Bird of the Week … Who am I???

As you may know, every Sunday we publish a weekly “Bird of the Week” blog.  Today we’d like to test your knowledge by asking if you can guess what bird we will feature this week based on these two questions:

1.) What bird can be seen on the beaches of Seabrook Island starting in the late summer during its fall migration with some staying through winter and its face looks like this during the non-breeding season?

What Bird Am I?
What Bird Am I?

2.)  It often wears a lot of “bling” on his legs which help the scientists know where it has been.

What Bird Am I?
What Bird Am I?

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

 

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SIB Announces Fall Birding Activities – Sign-up Today!

Learning together birders trying to identify bird in marsh - Dean Morr
Learning together birders trying to identify bird in marsh – Dean Morr

Meet new and “old” friends while learning about the birds of our island and South Carolina by joining us on a bird walk, volunteering for the Hawk Watch or taking a field trip to a SC birding “hotspot”.  To learn more about each activity and to register, click on the links below.  Space is limited – sign-up today!

Fall 2016

Keep watch on the Birding Activities page and our Calendar as we continue to add events for our members!

If you are not yet a SIB member, you must first become a member by following the instructions here.

Thanks!

Website: SeabrookIslandBirders.org
E-Mail: SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com
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SIB “Bird of the Week” – Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret – Egretta rufescens
Length:  30″; Wingspan: 46″; Weight: 16 oz.

Reddish Egret - North Beach, Seabrook Island - Ed Konrad
Reddish Egret – North Beach, Seabrook Island – Ed Konrad

If you are walking on North Beach between late July and October, and you see a dark blue, medium sized heron like bird at the edge of the ocean or in a tide pool, acting like a drunken sailor, it’s probably a Reddish Egret. This bird does a fascinating dance as it fishes in shallow salt water and stalks the fish by running, jumping, staggering and flapping it’s wings. It spreads it’s wings to reduce the glare on the water so it can better see to spear the fish. Sometimes small fish even seek shelter in the shade of the egret’s spread wings, making it even easier for him to find prey. It’s always a very good birding day when you see a Reddish Egret on North Beach!

The Reddish Egret has a slate blue body with a distinct rusty head and shaggy-plumed neck. It is about 30″ long and has a wing span of 46″. It’s legs are bluish-black and it’s bill is pinkish with black at the end. There is also an all white morph, which is seldom seen and quite a rarity in SC. Similar birds, and easily confused with it, are the Little Blue Heron (too small) and the Tricolored Heron (white down the front of the neck and underparts). The Tricolored Heron even fishes in the same style, so look carefully at the bird if you think you have a Reddish. It has no white on it. You will seldom see more than one at a time, although last year for the very first time in 10 years of birding here, we had a pair at North Beach. And it will only be on the ocean, not in the marsh. We have seen it in the area of the old cut, too.

This egret does not breed here in SC. It is here in what is called a “post breeding dispersal.” It breeds in mostly Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The only places it breeds in the US are Texas and Florida. It lays 3-4 eggs and both parents care for the birds. It’s numbers were decimated when it’s plumes were used for hats from 1927-37, but now there are approximately 2,000 nesting pairs in the US.

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

Article submitted by:  Aija Konrad
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.

Bird of the Week … Who am I???

As you may know, every Sunday we publish a weekly “Bird of the Week” blog.  Today we’d like to test your knowledge by asking this question:

What bird can be seen late summer and early fall at North Beach on Seabrook Island acting like a drunken sailor by performing a fascinating dance as it fishes in shallow salt water and stalks the fish by running, jumping, staggering and flapping it’s wings? It will also spread it’s wings to reduce the glare on the water so it can better see to spear the fish.

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

What Bird Am I?
What Bird Am I?

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Gulls vs. Terns

What type of birds does the left and right silhouette represent?

If you guessed GULLS vs. TERNS, you are correct!

All those birds on the beach – it’s very confusing. To make things a bit clearer, let’s discuss two very common and very similar groups: terns and gulls. What they are NOT are those little birds that run along the edge of the water, or the big ones with the long necks and stilt-like legs. They are what many people call seagulls, a term not used in any good bird book.

There are several different kinds of both gulls and terns that can and do land on our beaches. They will be covered individually at another time. This will be a general discussion of the two groups focusing on how to tell them apart.

Terns and gulls may be confusing for several reasons. They are both on the beach and within the same size range. They are predominantly gray on the top and white beneath. Many have black markings, primarily on their heads and/or wing tips.  And in flight, they resemble one another somewhat.

All of them can entertain you by diving from the sky to snag a fish, which these seabirds love, or coming close to investigate what you’ve brought for lunch. While terns eat fish almost exclusively, gulls will eat nearly anything. They’re the ones that beg for human food and scavenge around trash cans and dumps. That big bird in a parking lot is a gull, almost never a tern.

So, how do you differentiate one from the other? While the coloration of gulls and terns is quite similar, there are definite differences in the appearances which you can look for while lolling or walking on the beach. Terns are sleeker and more streamline as you can see from the pictures. They have thinner, sharper, more pointed bills and generally have a more delicate shape. Gulls tend to be heavier set in the body with thicker bills that are hooked at the end.

Gulls take up to two years to obtain their adult plumage. During that early period, they are various degrees of brown as opposed to the adults’ crisp gray and white with black. While terns look somewhat different in their first months, there is much less contrast with the adults than there is with gulls.

The tern stands on shorter legs and is often seen with other terns, roosting on a spit of land, away from humans. The gull, on the other hand, seems to enjoy being near people, although perhaps it’s mostly in hopes of getting some food.

Another distinguishing characteristic is the way the two birds obtain their food. You will see the tern flying over the water often with its head bent sharply down looking for its prey. Then suddenly it will dive straight down from 20 to 50 feet to snatch a fish. In contrast, the gull may swoop down to get a fish, or grab its food while paddling on top of the water. If you spot one of these birds swimming like a duck, it’s almost certainly a gull; terns don’t swim because they don’t have webbed feet like gulls. Gulls also scavenge on land for anything they considers edible; they are omnivores.

In subsequent articles, we will discuss individual terns and gulls but for now, try to distinguish one type from the other as you enjoy the sun and sand. Below are examples of several you can practice on.

Article submitted by:  Marcia Hider
Photographs provided by:  Charles Moore & 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.

Bird of the Week … Who am I???

As you may know, every Sunday we publish a weekly “Bird of the Week” blog.  This week we will compare two types of birds – can you guess what types by the silhouettes below?

What type of birds does the left and right silhouette represent?
What type of birds does the left and right silhouette represent?

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