SIB “Bird of the Week” – Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
Length:  6.5″;  Wingspan:  9.75″;  Weight:  0.75 oz.

Aside from the Carolina Chickadee, this is probably the most likely visitor to a backyard feeder on Seabrook Island. It is silvery gray with a soft-colored orange just below its wing. It is a small bird but appears considerably bigger than a chickadee when they are next to one another, which they often are. Its crest is a good field mark.

During the summer months, titmice feed on insects but in the winter, they are particularly fond of sunflower seeds, and the bigger the better. If you have a feeder in your yard, you can watch as the titmouse picks out a large seed, holds it between its feet and pecks on it vigorously until the seed cracks open to release the tender heart inside. They are quite brave and will come to a feeder that is placed on a window providing a wonderful view for the homeowner.

The titmouse has a big sound for such a small bird. His main song sounds as though he is calling in a two-note descending minor third (for you musical folks) which is repeated usually three to four times: Peter Peter Peter. It’s a full, rich sound and quite distinguishable once you are familiar with it.

As the map below indicates, the Tufted Titmouse is here all year long. They build their nests in pre-existing tree cavities or sometimes in a bluebird box. They are quite territorial such that, even when breeding is finished, the male and female remain together and do not join with others as the chickadees do.

Tufted Titmouse pair nesting in a tree cavity.
Tufted Titmouse pair nesting in a tree cavity.

Watch for these little guys. They are not the biggest or the brightest (color, that is) but they grow on you! View this short video from Cornell Lab of Ornithology to see the Tufted Titmouse.

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

Article submitted by:  Marcia Hider
Photographs provided by: Ed Konrad and File Photos

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???

A common year round resident of Seabrook Island, I even enjoy eating from your feeders! Don’t guess too quickly, I am only 6 ½ inches long.

Who am I?

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

 

Free Season of FeederWatch When You Join Now

Do you have bird feeders and enjoy watching the birds? We want to let you know about an opportunity to try the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Project FeederWatch this year and receive the 2017-2018 FeederWatch season for FREE.  SIB would love to hear about your experience if you join – please let us know!

Also, watch for information about a new SIB program we plan to introduce to all Seabrook Island residents later this month.  The SIB Ambassador Program will offer assistance in identifying birds you see from your home!

Baltimore Oriole taken at the feeders of Jim & Donna Lawrence by Charles Moore
Baltimore Oriole taken at the feeders of Jim & Donna Lawrence by Charles Moore

Join Project FeederWatch by February 28 and receive next season free!

There is no easier way to connect with nature and contribute to science than by participating in Project Feederwatch. Even though the season is underway, every count matters, so there is plenty of time to contribute. You can still count birds until April!

What is Project FeederWatch?

Project FeederWatch lets you become the biologist of your own backyard. You identify the birds at your feeders and submit your observations to the Cornell Lab. You can count every week between November—April, or you can count only once all season—the time you spend is up to you! Our easy online data entry lets you immediately see all of your counts and view colorful summaries and graphs. Anyone interested in birds can participate; you don’t have to be an expert. All you need is a comfortable chair, a window, and an interest in the birds in your neighborhood.

What do I get when I register?

Participants will receive:

  • FeederWatch Handbook & Instructions
  • Full-color poster of common feeder birds
  • Bird-Watching Days Calendar
  • Our annual report, Winter Bird Highlights
  • Digital access to Living Bird magazine
Receive all of this FREE for joining Project FeederWatch
Receive all of this FREE for joining Project FeederWatch

Special offer expires February 28!

Wild Birds Unlimited wants to offset your FeederWatch membership fee by offering you $15 off any $50 purchase at their participating stores.

You will receive details for how to redeem this discount in your FeederWatch registration receipt. This offer expires on February 28, 2017. Restrictions apply. We are thankful to Wild Birds Unlimited for providing this special offer just for FeederWatchers participating in our 30th year, so be sure to thank them for supporting us when you visit their stores.

feederwatch3

Sign up for $18 ($15 for current Lab members) today. Your participation fee keeps the project running; without it, Project FeederWatch wouldn’t be possible.

We hope you will tell us about the birds at your feeders! 

Emma Greig
Leader, Project FeederWatch

Join SIB for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

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Great Backyard Bird Count
Friday February 17 – Monday February 20 

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is an annual event sponsored by the National Audubon Society and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  It is free and allows birders of all levels to participate.  Learn more about the GBBC here, including results from the 2016 event, how to download helpful FREE apps like the Audubon’s Bird Guide, Lab of Ornithology’s Merlin to assist in identifying birds and eBird to track the birds you are seeing.  If you missed it, the Post & Courier published an article you can read here.

The Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) has scheduled a “Big Bird Day” to coincide with the GBBC and the Owners Weekend on Seabrook Island on Sunday, February 19. Please register for one or all of the Learning Together walks scheduled below to participate in the fun.

Sunday February 19, 2017
8:30 AM – 10:00 AM:

Learning Together at Jenkins Point
Meet at the Lake House and car pool to Jenkins Point to check out the birds that frequent the lagoons along the way.  This “walk” will be primarily by car with minimal walking.  Gearge Haskins will lead this walk.
Marcia Hider and Judy Morr will lead a walk around the Palmetto Lake.  The walk will begin at the Lake House parking lot and continue around the building then around the lake.  A good variety of birds will hopefully be spotted.
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM:
Learning Together at North Beach
Aija Konrad will lead the group on a walk to see the numerous shore birds.  The group will work together to identify those hard to distinquish plovers and sandpipers.  The walk is scheduled around the 2:19 high tide when the birds will be consolidated on a narrower beach.
Judy Morr will lead a group meeting at the Equestrian Center.  Starlings and Cowbirds plus numerous other birds can be expected.  A large number of birds will likely be seen near the parking area but then a walk along the horse trail to the maintenance area may be added to see a different variety of birds.
Monday February 20, 2017
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
:
Learning Together at the Golf Course

An additional Learning Together has been scheduled on Crooked Oaks when the course is closed.  Along the way we hope to see the fledging eaglets in their new nest.

Of course you can also participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count with your own observations from wherever you are on February 17 through 20.  So don’t miss the fun and help scientists learn more about birds!

February Bear Island Trip with David Gardner

Early morning birding at Bear Island.
Early morning birding at Bear Island.

The trip to Bear Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was scheduled for the first day the WMA reopened to the general public.  From October 31 through February 8, the WMA is closed except for registered duck hunters.  The group hoped to see the Tundra Swans plus numerous ducks before the ducks migrate out of the area.  We were not disappointed!

We woke early on February 9 to a thunderstorm rolling through the area but radar showed it would be a quick passing line of storms so the group met as scheduled.  While gathering in the real estate parking lot, Bob Mercer trained his scope on Jupiter where those present were able to see several moons of Jupiter in addition to the planet.  What a way to start the day.

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Upon arrival at Bear Island, we started the day at Mary’s House Pond.  A great start for the day as 8 swans were seen plus an estimated 125 American Avocet.  Canada Geese, Green-winged Teal, Bonaparte’s Gull and a Belted Kingfisher were among the numerous birds seen.  The wind was blustering which made focusing the scopes a challenge but 69 species were identified while traversing between the various ponds at the WMA.  I never realized there were that many different species of ducks.  The wind kept the sighting of the typical songbirds at a minimum.  We left Bear Island without seeing (or hearing) a Carolina Chickadee or a Tufted Titmouse. Who would have thought!

American Avocet with Dunlin - Ed Konrad
American Avocet with Dunlin – Ed Konrad

The group proceeded to Donnelly WMA where different habitat may result in different sitings.  This proved true as the elusive Carolina Chickadee and Titmouse were easily seen.  Highlights of this tour included an armadillo but also Wilson Snipe and Ring-necked Duck.  In total, 59 species were seen at Donnelly WMA for a total of 81 species for the day.

The group returned to Seabrook vowing to return to both Bear Island and Donnelly Wildlife Management Areas again in the future.  The species list for each location is shown below.

Please be sure to check out Calendar and the Activities page for our upcoming events!

Article Submitted by:  Judy Morr
Photos Submitted by:  Ed Konrad

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Bear Island
1 Canada Goose
19 Tundra Swan
220 Gadwall
3 American Wigeon
1 American Black Duck
2 Mallard
29 Blue-winged Teal
115 Northern Shoveler
265 Northern Pintail
189 Green-winged Teal
1 Bufflehead
3 Wild Turkey
23 Pied-billed Grebe
9 Double-crested Cormorant
5 Anhinga
13 American White Pelican
6 Great Blue Heron
14 Great Egret
10 Snowy Egret
7 Little Blue Heron
9 Tricolored Heron
1 Green Heron
23 Black-crowned Night-Heron
2 White Ibis
12 Glossy Ibis
14 Black Vulture
12 Turkey Vulture
2 Northern Harrier
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Bald Eagle
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Red-tailed Hawk
5 Common Gallinule
48 American Coot
180 American Avocet
10 Killdeer
19 Dunlin
14 Lesser Yellowlegs
6 Bonaparte’s Gull
5 Herring Gull
13 Caspian Tern
15 Forster’s Tern
2 Mourning Dove
1 Belted Kingfisher
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
1 American Kestrel
2 Eastern Phoebe
3 Blue Jay
15 American Crow
85 Tree Swallow
1 House Wren
2 Carolina Wren
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
22 Eastern Bluebird
2 Northern Mockingbird
6 European Starling
3 Palm Warbler
1 Pine Warbler
28 Yellow-rumped Warbler
3 Chipping Sparrow
2 Savannah Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
2 Eastern Towhee
1 Northern Cardinal
84 Red-winged Blackbird
8 Eastern Meadowlark
6 Boat-tailed Grackle

Donnelly
1 Wood Duck
6 American Wigeon
95 Blue-winged Teal
25 Northern Shoveler
16 Northern Pintail
55 Green-winged Teal
110 Ring-necked Duck
3 Wild Turkey
10 Pied-billed Grebe
2 Anhinga
3 Great Blue Heron
4 Great Egret
5 Snowy Egret
2 Little Blue Heron
2 Tricolored Heron
5 White Ibis
1 Glossy Ibis
4 Black Vulture
7 Turkey Vulture
1 Bald Eagle
2 Red-tailed Hawk
14 Common Gallinule
4 American Coot
45 Killdeer
15 Wilson’s Snipe
3 Mourning Dove
1 Belted Kingfisher
3 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
3 Downy Woodpecker
2 Northern Flicker
2 Pileated Woodpecker
4 Eastern Phoebe
3 Blue Jay
14 American Crow
300 Tree Swallow
4 Carolina Chickadee
2 Tufted Titmouse
4 Brown-headed Nuthatch
5 Carolina Wren
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
18 Eastern Bluebird
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Northern Mockingbird
1 Orange-crowned Warbler
10 Palm Warbler
6 Pine Warbler
30 Yellow-rumped Warbler
65 Chipping Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
2 Eastern Towhee
4 Northern Cardinal
32 Red-winged Blackbird
15 Brown-headed Cowbird

 

SIB “Bird of the Week” – House Finch vs. Purple Finch

Did you guess House Finch & Purple Finch???

House Finch
Carpodacus mexicanus
Length:  6″
Wingspan: 9.5″
Weight: 0.74 oz.

Purple Finch
Haemorhous purpureus
Length:  6″
Wingspan: 10″
Weight: 0.88 oz.

Surprisingly, the House Finch was originally confined to the west and known as a Linnet until being introduced as a caged bird in several pet stores in Long Island in the 1940s. Currently it is one of the most common birds in North America surpassing even the House Sparrow. Although originally indigenous to the deserts and plains of the west, they are now equally happy perched on your bird feeders or the railings on your back deck. The male has a brown cap and a bright red to orange under the beak and on the front of the head. The female is predominantly grayish brown with 2 narrow whitish buff bars on her wings. In the winter, the birds assume a more worn look with a strong muting of their distinctive colors.

The song of the male is longer than the female and has a varied high-pitched scratchy warble composed of chiefly three-note phrases, many ending with rising inflections.

House Finch love sunflower seeds, millet and thistle.

Similar to the House Finch is the Purple Finch. They belong to the same family Fringillidae but the species name is  Haemorhous purpureus. They are about the same size as the House Finch but are migratory and can be found in our area only in the winters at our bird feeders. They are chunkier than the House Finch and are (like their name) predominantly purple. The females on the other hand are more brownish gray than the female House Finch and have a whitish eye line.

The Purple Finch is the bird that Roger Tory Peterson famously described as a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” Aija Konrad says that the Purple Finch looks like it “fell into a glass of red wine”.  Which description do you relate to best?

The Purple Finch song sounds like this.

Click on the images below to learn more about the visual differences between these two species of finch and read all about them in the article on Audubon’s website.

HOUSE FINCH

PURPLE FINCH

To learn more about each of these birds, visit the sites below:

Article submitted by:  Ron Schildge
Photographs provided by:  Ed Konrad & Audubon

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.

SIB Presents Patrick McMillan on Wednesday February 22, 2017

Everyone is Welcome to
Meet Patrick McMillan
Emmy-Award Winning Host of PBS Show
“Expeditions with Patrick McMillan”

Few creatures capture our attention and admiration more than hummingbirds. These miniature jeweled treasures move at mind-boggling speeds but also have the power to shape and change our world. Join Patrick McMillan as he explores the lives and biology of these creatures using high-tech technologies to uncover the secret lives of these little birds that live life in fast-forward.

Date: February 22, 2017
Registration & Social: 7:00 pm
Program Starts: 7:30 pm
Location: Live Oak Hall at the Lake House on Seabrook Island

Please help us know how much wine, snacks and chairs we will need by letting us know you plan to join us! Click here!

If you would like to join or renew your SIB Membership, download the SIB Membership Form now and either drop it off or bring the form and your $10 per person per year when you sign in at this event.

All Seabrook Island residents and guests are welcome. There is a $5 donation for non SIB members. Information about future programs can be found at the SIB web site seabrookislandbirders.org .

About Patrick McMillan

Patrick McMillan is the host, co-creator and writer of the popular, Emmy-award winning ETV nature program Expeditions with Patrick McMillan. For over 25 years, Patrick has worked as a professional naturalist, biologist and educator. Patrick is the Glenn and Heather Hilliard Professor of Environmental Sustainability at Clemson University, and the director of the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

Patrick received his B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Clemson University. He is a contributor to the book Life at the Water’s Edge, which won the 2005 Renewable Natural Resources Foundations Outstanding Achievement Award and has been selected to receive one of ten South Carolina Notable State Document Awards for 2005.

In addition to hosting Expeditions, Patrick has also hosted a birding program on SCETV Radio’s “Your Day” and is a frequent guest on other “Your Day” programs. He has received four Emmy Awards for his Expeditions programs, his fourth Emmy having been received for his work on hummingbirds.

sib-evening-program-2017-02-22

Backyard Birding at the Lawrence’s

It was a chilly February morning but the Lawrence’s shared their beautiful warm home to watch the variety of birds at their feeders and lagoon. Eight people worked together to identify the 21 species seen from the comfort of their home.  Books, apps on our phones, and the internet were all referenced trying to determine the type of sparrow seen on the ground beneath the bamboo and wax myrtles.  It was finally determined to be a Song Sparrow.  Similarly, much discussion was had whether it was a Black-crowned Nightheron or a Yellow-crowned Nightheron.  It was finally decided to be a Black-crowned Nightheron.  The numerous beautiful American Goldfinch, the Carolina Wren, and three types of woodpeckers were easier to identify.  A complete list of the identified species is shown below.

A big THANK YOU to Donna and Jim for a wonderful morning!

Check out our upcoming birding activities here!

Pied-billed Grebe 1
Double-crested Cormorant 4
Anhinga 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron 1
Mourning Dove 3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 2
Carolina Chickadee 6
Tufted Titmouse 4
Carolina Wren 2
Hermit Thrush 1
American Robin 12
Northern Mockingbird 1
Song Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 3
American Goldfinch 15

Article Submitted by: Judy Morr
Photographs Submitted by: Charles Moore

 

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Length:  31″; Wingspan: 80″; Weight: 152 oz.

Did you guess Bald Eagle to the question we asked on Friday?  Few sounds symbolize American patriotism like the piercing shrill of a Bald Eagle. But just like George Washington and his cherry tree, that majestic call … is a myth. The screech associated with the bald eagle, in fact, belongs to a different bird.  Bird expert Connie Stanger blames Hollywood. You know the scene: “You’ve got John Wayne riding through the sunset and you hear the jingle of spurs and often that piercing, loud cry.”

It’s a cry that’s synonymous with America’s national bird. But there’s a problem says Stanger, who works at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise. If you were to look up at the bird making that sound in real life you wouldn’t see a bald eagle. “They dub over it with a Red-tailed Hawk’s cry,” Stanger says. And the reason? Well, take a listen to what the bald eagle actually sounds like … “Unfortunately for the bald eagle, it has like a little cackling type of a laugh that’s not really very impressive for the bird,” Stanger explains.

Bald Eagle - C Moore
Bald Eagle – C Moore

Seabrook Island residents have a special bond with the Bald Eagle. For many years’ residents, have enjoyed the year-round antics of a pair of nesting eagles in the sky over Seabrook Island. With their nest in plain view near Hole 3 of the Oceans Winds Golf Course, their nesting and rearing activities, including the maiden flights of the young eagles each year have become a highlight for many golfers and island residents.

Unfortunately, the eagle’s host tree was very old, in poor condition and after the nesting season last year collapsed during a rain storm. Many residents worried that the eagles would not find a new home nearby and would either select a remote new home or worse leave the Island. These fears proved to be unjustified as Seabrook island’s eagles have selected a new home in a nearby pine tree and are busy preparing to raise another family this year.

The Bald Eagle has a body length of 28 to 40 inches. Typical wingspan is between 6 to 7.5 feet and they normally weigh between 6.5 and 14 pounds. Females are about 25% larger than males, averaging about 12 pounds, against the males’ average weight of 9.0 pounds.

The common name, “Bald Eagle” refers to the older meaning of the word, “white headed”. Males and females have identical plumage, dark brown with a white head and tail. Immature Bald Eagles are solid brown and gain more white over the next four years when they finally reach maturity with the white head and tail. The beak is large and hooked.

Bald Eagles typically stay mated for life (usually 20 years or so) and continue to visit the nest site and add to it each year. The Bald Eagle builds the largest nest of any bird. Record nests have been used for more than 30 years and have reached masses of two or more tons. Eagles first breed at 4-5 years of age. Courtship and nest building begins in late September or early October.

Eggs are laid in December/February. The young hatch after 34-36 days of incubation. Young are fed bite-sized pieces of dead animals (fish, birds) or carrion for the first three weeks or so, then whole fish, reptiles, birds, and small mammals are brought to the nest for the young to tear apart on their own.

Young fly at 10-12 weeks of age but often continue to return to the nest for several weeks to roost and rest. Eventually the parents leave them on their own and they become completely independent before their first winter.

Chosen as an American symbol in 1782, the Bald Eagle was nearly pushed to extinction by pesticides, habitat loss and indiscriminate hunting over the next one hundred years. Thanks to federal legislation, including the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, Bald Eagles have made a complete recovery and were removed from the endangered species list in 2007.

Today, Bald Eagles are found in every state except Hawaii. The United States Bald Eagle population is estimated by the Audubon Society to have doubled from 1995 to 2015 to approximately 30,000 birds.

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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