Late Sunday in Bird World

3 October 2011

Hi Everyone,

I cannot describe what a beautiful fall day it was out in the forest. The wind was only blowing at 2kmh. Leaves – the most gorgeous yellow, red, and orange were falling gently. Seven Black-capped chickadees, a few American Goldfinches, a sole White-breasted Nuthatch, and that lovely Red Squirrel kept me company at the hide. Oh, they must be so happy it is not raining and it is not too hot or cold – just right at 21 degrees C. It could not have been more perfect for humans or wildlife.

It seems that everyone was after the peanuts. They are so good at getting them out of the shells!

This beautiful White-breasted Nuthatch spent about 10 minutes at the feeders before flying off.

The little squirrel was enjoying all of the nuts on the forest floor. These squirrels are very lucky. There are Oak trees and acorns everywhere!

There were more geese on the ponds today than when I went to view them at dusk. There were only a few up in the grassy areas resting on a warm day.

The colours are changing. Autumn is my favourite time of year…it would just be nice if it would last longer! You can sit on the bench, close your eyes, and open your senses up to the smell of the leaves and the geese honking in the distance. Magical. Just try to be grumpy after sitting there for a half hour!!!!!

This Mallard was having a great time splashing about. What a bath.

And then…there was no mistaking the ‘Little Duck’. It remains the tiniest duck in the entire pond BUT — look, all of the back feathers are now in place. This duck cannot be more than 45 cm (8-9 inches) from the tip of its tail to the end of its beak. It looks larger in the photo but, it isn’t – and that is how I knew it was the wee one. (I did come home to compare with the former images just to make certain that the head line and beak were the same before I made a complete idiot out of myself). This tiny gaffer is a Blue winged Teal. It is positively adorable. I sure hope it gets a good wind to carry it south with those itsy-bitsy wings.

Besides finding the little duck, one of the great moments of this afternoon was seeing ten Cormorants in a tree sunning themselves on a beautiful day. Sometimes the Bald Eagle couple are up there in that tree. It is on a peninsula jutting out and there is no way for humans to disturb them. What a beautiful site. When I was standing admiring them, a couple walked up and told me that twenty years ago you would not have seen a Cormorant here. I felt blessed.

Whenever I am outside and getting tired, it is simply nice to remember that I am so lucky to be able to walk in the woods and be outside with nature. I know that many of you cannot – so I am taking it all in for you, too.

In the Mailbox:

So many of you have written to ask me if I think that any more eggs will hatch at either the Collins Street scrape in Melbourne or Xavier and Diamond’s scrape in Orange.

I do not expect the fourth egg at Melbourne to hatch. Falcons and hatch practice delayed incubation. This means that they will not incubate the eggs 24/7 until most of them are laid. This is so the chicks will hatch close together and not have issues of siblicide and food competition like exists in eagles and ospreys.

If a second egg is to hatch at Orange, I would really expect this to happen today or tomorrow. That said, I am not completely hopeful of another hatch there. Xavier and Diamond tend to have one hatch per 3 eggs.

I just received 3 letters with questions about siblicide. I presume that this subject has been brought up on chat or FB somewhere today.

The answer to your questions depends on the species and the circumstances. There are species of eagles where siblicide is almost always 100% (Black, Golden, Imperial). The eldest hatch always kills the youngest. Always. No wishing or hoping. Always. Siblicide is rare in hawks and falcons with most studies showing less than 1%. The stats come from watched nests. The average siblicide from studies at the University of Oklahoma is 3.8-4% in Bald Eagles. It is presumed to be the same or nearly the same in Ospreys. Some nests are more prone to siblicide than others. A good example of a nest where siblicide regularly occurred until last year is the Port Lincoln Ospreys. There is a history below the streaming cam that you can examine. The % at this nest would be much higher.

‘H’ wrote about the torrential rain and high winds blowing along the NE of the US because of Hurricane Ian. She has sent an image of a bird that has landed on the nest. It is banded. I believe it to be a juvenile Peregrine Falcon but I could be wrong. It is ahrd to identify birds when they are wet. So I am posting it here if anyone has any other ideas. This is the shores of Delaware at Mispillion Harbour. Birds are being blown off course. This one has two fresh new bands. Does anyone recognize them? If so, please send me a comment.

Nest News:

So it is time to check and see what is going on in Australia- when we left everyone yesterday afternoon, the Port Lincoln kiddos all had crops, the three at 367 Collins Street had been fed, the Sea Eagles were looking magnificent with SE29 basking in being up on the parent branch, and Xavier and Diamond had one beautiful eyas. Has anything changed today?

Diamond and Xavier have already fed their wee eyas twice this morning (it is 16:44 on the Canadian Prairies). The first was around 0533 and the second

The three eyases at 367 Collins Street have also had a good morning feed. I think that we can all relax and enjoy this new family learning how to parent in Melbourne. The male has brooded, shaded the chicks, fed them, and is bringing prey for Mum and them. It is time simply to sit back and watch these marvelous falcons grow! In less than 40 days they will be full grow and flying! So hold on – it is a fast ride!

The osplets at Port Lincoln were waiting on a breakfast fish to be delivered.

The two eaglets on the Sydney Sea Eagle nest are still home this morning! They are also waiting for breakfast!

Thank you so much for joining me today. Please take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Ospreys, Mispillion Harbour Osprey Cam duPont Centre and Delaware DNR, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, Port Lincoln Ospreys, and Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park.


  1. Hi Mary Ann! Thank you for another comprehensive post. So happy that all the falcon and osprey nests are doing well right now. (I’ve been really worried, along with everyone else, about the Melbourne peregines.) And the sea eagles! Can’t believe they’re ready to fledge already. Crossing fingers the Pied Currawongs will leave them alone.

    Thanks also for the lovely walk in the woods and all your great photos! I do enjoy your nature walks vicariously and appreciate reading such interesting descriptions. I am very grateful for all you do!

    1. You are very welcome, Betty. Melbourne seems to be doing alright and the Port Lincoln osplets just had a huge fish dinner. They behave when they are eating so that is a true blessing. Fingers crossed for all of them!

  2. Linda Kontol says:

    Mary Ann thank you for these updates. Also the photos are great. So glad all
    Is going well at the nests. 🙏❤️
    The little duckling is adorable as well
    As that little red squirrel. All of them are !
    I was so glad to learn the kind of duck it is and also that you got to see it again too:)💕. Thank you and enjoy your Sunday evening . As always we look forward to tomorrow’s newsletter!

    1. It was wonderful to find that wee duckling. Linda, it is like a miniature toy duck so it was easy to spot today but has nice feathers and well, I guess it will be able to carry its tiny self when it is migration time for them.

      1. Linda Kontol says:

        I’m so glad you found the little duckling. I was so hoping you could.
        Thanks Mary Ann:)

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