Bird and Birding Books for Children

As parents raising children on Seabrook Island or grandparents whose grandchildren visit here often, you hopefully use our environment to spark an interest in nature. And, because we have access to the ocean, marsh, fresh water ponds, and woods our island is the perfect place to introduce your young ones to bird watching. 

To enhance this experience, there are many wonderful books about birds and birding for children of all ages that you might like to have on hand at your Seabrook Island home or send as gifts. To get you started SIB has a few recommendations. 

Little Book of Backyard Bird Songs by Andrea Pennington – This interactive book features recordings of twelve bird songs of some of the best known backyard birds across North America.  The board pages are easy to turn and the song buttons are easy to activate. There is a beautiful drawing and basic details for each bird. Even though this is a board book, it would be interesting for children of all ages. 

Noisy Bird Sing-Along by John Himmelman – This is a book similar to the above, but one that uses mnemonics instead of recordings of bird songs. A great book for preschoolers through age 8 or 9 and some adults like me who use mnemonics to remember bird sounds. The birds featured are found in many backyards and even though some of the birds are specific to either the east or west coast, there are birds found in other regions that are comparable. The illustrations of the birds and something from their environment are accurate and delightful. 

Birds, Nests & Eggs by Mel Boring – This is a fun, informative take-along guide that will help children from around the ages of 5 to 10 to locate and identify 15 birds. There are also activities that will enhance learning about birds and their habitats. This is a great steppingstone to the more advanced bird guides. 

National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America by Jonathan Alderfer – This is a more advanced bird guide than the previous book and, paired with a pair of binoculars, would be a wonderful gift for children age 8 and up. This book not only features detailed drawings by a top avian artist, Jonathan Alderfer, but also descriptions, fun facts, activities, and range maps. The guide includes comprehensive details of 50 of North America’s most popular birds as well as mini profiles of another 100 birds. This is a book that a child could take everywhere he or she goes.

The Big Book of Birds by Yuval Zommer – This large sized book features lots of beautiful and quirky illustrations and cool facts. The author and illustrator features flamboyant and whacky birds of the sky instead of the more common backyard birds. The large beautiful illustrations should hold the attention of children of all ages. This book also encourages young bird watchers to protect birds and to make their yards bird friendly. Also, check out one of his other books; The Big Book of Bugs! This book is equally, if not even more, impressive. 

This is just a sampling of all the amazing books about nature available for children. You can also visit the Charleston County Public Library on Johns Island to load up on lots of books about birds and nature in preparation for their visit. And, after introducing your children and grandchildren to the wonderful world of birds you all can then join the Seabrook Island Birders on one of our birding activities to put their new skills into practice. Check out all our fun activities at seabrookislandbirders.org.

Article Submitted by Joleen Ardaiolo

SIB Christmas Backyard Birding at the Boat Ramp

Join SIB members near the home of Melanie and Robert Jerome at the boat ramp on Creek Watch Trace on Seabrook Island on Sunday, December 22nd at 7:00-9:00am. Yes, we are starting that early. You will have views of the marsh and river, with many shore birds. Spotted Sandpipers, Egrets, Herons, marsh wrens, and many songbirds. There is a lot to see at the SIPOA boat ramp and crab dock. It will be mid-tide in the morning, which is prime time for the dolphin sitings . The marsh by the fire station may have some additional birds. There will be seats available to sit and bird or a group can go walking.

Bring binoculars and bug spray.

This event is free for SIB members. If you are not yet a 2019 SIB member, you must first become a member by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/.

Once you are a member, please complete the information below to register no later than Dec 20th. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Saturday, Dec 21st.

Winter Birding on Crooked Oaks

Monday December 2, was a beautiful, yet chilly day out on Crooked Oaks Golf Course on Seabrook Island, SC. Fifteen members drove in golf carts for the 18 holes of the course for our “birding together”, including two new members! We had some great sightings!  Enjoy the photos taken by Jackie Brooks and you can see the counts for each of the 26 species below.

1 Hooded Merganser
3 Laughing Gull
1 Wood Stork
3 Anhinga
9 Double-crested Cormorant
4 Great Blue Heron
2 Great Egret
5 Black Vulture
3 Turkey Vulture
2 Osprey
1 Bald Eagle
2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Pileated Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
3 Eastern Phoebe
6 American Crow
9 Carolina Chickadee
6 Tufted Titmouse
2 Tree Swallow
3 Northern Mockingbird
8 Eastern Bluebird
3 House Finch
2 Chipping Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler

Join SIB for Birds and Brew: Learning Together at the Maintenance Area

Hooded Mergansers – photo taken by Glen Cox

Register Now

Date: Sunday December 15, ,2019
Birding: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Brew: 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Title: Birds and Brew: Learning Together at the Maintenance Area
Location: Birding: Meet at SIPOA Garden Plots parking lot
Brew: Salty Dog
Max: 30
Cost: Free members; $5 donation for guests (No guest fee required for Brew portion. Each person will pay for their own drink).

Description: We will bird as usual, then those who are interested will meet at Salty Dog for socializing and beverages of your choice. By now the wintering birds have found their way back to Seabrook Island. We will tour around the ponds at the Water Treatment area, the gardens and possibly the horse pastures in search of wintering waterfowl, birds of prey and passerines.

Dress in layers, wear study shoes and bring sun block, bug spray, a hat, water and binoculars.

Spouses / significant others / friends who are not interested in birds are welcome to join us for Brews

For Birding, if you are not yet a SIB member, you must first become a member by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/. Alternatively, you may pay a $5 guest fee.

Once you are a member, please complete the information below to register no later than Friday, December 13, 2019. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Saturday, December 14, 2019.

Birders at Maintenance Area – Charley Moore

Join SIB for a Movie Matinee: Counting on Birds & Bird Tales

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SIB will finish its movie matinees this fall on Monday, December 16, with two hour-long documentary style films from PBS featuring Willem Lange.

The first, “Counting on Birds.” How did a Christmas-time tradition of shooting birds change to one of counting them? Willem Lange travels to Keene & Errol, NH, Ecuador and Cuba to meet people dedicated to the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count.

To watch the trailer, hit the play button below:

The second, “Bird Tales.” Why are people so devoted to birds? Join Willem Lange as he meets migratory bird enthusiasts with fascinating BIRD TALES talking about their experiences with migratory birds from New England to New Jersey to Washington, DC to central Illinois to Nicaragua.

To watch the trailer, hit the play button below:

SIB will provide the popcorn and snacks! You can bring pillows to make the chairs more comfy and BYOB. Please sign up to join us for an afternoon at the movies!

Monday December 16, 2019 4:30 pm – 6:15 pm
Location: Oystercatcher Community Center
Max: 30
Cost: None for members; $5 donation for guests

Sign Up Today by clicking here.

A Rare Duck & Special Piping Plover – SI in December!

We had a fun week of December birding all around Seabrook! On Jenkins Point we were greeted by 2 Roseate Spoonbills, the number has since grown to 5. Nice to see a flash of pink in the winter landscape. Black-crowned Night Heron numbers are growing, at least 15 squawking their way between the 2 ponds on Jenkins Point Rd. Hooded Mergansers floated on the first pond, working in tandem with a Tricolored Heron and a Snowy Egret to stir up a meal on the far shore!

At the water treatment area, we found a rare (on EBird) Long-tailed Duck. The first night I saw two, but only one seems to remain. This is a rarity for the Charleston area, so very exciting to see! I have had one previous sighting on Seabrook for the CBC, out on the old inlet. Bufflehead numbers were increasing with about 35 one evening!

On North Beach, Marbled Godwits were seen every day, working the large tide pool near the bend, along with Black-bellied Plovers and Ruddy Turnstones. Semipalmated Plover and Dunlin numbers were in the hundreds. A nice surprise was 12 Red Knots, one with a band!

Ed and I did our usual beach prowls for wintering Piping Plovers. On a very foggy day we spotted 4 plovers. But Ed’s usually great photos were a foggy mess. One PIPL had an orange band, with maybe a gray band too? We sent photos to our friend, Alice Van Zoeren, Great Lakes PIPL Conservation Team in MI. Alice replied, “could the band be purple, is there a number?” And if yes, it could be “very exciting!” Purple? Exciting? We’ve never seen a PIPL with a purple band in all our years of looking! We were back out the next day, a beautiful morning, and spotted 8 PIPL. Then there it was in the middle of the beach – our banded “purple” with the number 31!

Here is Alice’s info on this PIPL: “You’ve proved it! This is the chick, we named “Little V”, from our Point Betsie MI nest. It’s the only one that fledged from this new 2019 nesting area. It’s a very busy and narrow beach just south of the Point Betsie Lighthouse. You can see us banding it on this Chicago Tribune video! https://www.chicagotribune.com/ed257930-fef2-4c7f-8e72-3450…

“Some of this video is of us catching and banding another brood, but this chick is the one in my hand, and running off while Steph chants “survive, survive”. Guess it worked.”

Be sure to watch the above video link from Alice – highlight the link and copy to your browser, turn on the audio when video loads. What a special story about our endangered little winter guests, and the challenges they face! What a special visitor to Seabrook Island!

Other banded Piping Plovers we’ve seen are returning winter guests at Seabrook. Black Flag 2K from Prince Edward Island, Canada, has been spotted now Sep and Dec 2019, and Nov 2018. SCDNR also spotted 2K on Devaux Bank in October. And last month we resighted this Great Lakes banded PIPL for the fourth time – Oct, Sep and Mar 2019, and Nov 2018.

These sightings and stories highlight the struggle these tiny Piping Plovers face to survive. Remember, PIPL that breed in Atlantic US and Canada regions are Federally Threatened, Great Lakes region are Federally Endangered with only 71 breeding pairs remaining. They’re with us for nine months a year, as wintering guests, or stopping by as they head to/return from beaches farther south. Our critical habitat is thriving, and we’ve been regularly seeing four to eight PIPL on any given day. Usually around the large tidal pool in the critical habitat – along the shore or resting on the beach. But they can be anywhere along the shore, so please give them space to feed and rest!

Article by Aija and Ed Konrad, Photos by Ed Konrad

Volunteer to Assist with the 120th Christmas Bird Count on Seabrook Island

(Article written for the December issue of The Seabrooker)

Each year starting on December 14th and continuing through January 5th, people across the country are participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  Each count takes place on a specific day in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Seabrook Island is part of the Sea Island SC count organized by Aaron Given, Wildlife Biologist at Kiawah Island. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) will again support this year’s 120th annual CBC on the designated day of Friday January 3, 2020.  

Count volunteers follow specified routes through their designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. The data collected by observers over the past century allow Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.

The first CBC was held on Christmas Day 1900 and was organized by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the Audubon Society.  His proposal was to create a new holiday tradition of a “Christmas Bird Census” that would count birds during the holidays rather than the traditional Christmas “Side Hunt,” where teams of hunters competed to bring home the biggest pile of feathered or furred animals.

This past year, on January 4, 2019, 30 SIB members contributed to the 2018-2019 Sea Island Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  In total we had ten homes who submitted Backyard Birding forms and we had another ten groups who submitted the forms for all across Seabrook Island, including Camp St. Christopher, the beach, golf courses, horse pastures, ponds and marshes.

Our teams identified 99 species on our island.  This was less than the previous two years (112 & 116 respectively), most likely due to the extremely foggy and rainy weather. On that day, no one on Seabrook Island even saw a Wood Stork, Turkey or Black Vulture! However, it was impressive that of 20 locations, at least 14 of these reported a unique species!  Other interesting facts are we had 3 locations with a Baltimore Oriole and 6 locations with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird – all of which were seen in backyards, demonstrating the importance of our members participating from their home locations!

Please enjoy the photos taken by several SIB members during the day, including birds at backyard feeders, birds through the fog at North Beach and some candids of our birders doing what they love!  If you are interested to participate in the 120th Christmas Bird Count on Seabrook Island on Friday January 3, 2020, please visit our website (SeabrookIslandBirders.org/bird-walks/) or send an email (SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com). You can volunteer to stay at your home and report the birds that visit your feeder or even join experienced birders who will travel the island throughout the day.

Finally, if you are interested to learn more about the annual Christmas Bird Count, join SIB for our final 2019 movie matinee on Monday, December 16, at 4:30 pm.  We will show two hour-long documentary style films from PBS featuring Willem Lange. The first, “Counting on Birds.” How did a Christmas-time tradition of shooting birds change to one of counting them? Willem Lange travels to Keene & Errol, NH, Ecuador and Cuba to meet people dedicated to the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. The second, “Bird Tales.”  Why are people so devoted to birds? Join Willem Lange as he meets migratory bird enthusiasts with fascinating BIRD TALES talking about their experiences with migratory birds from New England to New Jersey to Washington, DC to central Illinois to Nicaragua. You can sign up to attend these movies at our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/bird-walks/

Article Submitted by:  Nancy Brown
Photographs Submitted by:  Ed Konrad, Charles Moore, Patricia Schaefer