Boat-tailed Grackle released

Juvenile Boat-tail Grackle and cage mate – Carolina Wildlife Center

Baby birds sometimes need human help to become independent birds in the wild. Chris Derajtys of Carolina Wildlife Center of Columbia recently contacted SIB on Instagram regarding her desires to release a rehabilitated Boat-tailed Grackle on Seabrook Island while she was visiting for Memorial Day Weekend.

Joleen Ardaiolo and Judy Morr were able to witness the release. As we walked onto the Fiddler Cove Dock, a brethren Boat-tailed Grackle welcomed the new arrival. Chris removed the bird from its carrier and after giving us photo opportunities, released the young bird. It quickly flew away, circling and then disappeared into the marsh grasses. All indications were it would quickly adapt to life in the Seabrook Island marsh.

Of course we had questions about this bird and the process which Chris enthusiastically answered.

  • The young bird came to the Carolina Wildlife Center (CWC) via the Center for Birds of Prey. This occurred when the two centers did an “exchange” of birds when it was determined the other facility could better service the birds after the exchange. Although the Carolina Wildlife Center handles many songbirds at their facility, they have no regular transport from the Charleston area to Columbia. If you rescue an injured songbird, contact CWC at their hotline (the injured animal hotline: (803) 772-3994) to see if transportation can be arranged.
  • The young bird was too young to be living in the wild. CWC had numerous fledglings in their care including a Common Grackle which became the cage mate for the Boat-tailed Grackle.
  • Baby birds come to CWC in various stages of growth. Some young birds must be fed every half hour. This time of year, they have so many young birds it takes a full time person to make the rounds feeding the hungry hatchlings. As the birds mature, the frequency of food is diminished and food is left in the cage so they can feed themselves.
  • When the songbirds are ready for release, they CWC does a soft release from the outdoor aviaries they are in. They open a large door so they can fly out of the aviary. If they “choose” to leave they are released, if they don’t by the end of the day they stay a bit longer until CWC tries again. Unfortunately, Boat-tailed Grackles don’t live in Columbia requiring an alternative release strategy. Since Chris was to visit her inlaws, Seabrook Island became an ideal location.
  • The Boat-tailed Grackle traveled in its carrier in the backseat of Chris’s car. It traveled well and spent the windy/raining Friday night in its carrier on SIB member Pat Derajtys screened porch. When the weather briefly cleared, it was ready to go and the release was a success.

Chris also explained that CWC works with many other animals

  • They have many opossums in their care but because of the unusually high number of baby opossums brought into the Center for care this Spring, the facility is now can only accept injured baby opossums.
  • CWC has recently seen a large increase in turtles that have been hit by cars – please be turtle aware during this time as year as many are crossing roads looking for mates or looking for places to lay eggs. Seabrook Island does have these turtles (such as box turtles and yellow bellied sliders) in addition to the sea turtles we often talk about in our area.
  • The Carolina Wildlife Center website has a great page for rescue advice for Birds, Fawns, Non-venomous Snakes, Opossums, Rabbits, Rabies, Raccoons, Squirrels and Turtles.

Check out the Carolina Wildlife Center’s website ( for information on donations and volunteer opportunities including transport volunteers.

Submitted by: Judy Morr

Great Horned Owl Rescue

On September 21st, Brent Guyton found a Great Horned Owl under the deck of his home on  Seabrook Island Road. The owl was awake and aware of Brent’s presence, but was not moving. Brent’s wife, Cindy, called SI Security and they advised her to call The Center for Birds of Prey which has an avian medical clinic. She called right away and was told that someone was already in route to pick up another injured owl in North Charleston and would be at their home soon. 

Great Horned Owl found by the Guytons

Cindy kept a worried watch over the owl without getting too close until a young man arrived to pick up their injured guest. Wearing heavy gloves, the man placed a thick blanket over the owl in order to pick him up. As he was carrying the owl to his car the Guytons asked if he thought the owl would be alright. He answered that the tight grip that the owl had on his arm was a very good omen. The other patient he was transporting was an owl that had been hit by a car and had an eye injury. 

Early this spring Seabrook Island Birders posted a story about Great Horned Owls nesting in a Pine tree on Crooked Oaks golf course. SIB posted pictures of the nestling and the parent owl nearby. This nest was located just behind the Guyton’s home so it seems quite probable that this owl might be one of that family returning to the nest.

When the injured owl was examined, they found some internal injuries probably due to an impact. He responded quickly to medication and was well healed in a little over two weeks.

On October 9th, The Center for Birds of Prey contacted the Guytons and asked if they could release the recovered Great Horned Owl to his home from their backyard. 

Luckily, the Guytons grandchildren were visiting and were able to see the rehabilitated Great Horned Owl released back to his home. The photo is the owl when they found him under the deck and the videos show his happy release. 

Release of the rehabilitated Great Horned Owl at the Guyton’s home on Seabrook Island.

If you are anywhere near Cattail Pond Road in the evening or early morning, you will probably hear the Great Horned Owl and its mate calling to each other. This is thanks to the quick and compassionate action of the Guyton’s and the expertise and care from the staff at the Avian Medical Clinic and The Center for Birds of Prey

Should you find a sick or injured bird, call The Center for Birds of Prey at 843-971-7474. They are available every day of the week. Unless you have been instructed otherwise, do not handle the bird nor offer it food or water. Injured raptors require specialized treatment from a Federally-licensed, experienced practitioner. 

%d bloggers like this: