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A Long Journey

By Sarah Díaz for The Island Eye News

Migrating birds are stopping at Sullivan’s Island.

The Sullivan’s Island Bird Banding Station is back in full swing for the fall migration season.

Late-summer migrants are moving through the Lowcountry on their long journey south to the tropics.

The American redstart pictured here was safely captured and marked with a federally issued, numbered aluminum band. When birds are banded, precise measurements are recorded, such as wing length, fat stores and weight. After measurements are quickly recorded, the birds are released.

This redstart was rather chunky. His furcular hollow – the cavity formed by the breastbone – was filled with fat, and both sides of his abdomen were covered in thick, yellowish fat masses. A tiny redstart needs to accumulate substantial fat stores in order to arrive safely at its wintering grounds in South or Central America.

Patches of coastal maritime forest, such as the protected land on Sullivan’s Island, serve as excellent stopover locations for migrating songbirds to refuel. So far this season, 12 species of migratory songbirds have been banded at the Sullivan’s Island Bird Banding Station

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