White-Bellied Sea Eagles have an Empty Nest

It was not the way the morning should have started. When we think of fledging, most of the time we recall juveniles reaching a certain age and flying out from the nest on their own. Sometimes it does not go to plan. Many are actually forced out by intruders. We will never know, for example, what larger bird of prey forced Malin (the Osplet at Collins Marsh) to fledge causing its death. Other times the birds fludge like Izzi last year when he went to sleep on the ledge and fell out of the scrape box. Izzi was lucky. He had a guardian angel to get him back to safety. Malin did not.

Today, WBSE 27 and 28 got up and 28 seems to have snagged the morning breakfast delivery. I don’t know what it is with eating and early morning air but young raptors seem to become energized. That is precisely what happened to 28, the youngest. It started flapping its wings and jumping around the nest. Meanwhile, 27 was minding its own business on one of the parent branches. 28 decided to fly up to where 27 was. It was at that moment that I remembered Big and Little at Duke Farms last season. Both were on the branch and one of the birds wanted on the other side and they both fludged. Theirs was a happy ending but that wasn’t know for a few days. Both made their way back to the nest to be fed by the parents for some time. That is the way it is supposed to happen. Well, it is unclear about WBSE 28. He fell off the nest.

Here is a sequence of still images showing the build up to the fludge. In the first one, 27 is on the branch and 28 is still eating.

28 begins to flap and jump.

Look at those beautiful wings.

27 flies up to the branch.

At 07:22:02 WBSE 28 almost took both of the birds off the nest. He fell to the left. You can see his wings. WBSE 28 composes itself on the branch.

Meanwhile the cam operator searches the ground for WBSE 28.

Almost immediately the Pied Currawong begin their relentless attack on WBSE 27.

There were three Pied Currawong taking turns at WBSE 27. You see it is in their best interests to keep these sea eaglets out of the forest despite the fact that I have never seen a WBSE eat a Pied Currawong. They certainly might want to start doing that. This is not the first time these birds have rushed a sea eaglet to fledgling and flying out of the forest never to return. They did the same thing last year.

27 does well honking and spreading its wings in a defensive manner. It had to be frightened.

At one point 27 flew at the Currawong.

WBSE 27 off the nest at 8:33:56.

One of the Sydney Sea Eagle chatters caught WBSE 27’s fledge and made a video clip of it. 27 flew to the branch by the camera tree. You can see it in the clip. It was a beautiful first flight. You can also see 27 flying out of the forest to the left.

There are many types of fledges and the anxiousness of WBSE 27 being harassed by the Pied Currawongs – well, you can decide if he flew off the nest because he was frightened or not.

Many believe that when the nestlings fledge, it is a successful season and life goes on. I always wonder what happens to these fledglings. It pulls at my heart and mind to have the Currawong run them out of the forest.

When raptors fledge, many take short flights from the nest returning for up to a month to be fed by their parents until they are just strong enough to fly off on their own. One of the best examples of success in this way were E17 and E18, the two Bald Eaglets of Harriet and M15’s at the Southwest Florida Bald Eagle nest in Fort Myers this year. There on the Pritchett Property the little eaglets were watched – they played in the pond, flew out and returned. They did this for about a month and then, one morning they were gone. By doing short flights from the nest at their leisure, the eagle fledglings imprinted the map back to the nest in their mind. That is not what has happened at the Sea Eagle nest in the Sydney Olympic Forest. Will the eaglets return to the nest to be fed by Lady and Dad? Will Lady and Dad find them and feed them elsewhere? Is 28 tangled up in a tree in the forest? Will anyone rescue it? Where are the foxes? These are my questions. I hope that there is someone – many someones – actively looking for 28. If I hear anything, I will let you know.

The sea eaglets were right within the fledge range. I expected them to fledge any moment. It is unfortunate that 28 fell out of the tree. I do hope it recovered. No reason to think it would not. We will probably never know what happens to WBSE 27 and 28. Sadly, there is no programme for monitoring and tracking. I wish there were like with the Ospreys at Port Lincoln. It would be very interesting to see if they make it away from the nest and find a beach with carrion and other juveniles and survive and thrive.

UPDATE: Ranger Judy Harrington says that no one will be looking for 28 in the forest. It was heard on camera and they believe the Currawong will let them know where it is.

Thank you for joining me this evening. Take care all.

Thank you to the Sea Eagle Cam @Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s