Learning Together-Crooked Oaks Golf Course

Learning Together on Crooked Oaks Golf Course

Monday August, 22, 2022 8:30 am – 10:30 am
Birding on Crooked OaksGolf 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/summer, 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 Friday 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.

Ask SIB: What can we do about gulls?


Question: The gulls seem especially aggressive this year at Pelican’s Nest. Does SIB have any suggestions what Seabrook Island Club can do to ease the situation? – Mitchell Laskowitz, Seabrook Island Club Manager

Earlier this summer, Mitchell Laskowitz reached out to Seabrook Island Birders asking for any humane ideas we had to help with the gulls at Pelican’s Nest. He had already done an internet search and talked to other restaurant managers about possible solutions so he already had an initial action plan defined.

As a Seabrook Island Club member, I had seen the Laughing Gulls swarm over the rocks outside the nest, waiting for a chance for an evening snack. As soon as a patron turned away, the gulls would attack sandwiches, fries or anything else that tempted them.

SIB was unable to provide any new suggestions to Mitchell other than suggest people with food near the pool would need to take steps as well as the ones he proposed for Pelican’s Nest. Obviously, people should also be discouraged from actively feeding the gulls. The steps taken at the Pelican’s Nest include:

  • Installed additional wires to deter gulls from entering dining area
  • Netting was placed between the Sunrails
  • Metal Prongs (similar to icicles on a Christmas tree) were hung below wires
  • High Frequency Noise Transmitters that can be heard by gulls but not humans were acquired
  • Added fake owls to roof of Pelican’s Nest
  • Added signs on each table to educate patrons regarding what they can do to help:
    • Cover your plate with a napkin when finished eating
    • Dispose of garbage properly in lidded bins
    • Do not leave food unattended

My recent visits to Pelican’s Nest has shown fewer aggressive gulls. It could be the season is changing, but I think it also has a lot to do with the steps the Club has taken to humanely address the problem.

Submitted by: Judy Morr

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Red-headed Woodpecker

(submitted by:  Judy Morr)resubmitted by SI

Is Woody Woodpecker the only woodpecker you know you can identify for sure?

There are actually 6 different woodpeckers seen on Seabrook Island:

  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Red Bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (common only in winter)
  • Red-headed Woodpecker (seen on Seabrook Island if you know where to look)

Cornell Lab states “Several species of woodpeckers have red on their heads. Only one of these is named Red-headed Woodpecker,” and we will profile them first.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Length:  7.5-9.1″; Wingspan: 16.5″; Weight: 2-3.2 oz.

Red-headed Woodpecker - Ed Konrad
Red-headed Woodpecker – Ed Konrad

The gorgeous Red-headed Woodpecker is so boldly patterned it’s been called a “flying checkerboard,” with an entirely crimson head, a snow-white body, and half white, half inky black wings.  These birds don’t act quite like most other woodpeckers: they’re adept at catching insects in the air, and they eat lots of acorns and beech nuts, often hiding away extra food in tree crevices for later.  This magnificent species has declined severely in the past half-century because of habitat loss and changes to its food supply.

A Red-headed Woodpecker has an unmarked black back with white wing tips.  Their head is completely red including it’s cheeks and throat.

Red-headed Woodpeckers eat insects, fruits, and seeds.  Overall, they eat about one-third animal material (mostly insects) and two-thirds plant material.  Their insect diet includes beetles, cicadas, midges, honeybees, and grasshoppers.  Red-headed Woodpeckers eat seeds, nuts, corn, berries and other fruits; they sometimes raid bird nests to eat eggs and nestlings; they also eat mice and occasionally adult birds.

Red-headed Woodpeckers typically catch aerial insects by spotting them from a perch on a tree limb or fencepost and then flying out to grab them. They forage on the ground and up to 30 feet above the forest floor in summer, whereas in the colder months they forage higher in the trees.  In winter Red-headed Woodpeckers catch insects on warm days, but they mostly eat nuts such as acorns, beech nuts, and pecans.  Red-headed Woodpeckers cache food by wedging it into crevices in trees or under shingles on houses.  They store live grasshoppers, beech nuts, acorns, cherries, and corn, often shifting each item from place to place before retrieving and eating it during the colder months.

Red-headed Woodpeckers are considered Occasional to Rare on Seabrook. Populations appear to be declining.  Current tree care usually removes dead stubs or stumps used for nests and they compete with starlings, other woodpeckers and kestrels for nest cavities. Blue Jays and starlings steal their caches.  They find creosote-coated utility poles lethal for their young.  And to top it off, they don’t use bird houses.

That said, you can find Red-headed Woodpeckers on Seabrook but count yourself lucky each time.  Look for them on trunks and branches along the inner streets and golf cart pathways through the island.  The most recent siting was at Caw Caw Interpretive Center on August 11 th

They are potential breeders on the island.

A group of woodpeckers has many collective nouns, including a “descent”, “drumming” and “gatling” of woodpeckers.

(See the range map following the photographs below.)

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

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.

Ask SIB: Why is Northern Cardinal’s head bald?

Question: Is this a Northern Cardinal? If so, why does its head look so small and its beak so large? – SIB member Lesley Gore

Answer: This question was also answered in Bird Watcher’s Digest. They say:

Soon after nesting season ends, many birds replace their feathers. Songbirds generally lose and regrow a few feathers at a time, so molt is hardly noticeable.

But some birds, especially northern cardinals and blue jays, can lose all their head feathers at one time—a catastrophic molt. Not all cardinals or blue jays do this, but a significant number do, and it’s considered healthy and normal. A week later, feathers will start to grow, and in a month, the bird’s crest will return and be perfectly normal and regal once again.

“Bald” birds could also be young individuals with head feathers still developing, or they could be the victims of avian feather mites that eat the feathers and cause a bird to “go bald.” The mites exist on a bird in the only place it cannot preen itself—on the head.

This commonly occurs in late summer and has been recorded on other species as well. We notice the bald cardinals more readily because they are common, resident (non-migratory) birds that come to our bird feeders. The mites are perfectly natural, not caused by diet, and relatively harmless, unless the bird is in an otherwise-weakened state.

A bald bird usually isn’t anything to worry about, and it’s kind of fun to see a bird’s naked skin and ear holes, isn’t it?

Shorebird videos now available for viewing

The Seabrook Island Birders Shorebird Stewards and the Kiawah Shorebird Stewards have worked together to share educational opportunities. Spring 2022, Bette Popillo, Kiawah Shorebird Steward Program Coordinator, arranged a wonderful set of talks given by four prominent biologists who work with shorebirds and seabirds.

We have collected the links to those talks on a Shorebird Video page on the Seabrook Island Birders web site. This provides a single reference for stewards (and others) to bookmark and review the valuable information that was presented. We’ve also included the artistry of Pam Cohen, a Kiawah photographer who has fallen in love with Red Knots and Bob Mercer’s “Shorebird Identification” presentation.

The five links on this new page are:

  • Abby Sterling, PhD: “Busy Beaches after Red Knots: Supporting Our Nesting Shorebirds”
  • Nolan Schillerstrom: “ The Sassy Seabird:Least Terns
  • Fletcher Smith, “Red Knot Research in the Southeast
  • Janet Thibault, “Black Skimmers: Creatures of Edges
  • Pam Cohen, “Red Knots: A Story of Migration and Survival
  • Bob Mercer: “Shorebird Identification on Seabrook Island

SIB’s Article for the August 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 August 2022 SIB article. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page article on Page 4! The stories this month feature:

Seabrook Birds…Through the Lens – Learn more about Ed Konrad’s experiences photographing birds.

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

Charleston Audubon Fund Raiser

Some SIB members recently received an email that may be of interest to other members. It came from the Charleston Audubon and Natural History Society.

We need help for McAlHany Nature Preserve!!!!

Join us for a screening of Purple Haze, a conservation film about Purple Martins, a species completely reliant on humans for survival! Limited space, get your tickets today!

Terrace Theater
1956d Maybank Hwy, Charleston, SC 29412

7:30 pm-9:30 pm.

We’ll have door prizes as well, bring your friends and help us support our on the ground conservation work!

Tickets: http://www.purplehaze-charleston.eventbrite.com

Join SIB to Sit, Sip and See at Palmetto Lake

Monday, August 15 @ 7:00pm
Location: Picnic Table at the back of Palmetto Lake near the Playground
Max: 20
Cost: Free for members; $5 donation to SIB for guests

Register Now

Please join Seabrook Island Birders for an evening of birding and socializing with your favorite beverage at Palmetto Lake. During the hot summer months birds are more active in the early morning and early evening. We thought that this would be a great location to gather and sit and let the birds come to us. At this location, near the playground, we can relax and watch the herons and egrets fly into their now favorite roosting area. It is mesmerizing to observe the different groups fly into the lake area and then maneuver into their spot. There are a few places to sit at the picnic table, but you will probably want to bring a chair in order to get the best view. There will be SIB members available to carry your chair to our location. Birds that we should see coming into the rookery are Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, and White Ibis. We could additionally hear or see woodpeckers, hawks, and passerines.

This is a BYOB and BYOSnacks event. If you are not an experienced birder, this is the perfect opportunity to get some tips on using binoculars and phone apps, and identifying species and bird calls.

As always bring your binoculars and hats. No sunscreen required at this event, but you might want to bring bug repellent just in case.

Register no later than Sunday, August 14th . All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Monday morning, August 15th.

SIB “Bird of the Week” – American Oystercatcher

American Oystercatcher – Haematopus palliatus
Length:  17.5″; Wingspan: 32″; Weight: 22.4 oz.

American Oystercatcher - Ed Konrad
American Oystercatchers on beach with other Shorebirds – Ed Konrad

The American Oystercatcher is a large, boldly patterned bird we see at our beach and in salt marshes. It doesn’t appear in large groups, but is often seen in solitary pairs. As indicated by it’s name, it feeds on oysters, clams, mussels and uses it bright orange-red bill like an oyster shucking knife to open it’s prey. They also probe for and stab shellfish or they carry loose shells out of the water and hammer them open with their bills.

The oystercatcher has a large black head and a large red bill. It’s back is dark brown and it’s underside is white. It has stout, dull-pink legs and a bold white stripe in it’s wings and rump when in flight. When they fly, they call loudly in a whistled “wheep.”

Oystercatchers are usually in small numbers and fairly solitary or in small family groups. Cape Romain, up the coast, has the largest wintering population of oystercatchers in the world. One winter we observed a group of 93 near the oyster beds by the Kiawah River Bridge! There are several thousand in the US and most of them breed in the Mid-Atlantic. They are an “indicator species”. This means that they can only thrive in estuaries where the water is clean. If you have a healthy population of oystercatchers, then you have oysters and the water is clean.

Oystercatchers are shy birds and sensitive to human disturbance. Their nests are a scrape in a shallow depression on the sand just above the high tide line. They line it with shells, pebbles and tide wrack and lay 1-4 eggs. Solitary pairs are known to nest at Deveaux Bank. Recently, SC DNR banded 2 young birds at Botany Bay plantation, a first at that location for the banders!

An interesting Seabrook fact is that for the past four years there has been a banded oystercatcher on our beach “U5”. We have seen him on many occasions, as have other bird watchers, and it is always fun to see that he is still around. He was banded at Little Egg Island, GA, just north of Little St Simons Island. You can observe U5 usually near the “highway” between the protected area and the cut.

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

Article submitted by:  Aija Konrad
Photographs provided by:  Ed Konrad

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.

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
Length:  15.7 – 19.3″; Wingspan: 26 – 29.5″; Weight: 8.8 – 12.3 oz.

This bird is the largest woodpecker on Seabrook Island with a long neck, mostly black with white stripes on the face and a flaming-red triangular crest that sweeps off the back of the head. The bill is long and chisel-like, about the length of the head. Males have a red stripe on the cheek. In flight, the wings are broad and the bird can seem crow-like.

Pileated Woodpeckers feed mostly on ants and other insects, but also will eat fruits and nuts. Carpenter ants may be up to 60% of diet and they also eat other ants (rarely digging into anthills on ground), termites, larvae of wood-boring beetles and other insects. About one-quarter of the diet may be wild fruits, berries, and nuts.  They also like to feed on suet, as you can see from this video below:

Pileated Woodpeckers drill distinctive rectangular-shaped holes in rotten wood to get at carpenter ants and other insects. They are loud birds with whinnying calls. They also drum on dead trees in a deep, slow, rolling pattern, and even the heavy chopping sound of foraging carries well. Their flight undulates like other woodpeckers, which helps separate them from a crow’s straight flight path.

The Pileated Woodpecker is common to Seabrook Island and is said to be seen often pecking on the dead branches of the live oak behind the POA office.  They are also frequently seen and heard along the golf courses.

A group of Pileated Woodpeckers are collectively known as a “crown” of woodpeckers.

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

Article submitted by:  Judy Morr
Photographs provided by:  Charles Moore & Ed Konrad

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.

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