Kiawah Island Banding Station

Kiawah Island is located next door to Seabrook Island, SC.  Did you know the Kiawah Island Banding Station (KIBS) consists of two banding sites located on private lands at the far western and eastern ends of Kiawah Island?

The Captain Sam’s Site located at the western end of the island was established in 2009 by the Town of Kiawah Island with support from the Kiawah Conservancy. The first two years was spent learning and working through the details of operating a banding station, as well as collecting baseline data to help guide future study. In 2011, an effort to standardize protocol and effort was launched. A banding assistant was hired to help with daily operations and we began to build a volunteer base.

In 2015, the Little Bear Site located on the eastern end of the island was created. This site was created as an alternate site in case banding operations on the west end need to be suspended due to development. The second site also provides for interesting comparison between two similar but different habitats. Since 2012, a crew of 4-7 assistants has been hired to ensure that KIBS can be run every day during the fall migration period. It also set the standard course for future seasons to come.

Banding conducted at KIBS will provide valuable data on the species diversity and composition on Kiawah Island.  Bird banding is also a significant tool used to assess the health and demographics of bird populations.  Important information such as productivity, survivorship, and movements of many species can be attained through a banding program.  All banding data collected is submitted to the Bird Banding Laboratory administered by the United States Geological Survey.

KIBS is the only banding station located along the coast of South Carolina, and has grown to become one of the largest banding stations in the southeastern United States, thus providing important information on migrating birds along the South Atlantic Coast.

OBJECTIVES

The major objectives of KIBS are to:

  • Gather baseline information on resident and migratory birds on Kiawah Island.
  • Collect data to enable long-term monitoring (i.e. population tends) of birds on Kiawah Island.
  • Monitor fall migration to determine the importance of Kiawah Island as stop-over habitat.
  • Assess the effects of development on bird populations.
  • Provide data to better manage habitat and guide future development plans.   
  • Contribute high quality data to the North American Bird Banding Program.

This year marks the 12th consecutive year that we have been banding on Kiawah Island during the fall at the Captain Sam’s (CS) site.  The Little Bear (LB) site is in its 6 year of operation.  Across both sites, we have banded 54,732 birds and have had 12,930 recaptures of over 130 species. 

This year’s banding will be a little different as we follow protocols and guidelines related to COVID-19.  One of the more difficult changes this year is that we will not be allowing visitors, volunteers, or educational groups to come out to the banding site.  We rely on volunteers especially on busy days when we need and extra hand or two to help extract birds or scribe data.  We don’t host many groups but we have a few that come out each year, and will surely miss those day teaching people about the birds and the work that we are doing.     
I am looking forward to another successful banding season!

However, be sure to visit our blog throughout this fall to see updates and photos of the birds we band.

Article submitted by Aaron Given, Town of Kiawah Island Wildlife Biologist; Bander-In-Charge (Master Bander)