22 December 2022
Good Morning Everyone,
It is still freezing. The last time I checked it was -26 degrees C. The furnace is working over time. But I am out of the parking pad and someone is coming to clear all of the snow so I won’t get stuck in there next time there is a blizzard. Tomorrow is the day to make sure that the birdseed and the cat food are topped up so that there is plenty to take all of the garden friends along with Missy and Lewis into the new year. I do not know about you but, I dislike crowds immensely, hate malls even more, and hope to get out and home before many wake up in the morning. Fingers crossed.
It is the day after the Winter solstice. A long time friend sent this to me and I want to share it with you – even if it is a day late.
A Winter Solstice Blessing
May you find peace in the promise of the solstice night, that each day forward is blessed with more light, that the cycle of nature, unbroken and true, brings faith to your soul and well-being to you. Rejoice in the darkness, in the silence find rest and may the days that follow be abundantly blessed. (Source unknown)
Bird World has gotten very quiet for the past few days. The only action that is happening is at the nests of Gabby and Ron where there remains some question as to which of the visitors each of them might choose. SuperBeaks is just steady as you go. This nest will go on my must watch list of eagle nests for next year.
Now at Northeast Florida. Too many visitors to follow. Too many discussions over who is who or if one is old enough to mate, etc. There is plenty of evidence for 4 year olds fathering healthy chicks including Harry at the MN-DNR nest in 2021 and again in 2022 before he disappeared. Is it possible Gabby might not have a mate this year? Of course it is. We should sit back and relax. It is a learning opportunity.
The camera has been down. There is another camera that the AEF have access to while the cameras we use to see the nest are down. Well done Gabby and V9. I gather they are friendly and working on the nest. Great news. Now if he can prove that he can keep intruders away, bring fish, and be truly a grand mate for Gabby — well, there could be little eaglets popping their heads up at this nest in the new year. Hopeful.
There is news of Rita requiring a little more removal of the wing. It is not clear if this is the tip that was removed several days ago or a new surgery. I am trying to clarify. It is certain that she will not fly again and they are looking for a permanent home for her. And this brings me to a problem that we all must consider every time we want a bird to be an ambassador or an educational bird —— they must have a place to go. That place has to have funds to feed and care for the wildlife they have. Many places are just over run with raptors and other birds. So when you consider making donations, please do keep this in mind. The costs involved are high and almost without exception these facilities work on a shoe string through the generosity of volunteers and donations.
Meanwhile Ron seems not to have settled on a new mate yet and appears to not like at least one of the females coming around.
In San Jose at the City Hall, Sequoia, the son of Grinnell and Annie, is calling his mate! This is just so wonderful. While it never makes up for losing birds, it is sure nice to see ones that we have watched from hatch to fledge begin their own families.
For those of you that love Peregrine Falcons and want to know more, here is a hefty book that has come out. Mark Avery wrote a good review in his recent monthly blog and this is part of his report, “This is a monumental book about what is regarded as the fastest animal on the planet (or flying over it). At over 500 pages, and amply and attractively illustrated, this is a tribute to and reference source about a marvellous bird. The brilliance of this bird is well captured in many of the photographs but the text is full of information about Peregrines from everywhere in the world where they occur. Chapters cover falcons in general, an introduction to this species, flight, diet, breeding behaviours and characteristics, movements, friends and foes and population numbers and trends. It feels like an encyclopedic coverage and the book is packed with information, but information delivered in a very palatable form.”
Speaking of falcons, Indigo is still being fed, still hiding food in the scrape and having Mum, Diamond, take it! Indigo has also started something unusual. Bringing grass into the scrape box! Goodness.
The SuperBeaks nest is wonderful. I am so glad that several readers asked me about them. I have had several giggles. While we have been frustrated not being able to see the eaglets, ‘S’ admits that we are getting a reprieve from worrying about them, too. We aren’t sitting and counting the bites this one or that one gets. We just sit and watch PePe bring in large fish and Muhlady feed the bobbleheads. We cannot even seen any beaking! It is actually quite nice. By the time we can see them clearly all of that will have passed!
There is a wee little head showing in the top image.
Both Pepe and Muhlady are on the nest vocalising.
Have not seen Jackie or Shadow at the Big Bear nest today but, there were a couple of Crows (or are they Ravens – difficult to tell) visiting trying to find any leftover bits of fish. Jackie and Shadow were there on Tuesday working away.
Here is a very short compilation for the winter solstice with recent images of the eagles at Big Bear – our adorable Jackie and Shadow.
The GHOs have been after M15 at the SWFlorida nest again – and, of course, since their nest is on the same property, we can expect an increase in this behaviour. Do the Eagles bothered the owls? Probably not. Maybe they should!
Cornell has put out its season highlights from the Royal Cam nest at Tiaroa Head. It opens with OGK doing a sky call – so get the tissue box. What a grand mate and dad he was. Last seen in mid-May (19 May I am told). We will forever miss him as will his long time mate, YRK, who will, perhaps, find another mate and raise more chicks. We will have to wait and see. And it could be a very long wait.
I know that many of you have wondered what happened to Mahlala, the Red tail hawk raised by the eagles on Gabriola Island. Their eaglet Junior, you will remember, was electrocuted on a power pole. I found this announcement today re their FB presence: “UPDATE: 12 20 22 GROWLS Eagle Nest Cam (Gabriola Rescue Of Wildlife Society). This FB Group is temporarily paused for 168 days. An admin paused this group on July 30, 2022. Group activity will resume on January 15, 2023 at 3:00 AM“.
No one knows why the FB was abruptly paused.
As for Mahlala, there are a large number of Red-tail Hawks in the general area. She was not banded so it would be difficult to tell her apart from any other unless you had clear identifying features which we don’t because the camera images were not clear. Did she return to the nest? Maybe GROWLS will tell us when they come back to life!
I posted an image of L4 that was taken during the Ferris Akel Tour last Saturday. Here are other images from this morning’s Cornell Hawks Twitter feed. It is nice to see the juvenile still doing so very well. That is a nice crop – and still in Mum and Dad’s territory without problem.
No. 21 The Red List. The Woodcock
Oh, look at that image. The eyes set way back on their head allow them to see predators when they have their long beak thrust into the ground hunting for food. They have short legs and are rather ’round’ compared to other birds.
Males perform a remarkable ‘sky dance’ on spring and summer nights, in a high, twisting flight, with chippering, twittering, bubbling sounds. These sky dances attract the females who will mate with one of the males. The males – like Daisy the Duck’s mate – take no part in the care of the eggs or the hatchlings!
Audubon Society says, “Downy young leave nest a few hours after hatching. Female tends young and feeds them. After a few days, young may begin probing in soil, learning to search for food. Young can make short flights at age 2 weeks, fly fairly well at 3 weeks, independent at about 5 weeks.” So not like ducklings or goslings that are precocial – able to care for themselves after 24 hours of hatching.
There are Woodcocks that are resident in the UK and there are others, several hundreds of thousands, that fly from Finland and Russia – a distance of some 3000 km, to over winter in the UK. They arrive during the first week in November. They like damp woodland where they nest in a feathered scrape on the ground. There are stories of the Woodcock carrying their chicks between their legs and body in their feet if danger should arrive. There are also stories of them carrying a stick in their mouth when they fly over the ocean to the UK so if they tire during their flight they have some wood to land on in the ocean.
Many feed at night thrusting their long beak probing around in the soil – their heads go up and down so often they have been compared to ‘sewing machines’. They fine worms and Beatles and suck them up like spaghetti. Can you imagine? I would love to see one.
British writers such as Drayton, Shakespeare, and Milton used them as a metaphor for ‘foolish love’.
The threats for the Woodcock vary from geographical location. In the US, fires are burning up habitat, climate change is drying up the wetlands, spring heat waves are driving the chicks from the nest, and heavy rains are endangering the eggs and the nests altogether. In all areas, habitat loss is driving a decline in populations. In the UK, those threats also exist along with the legal hunting of the Woodcock which begins on 1 November despite their being on The Red List. Wild Justice has asked the government to change the date to 1 December to try and help protect during the breeding season!
Two recent short articles from The Guardian are quite good.
Thank you so very much for being with me today. Please take care of yourselves. See you soon!
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams, their notes, their posts, and videos that make up my screen captures: Cornell Hawks Twitter page, Superbeaks Bald Eagle Cam, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Mark Avery Book Reviews, San Jose City Hall, Openverse, NZ DOC and Cornell Bird Lab, FOBBV, San Jose City Hall, WRDC, and the NEFL-AEF.