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.