Birding Action has started in Australia

Wow. At 00:52:40, Mom goes into labour. She is the female Osprey on the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge in Australia. Dad is sitting right at nest side in support. It was magical. The minute the egg was, Dad was off. My time said 00:57:58. And with that single significant event, the Port Lincoln Osprey season for 2021 is underway!

Mom looks very content in the early morning Australian sun.

I was very glad to see Dad there. Last year Dad just about ended my love of Ospreys. The death of Tapps, the third hatch in 2020, practically cemented that. The Achieva Osprey nest brought back the pain but the triumph of Tiny Tot gave me faith. It also has made me question the entire notion of ‘survival of the fittest’. So this year I am wishing for consistent fish drops when the eggs hatch – Dad, that means enough fish for everyone every day with no breaks.

The Northern Hemisphere fledglings are preparing to migrate (if they hatched in an area where the birds travel to warmer climates during the winter) so for all Osprey lovers this is a chance to start at the very beginning again — in Australia.

The adults spent a lot of time bringing in new twigs and lining the nest cup with bark. It is quite beautiful. This nest looks like someone cares!

Of the chicks that have fledged from this nest, Calypso (2019) fishes and is seen regularly in the Port Lincoln area. Solly (2020) was fitted with a satellite tracker as well as a leg band. It is reassuring to know that she is well. There have been no reported sightings of her brother, DEW, that I am aware of.

Solly is 317 days old and she is at her favourite place, Eba Anchorage.

The two eggs have hatched at the White-Bellied Sea Eagle cam in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park. They are WBSE 27 and 28. Both are doing fantastic. Dad has been bringing in Bream, Pigeon, several other types of birds, and Eel-tailed Catfish. The chicks are not wanting for food or variety!

The link to the Sea Eagle Cam is here:

Are you a Peregrine Falcon lover? There are two excellent nests in Australia on streaming cam. One is on all year round and has covered the antics of Xavier, his mate Diamond, and their son, Izzi. The scrape box is on the water tower on the grounds of Charles Sturt University in Orange, NSW. This family is part of a research project of Professor Cilla Kinross.

I should tell you that this nest is hilarious. Xavier is such a sweetie and he is courting Diamond now even though they have been a bonded pair for a number of years. He brings her gifts of prey to the scrape box and they do a courtship dance. Sometimes Xavier forgets and brings Diamond a Starling. Diamond hates Starlings and refuses to accept the gift from Xavier! And then there is Izzi. Izzi is like the cutest almost one year old falcon. He should not be at the nest but he is. You see, Izzi fledged three times. The first was accidental so he was taken back up the 170 stairs to the scrape box on the water tower. The second was a good fledge but he ran into a window. He was in care for several days and returned to the scrape box. The third time was the charm. The problem? Well, Izzi should have left his parent’s territory before the beginning of 2021. Yes, it is now August. That is the problem.

I mean seriously – could you tell this cutie pie to leave home?

Both Diamond and Xavier have been ‘scraping’ in the scrape box. The indentation they are creating is where Diamond will lay the 2021 season eggs. The couple have already been mating on the top of the water tower.

This is Xavier. The yellow around the eyes, the cere (part above the beak), and the legs and feet are a deep yellow when falcons are adults. Look at the beautiful plumage patterning.

This is Xavier scraping in the scrape box.

This is Diamond scraping in the scrape box. Notice the colour of the stones. In his book, The Peregrine, J.A. Baker states that “Peregrines bathe every day…The bed of the stream must be stony and firm…They favour those places where the colour of the stream-bed resembles the colour of their own plumage.” Absolutely. Camouflage. But why do they take so many baths? Baker believed that it was so they would not transfer any lice or other parasites from their prey onto them that could cause illness or disease. The same is true of the scrape box. Peregrine falcons lay their eggs in gravel and not on a twig nest to avoid illness or disease.

Here is a very short but loud pair bonding in the scrape box. Have a look at the dance that Xavier and Diamond do together. Xavier is the smaller of the couple. Falcons, like other raptors, have reverse sex size diamorphism – meaning the female is larger.

Here is the link to the box camera. There are in fact two cameras: one looks at the inside of the box as above and the other is positioned to look forward from the back taking in the ledge and a bit of the outside world. That is cute little Izzi looking out to that big world beyond.

The chat feature has moderators, often Professor Kinross, as well as a FB Page where you can get great information.

The second is the Collins Street Falcons better known as the CBD Falcons in Melbourne. The camera is not operational yet. There are many videos from last year if you search for Collins Street Falcons on YouTube. In 2020, the couple had triplet girls. Triplets? Three eggs hatch within a period of 24 hours. These girls grew like crazy. They grew bigger than their dad.

I am including one video of the male delivering a pigeon to feed them. I just love this tiny little male. He melts my heart every time I look at him.

The diet of the two falcon families is different. The Melbourne falcons are urban. Their diet is almost exclusively pigeon. In contrast, the falcons in Orange are rather rural with a more varied diet including Starlings (remember Diamond dislikes those), Galah, sometimes a Supreme Parrot, other parrots, and birds. One thing that eyases love are cicadas. They hold them in their foot and eat them like a popsicle. It is crazy. In one day last year, Izzi ate 17 cicadas in a row. There had to be a swarm of them! It was incredible.

As night comes to the Canadian prairies the sun is rising on a new day in Europe for all of the birds. The rain falling in the Latvian forest where the three Black storklings nest sounds wonderful.

It was reported today that my city had only 1/10 the average amount of rain in July. It has been 150 years since this small amount of rain was last recorded. We long for a day just to listen to the sound of rain falling like it is here on the Black Storklings in Latvia:

Thank you so much for joining me today. It is wonderful to have you with me. Take care everyone!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: The Latvian Fund for Nature, Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Centre, Charles Sturt University and the Falcon Cam Project, Port Lincoln Osprey Project and PLO FB Page for Solly’s transmitter data.

Note: The next newsletter will appear late Tuesday.

5 Comments

    1. You are so welcome.
      Sabine, I love falcons. One of my first birding loves. We have boxes in our city. No matter how many chicks they all get fed. No bonking, no siblicide (or according to the research it is extremely rare). The little dads just make me laugh. I want to try my hand at sewing and see if I can come up with a Peregrine Falcon Onsie for the little girl next door for her birthday. It is lovely to hear from you.

    1. This system finally showed up the comments. I had missed this and I am sorry to be slow to respond. Aren’t those storks wonderful! I have to say the PLO nest worries me. I just about quit with the Ospreys because of that nest and then with Tiny Tot that was the icing but Tiny Tot thrived and that gave me hope. Let us all now focus all our prayers and love to get Malin fledged.

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