Join SIB for our August Virtual Events

With the heat of the summer and the need to still social distance, Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) has scheduled two “Virtual Movie Matinees” and an Evening Program using Zoom during the month of August!  And the best part is you don’t even have to be on Seabrook Island to join!

Once you register, we will send you a link the day prior to each event to allow you to access our Zoom live video. 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 for one, two or all three of our events, then plan to get comfy in your favorite chair with snacks and beverages of your choice to enjoy our gathering!

Movie Matinee: The Saga of the White Tailed Eagle on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 4:00 – 5:30 pm

The sea eagle was once widespread throughout almost all of Europe and graced the coats of arms of many different countries. During the 19th and 20th centuries it was driven to the brink of extinction by hunting, the increased use of pesticides and the destruction of its habitat. This touching animal drama recounts the true life story of one individual bird, observed over the course of a year. Beginning with its birth in a lowland forest in Central Europe the film team follows the eagle’s first outing with its brothers and sisters and subsequent distant migrations to places as far away as Scandinavia. Finally it chronicles its dramatic lead poisoning, recovery and resettlement in a nature reserve.

Evening Program: Seabrook Island Shorebirds on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at 7:00 – 8:30 pm

Do you enjoy going to the beach to watch birds but then find yourself frustrated with trying to identify the small shorebirds that run along the edge of the surf? Join this special “virtual” program, with Naturalist Bob Mercer, to learn about the shorebirds that call our island home. He will provide you with simple clues to help you learn the very challenging sandpipers and plovers often seen on our beach, and then give you a chance to practice your new identification skills during our program.

Movie Matinee: Owl’s Odyssey on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 4:00 – 5:30 pm

A female barn-owl’s home is demolished and she seeks a new place to live. Flying through forests and grasslands, she meets common owl species in Central Europe, some she can co-exist with, others she must shun. This documentary is a beautiful display of what owls mean to humans; how they fly and hunt; why they’ve been associated with death. The owl finally finds a new home, as the guest of a barn owl family, in time to see the new clutch of young following their mother on their first majestic flight.

Watch the trailer here.

Prothonotary Warbler Sighting on Loblolly Lane

On Tuesday evening July 28, 2020, around 7:00 pm while having dinner on my porch with my family, I noticed a small bright yellow bird in my birdbath. I am pretty familiar with the yellow birds that show up at my feeders and birdbath and from the moment I saw it, I knew this bird was something different. The bird almost glowed in the dusky evening. I was able to grab my binoculars and get a good enough look so that I could text my birding group with a description of the bird to get their opinions of what it could be. The bird was warbler sized, solid bright yellow, with blue/gray wings, round black eyes, and a fairly long (for a warbler) gray beak. There were no other markings on the bird except possibly some white on the underside at the back of the bird near its tail.  

Male Prothonotary Warbler – photo by Jackie Brooks

With my bird guides and bird identification apps out, I was able to eliminate all my group’s suggestions of the yellow birds that would be typical for this area. As someone who is fairly new to birding, I was hesitant to insist that I had seen a Prothonotary Warbler in my birdbath, but I couldn’t find anything else that fit the description. 

On the third evening that it visited I was able to get a picture and a video of the bird with my iPhone camera. They were far from great pictures, but I was able to get validation from two experienced birders. Matt Johnson, the center director for the Francis Beidler Audubon Center, and Aija Konrad, who is one of our resident birding experts on the island, agreed that this was probably a Prothonotary Warbler. However, it would be nice to have undeniable proof that I had a Prothonotary Warbler visiting my birdbath. 

Finally, on the fourth evening I enlisted my fellow birder, neighbor, friend, and most importantly, photographer, to sit and wait with me. Sure enough, right at 7:00pm, the male showed up for his evening bath. Jackie Brookes was able to get some wonderful photos. We were so excited for the successful sighting of the male Prothonotary Warbler that we almost missed the female Prothonotary Warbler that came in for her time in the bath. 

The Prothonotary Warbler is normally seen in the spring and summer when they migrate to swamp forest areas in the southeast to nest in tree cavities. In our area, you would have to take a trip to the Beidler Forest Audubon Center near Summerville, the Audubon Swamp that is part of Magnolia Plantation, or Caw Caw Interpretive Center to see Prothonotary Warblers. They have rarely been spotted on Seabrook Island. In one of the descriptions I read, it says that they are sometimes seen around ponds that have standing water. My house does back up to one of the ponds/lagoons in the “Lakes” district on Seabrook Island. Matt Johnson said that the warblers may have moved out to Seabrook from their breeding grounds further inland to fatten up for their migration south. He also mentioned that having fresh water available for the birds is so important and attracts birds to your yard that otherwise might not visit. 

Put out a birdbath and keep your eyes peeled for a bright yellow bird. It would be outstanding to add this species to our list of regular visitors. 

Article written by Joleen Ardaiolo
Photos contributed by Jackie Brooks

Birding Lingo

image from everythingbirds.com

Every hobby has its own slang and unique terms.  Birding has more than most.  I thought it would be fun to share some I use or like:

Terms I commonly use:
  • BINS (or Binos): Binoculars.
  • Butter Butt: Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • CBC: Christmas Bird Count
  • LBJ: Little Brown Job – Any small, brownish bird that you have not been able to identify is often referred to as a LBJ. Many LBJ’s are sparrows, as the female or immature sparrows can be difficult to identify, even for the experts.
  • LIFER (or Life Bird): A bird species you have never seen before in your life. A lifer allows a birdwatcher to add a tick to their life list.
Continue reading “Birding Lingo”

Follow-up: Least Tern Nesting on North Beach

                     

To follow-up on the article from June 19, 2020 that announced that Least Terns, a Threatened Species in South Carolina, had nested on North Beach, we are sorry to say that those Least Tern nests were lost in a series of heavy rains in early July. Despite the rain, the Least Terns tried repeatedly to re-nest only to be flooded out again. 

We have continued to monitor their progress daily but the Least Terns seem to have abandoned any nesting for this year. Accordingly, South Carolina Department of Natural Resource biologists decided that the temporary yellow-sign posted Nesting Area can be removed from the beach near Captain Sams Inlet. The permanent Nesting Area/Wintering Area behind the lagoon will remain posted. 

Thank you for your help in protecting these birds. Maybe next year!

Article and photo submitted by: Mark Andrews

Nesting Anhingas – Part II

You may remember the “Ask SIB” story published on June 14th with questions about the Nesting Anhingas on Jenkins Point Road. At that time, Valerie Doane, along with others, had observed a breeding pair of Anhingas bullying the Great Egret away from a nest. On July 3rd, Valerie sent Bob Mercer a follow-up question:

You had answered in a post on the SIB website the questions I had regarding the Anhinga/Egret squabble & nesting area at the Jenkins Point rookery. Thank you. I have a couple more questions if you don’t mind. I’ve sort of adopted the Anhinga mating pair and check on the nest daily. Every two days it seems the pair trades-off sitting on the nest. No chicks yet though. I’ve been watching the nest since May 30. Perhaps they were building the nest back then in prep for mama to lay the eggs, but it still seems like an awfully long incubation period. Is it possible the eggs won’t hatch, and if so at what point would the pair give up and abandon the nest?   Thanks very much Bob. 

Valerie Doane

Bob sent Valerie this reply:

Continue reading “Nesting Anhingas – Part II”

Rare Limpkin seen by SIB members

Limpkin in West Ashley – Tracee Clapper

As a subscriber to Charleston County Rare Bird Alert (furnished by eBird), Melanie Jerome and I (Judy Morr) recently started seeing reports of a Limpkin in the West Ashley Sienna Place neighborhood.  Since neither of us had ever seen this species, we decided to go in search of the bird.  From the Rare Bird Alert, we had an address and instructions how to likely see the bird without trespassing on private property.  Binoculars and masks in hand, we headed out. 

A nice pond was at the designated address.  As instructed, we started walking around the pond.  As we dodged Canada Goose droppings we saw the Limpkin fly from behind one clump of trees into one of the “island” clumps in the middle of the pond.  Success!  Wanting a better view, we walked around to the other side of the pond and finally got a great view of the bird sitting on a branch of the tree.  We were able to study the bird for some time before returning to Seabrook Island.  While at the location, we kept an eBird list and saw a total of 24 species in 54 minutes.  Not bad for a 95 degree afternoon.

Last August, Ed and Aija Konrad reported their sighting of a Limpkin near Goose Creek.  Their blog gives a better description of the bird’s behaviors and Ed’s great pictures.

Submitted by Judy Morr

Bird Sighting: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Have you seen this bird on Seabrook Island this summer?

Photo of a Black-bellied Whistling Duck taken by Lynn Maney-McIntosh on the roof of her garage on the evening of July 7, 2020.

If not in person, you might have seen the photos that appeared in the July 2020 edition of The Seabrooker (page 13). This is a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck and they have been seen this summer in the marsh near the 17th green of Ocean Winds, at Camp St. Christopher, and as in the photo above on the garage roof of Lynn Maney-McIntosh in the 3100 block of Seabrook Island Road. This species has also been seen this summer at Kiawah River Estates, Kiawah River Development and on Kiawah Island.

The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a beautifully marked bird with longish legs and neck, chestnut back and chest, black belly and underwing, electric pink legs and red bill. When it flies you can easily see the bold white stripe on top of its wings. They can nest on the ground or in tree cavities, more recently taking to nest boxes. They are a very noisy waterfowl and do sound like they are whistling. Listen for this noise.

In recent years, their range has been expanding north. This explains why there are more sightings documented in our area in eBird.org, a system which documents bird distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends through checklist data collected by millions of people across the world.

You should be on the lookout for them perching around shallow ponds; walking in the short grass of lawns and golf courses; and especially in agricultural fields, where these large ducks eat lots of grain. They feed nocturnally, so watch around sunset for large flocks to begin flying out to fields from their roosts. Or just look up on your roof like Lynn did!

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck photo taken by Lynn Maney-McIntosh in her backyard on July 5, 2020.

REMINDER: Summer Virtual Movie Matinee Series

Movie Matinee | The Spinal Column

If you would like to join us for any of 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. The first move, Beak & Brain – Genius Birds from Down Under is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 4:00 – 5:30 pm

Continue reading “REMINDER: Summer Virtual Movie Matinee Series”

Change of Pace: Birding During a Pandemic

Note: This article, written by Joleen Ardaiolo, first appeared in The Seabrooker, July 2020.

Great Horned Owlet by Dean Morr

Birdwatching can be a solitary hobby, as you certainly don’t need a birding group to compile a list of every bird you locate during a year. However, on Seabrook Island, birding activities and programs held before the pandemic had become quite the social events. The more activities, the merrier! The more participants, the merrier! 

Continue reading “Change of Pace: Birding During a Pandemic”