Wednesday in Bird World

2.23.22

We have a terrible problem in our neighbourhood. But, before I begin, let me say that for most of my life, I have had a cat or two or more. My Dad had a ‘warm’ spot for animals. Today he would be known for feeding feral cats and caring for them. More often than not, we adopted the strays, fed them, and found homes for the kittens. He taught me that they deserve love and respect as he went about rescuing puppies abandoned and starving cats. In other words, I grew up loving animals and am particularly fond of cats. I have not had a cat since last July when my dear Honey died of kidney failure. I do adore them.

Honey was a Sorrel Abyssinian. We rescued her from an apartment where she had been locked in for a month with no one home. She was amazing. She was a lap cat and loved to be into everything that was happening.

Our City has a by-law that cats must be kept inside. It was instigated so that the large feral cat population in the City would decline. The problem is that certain people do not adhere to the by-laws and, of course, no one does anything about it if they don’t. So that is the very back story to today.

The bird feeders were full and one of the small squirrels -either Dyson or Scraggles- was eating away in the square feeder when I left to go and get the produce for the week. Everything ‘seemed’ fine. When I returned an hour later, there were few birds at the feeders. I decided to refill the one for the Starlings. They do love the Meal Worms and Butter Bark for some reason. When I did, I noticed fresh blood under the Black Sunflower feeder and frozen blood in the centre of the square feeder where the squirrel had been. Something injured one of the squirrels while I was away. It was not Sharpie – he only takes a Sparrow once in awhile and there were no feathers flying about. The cats are the likely culprit. You will often find me chasing them away from the feeders. I could not see blood anywhere else. Did the cat actually carry the squirrel away? or did the squirrel escape? We wait to find out. I have looked everywhere for clues and nothing.

None of the squirrels are in the garden not even Little Red and there remain few birds. Events like this are traumatic for them. They can smell the blood and might not know what happened but they would not that something was harmed. Sadly, the wildlife rehabbers will not take squirrels for fear of rabies. So we just hope that whichever squirrel was harmed, it heals properly. It is normally Scraggles that gets in the way of the cats. He is called ‘Scraggles’ because of his shaggy tail and torn bits of fur when he came to the garden more than half dead a couple of years ago. He sat and ate black oil seed for days hardly moving and in a few weeks he was looking good. Fingers crossed for whoever is injured. Please send your warm wishes!

Why am I telling you this when I know you keep your cats inside? Because cats are the major predator to birds at feeders, bunnies, and squirrels. While people believe they need to be outside, most vets will tell you that cats are safer inside watching the wildlife from the window. They will not get injured, hit by a car, lost, or become prey to something larger. Spread the word to those that do let their cats roam.

Bird behaviour is very interesting. You might have read my blogs mentioning Jennifer Ackerman. She is the author of The Genius of Birds and The Bird Way. I picked The Bird Way up again last night to read through a section and was reminded how good Ackerman’s writing is on the topic. So if you are looking for insightful books on our feathered friends and why they do what they do, when they do it – these are excellent choices.

The pattern of feeding at the Captiva Osprey nest is holding. Three good feeds in the morning with the last of the three around lunch time and the first right after dawn. The final feeding – the fourth – is around 16:00. Andy arrived with the fish at 15:56 and by the time Lena got it and the chicks were situated they were right at 16:00. You could almost set your watch by this nest.

One of the things that keeps chicks from having food competition is stability. This nest is regular and stable. Fantastic. There are no surprises. No long period without food save from the last one to the morning feed.

Turn around Little Bob!

Andy is being very vigilant.

The feeding lasted for forty minutes! Lena filled up those chicks so full but, remember, this will be their last meal for the day if the pattern these two adult Ospreys have been following holds. One of the chatters commented that, “Minibob’s got a crop so full that it’s not just getting fatter it’s getting longer as well!” (BJ). That is always good to see.

You can see a bird flying behind the palm tree. There are predators around the nest. It did not go unnoticed by Andy and Lena. Andy is being careful. No one will harm his family if he can help it.

The trio are slowly falling into a sleep coma. There was no fish left for Andy and even Lena didn’t get a lot. The osplets are demanding more and more each feeding as they grow. They will all be entering their second week by the end of this week and that is a big growth period for nestlings.

Andy is off to get his fish. Lena might be wishing he would bring in another one so she could have some more fish, too. Meanwhile she is trying to get the full and sleepy puddle of chicks settled.

Big Bob is not being very cooperative! Get to sleep Big Bob.

Finally! It is a cuddle puddle.

Spring is in the air for all of the California Condors at San Simeon and The Pinnacles. Ventana Wildlife Society just posted this beautiful image with an announcement of a Zoom session. You might want to check it out. I have attended several of these. They are free and very informative.

There is a pip at the home of the Duke Farms Bald Eagles!

Here is the link to their camera. I saw the announcement on FB but the view from the cameras is not good enough for me to get an image capture.

One of our readers, ‘S’ from Latvia reports that the swans are returning. They have been flying over her house and foraging in the nearby fields. Isn’t that wonderful. Next week I will include a discussion on all the nests in Latvia and Estonia – White-tailed Eagles and Storks – that you can watch. Eggs will be laid on some of the nests, such as Milda’s around the beginning of spring. It gives me hope – hope that warm days are coming.

All of the nests are doing well. NE26 and 27 ate so much today they could hardly walk! I have not seen Ervie but his tracker shows he is exploring the area around the bay where the barge is located. Hopefully we might get a glimpse of him, soon.

Take care everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Window on Wildlife and Captiva Osprey Nest and Duke Farms.

5 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Mary Ann I’m so sorry to hear about the little squirrel. I hope he is ok when you see him again. 🙏❤️. Congratulations to the Duke farms eagles! Good luck to the condors!
    So glad to know all is well with the three little ospets at the Captiva nest .
    Thanks for all the photos and info.
    Prayers for your little 🐿 squirrel 🙏
    Linda

    1. Oh, thank you for your kindness. We are so hoping he is alright. I have never seen that much blood even when the cat attacked the garden rabbit. I remain hopeful that it looks worse than it was. I have to go out tomorrow and clean up everything. The birds seem to be frightened from the damage left. Yes. Last year that Mum at Duke Farms was so buried in show. I hope it is better for her. Glad you like the little ospreys. They are doing well. Fingers crossed!

    2. Thank you for the prayers for the squirrels, Linda, and your kindness. All are fine but a tail this morning. I am so glad they were not injured severely. Tails grow back! We remain mystified by the whole occurrence trying to figure out precisely what happened. But everyone is well.

  2. Mary Ann, please keep us posted on the fate of the squirrel. Crossing fingers he’s okay…. We’ve had a lot of feral cats in our neighborhood too, and we and our neighbors do our best to keep them fed. (We’ve always had cats too until the last few years.) One of the ferals has sort of adopted us but she won’t let us get close, and she won’t come inside. But we keep her very well fed so she doesn’t need to hunt. (She in fact seems to enjoy watching birds eat her food when we leave it out and doesn’t attempt to stalk them.) I wish there was a solution to the problem in general though. It breaks my heart how people dump pets they no longer want.
    Thanks for this post. What a wonderful and kind dad you had!!

    Thanks also for all the other news and photos you’ve posted today!

    1. Thank you for your concern. It never happens that the three grey squirrels are together in the winter. I don’t know why but this morning they were. The only one seemingly not the same as the last time seen is Dyson. Fur missing in the middle of the tail. So we think it was Dyson. The only other option is a bird but normally the cat makes a mess of the birds playing. They are well fed house cats let out! Grrhhh. I ache for unwanted pets. LOL. My parents were the opposites. You know which one I take after!

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