Aija & Ed’s Bird Sightings on North Beach last Friday

American Oystercatchers on North Beach - Ed Konrad
American Oystercatchers on North Beach – Ed Konrad

Date & Time of Sighting: Friday February 24, 2017, 6:30am to Noon

Location of Sighting: Seabrook Island North Beach

Name of Bird Species: Red Knot, American Oystercatcher, Merlin, Marbled Godwit, Black-bellied Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstone, Red’breasted Merganser, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup

Number of Birds Sighted: 300 Red Knot, 83 American Oystercatcher, 1 Merlin, 5 Marbled Godwit

Comments: Sometimes you just get a magical morning birding at North Beach! Ed and I went out before sunrise, and started our checklist in the parking lot at 6:38 on a cloudless morning. High tide had been at about 6:15, so we had the benefit of a falling tide, with birds pushed up close to shore. This is our favorite tide to bird on.

Our first surprise was 53 American Oystercatcher down past the “No dogs allowed” sign. This is one of the biggest groups we have had on Seabrook, and Ed shot pictures with the rising sun in the background. The oystercatchers flew to the Kiawah side where they joined up with more oystercatchers for a grand total of 83!!! Wow! On the Beachwalker side we could also see numerous Forster’s Terns, Red Knots, gulls, Dunlin, and one Great Black-backed Gull in our scope.

As we continued down the beach we found a beautiful Merlin perched on the dead bush that has washed up on our beach. He’s our middle-sized falcon, between the American Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon. A real treat to see him on our beach, and he posed for great pictures in the early morning light. Soon after we found 5 Marbled Godwits on the inlet, along with 12 Black-bellied Plovers and an assortment of Short-billed Dowitchers, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstones, and a few Red Knots. The usual contingent of Buffleheads, Lesser Scaup and Red-breasted Mergansers bobbed in the inlet.

Soon the Red Knots on Beachwalker began to fly to Seabrook, and we reached a grand total of almost 300! We photographed a few with flags and also one with a transmitter to track it’s journey. It is so exciting to see the knots gracing us with their presence already.

The Red Knots migrate over 9,000 miles, one of the longest migrations for any bird, from the tip of southern South American to the Arctic tundra to breed. We are an important stop along the way for them to feed. Their numbers will build to several thousand on our beach, during March and April, truly a spectacular sight! If you see them, respect their space and walk around them.

A great morning on out beautiful island.

Article by Aija Konrad, photos by Ed Konrad

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Killdeer

Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Length:  10.5″; Wingspan: 24″; Weight: 3.3 oz.

Killdeer Chick - Ed Konrad
Killdeer Chick – Ed Konrad

I was birding at a horse pasture and was amazed to discover birds I had been searching for at the shore. They were Killdeer. I discovered that the Killdeer are the least water dependent of all shorebirds and can often be seen in farm fields where they can easily find insects. Killdeer also eat snails, crayfish, grasshoppers, beetles and worms.

Killdeer in a field - Ed Konrad
Killdeer in a field – Ed Konrad

The Killdeer is easy to recognize with their double black neckband (that look like necklaces), rusty rump and white belly. It has a slim shape with long wing and tail feathers. It also has a bright red eye ring and thin beak.

The Killdeer’s nest is a scrape or bare depression in the ground. It may add rocks, shells and other materials to the nest. To protect their nests the Killdeer will fly a short distance away and appear to have a broken wing, luring the threat away.  Most noticeable among the Killdeer’s many calls is the high, plaintive kill-deer the bird is named for.

When searching for a bird, go to the food source. In the case of the Killdeer, you can find it on the shore, a parking lot, or most often a field with plenty of insects.

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

Article submitted by:  Lydia McDonald
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???

Who am I?

I exhibit a clever “broken wing display” in which I appear to be struggling with a broken wing while leading predators away from my nest.

Who am I?

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

 

Seabrook Island Birders participate in Audubon’s Great Backyard Bird Count

SIB Members enjoying a bird walk on North Beach during the GBBC - Ed Konrad
SIB Members enjoying a bird walk on North Beach during the GBBC – Ed Konrad

Seabrook Island Birders participated in the nationwide Audubon’s Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) on February 17th through the 20th. In addition to members reporting their sightings in their own backyard, 36 individuals also joined at least one of the five bird walks scheduled on Sunday February 19 and Monday February 20 at various venues around Seabrook Island.

Seabrook Island GBBC 2017 Summary
Seabrook Island GBBC 2017 Summary

Sunday morning started at 8:30 am with the group car pooling along Jenkins Point to check out various lagoons and vistas. Among the 28 species seen, the group enjoyed watching a Yellow-throated Warbler have breakfast on a pine cone.

The next walk was at Palmetto Lake and the Lake House. An Osprey crossed overhead multiple times to allow good views of banking and turning. Nineteen (primarily juvenile) White Ibis also flew overhead. Two Black-crowned Night-Herons and a Green Heron were near the water to provide a better view as were the Pied-billed Grebes and Double-crested Cormorant. Not to be outdone by their feathered friends, two alligators posed intertwined on the platform with five yellow bellied sliders basking on the alligators’ backs in the sun.

After a brief break, the third walk was along North Beach. Not surprising, a different variety of birds was seen on this walk. It would be hard to pick a highlight of this walk but the Northern Gannet in the distance as well as closer views of Horned Grebe, Dunlin and 42 Lessor Scaup were all crowd pleasers. Of course seeing banded Piping Plover and American Oystercatchers were also winners.

Sunday ended with a walk starting at the Equestrian Center and proceeding to the Garden and Maintenance Area. Eastern Bluebirds abound but bigger birds stole the show. Twenty-six (26) Wild Turkeys were gathered in one of the pastures. A Red-shouldered Hawk flew overhead then posed in a tree for pictures. As the group was leaving the Equestrian Center, a screech alerted of more activity and a picture of a pair of hawks mating was able to be captured. Continuing the big bird theme, a view into the holding pond past the maintenance area resulted in not only 25 Bufflehead but a rarer Common Goldeneye.

Monday ended the fabulous weekend with a “walk” in golf carts along the paths of Crooked Oaks Golf Course, closed to golfing for the day for maintenance. The 19 participants split in to two groups for a friendly competition regarding who could find the most species. One group started at 18 and went backwards on the course while another started at one. Sightings were shared when the groups met at the Bald Eagle’s nest on the hole #3. Unfortunately the Bald Eagle was not visible at that time but when one of the groups returned later, a mature eagle was watching over from above. A weekend high of 38 species was seen that morning with favorites that included the Wood Stork who appeared to be guarding over a 7 foot alligator along with the eagle mentioned above and an Eastern Towhee ground feeding near a feeder on the 17th hole.

Each walk saw American Crows (no surprise) and Yellow-rumped warblers with most walks reporting Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice. The total number of each species by walk is shown below. A great weekend of contributing to citizen science and the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Article Submitted by:  Judy Morr
Photographs Submitted by:  Valerie Doane, Ed Konrad, Charles Moore & Dean Morr

Species Jenkins Point Palmetto Lake North Beach Equestrian Crooked Oaks Judy Crooked Oaks Nancy Grand Total
American Crow 4 3 3 6 6 8 30
American Goldfinch 2 2
American Kestrel 1 2 3
American Oystercatcher 2 2
American Robin 2 2 8 12
Anhinga 1 1 2
Bald Eagle 1 1 1 3 6
Belted Kingfisher 1 1
Black Vulture 4 4 8
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2 2
Blue Jay 9 6 3 2 20
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1 1
Boat-tailed Grackle 5 5
Brown Pelican 1 15 16
Bufflehead 1 15 25 41
Carolina Chickadee 7 8 5 12 15 47
Carolina Wren 2 2 2 6 12
Cedar Waxwing 20 3 23
Common Grackle 1 2 3
Common Loon 1 1
Double-crested Cormorant 4 1 6 6 17
Downy Woodpecker 1 2 3
Dunlin 35 35
Eastern Bluebird 3 3 25 15 15 61
Eastern Phoebe 1 2 3
Eastern Towhee 1 1
Fish Crow 5 3 5 13
Forster’s Tern 8 8
Great Blue Heron 1 1 2
Great Egret 12 1 1 1 1 16
Green Heron 1 1
Hooded Merganser 4 4
Horned Grebe 3 3
House Finch 5 7 6 6 24
House Sparrow 1 1
Laughing Gull 2 2
Lesser Scaup 42 42
Little Blue Heron 2 2
Mourning Dove 1 7 3 11
Northern Cardinal 2 2 1 3 4 12
Northern Flicker 2 2 4
Northern Gannet 10 10
Northern Harrier 1 1
Northern Mockingbird 3 2 1 1 7
Osprey 1 3 4
Pied-billed Grebe 2 2 1 5
Pine Warbler 4 1 3 3 11
Piping Plover 2 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 3 6 4 14
Red-breasted Merganser 2 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1 2 4
Red-throated Loon 2 2
Red-winged Blackbird 30 3 5 38
Ring-billed Gull 12 12
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 3 2 6
Snowy Egret 7 7
Tricolored Heron 4 1 5
Tufted Titmouse 6 3 12 11 32
Turkey Vulture 3 3 3 1 10
White Ibis 19 19
Wood Stork 2 1 3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 3 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler 15 10 5 15 6 8 59
Yellow-throated Warbler 1 2 4 7
Chipping Sparrow 3 3
Common Goldeneye 1 1
European Starling 15 15
Palm Warbler 3 3
Red-shouldered Hawk 2 1 3
Song Sparrow 1 1
Swamp Sparrow 1 1
White-throated Sparrow 1 1
Wild Turkey 26 26
Grand Total 131 94 196 162 127 111 821
Number of species 28 28 27 25 32 23 74

 

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
Length:  6.5″;  Wingspan:  9.75″;  Weight:  0.75 oz.

Aside from the Carolina Chickadee, this is probably the most likely visitor to a backyard feeder on Seabrook Island. It is silvery gray with a soft-colored orange just below its wing. It is a small bird but appears considerably bigger than a chickadee when they are next to one another, which they often are. Its crest is a good field mark.

During the summer months, titmice feed on insects but in the winter, they are particularly fond of sunflower seeds, and the bigger the better. If you have a feeder in your yard, you can watch as the titmouse picks out a large seed, holds it between its feet and pecks on it vigorously until the seed cracks open to release the tender heart inside. They are quite brave and will come to a feeder that is placed on a window providing a wonderful view for the homeowner.

The titmouse has a big sound for such a small bird. His main song sounds as though he is calling in a two-note descending minor third (for you musical folks) which is repeated usually three to four times: Peter Peter Peter. It’s a full, rich sound and quite distinguishable once you are familiar with it.

As the map below indicates, the Tufted Titmouse is here all year long. They build their nests in pre-existing tree cavities or sometimes in a bluebird box. They are quite territorial such that, even when breeding is finished, the male and female remain together and do not join with others as the chickadees do.

Tufted Titmouse pair nesting in a tree cavity.
Tufted Titmouse pair nesting in a tree cavity.

Watch for these little guys. They are not the biggest or the brightest (color, that is) but they grow on you! View this short video from Cornell Lab of Ornithology to see the Tufted Titmouse.

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

Article submitted by:  Marcia Hider
Photographs provided by: Ed Konrad and 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???

A common year round resident of Seabrook Island, I even enjoy eating from your feeders! Don’t guess too quickly, I am only 6 ½ inches long.

Who am I?

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

 

Free Season of FeederWatch When You Join Now

Do you have bird feeders and enjoy watching the birds? We want to let you know about an opportunity to try the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Project FeederWatch this year and receive the 2017-2018 FeederWatch season for FREE.  SIB would love to hear about your experience if you join – please let us know!

Also, watch for information about a new SIB program we plan to introduce to all Seabrook Island residents later this month.  The SIB Ambassador Program will offer assistance in identifying birds you see from your home!

Baltimore Oriole taken at the feeders of Jim & Donna Lawrence by Charles Moore
Baltimore Oriole taken at the feeders of Jim & Donna Lawrence by Charles Moore

Join Project FeederWatch by February 28 and receive next season free!

There is no easier way to connect with nature and contribute to science than by participating in Project Feederwatch. Even though the season is underway, every count matters, so there is plenty of time to contribute. You can still count birds until April!

What is Project FeederWatch?

Project FeederWatch lets you become the biologist of your own backyard. You identify the birds at your feeders and submit your observations to the Cornell Lab. You can count every week between November—April, or you can count only once all season—the time you spend is up to you! Our easy online data entry lets you immediately see all of your counts and view colorful summaries and graphs. Anyone interested in birds can participate; you don’t have to be an expert. All you need is a comfortable chair, a window, and an interest in the birds in your neighborhood.

What do I get when I register?

Participants will receive:

  • FeederWatch Handbook & Instructions
  • Full-color poster of common feeder birds
  • Bird-Watching Days Calendar
  • Our annual report, Winter Bird Highlights
  • Digital access to Living Bird magazine
Receive all of this FREE for joining Project FeederWatch
Receive all of this FREE for joining Project FeederWatch

Special offer expires February 28!

Wild Birds Unlimited wants to offset your FeederWatch membership fee by offering you $15 off any $50 purchase at their participating stores.

You will receive details for how to redeem this discount in your FeederWatch registration receipt. This offer expires on February 28, 2017. Restrictions apply. We are thankful to Wild Birds Unlimited for providing this special offer just for FeederWatchers participating in our 30th year, so be sure to thank them for supporting us when you visit their stores.

feederwatch3

Sign up for $18 ($15 for current Lab members) today. Your participation fee keeps the project running; without it, Project FeederWatch wouldn’t be possible.

We hope you will tell us about the birds at your feeders! 

Emma Greig
Leader, Project FeederWatch

Join SIB for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

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Great Backyard Bird Count
Friday February 17 – Monday February 20 

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is an annual event sponsored by the National Audubon Society and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  It is free and allows birders of all levels to participate.  Learn more about the GBBC here, including results from the 2016 event, how to download helpful FREE apps like the Audubon’s Bird Guide, Lab of Ornithology’s Merlin to assist in identifying birds and eBird to track the birds you are seeing.  If you missed it, the Post & Courier published an article you can read here.

The Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) has scheduled a “Big Bird Day” to coincide with the GBBC and the Owners Weekend on Seabrook Island on Sunday, February 19. Please register for one or all of the Learning Together walks scheduled below to participate in the fun.

Sunday February 19, 2017
8:30 AM – 10:00 AM:

Learning Together at Jenkins Point
Meet at the Lake House and car pool to Jenkins Point to check out the birds that frequent the lagoons along the way.  This “walk” will be primarily by car with minimal walking.  Gearge Haskins will lead this walk.
Marcia Hider and Judy Morr will lead a walk around the Palmetto Lake.  The walk will begin at the Lake House parking lot and continue around the building then around the lake.  A good variety of birds will hopefully be spotted.
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM:
Learning Together at North Beach
Aija Konrad will lead the group on a walk to see the numerous shore birds.  The group will work together to identify those hard to distinquish plovers and sandpipers.  The walk is scheduled around the 2:19 high tide when the birds will be consolidated on a narrower beach.
Judy Morr will lead a group meeting at the Equestrian Center.  Starlings and Cowbirds plus numerous other birds can be expected.  A large number of birds will likely be seen near the parking area but then a walk along the horse trail to the maintenance area may be added to see a different variety of birds.
Monday February 20, 2017
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
:
Learning Together at the Golf Course

An additional Learning Together has been scheduled on Crooked Oaks when the course is closed.  Along the way we hope to see the fledging eaglets in their new nest.

Of course you can also participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count with your own observations from wherever you are on February 17 through 20.  So don’t miss the fun and help scientists learn more about birds!

February Bear Island Trip with David Gardner

Early morning birding at Bear Island.
Early morning birding at Bear Island.

The trip to Bear Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was scheduled for the first day the WMA reopened to the general public.  From October 31 through February 8, the WMA is closed except for registered duck hunters.  The group hoped to see the Tundra Swans plus numerous ducks before the ducks migrate out of the area.  We were not disappointed!

We woke early on February 9 to a thunderstorm rolling through the area but radar showed it would be a quick passing line of storms so the group met as scheduled.  While gathering in the real estate parking lot, Bob Mercer trained his scope on Jupiter where those present were able to see several moons of Jupiter in addition to the planet.  What a way to start the day.

bear-island-sib-1

Upon arrival at Bear Island, we started the day at Mary’s House Pond.  A great start for the day as 8 swans were seen plus an estimated 125 American Avocet.  Canada Geese, Green-winged Teal, Bonaparte’s Gull and a Belted Kingfisher were among the numerous birds seen.  The wind was blustering which made focusing the scopes a challenge but 69 species were identified while traversing between the various ponds at the WMA.  I never realized there were that many different species of ducks.  The wind kept the sighting of the typical songbirds at a minimum.  We left Bear Island without seeing (or hearing) a Carolina Chickadee or a Tufted Titmouse. Who would have thought!

American Avocet with Dunlin - Ed Konrad
American Avocet with Dunlin – Ed Konrad

The group proceeded to Donnelly WMA where different habitat may result in different sitings.  This proved true as the elusive Carolina Chickadee and Titmouse were easily seen.  Highlights of this tour included an armadillo but also Wilson Snipe and Ring-necked Duck.  In total, 59 species were seen at Donnelly WMA for a total of 81 species for the day.

The group returned to Seabrook vowing to return to both Bear Island and Donnelly Wildlife Management Areas again in the future.  The species list for each location is shown below.

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

Article Submitted by:  Judy Morr
Photos Submitted by:  Ed Konrad

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Bear Island
1 Canada Goose
19 Tundra Swan
220 Gadwall
3 American Wigeon
1 American Black Duck
2 Mallard
29 Blue-winged Teal
115 Northern Shoveler
265 Northern Pintail
189 Green-winged Teal
1 Bufflehead
3 Wild Turkey
23 Pied-billed Grebe
9 Double-crested Cormorant
5 Anhinga
13 American White Pelican
6 Great Blue Heron
14 Great Egret
10 Snowy Egret
7 Little Blue Heron
9 Tricolored Heron
1 Green Heron
23 Black-crowned Night-Heron
2 White Ibis
12 Glossy Ibis
14 Black Vulture
12 Turkey Vulture
2 Northern Harrier
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Bald Eagle
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Red-tailed Hawk
5 Common Gallinule
48 American Coot
180 American Avocet
10 Killdeer
19 Dunlin
14 Lesser Yellowlegs
6 Bonaparte’s Gull
5 Herring Gull
13 Caspian Tern
15 Forster’s Tern
2 Mourning Dove
1 Belted Kingfisher
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
1 American Kestrel
2 Eastern Phoebe
3 Blue Jay
15 American Crow
85 Tree Swallow
1 House Wren
2 Carolina Wren
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
22 Eastern Bluebird
2 Northern Mockingbird
6 European Starling
3 Palm Warbler
1 Pine Warbler
28 Yellow-rumped Warbler
3 Chipping Sparrow
2 Savannah Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
2 Eastern Towhee
1 Northern Cardinal
84 Red-winged Blackbird
8 Eastern Meadowlark
6 Boat-tailed Grackle

Donnelly
1 Wood Duck
6 American Wigeon
95 Blue-winged Teal
25 Northern Shoveler
16 Northern Pintail
55 Green-winged Teal
110 Ring-necked Duck
3 Wild Turkey
10 Pied-billed Grebe
2 Anhinga
3 Great Blue Heron
4 Great Egret
5 Snowy Egret
2 Little Blue Heron
2 Tricolored Heron
5 White Ibis
1 Glossy Ibis
4 Black Vulture
7 Turkey Vulture
1 Bald Eagle
2 Red-tailed Hawk
14 Common Gallinule
4 American Coot
45 Killdeer
15 Wilson’s Snipe
3 Mourning Dove
1 Belted Kingfisher
3 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
3 Downy Woodpecker
2 Northern Flicker
2 Pileated Woodpecker
4 Eastern Phoebe
3 Blue Jay
14 American Crow
300 Tree Swallow
4 Carolina Chickadee
2 Tufted Titmouse
4 Brown-headed Nuthatch
5 Carolina Wren
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
18 Eastern Bluebird
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Northern Mockingbird
1 Orange-crowned Warbler
10 Palm Warbler
6 Pine Warbler
30 Yellow-rumped Warbler
65 Chipping Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
2 Eastern Towhee
4 Northern Cardinal
32 Red-winged Blackbird
15 Brown-headed Cowbird

 

SIB “Bird of the Week” – House Finch vs. Purple Finch

Did you guess House Finch & Purple Finch???

House Finch
Carpodacus mexicanus
Length:  6″
Wingspan: 9.5″
Weight: 0.74 oz.

Purple Finch
Haemorhous purpureus
Length:  6″
Wingspan: 10″
Weight: 0.88 oz.

Surprisingly, the House Finch was originally confined to the west and known as a Linnet until being introduced as a caged bird in several pet stores in Long Island in the 1940s. Currently it is one of the most common birds in North America surpassing even the House Sparrow. Although originally indigenous to the deserts and plains of the west, they are now equally happy perched on your bird feeders or the railings on your back deck. The male has a brown cap and a bright red to orange under the beak and on the front of the head. The female is predominantly grayish brown with 2 narrow whitish buff bars on her wings. In the winter, the birds assume a more worn look with a strong muting of their distinctive colors.

The song of the male is longer than the female and has a varied high-pitched scratchy warble composed of chiefly three-note phrases, many ending with rising inflections.

House Finch love sunflower seeds, millet and thistle.

Similar to the House Finch is the Purple Finch. They belong to the same family Fringillidae but the species name is  Haemorhous purpureus. They are about the same size as the House Finch but are migratory and can be found in our area only in the winters at our bird feeders. They are chunkier than the House Finch and are (like their name) predominantly purple. The females on the other hand are more brownish gray than the female House Finch and have a whitish eye line.

The Purple Finch is the bird that Roger Tory Peterson famously described as a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” Aija Konrad says that the Purple Finch looks like it “fell into a glass of red wine”.  Which description do you relate to best?

The Purple Finch song sounds like this.

Click on the images below to learn more about the visual differences between these two species of finch and read all about them in the article on Audubon’s website.

HOUSE FINCH

PURPLE FINCH

To learn more about each of these birds, visit the sites below:

Article submitted by:  Ron Schildge
Photographs provided by:  Ed Konrad & Audubon

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.