What Bird Makes this Sound?

Each spring, Seabrook Island Birders receive many requests for us to identify the bird that makes this sound. Even if you have never seen this bird, chances are if you live or spend time in the spring on Seabrook Island, you have heard him after dusk and before sunrise! The bird we are hearing is the Chuck-will’s-widow, a “cousin” to another in the Nightjar family, the Eastern Whip-poor-will who makes this sound.

Local Seabrook Island residents began hearing this spring migrant last week!  For me, it was just tonight while taking my pup out for her last walk of the night here where we live at Bohicket Marina Village. Where are you hearing this bird?

Below is a blog we have “recycled” from April 2, 2017, so you can learn more about the Chuck-will’s widow and the migration of these fascinating birds.

And remember, just email us or “Ask SIB” if you have questions about birds you are hearing or seeing!

Published April 2, 2017

On Friday, we asked if you could identify a bird by its song.  It was first reported on Seabrook Island early last Thursday morning by George Haskins.  The answer:  the Chuck-will’s-widow.  This bird winters as far south as Colombia, Venezuela and the Caribbean and breeds in pine, oak-hickory, and other forests of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states. They tend to live in more open areas than the similar Whip-poor-will, which are not common here on Seabrook Island.

Chuck-will’s-widow – Flo Foley

Scientist continue to learn much about the migration of birds, especially with the advancement of technology such as using radar, acoustic, electronic and optical technologies. Spring migration starts as early as January and continues into June.  Birds generally take off shortly after sunset, some flying all night and landing just before dawn the next morning.  Others will fly nonstop for 60-100 hours as they flyover oceans and continents. Some nights there could be hundreds of millions of birds flying over North America.

Citizen Scientists like all of us are a great resource for migration information as we document bird sightings using the Audubon/Cornell Lab of Ornithology website: eBird.org.  This data is also available for anyone to view.  This link will open the eBird page to view the historical bird observations for all species by month for Charleston county.  For example, the Chuck-will’s-widow is shown below to arrive in April and is gone by the end of September.

Chuck-will’s-widow historical frequency sightings by month for Charleston County, SC from eBird.org

You can also drill down to view a map of locations where a bird has been documented, like the Chuck-will’s-widow map below.  Notice the red bubble was a sighting of a Chuck-will’s-widow documented by Aija Konrad on 3/31 near the tennis courts.

Chuck-will’s-widow map of sightings on Seabrook & Kiawah Island, SC from eBird.org

Another great website to learn more about bird migration, including a forecast each week for four geographic regions in the country, is Birdcast.info, a site created by Cornell.  Below is their forecast for the Chuck-will’s-widow for the Gulf Coast and Southeast and it looks like they are right on time!

Migrant Species





Rapid Influx






Last Departure

After Jun 30

Throughout April we will continue to share information related to bird migration including which birds are packing their bags to head north, which birds are arriving to breed and those who are just passing through and utilizing our island for rest and refueling.

In the meantime, check out this great article, Birdist Rule #70: Get Prepared for Spring Migration, by Nicholas Lund on the Audubon website.

Article submitted by:  Nancy Brown

Learning Together-Camp St. Christopher Conference Center

Tuesday, April 6, 2021 8:00 am
Birding at Camp St. Christopher
Meet at bus parking lot at St. Christopher
Max: 10
Cost: Voluntary donation to Camp St.Christopher

Explore the lakes, lagoons, paths and slough at St. Christopher. This event will have 1 – 2 miles of walking over uneven terrain. Spring should be in full swing, so we should see all the usual suspects, but will also hopefully get looks at our some of our more elusive resident breeding songbirds…Yellow-throated Warbler, Pine Warbler, Northern Parula, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Painted Bunting.

Early April is also the start of migration for a number of species, so we may be lucky to see a few migrant warblers (Louisiana Waterthrush, Prothonotary Warbler, Common Yellowthroat), Scarlet Tanagers and Blue Grosbeaks.

Bring sun block, bug spray, a hat, water and binoculars. Please remember to wear your masks. We are asking our attendees to make a voluntary contribution to Camp St. Christopher to help support their efforts during the pandemic.

Please complete the information below to register no later than Sunday April 4, 2021. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Monday April 5, 2021. If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.


Eagles of SC Webinar Hosted by Audubon SC

Audubon South Carolina Presents the Eagles of South Carolina, a conservation success story. 

During this virtual program we will explore the past and present conservation struggles of Bald Eagles in our state and the survey that has tracked their story for decades. Through extensive cooperation and partnerships, the Bald Eagle has recovered in South Carolina but remains the focus of conservation and the admiration of bird lovers across the state.

Join March 25th at 5:00pm and register today!
Bald Eagle. Photo credit: Robert Fink

Join SIB to Bike and Bird the West Ashley Greenway


SIB Birders biking Greenway – Melanie Jerome

Grab your bike and join us as we bike the West Ashley Greenway! This trail stretches about 8 miles from Johns Island to the South Windermere Shopping Center on Folly Road (parking available at either end). The trail is open from dawn to dusk. It’s 100 feet wide and mostly hard-parked dirt and some asphalt. Plus, the trail is flat so it’s great for beginning bikers and kids. For the most part, the trail runs parallel to U.S. Highway 17 past neighborhoods, parks and marshes so there’s plenty to see. The City of Charleston Department of Parks has confirmed motorized handicap scooters may utilize the Greenway for this activity so at least one member plans to “bike” the Greenway in his scooter.

On Johns Island, the dirt gives way to rough gravel and narrow bridge crossings (beach/mountain bikes are better than road bikes on this section). Here the broad wetlands flank the trail, presenting magnificent views and rewarding bird sightings. If your timing is right, you may catch sight of the tidal flow that carved these lacework channels.

The map of this Rails-to-Trails site can be found here: https://www.traillink.com/viewtrailmap/?tr=west-ashley-greenway

Join several SIB Executive Committee Members for this biking & birding trip at the West Ashley Greenway. We hope to see shorebirds like egrets, herons and Roseate Spoonbills in the tidal marsh areas. We will listen for passerines hoping to catch a glimpse of those heading north for the summer. And birds of prey are common to see flying overhead. When we did this ride mid-March 2019, 52 species were seen or heard. Be sure to bring binoculars, camera, hats, sunscreen, bug repellant, snacks and water. While unnecessary while riding our bicycles, we ask that all participants wear a mask when unable to social distance.

Monday, March 22, 2021 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
Beyond our Backyard – Biking & Birding the Greenway
Location: Meet at Parking area for West Ashley Greenway (McLeod Mill Rd. nr. Main Rd./SR S 10-20)
Max: 12
Cost None for members; $5 donation for guests

If you are not yet a 2021 SIB member, you must first become a member by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/ or we request a $5 donation to SIB.

Once you are a member, please complete register no later than Saturday March 20, 2021. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter the day prior the event.

If you have additional questions about the program, please contact us by sending an email to: SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com

Bob Hider (1937 – 2021)

Seabrook Island Birders is sad to share the news of the death of early member Bob Hider. Even before there was a Seabrook Island Birders, Bob helped with Christmas Bird Count. He also was an avid photographer who has contributed a number of bird photos to our articles and blogs. Although he didn’t participate in many bird walks, he was always willing to share the views and identifications from his back deck, overlooking the marsh. He will be missed by all.

You can read a copy of his obituary from The Post and Courier.

PSA for Bird Lovers

If your mailbox has an open newspaper slot it is often considered prime nesting real estate for our local small songbirds such as Eastern Bluebirds and Carolina Chickadees. Many passerines are cavity nesters and are desperate to find a safe place to nest and raise their young once nesting season begins. Safe is the key word here. Even though the newspaper boxes will keep the nest and eggs dry, the low position and large front opening makes these nests vulnerable to snakes, raccoons and even other birds. These nesting attempts are rarely successful.

If a bird does build a nest and lay eggs in your newspaper box and you do not want it there, remember that native birds are protected by Federal law and it is illegal to destroy a nest containing eggs or to interfere with the nestlings. However, you can install a proper nest box with a baffle close to the newspaper box and carefully relocate the nest while the parent bird is watching. The newspaper box can then be closed off to prevent other birds from nesting there.

Please consider closing up the front of your open newspaper box now in preparation for the nesting season that begins in March.

SIPOA has indicated that open mailboxes can be closed off with a block of wood painted to match the color of the mailbox post/supports.

If you have one of the open newspaper boxes and would like to seal it off but are not able to do so, contact seabrookislandbirders@gmail.com and one of our members will be happy to help.

Example of a newspaper box with leftover nesting material.
Example of newspaper box with SIPOA approved wood block inserted to prevent nesting birds.

USC Students are Studying Long-Migratory Shorebirds Right in Your Backyard

Recently, two students from University of South Carolina (USC), working through SCDNR, contacted SIPOA and Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) about their research project on our beach. Mark Andrews of SIB is our contact regarding their activities. Below is their article about their work.   

You may view the flyer about their study and what you can do to help.   

We (Sara Padula and Maggie Pelton) are undergraduate researchers with the Senner Lab at the University of South Carolina. We are specifically focused on the Red Knot, a shorebird that stops on Kiawah and Seabrook to rest and refuel, as it makes its 9000 mile journey from the bottom of South America to the Arctic. You may see us on the beaches with our spotting scopes as we gather data to determine how long these knots are staying on the Island as well as how many knots are using Seabrook’s beaches. The knots are typically on South Carolina’s shores from February through May, so we will be too.

If you see us on the beach, with our scopes and vests, please do not hesitate to say hello and ask questions.

If you would like to be a part of the research yourself, you can participate in resighting surveys by recording flag numbers you see from individual birds. Information about how to do this can be found on our flyer. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you on the beach!

Sara & Maggie

SCDNR News Release – “Remove Bird Feeders”

—- NEWS RELEASE —-For Immediate Release
dnr logo

SCDNR asks South Carolinians to remove bird feeders until early spring COLUMBIA, S.C. (March 8, 2021) — The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) is asking for South Carolina residents to take down their bird feeders until early spring after an increase in mortality reports for Pine Siskins, and other species.While Pine Siskins are more susceptible than other species to getting sick from dirty bird feeders, there has been an increase in the number of reports SCDNR has received from across the state in the last several weeks.Those who have bird feeders should take them down until early April, when Pine Siskins have begun to migrate north.Temporarily removing bird feeders from your yard will not prevent wild birds from returning after the feeder is put back up.While many South Carolinians enjoy feeding wild birds, those who have bird feeders must ensure their bird feeders stay clean. Without adequate care, bird feeders can harm, rather than benefit, the local bird population. Dirty feeders can harbor spoiled feed, seed hulls, and waste which can become a source of bacteria, mold, and transmissible diseases between birds.Tips on proper bird feeder care can be found here.Pine SiskinsPhoto: ©Lucas Bobay (Cornell Lab)South Carolina Department of Natural Resources – Rembert C. Dennis Building
1000 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29201

Join SIB to Bird Ocean Winds Golf Course

Date: Monday March 15, 2021 8:30 am – 10:30 am
Activity: Birding on Ocean Winds Golf Course
Location: Meet at Island House (Golf Course Parking Lot next to Spinnaker Beach Houses) for ride along the golf course in golf carts
Max: 24 (If all seats in golf carts are used)
Cost: Free for members; $5 donation for guests

Seabrook Island Birders will host a birding on Ocean Winds golf course event on Monday, March 15, 2021 starting at 8:30 am and finishing around 10:30 am.

Ocean Winds golf course will be closed for normal maintenance next Monday and Seabrook Island Birders has obtained permission from Seabrook Island Club and the Golf Club Operations to take a group of members out on the course. We will RIDE in golf carts (1 4-person and 10 2-person carts) which can accommodate 13 – 24 people, based on the number of people who will share carts.

These are very popular events, so register TODAY if you would like to attend!

We expect to see a large variety of birds including Double-crested Cormorants, Egrets, Herons, Bald Eagles and other birds of prey. We should also see and hear some of the smaller birds like Tufted Titmice, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Cardinals and some of the many warbler species. Maybe even some of our spring migrants!

To keep everyone safe, we will ask people to social distance and wear a face mask. When you register, if you are not joined by a family member, please let us know if you are open to riding with a non-family participant or if you prefer to be in a cart alone.

As always, be sure to bring your binoculars, hats, mask and sunscreen. Water will be provided.

If you are not yet a 2021 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/. You may bring the form and your dues to the event. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $5.

Please complete the information on the link below to register no later than Saturday March 13, 2021. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Sunday March 14, 2021. If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.

SIB’s March Movie Matinee

Movie Matinees

Movie Matinee | The Spinal Column
It is a new year and we still need to social distance. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) will schedule a “Virtual Movie Matinee” series using Zoom on the second Tuesday of each month. If you would like to join us for a 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. We will open each event with introductions and a little social time, watch the  show together (generally an hour), and finish with a short discussion to get your feedback and answer questions. Sign up  then plan to get comfy in your favorite chair with snacks and beverages of your choice to enjoy our gathering!

March Movie – Register Here

Tuesday March 9, 2021 at 4:00 – 5:00 pm Nature: Wingbeats to the Amazon

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wingbeats.jpgFlourishing in the wilds of South America is a greater variety of birds than anywhere else on Earth. Like its people, the continents birds are unique and flamboyant. This superbly shot program, Wingbeats to the Amazon, captures the more colourful, majestic and bizarre of South America’s birds.

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