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!

North Beach: New Nesting Area Signs and Nests!

Last Friday, coastal bird biologist Janet Thibault of SCDNR posted the yellow nesting area signs on North Beach and confirmed that we have nesting birds.

A familiar sight for many of us, American Oystercatcher Red U5 & his mate have nested on North Beach. Janet, who did her graduate work on Oystercatchers, says that U5 has been nesting here around Captain Sams Inlet since at least 2014. Last year, he and his mate tried three times to hatch eggs but were defeated by predator crows. This year they are nested in a more open area of the beach which hopefully will give them more time to spot marauding crows or gulls.

While we were posting the signs, we watched as a Least Tern prepared her scrape nest a short distance away from the Oystercatcher nest. By the time we finished with the signs, Janet found an egg in that nest as well!

Both American Oystercatchers and Least Terns will incubate eggs for about 25-30 days and then tend to their young for another 20 or so days until the chicks are able to fly. After the chicks are born, they will hide around any available beach plants, wrack and other debris whether inside the signs or not, to keep out of the sun. The chicks are very vulnerable during this time to walkers and beach vehicles and it takes a sharp eye to see them.

We have not had a successful nesting of Least Terns on Seabrook since 2018 when we had 53 nests. Fingers crossed we will have more Leasties come in to nest since they are colony nesters – there is safety from predators in numbers.

We’ll keep you informed as the season progresses. In the meantime, please stay well away from the nesting area and remember to watch where you walk when you are in dry sand or looking for shells in the wrack line.

Article by Mark Andrews; Photos by Mark Andrews and Janet Thibault

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!

Replay of “Seabrook’s Amazing Shorebirds” and Volunteer to be a Steward

On Wednesday February 17, 2021, 80 members and friends of Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) were entertained by Janet Thibault, a Wildlife Biologist with SC DNR’s Seabird and Shorebird Program, as she educated us about the wonderful birds we can see right on our own beaches on Seabrook Island, SC. If you missed the program, you may view the replay below:

The shorebirds of Seabrook Island need your help! Many people do not appreciate how important our sanctuary is. The Shorebird Stewards Program asks you to be a volunteer to help educate people about the importance of our tiny piece of the world to the shorebirds that visit. This is not an enforcement effort, but an educational effort.

The 2021 Seabrook Island Birders Shorebird Steward Program Training session will be a Zoom meeting with Nolan Schillerstrom from Audubon South Carolina on Friday, February 26, at 1:00 – 3:30 pm. If you wish to join as a steward or just want more information, email us at sibstewards@gmail.com.

Follow-up: Least Tern Nesting on North Beach

                     

To follow-up on the article from June 19, 2020 that announced that Least Terns, a Threatened Species in South Carolina, had nested on North Beach, we are sorry to say that those Least Tern nests were lost in a series of heavy rains in early July. Despite the rain, the Least Terns tried repeatedly to re-nest only to be flooded out again. 

We have continued to monitor their progress daily but the Least Terns seem to have abandoned any nesting for this year. Accordingly, South Carolina Department of Natural Resource biologists decided that the temporary yellow-sign posted Nesting Area can be removed from the beach near Captain Sams Inlet. The permanent Nesting Area/Wintering Area behind the lagoon will remain posted. 

Thank you for your help in protecting these birds. Maybe next year!

Article and photo submitted by: Mark Andrews