Talk Turkey to me

I recently received an email from National Audubon that gave 10 fun facts about Wild Turkeys. An article that starts with “Super vision? Flowing beards? Spiral poo? Yeah, there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to this American icon” is too fun not to share.

Wild Turkey. Photo: Melissa James/Audubon Photography Awards

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Submitted by: Judy Morr

SIB Presents: Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks and Limpkins … are SC residents

Date: Wednesday December 7, 2022
Registration starts 7:00pm. Program starts 7:30pm
Location: Live Oak Hall, Lake House, Seabrook Island, SC
Program Fee: Members $0, Guests $10.00
Attendance: Limited to 100 members

If you are not a 2022 or 2023 SIB Member,
you can first join/renew for $15/year

Roseate Spoonbill, flamboyant with bright pink feathers, red eye staring from a partly bald head, giant spoon-shaped bill! Wood Stork, soaring on thermals with outstretched neck and legs, at 3 ft tall towering above other wetland birds! Limpkin, its long bill adapted for removing snails from shells, and unforgettable haunting cry! These fascinating birds, two that we enjoy seeing frequently on Seabrook, were once restricted to Florida. Now they all reside and nest in SC!


Craig Watson, bird guide and recent retiree from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service after 33 years of dedicated bird and habitat conservation, will be our guest. Craig will discuss these fascinating species’ decline and now subsequent increase in population, along with the reasons and implications of their range expansion to SC. Join us to hear Craig’s informative program, along with some enjoyable social time with Seabrook Island Birders’ members and guests!

 The program is limited to 100 SIB members. SIPOA COVID protocol will be followed.

Questions? Email us at: SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com 

Craig Watson currently resides in Charleston County South Carolina where he previously worked as a full time migratory bird biologist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Now retired (September 2022), Craig moved to South Carolina 33 years ago and began his career with the U.S. Forest Service managing Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, particularly after Hurricane Hugo decimated the habitat and population of the woodpeckers. Craig transitioned into his most recent position with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 25 years ago, where his primary duties were securing funds for bird habitat conservation from North Carolina to Puerto Rico. His most recent collaborative effort is the newly released Black Rail Conservation Plan and working with partners on the Atlantic Coast for the conservation of Black Rail.

Craig currently serves as the Chair of the Grants Committee of the Carolina Bird Club, and he works part time for Ventures Bird Tours. He is also a volunteer for Audubon South Carolina, leading local trips, and he is a trip leader for various birding festivals in the US, including the North Shore Birding Festival in Lake Apopka area in Florida, and The Biggest Week in American Birding on the shores of Lake Erie. Craig participates in many Christmas Bird Counts, and leads other local birding activities including Seabrook Island Birders’ Learning Together bird walks. Craig spends most of his time exploring and birding, and spreading the word about birds!

Beyond our Backyard-Kiawah Preserve

Tuesday, November 29, 2021 8:00am-11:00am
Learning Together at Kiawah Preserve behind second gate
Location: Meet at the parking by The Station at Freshfields at 8am

There is a limit of only 12 people
Trying to keep to 3 cars, with 4 people in each car, passes for Kiawah will be obtained the night before

Cost None for members; $10 donation for guests

A well maintained trail through a variety of habitats. Wetlands, maritime forest, ponds and a waterway. There’s an observation tower for those who would like to do some climbing, and get a better view. Hopefully we will see some late migrants as well as those birds that are overwintering here.

As always, be sure to bring your binoculars, hats, water and sunscreen.

If you are not yet a 2022 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $15 by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/. You may bring the form and your dues to the event. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $10.

Please complete the information below to register no later than Sunday, November 27, 2022. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Monday, November 28th..

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
Length:  13″; Wingspan: 16″; Weight: 16 oz.

Pied-bill Grebe - Ed Konrad
Pied-bill Grebe – Ed Konrad

There are seven species of Grebes, but only four are mapped in Sibley’s as possible visitors to Seabrook Island.  However, only one of the four seems to be common to the Island.  That is the Pied-billed Grebe which may be seen bobbing around in our lagoons and lakes from October to March.  They will not likely to ever be seen on land.  This bird is compact, but shows a long neck.  Their coloration is largely a camouflage mix of brown shades with the darkest feathers being on the upper side of the wings.  While the stout beak is generally a yellowish brown, the male, in breeding plumage, has a silvery bill with a black ring around it.  This multi-colored bill provides the basis for the name Pied-billed Grebe.   These supurb swimmers and divers sit slightly low in the water and have lobed (as compared to webbed) feet.  Because they are more at home under the water’s surface, they are of the now-you-see-em-now-you-don’t sort.   Grebes slip underwater with little or no splash and can stay submerged for significant periods of time.   They don’t usually pop up near where they dove.  In contrast, Loons and Cormorants (both being long-necked swimmers and divers) are much larger and splashier birds.

Our lagoons and lakes, with the vegetated edges, provide favorite habitat.  The diet consists of aquatic insects, small fish, amphibians, and crustaceans.   On the other hand, they do not appear to be on the menu for the local alligator population.  While I have not knowingly heard a Pied-billed Grebe call, the literature says they make a ‘gulping kuk-kuk-kuk‘ sound.  Their summer nesting area extends northward from the Mason-Dixon line and into Canada.

Check out this short video of the Pied-billed Grebe

If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:

Article submitted by:  George Haskins
Photographs provided by:  Ed Konrad

This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents.  When possible we will use photographs taken by our members.    Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.

Join or Renew Your SIB Membership for 2023

We are pleased the implementation of online payment using Credit Card / PayPal was well received this past year. The Seabrook Island Birders Executive Committee (SIB EC) met recently to review the budget for the coming year. In our first seven years of operation, we were able to maintain membership dues at $10/person. In order to cover increased expenses, offer quality programs, support the Shorebird Steward and the Bluebird Trail programs, the SIB EC has voted to increase dues to $15/person/year

We hope you will renew your membership today and it is valid through December 31, 2023. SIB membership is open to anyone interested in birds; residents, renters and guests to Seabrook Island.  Benefits of SIB membership include the opportunity to go on bird walks, participate in bird counts and learn about the many birds that frequent our island each season of the year.  In addition, SIB members will receive a discount on bird food purchased at Wild Birds Unlimited in West Ashley, SC.This past year, more than 290 members enjoyed the various in-person and virtual SIB events.  We encourage you to renew your 2023 membership today! These funds will help us offer great programs in the next year!

We have a two step process to renew by credit card.  

Step 1: Tell us Who You Are 

Step 2: Pay Your Membership to Us

OR

If you prefer to pay by check or cash, place a check made out to Seabrook Island Birders for $15/person in an envelope and include the name, email, and phone number of each member and bring to an event or drop off/mail to:  Seabrook Island Birders (SIB), 1202 Landfall Way, Seabrook Island, SC 29455

Thank you for your support! We look forward to seeing you soon.

Join SIB for Learning Together at Camp St. Christopher

Friday, November 25, 2022 8:00 am-11:00 am
Birding at Camp St. Christopher
Meet at bus parking lot at St. Christopher
Max:  10
Cost: Voluntary donation to Camp St.Christopher

Register Now

Come walk off the  bird by doing some birding!!! Explore the lakes, lagoons, paths and slough at St. Christopher.  This event will have 1 – 2 miles of walking over uneven terrain.  We  should see all the usual suspects, but will also hopefully get looks at our some of our winter friends-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Yellow-rumped Warbler and sparrows.

Bring sun block, bug spray, a hat, water and binoculars.   We are asking our attendees to make a voluntary contribution to Camp St. Christopher to help support their efforts after a few trying years.

Please register no later than Wednesday, November 23, 2021.  All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Thursday, November 24, 2022.  If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.

Learning Together-Crooked Oaks Golf Course

Learning Together on Crooked Oaks Golf Course

Monday, November 21, 2022  8:30 am – 10:30 am
Birding on Crooked Oaks Golf Course
Location:  Meet at Island House (Golf Course Parking Lot next to Spinnaker Beach Houses) for ride along the golf course in golf carts
Max:  24 (If all seats in golf carts are used)
Cost: Free for members; $10 donation for guests – Priority will be given to prior waitlisted & members

The Seabrook Island Club closes one course a day each week and allows Seabrook Island Birders to use golf carts to travel the course with our members to bird. Join us for a morning of birding by RIDING in golf carts for at least 9-holes on Crooked Oaks golf course. We expect to see a large variety of birds including Egrets, Herons and birds of prey. We will also see and hear some of the smaller birds like Tufted Titmice, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Cardinals, Carolina Wrens and some of the many warbler species.

 Since it is fall/winter, we can also expect to see Eastern Phoebes, Northern Flickers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Belted Kingfishers, Double-crested Cormorants, Bald Eagles, and more!

As always, be sure to bring your binoculars/cameras, hats and sunscreen.  Water will be provided.  We ask that all participants wear a mask when unable to social distance if they are not vaccinated.

If you are not yet a 2022 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $15 by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/. You may bring the form and your dues to the event. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $10.

Please complete the information below to REGISTER no later than Friday prior to the trip.  All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on the Sunday, the day prior to the trip.  If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.

Volunteers Needed

We would love to have you join our team of volunteers!  Don’t worry if you are a beginning birder, we are looking for diverse skill sets, including experience or willingness to learn the following:  communications, marketing, organizing, strategic planning, leadership, financial, technology/digital media, etc. 

The committees shown with an asterisk ( * ) indicate they can be done remote from Seabrook Island. So even if you are only in the area for part of the year, you can still assist us in many areas!

  • Activities *:  Plan & coordinate workshops, bird walks, movie matinees and bird count activities for members. Committee meets via Zoom for no more than 1.5 hours about every other month.
  • Bluebird Monitoring:  Monitor Bluebird Houses located throughout Seabrook Island for one of three 6-week periods between March and August.  
  • Communications *:  Write stories to be used in SIB Blogs, Tidelines and The Seabrooker.  Update Facebook posts, Instagram and Twitter.  Share photographs with our members of activities and birds you see.
  • Shorebird Steward:  The steward program needs volunteers two-hour shifts 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.
  • Hospitality:  Set up chairs and tables prior to meeting, register members and guests, provide and set up refreshments and clean up after each of the SIB events.
  • Membership:  Recruit and retain members.
  • Programs & Speakers *:  Plan & coordinate SIB Quarterly Programs for membership.
  • Executive Committee *:  Join the SIB board to assist with the overall strategy for our organization, take a role as President, VP, Secretary, Treasurer, lead and/or participate on committees. Committee meets via Zoom for no more than 1.5 hours every month.

Please let us know your interest by filling out this form.

SIB “Birds of the Week” – Hooded Merganser & Bufflehead

Hooded Merganser  Lophodytes cucullatus L: 18″, WS: 24″ WT: 22.4 oz.
Bufflehead  Bucephala albeola  L: 13.5  WS: 21″ WT: 13 oz

For winter birding at Seabrook, I always look forward to the arrival of two of my favorite ducks….the Hooded Merganser and the Bufflehead. Both are winter visitors for us. On a quick look, the males of these species can look pretty similar, but they are quite different when studied closely. Both ducks have disproportionately large heads with white patches on the sides. But look carefully and you will see the differences.

Heather Island Road, Jenkins Point - Hooded Merganser (male & female) - Ed Konrad
Heather Island Road, Jenkins Point – Hooded Merganser (male & female) – Ed Konrad

The Hooded Merganser is one of our most beautiful ducks. The male “Hoodie” has striking white on the head , a black back and it’s sides are coffee brown with two black vertical lines, or “spurs,”that cut diagonally through the white breast. In courting behavior, which begins mid-winter, the males flare their crests, and the females “head-bob and pump.” The female is a chocolate brown and very plain, but I think very classy! When I was researching this article, one source online said “it looks like she blow dried her hair in a jet engine,”because of the swept back crest. HA!

Hoodies feed on crustaceans, fish and insects. They are about 18” long and one of the smaller ducks. On Seabrook, I most often see them on Jenkins Point (the first pond is a fav) and on Palmetto Lake. I am sure they are on many other ponds on the island.  They usually arrive in November and leave in March.

North Beach - Bufflehead (male & female) - Ed Konrad
North Beach – Bufflehead (male & female) – Ed Konrad

The Bufflehead also has a striking male and a plain female. The male has a large head with a big white-wedge patch. It is a small (14″) squat duck and the head looks oversized.  The remainder of the head looks black, but if you look carefully it is an iridescent green/purple. It is mostly found in coastal bays (the old cut area had 2 last week) but can also be found on lakes. The sides of the male are clear white, whereas the Hoodie is brown. The female is a plan gray/brown with a distinctive white patch on it’s cheek.

Buffleheads are usually found in the area of the old cut and the river, often close to the ocean. They feed on mollusks, crustaceans and insect larvae, diving frequently because of their very high metabolism. They are a “now you see it, now you don’t” kind of duck. When swimming, they bob up and down like little rubber duckies.

So keep your eye out for our very own feathered “snowbirds” on Seabrook this winter!

If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:

Article submitted by: Aija Konrad 2016, resubmitted by SIB
Photographs provided by: Ed Konrad and Charles Moore

This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents.  When possible we will use photographs taken by our members.    Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.

SIB Travels: Oklahoma O.K. !!!

GA departure, Welcome to Oklahoma!

Oklahoma… “Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain!” Does anyone remember the Rogers and Hammerstein musical? I sang in the high school choir and “Oklahoma” was the first musical production I was in. I can still remember a lot of the songs! So, when we decided to drive from Atlanta to the most western part of Oklahoma, I did a lot of singing in the car! 

Why Oklahoma you might say? Well in my quest for at least 50 bird species in each of the 50 states, Oklahoma was pretty near the bottom of the US list with only 17 birds. And on the way to OK we could bird AL, MS, LA, and AR, all states lacking in birds! I was able to get each one of the states above 50 bird species and I got OK to over 100! A pretty good run for a quick trip! 

My eBird US map. Shading shows # of species

We also included some history for Ed. He has always wanted to go to the Civil War battlefield in Vicksburg, Mississippi. We spent a half a day there and it also turned out to be a good place to bird. Our trip wound up being 10 days and a total of 10 states! AL, MS, LA, AR, OK, CO, NM, KS, and TN. I love when the GPS says, “welcome to …”!

People often ask me how we know where to go in states and where to bird. Well, eBird is an invaluable tool. First, we decide where we want to visit…a national park, state park, recreation area, or a family trip. Then I click on the menu section of eBird and choose Explore, then scroll down and choose Alerts. This lets me choose a state or county, which you tap in and see the birds you “need” for that area. I see what birds I “need” (am missing) in that particular state.

Planning at home, map and yellow pad notes

It’s a bit overwhelming if you’ve never been to the state, but at least you know what are the common and easy birds you can pick up. AND, what life birds are there. Then you look for hotspots and find any hotspots on your route. You click on them and check the sightings that have been seen recently. And then you start making copious lists in a notebook or on a yellow legal pad. Our car is always overrun with sheafs of paper that I have notes on. LOL!

You begin to break things down by counties. Ed always prints me a county map of each state off the Internet so I can see what counties are along our route. But I am also the queen of the old-fashioned paper map! I lay all my maps out on the dining room table before we go. I highlight our route and then can see what counties we will pass through for reference. I can then search needs on eBird by county in any state. Easy pick-ups can be made at hotel parking lot edges and rest areas. I once picked up 5 warbler species at a good wooded rest area off I- 80 in PA! So, it’s a rather mind-boggling process but it’s fun to plan and break it down. And remember, no one has to be as obsessive compulsive as me. LOL! Just enjoy!

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Mountain Bluebird, Chihuahuan Raven

When we got to Oklahoma, we began to see western species. Western Meadowlarks, Mountain Bluebirds, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers (OK state bird). A scissor-tailed greeted us soon after we crossed the OK border. It’s such a joy to see this glorious beautiful bird with its salmon under parts and ridiculously long tail!  At one point in western OK Ed said “gosh these crows look awfully big”. And when we stopped along a country road to look at one, it croaked, and we realized they were Chihuahuan Ravens, another western species!

Wichita Mountains NWR

Western Meadowlark, Bewick’s Wren

Crossing OK, we visited the Wichita Mountains NWR, a beautiful refuge, where we had great looks at the western species Bewick’s Wren, a relative of our Carolina Wren. One of the favorite parts of our trip was in the most Western point of OK, Black Mesa State Park. It is not a large park, but what a beautiful day we had there! We were lucky to get a Sage Thrasher and some Woodhouse’s Scrub Jays, both western species related to our thrasher and jay.

Black Mesa State Park OK

Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk

Driving through miles of grassland on the way to Black Mesa, we spotted so many Red-tailed Hawks sitting on utility poles. And mixed in with them was a beautiful Ferruginous Hawk! Hundreds of Western Meadowlarks serenaded us with their songs. They are very similar to Eastern and the way to distinguish them is by their song. Thank goodness for Merlin sound app, which can be pesky and give you wrong species, but in this case it was very helpful with the meadowlarks. Another nice surprise was lots of White-crowned Sparrows, sitting in fields of sorghum. Driving some dirt roads through grasslands we also spotted Scaled Quail and Northern Bobwhite.

Sage Thrush, Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay

White-crowned Sparrow, Scaled Quail

We were at the far end of the OK panhandle, and hiked partially up to the highest point in the state – Black Mesa at 4973 ft. After the hike, we were close to the tri-state monument on the corner of OK, NM, and CO, in the middle of nowhere! It was a hot afternoon and there were no birds to report, however, we did spy some scary tarantulas! We picked up another quick state, spending the night in KS, just across the OK border while crossing the state. If you get one really good early morning stop, as in KS at a water treatment plant, you can sure load up on a lot of new state birds. Ducks were everywhere!

Black Mesa, highest point in OK, 4973 feet

Tri-state monument: OK, NM, CO and the Tarantula

The Great Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge looked like an interesting stop, but we were saddened to see that severe drought had dried up most of the marshes and ponds. A large lake in the center of the refuge still had water, but was seriously down with large amounts of dead fish. Hopefully, they will get some rain soon, but it will take a lot to fill up those marshes and ponds. There were still thousands of Franklin’s Gulls, (a relative of our Laughing Gull), hundreds of white pelicans and avocets, ducks and many shorebirds!

Snowy Egret on 100s of fish, American Avocet

So, a great 10 days on a “spontaneous” 3200 mile trip! And, we crossed the entire state of OK without going on an interstate??? Believe it or not, that is the way the GPS took us, state and county roads at 60-65mph! Who does that? Only a crazy birdwatcher and her photographer husband!

Article by Aija Konrad, photos by Ed Konrad

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