Mourning Budgie, hungry eyases, and more in Bird World

15 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone.

It is Tuesday on the Canadian Prairies. It seems like the days have passed by so quickly – just a blur. One day it is Friday and in a blink, we find ourselves waking up to Tuesday. In part, I attribute this to the time difference between North America and Australia where all of the streaming cam action has been taking place these past three months. At any rate, I hope that you are well and I am so glad that you are here with me on this sunny day. It is only -6. Glorious! The Starlings are eating the suet and the lilacs are full of sparrows. Three grey squirrels have been running about this morning hoping that I will put out peanuts or a new seed cylinder for them. Soon!

Last week I received a letter from someone who had commented on one of the streaming cams and who had been admonished for putting human feelings on the birds. As you might recall, I am an ardent supporter of the research of scientists such as Dr Marc Bekoff at the University of Colorado and others such as Jane Goodall. I reassured my reader that, according to Dr Bekoff, it is currently acceptable within the science community, to anthropomorphise wildlife. Indeed, him and his colleagues do this all the time. I received so many letters in response to this question. It is reassuring that so many people, from every corner of our planet, understand that animals have emotions, that they feel pain, they experience joy and grief and fear. One reader shared the story of one member of her flock and how they grieved following the death of their mate. ‘J’ has given me permission to share the story of her budgie, Wolpe, with you. Thank you ‘J’. Here is a brief recount of how Wolpe mourned and how the death of her first mate changed her attitude towards life and love.

As a child, ‘J’ had a pet budgie that would sit on her shoulder when she was reading. It was her dream to have her own aviary ‘when she grew up’ and to share her life with these amazing birds.

The beautiful budgie below is Wolpe, one of 15 budgies that make up ‘J’s bird family. Each is a rescue that shares ‘J’s flat with her in Europe. In my City, we do not have budgies that look like Wolpe; they are all one colour. I find the colour patterns of Wolpe fascination but, I am disgressing from our story.

Wolpe and Peppi were long term mates. Peppi would preen Wolpe and give her all the love and care that he could. He also showed his affection by feeding his mate. Wolpe loved Peppi but did not reciprocate in showing her affection. She never preened Peppi – never ever – and she never fed him.

When Peppi died, Wolpe physically and mentally went into mourning. She “stood still on a branch for 10 days straight after her mate died last year. It was horrible to see.” She was not her usual self. She did not interact with any of the flock, or the enrichment toys nor was she actively engaged in shredding things – her favourite activity. It was totally clear that she was grieving her lost mate.

At the same time that Wolpe was morning so was ‘J’. One of the hardest things that ‘J’ had to deal with was the fact that most people did not understand her grief. A common response was, “it’s only a bird.” For ‘J’ each time one of her family passes, it “takes away a little piece of my heart.”

This is Wolpe with her mate, Peppi, before he died in 2021.

When Wolpe chose a new mate, it was Kobito. Kobito is also green just like Peppi. It was a huge surprise to ‘J’ that these two began their relationship as a couple. It mean huge changes in each of their behaviours.

For Wolpe, this meant that she became more physically caring for her mate. She now carefully goes through Kobitos head feathers, running each one through her beak cleaning it. She organizes the feathers on his head, something that a bird cannot do for themselves. Wolpe also feeds Kobito. It is as if she realized that she needed to be more tender and more caring. Kobito, on the other hand, always sat in front of the window looking ‘out’ He was isolated and distant as if he wanted to be somewhere else. Once he courted and won Wolpe, it seemed that he “actually turned in Peppi II!” Kobito began to socialize with the other birds; he became part of the flock and even became closer to ‘J’. It was like a 180 degree turn. He also spent much time preening and feeding Wolpe.

It seems as if Wolpe realized what she had lost when Peppi died. She missed that closeness of having a mate, of being able to show her love. She is making up for that now. Grieving can lead to introspection and changes and I hope that Wolpe and Kobito live long and happy lives together with ‘J’.

If you have an example of grieving feathered friend or raptor that you remember and would like to share or remind me, please send me an e-mail!


Indigo and Rubus learned how to sort out who was going to eat. Indigo was famished when she arrived back at the scrape on the 13th. Indigo spent Monday evening in the scrape.

As he calmed down, glad to be back in the scrape, and was fed, the frenzy to eat calmed. At one point Rubus and Indigo had a bit of a tussle over a prey item. They wound up sharing it! One ate off one end while the other was at the other.

Diamond flew in and fed both Indigo and Rubus.

Later, Xavier arrived with more prey and Xavier and Diamond each fed their youngsters.

Indigo was still working on the last prey delivery at 1824.

As the IR lighting was preparing to turn off, Rubus was in her favourite corner of the scrape while Indigo was sleeping on the ledge. It is so nice to have Indigo back in the scrape. We are always so anxious for the birds to fledge but it has to be difficult for them. Indigo is eating and resting. Rubus continues to lose dandelions. Soon they will look alike!

This morning it is only 4 degrees C in Orange.

‘A’ sent me a thorough recap of the happenings at Orange. Thanks, ‘A’.

RECAP: prey at: 5.43.29 Xavier with prey, Indigo takes; 6.03.43 Xavier with prey, Indigo takes; 6.05.25 D w/StubQuail, feeds Rubus; 9.41.51 X w/?juv BFCS (black-faced cuckoo shrike), Rubus takes; 12 57 55 X with star, leaves it, Indigo claims; 13.06.50 X w/star, Rubus takes; 13 12 07 D w/prey, Indigo takes; 14:19:22 X w/pardalote; 16:46:15 prey, 18.06.46 X prey; 19:42:29 D retrieves nestovers from near Cilla Stones and takes them into the centre of the scrape and starts eating herself; 19:43:33 Diamond feeds Indigo. 

The lack of fish continues to plague Port Lincoln. Two fish came in yesterday both brought by Dad. The times were 0836 and 1707. In both occasions, Mum took the fish and flew off to eat a portion. She returned and Zoe got the tail in the morning but nothing in the evening. Mum is obviously desperately hungry. We know that she often fed the osplets to her own detriment. I am glad that she has some food but, what is really going on at Port Lincoln. Is Dad unwell? is there a lack of fish? Dad is notorious for bringing in a historic average of 7 fish per day.

It is 11 degrees this morning at Port Lincoln.

I really hope that more fish arrive on the nest today. We have one big healthy osplet getting near to fledge and a Mum who was desperate for food yesterday. Send this nest your good wishes, please.

‘A’ reminded me that we now also have a true name for the ‘Z’ in our list of birds: Zoe will now take that spot.

As you are probably aware, the camera at 367 Collins Street is no longer streaming. ‘H’ reports that the camera had a technical issue and then with the death of the fledgling, Victor Hurley asked Mirvac to leave the camera off until next season.

‘H’ reports that the injured fledgling was euthanized on 15 November, yesterday. Having hit a window or a wall, the beautiful fledgling suffered a broken spinal column. The clinic determined that the injured bird was a female. Oh, how sad. It is a reminder that live for urban raptors is very challenging. Thanks, ‘H’.

‘A’ sent the following description, comparing Orange and Melbourne. I hope she does not mind that I share it with you as I thought it was particularly appropriate after the death of that healthy eyas. The parents can provide them with prey, teach them to hunt but they cannot protect them in the environment into which they fledge. I wish they could! ‘A” writes: The Orange eyases fledge into a relatively sheltered, semi-private area, a bit like the eaglets at SWFL eagles, whereas the poor Collins Street chicks fledge into an urban jungle filled with concrete and glass and difficult wind currents and gusts (for example, at every cross street, the bird flying down a city street would be hit by a strong wind gust from one side or the other, rushing down the cross street). I am sure you know what I mean about the wind tunnel effect through those walls of massive skyscrapers in modern-day CBDs. It may be a safe scrape but the environment into which they fledge is very dangerous. 

The last to fledge, dubbed Peanut by ‘H’ – and a very fitting name at that – fledged at approximately 0712 on the 15th, yesterday morning.

Send your very best wishes out to this family – may they all soar high, have full crops, remain safe in an area full of prey but also high buildings with deadly wind currents. We will look forward to seeing Mum and Dad 2022 again next year! Thank you to Mirvac and Victor Hurley for allowing us the privilege to watch these incredible falcons. There is rain in the forecast today in Melbourne and it is cool, 7 degrees C.

Making News:

Cornell reports that it was one of their best Bird Count Octobers ever! Excellent news. So many people participated around the world.

Migration:

There will be no news of Kaia and Karl II til spring it seems.

Bonus remains “near Başkaraören, in the Seydişehir district, Konya province in Turkey. He stayed mainly on the north side of the Beysehir Channel.”

There must be really good fishing there for our fledgling Black Stork.

Waba is still in the Sudan. He has also found a very good area to fish.

The Looduskalender Forum indicates with the rainy season this area would be much greener now than in the satellite view that they have of the region.

It is wonderful to know that these two fledglings will do well. Remember that migration is driven by food availability and these two, Bonus and Waba, seem to have found good feeding grounds for now. I wonder if they will try to stay where they are for the winter?

Thank you so much for being with me today. I will resume The Red List of vulnerable birds tomorrow! Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their pictures, posts, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures: thanks ‘A’ and ‘H’ for the Australian reports, thanks ‘J’ for sharing Wolpe’s story with us, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Cornell Bird Labs, Google Maps, and Looduskalender Forum.

4 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thanks Mary Ann for the updates. I’m so sad to hear that the fledgling had to be euthanized due to the spinal column. May she Rest In Peace 🙏
    I really enjoyed the story about the Budgies. My daughter always had them for years and they were all so special and beautiful colors. And yes they indeed do have feelings and emotions. ❤️
    I pray that Dad is ok at Port Lincoln. Poor Mom indeed must have been so hungry.
    I hope more fish are delivered today. 🙏
    Thank you for the updates and your garden news and all the photos too Mary Ann! Have a good day and hope to see you here again soon!
    Linda

    1. I am so thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the budgies, Linda. I have met so many people now that have them. I had no idea! It is incredible. Yes, it is so sad that the wee one at Melbourne was so badly injured. Such a shame. So young and strong. And I honestly do not know what to think about Dad. He did deliver up one big fish last night. Mum didn’t share. He must be desperately hungry, too.

  2. Raj says:

    My pet budgie daisy was best friends with blue both inseparable loving each other always side by side. One day daisy died. I held daisy in my palm and blue was distressed and loudly screeched when daisy died. Blue was very quiet not eating or playing. After we got another budgie sky they are still fine but blue only loved daisy and will meet her again one day in heaven.

    1. Oh, thank you , Raj for sharing your story about Daisy and Blue. The Budgies I am meeting show us so much about bird behaviour and attachments. Lovely to hear from you.

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