New Audubon Website

Good evening friends. If you haven’t seen the new Audubon website, may I suggest you select the link below and take a trip around.


National Audubon Society

Explore the world of birds with Audubon's completely re-imagined website.

You'll find the compelling stories and stunning photographs that you've come to expect from Audubon magazine along with new daily content offerings and a wealth of web-exclusive material. 

Audubon's new mobile-friendly bird guide features exclusive bird descriptions from pre-eminent bird author Kenn Kaufman and illustrations from David Allen Sibley.

Simple instructions and testimonials from birders such as Jonathan Franzen and Jane Alexander make it easy to get into the world of birds. 

Find out about Audubon's on the ground conservation work throughout the Americas.

Get involved with Audubon in your local community.

We hope you'll agree that conservation has a whole new look.

Enter Now

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National Audubon Society 225 Varick Street New York, NY 10014 USA

© 2015 National Audubon Society, Inc.



2014 Christmas Bird Count

Here are the results from the CBC on Sunday, December 14, 2014.  Thanks to all involved.  It was a great success.

Please click on the file:  CBC 12/14/14

To see the 2013 results, click on the file:  CBC 12/14/13

To see the 2012 results, click on the file:  CBC 12/14/12

To see the 2011 results, click on the file:  CBC 12/16/11

A free guide to identifying birds

Are you new to birding or are you in a new area with new species to identify?  The Merlin Bird ID App is a perfect tool to help. It is from those Bird Brains at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is free. You can download it to your smart phone or tablet. Read more about it below and find it here or paste the following link into your web-browser's address bar:


Bird ID Wizard—Step-by-step

Answer five simple questions about a bird you are trying to identify and Merlin will come up with a list of possible matches. Merlin offers quick identification help for beginning and intermediate bird watchers to learn about North America’s most common birds!

Results based on millions of eBird sightings

Merlin draws upon more than 70 million observations from the eBird citizen-science project.
It customizes your list to the species you are most likely to have seen at your location and time of year.

Browse more than 2.000 stunning images taken by top photographers. Merlin also includes more than 1,000 audio recordings from the Macaulay Library, identification tips from experts, and range maps from the Birds of North America Online.


Birders in the News

Noah sent us the link below for a wonderful article that was in the Island Packet on 12/28/14. It is entitled Cracking the nut that is a birder’s brain.
Select the link above or the one below:

I hope you find this article of interest.

Does Bird Feeding Affect Bird Behavior?

Good day birding friends. I have included an informative article for all you backyard birders. The original article can be found here:



Does Bird Feeding Affect Bird Behavior?

Ten common questions regarding the pros and cons of bird feeding.

by Dr. David Bird, contributor for The Backyard Bird Newsletter

Much of the behavior we observe in our backyard birds is centered on the artificial feeders we set out for them. Offering those tasty treats brings the birds in closer so that we may appreciate their beauty and enjoy their antics. Some feel compelled to feed the birds because of a desire to help them out. But not all folks agree with the hobby, questioning whether our artificial feeds adversely affect the behaviors of our birds. In this column I want to focus on 10 common questions regarding the pros and cons of bird feeding.

1) If I feed the birds in winter, will I prevent them from migrating south?

There is no scientific proof that feeding birds alters their migratory habits. Having said that, some scientists believe accipiters like Cooper's hawks and sharp-shinned hawks forego migration in some areas due to the abundance of prey at bird feeders, a behavior called short-stopping. It is also believed that the presence of feeders has facilitated the northern population expansion of northern cardinals, mourning doves, tufted titmice, and others. Certainly the urge to migrate is deeply ingrained in most birds and is mainly controlled by changes in day length. When the days shorten in the fall, hormones induce both restlessness and fattening through increased feeding. In short, when it is time to head south, they go. Some species like swallows will even abandon nestlings in their nests to migrate south.

2) When I attract songbirds to a location on a regular basis, am I serving them up on a platter to raptors?

Some raptors, particularly Cooper's hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, American kestrels, and merlins, frequent backyards containing feeders in search of small birds. Accipiters are especially fond of hiding among shrubs and trees to suddenly dash into a group of feeder birds. But they usually capture the weaker or less fit birds. Whether they kill birds at a feeder or at some other location, keep in mind that it is all part of nature, "red in tooth and claw." Birds of prey are part of the natural landscape and their appearance at your feeders should actually add drama to your backyard. If the birds abandon your feeders due to the presence of a hawk or falcon, it is generally only temporary. If there are no birds, the raptor will move on.

3) If I and/or my neighbors own a cat, should I forego feeding the birds?

I estimate that free-ranging pet cats kill one to two billion birds annually in the world. But not all cats kill birds. If you do have a cat or two hanging about your yard with murder on their minds, keep your feeders and birdbaths out of reach and well away from vegetation where the cats can hide to ambush birds. Using seed trays on your feeders to prevent seed from falling to the ground will minimize the numbers of vulnerable ground-feeding birds. Spraying unwanted cats with water can be quite effective at training them to avoid your yard, and it won't actually hurt the animal.

4) By attracting birds to my yard with feeders, am I increasing their risk of striking windows?

Daniel Klem of Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania estimates that somewhere between 100 million to a billion birds die from striking glass in North America each year. However, if you locate your feeder either within five feet of your windows or, alternatively, 30 feet away or more, you can minimize the chances of bird strikes. There also exist myriad ways to reduce the amount of reflective surfaces on windows that create the illusion of empty space.

5) Do birds actually need the food I offer in my feeders?

Generally no. They likely do use your feeder as a fast-food outlet in times of food shortages though. At least three published scientific studies have shown nutritional and reproductive benefits to blue jays, black-capped chickadees, and tufted titmice that breed in neighborhoods that are home to plenty of feeders.

6) By offering food to birds, am I helping to elevate squirrel populations?

John Terborgh in his 1989 book Where Have All the Birds Gone? claims that bird feeders are responsible for artificially elevating the populations of squirrels, which are known to be voracious predators of birds' eggs and nestlings. His arguments do make sense to me and they offer a strong case for dissuading these furry rascals—squirrel-resistant feeders, baffles, less desirable seeds such as Nyger, etc.

7) Do feeders heighten the spread of disease among birds?

This is one of the strongest anti-feeding arguments. Although it is true that forcing birds to feed together at common places can lead to increased disease transfer, it is also well known that birds often feed in groups, including mixed-species flocks, in the wild regardless. Good feeder hygiene—cleaning feeders regularly, offering fresh seed, minimizing feces build-up—and generally striving for quality versus quantity of desired visitors can lessen this problem.

8) Should I worry about my feeders attracting pigeons to my yard?

Yes, but not because pigeons are inherently evil. Regrettably, they have gotten a bad rap in the public eye, often being referred to as "winged rats" and "flying bags of disease." Pigeons do not carry any more diseases than other wild birds, but because they have this public stigma, it is not wise for backyard feeder operators to use sloppy feeding practices that attract pigeons and eventually the enmity of neighbors. This can sometimes lead to draconian municipal laws that ban bird feeding altogether.

9) By feeding the birds, am I helping the economy in some way?

Bird feeding is a multibillion-dollar industry. Keeping your feeders up and filled year-round can help small businesses like nature stores survive, particularly in bad economic times. Growing seeds for the bird-feeding crowd has also become a popular agricultural practice, especially in developing countries.

10) Can my backyard bird-feeding hobby be useful to the conservation of birds?

Absolutely yes. In the past decade or so, citizen science has become a major tool used by conservationists to help bird populations. Participating in events like the Great Backyard Bird Count allows scientists to acquire snapshots of how bird populations are faring from year to year, as well as detecting long-term trends. This information becomes particularly critical in the face of climatic and habitat changes.

So there you have it. To my mind, there is only one reason you should offer food to the birds in your backyard—to enjoy them!

Who is at your feeder? From Noah Rosenstein 11/15/14


             Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Nature Newsletter

Project FeederWatch 

Project FeederWatch, a survey of the birds encountered at feeders across North America, has begun and will run through April 4. 

If you like, you can volunteer to count birds in your backyard and send the data to Project FeederWatch, which allows scientists to track population movement. Visit to get more information and sign up. To get you excited, we are sharing Wow! facts about some of Project FeederWatch’s common feeder birds.

1. The American Goldfinch is the only songbird that feeds its young a diet of seeds. Brown-headed Cowbirds hatched from eggs laid in goldfinch nests cannot survive the all-seed diet.

2. Red-bellied Woodpeckers will eat almost anything, including insects, small fish, tree frogs, and even other birds and bird eggs!

3. In a 1962 experiment, several hundred White-crowned Sparrows were trapped in California and released in Maryland. One year later, eight of them had found their way back.

4. A White-breasted Nuthatch performing its threat display spreads its wings and tail, stands upright with bill pointed up, and waves its body back and forth, looking like a tiny, scary vampire.

5. Studies have shown that chickadees actually grow extra brain cells to help them remember where they have cached seeds.


Wow! facts adapted from The New Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America



Lowcountry's 10 Best Spots for Birding

Please click on the link below for The Island Packet's article on the 10 best spots for birding.  Included are:

  • Maps and directions
  • Trail maps
  • Photos
  • Videos that explain each site's uniqueness
  • Seasonal bird lists
  • Birdwatcher tips

Cornell Lab Free ID APP

Click on the link below for Cornell Lab's "Happy Birding This New Year With Free ID App".

 Free ID APP

Note from John Burrack:  "Those with iPads should know that they may have to switch the App Store header from "iPad Only" to "iPhone Only" to get at the app.  It says that the app could not be found when I tried to get it for my iPad.  I also have been having trouble getting it to download ... my guess is the Cornell server is very busy ... I'll keep trying."

Useful Birding Websites

Click on the link below for the information on some websites useful to birders that our Jan. 2 speaker, Noah Rosenstein, discussed in his talk about "Birding with Technology in the 21st Century."

Birding with Technology

Birds of Paradise

John Edman says:  "This National Geographic clip on the Birds of Paradise is spectacular.  Check it out and I'm sure you will agree."

Click on this URL and scroll down to the Trailer

How to Choose a Binocular

Noah Rosenstein shares the following the document, written by John E. Riutta, for how to pick out a binocular:

How to Choose a Binocular
By John E. Riutta

Writer, critic, lecturer and publisher of The Well-read Naturalist, John was formerly the development and product line manager for binocular and spotting scope products at Leupold & Stevens, Inc.

Of all the activities involved in bird watching, one of the most challenging does not involve birds at all; it is the selection of the right binocular. After all, there are dozens of books currently in publication that give advice on bird watching techniques and literally hundreds of field guides to help you tell one bird from another, but when it comes to picking the binocular with which you will be employing all those techniques, not a single book dedicated to the topic exists.

In some ways, rightly so; for there are a bewildering variety of technical aspects involved in the design and manufacturing of a binocular. However when it comes to selecting optics for bird watching, keeping three simple things in mind will go a long way to helping you select the right binocular for your bird watching needs.

First, don’t choose a compact binocular (anything with an objective smaller than 30mm). Oh compacts have their uses--quick glances, “just in case” carry alongs--but while they may be small, light, and easy to carry, the image even the best can provide won’t give you a satisfying experience when used for long periods of time in the field.

Second, don’t over-magnify. I know it seems like a 10x model will give you a better look at a bird than an 8x model, but it will also give you a smaller field of view, an image that is less bright, and be more difficult to hold without shaking. 8x is the most magnification you’ll ever need for a bird watching binocular. If you want more magnification than that, consider getting a spotting scope in which the objective lens is much larger to help balance the light in relation to the higher magnification level.

Third, choose a binocular that fits your hands and face. If you can’t hold it comfortably and see clearly through both sides at once with no “shadows” creeping in from the edges, pass it by and keep looking. If you wear eyeglasses, the binocular’s eye relief should be long enough to allow you to see the full field of view without requiring that you remove your spectacles.

Sure, there’s more that could be written, but why needlessly complicate matters? These three things will go a long way to making sure the next binocular you buy will be the one with which you’ll be happy for years to come.






Here is the list of plants from Master Gardner Bill Leonard's excellent presentation of "Landscape Plants Birds Love" at the meeting on January 4.

Please click on the file:  Native Plants


Here is the outline of the wonderful presentation by Tom Rea at the meeting on 10/8/09.  Click on the link below:

Bird Photography



Thanks to Judy Roach for this beautiful powerpoint of hummingbirds.  Click on the link below:


Hilton Head Osprey Nest

We were reminded at the meeting Monday (7/2/09) that the young osprey can still be seen through the live webcam that Palmetto Electric Cooperative has installed on a large tower at their utility's Mathews Drive office.  Visit the site at: 


1.  Plastic container: mine is 12 x 14 (lid optional; if you use a lid, make airholes.)                                    

2.  Growing medium: Oatmeal, oat bran, cornmeal; about 2 to 3 inches.

3.  Feed once a week with slices of carrot, potato or apple (lay piece on top of meal.  Make sure nothing           gets moldy; remove pieces when they shrivel up.

4.  Occasionally (every few months) sift the medium to remove the  powdery waste.  (This waste will contain eggs.  If you want, you can put it in a different container, add some medium, and when the larva are large enough, move them to the main container.  Then discard the siftings.)                  

5.  All can be done in the garage; no need to bring them in the house.  When you want to feed the birds (or the anoles), just move the medium around and pick up the larger mealworms.

TIP:  Lay a couple paper towels on top of the medium.  I spray some water on this a couple times a week, and the larva get needed moisture from this.  It will also make it easier to harvest them, as they will hang around near the top of the meal – saves digging around.  (Any food would then be placed under the paper towel.)

TIP:  To keep the mealworms from pupating too fast, you can refrigerate them (like they do in the stores.)

Sparrows of the Lowcountry

From Diana Churchill's excellent presentation at the club on January 7:
Diana Churchill –
(You can pull up these files for printing from the HOME section.)

Aimophila - “thicket loving” Medium size, long rounded tail, dull plumage.
Bachman’s Sparrow *
Aestivalis - “like the summer

Spizella - “a little finch” Small size, long square tail, no breast streaking, small bill, rounded head, tend to hang out in flocks.
Chipping Sparrow *
Passerina - “of or for sparrows”
Clay-colored Sparrow Pallida - “pale, colorless”
Field Sparrow * Pusilla - “very small, tiny, wee”
American Tree Sparrow (accidental) Arborea - “of or belonging to trees”

Pooecetes - “grass dwelling” Medium-large, long square tail, streaked breast, white eye-ring, often perches high.
Vesper Sparrow
Gramineus - “grassy, covered with grass”

Chondestes - “grain eater” Long rounded tail, central breast spot, white tail corners.
Lark Sparrow
Grammacus - “a line or stroke in drawing”

Passerculus - “little sparrow” Small size, streaked breast, short tail, yellow in face, open country.
Savannah Sparrow *
Sandwichensis - “Sandwich Bay, Labrador”

Ammodramus - “sand runner” Flat head, large bill, short thin tail, secretive, grasslands (wet & dry)
Grasshopper Sparrow *
Savannarum - “of the meadows”
Henslow’s Sparrow Henslowii - “John Steven Henslow - Prof. of Botany, Cambridge, Eng.”
LeConte’s Sparrow Leconteii - “Dr. John LeConte, GA Physician”
Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow Caudacutus - “have a sharp tail”
Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow Nelsoni - “Edward W. Nelson, Chief of US Biol. Survey”
Seaside Sparrow * Maritimus - “of the sea”

Passarella - “little sparrow” Large size, very red, gray in face and nape, heavily streaked breast.
Fox Sparrow
Iliaca - “side of body”

Melospiza - “song finch” Medium size, long rounded tail, don’t form large flocks, scrubby habitat.
Song Sparrow *
Melodia - “pleasant song”
Swamp Sparrow Georgiana - “of Georgia, state where type specimen was collected”
Lincoln’s Sparrow Lincolnii - “Thomas Lincoln accompanied Audubon to Labrador”

Zonotrichia - “banded thrush” Large, chunky birds, distinct head patterns, join mixed flocks.
White-throated Sparrow
Albicollis - “white necked”
White-crowned Sparrow Leucophrys - “white eyebrow”
Harris’s Sparrow (Accidental) Querula - “full of complaints, fretful”

Junco - “reed bunting” mostly gray, pale bill and white belly, white outer tail feathers.
Dark-eyed Junco *
Hyemalis - “of or belonging to winter”

Pipilo - “to chirp, cheep, twitter” Larger, kick around in leaf litter, distinct call.
Eastern Towhee*
Erythrophthalmus - “red-eyed”

* - Breed in Georgia & South Carolina


Also from Diana Churchill's presentation on January 7:

“Little Brown Jobbies”

Getting acquainted with Low Country Sparrows

Old World Sparrows  Family Passeridae
Short legged, stoutly built seed eaters
Native to Eurasia & North Africa
House Sparrow -
Passer Domesticus
Released in NY in 1851
Thrives in urban areas
Year-round in Georgia & South Carolina

The New World Sparrows  Family Emberizidae
4 to 9 1/2 inches
Brown, streaked appearance
Rounded wings
Conical bills
Eat insects in breeding season, seeds in winter
Get most food from ground or low vegetation
20 species visit coastal Georgia & SC

Chipping Sparrow  Spizella passerina
Small - 4 1/2 inches
Rusty cap
Clear breast
Dark line through eye, light stripe above
Frequents feeders
Likes white millet
Feeds in flocks on ground
Song a dry trill

White-throated Sparrow  Zonotrichia Albicollis
Grey breasted
White throat patch
Yellow lore spot between eye and bill
Some adults black & white head stripes
Some adults brown & tan head stripes
Winter - duller
“Oh, Sam, peabody, peabody, peabody”
Does the “hop & scratch”

Song Sparrow  Melospiza melodia
Widespread in North America
Heavy streaks that converge into large central spot
Long tail
Thickets, brush, marshes, roadsides, gardens
Melodious song
Responds to “pishing”

Savannah Sparrow  Passerculus sandwichensis
Small streaky bird of open fields, meadows, marshes, prairies
Yellowish stripe above eye, can be absent
Short, notched tail & pink legs
Forages while walking or running on ground
Streaking finer than Song Sparrow
Song a dreamy “tsit-tsit-tsit, tseee-tsaaaay”

Swamp Sparrow  Melospiza georgiana
Stout, dark, rusty sparrow
Dull gray breast
Outlined white throat
Reddish cap, gray face & nape
Common in cattail marshes & brushy swamps, thickets & weedy fields in winter
Song a loose trill, slower and sweeter than Chipping Sparrow

Bachman’s Sparrow  Aimophila aestivalis
Found in grassy & brushy patches of open pine woods. Nests in GA & SC
Bright rufous & gray pattern on back
Buffy breast band contrasts with white belly
Found most easily in spring by listening for its sweet whistled song

Seaside Sparrow  Ammodramus maritimus
Dark olive grey sparrow
Found exclusively in salt marsh
White throat
Long bill
Short yellow area from bill to just above eye
Nests in Georgia & South Carolina
Find anywhere there is salt marsh
Easier to locate at high tide

Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow  Ammodramus Nelsoni
Shy skulker of inland and coastal wetlands
Well-defined orange breast, richer than Saltmarsh ST Sparrow
Head rounder, bill smaller than Saltmarsh ST Sparrow
Grey median crown stripe & broad yellowish eye line

Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow  Ammodramus caudacutus
Short-tailed sparrow of coastal marshes
Deep ocher-yellow or orange of face surrounds grey ear patch
Distinct streaks on breast
Flat-headed appearance
Bill longer than Nelson’s ST Sparrow
Song softer than Nelson’s

Henslow’s Sparrow  Ammodramus henslowii
A secretive sparrow of fields
Short tailed, flat headed
Bill large and pale
Striped olive colored head with reddish wings
White eye ring, scurries like a mouse

LeConte’s Sparrow  Ammodramus leconteii
Secretive sparrow of weedy meadows
Bright buff ocher eyebrow stripe
Grey nape with reddish purple lines
Rare wanderer to East Coast
White median crown stripe

Grasshopper Sparrow  Ammadramus savannarum
Small sparrow of open grasslands
Short sharp tail
Flat head
Relatively unstriped buffy breast
Crown with pale median stripe
Feeble flight

Vesper Sparrow  Pooecetes gramineus
Relatively large
Similar to Savannah Sparrow but longer tailed
White outer tail feathers
White eye ring
Often flies to treetop when disturbed

Field Sparrow  Spizella pusilla
Rusty cap
Bright pink bill
Clear breast
Narrow eye ring gives big-eyed look
Pale rufous & grayish head pattern
Nests in N. GA & SC, visits coast in winter

White-crowned Sparrow  Zonotrichia leucophrys
Large sparrow with clear, pale grayish breast
Crown striped with black and white
Bill pink
Immature paler with head stripes of dark red brown and buff

Fox Sparrow  Passarella iliaca
Larger than Song Sparrow with a rufous tail
Rust color with grey about neck gives a foxy look
Breast heavily streaked with rust
Feeds like a towhee, rustling in dry leaves
Hermit Thrush has red tail but no stripes on back

Lark Sparrow  Chondestes grammacus
One of our largest sparrows
Slender with long, rounded tail
Quail-like bold head pattern with chestnut ear patch
Whitish breast with bold central spot
Black tail with much white in corners

Clay-colored Sparrow  Spizella pallida
Small, pale plain-breasted sparrow
Similar to Chipping Sparrow but buffier
Light crown stripe
Sharply outlined ear patch
Pale lores, gray collar
More abundant in middle NA
Occasional visitor to coastal Georgia & SC

Lincoln’s Sparrow  Melospiza lincolnii
Similar to Song Sparrow but smaller and more delicate
Small, pointed bill
Finely streaked buffy breast
A skulker
Crown often peaked

Sparrow Allies
Members of same family - Emberizidae
Towhees - genus Pipilo
Juncos - genus Junco
Generally distinctive - not brown & streaked
Feed on ground - do the “hop & scratch”

Eastern Towhee  Pipilo erythrophthalmus
8.5 inches long
Male black with rufous sides, white belly
Female chocolate brown instead of black
Call “Tow-whee”
Song “Drink your teeee”

Dark-eyed Junco (slate colored race)  Junco hyemalis
Small, slender, cleanly marked
Striking white outer tail feathers
Slate gray head & back
White belly - “tuxedo birds”
Song a loose trill

Powerpoint Presentation by Diana Churchill, 10/21/2008
Ogeechee Audubon



Thanks to Coleen Smitherman for sending us this to be shared with the club:

Subject: Operation Migration is underway

The complicated task of persuading 14 juvenile whooping cranes to follow 
ultralight planes from the Necedah NWR in WI to FL began on 10/17.  The 
journey takes several months and is always delightful to read about.  All 
involved wear crane costumes and most are volunteers.  You can follow the 
adventure at:

 Right now the whoopers are grounded by winds in Juneau County, WI.  Here 
is part of today's entry from Bev:

"Imagine 14 teenagers all in your basement on a rainy day and there is no 
TV or stereo or internet. Nightmarish! Well, my job might not be quite 
that bad, but I do not want the chicks to get bored. Boredom leads to 
trouble, whether aggression, or pecking at things on the pen that 
shouldn't be pecked, i.e., the canvas end panels.

"Thank goodness we migrate in the fall because there are plenty of items 
that can be brought to the pen to keep them all entertained. Pumpkins, of 
course are a favorite. As soon as the pumpkin gets broken up, every chick 
either claims a piece to carry around, or starts pecking away at the 
chunks and seeds.

"Squash will also do (yes, I know pumpkin is a squash) as will ears of 
corn, sticks, leaves; basically anything natural that fits in the beak. 
Inside the pen where the chicks are currently housed, there is a patch of 
late blooming clover. Imagine my surprise when upon entering the pen, I 
was greeted by a chick with a beak full of flowers. A mother on Mother's 
Day couldn't be more delighted. Maybe it's not such a hard job after 



John Edman, Vice President, has sent us some articles on fire ant management that will be of interest to all of us.  Please click on one of the titles below:

Bluebird Box, Fire Ant Baffle

Red Imported Fire Ants and Their Impact on Wildlife

Fire Ant Management