There are no real estate agents exchanging bird real estate and, as we have seen on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida (see Tiny Tot blog, 27 May 2021), the shortage of trees and platforms can cause intruders to battle it out with nest occupants. Tiny Tot defended the nest as best he could yesterday, 27 May. Jack came along and got rid of the intruding adult around 4:10 but it was back this morning around 9:20. Ospreys will protect their territory and then feed sibling 2 and Tiny Tot so the food deliveries could be low today like they were yesterday.
In Orange, Australia a pair of Nankeen Kestrels were thinking they might occupy the scrape box of Peregrine Falcons, Xavier and Diamond yesterday – and, of course, Izzi. Indeed, after two returns after his first fludge and his second fledge when he hit a window and needed care, Izzi also feels that the scrape box is his private penthouse.
Nankeen or Australian Kestrels are the smallest raptors in the country. They are from 28-35 cm long with a wingspan of 66-78 cm. The female is the larger of the two. Pale rufous feathers with dark grey patterning and black flight feathers. The male has a light grey crown. They are distinguished by hovering over their prey instead of relying on speed, like the Peregrine Falcons whose scrape box they are in. They have no problem borrowing the nests of other raptors if they appear deserted. Nankeen Kestrels eat insects, small prey such as mice and other small birds and reptiles. They lay from two to seven eggs on a cliff, in a tree hollow, or in a scrape box. Those eggs hatch on average between 26 and 28 days.
Owners of nests in the Southern Hemisphere are beginning to work on nestorations in preparation for the breeding season which begins shortly, June-August.
The White-Bellied Sea Eagles (WBSE) whose nest is in the forest of Sydney Olympic Park have been making visits to the nest periodically. The WBSE is the second largest raptor in Australia. The nest in the Sydney Forest is part of the territory of Lady and Dad. WBSE are quickly recognized because the adult plumage is grey and white above. When flying, the underneath wing patterning is black and white.
They have a grey hooked beak and either grey or yellow legs with long black talons. The length of the wings ranges from 1.8 to 2.2 metres. WBSE weight between 1.8 and 4.5 kg. WBSE also have reverse sex diamorphism – the female is larger than the male. WBSE live along the coasts of India, SE Asia, Australia, and Pacific New Guinea and islands of Austral-Asia. Some live inland. Their conservation status varies from secure to endangered depending on the country. Shooting, trapping, poisoning, power lines, environmental pollution and human disturbance are all threats.
WBSE mate for life. Dad and Lady have their nest in a very old Ironbark Tree in the forest. Here, in the dry months, Lady will lay two white oval eggs. The incubation period is six weeks. One of my eagle friends tells me to take a breath because not all eggs hatch and not all eaglets live. The second egg is the ‘insurance’ egg if the first one fails – my friend tells me. Gosh, I would hate to just be an insurance egg!!!!! The nestlings will be fed a variety of prey including fish, birds, eels, and even turtles. They hunt along the Parramatta River, close to the nest and in the forest. The young will fledge, normally between 70-80 days. Indeed, it is unusual to have two fledges but Lady and Dad have managed this over the past few years. Last year WBSE 25 and 26 fledged. (You can read about the tenacious 26 in former blogs).
You can see the juvenile plumage in the image below. It is a range of browns and sometimes beautiful rust colours.
Dad has been bringing in fish gifts to Lady in the nest, they have been doing nestorations, and they were mating on 14 May. The pair have been sleeping on the parent branch of the nest tree lately. Looking for eggs the first week in June, hopefully.
The saddest news is coming out of Glaslyn and I am not sure that anyone knows what to make of it. You will remember that the terrible weather and the intruders caused Aran to be injured to the point he could not go hunting. The staff provided a fish table for the family and they were eating. On Sunday, after eating, the eldest chick died. Last night the middle chick died, and this morning, the smallest one is too weak to hold its head up to feed. Only a post-mortem could confirm the cause and I am certainly no expert so I wouldn’t even venture to guess the cause. Our hearts are breaking for this iconic Osprey family – Mrs G, at 21 years old, is the oldest Osprey in the United Kingdom, and her mate, Aran. They have lost chicks before and will move forward.
I am so sorry to bring you the sad news from Glaslyn. This has been a very difficult week for this Osprey family – the weather has been horrible and the intruders have injured Aran. And now the loss of the chicks. Credits for where I obtained my screen shots are below the images.
Thank you for joining me today. Stay safe, take care of one another.
The featured image is Daisy the Pacific Black Duck who borrowed the WBSE nest for her eggs in early 2021. You can read all about it previous blogs starting in January 2021.