Sparrow “Big Day” with David Gardner

It was a beautiful January day to search for as many wintering sparrows on Seabrook Island as could be located.    The group met at St. Christopher with a goal to tour several spots at the Camp then procede to the maintenance area and others as time permitted.  Flo Foley provided each participant with a sheet of pictures detailing the distinguishing characteristics of the 12 sparrow species most likely to be found.  The group started at the Camp’s feeders where Chipping and Song Sparrows were seen.  Next the group proceded out to the beach where in the dunes a Savannah Sparrow was seen.  Around the bend in the marshes along Bohicket Creek, the three marsh sparrows (Nelson’s, Saltmarsh and Seaside) were seen.  On the return trip, the “islands” of brush were searched in hopes of finding a Field Sparrow.  Alas, that species remained hidden but the group was lucky enough to flush out three elusive Common Ground Doves.   The group then traveled to the maintenance area where Chipping, Song and White Throated Sparrows as well as an Eastern Towhee were seen.  Finally, the group proceeded to the Equestrian Center in hopes of finding a Swamp Sparrow, a Junco and / or a Vesper.  No luck in any of these species but for the day, 8 sparrow species were seen with 64 species seen in total. (See entire list below)

Please be sure to check out Calendar and the Activities page for our upcoming events!

Article Submitted by:  Judy Morr
Photos Submitted by:  Flo Foley

Camp St. Christopher
Bufflehead 7
Red-breasted Merganser 1
Red-throated Loon 1
Common Loon 1
Double-crested Cormorant 6
Brown Pelican 13
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 8
Bald Eagle 1
Clapper Rail 2
American Oystercatcher 7
Willet 3
Bonaparte’s Gull 1
Laughing Gull 11
Ring-billed Gull 9
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Forster’s Tern 1
Common Ground-Dove 3
Mourning Dove 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
American Crow 4
Carolina Chickadee 4
Tufted Titmouse 3
House Wren 1
Carolina Wren 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Gray Catbird 2
Pine Warbler 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Nelson’s Sparrow 1
Saltmarsh Sparrow 4
Seaside Sparrow 3
Chipping Sparrow 1
Savannah Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 3
Red-winged Blackbird 30
American Goldfinch 1

Maintenance Area and Equestrian Center
Lesser Scaup 3
Bufflehead 49
Wood Stork 12
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Snowy Egret 1
White Ibis 12
Black Vulture 4
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 2
Bald Eagle 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Killdeer 1
Bonaparte’s Gull 6
Ring-billed Gull 3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 3
Tufted Titmouse 1
House Wren 3
Carolina Wren 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3
Eastern Bluebird 3
American Robin 2
Brown Thrasher 1
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 2
Palm Warbler 12
Pine Warbler 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler 15
Chipping Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 3
Eastern Towhee 1
Northern Cardinal 3
House Finch 5
American Goldfinch 9

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SIB “Bird of the Week” – Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet  –  Regulus calendula
Length:  4.25″;  Wingspan:  7. 5″;  Weight:  0.23 oz.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – file photo

There are two good ways to identify the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. First, you might see it out of the corner of your eye. That’s because it flicks its wings and hops fairly continuously. You also might recognize it from its very distinctive call. The song sounds like an electric typewriter. Listen.

In pictures, he is often shown flaunting his bright red crown but that is much more the exception than the rule and only the male has the crest. Both the male and the female are greenish gray in color with a white eye ring and wing bars that resemble those of a non-breeding Goldfinch. We have those now on Seabrook but they are considerably bigger. It is the kinglet’s small size and jumpy nature that are the most likely to catch your attention.

The Ruby-crowned is a winter bird for us. It migrates primarily to Canada and Alaska to breed but is seen year-round in a few western states.

Cornell Labs lists this bird as one that comes to a feeder but the feeder should probably be in a woodsy or shrubby area. Here is what they recommend to attract them:

Food and feeders to attract Ruby-crowned Kinglets
Food and feeders to attract Ruby-crowned Kinglets

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

Article submitted by:  Marcia Hider
Photographs provided by: Ed Konrad & file photos

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???

This might be the best view you ever get of our Bird of the Week’s crown. Only the male has one like this and he hides it most of the time.

Who am I?
Who am I?

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

 

Bird of the Week … The Woodpecker Challenge

How did you do?  Could you match all the pictures and songs for the six woodpeckers found on Seabrook Island, SC?  The sounds can be tricky!  Use the links on the bird names to re-read our blogs for each.

Bird Species Photo Song
1 Pileated Woodpecker  C  S4
2 Downy Woodpecker  E  S1
3 Red-bellied Woodpecker  B  S5
4 Red-headed Woodpecker  A  S6
5 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  F  S3
6 Northern Flicker  D  S2

Extra Credit – Match to their call

S1
S2
S3
S4
S5
S6

Article Submitted by:  Nancy Brown
Photographs Submitted by:  Ed Konrad & File Photos

Bird of the Week … Who are we???

During the past year, we have profiled six woodpeckers common on Seabrook Island, SC.  Test your knowledge to see if you can recognize each by both their picture and their sound!

Bird Species Photo Song
1 Pileated Woodpecker
2 Downy Woodpecker
3 Red-bellied Woodpecker
4 Red-headed Woodpecker
5 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
6 Northern Flicker

Extra Credit – Match to their call

S1
S2
S3
S4
S5
S6

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

 

We’ve Moved!

weve-moved-eagle-nest

We know many of our friends on Seabrook Island have been concerned about the loss of our home last summer that was in the dead tree between Ocean Winds Green #3 and Crooked Oaks Tee Box #4.  We’d like to inform you all that we have found a “fixer-upper” and moved in a few weeks ago.  It was a home previously occupied by an Osprey family located on Crooked Oaks on Hole #3 near the Yellow Tee Box on the left side in a very large pine tree.  We have been busy renovating by adding additional hard and soft wood to the existing structure and considering other cosmetic changes to make it more comfortable for our soon-to-be growing family.  You may see us at our new home or flying overhead over the marshes, golf courses and beaches of our beautiful Seabrook Island.

We hope in another month we’ll be able to make more announcements about our family.  Please stay tuned!  And if you have any information about us you want to share, please be sure to send it to our friends the Seabrook Island Birders (SIB).

Article submitted by:  Nancy Brown
Photos taken by:  Charles Moore
Graphics submitted by Marcia Hider

SIB “Birds of the Week” – Marsh Sparrows (Seaside, Saltmarsh & Nelson’s)

Seaside Sparrow – Ammodramus maritimus – L: 6″ WS: 7.5″ Wt: 0.81oz
Saltmarsh Sparrow – Ammodramus caudacutus – L: 5.25″ WS: 7″ Wt: 0.67oz
Nelson’s Sparrow – Ammodramus nelsoni – L: 5″ WS: 7″ Wt: 0.6oz

When I sat down to write this article, I began to think “why did I choose to write about these birds???” They are elusive, secretive, up/down, now you see ’em, now you don’t! It took me 6 years, living at Seabrook, until I knew about them and then another year to actually find them! Having said that, they are beautiful and important birds in our salt marshes, where all of them winter.

Three birds make up the marsh sparrows…the Seaside Sparrow, the Saltmarsh Sparrow and the Nelson’s Sparrow. They all belong to the genus Ammodramus, in the group known as American grassland sparrows. Ammodramus is from the Latin for “sand runner.” All have songs and calls that sound like you dialed a fax number, pretty much (Seaside, Saltmarsh, Nelson’s). Strange and grating…lol! All of them have low, direct flight, are secretive and go quickly down into the grasses. And most of their feeding is done running on the sand! They are all about 5″ in length.

I asked Aaron Given, wildlife biologist at Kiawah who bands these sparrows every winter/spring, to give me a few of his thoughts on why he bands these birds and this is what he wrote back:  “Three species of coastal “marsh” sparrows winter in the salt marshes of Kiawah Island (and Seabrook): Seaside Sparrow, Nelson’s Sparrow, and Saltmarsh Sparrow.  This group is considered species of high conservation concern due to their specialization of habitat that is considered spatially restricted.  It appears that this group may be particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise and loss of saltmarsh habitat along their wintering grounds along the southeast United States.  The objectives of the study is to determine habitat requirements, site fidelity, relative abundance, and distribution of the species and subspecies.” And a light bulb went off in my head… “species of high conservation” in danger of losing it’s habitat. That’s why these little guys are important at Seabrook! (If you are interested to assist in banding these birds, click here to learn more!)

The Seaside Sparrow is probably the most common of these sparrows.  It is a stocky,  short-tailed, large-billed sparrow with dark gray overall, a white throat and blurry gray streaks below. It has yellow lores (area between the base of the beak and the eye) on it’s face that are very distinctive. They like to run along the sand at the edge of the marsh grass to feed, like little mice.

The Saltmarsh Sparrow is solitary and secretive, but if you are lucky enough to see one, it’s a real treat. The Saltmarsh has an orange triangle on it’s face, a gray crown and dark streaks on the sides of it’s white breast.

The Nelson’s Sparrow also has a bright orange triangle on it’s face and breast. The orange on the breast goes down part way and ends abruptly at a well-defined white belly.   The crown is dark gray with a gray ear patch. It also feeds on the sand or climbing up into the grasses.

On Seabrook, I have mostly found the marsh sparrows in the back part of what used to be the old cut, in the grasses, at a higher tide. On a rising tide, they often pop up to the top of the grasses. The marsh sparrows feed mostly on the ground on insects, spiders, snails, seeds of grasses, and small marine invertebrates. They do this in the dense grass and at the edges of shallow pools.  During the Christmas Bird Count, we found over a dozen of them at Camp St Christopher, near Privateer Creek. The photos for this article were all taken on Seabrook Island by Ed. So keep your eyes out for these beautiful little sparrows. You need patience and your look may be brief, but well worth it!

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.