New Audubon Website
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
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
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
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 rascalssquirrel-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 hygienecleaning feeders regularly, offering fresh seed, minimizing feces build-upand 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 backyardto enjoy them!
Who is at your feeder? From Noah Rosenstein 11/15/14
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
- 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".
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."
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, dont 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 wont give you a satisfying experience when used for long periods of time in the field.
Second, dont 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 youll 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 cant 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 binoculars eye relief should be long enough to allow you to see the full field of view without requiring that you remove your spectacles.
Sure, theres 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 youll 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
TOM REA'S PRESENTATION OF 10/8/09
Here is the outline of the wonderful presentation by Tom Rea at the meeting on 10/8/09. Click on the link below:
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 email@example.com
(You can pull up these files for printing from the HOME section.)
Aimophila- thicket loving Medium size, long rounded tail, dull plumage.
Bachmans 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
Henslows Sparrow Henslowii - John Steven Henslow - Prof. of Botany, Cambridge, Eng.
LeContes Sparrow Leconteii - Dr. John LeConte, GA Physician
Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow Caudacutus - have a sharp tail
Nelsons 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, dont form large flocks, scrubby habitat.
Song Sparrow * Melodia - pleasant song
Swamp Sparrow Georgiana - of Georgia, state where type specimen was collected
Lincolns 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
Harriss 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 SparrowsFamily 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 SparrowsFamily Emberizidae
4 to 9 1/2 inches
Brown, streaked appearance
Eat insects in breeding season, seeds in winter
Get most food from ground or low vegetation
20 species visit coastal Georgia & SC
Chipping SparrowSpizella passerina
Small - 4 1/2 inches
Dark line through eye, light stripe above
Likes white millet
Feeds in flocks on ground
Song a dry trill
White-throated SparrowZonotrichia Albicollis
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 SparrowMelospiza melodia
Widespread in North America
Heavy streaks that converge into large central spot
Thickets, brush, marshes, roadsides, gardens
Responds to pishing
Savannah SparrowPasserculus 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 SparrowMelospiza 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
Bachmans SparrowAimophila 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 SparrowAmmodramus maritimus
Dark olive grey sparrow
Found exclusively in salt marsh
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
Nelsons Sharp-tailed SparrowAmmodramus 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 SparrowAmmodramus caudacutus
Short-tailed sparrow of coastal marshes
Deep ocher-yellow or orange of face surrounds grey ear patch
Distinct streaks on breast
Bill longer than Nelsons ST Sparrow
Song softer than Nelsons
Henslows SparrowAmmodramus 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
LeContes SparrowAmmodramus 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 SparrowAmmadramus savannarum
Small sparrow of open grasslands
Short sharp tail
Relatively unstriped buffy breast
Crown with pale median stripe
Vesper SparrowPooecetes gramineus
Similar to Savannah Sparrow but longer tailed
White outer tail feathers
White eye ring
Often flies to treetop when disturbed
Field SparrowSpizella pusilla
Bright pink bill
Narrow eye ring gives big-eyed look
Pale rufous & grayish head pattern
Nests in N. GA & SC, visits coast in winter
White-crowned SparrowZonotrichia leucophrys
Large sparrow with clear, pale grayish breast
Crown striped with black and white
Immature paler with head stripes of dark red brown and buff
Fox SparrowPassarella 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 SparrowChondestes 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
Lincolns SparrowMelospiza lincolnii
Similar to Song Sparrow but smaller and more delicate
Small, pointed bill
Finely streaked buffy breast
Crown often peaked
Towhees - genus Pipilo
Juncos - genus Junco
Generally distinctive - not brown & streaked
Feed on ground - do the hop & scratch
Eastern TowheePipilo erythrophthalmus
8.5 inches long
Male black with rufous sides, white belly
Female chocolate brown instead of black
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
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
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:
Fire Ant Management