Falcons and Football…and more in Bird World for Tuesday

22 November 2022

Good Morning to Everyone!

It has warmed up on the Canadian Prairies – and because of that the heating is not on as much and it is damp and cold. Believe me, we always grumble about the weather. It is to be 0 degrees C today! It will cause things to melt a bit and get all slushy – there is nothing worse than chills to the bone. It will be a good day to go to the pond and see if there are any of those Wood Ducks still hanging about. Images (sadly I do not have permission to share them – yet) have been coming in that are showing 50 or 60 Bald Eagles just south of our City in the trees alongside the Snowy Owls. It is quite incredible.

In the Mail:

There are times when we just need something to put a smile on our face. When I lived in Norman Oklahoma and went to the University of Oklahoma, it was impossible not to be an OU Sooners Football Fan. I can still smell the damp leaves in the fall covering the sidewalks on the way to the stadium. When ‘B’ found out about this, he sent me the most fabulous image. As we all remember – too well – there was a time in 2020 and 2021 when large gatherings of people were forbidden due to Covid. One of those was, of course, the popular football games in the US. So, the University of California at Berkeley, put up cardboard cut outs of viewers. Guess who got the prime seat? Look!

That is fabulous. Our own Grinnell. Alden is wonderful but there was just something about Grinnell that made him ever so special. It is hard to lose them.

Thank you ‘B’.

The other day Annie and Alden attended all the celebrations for the latest football game at Berkeley when the Cal Golden Bears beat the Stanford Cardinals 27-20. Our adorable Peregrine Falcon couple went up to the ledge, spent some time there recuperating (was it 3 hours?). ‘H’ sent me a link to the video of them sitting and leaving together that she made for us to enjoy. Thank you ‘H’.

Making News:

There is news coming in about the streaming cams and nests on Captiva Island -the Bald Eagle nest of Connie and Clive and the Osprey nest of Andy and Lena.

The Dfyi Osprey Project in Wales is reporting that there are two beautiful Red Kites on the Dyfi Osprey nest of Idris and Telyn. Aren’t they ever so beautiful? Just look at that plumage. I don’t know about you but I am simply mystified at how beautiful these raptors are – the falcons, the kites, the kestrels, the Merlins, and the Harriers. You can take the same colours and shake them up and each one is slightly different than the other. I have to admit that the Red Kites are quite stunning with those icy blue heads and amber eyes, bright chrome-yellow cere and short hooked beaks with its black tip. The terracotta or rusty sort of Corten Steel colour of the tails (reminiscent of the Red-tail Hawk) set against the dark chocolate trimmed with white is outstanding.

You can check on all the birds that use this nest by going to dyfiospreyproject.com

There is no rest for Dr Peter Sharpe of the Institute for Wildlife Studies. Those who watched the Channel Island’s Bald Eagle nests will remember Dr Sharpe climbing up to rescue Lancer at Two Harbours, getting a chick of the cliff at the West End, and going in and taking Victor to the Ojai Raptor Centre last season. He is now busy working on the cameras. Here is the announcement from the IWS.

Everyone is getting ready for the Bald Eagle breeding season. Speaking of that, Samson and Gabby were caught mating on the nest today just like Harriet and M15 were a week or so ago. Eggs should be coming shortly. Will there be holiday eaglets?

Philippe Josse reports that progress is certainly being made on the Notre Dame Eagles nest – the natal nest of dearest Little Bit ND17. Please join the FB group Notre Dame Eagles for up to date information on this family.

Terry Carman is keeping track of the Bald Eagle eggs on the streaming cam. Here is the latest report — and all bets are on Harriet and M15 having their first egg today at SWFlorida! If you are looking to track Bald Eagle laying, please head over to this great FB group. There you will always have the latest information.

Checking on the Australian Nests:

Zoe is 66 days old today. She could fledge at any time. She is doing some good hovering and has nailed stealing the fish when Dad brings it to the nest! And you know what? She is gorgeous. When the wind whips her crest up it accents those focused piercing eyes and that very sharp hooked black beak. The dark black eye line just makes her that more gorgeous.

The winds are at 26 kph right now. Gusty for our girl. I hope she does not get swept up when she is practising her hovering. Zoe is getting better each day at that hover but, still. We saw what wind gusts can do with Rufus. I prefer that they take off on their own!

In Orange, Xavier and Diamond seem to be having prey drops with Indigo. She is really doing well!

Look carefully over at the trees!

Yesterday Shines found Rubus on the ground next to the road and put the little fella back up in the Waddle Tree.

I have to admit that I am a wee bit worried about Rubus and that is only because there have been no reports of any feedings. That is not to say they have no occurred. Diamond and Xavier are cracker parents and I think they are decidedly trying to lure Rubus back up to the scrape. It is possible that he does not feel confident to fly. Has anyone seen Rubus flying since he fledged/fledged?

Some more photos of Rubus higher in the Wattle Tree.

Every once in awhile one of the parents goes up to the scrape. I think they are really trying to lure Rubus back into the box.

Xavier is keeping an eye over everything happening with his two fledglings from the ledge of the box.

At 1540 Indigo comes up to the scrape box prey calling, very loudly, and Xavier immediately takes off. Indigo stays in the scrape looking for prey amongst the feathers. Will Xavier return with something from the storage vault?

Indigo spent the night in the scrape box last evening.

I urge you to check out the wonderful website that has gone up at Orange. Cilla Kinross and her great team have put together cracker content and you can get up to date information on our falcon family there with their photographs.

That link is: falcon cam.csu.edu.au

No 12 The Red List: The Merlin

Merlin Falcon” by minds-eye is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Oh, it is hard to imagine that this lovely little raptor is on the vulnerable list in the UK. But, if it is happening there, it is possible that there are declining population numbers elsewhere. Ruth Tingay, writing in Red Sixty Seven, describes the birds as feisty and dashing with their “rapid fire kek, kek, kek, kek, kek” that demands everyone’s attention. Tingay first saw Merlins in the wilds of the Hebrides, those remote islands off the west coast of Scotland. She then saw them again in an urban setting in Idaho and said she was shocked because she always associated them with great open spaces.

Look at the colour of the plumage! They are smaller than a Peregrine Falcon measuring at most 30 cm or 12 inches in length or the Red Kits who grow to approximately twice their size. The male Merlin has dark steel blue grey upper wings, tail and top of the head. The underwing – the primaries and the secondaries are the same dark grey barred with a lighter grey. There is a fine white eye line, magnificent rusty-orange with dark chocolate barring on the underneath, on the legs and the upper part of the wing. The deepest dark 70% cocoa eyes, a white beard and throat. The beak has a black tip fading into that grey blue and a yellow cere. The legs are chrome-yellow with deep black talons.

Merlins are described as “our smallest falcon, male smaller than the female, not much bigger than a Blackbird.” They live on the moors and open fields where they breed but travel to the south and the coasts of the UK for their wintering grounds. Here is their map.

Seriously adorable but, in the sky and hunting, they are formidable for the smaller birds.

Falcon” by Terry Kearney is marked with CC0 1.0.

The Merlin was a popular hawk of Mary Queen of Scots and became known as the Queen’s Falcon or Lady’s Hawks. Royalty and women of the aristocracy would use them to hunt Sky Larks. They are a fierce hunter capturing their prey from the air, high up meaning that they have to have a very calculated effort. They normally hunt small to medium sized birds bit have been known to take pigeons, ducks, and even plover.

Sadly, they are quickly losing their habitat, pesticides and secondary poisoning, and of course the shooting by the keepers of the estates where Red Grouse hunting takes place. Other causes of death are collision and cat predation. There are many other threats. Corvids, such as Crows and Jays, will eat the eggs and the nestlings if they find them and, indeed, Merlins do not build their own nest but reuse the nests of others including Crows. Larger Raptors such as Peregrine Falcons, Great Horned Owls, and even Goshawks are a threat but all others tend to steer clear of this small falcon because of its aggressiveness.

Climate change will impact this small spirited hawk. Audubon has set up a programme to try and predict the changes to its breeding habitat. As you can see they will be pushed further north to where it is cooler. With the polar ice melting and the seas warming, I wonder how long it will be cooler in the north?

Some new books have arrived and I will be anxious to tell you about them as I work my way through. For now I am trying to scout out all the birding sites on the island of Grenada in the West Indies so that I can – hopefully – send you some images of birds that are either old friends or new ones. My son will probably never invite me again! He gets another location or two each day – . I was told tonight to bring my gum boots and lots of mosquito repellent. So for dear ‘L’ who was worried that the newsletter might stop while I am away, ‘no’ it will not. You are all going on my birding adventure with me!

Thank you so much for being here today. It is so nice to have you with us. Please take care of yourself – and I will see you soon!

Thank you to the following for their letters, their posts, their videos, and their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘B’ so grateful for that image of Grinnell, ‘H’ for her great videos, Captiva Island Eagles and Ospreys FB, Dyfi Osprey Project FB, IWS, Notre Dame Eagles, Bald Eagles Live Nest Cams and News, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, the Falcon Cam Blog, Open Verse, and Audubon.org.

4 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Good morning Mary Ann and thank you for all the updates. I pray little Rubus will eat or get fed some way. Can he be put near the scape so the parents will see him? Indigo is doing fine and I was hoping little Rubus would also learn from Indigo and fly up to the scape. He must be very hungry. I pray they will get him if they find him again on the ground and get him so rehab to build him up some before releasing him again. It’s my opinion that he needs this as he wasn’t really ready to fledge when he fludged.
    Prayers for him 🙏❤️
    Zoe is so big now just like her parents and with all the hovering may fledge soon. Wishing her the best when she does
    Looking forward to the photos when you get the ok to post them. Thanks for Al the photos here and the info on the Merlin’s and Red Kites(so pretty) and the falcons. I really enjoyed the cardboard photo of Grinnel.! That was awesome to see and really enjoyable to see Alden and Annie there watching the game too!❤️❤️
    Have a great Tuesday and stay warm while looking for the ducks. Looking forward to seeing you here again soon.
    Linda
    Linda

    1. Oh, thank you for your comments, Linda. I am always so delighted to bring good news and wasn’t that cut out of Grinnell at the football game just something else! I wish every university took their resident birds to heart as much as Berkeley does with those falcons! No ducks. It was a sunny wet soppy day and I was for sure there might be one or two but, none. They could be at another pond. Take care. Your thanksgiving is coming up soon…I am very thankful, Linda, to have met you.

  2. Thank you as always for your thorough reporting, Mary Ann – and all the great links and photos. I’ve been having the exact same worries about Rubus. Hope there’ll be some good reports on him soon. The main thing is that he is getting something to eat! Crossing fingers…🤞

    I’m so happy to hear you’ll be continuing your blog while visiting your son! 😊

    1. Yes, the relief at seeing Rubus being fed was felt around the world. A worry off our shoulders. Xavier and Diamond are doing good taking turns with the kids. It appears that Xavier has some charge of Rubus while Indigo is working with Diamond. Amazing.

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