSVP no later than November 6 so we know how much wine to purchase and tables to set.

You may renew your 2019 SIB membership for $10 at the door.  Not a member of SIB yet?  Join that evening and your $10 membership will not expire until the end of 2019.  Guests are welcome for a $5 donation.

Don’t miss this chance to have a fun filled evening and win some prizes with our flock of Seabrook Island Birders! Space is limited to sign up today!

A Week in the Life of a Novice Birder

If anyone sees me riding my bike, walking my dogs, or walking on the beach they will notice that I am generally looking up to the skies, over the marsh, or out towards sandbars. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before I suffer some type of bird watching injury because I am never paying attention to where I am walking, only to the flashes of colors or sounds of bird calls. I have always been interested in birds, but my new home in the low country offers so many new species to watch.

I sign up for almost every activity that the Seabrook Island Birders offer. Being newly retired, I have been one of their most loyal groupies since the spring. And, now that I have a couple of the members’ phone numbers, I will readily text them to see if they think I might have heard a Clapper Rail at the crab dock or seen a Great Horned Owl at the beach. Hopefully, this is not too annoying for them. 

This week started on Sunday at 8 a.m.  A “Backyard Birding” event at the Hurd’s garden on Loblolly. It was the first cool morning for a while and, even though there were not many species seen, it was still an enjoyable fall morning talking to neighbors about what they had spotted in their yards.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Ed Konrad

The highlight for me was seeing what I had thought was a woodpecker and finding out that it was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Now I have been spotting a pair in my yard all week. The rest of Sunday I spent agonizing over what type of bird feeders I should order from Amazon to start attracting more birds to my own yard. 

On Wednesday, I was out for a run. As I am heading down Marsh Haven Road towards SI Road, I look across the marsh towards the fire station. I think I see four ducks bobbing in the water, but cannot see them well enough to identify them. I am running and texting Judy Morr to let her know, just in case she may be interested, since ducks are just beginning to make their way back to the island for the winter. She gets to the marsh to check it out before I could even get back to my house, but missed seeing the ducks. No worries, I hop on my bike and meet her at the SI maintenance pond for an impromptu two and a half hour walk that netted Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills , White Ibis, Killdeer, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a Belted Kingfisher. This area is a hidden birding goldmine!

Bald Eagle @ Bear Island
Chris Correale

Finally, on Saturday, a group of six women met at 6 a.m. and set off to Bear Island for sunrise and a day of birding there and at Donnelly Wildlife Management Area not far from Edisto in the ACE Basin. I was expecting to see several species of ducks, but was totally unprepared for what we did see. So many and many types of ducks, and incredibly so many shore birds, Bald Eagles, Roseate Spoonbills, woodpeckers, warblers, and on and on. We saw hundreds and hundreds of birds at Bear Island and Donnelly WMA, with a total of 73 species for the day. I was asked if I saw any new bird species to add to my life list. Yes! Too many to count, but from the top of my head, the White Pelicans and American Avocet. I’ll be studying the E-Bird list that was compiled during our trip. And, I do realize this is a nerdy way to spend an evening. Being it was almost a nine hour round trip day, I was exhausted, but so euphoric from the experience. 

If you are a newcomer to Seabrook or even a long time resident looking for an enjoyable pastime, you might consider the Seabrook Island Birders. The group is always so welcoming and eager to educate new members and even Island visitors who want to participate in just one event. SIB offers so many types of activities, from lectures to short walks around Palmetto Lake to a slow sixteen mile bike ride on the West Ashley Greenway. If you decide to check out this group, I guarantee you, too, will start noticing your surroundings and experiencing the same thrill I do when I see that Pileated Woodpecker working the pine tree in my yard. 

Article submitted by Joleen Ardaiolo
Photo credits to Ed Konrad & Chris Correale