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 during the winter flying high overhead or high in trees on Seabrook Island that 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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Take The eNature Bird Call Challenge

Common Yellowthroat - Ed Konrad
Common Yellowthroat – Ed Konrad

Can you tell a twitter from a tweet?  A chirp from a cheep or a buzz from a trill?

eNature’s Bird Call Challenge will test your knowledge of your local birds or those of any other zip code you choose.  And you can choose to quiz yourself on just songbirds or every species of bird in the area.

Click here to take the Bird Call Challenge to test your knowledge!

(9/16/17 – this link is no longer available.)

 

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Length:  8.75″; Wingspan: 12″; Weight: 1.6 oz.

Merry Christmas!  We know many of our readers may be traveling and busy with family today so we thought when you have time you’d enjoy learning more about one of the favorite backyard visitors throughout eastern North America.  Among other things, the Northern Cardinal is said to symbolize hope, joy, health, rejuvenation and celebration.  We hope you and your family enjoy all of these through the holiday season and throughout 2017.

Northern Cardinal - Ed Konrad
Northern Cardinal – Ed Konrad

Most people are very familiar with the Northern Cardinal, so today we will leave you with a few interesting facts and several articles you can read

Did you know …

  • Cardinals don’t migrate and they don’t molt into a dull plumage.
  • The Northern Cardinal is one of the few female songbirds that sing and often while sitting on the nest. This may give the male information about when to bring food to the nest. A mated pair shares song phrases, but the female may sing a longer and slightly more complex song than the male.
  • Have you ever seen a Northern Cardinal attacking its reflection in a window or mirror?  Both males and females do this, and most often in spring and early summer when they are obsessed with defending their territory against any intruders.
  • The Northern Cardinal is the state bird of seven states:  Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky.
  • The oldest recorded Northern Cardinal was a female, and was 15 years, 9 months old when she was found in Pennsylvania, although 28.5 years was achieved by a captive bird.
  • A group of cardinals has many collective nouns, including a “college”, “conclave”, “deck”, radiance”, and “Vatican” of cardinals.

Check out these articles:

Northern Cardinals know how to Shake Their Tail Feathers:  Have you seen the song dance of the Northern Cardinal during mating season?  Read more about it in the article.

Built to Sing:  The Syrinx of the Northern Cardinal:  Listen to this 3 minute 30 second video to learn more about the song of the Northern Cardinal and how they make it.

Why so Red, Mr. Cardinal? In this article, read about the theory of why the Northern Cardinal is red and doesn’t molt in the winter like most passerines.

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

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Article submitted by:  Nancy Brown
Photographs provided by: Ed Konrad & Charles 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.

Participate in the 6th Annual Sea Islands Christmas Bird Count

christmas-bird-count

As some of you may have previously seen in Tidelines, the 6th Annual Sea Islands Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will be held on Wednesday, January 4, 2017.  The count area includes Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, Wadmalaw Island, and John’s Island. SIB is working with Count organizer Aaron Given and we are looking for Seabrook Island residents that would like to participate. In particular, we are looking for residents that have bird feeders and are willing to count the birds that visit their feeders throughout the day.  In addition, if anyone still has Painted Buntings or hummingbirds coming to their bird feeders, please let SIB know.

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a volunteer-based bird census conducted annually each winter.  The National Audubon Society has sponsored the event since 1900 when the first CBCs were held.  Currently there are over 2,000 CBCs conducted across North and South America (and other countries) every year between December 14th and January 5th.  Each count takes place around the same date each year and all birds seen or heard are counted within a designated 15-mile diameter circle.  The data from each count are compiled by the National Audubon Society and the results are provided in an annual online journal called American Birds.

If you are interested in participating, contact SIB with your name and address and we will provide you with additional information.

For more information on the Christmas Bird Count, please visit:

Winter Birds of Seabrook Island with David Gardner

Scopes, Binoculars & Cameras ... oh my! - Dean Morr
Scopes, Binoculars & Cameras … oh my! – Dean Morr

Like many of our local resident “snow birds,” our feathered wintering birds have also found their way back to Seabrook Island and it is an exciting time to bird!  If you drove past the gardens on Thursday, December 15th, you might have wondered why the parking lot was full.  A group of ten SIB members joined David Gardner, Director of Environmental Education at Camp St. Christopher, to meet and go behind the gate of the Seabrook Island Utility and Water Treatment area to bird around the grounds, including a large water treatment pond.

It was a perfectly clear crisp 50 degree day and exciting for all of us!  In an hour and a half, walking 1.25 miles, we saw a total of 36 bird species.  Before leaving the garden area we spotted nearly 200 American Robins fly overhead, Blue Jays and a Northern Cardinal.  A Red-shouldered Hawk seemed to follow us from the gardens into the Water Treatment area during our entire visit.  The trees and bushes near the administrative building contained many small passerines like Palm & Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Northern Mockingbirds.  But it was the large pond we were most interested in to see which ducks and shorebirds may be hanging around.  We were thrilled to see many Buffleheads, a couple Hooded Mergansers and even three Red-breasted Mergansers, but it was the Common Goldeneye that had David literally jumping for joy!  This is an extremely unusual sighting and David’s first for Seabrook Island!

We continued to walk around the entire pond and added the Golden-crowned Kinglet, Cedar Waxwing, Spotted Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper. As the sun warmed the earth the vultures took to the sky and we saw both the Turkey and Black Vultures along with several types of herons, egrets and ibis flying overhead.  See the full count of bird species sighted at the end of this article.

Our final SIB birding activity of 2016 was a great one!  In our first year, SIB has hosted 21 birding events for our members including Learning Together, Birding with David Gardner, Backyard Birding and volunteering at the Center of Prey fall Hawk Watch.  An average of ten people attended each session with an average of 30 species seen.  Our members have donated $370 to the Educational Outreach program at Camp St. Christopher paying for fuel for the naturalists to visit the local schools of Johns and Wadmalaw Islands to teach the children about the environment in which they live.

We already have two programs scheduled in January and another dozen remaining to post on our website for the spring of 2017.  Please be sure to check out Calendar and the Activities page for our upcoming events!

Article Submitted by:  Nancy Brown
Photos Submitted by:  Jane Southey, Dean Morr & Nancy Brown

Lesser Scaup  2
Bufflehead  49
Common Goldeneye  1
Hooded Merganser  3
Red-breasted Merganser  1
Wood Stork  1
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Great Egret  1
White Ibis  3
Black Vulture  7
Turkey Vulture  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Least Sandpiper  5
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Ring-billed Gull  4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Northern Flicker  2
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Blue Jay  6
American Crow  8
Carolina Chickadee  3
Carolina Wren  2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  3
Golden-crowned Kinglet  4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  7
Eastern Bluebird  6
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  200
Northern Mockingbird  3
Cedar Waxwing  12
Palm Warbler  2
Pine Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  30
Chipping Sparrow  10
Northern Cardinal  6

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S33027894

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
Photographs provided by:

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.