Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wild Turkeys

Most of today was consumed by glamorous work that all naturalists likely leave out of their career day presentations...we moved refrigerators. We hauled a donated refrigerator in the back of pickup truck from Mt. Pleasant to the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. Nothing like the rollercoaster-like I-526 bridge over the Wando River and the high winds of the stratosphere (that's where we felt we were) to test one's confidence in commercial straps and Boy Scout knots!

We made the refrigerator transfer because the refrigerator in the log cabin actually expired during the Clinton administration. Therefore, we put the donated refrigerator in the nature center, moved the current nature center refrigerator to the log cabin, and sent the log cabin's refrigerator to the white goods section of the county waste collection site. We can guarantee that this part of the job won't come up at tomorrow's Devon Forest Elementary School career day.

In the few minutes between loading refrigerators on and off the pickup truck, we were able to grab lunch and check out the latest issue of South Carolina Wildlife. Den Latham's "Talkin' Turkey" discusses the decline and resurgence of the population of South Carolina's state game bird, the Eastern Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallapavo silvestris). Habitat loss, especially from cotton farming, and overhunting brought the state's population of turkeys to below 30,000. As farms were abandoned when soils ceased to be productive or eroded as in the Upstate, reforestation occurred. Wildlife managers from the Department of Natural Resources began takign birds from the Francis Marion Forest and relocating the animals across the state. Now, every county in the state can report a population of Eastern Wild Turkey.

Turkeys still face threats. Wet weather during the breeding season can cause polts to die of hyperthermia or cause the hen's scent to be stronger and more easily detectable by predators. Feral pigs, non-native and destructive scurge in all habitats of South Carolina, can eat turkey eggs and food items as well as destroy turkey habitat. Finally, the reduction in burning prevents the critical open understory which turkeys need for foraging and avoiding predators. Although the swamp seldom burns, the mature, old-growth forest at the Francis Beidler Forest provides the open understory and the turkey population is quite healthy. The images show a group of eight turkeys moving through the parking lot and down into the swamp. They apparently do not like to get their feet wet as they waited patiently for their turn to use a log to cross the wettest portion of the swamp.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Yellow-throated Warbler

The first species of the neo-tropical songbirds has migrated back to the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest to breed. Later in the year, the Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica) will be difficult to see through the emerging vegetation as the bird occupies the top third of the forest.

The diet of the Yellow-throated Warbler is not well-known though it does include spiders. In fact, bird mortality has been reported due to entanglement in spider webs. The Yellow-throated Warbler bathes more than most warblers and has the longest bill of the wood warblers. They can be seen feeding upside down on the trunk of a tree similar to the feeding style of a nuthatch.

Even in yesterday’s heavy rains and between the claps of thunder, the song of the male Yellow-throated Warbler could be heard proclaiming its territory and availability. In the next few weeks, additional species will return and begin their breeding cycle. It’s about to get loud and colorful in the swamp!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

White Pelicans

Not everything that is white is an albino. No need to check your eyeglass prescription...those are white pelicans.

The American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos ) is a very large, white bird with black primaries and outer secondaries. The White Pelican has an overall length of 50 inches and a wingspan of 110 inches versus the familiar Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) with a length of 41 inches and a wingspan of 90 inches. Like the Brown Pelican, the White Pelican sexes appear similar. Unlike the Brown Pelican, the White Pelican does not dive into the water after prey, but feeds while swimming.

Yesterday's Post and Courier ran an article, including images by Audubon South Carolina's Jeff Mollenhauer, on a group of White Pelicans that have taken up winter residence in the Lowcountry.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oysters and Habitat

Audubon South Carolina's mission statement states that we will "conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity." Dorchester Habitat for Humanity focuses on human habitation. On Saturday, the two crossed paths.

Dorchester Habitat for Humanity held their annual oyster roast fundraiser at the Dorchester Boat Club along the Ashley River. Obviously, oyster played a significant role in the festivities. Even if you're not a fan of oysters, the vast majority of folks know from where oysters come. However, no nearly as many people know where the oyster-less shells should go. You could make a tabby fort, an example of which can be found one property over from the boat club at the Fort Dorchester Historic Site.

From the SC Department of Natural Resouces webpage (includes drop-off sites):

Why should I recycle my oyster shells?
Although South Carolina?s commercial shellfish harvest has remained stable over the past three decades, the closing of oyster canneries and most shucking houses during this period has resulted in a shortage of shucked oyster shell needed to cultivate oyster beds. The increasing popularity of backyard oyster roasts and by-the-bushel retail sales have contributed to this shortage in that, contrary to the shucking houses and canneries, shells remaining from individual oyster roasts are not usually returned to the estuary to provide a suitable surface to attract juvenile oysters. More often than not, the shell ends up in driveways and landfills.

How does this process work?
During the summer months, oysters spawn and release free-swimming larvae, called spat, into the water column. The spat are carried by tide and current and after spending about two weeks moving in the water column, seek a suitable surface upon which to attach and begin building their shells of calcium carbonate. Unless disturbed, they will spend the remainder of their life cycle where they have attached. Centuries of oyster cultivation experience have proven oyster shell to be one of most desirable materials (called cultch) for attachment and subsequent growth of young oysters. Other cultch materials, such as shucked whelk shell and wooden stakes have been very successful in attracting and supporting oyster spat.

Your license recycles!
Each year, oyster shell used for planting public shellfish grounds has become increasingly expensive and hard to find. A SCDNR project, funded by the revenue generated by Saltwater Recreational Fishing License sales, makes it possible to recycle oyster shell and reclaim this valuable resource to enhance shellfish habitat. As this conservation initiative gains public awareness and participation, it is hoped that increased volumes of oyster shell will be made available for planting Public Shellfish Grounds by SCDNR personnel and equipment and by contract with private companies to improve recreational shellfish harvesting opportunities for the public.

Therefore, support your favorite charity or enjoy your own backyard oyster roast, but don't forget to RECYCLE and provide habitat for the next generation of oysters!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


There are three skinks that can be seen from the boardwalk at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. However, identifying which skink you have just seen can be tricky. All can be similar in size and coloration at various stages in their life cycle. What you really need to do is catch the lizard!

The three species of skinks at Beidler Forest are the Broad-headed Skink (Eumeces laticeps), the Southeastern Five-lined Skink (Eumeces inexpectatus), and the Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus). You can quickly identify the Southeastern Five-lined Skink by looking under its tail (not a regenerated portion) and observing the size of the scales. If it is a Southeastern Five-lined Skink, the scales will all be about the same size. If the scales are not about the same size (the middle row will have enlarged scales), then you are holding a Five-lined Skink or a Broad-headed Skink.

Usually, an adult Broad-headed Skink will be much bulkier as it is North America's second largest skink. However, younger specimens may resemble adult skinks of the other two species previously mentioned. Additionally, the orange head is shared by adult males of other species during the mating season. Having eliminated the Southeasten Five-lined Skink as a possibility, the Broad-headed Skink and the Five-lined Skink can be differentiated by the presence or number of certain scales on the sides of their heads.

The labials are the similarly-sized scales along the upper portion of the mouth moving back from the tip of the head. A Five-lined Skink has four labials while a Broad-headed Skink has five. Continuing in a straight line to where the scales on the head transition to the scales of the body, one can find the postlabial scales. The Five-lined Skink has two of these scales while the Broad-headed Skink has none.

The blue tails of the skinks in the images signal that these individuals are juveniles and not a threat to mates or territory. It saves on unnecessary postering or fighting.

As we would likely starve if our survival depending on successfully catching skinks and the embarrassment of failure before a large group of school kids would be crushing, we generally make no attempts to capture skinks for positive identification.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dwarf Palmetto

Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor) is the next labeled plant along the boardwalk. The Dwarf Palmetto is aptly named as it does not produce a trunk above the ground in its eastern range. Although sometimes confused with an immature cabbage palmetto (the state tree of South Carolina), it can be differentiated by looking at the leaves. The Dwarf Palmetto has no filaments in its leaf segments and the midrib only shows at the very base of the leaf segment.

According to A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina by Richard Porcher & Douglas Rayner, "The flowrs are a source of honey, and Native Americans used the fruits for food. Although the dried leaves are used occasionally for thatch roofs, dwarf palmetto has no economic value and is of limited use to wildlife."

When walking along the boardwalk, the Dwarf Palmetto can be used as an indicator for the transition zone between the always wet areas and the always dry areas. The palmetto can be found deep in the swamp encircling isolated high ground. If you're patient enough, deer that often bed down on the high ground within the Dwarf Palmetto might feel that they have been detected (though you will not have done so) and bolt from cover.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Longleaf Pine Straw

Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) straw is big business in South Carolina and Silver Bluff Audubon has reestablished over 600 acres of longleaf pine forest on its 3,000+ acres to provide wildlife habitat and revenue. Silver Bluff helps to pay for a portion of its education and wildlife habitat programs by selling up to 50,000 bales of pine straw per year for landscape and mulch needs throughout the region.

The “straw” is raked by hand into piles, then placed and compressed in a rectangular box. The bale is then tied with string, stacked, and hauled away in large tractor trailers. Pine straw offers little nutrient value to the soil, but does help to retain soil moisture in the stands of longleaf, so care is taken to leave the “duff” layer of needles during the annual rakings.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

CSI: What's Killing the Bats?

Appropriately timed after last night's nightwalk at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, today's Post and Courier carried an article by the AP's Michael Hill regarding the mysterious die-off of several bat species in the northeastern United States from what is being called White Nose Syndrome. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has extensive information here.

Although our bat detector picked up the ultrasonic sounds of at least one bat hunting prey over Goodson Lake during our nightwalk, many bats hibernate in large groups during the winter. This congregating behavior aids in the transmission of whatever is killing the bats. Scientists are not sure if the fungus causing the white tufts around the bats' noses is the cause of their deaths or merely a symptom of a bacterial or viral infection that may be preventing the bats from properly grooming themselves or possibly a reaction to some environmental toxin. Until scientists can determine the cause of the illness, the problem is likely to get worse, since the bats hibernating together will disperse over hundreds of miles, possibly taking the cause of the illness with them, once the weather warms.

Why care about the fate of these flying mammals that sometimes carry rabies and give many folks the "creeps" simply thinking about them? Like the die-off of bees that pollinate many of the crops that we eat, the die-off of bats is a concern because bats eat many of the insect pests that attack the crops that we eat. A bat can eat half of its body weight (a nursing female 100% of her body weight) in insects per night! Multiply that by the many thousands of bats flying around in your area and a tremendous mass of insects disappear from your area of the planet each night.

The images by Paul Koehler of the Silver Bluff Audubon Center show Eastern Big-earred Bats roosting in an abandoned house on the property. These bats are endangered due to a loss of habitat as they prefer to roost in hollow trees. Few forests, unlike the old-growth forest at the Francis Beidler Forest, are allowed to age to the point where trees become hollow, so these bats have settled for the next best option.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Tonight's nightwalk is full, but check the schedule for the once-a-month experience at the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest. If you have been here during the day, you definitely want to experience difference of the swamp in the dark.

We begin as the sun is setting (note: times differ from month to month) giving your eyes the opportunity to adjust with the dimming light. As in the day, the entire walk is on the elevated boardwalk, so there is no danger of interrupting any creatures during their nocturnal forays. However, with our greatest sense (sight) diminished, you will unconsciously focus more attention on your hearing and you will deer, raccoons and their wildlife cohort moving through the inky darkness. As we near the halfway point, the moon will rise providing additional light for the trip back to the nature center, which each group of friends or family makes separately under the watchful eye of the Barred Owls (Strix varia).

Friday, February 15, 2008

Berkeley County School District Instructional Fair

Today, we made four presentations at the Berkeley County School District Instructional Fair to highlight the educational opportunities at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. On our webpage, teachers can find lesson plans along with images for the Beidler Forest plants and animals to use in their classroom before or after a trip to the swamp.

After wrapping up the last session, we headed to the Waterfront Park on old Navy base to count birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Although the area where Noisette Creek enters the Cooper River yielded only two Great Blue Herons, the trees and bushes around the park offered up a variety of bird species and a passing container ship churned the river sufficiently to entice 300 or so Laughing Gulls to follow behind and collect morsels from the wake.

Here is what we saw during our half hour of bird watching:

(2) Great Blue Herons
(300) Laughing Gulls
(1) Great Egret
(1) Double-crested Cormorant
(2) Pied-billed Grebes
(1) Loggerhead Shrike
(1) Northern Mockingbird
(10) Yellow-rumped Warblers
(5) White-throated Sparrows
(3) Mourning Doves
(2) Northern Cardinals
(1) Carolina Wren
(2) Blue Jays

Don't don't need to be an expert bird watcher to participate in this annual bird count!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Folly Beach Bird Walks

We are pleased to announce that Audubon South Carolina will be partnering with Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) to lead a monthly bird walk at Folly Beach County Park.

The beach offers a fantastic setting for beginner and intermediate bird-watchers to learn more about birds. Our winter and spring walks will offer opportunities to view gannets, sea ducks, loons, and many of South Carolina’s shorebird species, including the federally threatened Piping Plover (see image). Participants on summer walks may also see Painted Buntings, Wilson’s Plovers, Black Skimmers, Ruddy Turnstones (flying in image) and many species of terns.

The first walk will be held on Friday, March 14th, 10:00am – 12:00pm. Walks will be held on the second Friday of every month thereafter. The program will be co-lead by Audubon’s Director of Bird Conservation, Jeff Mollenhauer and CCPRC’s Interpretive Naturalist, Keith McCullough. There is no cost for the walk, but there is a $7.00 parking fee to enter the county park. Advanced registration is required and space is limited. To reserve your spot, visit or call 843-795-4FUN (4386).

If you have any questions, please contact Jeff Mollenhauer at or 843-462-2150.

Images by Jeff Mollenhauer

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monsters in the Swamp

One of the myths we try to dispel here in the swamp at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest is the idea that monsters inhabit the woods and water. Although the dissemination of such information by General Francis Marion and his men was undoubtedly effective psychological warfare against the British, there is no evidence for the existence of creatures such as the Lizard Man.

However, when a friend's young son made mention that he intended to grow up and solve the cyrptofauna mysteries of the world, we could not resist another training session on the newly-acquired Adobe Photoshop. Dressed as the education director, Lizard Man was caught sunning near the front door of the nature center. You do not want to know what he had for lunch! In the second image, we were focusing the camera on the baby Loch Ness (Scottish for Four Holes Swamp) Monster in the foreground when we caught an out-of-focus Bigfoot moving rapidly in the background.

Great Backyard Bird Count is Almost Here!


The Great Backyard Bird Count is almost here! Get your family and friends together and help ornithologists understand what the birds are doing in North America this year. You don't need to be an expert and you can spend as little as 15 minutes observing nature.

Parents and teachers can find bird-related lessons and activities here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valentine Drive

The Silver Bluff Audubon Center & Sanctuary hosted a Valentine Drive for the Aiken Driving Club on Sunday, February 10.

Sunday's drive was the second consecutive year that the club held its Valentine Drive at Silver Bluff. This year’s event featured 26 carriages pulled by teams of horses as well as miniature ponies. Clear blue skies and temperatures in the 60F’s helped to create a perfect day for the 7.5-mile drive, which offered views of the winding Savannah River, travel through open fields and majestic pine and hardwood forests, and ended with a phenomenal hot gumbo lunch made with shrimp, sausage, and chicken! Everyone returned home happy to have spent the day outdoors and having contributed to Audubon’s efforts toward bird conservation!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Conservation Lobby Day

You're invited to the Audubon South Carolina Conservation Lobby Day!

The Audubon South Carolina Lobby Day will be Tuesday, Feb. 19th. We invite you to join us at the State House to speak with legislators about important conservation issues. Volunteers are NOT expected to be experts on all these issues. We will review the top legislative issues with you beforehand, and conservation lobbyists are available to answer any questions you may have. Your presence makes a dramatic impact on how legislators vote.

Meet us at the Nickelodeon Theatre in Columbia at 11:00 am. Lobby Teams typically last until 3:00 pm. The Nickelodeon Theatre is located at 937 Main Street, on the corner of South Main and Pendleton streets behind the State House. (Parking is available on the street at green two-hour meters, or in one of two parking garages located at Lady and Assembly streets or Gervais and Sumter streets.)

Please RSVP to Jeff Mollenhauer at or843-462-2150 if you plan to attend. (Business attire.)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Beidler Forest in the News

Audubon South Carolina has been promoting the upcoming (Feb. 15-18, 2008) Great Back Yard Bird Count. Today, we got some help from the Post & Courier's article. Remember, you do not need to be a bird expert or spend more than 15 minutes in order to participate in this citizen science opportunity.

Previously, this blog has noted the unique mircohabitat referred to as a seep. Today's Post and Courier provides coverage of Dr. Dan Tufford and SCDNR's Steve Bennett and their continuing research into these poorly-understood wetlands. "There's something about the plumbing of these things that's going to be interesting to understand," Tufford said.

Brad Nettles/The Post and Courier
Tufford checks to see the kinds of wildlife that inhabit a Beidler Forest seep.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wax Myrtle

This week's plant and the third sign encountered along the boardwalk at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest is the Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera). This plant can grow as a shrub a few feet off the ground or up to a 25-foot tall tree.

According to Richard D. Porcher and Douglas A. Rayner in A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina, "Myrtle Beach, SC, gets its name from this plant. The berries are covered with wax that was/is used to make fragrant candles. The wax may be irritating to some people. Wax myrtle is planted as an ornamental. The powdered root bark was an ingredient in 'composition powder' once used as a folk remedy for chills and colds; the root bark was used to make an astringent tea and emetic." For all those out there competing in QUEST or Quiz Bowl, "emetic" is something taken to induce vomitting. However, between August and October, the small, whitish-blue berries are a crowd favorite with the Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata) community!

From The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds (P. R. Ehrlich, D. S. Dobkn, and D. Wheye; p. 519), "Many berries, such as those of wax myrtle and bayberry bushes, have a waxy coating. Waxes are a chemical grab-bag of waterproof organic materials that are solid at room temperature. Few animals can digest them, but some birds can turn the trick." One of those birds is the Yellow-rumped Warbler. "Recent investigations have shown that Yellow-rumped Warblers have evolved the appropriate enzymes to diges wax. This ability is probably why Yellow-rumped Warblers can overwinter farterh north than most wood warblers; Yellow-rumps can gain energy from the coatings of berries that are indigestible to the others."

There are plenty of Yellow-rumped Warblers in our area this time of year and can be identified by the distinctive yellow patch on their rump (between the back and the tail). Now you know another bird that you can identify during next week's Great Backyard Bird Count!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lure of the Winter Sun

How many people took their lunch outside during today's record-setting heat? At the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, some of us work in an extension, which is unheated for all intents and purposes, to the original building. We definitely took advantage of the slow traffic (2 visitors) day and grabbed our camera for a lap around the boardwalk.

We were not the only animals enjoying the warm weather. Birds seen or heard included Black Vultures, Turkey Vultures, American Crows, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Pileated Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, a Pine Warbler, Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Hermit Thrush eating a millipede, a Black-and-white Warbler, Tufted Titmice, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Barred Owls, Northern Cardinals, a flock of Common Grackles (125+), Carolina Chickadees, Northern Flickers, and a very-vocal Red-shouldered Hawk.

However, the animals truly taking advantage of the warm weather were the reptiles. Yellow-bellied Sliders were out of the water and abasking on logs all the way around the boardwalk. Carolina Anoles were creeping out from their shelter under the bark of trees and soaking up the sun's rays...and then there were the snakes. We thought the first snake spotting was going to be a Brown Water Snake as it appeared to be peeking its head out as usual from its den in a cypress knee. However, on closer inspection we saw that it was a Dark Fishing Spider that had taken over the crevice. These spiders do not build webs, but dive into the water for their insect or fish prey.

The first snake we spotted was a Banded Water Snake sunning near the hollow trunk it uses for a winter den. Next, was a large Eastern Cottonmouth coiled near its den in the buttress of a large Bald Cypress tree. A few feet away, a Greenish Rat Snake began its ascent of another Bald Cypress tree. While cottonmouths are lousy climbers, Greenish Rat Snakes are tremendous climbers. They can scale the tallest cypress, raid any nest that may be located there, and return to the ground by climbing straight down the trunk. Actually, there is no "straight" in their climbing as you can see in the most distant image. Finally, there were two more Eastern Cottonmouths sunning along the edge of the swamp on the backside of the boardwalk loop.

Today's reptilian sampling affirms our descision yesterday to wear our snake boots while visiting the Bald Eagle nest!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Sundews and Eagles

No two days are quite alike here at the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest...and that's the way we like it! Today, we were able to check off a couple of "firsts."

Early in the day, we met with several individuals from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a consultation on restoring a tract of our property to grassland (see previous entry). While walking the property, Sudie Daves spotted some Dwarf Sundew (Drosea brevifolia) growing in a path previously cleared of tree debris by a bulldozer. Although there are certainly plants growing elsewhere in Francis Beidler Forest, this is the first recorded specimen.

The sundew gets its common name from the sticky, dew-like drops that the plant secretes at the end of its tentacles and the visible-light spectrum displayed when the sun's light passes through the "dew." Insects attracted to the red color of the plant or the "dew" will find themselves stuck to the plant and enveloped by the tentacles. Like other carnivorous plants, the sundew does not survive wholly on the protein and nutrient provided by the insects it captures, but the insects are critical to supplying the plant what it cannot get from the nutrient-poor soil in which it often is found growing. A small, white flower will appear between April and May.

Our second "first" was a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest on Francis Beidler Forest property. Although a pair was seen last week at Mallard Lake where the canoe trail begins, we had never located a Bald Eagle nest. One of the threats to Bald Eagles is nest disturbance, so there are buffer requirements to keep humans and their activities away from nest trees. We took the image as we approached the nest tree to take additional pictures of insect damage. The possible disturbance to the bird caused by our approach was far outweighed by the likely death of the nest tree due to the insect infestation. Therefore, we approached the nest tree for images of the insect damage in hopes of saving the tree. Based on the images of the pitch tubes, most of the damage appears to be caused by Black Turpentine Beetles (Dendroctonus terebrans), which can be killed without harming the tree.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Great Backyard Bird Count

It is time once again for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)! Audubon South Carolina will be counting again this year, including leading bird walks at the Francis Beidler Forest. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it is a terrific family activity. Although the beautiful Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) (Photo credit: Don Wuori) will not yet have returned from its southern vacation, there are plenty of interesting birds that often go unnoticed by the casual observer.

As a lead up to the GBBC, Audubon South Carolina has put together some lessons and activities that will help teachers, students and families learn about birds while addressing South Carolina curriculum standards (K-8) in science, language arts and mathematics. This information can be found on our website at Unfortunately, many school districts have aggressive firewall and internet blocking software, so our attempts to share this information do not get through or interested individuals are blocked from accessing our site from school. You can help the birds and environmental education by sharing this information and by participating in the count!

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event (Feb. 15-18, 2008) that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate in this hands-on science, from beginning bird watchers to experts.

Did you know that birding is the number one sport in America? According to US Fish and Wildlife Service, there are currently 51.3 million birders in the United States alone, and this number continues to grow! You can join in the science and fun!

Observers do NOT need to be expert birders. Observation time can be as little as 15 minutes and can occur in any setting (school, living room, backyard, neighborhood, beach, forest, or sites listed below). Observers only report the birds that they can identify, which can be as few as one individual bird. However, the cumulative data collected across North America is valuable to ornithologists and the data collection itself allows students to participate in real-world science.

List of bird viewing spots in Lowcountry:
Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest for owls, woodpeckers, songbirds
Pitt Street Bridge (in Mt. Pleasant) for shorebirds, rails, loons, grebes.
Huntington Beach State Park for shorebirds, sea ducks, gannets, songbirds
Santee National Wildlife Refuge for waterfowl, geese, bald eagles, songbirds
Folly Beach County Park for shorebirds, sea ducks, gannets
Bear Island & Donnelley WMA for waterfowl, bald eagles, egrets/herons, wood storks, white pelicans
Congaree National Park for owls, woodpeckers, songbirds

Let us know if you counted birds in our great backyard!