Ask SIB: Project FeederWatch Q&A

Nearly a dozen SIB members are participating in the 2017-2018 Project FeederWatch program.  During a seminar held earlier this week, one of the members asked a great question:

Q:  My backyard is legally ended by a tidal creek that flows in to a marsh behind my neighbor’s house.  The neighbor has a dock.  I know I don’t count birds in flight but if there are birds perched on the dock or in the marsh, should I include them in my counts?  Also, if there are birds scavenging at low tide in the mud of the creek or swimming by on high tide, should they be included?

Since this is an important questions as many of us live on or near marsh, beach, rivers, etc, Judy Morr sent the question to Project Feeder.  Below is their answer:

A: It gets a little tricky counting near water. If any of the birds are attracted to something you provide (feeder, birdbath, plants, stocked fish in a pond etc…), please include them in the count. If you think the birds would be at that location regardless of anything you provide, please exclude them. For example, if a bird is foraging at the tide line or resting at the dock, I would exclude it. However, if ducks come up into your yard to forage, I would include them. I hope that helps.

 Thank you for FeederWatching,

Chelsea Benson
Project Assistant
Project FeederWatch
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca, NY 14850

If you are interested to learn more about Project FeederWatch, please read our BLOG or visit their website www.feederwatch.org  and join today!

Submitted by:  SIB Communication Team

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Highlights from Productive Bird Walks

Recently, Seabrook Island Birders enjoyed a Bird Walk with a Kiawah Island Resorts Naturalist in the fields around Freshfields and then on another day, a “walk” on Ocean Winds golf course.  A recap of each is below.  More fun activities are scheduled for December.

Fields of Freshfields Village

On November 16, Seabrook Island Birders were honored to have a walk led by two naturalists from Kiawah Island Resorts.  The walk took us to places we usually are unable to bird….the fields behind Freshfields Village.  In the three hours together, an amazing 60 species were identified.  The day started in “Field 14” which is across the Kiawah Island Parkway from Freshfields Village.  We had to wait to enter the field for 9 Wild Turkeys to clear the drive.  Watching them run and fly over the fence in to the plowed field was a treat.

Pond with Great Egrets, Snowy Egret, Little Blue and White Ibis – Ed Konrad

The day only got better when we reached the pond where there were Great Egrets, White Ibis and Wood Storks.   Hooded Mergansers and Buffleheads had also arrived for the winter.    Greater Yellowlegs, Lessor Yellowlegs and Willets shared a pond to allow easy comparison.

Loggerhead Shrike – Ed Konrad

When we crossed back to the “tomato fields” behind the car wash, my highlight of the day was seeing the Loggerhead Shrike perched atop a tree.  The day was not over, however, as we continued on to the brush piles behind Andell Inn where the House Wren and Carolina Wren shared a pile, again allowing comparison.  The final stop of the day was the fields behind the pond at Andell Inn.  From the fields, we looked in to the pond where a Common Gallimule was seen.

Our guide tagging Monarch Butterflies – Ed Konrad

The day ended as we observed Jake and Juliana capture Monarch Butterflies which they would tag for migration studies.  The number of butterflies was amazing and only expanded our love of beautiful area we call home.

 

Ocean Winds Golf Course

On November 27, Seabrook Island Birders were once again hosted by the Seabrook Island Club at the Ocean Winds golf course.  During this “walk” in golf carts, 32 species were identified.  The day started positively by the observation of numerous Double-crested Cormorants on the pond by the first tee.

Eastern Bluebird – Charlie Moore

The Eastern Bluebirds were not to let their larger friends outdo them so volumes greeted us further down the path.  As the day continued, many of the “normal” species were spotted.  A Green Heron missed the memo to migrate south so was seen on the sixth hole (and another was seen on the thirteenth).  On the back nine, a Pied-billed Grebe was seen and then the highlight of the day was the pond on the thirteenth hole.

This one pond had the Green Heron, a Common Gallinule, a Pied-billed Grebe and the highlight of an American Bittern.  As we headed back to the club house, a Northern Harrier soared overhead as well as a Bald Eagle.  The Eastern Phoebe, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons and lowly Carolina Chickadees didn’t stand a chance in winning our hearts.

The species identified in the Fields of Freshfields included:

Bufflehead 2
Hooded Merganser 7
Wild Turkey 9
Wood Stork 15
Double-crested Cormorant 13
Anhinga 3
Brown Pelican 2
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 45
Snowy Egret 13
Little Blue Heron 5
Tricolored Heron 4
White Ibis 1
Black Vulture 15
Turkey Vulture 8
Osprey 2
Cooper’s Hawk 2
Bald Eagle 3
Clapper Rail 3
Common Gallinule 1
American Oystercatcher 3
Killdeer 2
Dunlin 1
Greater Yellowlegs 6
Willet 2
Lesser Yellowlegs 3
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 1
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Eastern Phoebe 2
Loggerhead Shrike 1
White-eyed Vireo 1
Blue-headed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 6
Fish Crow 2
crow sp. 10
Tree Swallow 8
Carolina Chickadee 4
Tufted Titmouse 1
House Wren 2
Carolina Wren 7
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4
Eastern Bluebird 3
Hermit Thrush 1
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 3
European Starling 1
Palm Warbler (Western) 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 45
Chipping Sparrow 20
Song Sparrow 6
Swamp Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 12
Boat-tailed Grackle 3
House Finch 2
American Goldfinch 3

The species identified on Ocean Winds golf course included:

Pied-billed Grebe 2
Double-crested Cormorant 25
Anhinga 2
American Bittern 1
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 3
Snowy Egret 1
Tricolored Heron 1
Green Heron 2
Turkey Vulture 2
Osprey 1
Northern Harrier 1
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Bald Eagle 1
Clapper Rail 2
Common Gallinule 1
Belted Kingfisher 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2
Downy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 2
Eastern Phoebe 2
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 6
Tree Swallow 2
Carolina Chickadee 5
Tufted Titmouse 6
Carolina Wren 1
Eastern Bluebird 50
Northern Mockingbird 2
Palm Warbler 15
Northern Cardinal 2

Submitted by: Judy Morr

Photoes by: Ed Konrad, Charley Moore, Valerie Doane

Attend SIB’s First Afternoon Seminar to Learn About Project FeederWatch

 

Do you enjoy watching the birds in your backyard?  Whether you have feeders or not, you should consider becoming a citizen scientist by joining Project FeederWatch this winter. If you would like to learn more about the program, SIB is hosting a seminar to explain Project FeederWatch and provide support to our members on Monday, December 4, from 4:00 – 5:00 pm.  The seminar will be held at the Lake House in the Eagle’s Nest room.

Sign up to attend now!

Continue reading “Attend SIB’s First Afternoon Seminar to Learn About Project FeederWatch”

Become a Citizen Scientist by Watching the Birds in your Backyard!

Do you enjoy watching the birds in your backyard?  Whether you have feeders or not, you should consider becoming a citizen scientist by joining Project FeederWatch this winter.

What is Project FeederWatch?

Project FeederWatch lets you become the biologist of your own backyard. You identify the birds in your backyard or at your feeders and submit your observations to the Cornell Lab. You can count every week between November—April, or you can count only once all season—the time you spend is up to you! The easy online data entry lets you immediately see all of your counts and view colorful summaries and graphs. Anyone interested in birds can participate; you don’t have to be an expert. All you need is a comfortable chair, a window, and an interest in the birds in your neighborhood.

How do I participate?

Once you sign up you can immediately start collecting data at your feeders. Read the online instructions and use the printable tally sheets to collect your counts. In the meantime, you will be sent a research kit in the mail with your unique ID number; once you have your ID number you can enter your counts online. Kits take a few weeks to arrive, but don’t worry—it will be there soon, and you don’t need it to start collecting data.

What do I get when I register?

The cost to participate is $18 and you will receive:

  • FeederWatch Handbook & Instructions
  • Full-color poster of common feeder birds
  • Bird-Watching Days Calendar
  • The Project FeederWatch annual report, Winter Bird Highlights
  • Digital access to Living Bird magazine

The first day to count birds for the 2017-18 FeederWatch season is Saturday, November 11, 2017 and the season runs through April 13, 2018.  There are already four SIB members who have joined Project Feederwatch for the 2017-2018 winter season.  Let us know if you already are signed up! We hope more members will consider joining! 

If you would like to learn more about Project FeederWatch, SIB is hosting a seminar to explain the program and provide support to our members on Monday, December 4, from 4:00 – 5:00 pm.  The seminar will be held at the Lake House in the Eagle’s Nest room. In the meantime, let us know if you have any questions and go to the Project FeederWatch website to Join Now!

Submitted by:  Nancy Brown

Introducing: Ask SIB

SIB would like to introduce a new feature called “Ask SIB.” Please email us your bird related questions along with any photos. One of our experts, including our resident ornithologist Carl Helms, will research the question and provide an answer. We will also publish on our blog to educate all our members!  Below is our first “Ask SIB.”

Dear SIB,

We have had this bird at our feeder and wondering if it is a mutant or some other kind of chickadee. The white on his tail and breast and back is really white, it is not just blown out. He is a very fast flyer and gets chased by the other birds but comes to the feeder a lot. I don’t think we have seen him the last day or two but was there pre storm and during the storm. Not great pictures but I wanted you to see the white. What do you think? 

Patricia Schaefer

Hi Patricia

Thanks for your question and photos.  I suspect this is a leucistic Carolina Chickadee.  They can be nearly all white to patches of white.  It is the same type of situation as our piebald deer, but different from Albinism.  Below is a more detailed description of bird color variation from the Project Feederwatch website.

Thanks for sending your question!

Nancy

ALBINISM AND LEUCISM

Albinistic Rock Pigeon by Maria Corcacas, Middletown, New York

Albinism is a genetic mutation that prevents the production of melanin (but not other pigments). Some colors come from pigments other than melanin, such as carotenoids. Albinism only applies to an absence of melanin; consequently, it is possible for a bird to be albinistic and still have color, although most consider true albinism to be an absence of all pigment.

Leucistic Dark-eyed Junco, by Gary Mueller, Rolla, Missouri

Leucism is a genetic mutation that prevents melanin and other pigments from being deposited normally on feathers, resulting in pale or muted colors on the entire bird.

Albinistic birds have pink eyes because without melanin in the body, the only color in the eyes comes from the blood vessels behind the eyes. It is possible for a bird to be completely white and still have melanin in the body, as when a white bird has dark eyes. In this case the bird would be considered leucistic because the mutation only applies to depositing melanin in the feathers, not the absence of melanin in the body.

Pied Northern Cardinal by Anne Page, Broad Run, Virginia
A third type of mutation that results in pied birds–birds that have white patches–is called partial albinism by some and leucism by others. The white patches are caused by an absence of pigment in some feathers.

Carolina Chickadee with white tail feathers, probably from a close call with a predator. Feathers likely will be replaced with feathers of a normal color during next regular molt. Photo by Vincent Smith, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
To further confuse things, occasionally a bird will lose feathers in a close call with a predator. When this happens the new feathers sometimes grow in white and then change back to the normal color at the next regular molt. This kind of white coloring looks like leucism but is not and most frequently happens in the tail, causing a bird that lost its tail feathers to a predator to have an all white tail.

Source:  Project Feederwatch – Color Variants (https://feederwatch.org/learn/unusual-birds/)

Free Season of FeederWatch When You Join Now

Do you have bird feeders and enjoy watching the birds? We want to let you know about an opportunity to try the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Project FeederWatch this year and receive the 2017-2018 FeederWatch season for FREE.  SIB would love to hear about your experience if you join – please let us know!

Also, watch for information about a new SIB program we plan to introduce to all Seabrook Island residents later this month.  The SIB Ambassador Program will offer assistance in identifying birds you see from your home!

Baltimore Oriole taken at the feeders of Jim & Donna Lawrence by Charles Moore
Baltimore Oriole taken at the feeders of Jim & Donna Lawrence by Charles Moore

Join Project FeederWatch by February 28 and receive next season free!

There is no easier way to connect with nature and contribute to science than by participating in Project Feederwatch. Even though the season is underway, every count matters, so there is plenty of time to contribute. You can still count birds until April!

What is Project FeederWatch?

Project FeederWatch lets you become the biologist of your own backyard. You identify the birds at your feeders and submit your observations to the Cornell Lab. You can count every week between November—April, or you can count only once all season—the time you spend is up to you! Our easy online data entry lets you immediately see all of your counts and view colorful summaries and graphs. Anyone interested in birds can participate; you don’t have to be an expert. All you need is a comfortable chair, a window, and an interest in the birds in your neighborhood.

What do I get when I register?

Participants will receive:

  • FeederWatch Handbook & Instructions
  • Full-color poster of common feeder birds
  • Bird-Watching Days Calendar
  • Our annual report, Winter Bird Highlights
  • Digital access to Living Bird magazine
Receive all of this FREE for joining Project FeederWatch
Receive all of this FREE for joining Project FeederWatch

Special offer expires February 28!

Wild Birds Unlimited wants to offset your FeederWatch membership fee by offering you $15 off any $50 purchase at their participating stores.

You will receive details for how to redeem this discount in your FeederWatch registration receipt. This offer expires on February 28, 2017. Restrictions apply. We are thankful to Wild Birds Unlimited for providing this special offer just for FeederWatchers participating in our 30th year, so be sure to thank them for supporting us when you visit their stores.

feederwatch3

Sign up for $18 ($15 for current Lab members) today. Your participation fee keeps the project running; without it, Project FeederWatch wouldn’t be possible.

We hope you will tell us about the birds at your feeders! 

Emma Greig
Leader, Project FeederWatch