SIB Returns to in-Person Program

For the first time in 27 months, Seabrook Island Birders had an in person presentation at the Lake House.  Stephen Stephen Schabel, Director of Education at the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw joined us for the evening and we are glad he did.  Stephen indicated it was only the second time in two years that their birds have been able to fly in a room full of people.  It was therefore somewhat of a training experience for some of the birds.

Harris Hawk – Dean Morr

Stephen once again used the birds to educate us about various features on the birds, some of the challenges birds in the wild may face plus the variety of activities the Center for Birds of Prey conducts. The program began with the return of a Harris’s Hawk that was bred in captivity and has been working with Stephen to educate people since 2005. This species is native to the dessert regions of New Mexico. So even though not from our region, this bird was a great example of how family of birds working together can accomplish things a single bird cannot. A Harris’s Hawk family can succeed in capturing and devouring a Jack Rabbit that a lone bird would not be able to. Stephen also explained that breeding then training birds such as this in captivity provides experience to the staff before it is needed for an endangered species. It is likely this could be the same Harris Hawk that visited Seabrook Island Birders in 2018. The SIB members were so engaged and asked so many great questions that Stephen diverted from script and answered with his expertise and enthusiasm.

American Kestrel – Dean Morr

The second bird was an American Kestrel which can be seen in the Low Country, usually in an open expanse and often on power lines.  This bird is a small falcon that feeds mainly on insects and small mammals.  Like all falcons, American Kestrel will fly at great speeds as it swoops down to capture its prey.  Stephen rewards the birds with food for responding to his signal to fly.  This lucky American Kestrel was very satisfied with the large morsel provided after his initial flight so he was happy eating his snack on his stand but also sought the higher perch of the punching bags in Live Oak hall.

Eurasian Eagle-owl – Diane Etler

A Eurasian Eagle-owl was our third avian visitor for the evening.  This large owl from Eurasia has a wing span of over 6 feet.  Although the large crowd was a little overwhelming, he did fly a few times upon request.  Stephen explained how owl flights are quiet which makes it easier to swoop in and surprise their prey.  Most in the audience were surprised to learn the tufts of feathers at the top of his head were not his ears but a camouflage.  His ears are really closer in to his eyes. 

Leucistic Red-Tail Hawk – Dean Morr

Next came a gorgeous white bird that could have been found in our area but no one recognized.  It was a leucistic Red-tail Hawk.  This bird came to The Center of Birds of Prey after a park ranger saw it being attacked by other Red-tail Hawks.  This shows how the coloration can help protect birds in the wild. This leucistic bird, while primarily white in color, has color variations each time it molts. 

Spectacled Owl – Dean Morr

The final bird was an adorable 10 week old Spectacled Owl originating from the Amazon River area. Due to loss of habitat, this species is endangered. This chick is being trained to be part of the education and breeding program. It remained very calm as people came close to see him after the program. This bird was bred in captivity and due to its human interaction, it has imprinted on humans. Therefore it could never be released back into it’s native habitat. Interestingly, it could be bred and could raise its young that then could be released back in South America. At the Center of Birds of Prey, they have a female owl that was injured and unable to be released back into the wild. She still lays unfertilized eggs and sits on nest, expecting it to hatch. If an owlet is admitted to the medical facility, the egg can be removed and be replaced with the owlet. The captive mother happily raises the owlet until it can be released back into the wild.

The SIB members were thrilled with being back together again and seeing this informative program.  Thanks to our members, we can share these pictures and videos from our evening.

To see some of the action, click on the video(s) of choice.

Continue reading “SIB Returns to in-Person Program”

Talkin’ Birds

Although I love technology, I only recently discovered podcasts. I had always thought of myself as a visual learner and I’ve was never been much of a “book” reader. But during the pandemic, Flo finally convinced me to try listening to books. Then I started “reading” (listening) to books with our two younger nephews during their summer vacation. That led to me listening to books, which finally led to me listening to podcasts.

As Joleen Ardaiolo reported in her Seabrook Island Birder blog three years ago, “Talkin’ Birds, featuring Ray Brown, is actually an interactive weekly radio show that started broadcasting from WATD, a local radio station in Massachusetts 716 episodes ago and is now carried by many other stations. The radio broadcast is later offered as a podcast. This folksy show has features like “Birds in the News”, “Bird Word of the Week” or, my personal favorite, the “Mystery Bird Contest.” Segments are separated by quirky short musical interludes that add to the fun. The show also spotlights the “Conservation Salute of the Week” and is often promoting environmental protection initiatives.”

Talkin’ Birds has become one of my “don’t miss” weekly podcasts! I was excited to learn I could become one of their Ambassadors, a person who shares the word about this program! What better way to share information about this fabulous bird related radio show / podcast than our SIB blog and website! Yesterday, episode #877 aired and Ray even gave us a “shout-out,” mentioning our migrating Red Knots and visiting Whimbrels! The show featured the Saltmarsh Sparrow, the Brant and shared information about using bird nest boxes. You will have to listen to it yourself to know the answer to this week’s mystery bird contest!

There are many ways you can listen to Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds:

  • Live online every Sunday at 9:30 am eastern via livestream
  • Find a radio station for delayed broadcast (mostly New England states)
  • Find the latest or archived shows.
  • And learn how to listen as a podcast.

So take a listen and I hope to hear many of you on-air as you take a guess on a future “Mystery Bird Contest.”

Visit our website to find links to this and other great birding podcasts!

Learning Together-Biking and Birding on Seabrook Island

Learning Together-Biking and Birding on Seabrook IslandThursday, March 31, 2022 8:30am-12:00pm (with optional continuing trip to Bohicket Marina for lunch)
Location: Meet at Lake House Pool Parking Lot
Max: 12
Cost: Free for members; $5 donation for guests

Join Seabrook Island Birders for a morning of Learning Together while Biking and Birding on Seabrook Island. This will be a slow 6+ mile bike ride around the north part of the island with frequent stops as we see or hear the many and varied birds on the island. We will meet at the outdoor pool end of the parking lot at the Lake House and leisurely ride through the more quiet roads in the center of the island where there are many trees and ponds. Then continue over to the areas around the Crab Dock to Marsh Haven Drive to check out areas around the marsh. We will then ride the Old Drake Drive loop and back to the center roads to return to the Lake House. On this route we can hope to see warblers, woodpeckers, hawks, wading birds, and hopefully ducks.
There is an option for the group to continue our ride to Bohicket Marina for lunch at Salty Dog or the Salty Dog Ice Cream shop or BYOL to enjoy while looking for more birds at the marina.
Bike helmets are strongly encouraged. Be sure to bring binoculars, camera, hats, sunscreen, bug repellant, snacks and water.

If you are not yet a 2022 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website: You may bring the form and your dues to the event. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $5.

Please complete the information below to REGISTER no later than March 29th. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Wednesday, March 30th, the day prior to the trip. If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.

Learning Together-Ocean Winds Golf Course

Monday Monday, March 28, 2022 8:30 am – 10:30 am
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 – Priority will be given to prior waitlisted & members

The Seabrook Island Club closes one course a day each week and allows Seabrook Island Birders to use golf carts to travel the course with our members to bird. Join us for a morning of birding by RIDING in golf carts for at least 9-holes on Ocean Winds golf course. We expect to see a large variety of birds including Egrets, Herons and birds of prey. We will also see and hear some of the smaller birds like Tufted Titmice, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Cardinals, Carolina Wrens and some of the many warbler species.

Since it is spring/summer, we can also expect to see Eastern Kingbirds, Great-crested Flycatchers, Orchard Orioles, Summer Tanagers, Mississippi Kites and more!

As always, be sure to bring your binoculars/cameras, hats and sunscreen. Water will be provided. We ask that all participants wear a mask when unable to social distance if they are not vaccinated.

If you are not yet a 2022 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website: You may bring the form and your dues to the event. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $5.

Please Register no later than March 26th prior to the trip. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on the Sunday, the day prior to the trip. If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.

Rescheduled: Beyond Our Backyard-Botany Bay and Roxbury Park

Beyond our Backyard – Botany Bay and Roxbury Park

Saturday, March 26, 2022 7:30am – 4:00 pm (roundtrip from Seabrook Island)
Leave Seabrook Real Estate: 7:30 am
Botany Bay: 9:00 am – 12:00 am
Lunch: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Bird Roxbury Park: 1:00 – 3:00pm

Location: Meet at Real Estate Parking lot at 7:30 am to carpool to Botany Bay with start there at 9:00am with of low tide being around 9:30.
Max: 12
Cost: None for members; $5 donation for guests

Rain and gusty winds delayed our visit to these wonderful locations. You now have an opportunity to join us for this rescheduled date.

Enjoy the diverse bird population of Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA). We will meet at the kiosk at the entrance to Botany Bay then caravan around the area. We will stop at various locations and walk to see birds not visible from the dirt roads. The event is timed to allow a walk along the raised path through the marsh then on to the boneyard beach near low tide. From the beach, shorebirds will be seen as well as looking across the river to Deveaux Bank and Seabrook Island. Scoters and loons may be seen in this location. The WMA also has woods, marshes and fields allowing for 106 species to be seen in March 2021. Please note that this is a very remote area as it is a WMA and there are no facilities such as restrooms.

You may pack a lunch to eat at either Botany Bay or Roxbury Park or you can join the group eating at Roxbury Mercantile ( This previous country story now has both inside and outside dining offering “Lowcountry cuisine”.

In the afternoon, we will make the short trip to from Roxbury Mercantile to Roxbury Park. Roxbury Park is owned and managed by the Town of Meggett, SC. What makes Roxbury Park such a special place is the diversity of it’s ecosystem. Visitors to the park can see and experience eight distinctively unique habitats that attract and support an amazing variety of wildlife. ​ The park is open year round but only on Saturday and Sunday. There is a portable restroom located in the parking area.

Participants may opt only the morning at Botany Bay or both. If you wish to only do Botany Bay, we ask you just let us know and provide your own transportation.

Be sure to bring binoculars, camera, hats, sunscreen, bug repellant, snacks and water.

If you are not yet a 2022 SIB member, you must first become a member by following the instructions on our website: or we request a $5 donation to SIB.

Once you are a member, please complete the information below to REGISTER no later than Thursday March 24, 2022. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter the day prior the event.

Learning Together-North Beach

Learning Together at North BeachFriday, March 25, 2022 12:00pm-2:00pm
Birding at North Beach
Location: Meet at Boardwalk # 1 Parking lot
Max: none
Cost: Free for members; $5 donation for guests

Join SIB to bird at Seabrook Island’s North Beach. This three mile round trip walk travels from Board Walk #1 to the tip of North Beach along Captain Sams Inlet as high tide approaches. Birders from beginners to advanced birders will enjoy the variety of birds found on North Beach. At this time, many different species of shorebirds rest and feed near the point or along the beach ridge near the beach’s pond. Along the way, we will explore the many different species that can be found in this unique area.

As always, be sure to bring your binoculars/cameras, hats and sunscreen. Bring a spotting scope if you have one. There should be spotting scopes available for viewing. Bring plenty to drink and a snack if desired. There are no facilities. We ask that all participants wear a mask when unable to social distance if they are not vaccinated.

If you are not yet a 2022 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website: You may bring the form and your dues to the event. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $5.

Please REGISTER no later than March 23rd. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on the day prior to the trip. If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.

Are you a Social Media Junkie?

There are many debates about the benefits and downsides of social media, but certainly it can be a great way for anyone to stay connected with people, organization and even topics.

Did you know you can find Seabrook Island Birders on social media? We are still learning how to best present content to our audience, so if you want to help us, please let us know!

Here is how you can find us! Follow us on … 

Of course, you can also visit our website at:

And to reach us, send us an email at:     

Did you know: What is a murmuration?

“Did you know” is an on-going series of blogs that answer possibly more technical questions people have about birds or their environments. If you have an idea or question, submit it via the “Ask SIB” link on the web site or send an email to

Red Knot murmuration – Bob Mercer

Until recently, I never heard of a murmuration. According to Webster Dictionary, a murmuration is a flock of Starlings. The article that first brought the term to my attention was this Yahoo article: Why do Birds Swoop and Swirl Together in the Sky.

After reading that article, my thought was the movement is similar to what I’ve seen in Red Knots near our beach. I especially liked this one of many that were a result of a Google search of Red Knot murmuration.

Another interesting video is The Math and Mystery of Murmurations. Finally, there is Why do Starlings Flock in Murmurations? I’m sure more searches would find more on the topic but these gave me an appreciation of the grace and science of this phenomena.

Ask SIB: Should we take feeders down due to Avian Flu?

Susan Markhum recently noted: Avian flu killed the two eaglets on Hilton Head. They suspect it happened after eating a bird that had it. I just wonder if we should take our feeders down.

Sadly, the eaglets mentioned in our earlier blog did die of Avian Flu. Hilton Head Land Trust posted on their site: We have received the initial, but not final results, that the eaglets cause of death was the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (“HPAI”) commonly seen in wild birds. (We) can’t express enough how great the Birds of Prey Center has been with their help and guidance and the care and concern of the eaglets.  We have learned a great deal and experienced nature with its glory and reality of the challenges they face.

To answer Susan’s question, SIB reached out to Deb Carter. Deb is a Research Professional at the University of Georgia’s laboratory in Veterinary Pathology. Her field work is  related to Avian Influenza at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study. She regularly visits Seabrook Island beaches to collect Ruddy Turnstone droppings for her study. Her response was: As of right now there are no cases as to indicating that  passerines have  been infected with HPAI.   I have not removed my bird feeders at home, but that is up to you.  There is no cause for an alarm with the songbirds as far as HPAI goes. The eagles are probably eating ducks that have been infected with HPAI and that is probably why they are getting sick.

So although the eaglet news is sad, for now we can continue to enjoy the visits of our feathered friends to our feeders.

SIB Presents: The Center for Birds of Prey

22 Seats Still Available
Our First In-Person Evening Program
since 2020

Date: Tuesday March 22, 2022
Registration starts 7:00pm. Program starts 7:30pm
Location: Live Oak Hall, Lake House, Seabrook Island, SC
Program Fee: Members $5.00
Attendance: Limited to 100 members

There is no longer a mask requirement at the Seabrook Island Lake House, although you are welcome to wear one if you choose. Social distancing is recommended but also is not required. SIB will not be providing refreshments at this event.

If you are not a 2022 SIB Member,
you must first join/renew for $10/year

Stephen Schabel, Center for Birds of Prey Director of Education, once again brings the Center’s amazing raptors to the Lake House. We’ll witness the interesting and important world of raptors through this unique indoor program. Stephen’s engaging discussion, along with watching the birds in action, will give us a wonderful education of these majestic creatures and the significant role they play as apex avian predators. 

The program is limited to 100 SIB members. SIPOA COVID protocol will be followed – masks required in Live Oak Hall, masks and physical distancing recommended while traversing other indoor space. No refreshments will be served. If COVID conditions change prior to January 19 the program could be canceled.

Questions? Email us at: 

Meet the speaker: Stephen Schabel, Director of Education 

A native of South Carolina, Stephen joined the Center in 2003 after completing his M.S. degree in Environmental Policy at the College of Charleston. Prior to graduate school, he spent several years exploring various teaching opportunities outside the traditional classroom, as well as a career as an accomplished mandolin player and vocalist for a variety of groups in the Charleston area. Stephen’s background in education and environmental policy along with his lifelong passion for the outdoors -especially birds – offers a unique and relevant foundation for his role as Director of Education. Stephen oversees the care, husbandry, and training of the Center’s educational resident bird collection as well as the design and implementation of conservation education programs offered by the Center throughout South Carolina and beyond. Stephen particularly enjoys the aspects of “lure flying” falcons and conversing one on one with visitors about issues related to the conservation of birds and other wildlife.

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