Annual Audubon International Bird Count Results

(Article Submitted by:  George Haskins, Survey Coordinator & Photos Submitted by: Charley Moore)

The annual survey of bird species on or adjacent to the Seabrook Island golf courses was conducted on April 28, 2016, by a team of 13 persons.  The ground rules call for counting those seen or heard from the golf courses themselves.  A spotting scope in trained hands expands that horizon.  Five teams of two persons each were out from 6:15 to 8:30 AM, two teams were out from 4:30 to 6:00 PM, one person was vigilant all day from her home on the Crooked Oaks course, and one person was on the 14th tee of Ocean Winds toward sunset. Those participating were Nancy Brown, Helen Donohue, David Gardner, George Haskins, Marcia and Bob Hider, Tori Langen, Charley Moore, Judy and Dean Morr, Martha and Joe Stevenot, and Betty Zimmerman.

The group recorded a total of 207 identifiable birds.  The net result after accounting for duplications was 76 species which are listed below.  That number is toward the higher end of our normal sightings, I believe.  One unusual species, the Bobolink, seen aside the 16th fairway of Ocean Winds was unexpected.  All six of the probable woodpeckers were observed.  One bird very common in our community, the Turkey Vulture, was not sighted by anyone.

The birds noted below are listed in the order they appear on the Seabrook Island bird check list.

I appreciated the effort of the birders who participated and the cooperation of the golf staff in providing us carts and full access to the courses within the specified time parameters.  A master copy of the actual checklist will be provided to Greens Superintendent Sean Hartwick, who is the chair of this project supporting the Audubon Certification process.

Red-breasted Merganser Northern Flicker
Common Loon Pileated Woodpecker
Brown Pelican Great Crested Flycatcher
Double Crested Cormorant Blue Jay
Anhinga American Crow
Great Blue Heron Fish Crow
Great Egret Tree Swallow
Snowy Egret Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tricolored Heron Barn Swallow
Green Heron Carolina Chickadee
Black-crowned Night Heron Tufted Titmouse
Black Vulture Carolina Wren
Osprey Marsh Wren
Bald Eagle Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Red-tailed Hawk Eastern Bluebird
Spotted Sandpiper Gray Catbird
Willet Northern Mockingbird
Whimbrel Brown Thrasher
Laughing Gull Cedar Waxwing
Herring Gull Northern Parula
Least Tern Yellow-rumped Warbler
Gull-billed Tern Yellow-throated Warbler
Caspian Tern Pine Warbler
Forster’s Tern Black and White Warbler
Royal Tern Ovenbird
Black Skimmer Eastern Towhee
Mourning Dove Swamp Sparrow
Common Ground-Dove Painted Bunting
Eurasian Collared-Dove Northern Cardinal
Common Nighthawk Bobolink
Chuck-wills-widow Red-winged Blackbird
Chimney Swift Common Grackle
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Brown-headed Cowbird
Belted Kingfisher Orchard Oriole
Red-headed Woodpecker House Finch
Red-belllied Woodpecker Tricolored Blackbird
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Downy Woodpecker Wild Turkey
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Welcome to the New Arrivals!

Like many of us, one of the reasons Ed and Aija Konrad love Seabrook Island is the diversity of nature that abounds here.  On Thursday,  April 21, 2016, at 12:30pm they decided to bird along Jenkins Point and found the Great Egret rookery at the first pond on the left as you drive in was bustling with activity!  They sighted  17 adults with 7 chicks!  They commented, “This is our first sighting of chicks at the rookery at Jenkins Point this year.  It’s a great photo and observing opportunity to watch adults coming and going and caring for chicks.”

There are several rookeries around the island, so take time to visit and view the activity!

SIB Members go Cuckoo for Cuckoo’s

SIB members during "Birding with David Gardner" at St. Christopher's on April 21, 2016. Ed Konrad
SIB members during “Birding with David Gardner” at St. Christopher’s on April 21, 2016. Ed Konrad

Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) sponsored our first “Birding with David Gardner” this past Thursday, April 21, 2016.  Although we didn’t get a chance to see all the birds we heard, in total we counted 35 different bird species for the three hours we spent at St Christopher’s.  We were most excited to hear the three Yellow-billed Cuckoos and hope that we’ll see these very elusive birds on a future walk.  The full list of birds is listed below along with the two snakes found on our walk.  Please enjoy the pictures we’ve included in the photo gallery at the end of the article taken by SIB members & photographers: Patricia Schaefer and Ed Konrad.

We’d also like to thank David Gardner, Director of Environmental Education at St. Christopher Camp & Conference Center, for taking time out of his schedule to educate us on the birds, snakes and natural history of Seabrook Island!  If you are interested to visit the grounds of St. Christopher, please follow the instructions found in the Tidelines article:  how-to-visit-camp-st-christopher.
 
We hope you will join SIB for our evening event featuring The Center for Birds of Prey this Wednesday April 27th at 7:00 pm in the Live Oak Room at the Lake House.  You can find a description and registration (if required) for all our future activities on our website under the new “Activities” menu drop-down. (www.seabrookislandbirders.org)
eBird Submission of Sightings
St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Apr 21, 2016 8:40 AM – 11:30 AM
35 bird species
Wild Turkey  1
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Anhinga  1
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  2
Green Heron  4
Black-crowned Night-Heron  5
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Laughing Gull  10
Royal Tern  2
Mourning Dove  2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  4
Pileated Woodpecker  2
Great Crested Flycatcher  3
White-eyed Vireo  1
American Crow  5
Fish Crow  1
Carolina Chickadee  6
Tufted Titmouse  8
Carolina Wren  6
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  12
Northern Mockingbird  1
Hooded Warbler  1
Northern Parula  12
Pine Warbler  10
Yellow-throated Warbler  4
Summer Tanager  4
Northern Cardinal  18
Blue Grosbeak  1
Painted Bunting  3
Red-winged Blackbird  23
Common Grackle  3
2 snake species
Greenish Rat Snake
Eastern Garter Snake

Help Needed for Audubon Int’l Certification Bird Count

Audubon International LogoAs many of you likely know, the golf courses on Seabrook Island were the first in South Carolina to be certified in the  Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf program.  One of the factors considered was the diversification of the local bird species.  On Thursday, April 28th, a team of birders will be canvassing those courses for a bird count.  The activity at bird houses and feeders on adjacent properties are significant to the count’s results.  Your assistance in filling bird feeders helps us build a count.  In addition, if there are any of you who would like to participate in the survey, please contact George Haskins for more details at dart54golferAgmail.com or 243-0070.

For more information about the certification program, visit  Audubon International.

(Submitted by George Haskins)

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird:
Family – Trochilidae
Species – Archilochus colubris
Length: 3 – 3.75”; Wingspan: 4.25 – 4.5”; Weight: 0.1 oz

(Submitted by Ron Schlidge)

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Bob Hider
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird – Bob Hider

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only hummer known by most Easterners and has a range that covers most of eastern North America.  Both sexes have glittering green crown and upperparts, and the underparts are grayish to white.  Males have black faces and a deep red to orange-red throat or gorget.  The humming of its wings is clearly discernible from a distance.  Their wings beat up to 75 per second. 

They feed primarily on nectar but take some insects and spiders, also sap from sapsucker drill wells.  In courtship flight, males make a huge 180-degree arcs back and forth, emitting a buzzing sound at its lowest point.  Males often arrive on breeding grounds well ahead of females.  These birds are strongly attracted to the color red as are many other hummers. 

The nest of the hummingbird is very small and made from soft plant down, fireweed, milkweed thistles and leaves.  They are a solitary breeder and generally lay two white eggs the size of a pea with incubation 11 to 16 days by the female. Altricial young stay in nest 20 – 22 days and are fed by the female. They have 1-3 broods per year.

Ruby-throated Hummers feed on red columbine in spring; salvia, trumpet or coral honeysuckle, and bee balm later in the year. They also fed on jewelweed, phlox, petunias, lilies, trumpet creeper, Siberian peatree, nasturtium, cone-shaped red flowers and sugar water.

You can mix your own sugar water by using a  4:1 ratio of water to sugar (ex:  2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of sugar).  Red food dyes added to sugar water may harm birds.  Always replace the sugar water in your feeders at least once a week and maybe more in the hot days of summer.

A group of Hummingbirds has many collective nouns, including a “bought”, “glittering”, “hover”, “shimmer” and a “tune” of hummingbirds.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are common on Seabrook in the summer. They can be seen over the beach, amid the dunes, and in the myrtles along the boardwalks.  They are also around the estuaries and edges wherever they may find nectar-producing plants and small insects.  If you have a home you might try a feeder – they will come.  A very few might spend the winter.  A feeder in winter might also attract other vagrant species such as the Rufous Hummingbird or Black-chinned Hummingbird.

(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.

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting – Passerina ciris
Length:  5.5″; Wingspan: 8.75″; Weight: 0.54 oz.
Submitted by:  Charley Moore

Male Painted Bunting - C Moore
Male Painted Bunting – C Moore

Without a doubt, this bird is one of the most beautiful and colorful birds on Seabrook Island or anywhere else.  Look for this small to medium sized multicolored finch at your bird feeder and around the edges of dense brush (such as wax myrtles) and thick woodlands.  It is here from the middle of April though September.  Some may stay throughout the winter, but most of our birds go south to Florida and to the northwest Caribbean Islands.

You will have no problem in identifying a mature male Painted bunting with its vivid blues, greens, yellows and reds that make it look like a small parrot.  The males head is iridescent blue, its throat and underside is bright red, its back is a brilliant green fading to lighter green on the wings.  Females and yearling males are a uniform greenish color with a slightly lighter eye ring.

Painted buntings naturally forage on the ground and in shrubs and are seed eaters.  They are frequent visitors to Seabrook Island bird feeders and seem to prefer white millet.  Although they are not typically insect eaters, they catch and feed insects to their young.  They spend most of their time in thick brush often along woodland edges.

They are fast flyers, darting here and there and are difficult to follow. Males are extremely aggressive and territorial toward other males and often fight over a spot at bird feeders.  Their voice is a very distinctive continuous series of short high-pitched notes lasting about 2 seconds.  Males may sing 9 to 10 songs a minute establishing their territory during spring.  Click here to listen to their song.

Painted buntings are polygynous raising 2 to 4 broods on Seabrook Island throughout the summer.  The nest is built in a bush or tree and is a deep cup of grass, weeds and leaves with a lining of finer grass or hair.  Females lay 3 to 5 eggs, incubate them for 11 to 12 days and the young leave the nest in another 12 to 14 days.  Males do little in raising the young and frequently are out looking for another mate.

Seabrook Island is fortunate to have one of Americas most beautiful birds.  Keep in mind that males only develop their brilliant multicolored plumage in their second year.  Most of the Painted Buntings you will see will be the rather non-descript uniform greenish females and young-of-the-year males. The best way of spotting Painted Buntings is to become familiar with their distinctive song and once identifying where they are, watch for a flash of red, blue, yellow and green.

A group of Painted Buntings are collectively known as a “mural” and a “palette” of buntings.

(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.

Sign-up For SIB Bird Walks

In case you missed the emails from SIB, Tidelines or SIPOA, and are having trouble using the links (or even finding the links), use the links below to sign-up for our two next bird walks.  Spaces are filling up so register today!

Thursday April 21, 2016 – Birding with David Gardner – Join SIB from 8:30 – 10:30 am for a fun hike through the maritime forest, dunes and beach, building our skills in bird identification with a local resident bird expert, David Gardner, Director of Environmental Education at St. Christopher Camp & Conference Center. We welcome all levels of birding experience.  Please note that although there are few hills of any size on Seabrook, we?ll be walking a total of about 1.5 miles.  Bring sun block, bug spray, a hat, water and binoculars. Max 12 people.  Donation:  $5.00 to Camp St. Christopher.  You must be a member of SIB to participate.  Please click here to register no later than Tuesday April 19, 2016.
Saturday April 30, 2016 – Learning Together: Birding on the Beach – On Saturday, April 30, 2016, SIB is sponsoring another member activity by hosting a “Learning Together: Birding on the Beach” a casual walk on North Beach of two miles (or more) for approximately 1 1/2 hours to view birds common to the beaches on Seabrook Island.  The walk will leave the parking lot of North Beach Boardwalk #1 promptly at 8:30 am.  Please bring water, sunscreen, bug repellent, hat and if you have them binoculars and/or a camera.  Limit 20 people.  You must be a member of SIB to participate and it is FREE.  Please click here to register no later than Thursday April 28, 2016.
Be sure to visit our calendar at any time to learn what activities are being offered by SIB or other organizations.
SIB Members on North Beach - Dean Morr
SIB Members on North Beach – Dean Morr