SIB “Bird of the Week” – American Goldfinch

This blog post is the first in a new 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.

American GoldfinchSpinus tristis
Length:  5″; Wingspan: 9″; Weight: 0.46 oz.

American Goldfinch - Charles J Moore
American Goldfinch – Charles J Moore

This small finch is commonly found in flocks on Seabrook Island during the winter months (November – March) on backyard feeders, along the golf courses or anywhere there are weed seeds.  It has a sharply pointed bill, a small head, long wings and a short, notched tail.

Those of you who are familiar with this bird during breeding season (when the male has a bright yellow body and black cap, wings and tail), may not recognize them in their winter plumage.  The winter male has olive-gray to olive-brown upper parts, paler underparts, yellow shoulder bar, white wing bar, dark conical bill and may show black on its forehead and yellow on its throat and face.  The winter female is duller with buff wing and shoulder bars and lacks yellow and black on the face and head.  This drastic change in plumage is a result of the American Goldfinch, the only member of its family, having two complete molts each year, one in the fall and one in the spring.

American Goldfinches are among the strictest vegetarians in the bird world only inadvertently swallowing an occasional insect.  It feeds primarily on seeds, including seeds from composite plants (sunflowers, thistle, asters, etc), grasses and trees.  At feeders they favor nyjer and sunflower seeds (hulled).  In both situations it prefers to hang onto seed heads or feeders rather than feeding on the ground.

American Goldfinches are often described as active and acrobatic.  They are also easily identified by their undulating flight pattern of several rapid wing beats and then a pause.  Listen for their flight song while they are flapping, which sounds like po-ta-to-chip.

A group of goldfinches has many collective nouns, including a “007”, “charm”, “rush”, “treasury” and “vein” of goldfinches.

Keep an eye out for the American Goldfinch, as they will be leaving soon to head north to breed and will return when the weather up north gets cold again next fall. (See the range map following the photographs below.)

If you would like to learn more about this bird visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology – All About Birders: American Goldfinch and Birds of Seabrook Island: American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch in winter - Bob Hider
American Goldfinch in winter – Bob Hider
American Goldfinch spring molt - Bob Hider
American Goldfinch spring molt – Bob Hider
American Goldfinch spring molt- Bob Hider
American Goldfinch spring molt- Bob Hider
Range Map of American Goldfinch - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Range Map of American Goldfinch – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Register for “Learning Together – Birding on the Beach”

On Thursday, March 24, 2016, SIB is sponsoring our second member activity by hosting a “Learning Together – Birding on the Beach,” a casual walk on North Beach of two miles (or more) for approximately 1 1/2 hours to view birds common to the beaches on Seabrook Island.  The walk will leave the parking lot of North Beach Boardwalk #1 promptly at 8:30 am.  Please bring water, sunscreen, bug repellent, hat and if you have them binoculars and/or a camera.  Limit 20 people.

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

Once you are a member, please click here to register no later than Tuesday March 22, 2016.  All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Wednesday March 23, 2016.



Shore birds of Seabrook Island - Charles J Moore
Shore birds of Seabrook Island – Charles J Moore

Seabrook Island Photography Club: Photographing a Scene

Special Program Announcement

Speaker:  Tim Grey, Professional Photographer, Author & Educator
Subject:  “Photographing a Scene”
Thursday, March 3rd at 6:30 p.m.
Open to all residents and their guests without charge

Please join us for this opportunity to hear from Tim Grey, a well-known professional photographer.

Tim is regarded as one of the top educators in digital photography and imaging, offering clear guidance on complex subjects through his writing and speaking. He has written more than a dozen books on digital imaging for photographers, and has also had hundreds of articles published in magazines. Tim teaches through workshops, seminars, and appearances at major events worldwide. Visit his website at

Tim’s Presentation

A lot of thought can go into creating a photograph. Sometimes those thoughts are conscious, and sometimes we don’t even realize we’re thinking. In this presentation Tim Grey will share his approach to photographing a scene and to managing the resulting images. You’ll learn the stories behind some of Tim’s favorite photographs, how he makes decisions about where to position the camera, what equipment to use, and what settings to use. Along the way you’ll gain insights that may help you become a more thoughtful photographer, and that may help you be better able to locate favorite photos later.

Tim Grey
Tim Grey

Submitted by Valerie Doane

2016 Great Backyard Bird Count

Many thanks to the crazy birders who braved the cold temperatures (31 degrees and wind chill of 17) on Sunday, February 14,  for our Great Backyard Bird Count.  And thanks to several of you who were with us in spirit and those who birded from their homes.  The fifteen of us split off into two groups and birded around the Lakehouse and Jenkins Point area.  As cold as it was, we were fortunate to see 30 various types of birds.  Below is our  species count along with a couple of pictures from our excursion for you to view.

 eBird Checklist Summary for: Feb 14, 2016

(1): Seabrook Island — Palmetto Lake
(2):  Seabrook Island — Jenkins Point Rd

2 Bufflehead — (1)
55 Hooded Merganser — (1),(2)
4 Double-crested Cormorant — (1)
1 Anhinga — (1)
4 Brown Pelican — (1)
1 Great Blue Heron — (2)
19 Great Egret — (1),(2)
1 Snowy Egret — (1), (2)
4 Little Blue Heron — (1),(2)
3 Tricolored Heron — (2)
2 Black-crowned Night-Heron — (2)
3 Turkey Vulture — (1),(2)
1 Osprey — (1)
2 Bald Eagle — (1)
1 Belted Kingfisher — (2)
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker — (2)
2 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker — (2)
3 Blue Jay — (1)
12 American Crow — (1), (2)
1 Tufted Titmouse — (2)
7 Carolina Chickadee — (2)
1 Carolina Wren — (2)
18 Eastern Bluebird — (1), (2)
2 Gray Catbird — (2)
4 Northern Mockingbird — (1), (2)
34 Yellow-rumped Warbler — (1),(2)
3 Red-winged Blackbirds — (2)
6 Northern Cardinal — (1), (2)
1 White-throated Sparrow — (2)
2 House Finch — (1)

This was our first “Learning Together” bird walk and we plan to do more of these each month.  The intent is to identify some birds, learn about behavior and/or habitat, meet others in our community who enjoy birds and have FUN!
Submitted by Flo Foley, Activities Chair

How Do Birds Drink Water?

All birds, including this lesser goldfinch, need water. (Photo: Creative Commons)
All birds, including this lesser goldfinch, need water. (Photo: Creative Commons)

by Dawn Hewitt | Managing Editor, Bird Watcher’s Digest

Just like you and me, birds need water to survive. Most birds drink some water every day, but they don’t drink the way we mammals do. Their anatomy is obviously quite different from ours. For one thing, they don’t have cheeks and lips! With a few exceptions, birds lack the ability to suction liquid into their throats, as horses do. Most birds drink by filling their bill with water—often from morning dew on leaves—then tilting their head back, using gravity to send the liquid into their digestive tract.

Read the entire article at Bird Watchers Digest.

20 Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About Birds

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Taking Flight - Charles J Moore
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Taking Flight – Charles J Moore

by Anne Drew – Contributor, Bird Watcher’s Digest

How many bird species are alive today?  What is the fastest bird?  What is a group of owls called?

We thought you might be interested to learn the answers to these and other FAQ’s about birds here at BirdWatcherDigest.

Don’t forget to log your bird sightings into eBird to support the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) from February 12-15, 2016?

Create a Logo for SIB

Hello Seabrook Island Birders (SIB)

We hope you enjoyed our first meeting on January 20th, are finding the SIB website ( and blog informative and are following SIB news and activities on the SIB Facebook page.

As you are all aware, a logo is extremely important to any organization or business and we would like to ask our members to help create a logo for SIB.

We will consider any ideas submitted by the membership. (Would a graphic artist please stand up) Up to five potential logo designs will be selected by SIB officers at our March 1st Committee Meeting and then circulated via the SIB website to be voted on by the membership.

Please submit your thoughts, ideas and/or designs no later than February 29th to  The creator of the winning design will receive a prize.

​Charley Moore
SIB Chairman