Letter from SC-DNR

Please read the letter below from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) to learn how important our beaches and habitats are to the migrating shorebirds. If you would like more information about the Seabrook Island Shorebird Steward Program, contact us at sibstewards@gmail.com.

March 21, 2023 

Hello Shorebird Partners, 

Shorebird migration is underway and Red Knots have arrived on South Carolina beaches! The Red Knot is a federally threatened shorebird that spends the winter primarily south of us, as far south as Brazil and  Argentina. In the spring knots stop over to feed and rest as they migrate north to their nesting grounds  above the Arctic Circle. The beaches of Seabrook and Kiawah Islands are especially important for knots to rest and refuel as they migrate. A recent study conducted here of Red Knots revealed that 41% of the  entire population passes through Kiawah and Seabrook Island’s beaches!  

Red Knots in breeding plumage. Photo by Ed Konrad 

Red Knots will be in South Carolina until the end of May and will be molting their drab grey feathers into  rusty, red plumage, just in time for the breeding season. Since they expend energy to molt and need to  fatten up to travel all the way to the Arctic, they need to gain weight as fast as they can. While on the  Seabrook and Kiawah Island beaches, they feed on small coquina clams, also called Donax, which occur in the intertidal zone.  

Red Knots feeding in the intertidal zone of the beach. Photo by SCDNR

Please help us in welcoming these global travelers by walking around feeding and resting birds on the  beach. Keep pets away from flocks and do not cause these migrants to fly unnecessarily.  

The Red Knots have experienced a population decline of over 85% in recent decades and knots rely on  the beaches in South Carolina as safe havens. This season, researchers will continue to survey flocks and resight birds that are banded with field readable flags. You may see Shorebird Stewards on the beach  who can tell you more about Red Knot migration and why our South Carolina beaches are so special for  these creatures.  

A banded Red Knot takes flight. Photo by Ed Konrad 

To learn more about Red Knots check out the upcoming Sea Island Shorebird Festival webpage.  https://www.seaislandsshorebirdfestival.com/ 


The South Carolina DNR Shorebird Team

Author: sibirders

SEABROOK ISLAND BIRDERS / “watching, learning, protecting” Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) are residents, renters and guests of Seabrook Island, SC who have an interest in learning, protecting and providing for the well-being of the incredible variety of birds that inhabit Seabrook Island throughout the year.

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