Archive for May, 2010

Bird Watching

Yesterday, I saw one of my favorite of signs of spring in Aiken circling the roof of the Aiken County Public Library.  It was a pair of Mississippi Kites, graceful, long-winged birds of prey which arrive in Aiken in early spring every year and stay through the summer.  They are easy to spot in downtown Aiken and often fly very low, especially around the horse pastures and paddocks.

The first time I noticed them, when I was walking across the library parking lot several years ago, I mistook them for pigeons.  After watching their acrobatic flight for a few minutes, I pulled my binoculars out of the car and was treated to a great surprise.  Instead of pigeons, I saw two debonair gray and black raptors, Ictinia Mississippiensis, to be exact.

South Carolina is a birding paradise, according to a recently published guidebook to birding sites in the Palmetto state, Birding South Carolina: A Guide to 40 Premier Birding Sites by Jeff Mollenhauer.  Published in 2009, Mollenhauer’s new guide joins a long-serving similar book,  Finding Birds in South Carolina by Robin Carter.   Published in 1993, Carter’s book has been my trusty companion for many bird finding adventures in Aiken County and South Carolina.  Carter’s book is out-of-print now but fortunately there are four copies available in our library system.

In addition to birding guides, the library system has several bird identification guides including the new gold standard, Sibley Guide to Birds by David Sibley.

May is one of the best months of the year in the South Carolina birding calendar so check out the many resources the library offers to get you started or polish your birdwatching skills.


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