Protecting Seabrook Island’s Migrating Shorebirds

Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) hosted a program featuring Felicia Sanders from South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SC-DNR) on Wednesday evening June 28, for a group of 70 SIB members and guests.

Felicia Sanders, Shorebird Lead for SCDNR, holding a Red Knot she has banded.

Felicia captivated the audience as she narrated photos of the fabulous shorebirds that spend time on our beaches either in the winter (Piping Plovers, Semi-palmated Plovers, Sanderlings), spring nesting (Wilson’s Plovers), during migration (Red Knots, Dunlin, Whimbrel), and year round (American Oystercatchers, Willets). As an example, Red Knots, a Federally Threatened shorebird species, use our beach during spring migration as a stopping point on their 18,000 mile roundtrip journey from their winter home on the southern tip of South American to the Arctic Circle where they nest. This spring, the largest known flock with 4,000 Red Knots enjoyed our beautiful and bountiful beaches to rest and feed before their 3-day direct 1,400 mile flight to James Bay in Canada.  This is pretty amazing considering there are only an estimated 25,000 Red Knots remaining on the planet! Felicia emphasized the significance of our Seabrook flock, and the partnership with Seabrook Island Birders as we assisted SC DNR in April in tagging Red Knots and placing transmitters for important tracking on their journey. 

Felicia explained how we can all help in protecting the birds and other wildlife on our island and particularly the beaches! The sign below has been donated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife and was recently installed by SIPOA at the end of Boardwalk #1 on North Beach.  Human disturbance is one of the top threats to nesting, migrating, and wintering shorebirds. Please remember:

  • Let Birds Feed & Rest: Resting and feeding are key to the survival of migratory and wintering birds on our beaches. Give them plenty of space. If birds run or fly, you are too close!
  • New signs posted on North Beach protecting nesting areas of Least Terns and Wilson’s Plovers.

    Respect Posted Areas:  Keep out of posted areas. Disturbances to nesting birds can cause nests or entire colonies to fail. Never walk into the dune areas – Wilson’s Plovers are nesting on Seabrook Island in these areas!

  • Be a Bird Friendly Dog Owner:  Keep your dog on a leash when you see flocks of birds on the beach. Never allow your dog(s) or children to chase birds as it is extremely stressful to birds. And please abide by the “no dogs allowed” past the sign on North Beach. The Piping Plover winter migration will begin soon!

Please take time to learn and help educate your family, friends, and visitors to Seabrook Island on the importance of protecting and sharing our beach with our wildlife!

Share the Beach educational poster now located at the end of Boardwalk #1 on North Beach courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife and SCDNR