27 August 2022
Good Morning Everyone!
Friday turned out to be one of the best birding days I have had in my City because of the birds and the three people that I met — and, of course, an Osprey story. No, I didn’t add lots to my life list but, I will add a few when I can get some help doing the IDs. It was hot in the afternoon for the walk at the nature centre. The little Mallard mother that had 11 ducklings still has the 9 she had the other day. She has moved them to a different pond where the water and plants appear to be a little healthier.
In some areas the algae is just stifling the life out of the pond. The geese were all resting in the shade and only the song birds were exerting themselves. In particular, 5 or 6 Black-Capped Chickadees were around the ‘winter’ feeding area. I had the most glorious chat with a woman about the fate of insects and she mentioned a book, The Insect Crisis.
This lovely woman spent a few minutes explaining the concept behind the book – the collapse of the insect population and the shocking collapse of everything from birds to crops. I suspect that almost everyone who reads my blog is aware of the domino-effect that is or will take place as the insects die. The rest of the population has surely heard about what is happening even if they don’t understand it — or worse, choose to ignore it. Why then do people still hire companies to come and ‘kill’ the weeds on their lawn so that it is pristine all the while what they believe the company is using a green chemical is actually toxic! or the spraying of roses and other flowers? the use of pesticides used in farming? It is time to put a stop to these practices and embrace companion planting or the use of certain birds and animals that will weed but not kill the crops or flowers.
All the while we were talking, the lovely lady, perhaps in her 90s, was pulling out sunflower seeds for the Chickadees.
An hour before dusk I went to another site where a Bald Eagle had been spotted. OK. I am not the luckiest birder on the planet – far from it. All I could find were some Mallards resting….
and then, I didn’t hear it but something caused me to look up. There was an osprey flying overhead. My heart stopped for a second. An Osprey – sorry Bald Eagle people but this was fantastic. I have been trying to find the Osprey living in this area of my City and have always failed…and there it was.
It has been a good year to be surprised by Ospreys flying overhead. I only know where one nest is but that is fine…seeing them flying at dusk is very special.
The sun was nearly setting but, just on the chance that the Egrets were landing near the pond on the other side of the City, I took off…
As the sun set, 7 Great Egrets descended on the pond and their night time tree.
They continued to arrive as the sun set lower and lower in the sky. It was just a calm, beautiful summer evening spent looking at a ‘sedge’ of Egrets – a most unusual sight for a Canadian Prairie city.
I am not a wildlife photographer. Let’s be clear about that. There are people who are and two of them spent time with me taking photos of the Egrets, talking about where the birds might be spending their days and the anticipation of the arrival of ‘THE’ Green Heron this year (he was really lost last year when he landed south of our city in a small little river). Quite the celebrity that heron was! Of course, everyone is looking and comparing the ‘kit’ each of us had….I take photos because I love the garden animals and the birds – to show you! So they are taken with love not great technical expertise although there are many times I wish I had that level of talent.
In the Mailbox:
The Ojai Raptor Centre updated Victor’s progress in an e-mail posting today: Just look at this magnificent eaglet. This is a very special day. His zinc levels are normal!!!!!!!!
Here is the announcement from ORC:
Bald Eagle patient 22-635, who was rescued from Santa Cruz Island with zinc toxicosis on July 11, continues to make progress. The most recent test for zinc showed the patient within normal levels. This means the eaglet no longer needs to go through chelation therapy to remove the toxic metal from the bloodstream. The eaglet’s ataxia (lack of balance) seems to have resolved as well!
‘L’ sent me a lovely screen capture she had in her archives of Ma Berry. The year is 2018. Do you know who she is?
Berry College is located in Mount Berry, Georgia. Ma Berry was the mate of Pa Berry until 2020 when she was last seen the 17th of November. Ma Berry had a injury to her left talon – she was easily recognized. She had no difficulties fishing or catching prey with her injured foot. She was dearly loved despite there being a heavy loss to the chicks on the nest. In 2017-18, two eggs hatched with one chick fledging and the other sadly died from falling off the nest. The following year, 2018-19 both eggs hatched again but the chicks died within a week. The following year one egg cracked and the second was not viable. Ma Berry has a huge fan club and as one article at the time said, “There’s been a scandal brewing behind the Cage Center at Berry College.” A new female and Ma Berry had a bit of a stand off. For awhile many worried that Ma Berry had been injured or killed but on the 21st of January 2021, Ma Berry was seen at a lake (again easily recognizable by her injured and twisted foot). She is enjoying her retirement. The new female named Missy had two eggs in 2021. One was not viable and the other baby died – both of starvation and hypothermia. Missy just didn’t know what to do as a Mum. However, this year Missy and Pa Berry fledged B15 – a fine strong eagle. Pa Berry must have been very pleased.
Three questions came in from ‘G’: What would have happened to the female at the 367 Collins Street Falcon nest? Did she find a new mate? Second question: What is a scrape? The third question: Why do falcons use gravel for nests and not twigs like eagles? OK. Let’s start at the beginning. I have included some images of the male at 367 Collins Street and his mate from previous years below with their four eyases from 2021. You will often hear that Raptors mate for life. From reading the information about Ma Berry above, you will then know that this is not always the case. Some females get usurped from the nest as do some males. Some are injured and die. Some leave and are discovered elsewhere. Some Ospreys have had two mates. A good example is Seren, Blue 5F in the UK. From 2015-2020, she was Aran’s ‘other woman’ at Glaslyn while Mrs G was his primary mate. In 2020 she decided not producing chicks and have a faithful mate was reason enough to pack her bags and leave. She did. She flew to Llyn Clywedog and became the mate of Dylan! So the saying mate for life is not always the case but it is more the standard than anything else. It is presumed, however, that the female at 367 Collins street has died and a new female has taken her place. If this is her first year as a Mum, let us wish both a very good year.
Scrape is the name of the ‘nest’ that Peregrine falcons use to lay their eggs and raise their eyases. Eyas is the proper term for the chick.
Peregrine Falcons traditionally made their nests on cliffs. There the sand and gravel would be gathered and a small indentation made for the eggs so they would not slide out of the nest cup. It is believed that by using this kind of nest insects and diseases that often form in twig nests – especially if it is cold and wet – would, thus, not impact the falcon chicks. That said, there are some stick nests being used by falcons in Poland that have been very successful.
An early morning question from ‘T’: Why aren’t the falcons in Australia sitting on their egg and eggs all the time? Great question! You can see them leaving the eggs in the images below today. Some raptors practice delayed incubation. They will keep the eggs warm for a few hours a day but will not begin 24/7 incubation known as ‘hard incubation’ until all of the eggs are laid. This ensures that there is not such a discrepancy in their dates of hatch. This lessens the chance of siblicide. In addition, many times the eyases hatch within 24 hours of one another like those at Collins Street the last few years.
In the News:
Hen Harriers remain in the UK news. As their populations begin to recover at 100 birds the illegal killing of the raptors remains a huge problem for the reintroduction programme.
In Australia, there is dismay as to the protection of the forest industry and the lack of concerns from some of the wildlife going extinct. In 2022, people are starting to get upset and angry. Will the government respond?
Holly Parsons has posted the links to the four Falcon cameras at Orange along with a link to FAQs. Thanks, Holly! Here it is:
Diamond has been the female at the Charles Sturt Falcon scrape at orange since 2015. Xavier has been her mate since 2016. This means that they are at least 9 years old for Diamond and 8 years old for Xavier. Peregrine Falcons have been known to live for nearly 20 years in the wild.
Diamond is looking out the window of the scrape at Orange. Galahs, a pink and grey parrot, are flying by the tower. Do they not know they would be a remarkable mid-morning snack for Diamond? If Xavier sees them, she will have one!
Later Pied Currawong were observed doing flybys while checking out the scrape box. They eat eggs! Diamond and Xavier are going to have to be vigilant.
There is no hard incubation yet at 367 Collins Street in Melbourne. Does this mean that Mum and Dad Peregrine Falcon are thinking of a 4th?
For those of you who have watched the Melbourne nest in previous years and, perhaps, did not notice or know. This is a new female this year with Dad. My first thought was is it possible that Mum died from trichomonosis like the 4th eyas last year? We might never know – unless Victoria Hurley does, the researcher at this nest.
Dad has the biggest eyes. Oh, such a cutie with one of his prepared pigeons for the kiddos.
It would be very difficult to forget these four. They were incredible. The year before Mum and Dad had 3 girls…they towered over little Dad.
Mum and Dad with the four eyases for the 2021 season. Mum was amazing. She often appeared to be gruff but if you are having to chase after four eyases with independent minds, she seemed to have to be to keep them from falling off the edge of that ledge. Thankfully birds are afraid of heights (or so I am told). Soar high, Mum. You took such great care of your little ones.
The new female shows Dad the third egg early on a misty Melbourne morning. It arrived at 22:18 on the 26th of August.
Oh, I adore the little male falcon at Collins Street. Sometimes he looks like a toy in his cute little pajamas.
A few more images today of Dad and the new Mum taking turns incubating the eggs. You will get to know Dad rather quickly with the thick yellow around his eyes and if he is next to New Mum, he will be quite a bit smaller
Neither Diamond or the Melbourne Mum will begin ‘hard’ incubation until all of their eggs are laid. This is one of the reasons that there is less competition between all the eyases as they are close in size and birth date. Some Ospreys and eagles begin hard incubation immediately and this means that the third catch could be several days difference in size and development than the first.
Just look at SE 29 and 30. 29 is standing so tall with its big crop while 30 is enjoying a private feeding from Lady. Look very carefully at 30 since we can see the top of the head, the chest, the wings and back and – of course those pink legs standing so tall. Weeks 5 and 6 show the biggest change from the fluffy chicks with their down to the stage of an eaglet. There is now down left on the head (maybe a dandelion or two on 30). Dark feathers are starting to show everywhere – they are the most gorgeous espresso brown. The chicks are spending a lot of time preening now as feather growth is said to be itchy (how does a human know that?). They are now able to stand like 29 is doing without the aid of the wing tips. They will begin flapping and might make some attempts at self feeding.
Notice that beautiful light rust that is appearing on both of the eaglets. If you have never seen a juvenile Sea Eagle you are going to be so surprised at how stunning their plumage is. Notice also how those beaks continue to grow long and strong.
Dad was nudging Mum at the Port Lincoln Osprey nest to get up and give him a turn. It was 23:42!
Andor visited the Two Frasers Bald Eagle nest in the Channel Islands. It looks like he now has some time to regain his strength after helping Mama Cruz raise Lilibet and Victor. He certainly must have had a nice lunch!
The streaming cam at the Minnesota DNR Bald Eagle nest is now offline until the 17th of November. Mark it on your calendars. I wonder if Nancy will have a new mate for the next breeding season????
Both eaglets at the Glacier Gardens Bald Eagle nest have now fledged. Congratulations to Liberty and Freedom for another successful year. Believe it or not, the Bald Eagle season will be getting underway in Florida in the next 4 weeks or thereabouts. Goodness.
Kielder Forerst posted that one of the 2022 fledglings, Frankham, is now in Spain enjoying himself on the llobregat River in Catalonia. His ring number is Blue 439 and he was the first to leave Kielder this season. Frankham was from nest 1A where Mrs YA raised the chicks after Mr YA did not return after they had hatched. Congratulations Kielder Forest!
Did you know that there are 10 Estonian Black Storks with trackers on them this year? Kaia and Karl II along with Waba and Bonus from the Karula Nest are amongst the ten. It is going to get busy once they start moving. Kaia remains near Liaskavicy in Belarus in the wetlands of the Priyjpat River.
A new book, Birds. A Complete Guide to their Biology and Behavior by Jonathan Elphick has arrived on the desk. Review to come.
Have a lovely Saturday everyone. Take care of yourselves. I look forward to seeing you soon….and remember, if you have a question, send it in. There could be 50 or 100 people wondering about the same thing!
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams, posts, and videos that form my screen captures: Ojai Raptor Centre, Berry College and ‘L’, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, The Guardian, Orange, Australia FB, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, Port Lincoln Osprey, Explore.org and the IWS, and Looduskalender.