Paid Position to Re-Sight Banded Red Knots (April-May)

Below is an email request from Felicia Sanders, SC DNR, on our interest in having someone on the beach this spring to look for and report banded Red Knots on Seabrook and Kiawah Islands, and do some stewardship on Red Knots while on beach. It’s a paid position, $10/hr for April through May. Interested people can either contact SIB or Felicia directly.

6Red Knots, North Beach, April 2016
Red Knots, North Beach, April 2016 – Ed Konrad

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received a small grant to help protect Red Knots. It may be too late to implement this spring but thought I would see if you know the perfect candidate. We have some money to hire someone to re-sight banded knots at Kiawah and Seabrook. They would also speak to the public about not disturbing the knots while they are on your beaches (a Red Knot steward). Please read the details below. If you know of someone that would be interested, please have them contact me asap. If we find someone, we will make certain they work with local people already on the beach re-sighting and working on shorebird conservation.

Thanks,

Felicia


SC Department of Natural Resources is seeking one field technician to assist in a re-sighting study of Red Knots in South Carolina. This is an incredible opportunity to study a species of high conservation concern on the beautiful barrier islands. Responsibilities include accurately re-sighting color bands and alpha-numeric flags of Red Knots, determining flock size of knots, some foraging observations, and data entry and proofing. This effort will primarily be on Kiawah and Seabrook Islands where thousands of Red Knots gather in the spring before they fly to Arctic nesting areas. Educating beach goers about shorebird conservation is also part of this job. This job can be full time, part time or even just on weekends. Employment ASAP (prefer April 1) to June 1, 2019.

Qualifications:

Applicants must be able and willing to spend long days in the field, often walking several miles along the beach, and spending many hours observing birds through spotting scopes. Applicants should be willing to learn about Red Knots and other shorebirds of the east and be excellent at speaking with the public. The candidate must be able to drive to Kiawah and Seabrook so a reliable car and location near Charleston is preferable.

Salary:

Salary will be $10/hour

How to Apply:

Send inquiries to Felicia Sanders SandersF@dnr.sc.gov.  Position will be filled as soon as a qualified applicant is found.

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Meet the Carolina Chickadee

The Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) is a common bird to our area, as well as a great portion of the Midwest down to south Texas and east to central Florida up to central New Jersey, and non-migratory so we see them year round. They are part of the perching songbird family called Paridae which consists of about 55 species that includes the Tufted Titmouse.

We have a fairly large number of Carolina Chickadees and they are easily recognizable. This small, acrobatic, social bird has a black crown, white cheeks, and black bib. Its back and tail are gray and it has a white belly with pinkish flanks. Male and females are almost identical so, for most observers, you would have to notice activities specific to the gender to tell them apart. Their “chickadee-dee-dee” alarm call is also very recognizable. The more “dees” at the end of this call determines the threat level. In fact, if you notice mobbing behavior with the scolding call from Chickadees, you might check to see if you have an owl, hawk, or snake nearby. The other familiar call of the Carolina Chickadee is the “fee-bee fee-bay” call of a male looking for his life-mate. 

It’s hard to imagine such a tiny bird being able to survive the cold temperatures in some areas that it winters. When he perches, the Chickadee will fluff up its feathers with air to form insulation to keep its body warm. These birds are also capable of lowering their body temperature to stay in a state of hypothermia to conserve energy. On cold nights Chickadees, perhaps along with other birds like the Tufted Titmouse, will find cavities in trees or snags or empty birdhouses to huddle together in for warmth. You may notice a Chickadee with a bent tail at your feeder in the early winter morning from being wedged in a small space with other birds the previous night. The tail will eventually go back in place. Most importantly the Carolina Chickadee has a high metabolism and depends on finding food in the winter to burn for energy to produce heat. The sunflower seeds and suet at backyard feeders in the winter is so important as a winter food source for Chickadees and other small birds. Chickadees are the nucleus of mixed winter flocks that bring a variety of birds to your feeders including the Tufted Titmouse, Kinglets, Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, and Warblers. 

The Carolina Chickadee will not eat the the seed while sitting on your feeder. It will take a seed and fly up to a branch to peck open the shell. The Chickadee is also a hoarder. It caches shelled seeds, berries, and mealworms short term for an easy snack. In addition, during the fall it will cache seeds in hundreds of places in preparation for winter. Chickadees have keen spatial memory for locating these stashed foods. In fact the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls long term and spatial memory, of a Chickadee actually enlarges during the fall and winter when he or she needs to locate this stashed food and it reduces in size when the weather warms and the cached food is no longer needed. 

In the summer Chickadees become insect feeders. The extra protein from caterpillars, insects, and insect larvae is needed for nesting. Chickadees are cavity nesters. The female chooses a small natural cavity, abandoned Downy Woodpecker cavity, or will, with the male’s help, excavate a new cavity in a dead snag or rotten branch. She might also use a nest box. The female builds a beautiful nest using green moss and some coarser materials, but then fashions a depression and lines it with soft materials like fur, hair, and soft plant fibers. The clutch is 3 to 13 very small white eggs with fine brown dots. The female stays on the eggs the entire incubation period of 12 to 13 days while the male brings her food. Interestingly, the female will hiss and bang her head on the nest and cavity sides to scare away would-be predators. Once the chicks hatch, both parents feed the hatchlings. The chicks leave the nest 16 to 20 days after they hatch and the parents continue to feed them for up to a week after they leave the nest. 

Because of banding, it is known that Carolina Chickadees can live up to 12 years. They are monogamous and the male and female remain together through numerous mating seasons. Also, Carolina Chickadees are so similar to Black-capped Chickadees that even they can’t tell each other apart. As a result, there is some hybridization of the species. 

Although numerous and frequent visitors to your bird feeders, the Carolina Chickadees are beautiful and amazing small creatures that are far from common and uninteresting. 

Prothonotary Warbler & Project PROTHO – SIB’s Evening Program on March 27, 2019

FINAL REMINDER!!!

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PowerPoint Presentation

Matt Johnson is the Director of Bird Conservation & Engagement for Audubon South Carolina. A native of South Carolina, Matt grew up in Columbia and attended Clemson University from 2003-2009. After receiving his graduate degree in Biological Sciences, Matt worked as a producer for the Emmy award-winning nature documentary entitled “Expeditions with Patrick McMillan.” In 2013, Matt left Clemson to begin working with Audubon as the Education Director at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. In 2017, he transitioned to his current position, where he works on a variety of engagement projects across the state to promote bird conservation.

SIB will provide beverages including wine and coffee.  We ask everyone to RSVP no later than March 25, 2019 so we will know how much wine to purchase and how many chairs to set up.

For only $10, you may join or renew your 2019 SIB membership the night of the event.

Don’t miss this chance to have another fun filled evening with our flock of Seabrook Island Birders!

Learn how to join SIB 

Contact us if you have questions:   SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com

Birding the Greenway on Bikes & on Crooked Oaks from a Golf Cart

On Saturday March 16, six SIB members met at sunrise (7:30am) to Bike the West Ashley Greenway! We spent less than an hour on our bikes while we traveled four miles in just three hours!  Our primary goal was not exercise but rather to enjoy the cool spring morning and observe and listen to the birds!  We saw or heard 52 species on our one-way trip before the group split with four returning to be sure to be on-time for the Chili Competition and the remaining two traveling another two miles down the path before returning.

On Monday March 18, 25 SIB members met to take the golf carts out on Crooked Oaks in search of birds.  With such a large number of participants, we split the group in half sending one group starting at hole 1 for a three-hour trip along all 18 holes, and the remaining starting on hole 18 for a two-hour tour and visiting only 9 holes.

One group recorded 43 Species and highlights included a pair of Red-tailed Hawks mating and a Yellow-throated Warbler possibly nesting.  For the other group, there were a total of 41 species with highlights including viewing both the Blue-headed Vireo and the Northern Parula. In total, 50 unique species were seen during the day. Both groups enjoyed a variety of birds at the feeders of Lesley & Tony Gore near the green of Hole 17.  (Click on the links above to see the detailed list of bird species seen by each group.)

Following the event, one of our SIB members wrote, “What a fabulous day yesterday! Probably one of the best I’ve participated in. The collection of ears and eyes coupled with collective knowledge made for a great learning experience. Love my SI Birders!”

We hope to see you on one of our future bird walks or our next evening program scheduled for Wednesday March 27th.

 

Join us for Backyard Birding this Saturday

Backyard Birding Photographers – Judy Morr

Saturday , March 23rd at 8:00-10:00am – Bridle Trail Drive
Location: 4044 Bridle Trail Drive
Max: 12
Cost: None for 2019 members; $5 donation for guests

Come join us in Chuck and Bonnie’s backyard to view their bird feeders. Common species seen are Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Blue Jay, Red-winged Blackbird and Boat-tailed Grackles. Less common are House Finch, Painted Bunting, Wild Turkey, Vulture and various sparrows. They have occasionally seen Osprey and Pine Grosbeak.

As always, be sure to bring your water, binoculars, hats and sunscreen.

If you are not yet a 2019 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website. If you were a 2018 member but have yet to renew for 2019, you may renew following the instructions above or renew the day of the walk. Otherwise you may pay the $5 Guest Fee.

Please complete the information below to register no later than Wednesday March 20 at 10am. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Friday , March 22 .

To register click here.

Catching up on Low Country birding – Bear Island WMA and Santee Coastal Reserve

Bear Island WMA – Aija, Bob, Cherrie – Ed Konrad

Ed and I spent last week catching up on some Low Country birding. We decided to check out Bear Island WMA and by coincidence ran into three other SIB members, Bob and Eileen Mercer and Cherrie Sneed! It was a great day with Mary’s House Pond drained to the point where you could have walked across! (Please don’t try that…LOL!!!)

Bear Island WMA – Roseate Spoonbill – Ed Konrad

Highlights of the day were 32 Roseate Spoonbills, thousands of peeps that were dizzying to count, including Western and Least Sandpipers, a few rare Stilt Sandpipers, Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers, hundreds of Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitchers and a few Long-billed Dowitchers.

Over 175 American Avocets were on Mary’s House Pond, with some beginning to get breeding color. Throughout the WMA we spotted 100s of Snowy and Great Egrets, along with Tricolored and Little Blue Herons. The first Black-necked Stilts of the season also made an appearance.  A rare Common Goldeneye was swimming with several Buffleheads.  And of course lots of gators, even the gigantic “Brutus” we’ve spotted many times through the years.

But the best bird was a rare Trumpeter Swan, a SC life bird for me and I believe one of the first recorded sightings in SC. The swan was with 3 Tundra Swans, for great comparisons. It was darker, larger and bulkier, but still a difficult ID at considerable distance. Thankfully at least 4 birders took pictures for documentation and we waited patiently for the Ebird reviewers to approve it, which they did! It will now go to the SC record’s committee. The swan was not found in subsequent days, but people are still looking for it.

And on the photography side, Ed was in his glory patiently waiting for the Roseates to fly towards him in a channel with the sun to his back. He says the Roseate photo with wings spread is one of his best ever shots! Species counts were in the high 80’s for all of us!  A great day at an always wonderful place.

A few days later we ventured north of Charleston to Santee Coastal Reserve.  Our goals were the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker and the elusive Bachman’s Sparrow. We had to settle for a very fleeting “now you see it, now you don’t”  look at the sparrow, but Ed finally got a “lifer” picture of the Red-cockaded. Both birds only inhabit very specific areas in SC and often are in the same habitat of open pine forest, with an open, park-like understory of grasses and a few dense shrubs.

Red-headed Woodpeckers were also active on this beautiful day, and Yellow-throated Warblers singing everywhere! Near the maintenance area, the Purple Martins were very active in their gourd nests.

Two great places with many great birds!

Article by Aija Konrad, photos by Ed Konrad