Join the Seabrook Island Birders Shorebird Stewards Program

Why?

To help birds at risk: Seabrook Island sits at a critical junction for a number of shorebird species! During the spring, birds like Piping Plovers and Red Knots need our beaches to pack on weight in preparation for migration. Birds fitted with transmitters have proven that some red knots, as part of their 9,300 mile trip from South American to its breeding ground, leave Seabrook Island and fly non-stop to the Hudson Bay in northern Canada over 1,200 miles away. Other birds like Least Tern and Wilson’s Plover use the beach area for nesting and food. (Learn more about the birds here.)

To honor Seabrook’s promise to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). The USFWS and SCDNR allowed our town to relocate the inlet in part because we agreed to protect the birds that needed sustenance from our beaches.

The Purpose

To educate: Many people do not appreciate how important our sanctuary is. The 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.

Your Commitment

The Seabrook Island Birders Shorebird Stewards Program asks you to volunteer for two-hour shifts, signing up for as many or as few as your schedule allows. You will use an online sign up to pick and choose the times you want to give. Ideally, at least two people will be working together for each shift. Please honor your commitment to the times you choose. Be friendly and open. Encourage people to approach you with questions but limit your answers to the depth of their curiosity.

The Seabrook Island Birders Stewards Program’s Commitment to You

Prior to accepting a commitment of your time, we, in cooperation with Audubon South Carolina, will train you. You will learn key ways to interact with the public. We will provide educational material to enhance your understanding of the birds and you will have a professional spotting scope (on hold due to Covid restrictions) provided by SCDNR to show folks these miraculous birds. You can use these tools to help educate our friends and neighbors as to how to interact with the birds while on the beach. You will also be provided a station containing a chair, an umbrella, some signs for people to read, and some information to share. You will be kept informed as to what birds are currently on the Island and, if known, where they are from.

Learn more

The 2021 Seabrook Island Birders 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.

Covid protocols in place

1) Limit volunteer hours by scheduling one or two shifts a day of two to two & one half hours. Only one volunteer will be assigned /shift, but volunteers may work with a member of their household or a person who is part of their “pod”.

2) Volunteers would be required to keep a 6-10 foot distance from their audience while making their presentations and limiting those interactions to less than 15 minutes. It might be advised to setup a sign or other marker to ask beachgoers to stand away. Groups of more than 9 people  (TOSI ordinance prohibits groups of more than 10, 9 + steward=10) will not be accepted at our steward station and they will be required to distance and perhaps mask. Stewards may decline “service” if the group does not comply or the steward is uncomfortable with the situation.

3) Volunteers would be supplied with masks and required to wear   those masks during interactions with our audience. (Volunteers do not have to wear masks when by themselves and distanced from other individuals).

4) Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes will be supplied.

5) Equipment would be limited to a beach cart which would serve as a mobile sign kiosk with “Ask Me About the Birds” to attract beachgoers and Red Knot posters to be read. Equipment would require cleaning between volunteers and shifts.

6) We will not share spotting scopes or binoculars with guests and will not provide a spotting scope for the use of volunteers at this time because it has been our experience that it is almost impossible to discourage close contact when the scope is present. This restriction will be evaluated as the season progresses.!

7) Educational materials would be transmitted electronically by QR codes placed on our signs or by texting a link by cellphone to guests to eliminate contact between the volunteers & audience. Content would include photos with brief captions of Red Knots in winter & breeding plumages and a flock picture; photos & captions of Piping Plovers, Wilson’s Plovers, Least Terns, Willets, American Oystercatchers and Whimbrel; and the pages of the brochure developed for TOSI & SIPOA in 2020 with more bird information, steward rules and beach/pet ordinance rules and maps. Eventually, videos of Red knots could be added. QR links can be modified during the season to highlight different species or topics.

8) To better reach visitors and residents, QR codes linked to these educational materials could be affixed to existing signs at Boardwalks with approval from SIPOA and the Town of Seabrook Island (TOSI) or posted on new signs, also to be approved, located at the end of SIPOA boardwalks and possibly on the signs near our storage box.