SIB’s Article for the October 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 October 2021 SIB article. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page on the left side of the centerfold! The stories this month feature:

  • Why Birdwatching? You hear a lot about it, so what’s all the fuss about? If you aren’t a birder, you may just realize why becoming one can be an exciting new hobby after reading Aija Konrads article and viewing the photos by her husband Ed.
  • 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!

2021 SC Audubon’s Coastal Stewardship Report

2021 has been an exciting year for birds on Seabrook’s beaches!

  • We welcomed back 4000-6000 Red Knots
  • We have watched American Oystercatchers successfully raise 2 chicks
  • There was the big announcement of 20,000 Whimbrel roosting on Deveaux Bank
  • AND Seabrook Island Birders Shorebird Steward Program completed our first full year.

Our Shorebird Steward program is part of a network of steward organizations that protect shorebirds during their migration and monitor nesting sites all along the South Carolina coast.

Last week, South Carolina Audubon released their 2021 Coastal Stewardship report. The report compiles the experiences of stewards in 10 communities from Huntington Beach State Park in the north to Little Capers island in the south as they educated beachgoers and monitored nesting sites of Threatened and Endangered birds.

SC Audubon leads many of these sites and while our program, like Kiawah’s, is autonomous, we receive valuable training and advice from Nolan Schillerstrom, SC Audubon’s Coastal Program Associate and Alyssa Zebrowski, the Seasonal Coastal Stewardship Coordinator. Our other sponsors are SCDNR, USFWS, the Town of Seabrook and SIPOA. 

Please enjoy reading the report. If you are a Shorebird Steward here on Seabrook, appreciate how your efforts fit into the larger picture. If you aren’t a steward yet, please come join us next spring. Don’t worry if you can’t identify plovers from sanderlings- shorebirds are challenging and we all learn something every day. We’ll announce our goals and training for 2022 in February.

All shorebird & seabird populations are in decline and your help is urgently needed.

Submitted by Mark Andrews

Front cover of report, white background, black text written, Coastal Stewardship 2021 Report

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!

“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.)

Welcome to American Oystercatcher Chicks DY & DZ

U5 and Family – Mark Andrews

Our American Oystercatcher chicks have flown the Nesting Area! One of the oystercatcher parents was U5, a bird that has frequented the Captain Sams Inlet for many years. Just before they could fly, they were banded to allow us to follow their progress and to contribute to what science knows about American Oystercatcher  behavior and habitat use. The many hours our SIB Shorebird Stewards spent educating and protecting the birds have paid off!

U5 – Mark Andrews

We have told the story of the North Beach Nesting Area in previous posts. Least Terns and Wilson’s Plovers also nested inside the yellow signs but they struggled to maintain their nests against blowing & drifting sand. Both species re-nested, but only the Least Terns hatched chicks. In nature’s way, those chicks were probably lost to predators or tides and the colony has moved on. We never saw Wilson’s Plover chicks.

Meanwhile, American Oystercatchers U5 & his mate, hatched two chicks on May 18 that have thrived! On a rainy Sunday morning when the chicks were 26 days old, Janet Thibault, SCDNR Coastal Bird Biologist, banded the chicks with the assistance of Glen Cox & Karin King, who first spotted the oystercatcher nest, and Mark and Melissa Andrews. The chicks can now be identified from blue bands on their upper legs as, DY & DZ. Blue bands designate a bird banded in South Carolina as U5’s red bands tell us that he was banded in Georgia.

Before banding the chicks, Janet had to consider many key factors: the chick’s age, health and whether banding the chicks would provide useful information to science. Birds are banded to allow scientists to track their movements and follow them through their nesting and other behaviors. Those observations, known as resights, are collected  and sent to a registry both by biologists and citizen scientists like Glen Cox, Patricia Schaefer & Ed Konrad. In the case of oystercatchers, that registry is The American Oystercatcher Working Group.

Just like the biologists, we can learn a lot from the approximately 60 resights in U5’s registry.  In December 2008, U5 was banded as an adult on Little Saint Simons Island, Georgia. In his first few years, he spent most of his time on the Georgia coast with an occasional trip to Deveaux Bank or Captain Sams Inlet. After 2012, he was seen at the inlet far more than in Georgia.  Then around 2016, he became a year round resident of Captain Sam’s Inlet with 23 resights by Kiawah and Seabrook residents recorded in the last 5 years. Those reports proved that our community “followed” him and gave Janet confidence that we would report DY & DZ sightings as well. 

You have the opportunity to contribute to American Oystercatcher science by reporting your resights of U5, DY and DZ to this website. Please remember that resighting requires giving the birds their space – if the birds appear nervous or fly, you are too getting too close. We use binoculars, spotting scopes or long telephoto lenses on our cameras to keep our distance.

American Oystercatcher chicks often spend up to six months in their family group before joining non-breeding flocks. Apart from the quick trip from the Georgia coast to Deveaux Bank in 2009, U5 was seen repeatedly in 2010 & 2011 back in Georgia near where he fledged. With some luck, we might see DY & DZ hang around Captain Sams inlet for quite awhile, maybe with U5 and their mother!

Adult & Chick Flying – Mark Andrews
Seabrook Island Shorebird Stewards- Melanie Jerome
Learn more about Seabrook Island’s Shorebird & Seabirds by accessing this QR code

Learn more about the American Oystercatcher here.

(All resights for U5 were obtained from the American Oystercatcher Working Group Band Database. Wilmington: Audubon North Carolina; Retrieved from The American Oystercatcher Working Group Band Database Website http://www.ancperch.org/amoy/index.html)

Article submitted by Mark Andrews
Photos provided by Mark Andrews, Glen Cox, Melanie Jerome, Ed Konrad & Patricia Schaefer

“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.)

First Glimpses of American Oystercatcher U5 & Family


I am writing to announce the arrival of two chicks to American Oystercatcher U5 and his mate over the last 48 hours.

American Oystercatcher U5 with mate and two young chicks on North Beach, Seabrook Island, SC
Photograph by Mark Andrews

At the beginning of May, I wrote to announce that American Oystercatcher U5 and his mate had nested on North Beach. U5 has been a resident around Captain Sam’s Inlet since 2014 and last year he & his mate lost three nests to predation. Janet Thibault, a coastal bird biologist for SCDNR, posted new Nesting Area signs on April 30 and confirmed that there were eggs in the nest. 

At that time, we also found that Least Terns were nested in the same restricted area. The Leasties are still nesting and we may be reporting the arrival of their chicks any day. Much of what we say about American Oystercatchers holds for Least Terns as well.

Tuesday morning, I saw the first chick walking with U5. Today, there were two chicks and the family was already foraging along the lagoon behind the nesting area. They may not stay near the nesting area, so please be on the look out at all times and be careful to give them plenty of space. The chicks may be hidden in the wrack or in sparse vegetation especially in the heat of the day. Even a footprint or tire track may be a hiding place.

We originally worried about crows taking the eggs, but these chicks are not yet out of danger by any means. While I was approaching the nesting area Wednesday morning, I watched as one of the parents chased an Osprey away. Crows, gulls and other predators are always ready to pounce. Beach flooding from high tides and heavy rain also takes its toll. The chicks will not fledge (fly) for 30-35 days and the parents will tend to them for even longer (up to 60days). 

We are asking all beach drivers to avoid driving in the wrack or dry sand where the chicks are hard to see. But remember as it gets warmer, the parents may take the chicks to the water’s edge to forage and to cool off. All areas of the beach are prime Oystercatcher habitat. I have attached the Best Management Practices for Beach Driving from SCDNR.

Please excuse the fuzziness of these photos. They were taken at long range with a very long lens to avoid disturbing them. Please do the same and avoid trying to get close for cell phone photos. We’ll keep you informed of the chick’s progress with   current images as we get them.

Mark Andrews, Seabrook Island Shorebird Steward Program Co-Lead
American Oystercatcher U5 newly hatched chick on North Beach, Seabrook Island, SC
Photograph by Mark Andrews

A very special Thank You to Mark Andrews and all of the Seabrook Island Shorebird Stewards for volunteering to extend the steward season beyond Red Knots. Now the fun starts in helping these new additions survive to adulthood!

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!