Shorebird research underscores importance of South Carolina beaches

This past spring, members of the Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) assisted the SC Department of Resources (DNR) to band the federally threatened Red Knots on Seabrook Island’s North Beach.  Felicia Sanders of SC DNR wrote to SIB, “Thanks for all the help with the Red Knot work. Please forward to others that I missed. Here is a press release about some of the findings. Thanks Ed Konrad for the photo! Felicia”

Here is an excerpt from the press release highlighting the importance of beaches like ours in South Carolina.

“Over the last few decades, red knots have declined by nearly 85%. This drastic decline led to the red knot receiving federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2015. Disturbance and food availability, especially during migration, are suspected reasons for the drop in numbers.

“Since 2010, SCDNR biologists have conducted research on red knots to understand the role that South Carolina plays in these birds’ journeys. Researchers and volunteers have captured hundreds of knots, measuring them them and placing field-readable engraved bands on their legs. These unique markers on each bird allow biologists to track individual birds if they are re-sighted anywhere in the hemisphere. Documenting how South Carolina’s resources are being utilized by red knots may help efforts to conserve this vulnerable species.”

This image, a collaborative effort between SCDNR, Ron Porter, Larry Niles, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, shows the one-year migration path of a red knot.
This image, a collaborative effort between SCDNR, Ron Porter, Larry Niles, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, shows the one-year migration path of a red knot. This bird was captured in South Carolina in 2016 on Deveaux Bank and a geolocator was affixed to its leg. During the life of its transmitter, the bird traveled 2x to its nesting grounds above the Arctic Circle and 2x to its wintering grounds in Tierra Del Fuego, Chile at the southern tip of South America. The bird was captured again in January 2018, and the geolocator was retrieved.

Remember: Our beaches are home for resident (including nesting) and migratory shorebirds.  Among them are endangered and threatened species such as Least Terns, Wilson’s Plovers, Piping Plovers and Red Knots. These birds do not read signs as far as we know, and thus may gather and feed outside protected habitat areas. Bird watching is great, but they need space. If they fly up, you are too close.

The brochure “Respect Seabrook Island Shorebirds and Habitat” is a recent joint venture of SIB, SIPOA, Town, SC DNR, and USFWS and is an excellent guide for those residents and visitors enjoying our beaches. Pick up a copy at the Lake House, Amenity Office, or SIPOA and Town offices.

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Author: sibirders

SEABROOK ISLAND BIRDERS / “watching, learning, protecting” Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) are residents, renters and guests of Seabrook Island, SC who have an interest in learning, protecting and providing for the well-being of the incredible variety of birds that inhabit Seabrook Island throughout the year.

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