Bob Hider (1937 – 2021)

Seabrook Island Birders is sad to share the news of the death of early member Bob Hider. Even before there was a Seabrook Island Birders, Bob helped with Christmas Bird Count. He also was an avid photographer who has contributed a number of bird photos to our articles and blogs. Although he didn’t participate in many bird walks, he was always willing to share the views and identifications from his back deck, overlooking the marsh. He will be missed by all.

You can read a copy of his obituary from The Post and Courier.

Carl Helms (1933 – 2020)

Dori Helms recently shared that her husband Carl passed away last week. Her comment to us was “I thought we had more time but it was quick—what he wanted. He was so frustrated at not being able to get out to watch the birds and do what he used to do as a younger man. Please let all the SIB people know- at least those who knew Carl. I will see you when I get back out to Seabrook—take care of the birds for Carl.”

Carl was a great birder and gave good input to Seabrook Island Birders. Even before SIB was an organization, he created and maintained a web page Birds of Seabrook Island. You can read a profile we published a few years ago about Dori and Carl here.

A full obituary was published in Greenville.

Dori & Carl Helms at their home at Creek Watch on Seabrook Island, SC

SCDNR shorebird leader named biologist of the year

Many members of Seabrook Island Birders have met Felicia Sanders. She has presented an evening program and leads the Red Knot banding program on the island. The press release below details the well deserved recognition Felicia recently received.

—- NEWS RELEASE —-For Immediate Releasednr logoRed Knot banding with Felicia Sanders 
SCDNR shorebird leader named biologist of the year COLUMBIA, S.C. (Oct. 29, 2020) — Felicia Sanders, who serves as the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Bird Conservation Project supervisor, has been named the Biologist of the Year by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.“We are so fortunate to have Felicia as our Shorebird Project leader at SCDNR,” said Emily Cope, SCDNR’s director of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. “She truly understands the importance of developing partnerships and building support for conservation. Her hard work, passion, and gentle nature are extremely evident in her everyday activities and set her apart as a true leader in her field.”Sanders, stationed at Santee Coastal Reserve in McClellanville, received the 2020 Biologist of the Year Award Oct. 27 during the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ virtual annual conference from Springfield, Missouri.She has spent 30 years on conservation efforts for a wide diversity of bird species and began her career at SCDNR in 2001. Sanders has worked extensively with sea, shore, and wading birds as well as red-cockaded woodpeckers, grassland birds and neotropical migrants. Since 2007, she has been a tireless champion for the conservation of South Carolina’s coastal birds.Sanders has led South Carolina’s coastal bird management and built a program recognized internationally. She has established partnerships with private, government and non-governmental partners and galvanized grassroots support to protect coastal bird habitat at about 30 sites. This has often included navigating conflict between multiple stakeholders to achieve these protections. Sanders is a dedicated biologist and her research activities have resulted in coauthoring 29 scientific publications and has highlighted the importance of South Carolina during red knot migration. She has mentored numerous wildlife professionals and served on 10 graduate committees.Her many conservation accomplishments include designation of five coastal island Seabird Sanctuaries allowing beach closures to increase nesting success, and the designation of the Cape Romain-Santee Delta Region as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network Site of International Importance. Also, Sanders is an invited participant in the Artic Shorebird Demographics Network, an internationally coordinated effort with 17 partners working across Alaska, the Canadian Arctic and Russia. She is a founding member of the American Oystercatcher Working Group, a model for shorebird conservation, and coordinated the first statewide winter shorebird and Wilson’s plover breeding surveys in South Carolina.The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) is an organization whose members are the state agencies with primary responsibility for management and protection of the fish and wildlife resources in 15 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.For more information, visit SandersFelicia SandersSouth Carolina Department of Natural Resources – Rembert C. Dennis Building
1000 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29201

Global Big Day – Marathon Birding

Nine locations, 93 species, 2,082 individual birds, 11 hours and 20,000+ steps are the numbers I reported for my marathon day of birding.  Bob Mercer and I spent the long day doing social distancing while birding.  Six others joined us at varying locations to participate in the fun.  Let me tell you more about my day.

High water at the Slough – Nancy Brown

We started the day at 6:30 with a visit to Camp St. Christopher.  We were granted permission to bird in this closed facility.  (Our individual donations to the Camp were appreciated!)  Bob was able to identify the numerous birds we heard in the dawn chorus.  The day started with Painted Buntings and Summer Tanagers.  46 species were seen on our 2.7 mile walk.  (Mark Andrews admitted he didn’t realize such long trails could be hidden in the relatively small gem.)  At the slough (with very high water) we saw a flock of Cedar Waxwings that had yet to go north.  Near there, we also heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and two Black-throated Blue Warblers.  This was also the only location we reported a White-eyed Vireo, a Red-eyed Vireo or Eastern Kingbird.

Chilly morning birding North Beach – Nancy Brown

Our second location of the day was the always interesting North Beach.  The wind was chilly and brutal but we saw 45 species and almost 3 miles.  One Piping Plover, American Oystercatchers (including the infamous U5), a small number of Red Knots, Wilson Plovers, Black-bellied Plovers and Least Terns were seen.  In greater abundance were Semipalmated Plovers (700), Semipalmated Sandpipers (75), Dunlins (125), Sanderlings (100), and Royal Terns (75).  Of course, Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls were there as well.  On the return walk from the spit, a Savannah Sparrow was seen running along the dune.

Rookery – too many nests to count – Jackie Brooks

The last stop of the morning probably had the greatest concentration of birds.  We stopped to see the rookery on the golf course lagoon that backs to houses on The Haulover.  We had to guess at the numbers of birds as they were everywhere.  Some Great Egrets had penthouse nests on tops of palms.  Wood Storks were still constructing their nests.  Great Egrets and Snowy egrets were feeding their young.  Even Cattle Egret were in residence at this commune as were several pairs of Anhinga.  A total of 15 species were seen in this brief stop.

Orchard Oriole – Jackie Brooks

The afternoon started with a walk around Palmetto Lake.  A mature male Orchard Oriole, a female Orchard Oriole and a first-year male all gave us good views to get a good comparison of the varying plumage.  In one hour and about three quarters of a mile, 30 species were seen.

Mississippi Kite – Jackie Brooks

First seen at this location then seen again later in the day were Northern Rough-winged Swallows and a beautiful Mississippi Kite.   When a European Starling crossed our path, we could eliminate the Horse Pasture from our scheduled itinerary and make up for lost time.

The Maintenance Area was next on our stop.  The 29 species were all seen in less than .2 mile and a half hour.  By this time, our legs appreciated this.  Highlights were three Mississippi Kites circling along with two Red-shouldered Hawks.  A mama Killdeer was there with her chicks.

An elegant Black-necked Stilt was seen.  25 Least Sandpipers were near at hand.  When planning our day, this was the location we hoped to see the Spotted Sandpiper.  There were four here but we also saw them bobbing their tails at three other locations.

Green Heron – Jackie Brooks

Jenkins Point resulted in 33 species over 1.4 mile.  Although seen in five locations, the 10 Green Heron seen here were the peak.  One was building a nest and another posed nicely for a photo.  There were no species seen only at this location but 13 Black-crowned Night Herons were another highlight.  All participants admired but stayed clear of the numerous “baby” alligators.  It was agreed, those were probably either one or two years old.

Nesting Eurasian Collared-Dove – Nancy Brown

Nancy Brown joined Bob and I for our last stop at Bohicket Marina.  The Eurasian Collared-Dove was the goal for this stop.  It was an easy find since one is nesting on Nancy and Flo’s porch.  Other unique finds within the 21 species seen were Chimney Swifts and Black Skimmers (missed at North Beach).

After I was home and enjoying that glass of wine, I was able to add to my day’s list with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a Wild Turkey, and a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  As night settled in, I heard the Chuck-will’s-Wwidow as my 93rd species of the day.

“Expected” but not seen were Eastern Towhee, White-breasted Nuthatch (Friday’s sighting didn’t count), any owls, and Black-and-white Warbler.  With these notable misses, I may have to try again next year with a  goal of 100 species.

Submitted by: Judy Morr

Seabrook Island Birders – March Activities

With March as the gateway month for spring here in the Low Country, the Seabrook Island Birders are looking forward to filling it with some exciting activities that are open to everyone. 

Check out what we have planned and register soon to secure your place.

51H3ihX3HgLTuesday, March 5, 2020
WHAT: SIB Movie Matinee Double Feature
WHERE: Oyster Catcher Community Center
WHEN:  4:30pm – 6:30pm Register Here

2 Piping Plover - CBC North Beach

Saturday, March 7, 2020
What: Shorebird Walk on North Beach
WHERE:  Meet at Property Owner’s Parking Lot at Boardwalk #1
WHEN:  3:00pm – 6:00pm Register Here


Saturday, March 14, 2020
WHAT:  Youth Birding at Palmetto Lake
WHERE: Meet at Lake House Parking Lot
WHEN:  4:00pm – 6:00pm  Register Here

1Red Knot SBI May 16 2010

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
WHAT:  Shorebird Walk on North Beach
WHERE: Meet at Property Owner’s Parking Lot at Boardwalk #1
WHEN: 9:00am – 11:30am Register Here

11 Santee Coastal Reserve - Yellow-throated Warbler

Sunday, March 22, 2020
WHAT:  Spring Migration @ Camp St Christopher
WHERE: Meet at Bus Parking Lot at Camp St. Christopher
WHEN: 9:00am – 11:00am   Register Here

image0 (1)

Monday, March 23, 2020
WHAT: Learning Together on Crooked Oaks Course
WHERE: Meet at Island House parking lot next to Spinnaker Beach Houses
WHEN: 8:30am – 11:00am  Register Here


Happy Holidays!

Northern Cardinal from Wingscapes 12 Birds of Christmas

Happy Holidays from Seabrook Island Birders!  May the season bring you many joys and maybe even a few wonderous feathered finds.

American Robin – Ed Konrad



Pictures of Northern Cardinals, American Robins, Canada Geese and ducks are often seen on holiday cards.  A little research shows how many different birds are in the popular song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  (Information provided by sites noted below.)

A Partridge in a Pear tree – The “partridge in a pear tree” is probably the Red-legged Partridge, a rotund seed-eater native to continental Europe.

A red-legged partridge surveys the Midlands of England in winter. (Photo: Erni/Shutterstock)

It was introduced to England as a game bird in the 1770s, and it’s still common in the U.K. today. Another candidate might be the Grey Partridge.   This small, chicken-like bird, also known as the Hungarian partridge, is native to Eurasia but now makes its home in agricultural grasslands along the United States–Canadian border. Gray Partridge hens produce a clutch of up to 22 eggs—one of the largest clutches of any bird species—meaning you’ll usually find more than just one partridge in a pear tree.

Two Turtle Doves -Were probably originally European turtle doves, native birds that were widespread in the U.K. when “The 12 Days of Christmas” was introduced.   In the U.S. it would more likely be mourning doves.   Male and female mourning doves work together to feed their babies “crop milk” or “pigeon milk” that’s secreted by their crop lining. These adult pairs tend to mate for life, which may be why the song’s composer reserved this bird for the second slot in the holiday countdown.

Three French Hens – The “French hen” referenced in this Christmas classic could be any chicken breed (as chickens are native to France).  Unfortunately, if you spot a domesticated chicken, you can’t post in eBird as domesticated birds aren’t counted.

Four Calling Birds – Although recent renditions refer to them as “calling birds,” the original version uses “colly birds”—a colloquial British term that means “black as coal”—to describe this bird. Therefore, the common blackbird is widely considered the lover’s intended gift.

Five Golden Rings –  A birder’s interpretation of this gift could be Ring-Necked Pheasants.  The males’ bright copper and gold plumage makes it the perfect “gift”.  Another site suggest five gold rings could refer to five “gold spinks” or Goldfinches.

A greylag goose trudges through snow in central England. (Photo: Erni/Shutterstock)

Six Geese a laying – As a British Christmas carol, the reference is likely to the British bird, the Greylag goose.  We of course are more likely to think of a Canada Goose.

One mute swam goes a-swimming at Forfar Loch in Angus, Scotland. (Photo: Mark Caunt/Shutterstock)

Seven Swans a swimming – the seven swimming waterfowl are most likely mute swans. These large birds were long kept in semi-domesticity in England, where they were considered property of the Crown.


The remaining gifts are not as obvious birding gifts.

Eight Maids-a-milking – Two sites stretched it to be Magpies. They chose the black-billed magpie for its milky white belly.

Nine Ladies dancing – One site said the Parotia, “ballet dancing bird,” is the perfect choice to replace the Christmas carol’s “nine ladies dancing.” Male Parotias learn their unique dance moves from their fathers who use this display to attract a mate. Their decorative, six-quill plumes are dramatic and dazzling. These birds of paradise aren’t native to the song’s country of origin, but you can spot them in New Guinea, a former British territory.

Ten Lords-a-leaping – We sing the song with the ten lords a-leaping, but in  the earliest known variant found in North America, on the Tenth Day of Christmas, the true love sent ten Cocks A-Crowing.

Eleven Pipers piping – Sandpipers could be the easy bird interpretation.

Drummers drumming – The most common drumming bird is said to be the Snipe but another site suggested the Ruffed Grouse is the drumming bird. When displaying for females or defending its territory, the male Ruffed Grouse beats its wings in the air to create a drumming sound that scares off potential threats. Another interesting Ruffed Grouse fact: the bird’s toes grow projections that act as snowshoes in the winter months.

Sites used in submitting this article:

12 Birds of Christmas

The bird songs behind ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’

The 12 Birds of Christmas by John R. Henderson


It’s not too late to Sign up for SIB’s 3rd Anniversary Celebration!

2018 Bird Bingo & Game Night

Register Now!

You still have time to sign up for Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) celebration of our 3rd Anniversary at “Bird Bingo & Game Night.” SIB will provide beef tenderloin sliders and cake. as well as beverages of wine, water and coffee. Otherwise you can BYOB and we’ll provide ice and cups. Just sign up to bring a heavy hors d’oeuvre or dessert. We will socialize as we eat, drink and be merry playing Bingo and trivia games during a fun-for-all evening! We even have a silent auction item that one of our lucky participants will take home!

Date: Friday November 9, 2018
Registration & Social: 5:30 pm
Program Starts:  6:00 pm
Location:  Live Oak Hall at the Lake House on Seabrook Island
Maximum Attendees:  80

We ask everyone to RSVP no later than November 6 so we know how much wine to purchase and tables to set.

You may renew your 2019 SIB membership for $10 at the door.  Not a member of SIB yet?  Join that evening and your $10 membership will not expire until the end of 2019.  Guests are welcome for a $5 donation.

Don’t miss this chance to have a fun filled evening and win some prizes with our flock of Seabrook Island Birders! Space is limited to sign up today!

Join us to Celebrate SIB’s 3rd Anniversary!

2018 Bird Bingo & Game Night

Register Now!

Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) invites members and guests to join us to celebrate our 3rd Anniversary at our “Bird Bingo & Game Night.” We will socialize as we eat, drink and be merry playing Bingo and trivia games during a fun-for-all evening! We even have a silent auction item that one of our lucky participants will take home!

Date: Friday November 9, 2018
Registration & Social: 5:30 pm
Program Starts:  6:00 pm
Location:  Live Oak Hall at the Lake House on Seabrook Island
Maximum Attendees:  80

SIB will provide the beverages including wine, water and coffee. Otherwise you can BYOB and we’ll provide ice and cups. Just sign up to bring a heavy hors d’oeuvre or dessert. We ask everyone to RSVP no later than November 6 so we know how much wine to purchase and tables to set.

You may renew your 2019 SIB membership for $10 at the door.  Not a member of SIB yet?  Join that evening and your $10 membership will not expire until the end of 2019.  Guests are welcome for a $5 donation.

Don’t miss this chance to have a fun filled evening and win some prizes with our flock of Seabrook Island Birders! Space is limited to sign up today!

Spring Birdwalk at Camp St. Christophers & Farewell to David Gardner

David Gardner (photo credit Ed Konrad)

David Gardner, Director of Environmental Education at St. Christopher and SIB Board member, has accepted a job in Washington state and will be leaving Seabrook effective this Friday March 23, 2018.  David will be leading one last walk with SIB at Camp St. Christopher on Thursday morning and there is still room for a couple more people.  The walk, one to two miles in distance, will be in search of spring migrants while exploring the lakes, lagoons, paths and slough.

  • Thursday March 22, 2018 8:00 – 11:00 am
  • Spring Migration @ St. Christopher Camp & Conference Center with David Gardner
  • Location: Meet at the Bus Parking Lot at St. Christopher
  • Max: 10
  • Cost $5 donation to St. Christopher Educational Outreach Program

If you are interested in attending, register now!

David will truly be missed by all who have interacted with him, but especially those of us who have enjoyed birding with him since the creation of SIB less than three years ago. We will never be able to replace his special combination of enthusiasm, knowledge and his English accent that endeared him to us!  Several of our members wanted to share a few stories about David so you too could learn what a special person he is and how we are sad to see him leave!

From Bob and Eileen Mercer:

David will be taking his talents to the North Cascade Institute ( located in the North Cascades National Park in Washington State and is situated near the crest of the Cascade Mountains, a large lake and many square miles of wilderness. David’s enthusiasm and talents will serve him well. As a bonus, he will learn about a whole new ecology. He will need to get used to the higher altitudes and the exercise associated with a mountainous territory, as opposed to the coastal plain. One of the wonders of the area is that David will be able to get his coastal fix with a drive similar to going to Bear Island and will be able to visit the desert just by going over the ridge.

Unlike St. Christopher, the North Cascade Institute offers programming for children, a year-long graduate level study program, and a significant amount of adult programming. Anyone can sign up for any of the many adventures. Check out their offerings at and maybe plan a visit to see David (if nothing else, visit the website to see the stunning facility and views he will be forced to endure). Eileen and I spent 4 days there living in their luxurious dorms and enjoying the gourmet food provided by a professional chef and can highly recommend a visit. We wish David lots of wonderful experiences and a whole host of life birds!

From George Haskings:

One has to wonder a bit about the mind workings of a person who would voluntarily give up a seemingly good job (bird watching and working with kids in an outdoor environment) on Seabrook Island in order to take a position in the State of Washington where it likely rains many more days a year than the sun shines.  When I inquired of him on that matter, his
reply was “I’m from England.”

As I contemplated that, I recollected that most of my ancestors came from England and Scotland; that I grew up in New England; and (when seeking employment) I went to Rochester, NY, which has recorded snow every month except August.  You don’t have to shovel rain and we had snow in January.

David is an excellent birder – fabulous hearing and knowledge of bird calls. He has generously offered his talents to Seabrook Island Birders and his leadership on bird walks will be missed.  Best wishes to him and his family.

From Marcia Hider

SIB was lucky that David is so in love with birding. He has led some wonderful birding trips and his enthusiasm is absolutely infectious. He has said he’ll use any excuse to take a group out.  And the proof of that is what he leaves behind. I had to get something in his office once and I could hardly get the door open. There were piles of things everywhere awaiting his return. I just laughed.

But his birding knowledge benefits from the time he puts in.  Once last spring, as we were walking on the St. Christopher boardwalk listening to and seeing numerous Green Herons, I heard a different call – kind of a squeaking sound. I asked David if maybe it was from Green Heron chicks. He smiled and said no, that he thought it was probably a frog being consumed by a snake. I was sure he was kidding until I focused in on the location, only to find a snake consuming a frog! Unbelievable.

He will definitely be missed.

 From Lydia McDonald
One of my first birding adventures was with David at Bear Island . I remember riding with David in his car, and his vehicle hitting the branches and low plants and he didn’t care because he was doing something he loved. I was wowed by his knowledge and expertise. He was persistent in making sure I found the bird and taught me so much about the birds. David has a gift for finding the birds and teaching others about them. It is fun to be around David ; he truly enjoys his job.
From Aija Konrad

A memorable and very fun day I had with David was when we did a route on the Breeding Bird Survey last June. The survey is done nationally as a long term monitoring program of birds at the height of breeding season. I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into, but I accepted his invite to do it. I knew that we would cover 24.5 miles of country roads and stop a half mile apart for a total of 3 min in each spot to listen for and count all birds we could ID.

Our route was in Colleton County, near Walterboro, and we started before sunrise! It was a hoot…practically all of it is birding by ear, since in 3 minutes, you barely have time to get your bins up. I was the scribe and timer,  David the driver and we both counted the birds. It was so much fun and I was amazed at what we could ID just by sound. After approximately 5 hours, I could barely get out of the car (50 stops, in and out…do the math…LOL!) We took our life in our hands at some stops, barely having a shoulder to pull off on, with cars whizzing by. I can’t remember how many species we got, but it sure was a great day and one I will always remember with David and his enthusiasm, sense of humor and most importantly, his infectious competitive spirit, always hoping for 1 more species!!! That’s David!

From Nancy Brown

It is hard to imagine SIB without David Gardner! David enthusiastically embraced leading many bird walks with our members in all corners of Seabrook Island and beyond.  One of the best things we started as a result of David’s suggestion was our Seabrook Island Patch competition! After the 2016-17 Christmas Bird Count, David thought it would be fun to see who could find the most bird species on Seabrook Island in a calendar year. Four of us took on the challenge, but it’s pretty hard to beat someone who lives at St. Christopher, is outdoors most of the day and their job is to be a naturalist! But then, I can’t complain, as David would be the first person to text the three of us to say he’d seen a new species with the specifics of where it was so each of us had a chance to see it as well! I’ve spent several hours trompsing in the wood or beach looking for elusive birds, including an American Woodcock this past winter, which I never did see!  In the end, he beat us all out for the 2017 Seabrook Island Patch win. Now that he is leaving, I told him I would finally have a chance to beat him! Although I sure wish he was sticking around, I want to wish he and his family the best of luck for the next chapter of their lives!

From all of us at SIB, thank you to David Gardner for his expertise and enthusiasm in finding and identifying birds!  You will be missed!