SIB “Bird of the Week” – American Robin

American Robin – Turdus migratorius
Length:  10″; Wingspan: 17”.Although generally this bird is thought to be a sign of spring in the more northern sections of North American, during the winter this migratory bird loves to hang in the warmer areas of the South gorging on our berries!

American Robin - C. Moore
American Robin – C. Moore

The Robin is among the most abundant bird species on the continent, with a population estimated at more than three hundred million. It lives in almost every habitat, from forest to tundra, from Central America to north of the Arctic Circle, from sea level to 12,000 feet.

The American Robin was mistakenly named after its smaller, orange-breasted European namesake by Early American colonists. The American Robin is not in the robin family but is actually a thrush, part of a group of songbirds that includes bluebirds, veeries, hermit and wood thrushes.  These birds often possess attractive plumage, spotted breasts (particularly in the young) and insectivorous diets. At ten inches long, the robin is the largest of the American thrushes and is often used to describe and judge sizes of other birds since it is so commonly recognized. Its orange breast sets off a black tail, a black head with white around the eyes, a yellow bill, black-and-white-streaked throat, grayish brown back and white undertail.  Male colors are bolder than those on the female and, true to form, juvenile robins have spotted breasts.  Look carefully the next time you see a robin and you will notice what a beautiful bird it is!

With autumn comes a southward migration, although some robins can be found wintering in even hostile climates, eating the berries remaining in wooded, densely vegetated areas. According to Lex Glover, a S.C. Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician, the population of robins in South Carolina swells each fall and winter, as robins move in from the northern states and Canada, sometimes on their way to Florida and the Gulf States.

“We can have pretty intense flocks of them, scattered through the coastal plain,” he says. “When we do Christmas counts, you’ll see large numbers of robins either first thing in the morning or the last thing in the evening, often going into bottomland hardwood areas where there is plenty of cover, and maybe cedars and evergreens so they have a place to roost. I have also seen them in plowed fields, with sparrows and blackbirds mixed in with them.”

Just before the New Year, one of our members, Ellen Coughlin, sent us the picture below to ask us to confirm the identification of the birds.  She said, “They were in the back yard and over the lagoon as well as fighting over the bird bath on Dec. 23.  There were easily 100-150 of them.  Flying around like they were drunk.  This is the second time this event has occurred.  The last time the birds were red winged blackbirds and it was about three years ago.  Same weird behavior, diving bombing us as we stood on the enclosed screened in porch.”  As you might remember from last weeks blog on Cedar Waxwings, some birds eat so many fermented berries they become “drunk.”  According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, ” When Robins eat honeysuckle berries exclusively, they sometimes become intoxicated.”

American Robins - Ellen Coughlin
American Robins – Ellen Coughlin

In fact, just days before Ellen’s email, a birder staying at his parent’s house on Bohicket Creek reported, “I watched flocks of robins flying from Wadmalaw Island to Johns Island at dawn, and then again from Johns Island to Wadmalaw Island at dusk. I would guess the flyway was about a half-mile wide, so I couldn’t monitor the whole thing, but multiple estimates of the number of robins passing overhead in my binocular’s field of view led me to a count of 300 per minute for 40 minutes (the flight lasted somewhat longer) for a report of 12,000 robins.  I’m confident that estimate is low, though it’s easy to over-estimate the number of birds for species that fly in loosely-organized flocks.

Keep your eyes and ears open for these common winter birds on Seabrook Island.  We are still seeing flocks of them flying overhead or eating berries atop trees and bushes throughout the island!

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

Article submitted by:  Nancy Brown 2017, resubmitted by SIB
Photographs provided by:  Hud Coughlin, Ed Konrad, Charles Moore
Source:  South Carolina Wildlife

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.

Preventing Bird Collisions – a Two-Part Webinar Series offered by Audubon

Preventing Bird Collisions, a Two-Part Webinar Series

Join Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Communities team for an exciting two-part webinar series focused on the issue of bird-window collisions, solutions we can take to address this problem, and lessons learned from across the Audubon network.

Register below for each event.

A Discussion with Researcher Dr. Daniel Klem
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
7–8:30 pm Eastern
REGISTER HERE

Solutions and Successes Across Audubon
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
7–8:30 pm Eastern
REGISTER HERE

The series kicks off on Tuesday, November 16 with a discussion with well-known bird-glass collision researcher and leading expert, Daniel Klem, Jr., Acopian Professor of Ornithology and Conservation Biology at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. His new book, Solid Air|Invisible Killer: Saving Billions of Birds from Windows, highlights decades of his research and summarizes both challenges and solutions.

Following this discussion with Dr. Klem, we explore collisions further in part two, Tuesday, November 30, as we chat with a panel of experts from across the Audubon network, sharing experiences and highlighting specific challenges and varied approaches to preventing bird collisions, considering the problems that light and glass pose to birds. Solutions and successes encompass policy change, coalition building, and outreach to community members and groups in implementing home and commercial solutions.

Watch CBS Sunday Morning!

You may remember the story of the amazing discovery of 20,000 migratory Whimbrel that roost on Deveaux Bank in the spring. Andy Johnson, a Cornell ornithologist and film maker, sent word this afternoon that CBS Sunday Morning will air a segment about Whimbrel on Deveaux this Sunday, September 12 at 9 am. In case you haven’t seen Andy’s film about Deveaux and even if you already have, it’s well worth the time to watch:

The CBS segment to be aired this Sunday was produced the spring of 2021 while Maina Handmaker, grad student from USC, and Felicia Sanders, coastal biologist for SCDNR, were trying to capture Whimbrel to tag to study their movements into the marshes to feed. Because of our proximity to Deveaux, Seabrook Island is a big part of the story. Deveaux has always been known to be an important nesting location for seabirds and stop over for migrating shorebirds, but Felicia’s discovery that half of the remaining Atlantic Whimbrel population roost there was a wonderful surprise. Deveaux needs our support for its protection.

Submitted by Mark Andrews, Seabrook Island Shorebird Steward Co-Chair

SIB’s Articles for the September The Seabrooker

In case you don’t receive it, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we hope you will enjoy The Seabrooker’s September 2021 SIB articles. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page on the left side of the centerfold! The stories this month feature:

  • On the Road Again! Ed & Aija Konrad share photos and stories of their two-week journey to New England.
  • They’re Back! An update on our wintering Piping Plovers.
  • All About Vultures! SIB’s Evening Program series returns with guest speaker Jen Tyrell from Audubon SC. Register Today!
  • SIB’s Shorebird Steward Program including a QR code (this Quick Response code is a bar code which will open a webpage when a phone camera is focused on it.)

Thanks again to author Aija Konrad and photographer Ed Konrad for their contributions this month. Ed also serves as our graphic designer!

Fall Migration has started!

When it’s 90 degrees in the shade, it’s hard to remember the birds are already preparing for winter and have started their migrations south. For those of us on Seabrook Island, this means we loose our summer residents, Painted Buntings, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Green Herons to name a few. Amoung those arriving will be Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Northern Flickers. It is also a time when birds are flying through from their summer residences up north to as far south as South America. Many of the warblers are in this category.

The good news is all this coming and going means great birding opportunities. Since it’s hard for amateurs like to know when birds are coming through, I like to reference two web sites.

Close to home, Aaron Given publishes a daily blog of the birds they capture at the Kiawah Island Banding Stations. I know when these Kiawah banding stations are seeing a species, it’s a good chance they are on Seabrook as well. Since I don’t visit the site daily, it has a nice feature that allows me to page back to previous posts to see what has been captured on prior recent days. To learn more about the Kiawah Island Banding Station, visit the blog Aaron wrote for us last year.

Another helpful site can be used anywhere in the country. BirdCast is powered by Cornell Lab, Colorado State University and UMassAmhert. The site provides bird migration forecast maps that show predicted nocturnal migration 3 hours after local sunset and are updated every 6 hours. It also has a local migration alert tool to determine whether birds are passing overhead near your city tonight! This site doesn’t tell you which species are migrating but will give you an indication if there has been a recent influx of migrating birds.

Watch the Seabrook Island Birders blogs, activity page and calendar to see when the group will have organized activities during bird migration. You can also subscribe to the SIB Google Group. This group is then available for you to send an “impromptu” email asking others to join you in a search or other members would notify you when they are going out.

“Welcome American Oystercatcher Chicks DY & DZ” – SIB’s August Article in The Seabrooker

In case you don’t receive it, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we hope you will enjoy Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contribution to The Seabrooker’s August 2021 edition. The full-page story this month:

  • Resident American Oystercatchers Raise a FamilyLearn about U5 and his mate and how they successfully hatched and raised two young this summer on Seabrook Island! We hope chicks DY and DZ will return to our beaches for many summers to come!

Thanks to Mark Andrews for all his time spent stewarding on our beaches and for sharing this story. Thanks to the many photographers who have taken pictures of U5 and his mate over the years and for the photos from this summer, including: Mark Andrews, Glen Cox, Melanie Jerome, Ed Konrad, Patricia Schaefer and Janet Thibault. Lastly, thanks to Ed Konrad who serves as our graphic designer of the contributions to The Seabrooker.


And don’t forget, to learn more about SIB’s Shorebird Steward Program, open up this QR code (this Quick Response code is a bar code which will open a webpage when a phone camera is focused on it.)

“Discovery on Deveaux Bank!” – SIB’s July The Seabrooker

In case you don’t receive it, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we hope you will enjoy The Seabrooker’s July 2021 page 14. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page. The story this month:

  • Enormous Whimbrel Flock Discovered on Deveaux Bank!Learn about the the incredible discovery of nearly 20,000 migrating shorebirds on this beautiful estuarine island seen off the coast of Seabrook Island.

Thanks to Judy Morr and Joleen Ardaiolo for editing the SCDNR press release published on June 15, 2021, and to photographer Ed Konrad for sharing his photos of Whimbrel taken on Seabrook Island and serving as our graphic designer of the page.

If you have not yet watched the video about this spectacle produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, take ten minutes to watch it now!

And don’t forget, to learn more about SIB’s Shorebird Steward Program, open up this QR code (this Quick Response code is a bar code which will open a webpage when a phone camera is focused on it.)

“Oh, Baby!” – SIB’s June The Seabrooker

In case you don’t receive it, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we hope you will enjoy The Seabrooker’s June 2021 page 14. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page. The stories this month feature:

  • Oh, Baby! Birds you can expect to see nesting on Seabrook Island this Spring.
  • Deveaux Bank – Seabrook’s Wondrous Neighbor!Learn about the beautiful estuarine island seen off the coast of Seabrook Island.

Thanks to authors Aija Konrad & Judy Morr along with photographer Ed Konrad for their contributions this month. Ed also serves as our graphic designer!

And don’t forget, to learn more about SIB’s Shorebird Steward Program, open up this QR code (this Quick Response code is a bar code which will open a webpage when a phone camera is focused on it.)

Look at The Seabrooker’s May “Centerfold?”

The Seabrooker, May 2021, Page 8

In case you don’t receive it, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we hope you will enjoy The Seabrooker’s May 2021 page 8. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page on the left side of the centerfold! The stories this month feature:

  • Welcome Back! Birds you can expect to see on Seabrook Island this Spring/Summer.
  • North Beach Spring – Shorebirds & Stewards! An update on our Shorebird Steward Program
  • SIB’s Shorebird Steward Program including a QR code (this Quick Response code is a bar code which will open a webpage when a phone camera is focused on it.)

Thanks again to authors Bob Mercer & Aija Konrad along with photographers Bob Mercer and Ed Konrad for their contributions this month. Ed also serves as our graphic designer!

Did you see who made the April “Centerfold?”

The Seabrooker, April 2021, Page 8

In case you don’t receive it, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we hope you will enjoy The Seabrooker’s April 2021 page 8. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page on the left side of the centerfold! The stories this month feature:

  • Spring Migration – Birds on the Move!
  • SIB’s Upcoming Zoom presentation by Audubon SC’s Matt Johnson on Wednesday April 21, 2021 at 7:00 pm. Register for this event today!
  • SIB’s Shorebird Steward Program including a QR code (this Quick Response code is a bar code which will open a webpage when a phone camera is focused on it.)

Thanks to authors Bob Mercer & Aija Konrad along with photographer and graphic designer Ed Konrad for their contributions this month!

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