Ask SIB … American Robins

Once again, this winter there is a lot of discussion about American Robins.  Below is a series of Q&A’s to share with all our readers.

American Robin – Ed Konrad

Question:  We’ve seen a flock of American Robins in the edge of scrub on the north side of Jenkins Point Road. Isn’t it early for them to be coming thru? We usually don’t see them until late February. (Submitted by: Andy Allen) Continue reading “Ask SIB … American Robins”

Ask SIB – Why are there so many Killdeer this winter?

Killdeer – Ed Konrad


A few of us have noticed numerous active Killdeer across the island. In fields, on the golf courses and along the side of the road. We don’t remember seeing so many in past years. Any explanation? 

Answer from Judy Morr & David Gardiner:

Killdeer Frequency in Charleston County 2016-2018. Data source:

As we were doing the Audubon Christmas Bird count last week, we commented there were more Killdeer than usual.  Using the Abundance chart in eBird (rather than frequency) it appears the Killdeer are here a little earlier than usual.

I don’t have definitive explanations of why there seem to be so many, but just like the American Woodcock coastal migration during freezes, I suspect the Killdeer are seeking more thawed ground when they first arrived during the deep freeze we had, and then chose to stay around.

Even though we had a deep freeze, the coastal islands typically will stay above freezing for longer than inland, due to the ocean and even then the salt in the air helps keep ground from freezing when it does dip below 32 degrees. This is only conjecture, not based on documentation.

To learn more about the Killdeer, read the blog we wrote a year ago.

It was a cold and windy morning …

I believe Snoopy (apologies to Charles Shultz) would likely start this story “It was a cold and windy morning.”

It was indeed a cold — 28 degrees — and windy morning when we ventured outside to join David Gardner on a Learning Together birding walk. The initial site was the Island’s gardens and maintenance areas. Ten had signed up to accompany David; six showed up; and four finished.  Fortunately we enjoyed bright sunshine and much of the time we were sheltered from the chilly wind.  

Continue reading “It was a cold and windy morning …”

SIB Wants Your Feedback!

The Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) is entering its third year of operation. The group’s mission is “watching, learning and protecting” the incredible variety of birds that inhabit SI throughout the year.  Your responses to the survey below will help us better serve you in fulfilling this mission.  The questions will help determine what programs and activities SI residents would like to see made available in the future.

PLEASE complete the SURVEY now!

Thank you!

SIB Executive Committee

Presentation on the Risks of Offshore Oil Drilling

SIB Members – although you may have seen this announcement from other sources, we wanted to be sure our members had a chance to see and attend this important forum.

It was announced on January 4, 2018, that the Federal Government will open nearly all of America’s offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, despite concerns of the Pentagon and coastal communities such as ours. Peg Howell will address this important issue to our community.

Peg Howel

Ms. Howell is a petroleum engineer, former oil rig supervisor, and now a leader in the Lowcountry’s opposition to oil drilling off our coast. She will provide a presentation at the Lake House about why coastal communities are once again fighting to protect our harbors, beaches, and marine waters from big oil.

DATE: Tuesday, January 30, 2018
TIME: 4:00 pm
PLACE: Seabrook Island Lake House – Live Oak Hall

To register for the event, click here.

For more information contact:

Plan to join us, and bring a friend! Everyone is welcome.

-Submitted by Marg Wildermann 

Impromptu Backyard Birding at Boat Ramp

Melanie Jerome used the Seabrook Island Birders group mailing list to announce an impromptu Backyard Birding at her home next to the boat ramp.  You can subscribe to SIB’s Google Group Emails to hear about impromptu bird walks, bird sightings on Seabrook or to ask a question to a wider group – click here and then click on “Subscribe to this group”.

It was a brisk 33 degrees when we began birding at 7:30am. Nine enthusiastic birders had responded to Melanie’s invitation.  It was an enjoyable morning of birding with 29 species being seen.  Three photographers were available to capture the moment and the birds.

We were greeted by one of our many visiting Killdeer.  From the Jerome’s deck, the group had good views of numerous Yellow-rumped Warblers (Myrtle Warblers) and identified a Pine Warbler and a Palm Warbler.  A Downy Woodpecker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Hooded Merganser were also among the birds seen.  As we walked down to the boat ramp for a different view, the row of coffee mugs told another part of the story.

From the boat ramp, we saw a Tricolor Heron at the bend of the creek.  Soon a Little Blue Heron flew in to join it.  The Snowy Egret joined the party to make a trifecta.  About that time, a river otter was seen swimming down the creek.  Not a bird but still a fun sighting.

Bluebird on scope – Marie Wardell

Since we had abandoned the deck, an Eastern Bluebird came to investigate that area.

Bluebird on Coffee Mug – Dean Morr

It perched on the scope, a coffee mug and the umbrella as it made it’s way to check out the bluebird house he may consider home in a couple months.

Coopers Hawk – Marie Wardell

From the boat ramp, a pair of Coopers Hawks flew overhead as did four Red-breasted Merganser, and a Fish Crow.  In the trees over the Creekwatch Pool, American Robins and Cedar Waxwings were seen flying in flocks.

Four Year Old Eagle – Charley Moore


When the Bald Eagle flew over, Bob Mercer was able to educate us that he knew it was a fourth year “immature”.  He knew this because the head and tail had started to turn white but it had not yet reached the coloration of a mature Bald Eagle.

The combination of a variety of good birds and the companionship of other birders made a good morning gathering.  Thanks Rob and Melanie for hosting us.

Hooded Merganser 1
Red-breasted Merganser 4
Double-crested Cormorant 4
Brown Pelican 2
Great Blue Heron 2
Snowy Egret 3
Little Blue Heron 1
Tricolored Heron 2
Turkey Vulture 2
Cooper’s Hawk 2
Bald Eagle 1
Killdeer 2
Forster’s Tern 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 6
Fish Crow 1
Carolina Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Eastern Bluebird 12
American Robin 65
Northern Mockingbird 6
Cedar Waxwing 30
Palm Warbler 1
Pine Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 20
Northern Cardinal 1
House Finch 2

Submitted by: Judy Morr

SIB Member Profile – Donna & Jim Lawrence

Donna & Jim Lawrence

Jim and Donna Lawrence, natives of New Jersey, made Seabrook Island their home five years ago for two reasons:  the beaches and the wildlife.  They are neither golfers or tennis players.  He had enjoyed sailing and is a licensed Bareboat Captain.  From childhood, each had spent plenty of time on the Jersey beaches.

Donna attended Boston University, but graduated from Stockton University with a degree in Literature/Language. For the greater part, she made a career as a volunteer for various organizations as well as raising one son. A major segment of her volunteer time was with the League of Women Voters where she produced publications, prepared grant requests, and served on County and State Boards of Directors.

Jim, who graduated from Boston College, also received an ROTC commission in the U. S. Army. Given an opportunity to select his preferred assignment station, in exchange for an additional year of active duty, he agreed and chose Germany. (Better than Asia.) This required another decision. As Donna put it: “We had to get married.” As he soldiered, she worked within the schools, including some teaching.

After service time, they returned to New Jersey where Jim had a long career in communications with various of the changing units of AT&T as that organization reacted to government actions and the changing telephone business — and this was before cells.

As a kid, Jim’s family adventures to the Jersey beaches put him in touch with shore birds, but they were not a serious interest.  All shore birds were called sandpipers without any further definition.  As adults, they expanded on his birding experience.  Several vacations were also enjoyed on Seabrook Island starting about 1995.

Following Jim’s retirement, Seabrook was chosen as their new home (goodbye snow) and they moved here in 2012. The residence they selected on Wood Duck Place backs to the estuary which then extends to the egret rookery on Ocean Winds #4. With the water, extensive trees and shrubs, and their multipart bird feeders — seeds, suet, jelly, and hummer nectar — a wide variety of birds are attracted.  From Hooded Merganser to Pileated Woodpecker (see Jim’s great photo) to White-throated Sparrow. Fantastic backyard!

Pileated Woodpecker outside the Lawrence’s home.

He got immersed in Exchange Club, Vets on Deck, and SINGH in their new environment. Her LWV duties continued after their move, but as they wound down the two of them got involved with Turtle Patrol.  In spite of all they were doing, neither could resist the opportunity to be in on the ground floor of a new proposed birding group. Donna, in particular, became part of a nine person committee which created Seabrook Island Birders in November 2015. She took on the duties of Hospitality.  This involved the refreshment table at periodic member’s meetings as well as assuring SIB participation in various Island events such as SIPOA/Club annual meetings, 4th of July parade, Earth Day, etc.  All with Jim as her #1 aide.

By the way, their picture, taken in front of the beautiful 2017 Christmas tree, includes a special ornament.  Approximately on a level between their lips, hangs a Wood Duck.

Submitted by George Haskins