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!

What Bird Makes this Sound?

Each spring, Seabrook Island Birders receive many requests for us to identify the bird that makes this sound. Even if you have never seen this bird, chances are if you live or spend time in the spring on Seabrook Island, you have heard him after dusk and before sunrise! The bird we are hearing is the Chuck-will’s-widow, a “cousin” to another in the Nightjar family, the Eastern Whip-poor-will who makes this sound.

Local Seabrook Island residents began hearing this spring migrant last week!  For me, it was just tonight while taking my pup out for her last walk of the night here where we live at Bohicket Marina Village. Where are you hearing this bird?

Below is a blog we have “recycled” from April 2, 2017, so you can learn more about the Chuck-will’s widow and the migration of these fascinating birds.

And remember, just email us or “Ask SIB” if you have questions about birds you are hearing or seeing!


Published April 2, 2017

On Friday, we asked if you could identify a bird by its song.  It was first reported on Seabrook Island early last Thursday morning by George Haskins.  The answer:  the Chuck-will’s-widow.  This bird winters as far south as Colombia, Venezuela and the Caribbean and breeds in pine, oak-hickory, and other forests of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states. They tend to live in more open areas than the similar Whip-poor-will, which are not common here on Seabrook Island.

Chuck-will’s-widow – Flo Foley

Scientist continue to learn much about the migration of birds, especially with the advancement of technology such as using radar, acoustic, electronic and optical technologies. Spring migration starts as early as January and continues into June.  Birds generally take off shortly after sunset, some flying all night and landing just before dawn the next morning.  Others will fly nonstop for 60-100 hours as they flyover oceans and continents. Some nights there could be hundreds of millions of birds flying over North America.

Citizen Scientists like all of us are a great resource for migration information as we document bird sightings using the Audubon/Cornell Lab of Ornithology website: eBird.org.  This data is also available for anyone to view.  This link will open the eBird page to view the historical bird observations for all species by month for Charleston county.  For example, the Chuck-will’s-widow is shown below to arrive in April and is gone by the end of September.

Chuck-will’s-widow historical frequency sightings by month for Charleston County, SC from eBird.org

You can also drill down to view a map of locations where a bird has been documented, like the Chuck-will’s-widow map below.  Notice the red bubble was a sighting of a Chuck-will’s-widow documented by Aija Konrad on 3/31 near the tennis courts.

Chuck-will’s-widow map of sightings on Seabrook & Kiawah Island, SC from eBird.org

Another great website to learn more about bird migration, including a forecast each week for four geographic regions in the country, is Birdcast.info, a site created by Cornell.  Below is their forecast for the Chuck-will’s-widow for the Gulf Coast and Southeast and it looks like they are right on time!

Migrant Species

Chuck-will’s-widow

 

Begin
Arriving

3/29

Rapid Influx

4/10

Peak

4/24

Rapid
Departure

6/25

Last Departure

After Jun 30

Throughout April we will continue to share information related to bird migration including which birds are packing their bags to head north, which birds are arriving to breed and those who are just passing through and utilizing our island for rest and refueling.

In the meantime, check out this great article, Birdist Rule #70: Get Prepared for Spring Migration, by Nicholas Lund on the Audubon website.

Article submitted by:  Nancy Brown

Clams for Dinner

Red Knot with Donax Clam on North Beach – Bob Mercer

Currently, the beaches of Seabrook Island host a large flock of Red Knot, a species of bird severely threatened. Some Red Knots make an epic journey all the way from Tierra del Fuego at the southern-most tip of South America all the way to the scattered islands north and west of Greenland, approximately 9,000 miles. To date not enough information about Red Knots exists to say for certain what is happening with the Seabrook Island birds. One tiny tidbit of information came from a Red Knot with a geolocator, a device once placed on a bird records for up to two years the bird’s location. Only after a scientist recaptures a bird can they read the information. One Red Knot with a geolocator made a non-stop flight from Seabrook Island to James Bay in northern Canada.

To make these marvelously long flights, birds need to pack on weight! They need a good food source. The birds on Seabrook Island find that in the form of a little clam. Scientist call this clam Donax variabilis. We call it coquina, wedge clams, or bean clams. Every time one walks on the beach, those small white shells that crunch underfoot indicate the presence of Donax Clams. Look carefully at these shells and you will see that those on the beach have small holes near the umbo or beak of the clam. This indicates that clam fed a snail, probably an Atlantic Oyster Drill, Urosalpinx cinerea. The clams eaten by the Red Knots go into the bird’s gullet where it is ground to a pulp so the bird’s stomach can extract the nutrients.

Donax Clams never grow very large, a huge one measures just ¾ inch. The Red Knots prefer the smaller ones and their small size makes them easy for the Red Knots to capture and swallow whole.

Donax Clam on North Beach – Bob Mercer

The presence of filter feeding Donax Clams provide an excellent indicator of clean water and clean sandy beaches. We can feel certain that the clean beaches with fresh sand and lots of clams on Seabrook Island provide the major attraction to the Red Knots. The sheer number of Red Knots seen on Seabrook Island far exceeds any other reported locations along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean coast during the months of March and April. That changes in May when the population shifts to the Delaware Bay shores of New Jersey and Delaware where the bird’s change from feeding on clams to feeding on Horseshoe Crab eggs, a tiny packet of pure fat and protein. This tiny preferred feeding area extending essentially from Deveaux Bank through Folly Beach is a critical staging area for these birds, with Seabrook and Kiawah Islands hosting the largest concentrations.

Beach users can help these birds prepare for their journey by walking around the feeding flocks.

Article and Photos by: Bob Mercer

Red Knot with Donax Clam on North Beach – Bob Mercer