Middle’s enormous crop…and then Big’s fury…plus more news in Bird World for early Thursday

27 October 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope this finds everyone well with a smile on their face!

Going for a walk, no matter how short or how long, can be invigorating for one’s mind and for our bodies. I remember when my mother broke her hip. Her surgeon, at that time, was the surgeon for the OU Football Team. I have forgotten his name but, I will never forget the day he looked into my mother’s eyes and told her if she didn’t get up out of that hospital bed, she was going to lose her ability to walk. It had been 2 days since the surgery and I laughed when he told me he was ‘nothing but a glorified carpenter’. What a character and an amazing surgeon. My Mum took it to heart and got herself up and within the month was walking 2 miles. Oh, she did well. The weather was lousy and her and her best friend, Dorothy, would go to the mall and window shop as they got their exercise. It was a good lesson for me, too!

It was a frigid early afternoon yesterday. It was 1 degree and the wind was blowing over the pond and bringing a chill even through the wool coat. I reminded myself that it will soon be parka weather. The state of the Wood Ducks needed checking. There was only one lonely male that I could find. He came swimming towards me thinking I had food. What a tragedy. Several of the ducks at that particular park pond had ‘Angel Wing’ this year. It is doubtful that they will survive. I left before he wasted his energy coming all the way to the shore. What a beautiful sight he was!

Did I tell you that I have the greatest fondness for ducks?

It is rather miraculous. When I look at a male Wood Duck, the patterns in the plumage remind me of weavers in India. Those women have the patterns emblazoned in their minds but, for these precious ducks, the pattern is laid out as the feather emerges from the follicle and grows. Feathers grow out of a quill or shaft. In young birds, we call these ‘blood feathers’ because they actually contain blood until the feather is completely finished growing.

A single follicle can produce, like a weaving, multiple colours and patterns. If I think about it for a long time my mind just becomes boggled. Just look at the multiple colours that go into this handsome duck. Did you know that the male Wood Duck plays no part in raising the young? Absolutely none just like poor Daisy, the Pacific Black Duck that laid her eggs on the Sea Eagle’s nest in the Sydney Olympic Forest. Daisy had absolutely no help – not even security. So if the male doesn’t bring food for the female or provide security or help with the little ones, what does he do? Well, guess what? He just has to look extremely handsome! The female picks him for his beautiful plumage – they want a male that stands out from all the others.

On the other hand, the female needs not to stand out in a crowd but, blend in with her environment. She needs to have good camouflage in order to not call attention to predators.

I really adore female Wood Ducks. It is because they are quiet and shy, often hovering in the background wanting seed tossed on the ground and concrete by visitors but not daring to do so. They are often chased by the geese and by the Mallards.

The females have a tiny crest compared to the males and instead of a red eye ring and eye they have a yellow eye ring in a gorgeous white teardrop shaped eye patch. No flamboyant colours for them. Grey leading into a dabbled brown breast with some lovely blue on the wing to match their bill.

Oh, to me she is the most beautiful delicate little thing. I missed seeing the females. This image was taken on 10 October. I will check again in the next couple of days as the weather warms to see if any were just lurking on the island where I could not see them.

In the mailbox:

‘L’ sent me a great article from BirdLife on a recent study on how to make overhead power lines safe so that birds do not collide with them. It is a good read.

https://www.birdlife.org/news/2022/10/24/new-study-how-to-stop-birds-from-getting-electrocuted-by-and-colliding-with-power-lines-across-the-eu/

Nest News:

Besides the sight of a few ducks putting a big grin on my face, it was absolutely the state of the Port Lincoln Osprey nest that has had me grinning from ear to ear. I continue to say that it is horrific to lose a chick, heart breaking every time and they are not forgotten. Never.

Middle is doing so well. He is really showing his stuff – sitting right by Big, doing the snatch and grab, not being fearful to eat the last bite offered. Confidence. Middle was doing really well for the past several days and most of Thursday in Australia and then…he wasn’t. Middle now has a bald spot on his head!

Another fish arrived on the nest and while it wasn’t as big as some of the early morning ones, it was large and everyone got a good feed. I almost think Mum caught it as she appeared slightly damp when she returned to the nest. I cannot be 100% sure, however.

Middle is on the left side of Mum and Big is on the right when she begins feeding. We can just see cute Middle peaking out from under Mum’s wing.

Middle standing getting ready to stretch his wings. You can see the dark thermal down that will be under their juvenile feathers on Big who is leaning over.

In the image below you can really see Big’s tail feathers coming in and her thick

In between rain and wind, Middle and Big continued to eat and eat and eat. It is difficult to even imagine where they put all that fish. In both of the subsequent feedings that I watched – and that was even before mid-afternoon, Middle got the lion’s share of the fish. There were no quarrels, no disputes, just Middle full of confidence eating away. It just put a smile on my face from one side to the other. Here are a selection of images from those later feedings.

Middle got the lion’s share of this feeding as well. By 1321 he is full and has moved away looking back at Mum with such a precious delicate face. Big is now having a turn.

The rain and the wind begin and Middle gets under Mum as best he can.

The storm passed and Mum flew off the nest. Look what is over on the rim of the nest? The rest of the fish that Mum was feeding Middle and Big when the rain and the wind started. Middle sees it. This time next week Middle would go over and grab that fish and start eating it but, he isn’t going to do that today.

Mum returns to feed her babies. Middle has found some room for some more fish. I honestly do not know where these two are putting the fish – they have almost been eating non-stop all morning.

At the end of that feeding, Middle, standing in profile, his showing off his enormous crop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It has been a really good day so far for Middle and it isn’t even the middle of the afternoon.

Was Middle just feeling his oats when he decided to peck Big at 18:10? (I want to send a thanks to ‘H’ here. I was up with my coffee and had not rewound the end of the days footage. So thankful for her warning). As ‘H’ said, ‘It is a reminder not to mess with Big.’ It was a frenzied attack. Both had eaten well. Middle more than Big. I hope Middle has learned to leave his Big sister alone. Enjoy the peace and quiet and don’t push it or she will attack if provoked and Middle could be the big loser. As it stands, if you see feathers missing, Big did it but Middle provoked the attack. Gracious.

Big, satisfied that Middle, was submissive and would never do that again stopped the ferocious attack at 18:13:52 – a little over two and a half minutes from when it started.

The Melbourne Four are the most energetic and expressive eyases. They run up and down the gutter until their batteries are all worn down and their tummies are full and then they stop. All in a big puddle, altogether keeping one another warm on a drizzly day.

One of the highlights of the feedings today was when Dad brought in a freshly killed pigeon and began plucking it right in front of the four ravenous eyases. Now I say pigeon because once upon a time someone told me that the only reasons there are pigeons is for the falcons and hawks to have something to eat! The feathers were white and some of you might have a more clear idea if it was a pigeon or a gull or something more exotic. Then when the prey was plucked and all the kids were ready for some real bites instead of feathers — Dad flew off with the pigeon. What?! He did bring it back and was ready to fill those crops and then Mum showed up. She pulled a Diamond taking the prey away from Dad who had almost lost it to the oldest eyases. Mum then proceeded to fill their tanks.

Then Dad leaves taking the pigeon with him and leaving only feathers.

A few minutes later he returns with the prey.

Then Mum arrives to take over! Diamond-style.

Dad is off!

Everyone is hungry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

‘H’ clocked 7 feedings of various links at the 367 scrape on Thursday.

At Orange, Rubus and Indigo have been eating and eating, too. I love when Little Rubus gets full and turns his back to the adult who is feeding. When did he start this behaviour?

I could watch the expressions on Rubus’s face all day. He is quite the character.

Once Indigo finishes eating she goes over to cuddle with her little brother in the corner. A little cotton candy pile.

Beautiful Diamond looks over lovingly at her two eyases. What a real treat it has been seeing Diamond and Xavier with two – the very quiet grown up Indigo and the feisty little Rubus. Such treasures.

How many times a day do we need to thank these bird families for bringing such joy to us?

Migration News:

Bonus crossed the Dardanelle Strait and flew to the Greek island of Lesvos.

Bonus is feeding near this creek. It looks like a lovely place to be.

Little Waba was in Israel. He flew into Jordan and decided to return to Israel.

This is where Waba is feeding. There were reports of 85 Black Storks at this site. Hopefully Little Waba is there among others, safe and getting full and strong. There is still more flying to do!

There has been no transmissions from either Karl II who was last heard from in Egypt and Kaia whose last transmission was from Chad. Please send them your most positive best wishes, please.

Please send all kinds of positive wishes to Middle so that he will just leave Big alone from now on. No need to bother Big. Everything was going just fine. Middle has to remember that Big is the boss even if he gets to eat first. That is only because she is letting him.

Thank you so much for being with me today. Take care all. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross and to Looduskalender for their maps and news of Karl II and his family. 

2 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for these updates. !
    Really some beautiful pictures of the wood ducks! Hoping they will all be ok ๐Ÿ™. Middle learned his/her lesson today to donโ€™t mess with Big! Hope Big forgets this and they continue to do fine.
    The little eyases at Melbourne running up and down is so funny and cute!๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•. Little Indigo and Rubus are little darlings too! ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•
    Thanks for the pictures and the descriptions Mary Ann and we look forward to seeing you here soon again!
    Have a great afternoon!
    Linda

    1. You are always so welcome, Linda. The weather has turned wonderful and they should be OK. A few of the ducks stay in Winnipeg for the winter and feed near to where my daughter lives. They are certainly adorable…those little falcons. Adore them running up and down the gutter!

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