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.”

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Length: 22-29”; Wingspan: 40”

Could you identify the bird from Friday’s clue on the website? It’s not so easy. It’s a Little Blue Heron in what is called “first year” plumage.

Molting Little Blue Heron - Bob Hider
Molting Little Blue Heron – Bob Hider

When a Little Blue is immature (i.e., during the year in which it is born), it is totally white. Until a birder has mastered the characteristics of our local white egrets, it is easy to confuse the Little Blue with one of those waders. In its second spring, it begins to molt into its slate blue coloration, and, during that change, it appears mottled as the picture shows. By the end of the summer, it will have its more typical warm purplish-brown head and neck and otherwise dark gray-blue body. The two characteristics that it does maintain are its bluish green legs and black-tipped bluish bill.

The Little Blue Heron is common on Seabrook. It inhabits both fresh water ponds and salt or brackish water wetlands. It’s not unusual to find one standing among the reeds on the edge of Palmetto Lake searching for a meal. It can also be found on a dock, staring intently at the marsh below. As an adult, it tends to be solitary as it forages for small fish, crustaceans, frogs and aquatic insects. It stands quite still often with its bill pointed downward waiting patiently for its prey. For this reason, they can be difficult to spot.

In contrast, the pure white immature Little Blue Herons are often found feeding with groups of egrets and other herons which probably protects them somewhat. Eight were counted simultaneously on a Seabrook dock and in the nearby marsh this spring. When observed with such a group, their slow-moving behavior distinguishes them from the more active egrets even though they are very similar in size to the Snowy Egret.

Little Blue Herons are gregarious breeders, nesting in bushes over or near water. During the spring and early summer, they are part of the flocks on Jenkins Point along with the ibises and egrets there. In its write-up on this species, Cornell Lab of Ornithology states, “A courting male points his bill straight upward, suddenly extending and retracting his neck. Little Blue Herons of both sexes, when courting, may occasionally grasp, pull, and shake branches while simultaneously erecting the feathers along their head, neck, and back…. Little Blue Herons and neighboring colonial birds have a pronounced impact on their nesting habitat—stunting the growth of vegetation by harvesting nest material and sometimes killing trees outright by the accumulation of guano.”  This is true on Jenkins Point.

Here are more pictures of Little Blue Herons in their full immature and adult plumages.

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

Article submitted by: Marcia Hider
Photographs provided by: Bob Hider and Carl Helms

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 may get this with only one clue, a picture.  You would think it would be easy but can you identify this bird?

Who am I?

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

 

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Green Heron

Green Heron – Butorides virescens
Length:  18″; Wingspan: 26″; Weight: 7 oz.

Green Heron on the hunt - Ed Konrad
Green Heron on the hunt – Ed Konrad

A relatively common sight on Seabrook Island, the green heron is a dark, stocky bird that appears to hunch over on slender legs, often at the edge of a pond, marsh or stream. Seen up close or through binoculars, it is a distinctive bird with a velvety green-gray back, a brownish burgundy body and a dark cap often raised into a short crest. Its broad, rounded wings are dark grey, and its legs are a bright yellow. In flight, the green heron’s extended neck gives it a front-heavy, ungainly appearance.

The green heron feeds on small fish, crustaceans, frogs, tadpoles or aquatic insects. Sometimes the bird will ‘bait’ its prey, dropping twigs or feathers on the surface of the water as lures. The bird crouches motionless in the shallow water waiting for its prey to approach, then uses its long, straight dagger like beak to snatch up its food when it is within striking distance.

Green herons prefer to nest as isolated pairs or in small groups. The nesting site is usually in a shrub or tree 5-30’ above the ground, but occasionally herons will nest on the ground. Nests are platforms made of sticks: the male will begin nest construction, and then the female takes over while the male continues to forage for building materials for her.

Female herons will lay as few as 3 and up to 7 eggs at a time. Incubation is by both sexes and lasts 19-21 days. Both parents feed the young by regurgitation. Young herons begin to climb out and around the nest 16-17 days after hatching and will make first test flights at 21-23 days. Herons produce 1-2 broods per year.

Green herons are sometimes difficult to detect because of their dark plumage which helps them to blend into shaded areas and vegetation along the water’s edge. Their harsh ‘skeow’ call along with slow beats of rounded wings and an ‘unfolded’ neck in flight are good clues to the observer that you have spied a green heron!

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

Article submitted by:  Lyn Magee
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.

Recent Sightings of Interest

During the month of June, in addition to the previously reported Roseate Spoonbills, there have been some interesting bird sightings on Seabrook we want to share with you.

Andy Allen reported seeing a Swallow-tailed Kite in early June over the Cassique Golf Course on Seabrook/Kiawah Islands.  Nancy Brown and Flo Foley have seen the Mississippi Kites soaring above both Crooked Oaks and Ocean Winds golf courses throughout June.  Click here if you missed our previously published article comparing these species.

On the weekend of June 18th, Aija Konrad sighted several notable species and they were photographed by her husband Ed as listed and shown below.

  • Four Glossy Ibis were seen at the fire station marsh.  It was only their second sighting of Glossies in nine years at Seabrook.  These were again seen by Judy Morr and then Charley Moore this past week.
  • An American Oystercatcher was seen at Jenkins Point in the big marsh by the fence. This was a first for them to see an Oystercatcher on Jenkins Point.
  • Gull-billed Terns…a group of three were seen over the marsh at North Beach doing their swooping dives to catch crabs and insects. This tern never plunge-dives into water.
  • They had a sighting of banded “U5” American Oystercatcher and its mate on North Beach.
  • Finally, the Great Egret and Snowy Egrets nesting on the first pond on Jenkins Point are always a great sight!

Please enjoy these photos!