We say goodbye to our ducks and wintering ocean birds, just in time for our spring arrivals. It’s a perfect time for birding. Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Chimney Swifts, Purple Martins, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Yellow-throated Warblers, Northern Parulas, and Black-necked Stilts all will be on island by the end of the month. On the beach, shorebird flocks increase in size as red knots, piping plovers, and other shorebirds gather along the beach for migration.
On March 16th, Town Biologists estimated as many as 8000 Red Knots on the Kiawah beachfront. These medium-sized shorebirds are in the process of migrating from wintering grounds to the Arctic to breed. These birds may have flown more than 3,000 miles non-stop from South America to get here and are now trying to feed and rest to recover from their long journey. They also need to replenish their energy levels and fat stores so that they can continue another 1,500 or more miles up to the Arctic. It is vitally important that these birds are allowed to rest and feed without disturbance.
Red Knots are an imperiled species and numbers have dropped substantially in the last 20 years. They are currently being evaluated for listing on the Federal Endangered Species List. What you can do to help protect Kiawah’s Red Knots… Please keep your distance from these birds and do not walk or run through these flocks. Never allow dogs to chase these birds. Disturbance of these birds prevents them from feeding and forces them to expend unnecessary energy, which may result in their deaths.