Birds at the Zoo…and breakfast with the Australian nests

28 October 2022

Hello Everyone!

So happy to have you here with me. I set out ‘in my mind’ last evening that I would get up early and head out to find Snowy Owls sitting on large round hay bales near Oak Hammock Marsh. I got a text from a friend – ‘no’ owls seen. So, determined to see a Snowy Owl today, I did something entirely different! I went to the zoo.

How long has it been since you have been to a zoo? With all the criticism against keeping animals in small cages, our Assiniboine Park Zoo set out to try and make the enclosures for the animals considerably larger. At the same time they addressed issues of ‘boredom’ and the environments that the animals would live in if they were out in the wild. It was a much more pleasant place to visit because of those major changes.

One of the zoo volunteers saw me looking at the map and asked me what I wanted to see. The answer was Snowy Owls and Birds. I wonder if they were disappointed that I didn’t say ‘tiger’ or ‘cougar’. As it happened we were very close to the Snow Owls and it was feeding time. Fluffy yellow chicks raised specifically for the purpose were being dished out. For several seconds, it seemed that a woman standing near to me was going to pass out she was so overcome by seeing the owls eat the chicks. I stood in wonderment trying to figure out if she thought that they ate lettuce – our zoo purchases an inordinate amount of Romaine lettuce – or fruit. It is a good thing that she was away from the cougar or the Stellar’s Eagle compounds at that specific moment.

The real character of the entire four hours was the Toucan. He made eye contact immediately. What an incredibly beautiful bird he is.

This is the Toco Toucan. They are the largest of the species at 62 cm long with a bill/beak that is 17 cm long. Their lifespan is approximately 20 years. The Toco Toucan is native to South American rainforests where its numbers are decreasing due to deforestation.

I wish we could have had a conversation. This chap was a real cutie pie.

These little Sun Conures were tiny in comparison to the Toco Toucan. No wonder they have the ‘sun’ as part of their name. Oh, those faces ranging from yellow to orange to red are the colours we painted the sun as children. They are native to northeastern South America. They are approximately 30 cm in length but these certainly did not look that big unless you count that long olive green tail in the measurement! These little cuties were using their bill and their feet to dig around the edge of their enclosure. They have a stubby quite muscular tongue that helps them move their food around in their mouth.

This beautiful Golden Eagle was finishing up its breakfast and not the least bit interested in anyone looking at it. What a beauty. It is one of the largest birds of prey in North America, about the same size as a Bald Eagle. Unlike a Bald Eagle whose legs and talons are bare, the Golden Eagle has feathers on its legs. In Canada, they are ‘at risk’. Their meals consist of small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels.

The Stellar’s Sea Eagle is the largest of the sea eagles. With its striking bright yellow beak and legs and its espresso brown/black and white plumage, it is easy to recognize this raptor. It has a wedge-tail and fine pointed wings. They are rare. In the northern areas they will stand on the ice and fish and love the salmon in the north. It is thought that they almost exclusively breed in the north of Russia. You may recall that there is a Stellar’s Sea Eagle that has come to Newfoundland, Canada travelling south to parts of New England. I believe it is back in Newfoundland.

There were so many little Red Squirrels. This one is eating a ‘helicopter’, the seed of the Maple Tree.

Little Red stuffed these Maple Tree seeds in every part of the old shed. There were boxes full. Never knew if he used them for insulation to stay warm as well as eating. There is a large box full of them in his new home if he ever moves in!

It was great fun. Lovely to see families out with small children running about. Next time you are looking for a place to go – think the zoo!

A very small fish landed on the Port Lincoln Osprey barge at 061847. Middle got some of the tail but Big got most of it at 062652.

Breakfast arrived at 0618 on the ledge of 367 Collins Street for the Melbourne Four. Another plucking lesson, too!

This big one has run off with a nice piece and is self-feeding.

After eating it was running to get those legs strong, finding scraps of prey, and flapping those wings. What a brilliant place for these eyases to get exercise! I wonder how being able to run and flap freely – running a great distance – might give these falcons an edge in terms of physical strength that would help them survive? Just a thought!

This is the Recap for the morning feedings at Orange. Goodness Xavier has been busy hunting!

BirdieCam​ RECAP: 6:07:33 starling, X leaves, 6:20:58 D feeds; 6:38:31 X w/RRP?, he feeds; 09.13.33 X w/Noisy Friarbird, D feeds

Everyone has had breakfast, some more than others. Wish for fish – a big one for Port Lincoln.

Take care all. This is just a quick check and all are doing well at the 3 nests we are watching in Australia.

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.


  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Mary Ann what a surprise and enjoyment! So glad you went to the zoo and was able to send us some photos! All of them are beautiful! The snow owls , the golden eagle, the toucan , the conures and the little red squirrels are adorable! I enjoyed them so much that I was dreaming I was there too! Thanks again for sharing them.
    The little eyases are so cute and the one has started to run with its food and self feed ! I can’t believe it is already happening ! Prayers that Port Lincoln will get some big fish so Big will
    Stay full and middle and Mom have plenty too! What a great Dad!
    Little Indigo and Rubus are so adorable. Love the way they stay together. 💕💕
    We look forward to tomorrow’s newsletter and take care and have a good evening Mary Ann!

    1. Oh, I am so glad that you enjoyed them. It was such a beautiful day and the idea of driving around and being inside a car looking for Snowy Owls in the fields when I was told they were not there was = well, not appealing! I have not been to the Zoo for years and had such fun sitting and watching the birds. They had wonderful benches that were actually comfortable. I highly recommend it. The zoos are changing as the public gets concerned over the welfare of the animals. But, as I was sitting there, looking at the Eagles eating and being safe…it didn’t seem like such a terrible place to be if you were injured and could not be out in the wild.

      1. Linda Kontol says:

        I totally agree and I can’t wait to go to the zoo! The stellar eagle was amazing. I was surprised one was there so what a treat!
        See you here tomorrow!


    Oh Mary Ann, your trip to the zoo was superb! Thank you so much for commentary and pics. I live in Tasmania and am friends with Faye&Max from The Mainland around Melbourne who comments to you a lot. We all read your blogs daily. We follow most of the nests you follow and of course, have picked up others you have mentioned. I’ve even fallen in love with your garden critters. I was in awe of the Stellar Eagle. I followed his/her trip from Alaska area to the east coast and held my breath as ppl seemed to try to get too close. I’m not a friend of owls but the Snowy Owl is absolute beautiful. Reason I’m not fond of owls is because they cause Harriet and M15, SWFL, so much stress by dive bombing them off their roosts. Isn’t it amazing how quickly that couple has rebuilt their nest and how beautiful it is. And I was so rapt that Lena’s nest was able to be re-elected. I was in tears during the hurricane. I have so much admiration for SWFL Eagles, how they instinctively know how to rebuild the nest, which sticks (and logs) to bring in and how and where to place them. And the antics they get up to, they bring tears to my eyes laughing. I’m so in love with all our birds, raptors, storks and others. Have you ever looked at The Pond in the refuge centre in the Czech Republic? The 2 resident storks had 2 babies this year and the antics of other resident critters, swans, herons, ducks, deer, make my heart fill with love. Sorry this is long, when I get on my soapbox about birds I can’t shut up. But I did want to thank you so very much for your blogs. I look forward to them every day. Thank you, thank you, thank you for loving birds so much and all the information you pass on through your links. Beverly Penney, an American USAF veteran expat living in Tassie. Isn’t life wonderful when we stop and watch nature!🐣🐥🐤🦅🐦🕊️🐿️🐇🦆🐧🐕👣👀 Stay warm!❄️

    1. Dear Beverly, It is so nice to hear from you again. Whenever I hear the word ‘Tasmania’, I think of you! And I am glad to hear that you enjoyed the visit to the Zoo. I realized that some day zoos might be the only place we get to see some of these beautiful creatures. It was really fun being there and, again, thank you for writing to let me know you enjoyed it, too. Harriet and M15 would win all the awards for getting their nest back in tip top shape if someone sat down and timed all the ones working. To start from nothing it is really quite amazing and like you said, they are both hilarious. Aren’t the birds such characters? I wonder if those that do not watch birds think that they are all alike? I have not looked at the pond in the refuge centre. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I will check on it tomorrow. — I went to see Snowy Owls in the country at the nature centre. They had been seen there and sadly I did find one, dead, in the pond. They were going to retrieve it to see what happened. I couldn’t believe it. Sort of put a damper on the day. I just wonder if a big hawk got it and then – for some reason – dropped it. Right in the water where I was! ..Thank you for writing in and hello to all of you.

Leave a Reply