More Volunteer Opportunities

Town Biologists accept volunteers to assist with several Town wildlife projects.  Additional details are provided below:

Marsh Sparrow Banding

Three species of coastal “marsh” sparrows winter in the salt marshes of Kiawah Island - Seaside Sparrow, Nelson’s Sparrow, and Saltmarsh Sparrow.  This group is considered species of high conservation concern due to their specialization of habitat that is considered spatially restricted.  It appears that this group may be particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise and loss of saltmarsh habitat along their wintering grounds along the southeast United States. 

Each winter from December – March, sparrows are captured in mist nets placed in suitable saltmarsh habitat.  The nets are deployed to coincide with high tide which concentrates the sparrows into smaller patches of habitat.  The project’s objectives are to determine habitat requirements, site fidelity, relative abundance/population size, and distribution of these three species.  

Interested volunteers must be able to walk considerable distances through the salt marsh in standing water.  To volunteer or find out more details, please email Town Biologist, Aaron Given.

Sea Islands Christmas Bird Count

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a volunteer-based bird census conducted annually each winter.  The National Audubon Society has sponsored the event since 1900 when the first CBCs were held.  Currently there are over 2000 CBCs conducted across North and South America (and other countries) every year between December 14th and January 5th.  Each count takes place around the same date each year and all birds seen or heard are counted within a designated 15-mile diameter circle.  The data from each count are compiled by the National Audubon Society and the results were printed (up until this year) in an annual journal called American Birds.

The Sea Islands CBC was first conducted during the 2011-2012 CBC season as a test run.  It was a great success and has been continued each year since.  The count typically occurs on the first Monday in January and includes all of Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, Wadmalaw Island, most of John's Island, and Deveaux Bank.  Participants are assigned a section of the circle and spend the day covering the area by car, on foot, or even by boat starting at or before sunrise to dusk or later.  Individuals can also participate simply by counting birds in their backyards and feeders.

To learn more or to volunteer, email Town Biologist Aaron Given.

Painted Bunting Banding

Painted Buntings are banded each summer for a long-term project studying their movements, distribution, survival, and population trends.  Painted Buntings readily come to feeders offering white millet and the birds are easily captured in a specially designed cage with a feeder placed inside.  Banding occurs from May-August at Kiawah Island’s resident’s homes.  If you are a resident of Kiawah Island and want to participate in this study please contact Town Biologist, Aaron Given.  

The Painted Bunting population is increasing in the Charleston area and these birds often stay in our area through the winter.  Town Biologists are interested in expanding the banding project to learn more about our wintering population. If you maintain your bird feeders year round and have Painted Buntings at your feeders in the winter months, please contact Aaron Given.