SIB “Bird of the Week” – Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey – Meleagris gallopavo
Length:  46″; Wingspan: 64″; Weight: 259 oz.

A strutting tom turkey tries to attract a mate. C. Moore
A strutting tom turkey tries to attract a mate. C. Moore

Residents are reporting an increase in sightings of Eastern Wild Turkeys on Seabrook Island. The domesticated version of this large native game bird is well known because of its role each Thanksgiving day. Millions of turkeys are drawn from an outline of the hands of elementary children prior to Thanksgiving each year.

The turkey would have been our national bird if Benjamin Franklin had had his say. He thought the eagle was beautiful but a lazy thief as it frequently stole its dinner from the industrious Osprey.

Native Americans first domesticated the wild turkey hundreds of years ago. Spanish explorers took turkeys domesticated by the Aztecs back to Europe around 1500. The pilgrims brought turkeys across the Atlantic to the New World only to find them already here. These European settlers called them “Turkey birds” because they looked like African guinea hens from Turkey and the name stuck.

The wild turkey population in the southeastern U.S. was decimated from 1900 to the 1950’s due to hunting, pesticide usage (DDT) and habitat loss. During this period, the only wild turkeys remaining in South Carolina occurred in the Francis Marion National Forest and along the Savannah River.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the National Wild Turkey Federation launched one of the nation’s most successful conservation restocking programs during the 1950’s. Descendants of these few remaining turkeys abound today in all of South Carolina’s 46 counties and in every Southeastern state. Wild Turkeys are hunted in 49 of the 50 states with Alaska being the only exception.

Large males are called toms, weigh between 10 and 24 pounds and mature females, called hens, weigh between 5 and 10 pounds. Mating behavior begins in early spring with Toms attracting potential hens through gobbling and strutting about with their feathers puffed out, tail feathers spread, wings dragging on the ground and making low “drumming sounds”. The gobbling may be heard more than a mile away. A dominant Tom may attract eight to 10 hens to his harem.

Turkeys nest on the ground in shallow dirt depressions surrounded with woody vegetation. In South Carolina, laying of eggs begins in March and a clutch may contain as many as 18 eggs.  Eggs hatch in 28 days and the hatchlings are out of the nest looking for food within 24 hours. Hatchlings are called poults and adolescents are jakes

Turkeys sleep in trees but spend most of their time on the ground searching for food. They can run nearly as fast as a human track star at 25 miles an hour and may fly distances up to half a mile reaching speeds up to 50 miles an hour.

Wild turkeys are omnivores eating seeds, nuts, roots, berries, grasses, insects, small amphibians and reptiles. They are most active and feed primarily in the early morning and late afternoon.

Foxes, opossums, raccoons, skunks, snakes and many other animals pray on the eggs and poults. Predators of adult wild turkeys include foxes, coyotes, bobcats and large raptors such as eagles, owls and hawks.

Domestic turkeys are genetically distinct from wild birds. Ever wonder why domestic turkeys are white? Domesticated turkeys are bred to have white feathers because their pinfeathers are less visible when the carcass is dressed. Whereas, domestication has resulted in bigger, heavier birds with more breast meat, their natural survival skills have been greatly diminished. The wild turkey is a savvy, very wary, and intelligent bird whereas their domesticated relatives, well lets say, their elevators don’t go all the way to the top.

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.

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We want your opinion! Take the Plastic Bag Survey.

SIB Members
We need your help in completing and also sharing a short survey about plastic bags to citizens and business owners.
Background:  A local coalition, consisting of government, business, citizen and conservation organizations is interested in gathering data on citizen and business opinion regarding plastic bag use in the Charleston Metro area. Locally conducted studies have found that plastic bags are among the top five sources of plastic litter collected during trash sweeps in Charleston and negatively impact local marine life.
Our Goal: Based on the results of the survey, the coalition will explore ways to minimize the use of plastic bags, specifically single-use plastic bags, to benefit the health and natural beauty of the Charleston community.
How Your Group Can Help:  Promote this opportunity at your workplace or through an email to your group.
Survey:  An opinion survey has been created for business owners and citizens in the Charleston-Berkeley-Dorchester Tri-County area. The survey is being conducted to gauge support, concern, and information gaps regarding possible ways to reduce plastic bags and associated litter in the community. Responses to the survey are confidential. For more information, and to take the survey click the below link:
To go straight to the survey: http://tinyurl.com/PlasticInCharleston
The survey takes less than five minutes to complete. For questions or concerns please email Plasticbagsurvey@gmail.com.  Please share the survey widely.  The survey will close on September 9, 2016. Results will be shared with all interested parties. To be added to the mailing list, please email

Bird of the Week … Who am I???

Every Sunday we publish a “Bird of the Week” blog.  Today we want to give you a hint to see if you can guess which bird we will profile.   We think you can get this with only one clue:

  1. This bird is frequently seen on Seabrook Island and makes this sound.

Leave us a comment if you know or want to make a guess – and watch for the full article on Sunday morning!

 

SINHG Announces Fall 2016 Trips

SIB Members:

If you are a member of SINHG (Seabrook Island Natural History Group), you may have already seen and signed up for trips for this fall.  If you are not a member, you may want to join and register for some of the trips.  There are several trips that may be of interest to the bird lovers on our island:

Deveaux Bank:  Monday, September 26  9:30 – 1:00 Leader: Nancy  Min: 36              Max: 48                          Cost: $57.00            Leave from Bohicket Marina

Survivor, comes to Johns Island! Extreme Bird Banding with Aaron Givens of the Kiawah Conservancy:
Thursday, October 6  6:45am – 9:15am   Leader: Carol
Min: 6  Max: 12  Cost: $20.00  Carpool to Beach Walker Park

For more details, please see the information below.

KNOWLEDGE AND ADVENTURE AWAITS!!

Attached for your perusal is the listing of SINHG’s 2016 Fall Trips, our Procedure and Cancellation policies, our Sign-up Directions and Form and last but not least, our Membership Form for our June 2016 to May 2017 fiscal year for those who have not yet renewed their membership.

Please note that your trips sign-up Form should be sent to Julia Thogmartin no later than July 29th, 2016.

If you have trouble downloading or accessing any of these five attachments, please let me know.

HAVE FUN!

Fall 2016 Final copy

Sign Up Directions

F’16 TRIP SIGNUP SHEETS

TRIP PROCEDURES SINHG

Membership Form 2016-2017

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Length:  5.5″; Wingspan: 7.5″; Weight: 0.74 oz.

Carolina Wren - Bob Hider
Carolina Wren – Bob Hider

Many of you guessed correctly:  the Carolina Wren is the state bird of South Carolina and sings  tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle tea.

It is a small but chunky bird with a round body and a long tail that it often cocks upward. The head is large with very little neck, and the distinctive bill marks it as a wren: long, slender, and down curved. Both males and females are a bright, unpatterned reddish-brown above and warm buffy-orange below, with a long white eyebrow stripe, dark bill, and white chin and throat.

Only male Carolina Wrens sing—a series of several quick, whistled notes, repeated a few times. The entire song usually lasts less than 2 seconds and the notes are usually described as three-parted, as in a repeated teakettle. Each male has a repertoire of up to several dozen different song variations. He’ll sing one of these about 15 times before changing his tune.  One captive male Carolina Wren sang nearly 3,000 times in a single day.

A pair bond may form between a male and a female at any time of the year, and the pair will stay together for life. Members of a pair stay together on their territory year-round, and forage and move around the territory together.  They are described as non-migrating, or “permanent residents,” although they may wander north of their breeding range, especially in fall.

Carolina Wrens frequent vegetated habitats such as brushy thickets, lowland cypress swamps, bottomland woods, and ravines choked with hemlock and rhododendron. They gravitate toward shrubby, wooded residential areas, overgrown farmland, dilapidated buildings, and brushy suburban yards.  These small birds can be seen or heard frequently throughout Seabrook Island.  Keeping a brush pile in your yard is a great way of encouraging wrens to take up residence.

Insects and spiders make up the bulk of this wren’s diet. Common foods include caterpillars, moths, stick bugs, leafhoppers, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and cockroaches. Carolina Wrens occasionally eat lizards, frogs, or snakes. They also consume a small amount of plant matter, such as fruit pulp and seeds from bayberry, sweetgum, or poison ivy.

Several residents on Seabrook Island have mentioned they have Carolina Wrens nesting near their home.  Although described as shy birds, we find the pair that live near our home at Bohicket Marina quite curious and happy to sing on our deck and balcony for us each morning.  Be on the lookout and listen for this special state bird on our island.

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

Article submitted by:  Nancy Brown
Photographs provided by:  Bob Hider & Charley 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.

Bird of the Week … Who am I???

Every Sunday we publish a weekly “Bird of the Week” blog.  Today we want to give you a hint to see if you can guess which bird we will profile.   We think you can get this with only two clues:

  1. This is the state bird of South Carolina.
  2. This bird has many sounds, but here is one of its most common songs of tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle tea.

Leave us a comment if you know or want to make a guess – and watch for the full article on Sunday morning!

 

Barred Owl Recently seen on Seabrook Island

Grace Delanoy sent SIB two pictures from a recent encounter with a barred owl.  Although Seabrookers often hear barred owls, it is unusual to capture them in pictures as Grace was able to do.  Her accompanying story is also heart felt.

Thanks Grace for sharing with our community!!!

Barred Owl Sighted on 6/29/16 in the front yard of 2619 Seabrook Island Road. Photo credit: Grace Delanoy.
Barred Owl Sighted on 6/29/16 in the front yard of 2619 Seabrook Island Road. Photo credit: Grace Delanoy.
Barred Owl Sighted on 6/29/16 in the front yard of 2619 Seabrook Island Road. Photo credit: Grace Delanoy.
Barred Owl Sighted on 6/29/16 in the front yard of 2619 Seabrook Island Road. Photo credit: Grace Delanoy.

Here is Grace’s story:

“Years ago, my father-in-law told me the deciding factor to buy a villa at Seabrook Island came when he was taking an evening walk on one of the golf cart paths here. Should it be Seabrook, or Kiawah? Then, he said he heard a “hootie owl” nearby in the trees, and felt it was a sign to buy here at Seabrook. Doug believed in magic and whimsy, so he and my mother-in-law Carol bought this villa as it was being constructed, maybe around 30 years ago. Brad and I, and eventually Sloane, have enjoyed many vacations here during our 28 years of marriage. You can’t help becoming obsessed with the wildlife here, with deers, foxes, dolphins, bobcats, raccoons, rabbits, snakes, crabs, hawks and so much more in abundance. Taking drives around the island just to spot any of them became part of our vacations. Doug and Carol died in the fall of 2011 within 10 days of each other, and now it’s time for this special villa overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Edisto Inlet to be sold. The other night, we saw a beautiful Barred Owl on the island, a first for us. I only had my phone to take a photo, which was woefully inadequate in the low light. On our way to dinner last night, the same owl actually strafed our car, coming within a few feet… Just amazing and magnificent. Tonight, Brad urged me to take a drive with him and see if we could spot the owl again, and to bring my camera just in case. We saw a cute little marsh bunny, and a beautiful cardinal, then drove to where we saw the owl. And there he was. And then, there SHE was! Like kids, we jumped out of the car and ran over to see this owl couple, and to capture them with a simple photograph. They flew from tree to tree, and the light was low. I didn’t get a good picture of the two of them together, but I got this. And I thought of Doug and Carol, and of the “hootie owl” that brought them, us, and other family and friends here for all these years. We will miss this place, and are grateful to Doug and Carol for the times we’ve had here at Seabrook Island.”