Test Your Knowledge of Wading Birds – The Answers

On Friday we presented a list of 10 wading birds that can be seen on Seabrook Island and asked you if you could match the names to each photo below.   (If you missed that article and want to test your knowledge, click here before we spoil it and give you the answers below!)

It turns out we haven’t officially profiled as many wading birds as we had thought – so if you got them all right – Congratulations!  You are an expert at identifying Wading Birds and should volunteer to assist SIB on our “Learning Together” walks!  One of our first posts covered several of the white birds (Confusing Big White Birds) and we recently posted the Little Blue Heron article.  Below we’ve linked each bird to its description on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website in case you are interested to learn more about any of these species.

And a special thanks to all our GREAT Seabrook Island Photographers for sharing their fabulous photographs!  (Irene Haskings, Ed Konrad, Charley Moore & Dean Morr)

We hope you liked this weeks format change and we will feature another group of birds for you to guess later in the fall.

WADING BIRD ANSWERS:

  1. Great Egret – C
  2. Snowy Egret – G
  3. Reddish Egret – E
  4. Great Blue Heron – D
  5. Little Blue Heron – B
  6. Tricolored Heron – H
  7. Woodstork – I
  8. White Ibis – J
  9. Glossy Ibis – A
  10. Roseate Spoonbill – F

 

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Test Your Knowledge of Wading Birds

We began our “Bird of the Week” series in March and we hope you have been able to learn a few things about our feathered friends.  This week we hope you will enjoy a little quiz to test your knowledge.  Below is a list of wading birds which we have already profiled (and a few we haven’t).

On your own match the name of each bird to their photo?   We will publish the answers on Sunday.  Good luck!!!

  1. Great Egret
  2. Snowy Egret
  3. Reddish Egret
  4. Great Blue Heron
  5. Little Blue Heron
  6. Tricolored Heron
  7. Woodstork
  8. White Ibis
  9. Glossy Ibis
  10. Roseate Spoonbill

 

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Clapper Rail

Clapper RailRallus longirostris
Length:  14.5″; Wingspan: 19″; Weight: 10 oz.

Clapper Rail eating a small crab on the mud flat - Ed Konrad
Clapper Rail eating a small crab on the mud flat – Ed Konrad

You may not be aware that hidden in dense cover in our salt marshes lurk a bird called Clapper Rail.  This slinking, secretive bird is a year-round resident on our island and often we only hear the loud clattering call as our clue that a Clapper Rail is even around.  Because they also rarely fly you are very lucky if you get a quick glimpse of one stalking mud dwelling prey along the edge of the marsh.

Are you familiar with the saying “thin as a rail”?  Well, this saying is attributed to the Rail’s lean body and the fact that this stealth bird has the ability to compress its body to such a degree that it can easily squeeze between stems of grass and plants almost melting into the vegetation and and barely causing a ripple.  This tactic allows them to quickly disappear to escape their predators.  Clapper Rails are so effective at maintaining a low profile that their major nonhuman predators are pike, black bass, and other predatory fish which feed on their young.

The Clapper Rail has a chicken-like appearance, with long unwebbed gray toes, strong legs and long slightly decurved bill. When it walks it twitches its short upturned white patched tail.  It has grayish brown upper-parts with vertical white-barred flanks, grayish cheeks and white throat.  Its eye color is red to reddish orange.  This bird is locally known as the Marsh Hen, Salt Water Marsh Hen and Mud Chicken.  Males are slightly larger than females but similar in coloration.

These birds feed mainly on crustaceans, aquatic insects, grasshoppers, seeds, slugs and small fish. They search for food while walking and probing with their long bills in shallow water or mud.

Nests are well built cups of grasses and sedges lined with finer material.  The nests are usually built on the highest, driest place in the marsh. During courtship the male points his bill down and swings his head from side to side.  He also may stand erect with neck stretched and bill open.  Nesting season is from April to June.

The eggs, 5-12, are creamy white with irregular brown blotching. The incubation is 20-23 days and the new young are covered with black down and leave the nest within one day to be fed by the parents.  Young can fly in about 9-10 weeks.  Both parents feed and guard the young until they are independent.  Since these rails are very territorial during feeding and breeding they can be quite belligerent when defending their nests.

A group of Rails is collectively known as a “reel” of rails.

In 1940 one hurricane left an estimated 15,000 of these rails dead in South Carolina, and in 1976 another storm killed some 20,000 in New Jersey.

Keep an eye ear out for Clapper Rails, as they live amongst us in the marshes all thoughout Seabrook Island.

Similar Species

  • King Rail: Habits similar to Clapper Rail.  Plumage is darker and more richly colored and more reddish. More distinct blackish centers on upper parts.
  • Virginia Rail: Smaller in size 9.5″L, 13″ wing span and 3 oz weight. Plumage bright reddish. Bill is more brightly colored

If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:

Article submitted by:  Flo Foley
Photographs provided by:  Ed Konrad & Bob Hider

This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents.  When possible we will use photographs taken by our members.    Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.

Bird of the Week … Who am I???

As you may know, every Sunday we publish a weekly “Bird of the Week” blog.  Today we’d like to test your knowledge by asking if you can guess what bird you can hear on Seabrook Island that sounds like this.

Leave us a comment if you want to make a guess – and watch for the full article on Sunday morning!

 

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis
Length:  7″; Wingspan: 13″; Weight: 1.1 oz.

Eastern Bluebirds - Charley Moore
Eastern Bluebirds – Charley Moore

Slightly smaller than its cousin the Robin, this bird is distinctive in its rusty red colored breast and white belly with a sky blue head, back and tail. The female shares the rusty red breast and white belly but is grayer with faint blue tails and wings. The song is a three part song that sounds like chur-lee chur chur-lee.

You will see these beautiful Eastern Bluebirds commonly perched on mailboxes alongside the roads of Seabrook Island and in the surrounding tree branches. They like open woodlands, meadows and fields and are year round inhabitants of this area. This was not always the case due to competition from other birds for their nesting holes and also the occasional cold spells that we have had that killed them off in large numbers. Their population declined by more than 90 % in the 20th century but thanks to efforts from bird lovers who have placed many bird houses in the area, their population is returning. There is also an increase in their population in winter when migrants from the north return to this area. If you are thinking of putting a birdhouse up, you should do this in early May to attract these migrants to stay. When you locate the birdhouse, try to keep it a discrete distance from other bird feeders so there is less activity to scare off new nesting birds.

Bluebirds enjoy a peanut butter corn meal mixture but really love live mealy worms which you can buy from Wild Birds Unlimited. They should be placed in an open bowl type feeder.

Their breeding habits are monogamous and they breed in pairs and small groups. The incubation period is 12 to 14 days and the young stay in the nest for 15 to 20 days. They usually brood 2 to 3 times a year with typically 2 to 7 light blue or white eggs.

If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:

Article submitted by:  Ron Schildge
Photographs provided by:  Bob Hider & Charley Moore

This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents.  When possible we will use photographs taken by our members.    Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.

Bird of the Week … Who am I???

Every Sunday we publish a weekly “Bird of the Week” blog.  Today we want to give you a hint to see if you can guess which bird we will profile – and we don’t want to make it too easy – so can you guess by only listening to the song?

  1. A common bird on Seabrook Island and it sounds like this.

Leave us a comment if you know or want to make a guess – and watch for the full article on Sunday morning!

 

Piping Plovers Have Returned to Seabrook Island’s North Beach

This weekend (July 22-25, 2016), Aija Konrad spotted, and Ed Konrad photographed, what may be our first two Piping Plovers returning from the north. As Janet Thibault advised at the June SIB meeting, we could expect to see them return later in July. In reporting the sightings on eBird, Aija learned that these Piping Plovers are quite special and of great interest. They were banded in the Bahamas in 2015, and are being closely tracked by the Bahamas Shorebird Conservation Initiative, in conjunction with US Fish and Wildlife and the National Audubon Society.

These Piping Plovers have pink flags on their upper right legs, labeled 47 and OJ. Aija and Ed saw 47 just one day in the protected bird area on North Beach. OJ has been seen the past three days at low tide on North Beach.Here’s what we’ve learned about these celebrities from Matt Jeffery, Deputy Director & Director for the Caribbean International Alliances Program, National Audubon Society, Washington D.C.

Pink Flag OJ was banded November 27th 2015 in the newly created Joulter Cays National Park, just north of Andros Island in the Bahamas. The Banding Team was from Bahamas National Trust, National Audubon, Virginia Tech and USFWS.
Piping Plover "OJ" seen on North Beach of Seabrook Island July 22, 2016 - Aija & Ed Konrad
Piping Plover “OJ” seen on North Beach of Seabrook Island July 23-25, 2016 – Aija & Ed Konrad

OJ was hanging out in Maine for the breeding season, and reported on 23-May-16 on Fortune’s Rocks Beach, Maine; 20-Jun-16, Parsons Beach, Kennebunk, Maine – reported to be female nesting. Unfortunately, her nesting attempt was unsuccessful; 8-Jul-16, Laudholm Beach, Wells, Maine, in a flock of about 20 other Piping Plovers.

Hopefully she may be seen on the Joulter Cays this October when the area is surveyed.

Pink Flag (47) was banded 5-Feb-2015 in the Berry Islands, The Bahamas at a place called Ambergris Cay just south of Great Harbor Cay. This area is the second most important site in The Bahamas for Piping Plover with approximately 7% of the Atlantic breeding population there each winter. The banding team included, National Audubon, Bahamas National Trust, Virginia Tech and USFWS. Currently Audubon is working with BNT and the Government of the Bahamas to make the area a new protected area for birds and marine life.

Piping Plover "47" seen on North Beach of Seabrook Island July 22, 2016 - Aija & Ed Konrad
Piping Plover “47” seen on North Beach of Seabrook Island July 22, 2016 – Aija & Ed Konrad

#47 has also been reported: 7/3/2015 Elizabeth A. Morton NWR, NY; 7/16/2015 – South Point Ocracoke. Cape Hatteras NS in North Carolina by Virginia Tech shorebird team; 5/10/2016 – Wade’s Beach Shelter Island, NY; 29-May-16 – Otis Pike Wilderness Area, Long Island NY.

You can keep track of the migrating birds associated with The Bahamas Shorebird Conservation Initiative by “liking” their Facebook page:

We hope you will take time to grab your binoculars and walk along North Beach to search for our celebrity visitors OJ and 47. Be sure to let us know if you see them!  As National Audubon reminds us, be sure to share the shore with plovers and other birds by:
  • Leaving no trace. Remove all trash and recycle whenever possible.
  • Disposing of fishing line properly.
  • Obeying our local laws regarding dogs.
  • Respecting protected areas and signs.