We all find our path to birding in different ways…ours was through deer! Yes, deer! Ed and I were avid gardeners in Atlanta. On our 1-acre yard, we had extensive perennial gardens and were featured on Atlanta area garden tours. And then, when they cleared some land on a little mountain behind our neighborhood, deer came to our garden and that was the end of that! Shortly thereafter, a friend asked me to come on an Audubon walk and the rest is history. After talking to the walk leader about binoculars, I went from the walk to Wild Birds Unlimited, bought my first pair of real birding binoculars (Eagle Optics Ranger, 8X42, approx. $325) and never looked back. And soon after that, Ed began to tag along with me with his point and shoot camera. Soon he was hooked on bird photography, and graduated to bigger cameras and lenses. 10 years ago, we bought our villa at Seabrook and began our quest of shorebirds and seabirds.
If you haven’t already signed up, please register now to let us know you are planning to attend our program on Wednesday June 28th!
Everyone is Welcome to Meet
Shorebird Lead for SCDNR
to speak on
Migratory Shorebirds at Seabrook Island
Join us on
Date: Wednesday June 28, 2017
Registration & Social: 7:00 pm
Program Starts: 7:30 pm
Location: Live Oak Hall at the Lake House on Seabrook Island
Cost: Free for SIB Members & a $5 donation for non SIB members
Join us for an informative evening with Felicia Sanders, lead of the Shorebird Program at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), who will speak on Migratory Shorebirds at Seabrook Island.
To help us plan for the number of chairs, snacks and wine, please register now!
It is very exciting to see and identify a new bird. While walking along boardwalk 1 at North Beach on Seabrook Island in May, I heard a bird singing quite loudly. It sang; drink your teeaaa, along with a long trill at the end. I stood for a long time under the tree and finally I was rewarded with seeing a bird perched high in a tree. It had a black hood, reddish brown flanks , and white belly. It also had a white patch on its’ wing. I used a bird app and came up with a couple of possibilities. At first I thought it might be a Orchard Oriole. Then I listened to songs on the app of the oriole and knew that was incorrect. Finally, I identified it as an Eastern Towhee by matching the description and song on the app. The female is chocolate brown instead of black. I later found out that it was high in the tree singing in order to attract a female. The next week I saw it in the same area high in a tree singing. A week later I saw it again, this time on the ground under a bush. I discovered that Eastern Towhees eat insects and seeds from the ground. An interesting fact is that it scratches in leaf litter to find food while doing a type of backward hop. Additionally, they are a sparrow. Next time you hear a bird singing , be patient and keep looking and you just might be rewarded with a look at a bird; a most wonderful sight.
Article Submitted by: Lydia McDonald
Photographs by: Ed Konrad
My song varies, often with a few introductory notes and usually ending with a long trill, such as drink-your-teeaaa or to-wheeeee. What bird am I?
Leave us your answer in the comments and look for the article on Sunday.
I think he’ll be to Rome
As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it
By sovereignty of nature.
Coriolanus Act 4 Scene 5
The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is one of the most widely distributed birds in the world, found on all continents except Antarctica. Its breasts and belly are mostly white with some dark speckling; the female tends to have more of these darker feathers. The adult male is also slimmer and has narrower wings. White extends into the wings creating a mottled effect; the back is brownish black. The head has a distinctive white crest. Its face is bisected by a dark eye-stripe; and, check out those glowing yellow eyes checking you out. Its sharp hooked beak, while more slender than the eagle’s, gets the job done very well. When aloft the wings appear fairly white from below and are relatively long (50-71inches) with a bent wrist. Wing beats are slow and heavy, interspersed with glides giving the flight pattern an identifiable bounce.
Where the Osprey really shows its individuality are its uniquely adapted talons. The foot pad is rough and the toes can be held with three forward and one back or with two forward and two back. No other raptor has these characteristics which enable the osprey to catch and hold onto the slippery fish that are its main diet. Also aiding food sourcing are long legs, closable nostrils that keep out water during dives and dense, oily plumage to repel water.
The Osprey’s habitat is near bodies of water such as rivers, estuaries, salt marshes, and lakes where it can find fish in the 5-16 inch range. Prey is sighted about 30-130 feet above water. It hovers over its target and then plunges feet first capturing its fish. It has a good success record– usually scoring one in four attempts. The fish is held head first for the ride home (better aerodynamics!). Osprey will eat small mammals, reptiles and carcasses if no fish are available.
Osprey form pair bonds, usually mating for life. The male performs a vigorous sky dance as part of the mating ritual and then provides most of the heavy nest material—branches, twigs, sticks. The nest is lined with smaller twigs, bark, moss and grasses with the female putting in the finishing touches and rearranging things. Pairs use the same nest year after year, adding new material each year. Nests have been known to grow to seven feet wide and five feet deep and be used for as many as seventy years.
Typically, there are three eggs with both members of the clutch incubating the eggs for 38-43 days. They hatch over a period of days, establishing a pecking order that kicks in when food is scarce. The female stays with the hatchlings; the male brings home the ‘menhaden’ until the chicks can be left alone. Some studies report fledging time 44-59 days, others 8-10 weeks. In North America, great horned owls, bald eagles, and golden eagles are the only predators of osprey and their eggs where nests are built safely in tall trees or man-made platforms. Life span is typically 7-10 years, but some can survive for 20 years or more.
The formidable appearing Osprey has a high-pitched voice with a chirping song that can rise in intensity when threatened.
Osprey numbers were perilously low in the 1950-60’s due to shell-thinning and poisoning from pesticides. After DTT was banned in 1972, the population has continued to increase, especially throughout the eastern U.S. The proliferation of artificial nesting sites has also helped their comeback.
A majority of North American Osprey winter south of the U.S border, but here in the Carolina Lowlands we often see them all year. A pair has taken up residence near the green of Hole 3 on Ocean Winds, and nesting pair on Mallard Lake and another has been nesting on the vacant corner lot at SIR and The Haulover. The latter two often bring their sushi to the pine trees in our yard. Let us know if you have seen any other Osprey nests on Seabrook Island!
Article Submitted by: Donna Lawrence
Photographs by: Ed Konrad & Charles Moore
Guess who’s coming to dinner…?
This bird is bringing takeout in its distinctively adapted talons. It’s often seen around Seabrook on lofty perches enjoying a solitary feast.
Make a guess by posting on the comments and watch for our Bird of the Week article on Sunday!
Name of Bird Species: Great Egret, Snowy Egret, and Green Heron nests with chicks
Number of Birds Sighted: Estimate adults and chicks on/near nests:
36 Great Egret
32 Snowy Egret
12 Green Heron
Date & Time of Sighting: June 9, 2017, 10:00 – 10:45am
Location of Sighting: Jenkins Point: 1st pond to left as enter on Jenkins Point Road, and Old Wharf Road
At first pond to left as enter on Jenkins Point: 5 Great Egret and 3 Snowy Egret nests with chicks. Also spotted juvenile Green Heron so must be nest there too.
On Old Wharf Road: 4 Great Egret and 5 Snowy Egret nests with chicks, all visible from road. Also in tree, just to left of this pond near road, spotted a Green Heron nest with 3 chicks, and at least 12 total Green Herons including 9 juveniles/chicks. Be careful of the baby alligators sunning near this tree, and their big mama keeping a close watch. Adult gator eyed-balled us as she swam by, and later gave a very loud bellow from back of pond that seemed to denote her displeasure with us in this area.
Great photo opportunities of chicks and adults in action!
Article Submitted by Aija Konrad, Photos by Ed Konrad