Birding Lingo

image from everythingbirds.com

Every hobby has its own slang and unique terms.  Birding has more than most.  I thought it would be fun to share some I use or like:

Terms I commonly use:
  • BINS (or Binos): Binoculars.
  • Butter Butt: Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • CBC: Christmas Bird Count
  • LBJ: Little Brown Job – Any small, brownish bird that you have not been able to identify is often referred to as a LBJ. Many LBJ’s are sparrows, as the female or immature sparrows can be difficult to identify, even for the experts.
  • LIFER (or Life Bird): A bird species you have never seen before in your life. A lifer allows a birdwatcher to add a tick to their life list.
Continue reading “Birding Lingo”

Reddish Egrets – North Beach

Early Wednesday morning, Ed and I were treated to the sight of two beautiful Reddish Egrets actively feeding on North Beach. It’s a thrill to see one Reddish Egret at this time of the year, but two is fantastic! They are not common birds here in the Low Country, so it is always a great day when you see one.  It’s the rarest wading bird in North America. 

Mark Andrews has been spotting the Reddish Egrets since about mid-July, which is when they typically arrive. They stay with us into early October. The SC coastline is an important belt of coastal habitat for them. They breed south of us in FL, LA and TX. Our birds are migrants from “post breeding dispersal.”

Reddish Egrets are best distinguished by their feeding behavior, which involves spreading their wings to shade the fish and then running, spinning and flapping while chasing the fish through shallow water. Ed and I call it “dancing.” Seeing a Reddish doing its dance is like dangling a bright shiny object in front of Ed, photographing it will amuse him for hours! Lol!

They love to fish and feed in large tidal pools on the beach, and these were in the large tidal pool closest to the ocean.

People often mistake a Reddish Egret for a Tricolored Heron or a Great Blue, so you have to look carefully for that shaggy, rusty neck and chest and gray body, with no white on the bird. The juvenile birds are a pale chalky color, which was what we had today. To see the difference, the photos below are of today’s juvenile and the mature Reddish we saw on East Kiawah Beach on Tuesday.

Article by Aija Konrad, photos by Ed Konrad

Follow-up: Least Tern Nesting on North Beach

                     

To follow-up on the article from June 19, 2020 that announced that Least Terns, a Threatened Species in South Carolina, had nested on North Beach, we are sorry to say that those Least Tern nests were lost in a series of heavy rains in early July. Despite the rain, the Least Terns tried repeatedly to re-nest only to be flooded out again. 

We have continued to monitor their progress daily but the Least Terns seem to have abandoned any nesting for this year. Accordingly, South Carolina Department of Natural Resource biologists decided that the temporary yellow-sign posted Nesting Area can be removed from the beach near Captain Sams Inlet. The permanent Nesting Area/Wintering Area behind the lagoon will remain posted. 

Thank you for your help in protecting these birds. Maybe next year!

Article and photo submitted by: Mark Andrews

Nesting Anhingas – Part II

You may remember the “Ask SIB” story published on June 14th with questions about the Nesting Anhingas on Jenkins Point Road. At that time, Valerie Doane, along with others, had observed a breeding pair of Anhingas bullying the Great Egret away from a nest. On July 3rd, Valerie sent Bob Mercer a follow-up question:

You had answered in a post on the SIB website the questions I had regarding the Anhinga/Egret squabble & nesting area at the Jenkins Point rookery. Thank you. I have a couple more questions if you don’t mind. I’ve sort of adopted the Anhinga mating pair and check on the nest daily. Every two days it seems the pair trades-off sitting on the nest. No chicks yet though. I’ve been watching the nest since May 30. Perhaps they were building the nest back then in prep for mama to lay the eggs, but it still seems like an awfully long incubation period. Is it possible the eggs won’t hatch, and if so at what point would the pair give up and abandon the nest?   Thanks very much Bob. 

Valerie Doane

Bob sent Valerie this reply:

Continue reading “Nesting Anhingas – Part II”

Rare Limpkin seen by SIB members

Limpkin in West Ashley – Tracee Clapper

As a subscriber to Charleston County Rare Bird Alert (furnished by eBird), Melanie Jerome and I (Judy Morr) recently started seeing reports of a Limpkin in the West Ashley Sienna Place neighborhood.  Since neither of us had ever seen this species, we decided to go in search of the bird.  From the Rare Bird Alert, we had an address and instructions how to likely see the bird without trespassing on private property.  Binoculars and masks in hand, we headed out. 

A nice pond was at the designated address.  As instructed, we started walking around the pond.  As we dodged Canada Goose droppings we saw the Limpkin fly from behind one clump of trees into one of the “island” clumps in the middle of the pond.  Success!  Wanting a better view, we walked around to the other side of the pond and finally got a great view of the bird sitting on a branch of the tree.  We were able to study the bird for some time before returning to Seabrook Island.  While at the location, we kept an eBird list and saw a total of 24 species in 54 minutes.  Not bad for a 95 degree afternoon.

Last August, Ed and Aija Konrad reported their sighting of a Limpkin near Goose Creek.  Their blog gives a better description of the bird’s behaviors and Ed’s great pictures.

Submitted by Judy Morr

Bird Sighting: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Have you seen this bird on Seabrook Island this summer?

Photo of a Black-bellied Whistling Duck taken by Lynn Maney-McIntosh on the roof of her garage on the evening of July 7, 2020.

If not in person, you might have seen the photos that appeared in the July 2020 edition of The Seabrooker (page 13). This is a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck and they have been seen this summer in the marsh near the 17th green of Ocean Winds, at Camp St. Christopher, and as in the photo above on the garage roof of Lynn Maney-McIntosh in the 3100 block of Seabrook Island Road. This species has also been seen this summer at Kiawah River Estates, Kiawah River Development and on Kiawah Island.

The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a beautifully marked bird with longish legs and neck, chestnut back and chest, black belly and underwing, electric pink legs and red bill. When it flies you can easily see the bold white stripe on top of its wings. They can nest on the ground or in tree cavities, more recently taking to nest boxes. They are a very noisy waterfowl and do sound like they are whistling. Listen for this noise.

In recent years, their range has been expanding north. This explains why there are more sightings documented in our area in eBird.org, a system which documents bird distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends through checklist data collected by millions of people across the world.

You should be on the lookout for them perching around shallow ponds; walking in the short grass of lawns and golf courses; and especially in agricultural fields, where these large ducks eat lots of grain. They feed nocturnally, so watch around sunset for large flocks to begin flying out to fields from their roosts. Or just look up on your roof like Lynn did!

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck photo taken by Lynn Maney-McIntosh in her backyard on July 5, 2020.

REMINDER: Summer Virtual Movie Matinee Series

Movie Matinee | The Spinal Column

If you would like to join us for any of Seabrook Island Birder’s “Virtual Movie Matinees” you must REGISTER to attend. Then we will email you the Zoom link the day prior to the event. The first move, Beak & Brain – Genius Birds from Down Under is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 4:00 – 5:30 pm

Continue reading “REMINDER: Summer Virtual Movie Matinee Series”

Change of Pace: Birding During a Pandemic

Note: This article, written by Joleen Ardaiolo, first appeared in The Seabrooker, July 2020.

Great Horned Owlet by Dean Morr

Birdwatching can be a solitary hobby, as you certainly don’t need a birding group to compile a list of every bird you locate during a year. However, on Seabrook Island, birding activities and programs held before the pandemic had become quite the social events. The more activities, the merrier! The more participants, the merrier! 

Continue reading “Change of Pace: Birding During a Pandemic”

Ask SIB: Why is this Northern Cardinal Doing This?

This is a common question we receive from Seabrook Island Birder (SIB) members! Have you ever seen this behavior at your home?

We have a female cardinal that continues to try and get into the house. Generally 3-4 times a day she flies up the window sometimes she perched on the sill looking in. This has been going on for over four months.

Christine Dennis

For starters, rest assured the bird is not trying to get into the house. During the breeding season, birds aggressively attempt to drive off intruders of the same species. This is an instinctive behavior and not something the bird can control. What you are experiencing is a bird that sees its reflection in your window and instinctively attempting to drive the intruder away. The process follows a pattern. First the bird sees its reflection. Thinking it is an intruder, it displays a warning posture. Needless to say, the reflection responds with the same threat. This quickly accelerates to a full out attack. This is not something the bird can understand or learn not to do. 

The solution is to change the reflectivity of the surface the bird is attacking. This is easier said than done! There are several things you can try, none of them visually appealing. Some people have had success with strips if different color paper taped on the inside of the window  to break up the image. Completely covering the reflective surface on the outside works, but it also blocks the window. Installing screens will break up the reflection and soften the blow if the bird does hit the window. Finally, some people tie moving objects, pie tins, ribbons, etc., around the area to create movement that scares the bird away.

All that said, the bird will not hurt itself, will not break or damage the window, and will stop eventually when the breeding season ends.

Bob Mercer, SIB’s “Resident Naturalist”

Thanks to dlinnehan, we found this video on YouTube which provides great footage of both male and female North Cardinals attacking their own reflection.

Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) welcome questions from our community of birding friends! If you have one, just fill out the form on our website or send us an email!