White Bellied Sea Eaglet 28 dominates feeding

The golden glow of the morning sun kissed the branches of the old Ironbark Tree in Sydney’s Olympic Forest. WBSE 27 and 28 were sound asleep in the nest bowl while an adult was on the parent branch keeping watch.

This morning breakfast arrived at 9:20:11. It was a nice chunk of fish.

28 was up at the breakfast table right away and dominated the feeding. There was no pecking and 28 was on the left side! Well, well.

It is easy to see that 28 really loves the fish! One of the things people have noticed is that the birds actually do have preferences. Some prefer fish, others prefer birds. Some don’t like specific species of birds. WBSE tend to really love their fish!

Here is a short video clip of the feeding.

WBSE 28 is still being fed after ten minutes. Indeed, Lady will still be feeding 28, almost exclusively, for another twenty minutes.

At 9:30:11 either a Pied Currawong or an Australian Magpie swooped down on the nest. Lady alerted and both of the sea eaglets pancaked on the nest.

Anyone watching the feeding would have immediately known that Lady’s alert call meant ‘danger’ and the sea eaglets stopped everything and became very still. This is what all raptors do, as far as I know. It is certainly what Osprey chicks do when their parent is alerting.

Oh, these eaglets love this fresh fish! 28 has gotten very good at the quick snatch method as well. He is very cute.

Lady finished feeding the pair at 10:01:27. They both settled down, each with a crop – 28’s was the biggest! He is in front sort of sitting up.

Right now it is easy to tell the difference – 27 has more juvenile feathers on its shoulders and wings.

No doubt, WBSE 27 might well dominate the next feeding. But it is significant to note that 28 stepped up first and was fed – and went to sleep with a very large crop. There was absolutely not a hint of sibling rivalry other than the typical ‘snatch and turn’ of 28 at times. The ‘snatch and turn’ is often a side effect reaction – grab the food quickly and turn – protecting one’s head from being pecked earlier in the chick’s life.

These two are doing very well. I hope that the Magpie or the Currawong – as well as BooBook Owl, and others do not inflict any injuries on any of the sea eagles. In fact, some of you might remember that it was a Magpie that helped WBSE 26 last year against the Pied Currawong.

The top two images are of a Pied Currawong and the bottom one is an Australian Magpie. Sometimes you only see a blur. Those familiar with the sounds of the forest might be able to tell who caused the ruckus.

“Pied Currawong ( Strepera graculina)” by Tatters ✾ is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Pied Currawong” by Tatters ✾ is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

There are decided differences between the two but a split second sweep of black and white makes it difficult. The Pied Currawong has been a constant in the Sydney Olympic Forest. Perhaps it has a nest near to the sea eagles and wants the big birds – the top of the food chain – to get out of town!

“Australian Magpie” by Lisa.Hunt is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sadly, the Currawong did chase 26 out of the forest and she wound up the next day, after a storm that evening, on the 22nd floor of a condo building about 1.5 kilometres away from the nest. The Currawong are a big problem in the forest. They also chased 25 out when it fledged and I suspect they have done this in years past. 25 never returned to the nest. No one knows what became of her. Ideally, these two beauties fledge and return to the nest for rest and food just like the Bald Eagles or the sea eagle fledglings are fed down by the Parramatta River by the parents til they can survive on their own.

It has to be mentioned that Sydney’s Parramatta River is full of dioxins. Commercial fishing is banned after elevated levels of the toxins were found in seafood from the Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River.

“Parramatta River, NSW, Australia” by Terrazzo is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The toxins leaked into the river from a shipping container company as reported in The Sydney Morning Herald on 16 May 2009. The article said, “The Patrick’s site on the Camellia peninsula, near Rosehill Racecourse, has been found to be leaking the chemical Chromium VI, posing a risk to people and marine life.”

In 2017, 2ser 107.3 reported that the Parramatta River was a “toxic time bomb.” They said, “Fifty years of toxic chemical residue is sitting on the bottom of Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River. It’s a toxic time-bomb and disturbing this sediment could worsen already dire pollution levels. And now sweeping developments along the shore of the River could be bringing more pollution to the already sullied waters.” While many might have hoped to swim in the river before they were too elderly to do so, contaminated storm water was pumped into the river in December 2020 causing more problems.

https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/contaminated-storm-water-pumped-from-camellia-site-into-parramatta-river/news-story/83b1a3c9e5e5c226d687ad47f0ee982e

That lovely fish that the two sea eaglets ate this morning came from this river. It is a tragedy.

Thank you so much for joining me. These are just the cutest little sea eagles. 28 is quite the character. Spend some time watching them. Everything is good.

Thank you to the Sydney Sea Eagle Cam @ Birdlife Australia’s Discovery Centre for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots and video clip.

4 Comments

    1. You are so welcome. Oh, I do hope Iris shows up at the nest. There is always something special – or so it seems – when she comes to the perch. The attachment to the nest. I would so love to see her care for a bunch of chicks with a good mate and yet, I always take the position of wanting her to care for herself. She added much to the gene pool with Stanley. —- Yes, one can only imagine what is in the soil around that river. When I was reading about all of those toxins I began to think of the little Pacific Black Duck that made her nest in the Sea Eagles nest. They swim in that river all day eating the plants and the little fish. So sad. Fingers crossed for Iris tomorrow.

      1. Hi Linda, I get the Currawong and the Magpie confused sometimes if I only see them for a second. Both give the sea eagles a lot of grief! Glad you enjoyed the photos and ——- what we have done to the water for all of us is just ghastly. I see there are lots of issues with the oil down in the Gulf now that the hurricane has passed. Hopefully, the leaks can be fixed quickly.

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