Volunteer with SIB on Friday 9/23 at the Hawk Watch

SC Coastal Rapter Migration Survey – 2016
September 1 – November 30

5950841011533070The Center for Birds of Prey – Observation Deck
4872 Seewee Road
Awendaw, SC  29429

Fall is rapidly approaching and that means one thing… Hawk Watch is back! The Center for Birds of Prey is recruiting volunteers for the annual South Carolina Coastal Raptor Migration Survey and would love your help! The survey runs September 1st through November 30th and standard observation hours are 10am-1pm, but observation beyond these hours is welcomed. Their goal is to have a shift leader (someone who is knowledgeable about raptor identification and has participated in a hawk program in the past) and at least one observer (anyone interested in participating, not necessarily an experienced birder). Protocols for Hawk Watch will be to complete the standard HMANA data sheet.

SIB has arranged for its members to attend on three specific days

If you would like to participate on any other date, please contact Audrey Poplin, Husbandry Coordinator and Educator at The Center for Birds of Prey at audrey.poplin@avianconservationcenter.org or call 843-971-7474.  Audrey has created a Google calendar she will share with you so you may select a date(s).

In the meantime, here are some additional documents to explain the program and provide you with information on how to identify hawks seen in North America.

2016 SC Coastal Raptor Migration Survey

A Guide to Hawks Seen in North America

Eastern Raptor Migrant Guide

Advertisements

Learning Together at the Equestrian Center

Birders watching European Starlings - 09/11/16
Birders watching European Starlings – 09/11/16

Eight SIB members gathered the morning of Sunday, September 11, for a two-hour birding session at the Equestrian Center.   Many of the group are new to birding and were hoping to simply see and identify some new birds.  A few had specific species in mind.  Unfortunately, the latter group did not see a cattle egret nor a brown headed cowbird which were likely candidates for the date and location.  The sightings, however, exceeded expectations.  Below is the complete list of the 24 bird species either seen or heard during the outing.  Unfortunately, all images of these creatures are in the birders’ memories.

3 Turkey Vulture
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Red-tailed Hawk
6 Eurasian Collared-Dove
1 Mourning Dove
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
3 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 Downy Woodpecker
1 Red-eyed Vireo
4 Blue Jay
5 American Crow
4 Carolina Chickadee
3 Tufted Titmouse
3 Carolina Wren
2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
23 Eastern Bluebird
10 Northern Mockingbird
50 European Starling
1 American Redstart
1 Pine Warbler
1 Yellow-throated Warbler
2 Prairie Warbler
1 Baltimore Oriole
4 House Finch

Aija Konrad continued birding after the group left and also saw a rare Lark Sparrow, two Eastern Kingbirds and a Barn Swallow.

Aija focusing scope on Red Shouldered Hawk - 09/11/16
Aija focusing scope on Red Shouldered Hawk – 09/11/16

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill – Platalea ajaja
Length:  32″; Wingspan: 50″; Weight: 52oz.

Roseate Spoonbill - Ed Konrad
Roseate Spoonbills – Ed Konrad

Hey everybody, did you see the flamingo in the marsh near the fire station? Fooled again! What you probably saw was the beautiful Roseate Spoonbill. Their bright pink coloring confuses many people who think they have spotted a Pink Flamingo. Flamingos are larger and have a short, thick, hooked bill and black on its wings.

If you are lucky enough to get a closer look at a Roseate Spoonbill, check out the long, flat, spoon shaped bill. Spoonbills feed by walking in shallow, muddy bottom water and tidal ponds foraging by sweeping their bill from side to side with it slightly open to sift up small fish, shrimp, mollusks and snails. To locate prey, Roseate Spoonbills have sensitive nerve endings and touch receptors in their bill, which they then snap closed to pull the prey out of the water. Similar to flamingos, Roseate Spoonbill’s pink color comes from the food it eats.

Spoonbills are very social birds and spend most of their time with other Spoonbills or in the company of other wading birds.  It is an unusual looking large wading bird with pink plumage, a long flat grayish spoon-shaped bill and an un-feathered greenish gray colored head which becomes golden buff during breeding. The neck, chest and upper back are white and the adult has beautiful red wing coverts. They have long red legs adapted to walking and wading in wetlands. They also have red eyes. Their nostrils are located at the top of the bill, making it possible for the bird to breathe while the bill is under water.

Roseate Spoonbills nest in colonies with Ibises, Storks, Cormorants, Herons and Egrets. Males and females pair off for the breeding season and build a nest together as the female builds the nest with material brought to her by the male. Their nests are built in trees typically 6-15 feet above the water. The nest is built of sticks lined with grass and leaves with a deep hollow in the center. The female lays 2-4 eggs, whitish with brown markings, and the chicks hatch in about 3 weeks. The new chicks fledge in 35-42 days and are fed by mom and dad until they are about 6-8 weeks old. Young birds have white feathers that have a slight pink tinge on their wings. They reach maturity at 3 years of age. The beaks of chicks are straight and the spoon-shape grows as the chick develops.  Nestlings are many times attacked and killed by Turkeys, Vultures, Bald Eagles, Raccoons and even Fire Ants.

Unlike herons, Spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched as you can see in the pictures below.

They reside along coastal Southeast US and West Indies through Mexico and Central America.

Plume hunters almost eliminated Spoonbills in the 1800’s when the wings of this beautiful creature were made into fans and their feathers for hats.  It’s ironic that they were hunted for their plumage: their feather color fades rapidly, so the colorful fans and hats made from their feathers didn’t last very long.  The biggest threat to Roseate Spoonbill population today is the loss of their habitat.  Due to increased human population, wetlands have either been drained or polluted forcing these birds to nest/live in much more vulnerable sites.  In addition, some populations show high levels of pesticide levels in their eggs but they do not appear to be significantly impaired by egg shell thinning at this time.

The oldest wild Roseate Spoonbill was discovered in the Florida Keys in 2006. The bird had been banded in 1990, and was an amazing 16 years old. The previous known longevity record for the species was 7 years.

A group of Roseate Spoonbills are collectively known as a “bowl” of Spoonbills.

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

 

Article submitted by: Flo Foley
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 if you can guess what bird I will grow up to be?

Who am I?
Who am I?

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

 

You’re invited to Zugunruhefest!

5950841011533070

Reminder!

The Center for Birds of Prey has an exciting program scheduled for Thursday – Saturday September 15 – 17 at their location at 4719 North Highway 17, Awendaw, SC 29429.  Zugunruhefest is the Southeast’s most comprehensive migration-focused birding festival.  Events during this three day festival include:
  • Bird Walks
  • Boat Excursions
  • Bird of Prey Tour & Flight Demonstration
  • Photography Sessions
  • Behind-the-Scenes Clinic Tours
  • Hawk Watch
  • Educational Sessions
Please click here to see the complete schedule of activities for this exciting opportunity and sign up!  Space is limited.
 
(** Note:  Members of The Center for Birds of Prey will receive a 20% discount – see details below)

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Piping Plover

Piping Plover –  Charadrius melodus
Length:  7.25″; Wingspan: 19″; Weight: 1.9 oz.

Piping Plover - North Beach, Seabrook Island - Ed Konrad
Piping Plover – North Beach, Seabrook Island – Ed Konrad

The Piping Plover is a small shorebird that has gotten a lot of attention at Seabrook. It doesn’t nest here, but Seabrook is an important stop for it in migration to feed. It’s feeding habitat has seriously declined since many coastal beaches have been lost to commercial, residential and recreational activities. This is one of the main reasons that the end of North Beach is protected from dogs. On our beach, it feeds on insects, spiders, crustaceans and mollusks. If you watch it carefully for a while, you will see it do a funny tapping with its foot as it looks for food. This is an interesting feeding ploy…tapping it’s foot against the sand to get prey to come to the surface so it is easier to see and capture. The Northern Great Plains plovers are classified as endangered and the Atlantic coast Piping Plovers are threatened by USFWS.

The Piping Plover is a small, stocky (6-7″ long) shorebird that nests and feeds along coastal sand and gravel beaches in North America. It is named for it’s melodic mating call. It is pale, sand colored on it’s upper parts, with white underparts and a black or brown band around it’s neck. It’s legs are yellowish orange and in breeding, the adults have a black forehead, black breast band and orange bill. The female lays 4 eggs in a nest lined with pebbles and broken shells. Both male and female care for the eggs, and chicks can run around and feed themselves in hours. These birds never nest on Seabrook, they only stop here in migration.

When you see the Piping Plovers, they are usually in small numbers, often mixed in with a large group of Semipalmated Plovers. They stand out because they are very white. This past spring, we saw a high count of 9 Piping Plovers on Seabrook, which was very exciting and somewhat rare! And recently we had the first banded Piping Plovers from the Bahamas (where they winter), seen in SC. So keep your eyes out for our small visitor, often wearing a lot of “bling” (multi-colored bands)!

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 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!