Early Friday in Bird World

11 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone!

The sky is gradually turning blue and there are 57 European Starlings in the trees and 49 Old World Sparrows. Two Blue Jays have also already been to the feeders. There is so much snow. It was blowing and coming down hard around midnight and in certain places in the garden it is more than a foot deep. Winter has set in.

In the Mailbox:

Oh, I get the most marvelous mail but today ‘A’ reminded me of a very poignant moment last year. The 4th eyas at 367 Collins was dying. The entire family – including the siblings that had fledged – returned to the ledge to spend the night and keep the wee one warm as it passed. So, yes, the Collins Street falcons can fly back up to that ledge! Thanks, ‘A’. I remember that moment well. It is one of the finest examples of caring and grieving in Bird World. Do you remember?

I also received a fantastic letter from ‘K’ that reminds us of just how one single invention from an Ornithologist at Cornell saved the Peregrine Falcon population after its demise because of DDT. Do any of you know what that invention was? Think about it! I will bring it in to tomorrow’s newsletter.

Australian Nests:

Friday has been a very eventful day in the Australian nests and it kicked off with Indigo’s fledge at 0700:34. My goodness what a beautiful flight and it appears that Diamond and Xavier kept a good eye on Indigo and may have just delivered a nice piece of prey to her in the trees – prey that Rubus thought might have been coming to him!

Off she goes. Rubus did not notice – too busy eating his breakfast.

An adult almost immediately comes into the scrape and feeds Rubus. This is a great strategy. Rubus is no where near fledging. Keep him full, keep him in the scrape. No premature fledging.

Oh, Rubus is clearly starting to look like a little falcon. Look at those eyes. Rubus stayed facing the camera when Xavier came in with the prey. Having no screaming Rubus, Xavier immediately departs with food and flies down into the trees where Indigo is.

Sleeping standing up. Notice the beautiful barring coming on Rubus’s chest.

​Moderators RECAP: 06:42:35 X w/prey, Indigo takes; 07:00:33 Indigo fledges; 07:00:38 D follows Indigo; 07:01:33 D feeds leftovers; 07:25:43 juv star, X feeds; 09 26 07 D feeds scrap; 10:10:51 D w/prey, feeds…12:44:00 D with prey, Rubus takes; 15:54:13 X with prey, Rubus takes; 18:48:54 D with prey, Rubus takes.

There is a storm forecast for Orange on Sunday. Let us all keep positive thoughts flowing to Indigo. It will be day 3 after fledge.

When the excitement of the fledge at Orange had settled a wee bit, it was time for Melbourne and, much to the delight of everyone, a gentleman who has a view of the ledge from his bathroom actually filmed one of the eyases fledging this morning! Brilliant. It was quickly removed from the FB page but, the more than 500 viewers who saw it knew that there were no only 3 or, perhaps, 2 left on the ledge of 367 Collins Street. Two could be seen clearly. IF one was in the gutter, flat, loafing, then maybe three were left but, it is probably save to say that two have fledged in Melbourne.

For all the fledges may you always be safe, maybe your crop always be full, and may you feel the wind beneath your wings for decades.

At Port Lincoln it is a question of ‘where is the fish’. The water around the barge is a little choppy. A fish came on the nest at 0835 and Mum, thankfully, ate her fill. She gave some bites to Big. Dad has not been up to his usual standards in terms of delivery numbers. Did the storm stir up the sediment and is the visibility poor for fishing? is it the choppy water? is Dad not feeling well. I noticed the other day when they did a close up of Dad’s talons that he had a lesion on one of them. All of know that he was unwell when eggs were being incubated. Let us hope that this is just passing and that all will be back to normal at Port Lincoln. This family has faced enough challenges this season. Big is not scheduled to fledge for at least another 8-10 days at least.

Ah, a fish has come in. Mum caught it and is eating her good share before taking it over to Big who is fish calling on the nest. Hold your horses Big – the order is: territory protected, parents fed, offspring fed.

And, if you are wondering, yes, this is Mum. She has gone out and caught the fish. Dad left earlier and has not returned. She is sure going to eat her share before she hands it off to Big. Just do a drop and dash – Big needs to self feed! Gosh. It has been 15 minutes. Wonder if Mum will eat the entire fish?

At 1509 Mum flew to the nest with the fish to feed Big. So far she has kept control of the fish and is feeding. Maybe she will eat some more herself.

Gosh, that fish is tough to get the flesh off. Mum is really working at it giving Big a few bites and some that she could eat on her own.

Mum is feeding slowly and she is eating fish, too. At 1546 Dad flies in with a headless fish to the nest. Mum is in the background eating fish as fast as she can. Big and her will have enough fish for today. Let us hope that Dad had a good portion, too. It is so nice to see Dad. He was gone for awhile. I hope he was out fishing with Ervie in those choppy waters.

Mum in the back eating the rest of her fish as fast as she can. Dad’s is not big. He could have just eaten it but, he doesn’t. He leaves his small offering for Big and Mum. Thanks, Dad! I do hope you ate. Big has a crop and is fine.

Port Lincoln has said there will be no banding on Saturday. So, perhaps, the banding will take place on Sunday or Monday.

Mum went over to cover her only surviving osplet when the rain started. What an amazing parent she is! Little Dad is down in the shed. Let us hope that these two are alright. Everyone was so worried about Dad yesterday. He was away for so long.

Right now it is pitching down rain at Port Lincoln. The forecast I am seeing so a high chance of rain all morning at Port Lincoln.

Number 4. The Red List: The Cirl Bunting

Cirl Bunting – Sardinia – Italy_S4E1978” by fveronesi1 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

In some countries, birds are of least concern while, in others, they are vulnerable and, in the case of the Cirl Bunting, on the Red List in the UK. It is of LC in the United States.

This lovely little bird is a relative of the Yellowhammer. Just pause for a moment and look at the image above. How would you describe it? First, it is difficult to understand the size of the bird without any reference. Normally they are approximately 15 cm or 6 inches in length. During the breeding season, the males have a distinctive black chin. Below is a drawing of a male and female. In this you can get a better feel for how the male should look with its two yellow eye lines, black chin and crown, yellow line at the neck with a grey-olive collar and yellow underbelly. The female is much more striated with a vertically barred chest and a touch of the same olive-grey at the top of the wing. They are lovely little birds.

Cirl Bunting” by Wildreturn is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

So why are the Cirl Buntings under threat of extinction? Farming practices is the main issue. The bird was once common all across the southern half of the United Kingdom. In the 20th century their population numbers began to spiral downwards when farming practices switched from spring sown cereal crops to autumn sown. Habitat intrusion and the use of pesticides also impacted the population numbers.

The RSPB worked with farmers in south Devon to switch back to traditional farming practices. The result was an increase in the numbers of Cirl Bunting along the cost. What had once been only 118 pairs in 1989 became 1000 pairs in 2016. This is fantastic news and all it meant was a return to the traditional sowing practices of farmers, the growth of shrubs and hedges, etc. Here is an excellent article from a farming on line journal that speaks to the challenges and what can be done for the Cirl Bunting to save it. Think rewilding!

There is still cause for concern. Farmers across the rest of the UK and elsewhere need to heed the use of pesticides and they need to pay particular attention to how their cycle impacts wildlife. The decline could lead to extinction just as quickly as the population numbers climbed over the past 30 years.

Other Nests:

I am so grateful to ‘B’ for alerting me to Indigo’s fledge but he also sent me a note telling me that Samson and Gabby were in their nest as Tropical Storm Nicole plummeted the area near Jacksonville. Well done you two. Riding out the storm together like Harriet and M15.

Jackie and Shadow are another power couple. They have really worked on this nest and they sure didn’t want a storm to take it away!

B’ wrote me first thing to say that both Gabby and Samson are fine and so is SWFlorida. Nicole has now passed through them. Fantastic.

Samson and Gabby

Sunrise over Samson and Gabby’s nest near Jacksonville, Florida.

Everything looks intact at the NEFlorida Nest. Maybe we need to get the Eagles to be our designers. These nests are amazingly strong.

Harriet and M15 have both been seen at SWFlorida and this looks like Harriet aerating that nest getting it ready for those precious eggs.

As Nicole moves out of Florida, there is sunshine on the nest of Harriet and M15. It is so good to see that they are fine and so are Samson and Gabby. The camera is still offline at Big Bear. It could have been damaged during the storm but, let’s all hope that it wasn’t.

Thank you so very much for being with me this morning. It is time for me to do some shoveling and fill the feeders! The Starlings are waiting for their Butter Bark. Take care of yourselves. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and posts that make up the screen captures in my post: Farm Life, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, NEFL-AEF, and SWFL and D Pritchett Family.

1 Comment

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for these photos and updates. Today is Veterans Day here with many celebrations. The little cirl buntings look so cute. I hope they continue to come back 🙏
    Good luck and best wishes to the eyases that have fledged. So glad little Rubus is eating good 💕and prayers for beautiful indigo to be ok during the rains headed there. If he/she stays close in the nearby trees mom and Dad will be able to protect and feed. 🙏❤️
    Prayers for Dad at Port Lincoln 🙏❤️
    HopeFully he is fishing with Ervie and all is going ok for him.
    Thanks Mary Ann we look forward to the newsletter soon ! Take care and stay warm. The snow is very pretty.
    Linda

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