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

 

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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 (https://ncascades.org/) 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 https://ncascades.org/ 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!

 

REMINDER: SIB Presents – Migratory Birds at Seabrook Island on June 28, 2017

If you haven’t already signed up, please register now to let us know you are planning to attend our program on Wednesday June 28th!

Felicia Sanders, Shorebird Lead for SCDNR

Everyone is Welcome to Meet
Felicia Sanders
Shorebird Lead for SCDNR

to speak on
Migratory Shorebirds at Seabrook Island

Join us on

Date: Wednesday June 28, 2017
Registration & Social: 7:00 pm
Program Starts: 7:30 pm
Location:  Live Oak Hall at the Lake House on Seabrook Island
Cost:  Free for SIB Members &  a $5 donation for non SIB members

Join us for an informative evening with Felicia Sanders, lead of the Shorebird Program at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), who will speak on Migratory Shorebirds at Seabrook Island.

To help us plan for the number of chairs, snacks and wine, please register now!

Continue reading “REMINDER: SIB Presents – Migratory Birds at Seabrook Island on June 28, 2017”

SIB Presents – Migratory Birds at Seabrook Island on June 28, 2017

Felicia Sanders, Shorebird Lead for SCDNR

Everyone is Welcome to Meet
Felicia Sanders
Shorebird Lead for SCDNR

to speak on
Migratory Shorebirds at Seabrook Island

Join us on

Date: Wednesday June 28, 2017
Registration & Social: 7:00 pm
Program Starts: 7:30 pm
Location:  Live Oak Hall at the Lake House on Seabrook Island
Cost:  Free for SIB Members &  a $5 donation for non SIB members

Join us for an informative evening with Felicia Sanders, lead of the Shorebird Program at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), who will speak on Migratory Shorebirds at Seabrook Island.

To help us plan for the number of chairs, snacks and wine, please register now!

Continue reading “SIB Presents – Migratory Birds at Seabrook Island on June 28, 2017”

SIB Presents – Rudy Mancke on April 26, 2017

Everyone is Welcome to Meet
Rudy Mancke
co-host of South Carolina ETV’s NatureScene

Bring your birding questions
for an interactive discussion about
The Natural History of Barrier Islands

Join us on

Date: Wednesday April 26, 2017
Registration & Social: 7:00 pm
Program Starts: 7:30 pm
Live Oak Hall at the Lake House on Seabrook Island

Please help us know how much wine, snacks and chairs we will need by letting us know you plan to join us! Click here!

If you would like to join or renew your SIB Membership, download the SIB Membership Form now and either drop it off or bring the form and your $10 per person per year when you sign in at this event.

All Seabrook Island residents and guests are welcome. There is a $5 donation for non SIB members. Information about future programs can be found at the SIB web site seabrookislandbirders.org .

 

About Rudy Mancke

Naturalist Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV’s NatureScene which began it’s long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, have earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy’s knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards. Since retiring from SCETV, Rudy has gone on to teach at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Before coming to television, Rudy served as the natural history curator at the South Carolina State Museum for 10 years, and was a high school biology and geology teacher. He earned a degree at Wofford College, attended graduate school at the University of South Carolina, and received honorary doctorate degrees from the College of Charleston, Winthrop College, and Wofford College.

Rudy Mancke currently hosts NatureNotes on both SCETV and South Carolina Public Radio.