Corrected: Ask SIB: Nesting Brown Pelicans

Brown Pelicans roosting in trees at Sanibel Island. Photo by Ron deAndrade

This is being republished to correct the issue with some of the photos.


Q: We recently (April) returned from Sanibel, Fl . We noticed most Pelicans were in pine trees, near the top. I never see our Pelicans in trees on Seabrook. Is this from lack of beach trees or something else?

Thanks, Ron deAndrade, Pelican Watch


A: Brown Pelicans preferred nest sites are in mangroves, usually 2-3 meters above the ground. They may reuse these nests in subsequent years. On Deveaux Bank, the largest pelican rookery in SC, many do nest in wax myrtles. However, myrtles are not abundant and hundreds also nest on the ground.

Cheers – enjoy our pelicans!

Carl Helms

Here are several pelicans on nests in the myrtles…
Here is a nest on the ground…
Here is another pelican in a mangrove in the Galapagos Islands. Not nesting but roosting and preening but in a tree.
And finally, here’s more pelicans in trees. Seabrook, winter 2010. 14th tee, Ocean Winds

Ask SIB: House Finch

House Finch
Question:  I’m reaching out to some birder friends so that I can better understand what’s happening on my back porch.  We had a pair of house finches build a nest in the corner of our porch this spring.  It was great fun watching them nurture their eggs, feed the chicks and nudge their young out of the nest.  Could hardly believe how fast those chicks grew!  It’s been about 3 weeks since they fledged and the house finches are now back tending the nest.  Are they having another set of young or is this another pair of house finches that has taken over the nest?  It’s possible to see the adults sitting in the nest and we catch them as they fly in and out.  But, even on a ladder, it’s really hard to see into the nest itself.  Can you offer any help or suggest a website that might help us?  Thanks so much.
Janet and Ray

Answer:  We don’t think you can know if it is the same pair or different.  This site says they will use another bird’s nest but will also have 1 – 6 broods in a year.

Shorebird research underscores importance of South Carolina beaches

This past spring, members of the Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) assisted the SC Department of Resources (DNR) to band the federally threatened Red Knots on Seabrook Island’s North Beach.  Felicia Sanders of SC DNR wrote to SIB, “Thanks for all the help with the Red Knot work. Please forward to others that I missed. Here is a press release about some of the findings. Thanks Ed Konrad for the photo! Felicia”

Here is an excerpt from the press release highlighting the importance of beaches like ours in South Carolina.

“Over the last few decades, red knots have declined by nearly 85%. This drastic decline led to the red knot receiving federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2015. Disturbance and food availability, especially during migration, are suspected reasons for the drop in numbers.

“Since 2010, SCDNR biologists have conducted research on red knots to understand the role that South Carolina plays in these birds’ journeys. Researchers and volunteers have captured hundreds of knots, measuring them them and placing field-readable engraved bands on their legs. These unique markers on each bird allow biologists to track individual birds if they are re-sighted anywhere in the hemisphere. Documenting how South Carolina’s resources are being utilized by red knots may help efforts to conserve this vulnerable species.”

This image, a collaborative effort between SCDNR, Ron Porter, Larry Niles, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, shows the one-year migration path of a red knot.
This image, a collaborative effort between SCDNR, Ron Porter, Larry Niles, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, shows the one-year migration path of a red knot. This bird was captured in South Carolina in 2016 on Deveaux Bank and a geolocator was affixed to its leg. During the life of its transmitter, the bird traveled 2x to its nesting grounds above the Arctic Circle and 2x to its wintering grounds in Tierra Del Fuego, Chile at the southern tip of South America. The bird was captured again in January 2018, and the geolocator was retrieved.

Remember: Our beaches are home for resident (including nesting) and migratory shorebirds.  Among them are endangered and threatened species such as Least Terns, Wilson’s Plovers, Piping Plovers and Red Knots. These birds do not read signs as far as we know, and thus may gather and feed outside protected habitat areas. Bird watching is great, but they need space. If they fly up, you are too close.

The brochure “Respect Seabrook Island Shorebirds and Habitat” is a recent joint venture of SIB, SIPOA, Town, SC DNR, and USFWS and is an excellent guide for those residents and visitors enjoying our beaches. Pick up a copy at the Lake House, Amenity Office, or SIPOA and Town offices.

Nursery on North Beach

We are excited to announce that several of our SIB members have detected both the Least Terns & Wilson’s Plovers have successfully nested this year on North Beach.

18 06 SBI-4236
Wilson’s Plover parents and chicks on North Beach.  Photo by Ed Konrad
Aija Konrad wrote, “Yesterday (Friday June 15, 2018), was a very exciting day on our beach….Ed and I found both Least Tern and Wilson’s Plover chicks! We saw 3 baby plovers with parents and we saw about 3 Least Tern chicks in various stages of maturity. Some of the terns even buzzed our heads, warning us we were too close. We were very careful not to go anywhere near the new residents, staying below the high tide line. Least Tern and Wilson’s Plover are SC threatened species. This is the first time Ed and I have seen chicks on our beach in the 10 years that we have been birding here. Hooray!!!

Continue reading “Nursery on North Beach”

Have You Heard about BirdNote?

Carl Voelker, a SIB board member, took the photos above from his deck overlooking the marsh and wanted to know what bird these were.  The answer: they are Whimbrel.  A common shorebird found wintering in tidal flats and shorelines and occasionally visiting inland habitats. On Seabrook Island, they’ve been seen on North Beach, the mudflats on Jenkins Point Road, the mudflats across from Bohicket Marina, and like Carl, maybe even your backyard.

While we’re talking about Whimbrels, we wanted to share a great website called  BirdNote is a daily two-minute radio show that combines rich sounds with engaging stories, to illustrate the amazing lives of birds and give listeners a momentary respite from the news of the day. It even has the transcript available if you are hearing impaired or prefer to read text.  Here is an example of their show on Whimbrels.

You can access these podcasts through iTunes, a podcast feed or by downloading. If you need a reminder like me, you may want to sign up for the weekly BirdNote Newsletter which is a preview – including photos – of the following week’s shows. Or simply explore their website:

Article Submitted by:  Nancy Brown
Photo Credit:  Carl Voelker


Check Out These Live Bird Cams!

Spring has arrived across the U.S. and so have nesting birds!  With the technology available today, you don’t have to be able to climb a tree to watch the development and progress of birds and their young or to see birds eating from feeders.  Several of our SIB members have shared some of their favorite bird cams from their local home states. We’ve included a few additional you might enjoy as well. Take a view and let us know if you have a favorite to share with us.

George Haskings shared this web site with information on the history and present status of the Peregrine Falcons in Rochester, NY.   The original
nest site was in the Kodak headquarters tower.  When repairs to the tower were needed, the box and recording equipment were moved to a downtown office tower.  They have several cameras focused so you can see the nest from multiple angles.

Marie Wardell shared an Osprey Cam from the Audubon in Greenwich, CT. She said, “The camera is powered by solar energy. Expect streaming interruptions during low-light conditions, overcast, and unfavorable weather—when the camera has not received enough sunlight to power up.”

To show that nature is not always a success, take a quick look at the live cam of the Bald Eagle nest in Hanover, PA, shared by Bob Worst.  Hopefully the pair will have better luck next year.

One of our favorite birding websites, All About Birds by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, has a number of great live web cams including Barred Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, wooded ponds and feeders.

And the site below will link you to a number of live cams across the globe of not only birds, but animals as well.

So take a look at these cams when ever you feel the need to do some birding from the comfort of your home.

WARNING:  These live cams can be addictive! 

SIB March Evening Program “Where Have All the Shorebirds Gone?” and North Beach Bird Walk

On March 28, 90 SIB members and friends attended an informative evening program on “Where Have All the Shorebirds Gone?” The program focused on Seabrook Island’s protected shorebirds, threats they face, and what we can all do to help protect them.

After social time and refreshments, Aija and Ed Konrad lead a shorebird identification slide show with photos of shorebirds found on Seabrook Island (Ed Aija Shorebird ID SIB Mar 28). Our guest speakers were Melissa Chaplin, Endangered Species Biologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, SC Field Office, and Janet Thibault, Wildlife Biologist, SC Dept. of Natural Resources. Melissa and Janet are very familiar with Seabrook Island’s critical habitat, and the diversity of shorebirds that depend on our beach to rest and refuel during wintering and migration, or nest in our dunes, or are year-round residents.

Continue reading “SIB March Evening Program “Where Have All the Shorebirds Gone?” and North Beach Bird Walk”