Forecasts Can Now Tell You When Birds Are Headed Your Way

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As reported in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology newsletter. Sign up on their website.

With fall migration heating up, it’s time to take advantage of BirdCast. Using a combination of weather forecasting and long-term data sets, our BirdCast team can predict which nights migrants will be on the move—which spells good birding for the morning after. Check out our primer on using BirdCast, or go straight to the current 3-day forecast.

 

 

 

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2018 Eastern Bluebird Trails Summary

The Seabrook Island Bluebird Society was started on Seabrook Island to help the Eastern Bluebird (see our “Bird of the Week” blog from 2016 to learn more about the Eastern Bluebird). The 2018 nesting season has come to an end.

If you didn’t know, the Eastern Bluebird is a small member of the thrush family that inhabit fields and clearings. Although pesticides and competition from house sparrows in the early and mid-20th century negatively impacted bluebirds, they have recovered well in recent years and are stable or increasing both as breeding birds and wintering birds. Much of this recovery is thanks to concerned citizens who put up bluebird boxes in their fields for these birds to nest in.

Seventy-three bluebird boxes were installed and are located along Crooked Oaks and Ocean Winds golf courses, the Lake House and Sunset Pier. Melanie Jerome took over the leadership of the Bluebird Society in 2018 from Dean Morr. The  main focus is to monitor nesting of bluebirds and any other bird species using the boxes. This is done from March through August by a group of 13 hard working volunteers. They check the boxes once a week, keeping track of activity of all birds documenting by box the number of eggs laid, hatched and fledged. Once fledged, the boxes are cleaned of all nesting material so they available for another brood of birds.

The 2018 statistics for our Seabrook Island Eastern Bluebirds are:

  • 99 nests built
  • 389 eggs laid
  • 246 eggs hatched
  • 226 fledged

This is a 58% fledge success. We also have had 21 nests from Carolina Chickadees, with 74 eggs laid, and 55 fledged. We had a predation problem from snakes and raccoons this year and the 2019 goal is to obtain baffle guards on some of the poles to prevent the predation issue.

To compare to results from previous years, see the chart below:

Trail Name Bluebird Carolina Chickadee
2018 RESULTS # Boxes No Activity Nest
Attempts
Eggs Hatched Fledged Nest
Attempts
Eggs Hatched Fledged
2018 Totals 73 6 99 389 246 226 21 74 55 55
2017 Totals 73 5 89 318 183 175 26 98 82 82
2016 Totals 73 3 99 386 360 359 28 126 106 106
2015 Totals 73 7 76 318 259 259 39 136 104 102
2014 Totals 67 10 63 252 219 203 28 113 85 83

I would like to thank all of our volunteers for their help, we couldn’t do it without you. If you are interested in helping with the bluebirds, please contact Melanie at seabrookbluebirds@gmail.com.

Article submitted by:  Melanie Jerome
Photos provided by:  Nancy Brown

Birding & Biking the West Ashley Greenway

On Saturday September 8th, shortly before the onslaught of news of Hurricane Florence, five SIB members met to bike the 7-mile West Ashley Greenway from Johns Island to the Windermere Plaza.  Two additional members where unable to catch up with us, but also spent a beautiful morning biking and birding.

The larger group documented 38 bird species along the way.  One of the most exciting sightings for the group were a pair of female Summer Tanagers who chased each other near the “tree of shoes.”  Our final new species of the day was a flyover pair of Roseate Spoonbills was spectacular!

The two additional SIB members who biked and birded the Greenway saw 36 species, but interestingly they saw at least six species not seen by the first group: three types of warblers, two types of vireos and a Loggerhead Shrike.

Below is the full list from the larger group. Let us know if this type of trip is of interest to you and we will try to plan another later in the fall.

Canada Goose  24
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  85
Mourning Dove  15
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Clapper Rail  3
Killdeer  10
Spotted Sandpiper  2
Laughing Gull  25
Wood Stork  10
Anhinga  1
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  12
Snowy Egret  3
Little Blue Heron  4
Tricolored Heron  3
Roseate Spoonbill  2
Black Vulture  2
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Belted Kingfisher  6
Downy Woodpecker  2
Merlin  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Blue Jay  14
American Crow  4
Fish Crow  1
swallow sp.  5
Carolina Chickadee  7     It
Tufted Titmouse  6
Carolina Wren  5
Eastern Bluebird  12
Gray Catbird  3
Northern Mockingbird  7
House Finch  3
Boat-tailed Grackle  5
Summer Tanager  2
Northern Cardinal  3
House Sparrow  2

Annual eBird Taxonomy Update

Do you use eBird to document your bird sightings?  If you don’t and want to learn more about how to use eBird, contact us!

If you already use eBird, you may be aware August is when the Cornell Lab of Ornithology updates “all eBird records with the latest scientific advances in bird taxonomy. New information on species limits can result in increases (splits) or decreases (lumps) in your list totals. Whenever possible, we change your records for you to match the expected species when a split occurs—this is one of the main services we provide at eBird. Expect 2018’s update in the second or third week of August.”

According to the article, about 31 species will be split (resulting in an increase of 36 species), six will be lumped, and five new species will be recognized, bringing the global species total to 10,585. Other changes include revisions to some scientific and common names, and some additions of some new taxa for data entry (e.g., new hybrids etc.).

So, for those of us who have a “life list” in eBird, notice if that number increases or decreases at the end of the month as this initiative would explain the change, and you to an “armchair lifer!”

 

 

Watch: Wild About Painted Buntings

Wild About is a monthly video series produced by the Town of Kiawah, where each episode will focus on a particular element of nature, wildlife or the environment from life on Kiawah Island. This month features one of the special birds of the Lowcountry, the Painted Bunting.  Learn how the biologists on Kiawah band these beautiful birds to track and monitor their population on Kiawah.

And remember, their favorite food is white millet, so fill your feeders and you may see them outside of your own window!

If you have a topic suggestion you would like to see as a part of their series – the Town of Kiawah wants to hear from you! Send suggestions to Stephanie at sbraswell@kiawahisland.org.

To view other Wild About videos, visit Wildlife on Kiawah Island.

Birding in Rochester, NY

Believe it or not, Rochester, NY and Seabrook Island, SC are similarly located ……….. from a birder’s viewpoint.

The Genesee River flows North through the center of the City west of us and extensive creek system feeds Irondequcit Bay — seen from our porch — immediately to the east. Both of these water bodies feed into Lake Ontario — the most easterly of the Great Lakes — and all of that water eventually flows, via the St Lawrence River, into the Atlantic Ocean. The land areas, swamps, and numerous ponds south of the Lake Ontario shoreline are important landing, feeding, and nesting areas for a myriad of bird species. This includes residents, summer residents, and those who are, in Spring and early Summer, preparing to fly the 30 miles or so across the Lake to Canada and beyond — Hudson Bay and the Arctic.  This is roughly similar to what surrounds Seabrook Island. The difference is the 800 to 900 miles difference in latitude.

Continue reading “Birding in Rochester, NY”

SIB Member Profile: Cat & Charles Russo

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Visitors to the Russo home are enthusiastically greeted by Tasha, a Cairn terrier. Her owners Cat and Charles moved to the lake district full-time two years ago. They had vacationed on Fripp and Jekyll Islands, but found them too remote for year-round living. Cat was acquainted with Johns Island, having visited Kiawah as a child, so they started coming to Seabrook, escaping the northern Virginia winters, for increasingly longer stays.

Walking Tasha during one such visit, Cat asked another dog walker about houses for sale in the neighborhood. Mrs. Phillips said she was thinking of selling the home her husband had designed and built thirty years ago. When Charles and Cat toured the house with a realtor, an eagle landed on the osprey platform in the middle of the lagoon behind the house, a sign that this was their future home.

Continue reading “SIB Member Profile: Cat & Charles Russo”