Darling Rubus is dead…and other news in Bird World

Hello Everyone,

What a very sad morning it is.

It was 2100 Monday evening on the Canadian Prairies when I started this blog and the world looked so much better with the idea that our little lad could be flying around with his older brother, Indigo Now that hope has shattered. This morning I know that all of you are feeling the same hole in your life. What a lively character Rubus was — and what immense joy he gave us stretching his little neck to get food and running all over the scrape box screaming and staring into the camera. Oh, little one, you shall be missed.

I am so very glad to have the kittens and the garden animals this morning. The kittens are being as cute as they can be. Both of them spend lots of time looking out to the garden watching the squirrels, the birds, and Hedwig – the rabbit, who came to visit us today.

Our thoughts go out to Diamond and Xavier and to Indigo who must carry on now and to Cilla Kinross and everyone at Orange and to all those around the world who dared love this little bundle of fluff that was Rubus.

Our dear darling little lad. This morning we are all weeping for you.

The speculation as to which fledgling is which has ended at Orange. The body of dear little Rubus was found and it appears he died some time ago. Here is the announcement from Cilla Kinross:

“NEWS 29th November 2022 Bad news about Rubus. His body was found today by one of our medical staff (who also watch the livestream). Cause of death is unknown. I thought at first broken neck because of the angle, but it seemed intact. I have asked the vet for an autopsy, but she said that it is too far gone, so it looks like he died a few days after last seen on 23rd November. That’s a pity as I would like to have known whether it was caused by trichomoniasis (canker) as has been suggested by some watchers. We’ve never had a case here, but the parasite could be present in the local pigeon population and transferred in the prey.”

It is hard to take it all in. Liz M has put together a compilation of Rubus’s life for us.

I will be doing a tribute to Rubus in the coming days and will then add him to our ‘Wall of Remembrance’. So sad today as I know you all are.

I have hoped so much that there would be some good news at the nest of Gabby and Samson, of Annie and Alden, and of Ron and Rita. The only sure thing is that Zoe loves fish and will eat any and all that land on her nest.

Cal Falcons has ‘finally’ issued a statement about what is happening at The Campanile. Thankfully that news is not bad. We just have to wait.

As the sun set over The Hamlet, Gabby looked out over the trees. She has been hunting and has a huge crop. The male intruder appears not to be about but, Gabby has to be wondering where her mate is. What has happened to him?

I am so glad that Gabby has eaten well.

I was reminded, this evening, that Bella was injured. She had extensive injuries and was away from the NCTC nest that she shares with Smitty for three weeks before returning and booting an interested female off. Samson could return. That is my mantra. In fact, I received a note from ‘T’ and the blood on the side of Samson’s face was not an injury but, was from a Coot that he had eaten earlier. Thanks, ‘T’.

In Miami…

Rita, the Bald Eagle mate of Ron, at the Miami Zoo, was a celebrity before she was critically injured with a double compound fracture to her right wing on Sunday. She has been stabilized and operated on and what a lucky eagle she is – had she not been found so quickly and taken to care by the police who found her, she would have died. Maggots had already started growing. So sad.

A round of applause to everyone who helped this injured eagle. The next 48 hours will be crucial – send Rita all your best wishes. The surgery will not happen for another 2 or 3 days and then months and months of rehab before she could released, if she is released. Ron has been on the nest looking for her and just doesn’t understand what has gone on because she was picked up miles away from the nest.


Here is TV coverage of Rita and her injury with more details.

In California, Jackie was caught on camera — yes, the camera is back up and running after the storm thanks to everyone for that. It is so good to see you, Jackie.

In Florida, the GHOWs are striking at Harriet and M15 again.

Port Lincoln Ospreys:

I wonder if Zoe dreams about fish dinners?

Once Zoe spotted Dad away, she flew over by Mum and waited for him to return with ‘her’ breakfast.

Dad did not disappoint. He brought a nice little fish for Zoe.

And our Zoe made quick work of that little fish and was ready for more!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No. 17. The Red List. The Scaup

There are two Scaup. Dominic Couzens in his text for Red Sixty Seven, suggests that the one in the United Kingdom be called the Greater Scaup because there is a Lesser Scaup across the pond in America. The one in the United Kingdom actually resides in both the United Kingdom, Europe and the ‘New World’. That is why, Couzens argues it should be the ‘greater’.

The Scaup breed in the taiga and the Arctic Tundra in the spring. They return to the United Kingdom in the autumn where they will spend the winter. They are medium sized diving ducks – not dabblers. They dive deep searching for aquatic invertebrates and plants. They normally feed during the day but have been seen foraging at night if the water has been disturbed during the day by boats and human activity. Did you know that to catch the invertebrates, the Scaup stick their bill into the mud, snap it closed, and swim forward scooping it up. They have been known to dive to 7 metres!

Greater Scaup LMO 1” by THE Holy Hand Grenade! is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Look carefully at the Greater Scaup above with its magnificent green head, glowing yellow eye, white bill with the tell-tale black ‘V’ at the base. This marks them out from their American counterpart whose head is an iridescent purple, the black ‘V’ at the base of the bill is missing, and the head is less round. The Greater Scaup has a black neck and breast, white underparts, a dabbled grey and white wing and back, with black tail feathers.

The female is a beauty. Her head is black with that striking yellow eye. She has a white crescent between her bill and her eye. The breast is a lovely chestnut, the back and wings a mottled chestnut and white with a black tail.

Greater Scaup (Female)” by Rick Leche is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The Scaup make their nests on the ground where the eggs can easily be predated by foxes, dogs, The female lines her nest with the down from her breast. The nests are generally near the edge of the water in areas that are known not to flood. Generally between 8 and 13 eggs are laid.

Their main threat is human development, although they are preyed upon by owls, skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and humans.  But there are other threats as well including water pollution and climate change. Alarmingly they are also caught up as bycatch when trawlers are out looking for fish.

It has been a difficult last few days in Bird World. As a friend reminded me, “it would not hurt so much if we didn’t care so deeply.” Continue to care. The Birds need all of us and more. Continue to feel. Do not get numb to the challenges they face that cut their lives much more shorter than they should be. Send out your best wishes to Samson for a safe return to Gabby, to Rita so she will stabilize for her surgery, to Alden so he will return to Annie.

I am sorry this letter comes with nothing but sadness save for Zoe who is thriving which is a good thing. Raise a glass of something – juice, water, your favourite adult drink – to our little lad. Soar high little Rubus. Soar high. You were much loved.

Thank you for being with me this morning. Please take care. I hope to see you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts, their videos, and their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘H’ for the news bites about Rita, Envirobites, Port Lincoln Osprey, Openverse, Lady Hawk and SWFlorida Eagles and D Pritchett, NEFL-AEF, WRDC, Channel 10 News Miami, WFLA News, FOBBV, Cal Falcons, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam Project and Cilla Kinross, and Liz M for her tribute to Rubus.


  1. Geemeff says:

    Dear little Rubus – you blazed brightly during your short life… gone but not forgotten…

    1. Well, said, Geemeff. What an amazing character he was that stole all of our hearts.

  2. Linda Kontol says:

    Oh Mary Ann this is so very sad. I loved that little Rubus so much as did a lot of others too. May Rubus fly high and then Rest In Peace in Heaven. 🙏❤️ I was so afraid this would happen when he fledged too soon. Bless his little soul. 😢
    Prayers for Samson to return to Gabby and his natal nest soon🙏❤️
    Prayers for Alden to return or be seen and safe as he proved to be a great mate and father to the little ones this season
    After the death of Grinnel 🙏❤️
    Prayers for Rita that all goes well with her surgery on her wing and after she recovers will be returned to Ron and their nest. 🙏❤️
    Thank you Mary Ann for all the newsletter and for the kittens and Hedwig being there and ok.
    Have a good day and hope the next news will be a better one for all our loving birds we follow.

    1. Dear Linda, You are so welcome. I would just like so very much to be sending out some good news for a change not the sadness that seems to have come over Bird World. Continued prayers for all of them missing or in care. Ald;en was wonderful. There was a falcon on the Whirley Crane of Richmond and I looked at its feet ever so careful but it did not seem to be Alden. Sadly it is all we can do at the moment. Take care, Linda. Thank you so much for all your comments and for your caring.

    2. Alison says:

      You are absolutely right in everything you say, Linda. I am devastated by the loss of little Rubus. Even in such a safe environment, their first week or so post-fledge is obviously incredibly dangerous. And yes, we all feared Rubus had ‘fludged’ too soon. In hindsight, Shines simply should have realised that if all was well, he would not have been able to approach Rubus beside that road, let alone picked him up.

      Rita’s injury is so severe, her prognosis is very guarded indeed. It is amazing she wasn’t euthanised on the spot, but obviously the vets attending are very skilled and see some chance at success or they wouldn’t be putting the bird through the stress of a delicate operation (or operations).

      The outlook for Samson is dubious, but we must remain hopeful in the midst of all this tragedy. The same applies with Alden. And both Indigo and Zoe are doing wonderfully well. We must remember that both nests have successfully fledged a chick this year, and that is something to be celebrated. It would be nice to know the fate of the remaining three Collins St fledglings.

      1. Rita is out of surgery and standing up apparently. Great news indeed. I hope that Samson returns like Shadow. Fingers crossed…but Rubus. What a loss and yes, we really need to stop second guessing things and take the birds to care!

  3. B says:

    So sad to wake to the news of dear Rubus early today. Life is so hard in the wild and especially for the young starting out. Sympathies to all at Orange and to all who followed and loved him. Rubus will not be forgotten.

    Thanks for all the updates, Mary Ann. Glad that the intruders at NE FL and Berkeley have not been seen for a bit. Hang on, Gabby and Annie! And you, too, Ron — I trust that Rita will get the best care possible!

    1. Yes, it was a very sad morning. But our lives were and continue to be enriched by Xavier and Diamond and their feisty wonderful offspring. And, as you say, Rubus will not be forgotten, just like sweet little Yurruga. You are welcome for the updates…I am looking forward to when there is some good news for us and live in the hope that Samson returns, that Alden returns, and that Rita recovers to be returned to the wild. I cannot imagine,, for a second, what it must be like for the mates worrying …

  4. Lisa says:

    Breeding season and the competition from stronger, younger raptors on existing bonded couple’s is hard to watch. Nature demands that only the strongest prevail and leaves us grieving for those successful pairs that went before.
    The death of Rubas brings tears to my eyes. I silently watch this nest every season but my own opinion (and opinions are not fact) something seemed off with how he developed. I remember a nest several years ago that had one healthy and one physically ‘stunted’ osprey chick at lumbar yard crane nest. It was a genetic disorder, nothing to do with the nest….but the personality and fight in that little chick made the passing so much harder to bear. Rubus seemed different to me but unfortunately we will never know. Cilla Kinross is an amazing science based advocate for these raptors.

    1. Hi Lisa, It is nice to hear from you. I sure wish the circumstances were different. Your observations seem to be very correct in terms of Rubus. He was probably 10 days younger than Indigo (date egg was laid to hatch). I wish the wind had not pulled him out of the scrape OR that there was a clear protocol for all grounded raptors to go to care, get a check, get released if ready. But that is hindsight. I wish Cilla had that in her toolbox so it was just standard practice, no questions. It would help. I certainly admire her.

  5. Alison says:

    Harriet has laid her first egg at SWFL Eagles but she has also sustained an injury from the most recent GHO attack, the night before she laid. The injury is to her face and appears relatively superficial. Hopefully. But these GHO attacks are way too ferocious and way too frequent for comfort. This is going to be a stressful season for the eaglets with this predator so close and seemingly so confident. I hope Harriet and M15 recognise the danger – the ease with which sleeping eaglets could be snatched off the nest is really frightening.

    1. Yes, stressful. The GHOW nest is apparently 900 metres from Harriet and M15’s nest. So they have a stocked pond and relative safety on the Pritchett land. They want for nothing and now this bloody owl that comes every year!!!!!!!! In my neighbourhood we dislike the GHOW. It comes and eats everything. Usually 30 or 40 crows gather and usher it away.

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