This past Wednesday April 21, 2021, nearly 70 Seabrook Island Birder (SIB) members joined us to hear our good friend, Matt Johnson, Center Director at the Audubon Center & Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest, present “Winged Wonders-The Phenomenon of Bird Migration.
If you missed the program, watch it today on YouTube!
Last chance to sign up for SIB’s April evening program!
Spring is one of the most exciting times of the year for birdwatching in SC, when many species of birds travel through on their journey north to breed. Ever wonder where the amazing birds we see at Seabrook and across SC have been all winter, and where they’re headed next? And how do our feathered friends make these amazingly long flights during migration?
Please join us, April 21st at 7 pm for our “Winged Wonders-The Phenomenon of Bird Migration. SIB’s good friend, Matt Johnson, Center Director at the Audubon Center & Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest, will be our speaker.
Matt has advised us that as you join us for his discussion, these birds will literally be on the move above our heads as they migrate north!
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
About our Speaker:
Matt Johnson is the Center Director at the Audubon Center & Sanctuary at the Francis Beidler Forest. A native of South Carolina, Matt grew up in Columbia and attended Clemson University from 2003-2009. He first started working for Audubon South Carolina in 2013 as the Education Manager at Beidler Forest. After spending a few years in a statewide position for Audubon, Matt has returned to the swamp at Beidler to be the Center Director. Matt particularly enjoys leading programs and conducting bird research, especially Audubon’s work with Prothonotary Warblers. When not working, Matt enjoys birding, hiking, and spending time with family.
Recently received from SIB member Jenni Hesterman. “Just wanted to let you know I saw a male at my feeder this morning for the first time this spring. Hope all is well! Jenni
They are back !!!Look up in the sky – it’s a jewel, a small parrot, no it’s SUPERBIRD!
Without a doubt one of the most beautiful and colorful birds on Seabrook Island or anywhere else is the Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris). Look for this small to medium sized multi colored finch (about five inches long with an eight-inch wingspan) at your bird feeder and around the edges of dense brush (such as wax myrtles) and thick woodlands.
Painted Buntings nest and breed here from the middle of April through September. Some may stay throughout the winter but most of our birds go south to Florida and to the northwest Caribbean islands. These birds are part of the eastern population that occurs along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Florida. A second western population breeds in northern Mexico to northern Texas and winters in south-west Mexico.
You will have no problem in identifying a mature male Painted Bunting with its vivid blues, greens, yellows and reds that make it look like a small parrot. The male’s head is iridescent blue, its throat and underside are bright red, its back is a brilliant green fading to lighter green on the wings. Females and one-year-old males are a uniform yellowish-green color with a slightly lighter eye ring.
A juvenile Painted bunting with feathers fluffed trying to stay warm on a cold day – C Moore
Female Painted bunting protecting her spot at the feeder – C Moore
These magnificent birds spend most of their time in thick brush and are often seen along woodland edges. They forage on the ground and in shrubs and are primarily seed eaters. They are frequent visitors to Seabrook Island bird feeders and seem to prefer white millet. Although they are basically seed eaters while nesting, they catch, eat and feed insects to their young.
They are fast flyers, darting here and there and are difficult to follow. Males are extremely aggressive and territorial toward other males and often fight over a spot at bird feeders. Their song is a very distinctive continuous series of short high-pitched notes lasting about 2 seconds. Males may sing 9 to 10 songs a minute establishing their territory during spring.
Male Painted buntings may have several mates and females may raise 2 to 4 broods throughout the summer. The nest is built in a bush or tree and is a deep cup of grass, weeds and leaves with a lining of finer grass or hair. Females lay 3 to 5 eggs, incubate them for 11 to 12 days and the young leave the nest in another 12 to 14 days. Males do little in raising the young and frequently are out looking for another mate. A Florida tagging study documented one Painted bunting living in the wild for more than 12 years.
Male birds, because of their bright plumage, are caught and sold as caged birds in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. In the late 1800s, John Audubon reported that thousands of Painted Buntings were being shipped to Europe from the United States. Breeding bird surveys by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service estimate that the Painted Bunting population has declined by 55% over the past 30 years.
Seabrook Island residents and their guests are fortunate to have one of America’s most beautiful birds. Keep in mind that males only develop their brilliant multi colored plumage in their second year. Most of the Painted Buntings you will see will be the rather nondescript uniform greenish females and first-year males. The best way of spotting a Painted Bunting is to become familiar with their distinctive song, and once you have identified where they are, watch for a flash of red, blue, yellow and green and have your camera ready.
Reminder: There are 5 opportunities remaining for you to participate in International Shorebird Survey Walks. Use the links below to register for dates you wish to attend. No need to register for a date for which you have already registered.
Over the years, data submitted to ebird documented Seabrook Island’s importance as a stopover for migratory shorebirds. In an effort to make that data meet the rigors of scientific scrutiny, a series of surveys will be conducted by either Bob Mercer or Mark Andrews. These surveys will follow the protocols of the International Shorebird Survey (ISS). One feature of the ISS is the surveys need to be conducted every ten days and at the same or similar tide. The survey can involve numerous volunteers and provides a golden opportunity to build the shorebird identification skills of SIB members. Beginners and advanced birders will enjoy this walk.
Participants need to bring their own binoculars and, if they have one, a spotting scope. Due to Covid, we will not be able to share equipment. According to the CDC, people are encouraged to wear a mask when they are unable to maintain social distance. We ask people to put on their masks when they get close to each other.
The count will be conducted over a two hour period starting from the boardwalk #1 beach and continuing up to the point, a distance of 1.5 miles each way. The walks should be about 2.5 hours long.
The schedule is tide driven. The official survey start on the beach one hour prior to high tide and end on the beach about one hour after high tide. The start time for the walk is set so participants can meet in the #1 parking lot and have 15 minutes to reach the beach and the start of the survey. The end times are, like any birding experience, approximates. People can leave whenever they wish.
Come prepared for the weather and natural conditions (bugs, sun, wind, hunger, thirst, etc.).
Thanks to help from Audubon’s Native Plants Database, you can create your very own bird sanctuary. Enter your 5-digit zip code to find a list of the best plants for birds in your area, as well as local resources and links to more information. If you live on Seabrook, Kiawah or Johns Island, click here.
Date: Monday April 19, 2021 8:30 am – 10:30 am Activity: Birding on Crooked Oaks 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 Crooked Oaks golf course event on Monday, April 19, 2021 starting at 8:30 am and finishing around 10:30 am.
Crooked Oaks 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 April 17, 2021. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Sunday April 18, 2021. If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.
In case you don’t receive it, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we hope you will enjoy The Seabrooker’s April 2021 page 8. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page on the left side of the centerfold! The stories this month feature:
Spring Migration – Birds on the Move!
SIB’s Upcoming Zoom presentation by Audubon SC’s Matt Johnson on Wednesday April 21, 2021 at 7:00 pm. Register for this event today!
SIB’s Shorebird Steward Program including a QR code (this Quick Response code is a bar code which will open a webpage when a phone camera is focused on it.)
Thanks to authors Bob Mercer & Aija Konrad along with photographer and graphic designer Ed Konrad for their contributions this month!
It was a beautiful Tuesday morning when nine Seabrook Island Birder (SIB) members were joined by three Camp St. Christopher staff members for a bird walk throughout 2. 9 miles of the wooded property down to their crab dock and back through the slough. In total we identified 39 species on the walk. Although we didn’t see nearly as many as we heard, Bob Mercer’s expert ears heard many, so he was able to teach us the birds as they sang from high in the tree tops, including the “who cooks for you” sung by the Barred Owl. Not 15 minutes later, the group was mesmerized as a Barred Owl flew in to perch on a nearby Live Oak branch. We think he/she was out “people watching”.
Enjoy the photos taken by participant Michael Audette, an annual visitor from Connecticut.
Mourning Dove 1 Clapper Rail 2 Laughing Gull 10 Forster’s Tern 1 Anhinga 1 Double-crested Cormorant 18 Great Blue Heron 11 Great Egret 4 Snowy Egret 1 Tricolored Heron 3 Green Heron 3 Black-crowned Night-Heron 1 Black Vulture 1 Bald Eagle 1 Red-shouldered Hawk 1 Barred Owl 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker 12 Downy Woodpecker 4 Great Crested Flycatcher 1 White-eyed Vireo 2 Blue Jay 3 American Crow 5 Carolina Chickadee 4 Tufted Titmouse 10 Tree Swallow 26 Barn Swallow 3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 5 Marsh Wren 2 Carolina Wren 7 Eastern Bluebird 2 Hermit Thrush 1 American Goldfinch 2 Red-winged Blackbird 3 Brown-headed Cowbird 5 Northern Parula 9 Pine Warbler 4 Yellow-rumped Warbler 3 Northern Cardinal 11
Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) received this acknowledgement for the donation of $250 to the South Carolina Coastal Bird Conservation program, made in thanks for the great presentation given by Janet Thibault of the SC Department of Natural Resource group. (You can watch the recording of Janet’s presentation of Seabrook’s Amazing Shorebirds here.)
We thank all our SIB members for your contributions to our group so we may offer these programs. To learn more about the SC Coastal Bird Conservation or to make a donation directly to them, click on the button below.
Monday , April 12, 6:00pm-7:30pm – The Haul Over
Location: 2445 The Haul Over
Cost: None for 2021 members; $5 donation for guests
Come join us in Annalee Regenburg’s backyard. Her house backs up to the Great Egret Rookery. The females sit on their nests all day and the males come into the nests in the evenings. We plan on observing this wonderful, sometimes noisy event. I’m sure we will see some Snowy Egrets and Green Herons, plus some night herons, all tucked in there too. As always, be sure to bring your water, binoculars, hats and sunscreen.