Bird of the Week … Who am I???

As you may know, every Sunday we publish a weekly “Bird of the Week” blog.

Today we’d like to test your knowledge by asking if you can guess what bird you can:

  1. See throughout the year on Seabrook Island
  2. Has been one of the top three species banded by the Kiawah Island Bird Banding Stations each fall according to Aaron Given
  3. And it sounds like this.

Leave us a comment if you want to make a guess – and watch for the full article on Sunday morning!

 

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SIB “Bird of the Week” – Crows: American vs Fish

American CrowCorvus brachyrhynchos
Length:  17.5″; Wingspan: 39″; Weight: 16 oz.

Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Length:  15″; Wingspan: 36″; Weight: 10 oz.

Fish Crow & American Crow from Cornell Lab of Ornithology website
Fish Crow & American Crow from Cornell Lab of Ornithology website

Probably many people on Seabrook have no idea that there are two kinds of crows here. For most of us, a crow is a crow. Actually there are two different species on the Island: the American Crow and the Fish Crow. They look so much alike that even the pros find it difficult to distinguish between them but there’s one fool-proof way.

Both crows are very big and black. In general, the Fish Crow is slightly smaller: its beak, its legs and overall. Their ranges of size overlap, however, and those differences are hard to establish in the field. So, size alone is not a safe way to differentiate them

An easier characteristic that is sometimes used to distinguish the two crows is their stance when they call. The Fish Crow often fluffs its feathers, particularly around its neck. The American Crow remains smooth. Note the two pictures below.

To be sure of an identification, however, you have to use your ears. Most people are familiar with the loud Caw Caw sound of the American Crow.  The Fish Crow has a similar call but it sounds as though he has a cold. It’s very nasal.  He also has a two-note call that sounds as though he is responding negatively to a question: Anh Anh.

Crows seem to be everywhere, both singularly and in small groups. They eat a great variety of foods, both animal and vegetable. This includes normal examples as well as carrion, trash, nestlings and eggs of other birds. Their dietary flexibility is one of the reasons they are so successful in so many different habitats which is also why they seem omnipresent.

Crows are very social birds, sometimes forming very large flocks in the hundreds. They are noted for being very intelligent with problem-solving capabilities. Some live into their teens in the wild; the oldest recorded in captivity died at 59 years old.

Crows are noisy birds in general. Occasionally several may join together and make an even larger racket than normal. This can be an example of mobbing which occurs when a group of crows deliberately pester a larger bird, usually a bird of prey such as a hawk or owl. They may even dive bomb the “enemy”. This behavior is not totally understood but it is assumed that the attackers are attempting to force the predator to move on. If you watch, you may see the predator suddenly take flight with the crows in pursuit squawking as they go.

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

Article submitted by:  Marcia Hider
Photographs provided by:  Bob Hider & Charley Moore

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.

Bird of the Week … Who are we???

As you may know, every Sunday we publish a weekly “Bird of the Week” blog.  Today we’d like to test your knowledge by asking if you can guess who are these two birds? 

Who are these two birds?
Who are these two birds?

Leave us a comment if you want to make a guess – and watch for the full article on Sunday morning!

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.

Who remembers this theme song?

Did you realize the character of Woody Woodpecker was based on a Pileated Woodpecker?

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.

Bird of the Week … Who am I???

As you may know, every Sunday we publish a weekly “Bird of the Week” blog.  Today we’d like to test your knowledge by asking if you can guess what bird you can hear on Seabrook Island by listening to the two clues below:

  1. Here it the “short call
  2. It also makes this sound

Leave us a comment if you want to make a guess – and watch for the full article on Sunday morning!

 

Volunteer with SIB on Friday 9/23 at the Hawk Watch

SC Coastal Rapter Migration Survey – 2016
September 1 – November 30

5950841011533070The Center for Birds of Prey – Observation Deck
4872 Seewee Road
Awendaw, SC  29429

Fall is rapidly approaching and that means one thing… Hawk Watch is back! The Center for Birds of Prey is recruiting volunteers for the annual South Carolina Coastal Raptor Migration Survey and would love your help! The survey runs September 1st through November 30th and standard observation hours are 10am-1pm, but observation beyond these hours is welcomed. Their goal is to have a shift leader (someone who is knowledgeable about raptor identification and has participated in a hawk program in the past) and at least one observer (anyone interested in participating, not necessarily an experienced birder). Protocols for Hawk Watch will be to complete the standard HMANA data sheet.

SIB has arranged for its members to attend on three specific days

If you would like to participate on any other date, please contact Audrey Poplin, Husbandry Coordinator and Educator at The Center for Birds of Prey at audrey.poplin@avianconservationcenter.org or call 843-971-7474.  Audrey has created a Google calendar she will share with you so you may select a date(s).

In the meantime, here are some additional documents to explain the program and provide you with information on how to identify hawks seen in North America.

2016 SC Coastal Raptor Migration Survey

A Guide to Hawks Seen in North America

Eastern Raptor Migrant Guide

Learning Together at the Equestrian Center

Birders watching European Starlings - 09/11/16
Birders watching European Starlings – 09/11/16

Eight SIB members gathered the morning of Sunday, September 11, for a two-hour birding session at the Equestrian Center.   Many of the group are new to birding and were hoping to simply see and identify some new birds.  A few had specific species in mind.  Unfortunately, the latter group did not see a cattle egret nor a brown headed cowbird which were likely candidates for the date and location.  The sightings, however, exceeded expectations.  Below is the complete list of the 24 bird species either seen or heard during the outing.  Unfortunately, all images of these creatures are in the birders’ memories.

3 Turkey Vulture
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Red-tailed Hawk
6 Eurasian Collared-Dove
1 Mourning Dove
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
3 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 Downy Woodpecker
1 Red-eyed Vireo
4 Blue Jay
5 American Crow
4 Carolina Chickadee
3 Tufted Titmouse
3 Carolina Wren
2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
23 Eastern Bluebird
10 Northern Mockingbird
50 European Starling
1 American Redstart
1 Pine Warbler
1 Yellow-throated Warbler
2 Prairie Warbler
1 Baltimore Oriole
4 House Finch

Aija Konrad continued birding after the group left and also saw a rare Lark Sparrow, two Eastern Kingbirds and a Barn Swallow.

Aija focusing scope on Red Shouldered Hawk - 09/11/16
Aija focusing scope on Red Shouldered Hawk – 09/11/16