Learning Together-Crooked Oaks Golf Course

Learning Together-Crooked Oaks Golf CourseMonday, May 23, 2022 8:30 am – 10:30 am
Birding on Crooked Oaks 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: 24 (If all seats in golf carts are used)
Cost: Free for members; $5 donation for guests – Priority will be given to prior waitlisted & members

The Seabrook Island Club closes one course a day each week and allows Seabrook Island Birders to use golf carts to travel the course with our members to bird. Join us for a morning of birding by RIDING in golf carts for at least 9-holes on Crooked Oaks golf course. We expect to see a large variety of birds including Egrets, Herons and birds of prey. We will also see and hear some of the smaller birds like Tufted Titmice, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Cardinals, Carolina Wrens and some of the many warbler species.

Since it is spring, we can also expect to see Eastern Kingbirds, Great-crested Flycatchers, Orchard Orioles, Summer Tanagers, Mississippi Kites and more!

As always, be sure to bring your binoculars/cameras, hats and sunscreen. Water will be provided. We ask that all participants wear a mask when unable to social distance if they are not vaccinated.

If you are not yet a 2022 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/. You may bring the form and your dues to the event. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $5.

Please complete the information below to REGISTER no later than May 21st prior to the trip. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on the Sunday, the day prior to the trip. If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens
Length:  5.5 – 6.7″; Wingspan: 9.8-11.8″; Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz.

Downy Woodpecker - Ed Konrad
The outer tail feathers are typically white with a few black spots on the Downy Woodpecker – Ed Konrad

The active little Downy Woodpecker is a familiar sight at backyard feeders and in parks and woodlots, where it joins flocks of chickadees and nuthatches, barely out-sizing them, and can be attracted to a bird bath or sprinkler.  An often acrobatic forager, this black-and-white woodpecker is at home on tiny branches or balancing on slender plant galls, sycamore seed balls, and suet feeders.

Downy Woodpeckers are black above, white below; wings spotted white with a black-and-white face. The males sport a red patch on back of their head. Their short, chisel-like bill is shorter than depth of head. It is less patterned and smaller than a yellow-bellied sapsucker.  Most people have a difficult time distinguishing between a Downy & Hairy Woodpecker, so don’t be discouraged if you have felt this way.  It is nearly impossible to tell the difference except for three features:

  • Overall size of the Hairy is 9″ vs Downy of 6″ – but this is difficult to discern when they are not next to each other
  • Length of bill for the Hairy is nearly as long as the head
  • Both have a white trailing edge on the tail feathers, but only the Downy has black spots.  This is often difficult to see as they move so quickly

This article may help, and the fact that at least on Seabrook Island, the Downy is much more outgoing and common to view.

Downy Woodpeckers eat insects (>75%) and fruit, seeds, and sap from sapsucker wells. Sexes forage separately, the male on small branches and the upper canopy. While foraging, they do more tapping and excavating in winter and surface gleaning in the summer. They will come to feeders for suet (and occasionally sunflower seeds).

As we mentioned, the Downy Woodpecker is a common woodpecker on Seabrook Island. Listen for their sharp contact notes as they feed. Watch as this adult male with a red patch on the nape comes in to feed the juvenile on this video.  You’ll also notice the Juvenile Downy Woodpeckers have red crowns. 

You may also want to view and listen to this brief article and podcast brought to you by BirdNote, a show that airs daily on public radio stations nationwide.

If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:

Article submitted by:  Judy Morr
Resubmitted by SIB 2022

This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents.  When possible we will use photographs taken by our members.    Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.

Invitation to Upcoming Shorebird Presentation

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You are invited to the second of four shorebird Zoom talks being hosted by the Kiawah Island Shorebird Stewardship Program.  It will be on Wednesday, May 18 at 1:00 pm.  This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the Least Tern.  Least Terns are tiny charismatic birds who are currently courting and nesting out in our critical nesting habitat on Kiawah’s east end.  

The presenter for this talk will be Nolan Schillerstrom of Audubon South Carolina.

See the description of the talk below along with the Zoom link.
And please share the invitation with anyone you know who loves birds!

NOTE:  This webinar will be recorded, so if you would like to watch it at a later time, please contact SIB for the recorded version.

Title:  The Sassy Seabird:  Least Tern

Description: Least Tern are an incredible nesting seabird in South Carolina.  They’re a focus of stewardship on Kiawah and throughout the state. Learn more about these spunky little seabirds and their nesting biology with Nolan Schillerstrom of Audubon South Carolina.  Audubon has worked for generations to nurture a legacy of stewardship among bird-lovers.  Also learn about how stewardship has helped these birds survive in SC and throughout the US.

Topic: The Sassy Seabird: Least Terns with Nolan Schillerstrom
Time: May 18, 2022 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 813 8186 9486

Photo cred:  Pamela Cohen

Join SIB to Bike and Bird at Mingo Point

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Learning Together – Bike and Bird to Mingo Point
Location: Meet at Lakehouse parking lot
Max: 12
Cost None for members; $5 donation for guests

Register Now

Meet at 8am at the Lakehouse to bike from Seabrook Island’s Lake House through Freshfields to Mingo Point on Kiawah. Those not wishing to bike can choose to meet the bikers about an hour later at Mingo Point. The path is paved and borders wooded areas, marsh and fields. Along the way, we pass the Equestrian Center where we can expect to see European Starlings, Eastern Bluebirds and possibly Cattle Egrets. Further along we will see and hear various songbirds. Of course as we bike through Freshfields, we will see the resident Black Vultures and Boattail Grackles. Beyond Freshfields, we may see Roseatte Spoonbills and other wading and shorebirds.

At Mingo Point, we’ll meet at the Kiawah parking lot to bird by the Kayak Ramp. There are many bird feeders placed to see feeder birds and we are also at the Ramp right on the Kiawah River to enjoy shorebirds too. There are plenty of places to sit and bird or we can go for a stroll in the area for even more birds. Painted Buntings, House Finch and Carolina Chickadees are almost be a sure thing!! Sometimes the Naturalist that mans the Hut, is free to help us search.

Be sure to bring binoculars, camera, hats, sunscreen, bug repellant, snacks and water.

If you are not yet a 2022 SIB member, you must first become a member 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, register no later than Monday May 16, 2022. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter the day prior the event.

If you have additional questions about the program, please contact us by sending an email to: SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Kites: Mississippi vs Swallow-tailed

Mississippi Kite – Ictinia mississippiensis
Length: 14″ Wingspan: 31″ Weight: 10 oz

Swallow-tailed Kite – Elanoides forficatus (endangered in South Carolina)
Length: 22″ Wingspan: 51″ Weight: 12 oz

Living at a beach community, I’m sure many people are accustomed to looking at kites in the sky along the beach – you know, the kind that Ben Franklin used.  But have you ever looked up to see either of these birds?

Mississippi Kite (left) & Swallow-tailed Kite (right) - Ed Konrad
Mississippi Kite (left) & Swallow-tailed Kite (right) – Ed Konrad

Both of these birds, the Mississippi and the Swallow-tailed Kites, can be seen on Seabrook Island and both within the past two weeks!  We’ve seen a Mississippi Kite pair flying over the community garden and over the marshes.

The two species look quite different from each other and are quite unmistakable from other birds.  Swallow-tailed Kites are large but slender and buoyant raptors. They have long, narrow, pointed wings, slim bodies, and a very long, deeply forked tail. The bill is small and sharply hooked. Swallow-tailed Kites are a sharp contrast of bright-white head and underparts and gleaming black wings, back, and tail. From below, the wing linings are white and the flight feathers are black. Its most unique characteristic is the elongated, forked tail (hence its name).  This large raptor is built like a glider with huge wings and small streamlined bodies. They rarely flap their wings; instead soar effortlessly, changing course with minute adjustments of their distinctive forked tails.  The species is now listed as endangered in South Carolina.

Mississippi Kites are a slender and much smaller raptor with long, pointed wings. The tail is fairly long and square-tipped. The strongly hooked bill is small and delicate.  They are an inky mix of gray and black, lightening to pale gray-white on the head and in the secondaries of the wings. The wingtips and tail are black. Juveniles are streaky, with brownish chests and underwings, and banded tails. Though known for their graceful, acrobatic flight, Mississippi Kites also spend time foraging on the ground and in shallow water.

Both species of kite feed on the wing, snatching dragonflies and other insects out of the sky and eating them while still in flight. They may also feed on small amphibians such as frogs, large insects, crickets, small birds and small mammals including bats. Swallow-tailed kites inhabit mostly woodland & forested wetlands near nesting locations. Nests are built in trees, usually near water. Both male and female participate in building the nest. Sometimes a high-pitched chirp is emitted, though the birds mostly remain silent.  Mississippi Kites breed in scattered areas of the southern and central United States, using very different habitats depending on the region. East of the Mississippi River, they nest in mature, diverse, low-lying forest—especially tracts that are large and unbroken but have nearby open habitat, such as pasture, cropland, waterways, country roads, or small lakes. They nest in almost any tree species, as low as a few feet off the ground to more than 115 feet high.

Both kites are creatures of the air, spending most of their day aloft and rarely flapping their wings. They tend to circle fairly low over trees as they hunt for small animals in the branches. At times they soar very high in the sky, almost at the limits of vision.

Swallow-tailed Kites once nested in 21 States. By 1940 after a sudden decline the Kite’s range shrunk to 7 States, from South Carolina to Texas. The species nesting habits have made the swallow-tailed Kite difficult to study. Researchers must come to them and climb high in Loblolly pine to observe nests. Nesting adults and their young are subject to predation by Great Horned Owls. They migrate North in the Spring across the Gulf of Mexico and can be swept off course by storms. During migration they may form large flocks.  Read this fabulous article featured in the April/May 2016 issue of Nature Conservancy.

If you see kites – researchers want to know about it. You should always document your bird sightings in eBird.  In addition, The Center for Birds of Prey, located in Awendaw, SC manages & tracks log sightings of the Swallow-tailed Kite. Visit www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org for more info. The website guides you through a series of questions about the location, number and activities of the bird or birds sighted.

A group of kites has many collective nouns, including a “brood,” “kettle,” “roost,” “stooping,” and a “string” of kites.

Look for both species of Kites in South Carolina during the spring and summer breeding months over swamps, marshes and large rivers. Besides Seabrook Island, Caw Caw Interpretive Center is a great location to view kites.  They nest high in the loblolly pines.

(See the range map following the photographs below.)

If you would like to learn more about these birds visit:

Notes from photographer Ed Konrad:  “These photos were taken at Skeen’s Farm, Glenville GA, which is an incredible place to see the Kites up close and in action. A very memorable photographic day. We see Kites at Caw Caw, and on the way to Seabrook in Allendale SC and at a cattle farm outside of Augusta. But not up close as at this farm.”

This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents.  When possible we will use photographs taken by our members.    Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.

Submitted by Nancy Brown with information from Janice Watson-Shada.
Photographs compliments of Ed Konrad

Watch: “Busy Beaches After Red Knots:  Supporting Our Nesting Shorebirds”

Abby Sterling, PhD

The Kiawah Island Shorebird Stewardship Program, lead by Bette Popillo, is hosting an upcoming Zoom presentation on Tuesday May 10th at 5:30 pm and would like to invite all Seabrook Island Birder (SIB) members to watch a fabulous presenter, Abby Sterling.  For those of you who don’t know who Abby Sterling is, she is a shorebird biologist and is the director of the Georgia Bight Shorebird Conservation Initiative.

The title of Abby Sterling’s talk is: “Busy Beaches After Red Knots:  Supporting Our Nesting Shorebirds”

A brief description of her talk:  

As the last of our Red Knots and other Arctic nesting shorebirds depart at the end of May, the beaches can feel a bit empty.  But, tucked above the wrack line and in the dunes, drama continues to unfold.  Nesting Wilson’s Plovers and American Oystercatchers are overcoming a host of challenges to successfully incubate eggs and raise chicks.  These species are both of high conservation concern, and our actions can have a significant impact on their ability to raise their offspring.  Learn more about the secret lives of the beach nesting shorebirds that depend on our backyards, and simple steps that we can take to help them succeed.

When: May 10, 2022 05:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Where: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86249136507

Or One tap mobile : 

    US: +13017158592,,86249136507#  or +13126266799,,86249136507#

Or Telephone:

    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

        US: +1 301 715 8592  or +1 312 626 6799  or +1 929 205 6099  or +1 253 215 8782  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833

Webinar ID: 862 4913 6507

***The presentation will also be recorded.***

Join SIB for Global Big Day – Saturday May 14

Saturday, May 4 8:00 am – 5:30 pm
Global Big Day – Learning Together at various locations
8:00 am – 10:30 am Camp St. Christopher
11:00 am – 12:00 pm Bob Cat Trail/Six Ladies Trail
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Jenkins Point
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm Equestrian Center
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm Palmetto Lake
Max: 12 for each location
Cost: None for members; $5 donation for guests


On May 14, Cornell Lab and eBird sponsor Global Big Day. Will you join more than 30,000 others and become a part of Global Big Day? You don’t have to commit to birding for 24 hours—an hour or even 10 minutes of watching birds makes you part of the team. Visit your favorite spot or search out someplace new; enjoy a solo walk or get some friends to join in the Global Big Day fun. As part of this day, Seabrook Island Birders will conduct Learning Together activities at various locations plus offer you an opportunity to request someone to bird with you at your favorite location. The registration form below allows you to select which locations you wish to bird.

The morning will start at 8:00 am with a Learning Together at Camp St. Christopher. Explore the lakes, lagoons, paths and slough at St. Christopher. This event will have 1 – 2 miles of walking over uneven terrain. Spring should be in full swing, so we should see all the usual suspects, but will also hopefully get looks at some of our more elusive resident breeding songbirds…Yellow-throated Warbler, Pine Warbler, Northern Parula, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Painted Bunting. We may be lucky to see a few migrant warblers (Louisiana Waterthrush, Prothonotary Warbler, Common Yellowthroat), Scarlet Tanagers and Blue Grosbeaks. For this portion of the day, we ask people to make a voluntary contribution to Camp St. Christopher.

At 11:00 am we will continue our day at Bob Cat Trail with an extension to Six Ladies Trail. Along this trail we should see our local favorite Painted Bunting who likes to hang out at the end of Bob Cat Trail. Great Crested Flycatchers, Eastern Towhee and Gulls and Egrets should also be seen. I’m still hoping to see some migratory warblers.

At 1:30 pm we will traverse (on bike or car) down Jenkins Point to hopefully see more Egrets, Herons and Anhingas. Low tide is 1:16 pm so hopefully we’ll have some shorebirds in the mud flats. Since this activity can be primarily by car, it is a good opportunity for people with mobility issues.

At 3:00 pm we will visit the Equestrian Center where we can expect to see European Starlings, Eastern Bluebirds and likely a few of our resident hawks. We have scheduled only a brief time here as we likely won’t move far beyond the parking areas next to the pastures.

At 4:00 pm we will conclude our day with a walk around Palmetto Lake. This is less than one mile of flat, paved walk around the lake. Historically in May at this location we see Great Crested Flycatchers, Orchard Orioles and Mississippi Kites in addition to the “normal” Great Egrets, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadees, etc.

This form can also be used to suggest another location and time you would like to have a friend (old or new) to join you to bird. SIB will send and email to the Google Group of all these suggested times and places for people to gather.

If you are not yet a 2022 SIB member, you must first become a member 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, register no later than Thursday May 12 , 2022. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Friday May 13.

Join SIB for Backyard Birding at The Haul Over

Backyard Birding at The Haul Over
Monday , May 16, 6:00pm-7:30pm – The Haul Over
Location: 2445 The Haul Over
Max: 20
Cost: None for 2021 members; $5 donation for guests

Great Egret in Breeding Plumage – Dean Morr

We are heading back to the rookery to see the babies this time. Come join us in Annalee Regenburg’s backyard. Her house backs up to the Great Egret Rookery. The females sit on their nests all day and the males come into the nests in the evenings. We visited in April to see this wonder and now we have babies to watch. We plan on observing this wonderful, sometimes noisy event. I’m sure we will see some Snowy Egrets and Green Herons, plus some night herons and Wood Storks, all tucked in there too. As always, be sure to bring your water, binoculars, hats and sunscreen.

If you are not yet a 2022 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 you may pay the Guest Fee of $5.

Register no later than Friday, May 13th . All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Sunday May 15th.

SIB’s Article for the May The Seabrooker

In case you don’t receive it, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we hope you will enjoy The Seabrooker’s May 2022 SIB article. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page article on Page 4! The stories this month feature:

Warblers…Spring Joy for Birders – Learn about the variety of warblers seen in the spring on Seabrook Island and elsewhere. Also see an update on our Shorebird Stewards.

Thanks again to author Aija Konrad and photographer Ed Konrad. Ed also serves as our graphic designer!

Did You Know: Many Names for Young Birds

A bird is a bird, except when it’s a nestling, hatchling or fledgling. As baby birds grow, the specific names that refer to them change, and some species even spend several years in subadult stages before they reach the sexual maturity of adulthood. These different names denote subtle changes in plumage, proportions, behavior and care needs that can help birders properly identify baby birds. It’s time to refresh our vocabulary!

Hatchling: It hasn’t yet opened its eyes, and may have wisps of down on its body. It’s not ready to leave the nest.

Nestling: Its eyes are open, and its wing feathers may look like tubes because they’ve yet to break through their protective sheaths. It’s also not ready to leave the nest.

Fledgling: This bird is fully feathered. Its wings and tail may be short, and it may not be a great flyer, but it can walk, hop, or flutter. It has left the nest, though its parents may be nearby, taking good care of it.

Not all baby birds are born with feathers. Feathers are vital to birds, but many baby birds are born nearly bald.

Clapper Rail showing precocial down

  • Altricial babies grow their feathers quickly after hatching, but require more parental care to stay warm and healthy. (see the Eastern Bluebird Hatchling picture above).
  • Precocial baby birds, such as ducks and geese, are born with soft down feathers and can leave the nest to forage just hours after hatching.

When talking about the age of a bird, the terms juvenile and immature are not interchangeable.

  • Juvenile: Strictly speaking, one should only refer to a bird as a juvenile during the period when it wears its first complete set of feathers. Once a bird begins to replace feathers from the original set, it is no longer a juvenile. 
  • Immature is a general term for any non-adult plumage, including juvenile plumage.

What is branching versus fledging?

Branching Bald Eagle

  • Branching refers to the hopping about and jumping from branch to branch around the nest. Fledging refers to the bird’s first flight and generally results in the bird landing in a different tree or on the ground.  Eagles and owls usually have branching prior to fledging.  This allows the growing birds to stretch and test their wings without actually flying.   At times, a branched bird falls before it can fly to return to its nest.  The parents may care for that bird on the ground until it can fly or it may be a mortal situation.

Wilson Plovers leave their nests soon after hatching.  Brown Pelicans Young leave ground nests after about 5 weeks and gather in groups, where returning parents apparently can recognize own offspring.  Neither of these is considered branching but these young chicks also have not fledged as they have yet to fly.

We hope this article was informative. Do you have any other names for young birds? Let us know if there are other topics about birds you are interested to learn more about!

Article submitted by Judy Morr

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