The S.C. Department of Natural Resources said it is OK to put bird feeders back up, as long as Pine Siskin are no longer visiting. Please be sure to carefully clean your bird feeders on a regular basis. “Cleaning feeders regularly helps prevent outbreaks. Bacteria and diseases are often shed by food or water contaminated with feces. Feeders that aren’t properly maintained can lead to the severe harm of local bird populations.” Humans can also contract these illnesses from feeders, so be sure to follow proper hygiene practices when cleaning bird feeders, houses, etc.
Over the years, data submitted to ebird documented Seabrook Island’s importance as a stopover for migratory shorebirds. In an effort to make that data meet the rigors of scientific scrutiny, a series of surveys will be conducted by either Bob Mercer or Mark Andrews. These surveys will follow the protocols of the International Shorebird Survey (ISS). One feature of the ISS is the surveys need to be conducted every ten days and at the same or similar tide. The survey can involve numerous volunteers and provides a golden opportunity to build the shorebird identification skills of SIB members. Beginners and advanced birders will enjoy this walk.
Participants need to bring their own binoculars and, if they have one, a spotting scope. Due to Covid, we will not be able to share equipment. According to the CDC, people are encouraged to wear a mask when they are unable to maintain social distance. We ask people to put on their masks when they get close to each other.
The count will be conducted over a two hour period starting from the boardwalk #1 beach and continuing up to the point, a distance of 1.5 miles each way. The walks should be about 2.5 hours long.
The schedule is tide driven. The official survey start on the beach one hour prior to high tide and end on the beach about one hour after high tide. The start time for the walk is set so participants can meet in the #1 parking lot and have 15 minutes to reach the beach and the start of the survey. The end times are, like any birding experience, approximates. People can leave whenever they wish.
Come prepared for the weather and natural conditions (bugs, sun, wind, hunger, thirst, etc.).
The Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) encourages our members and friends to support the Avian Conservation Center, located in Awendaw, SC.
The Avian Conservation Center is asking for your support at this most critical time.
We are coming to you now to ask that you please help us fund the $55,000 in the direct medical and husbandry expenses that we will incur in this second quarter now upon us. As we work to recover from the severe financial impacts of the past several months, we cannot fail to meet the current demands of the birds in critical need of care.
THANK YOU to those of you who have already donated!
Your donation today can support avian patients like the Bald Eagle featured in this beautiful release video. He was recently released after 66 days of care in our Avian Medical Clinic. His treatments included; food, medication, blood work and radiographs all totaling $1,690 for his entire stay in our clinic. You can learn more about his specific case by following the link to the release video and reading the description.
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Length: 39″; Wingspan: 51″; Weight: 30 oz.
The Great Egret, is also known as the White Egret, Common Egret, Great White Egret or the Large Great Egret. It occurs in tropical and warm temperate regions of the world including Central Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and portions of North, Central and South America.
Standing over three feet tall, the Great Egret is the largest white bird within its range and is distinguished from similar birds by its large size, solid white plumage, yellow bill, and dark grey to black legs and feet.
Great Egret – Charles Moore
Great Egret – Charles Moore
The neck of the Great Egret is extremely flexible and an adult bird can swallow a one-pound fish with ease, an amazing feat considering that on average adult birds may weigh just over two pounds themselves.
Each breeding season they carry out elaborate courting displays and behaviors and they are believed to be monogamous during a breeding season. It is unknown if they mate for life.
Males establish a territory, select a nesting site, begin to build a nest and initiate mating displays that attract females. Breeding plumage consists of numerous delicate ornamental feathers. The birds display these feathers by holding them up, puffing them out, and spreading them over their backs. At the same time they extend their neck skyward and pump it up and down several times. Great Egrets make dry, croaking sounds, nasal squeals, and other harsh calls. They are particularly vocal during breeding season as they go about establishing territories, courting, forming pairs, and maintaining pair bonds. You just might hear something that sounds like this near their rookeries around the island.
Nests may be 100 or more feet high and frequently are directly above water. They are about three feet across, a foot deep, and lined with Spanish moss or other soft vegetation. Nests are continually repaired during the nesting season.
Typically two to four light blue-green eggs appear over a several day period and the adults alternately sit on the eggs. Hatching occurs in 23 to 27 days. Chicks are very aggressive and frequently weaker chicks are tossed out of the nest and don’t survive.
Initially, the parents regurgitate food into the nest but once the chicks are of sufficient size the parent bird feeds the chicks by placing its bill completely inside the mouth of each waiting chick.
Great Egret – Charles Moore
Great Egret – Charles Moore
Great Egret – Charles Moore
Newborn chicks have long thin fuzzy feathers that protrude from their head as if they are affected by static electricity.
Five to six weeks after hatching the chicks attempt their first flights. The average life span of a Great Egret is 15 years but some have been known to live more than twenty years in captivity.
Adult Great Egrets have no predators and only crows, vultures, and raccoons are reported to prey on the eggs and fledglings. However, their beautiful plumage nearly resulted in their demise. Ninety-five percent of the North American Great Egret population was killed for feathers to decorate hats and other clothing items in the 19th century.
Today, national and international treaties protect the Great Egret and their populations are thriving in North America. Their greatest threat today is the loss of habitat through drainage and the clearing of wetlands. The logo of the National Audubon Society is the Great Egret in full flight. This logo symbolizes the success of past and current conservation efforts protecting these magnificent birds and serves as a constant reminder that without such conservation efforts many to the world’s most beautiful wonders would be lost forever.
If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:
Article submitted by: Charles Moore
Photographs provided by: 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.
Spring is one of the most exciting times of the year for birdwatching in SC, when many species of birds travel through on their journey north to breed. Ever wonder where the amazing birds we see at Seabrook and across SC have been all winter, and where they’re headed next? And how do our feathered friends make these amazingly long flights during migration?
Please join us, April 21st at 7 pm for our “Winged Wonders-The Phenomenon of Bird Migration. SIB’s good friend, Matt Johnson, Center Director at the Audubon Center & Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest, will be our speaker.
Matt has advised us that as you join us for his discussion, these birds will literally be on the move above our heads as they migrate north!
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
About our Speaker:
Matt Johnson is the Center Director at the Audubon Center & Sanctuary at the Francis Beidler Forest. A native of South Carolina, Matt grew up in Columbia and attended Clemson University from 2003-2009. He first started working for Audubon South Carolina in 2013 as the Education Manager at Beidler Forest. After spending a few years in a statewide position for Audubon, Matt has returned to the swamp at Beidler to be the Center Director. Matt particularly enjoys leading programs and conducting bird research, especially Audubon’s work with Prothonotary Warblers. When not working, Matt enjoys birding, hiking, and spending time with family.
Each spring, Seabrook Island Birders receive many requests for us to identify the bird that makes this sound. Even if you have never seen this bird, chances are if you live or spend time in the spring on Seabrook Island, you have heard him after dusk and before sunrise! The bird we are hearing is the Chuck-will’s-widow, a “cousin” to another in the Nightjar family, the Eastern Whip-poor-will who makes this sound.
Local Seabrook Island residents began hearing this spring migrant last week! For me, it was just tonight while taking my pup out for her last walk of the night here where we live at Bohicket Marina Village. Where are you hearing this bird?
Below is a blog we have “recycled” from April 2, 2017, so you can learn more about the Chuck-will’s widow and the migration of these fascinating birds.
And remember, just email us or “Ask SIB” if you have questions about birds you are hearing or seeing!
Published April 2, 2017
On Friday, we asked if you could identify a bird by its song. It was first reported on Seabrook Island early last Thursday morning by George Haskins. The answer: the Chuck-will’s-widow. This bird winters as far south as Colombia, Venezuela and the Caribbean and breeds in pine, oak-hickory, and other forests of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states. They tend to live in more open areas than the similar Whip-poor-will, which are not common here on Seabrook Island.
Scientist continue to learn much about the migration of birds, especially with the advancement of technology such as using radar, acoustic, electronic and optical technologies. Spring migration starts as early as January and continues into June. Birds generally take off shortly after sunset, some flying all night and landing just before dawn the next morning. Others will fly nonstop for 60-100 hours as they flyover oceans and continents. Some nights there could be hundreds of millions of birds flying over North America.
Citizen Scientists like all of us are a great resource for migration information as we document bird sightings using the Audubon/Cornell Lab of Ornithology website: eBird.org. This data is also available for anyone to view. This link will open the eBird page to view the historical bird observations for all species by month for Charleston county. For example, the Chuck-will’s-widow is shown below to arrive in April and is gone by the end of September.
You can also drill down to view a map of locations where a bird has been documented, like the Chuck-will’s-widow map below. Notice the red bubble was a sighting of a Chuck-will’s-widow documented by Aija Konrad on 3/31 near the tennis courts.
Another great website to learn more about bird migration, including a forecast each week for four geographic regions in the country, is Birdcast.info, a site created by Cornell. Below is their forecast for the Chuck-will’s-widow for the Gulf Coast and Southeast and it looks like they are right on time!
After Jun 30
Throughout April we will continue to share information related to bird migration including which birds are packing their bags to head north, which birds are arriving to breed and those who are just passing through and utilizing our island for rest and refueling.
Tuesday, April 6, 2021 8:00 am Birding at Camp St. Christopher Meet at bus parking lot at St. Christopher Max: 10 Cost: Voluntary donation to Camp St.Christopher
Explore the lakes, lagoons, paths and slough at St. Christopher. This event will have 1 – 2 miles of walking over uneven terrain. Spring should be in full swing, so we should see all the usual suspects, but will also hopefully get looks at our some of our more elusive resident breeding songbirds…Yellow-throated Warbler, Pine Warbler, Northern Parula, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Painted Bunting.
Early April is also the start of migration for a number of species, so we may be lucky to see a few migrant warblers (Louisiana Waterthrush, Prothonotary Warbler, Common Yellowthroat), Scarlet Tanagers and Blue Grosbeaks.
Bring sun block, bug spray, a hat, water and binoculars. Please remember to wear your masks. We are asking our attendees to make a voluntary contribution to Camp St. Christopher to help support their efforts during the pandemic.
Please complete the information below to register no later than Sunday April 4, 2021. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Monday April 5, 2021. If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.
Audubon South Carolina Presents the Eagles of South Carolina, a conservation success story.
During this virtual program we will explore the past and present conservation struggles of Bald Eagles in our state and the survey that has tracked their story for decades. Through extensive cooperation and partnerships, the Bald Eagle has recovered in South Carolina but remains the focus of conservation and the admiration of bird lovers across the state.
Grab your bike and join us as we bike the West Ashley Greenway! This trail stretches about 8 miles from Johns Island to the South Windermere Shopping Center on Folly Road (parking available at either end). The trail is open from dawn to dusk. It’s 100 feet wide and mostly hard-parked dirt and some asphalt. Plus, the trail is flat so it’s great for beginning bikers and kids. For the most part, the trail runs parallel to U.S. Highway 17 past neighborhoods, parks and marshes so there’s plenty to see. The City of Charleston Department of Parks has confirmed motorized handicap scooters may utilize the Greenway for this activity so at least one member plans to “bike” the Greenway in his scooter.
On Johns Island, the dirt gives way to rough gravel and narrow bridge crossings (beach/mountain bikes are better than road bikes on this section). Here the broad wetlands flank the trail, presenting magnificent views and rewarding bird sightings. If your timing is right, you may catch sight of the tidal flow that carved these lacework channels.
Join several SIB Executive Committee Members for this biking & birding trip at the West Ashley Greenway. We hope to see shorebirds like egrets, herons and Roseate Spoonbills in the tidal marsh areas. We will listen for passerines hoping to catch a glimpse of those heading north for the summer. And birds of prey are common to see flying overhead. When we did this ride mid-March 2019, 52 species were seen or heard. Be sure to bring binoculars, camera, hats, sunscreen, bug repellant, snacks and water. While unnecessary while riding our bicycles, we ask that all participants wear a mask when unable to social distance.
Monday, March 22, 2021 8:00 am – 12:00 pm Beyond our Backyard – Biking & Birding the Greenway Location: Meet at Parking area for West Ashley Greenway (McLeod Mill Rd. nr. Main Rd./SR S 10-20) Max: 12 Cost None for members; $5 donation for guests
Seabrook Island Birders is sad to share the news of the death of early member Bob Hider. Even before there was a Seabrook Island Birders, Bob helped with Christmas Bird Count. He also was an avid photographer who has contributed a number of bird photos to our articles and blogs. Although he didn’t participate in many bird walks, he was always willing to share the views and identifications from his back deck, overlooking the marsh. He will be missed by all.
You can read a copy of his obituary from The Post and Courier.