A Goose Convention…Bird World for Wednesday

5 July 2023

Good Morning Everyone,

Tuesday required a walk in the park, and I am so glad I picked St Vital. The adult Canada Geese had brought all the goslings up from the Red River to the park to feed on new grass and rest. I have never seen so many goslings in one spot in my life!

There were more goslings and ducklings around the pond, but, it was only when I was in the car leaving, that I saw this group that excited me so much. There were literally hundreds of them. I slowed right down in sheer wonder at what I was seeing but, I did not stop to take a photograph. For fear of disturbing them and sending stress through the entire group, I continued on. Some were in the flower garden eating plants! There were also Wood Duck babies – I only saw the Mums – and Pintail babies along with Mallards and goslings. It was a grand morning.

Just to let you know, early counting at the park indicated a lower number than in previous years. The hundreds of goslings came from nests along and around the river and not the park but to my sheer joy, there were lots of babies hatched from nests on the island in the pond. Some are only a few days old; others are nearing six weeks. It certainly raised my level of joie.

At the beginning of the season, there were so many male Wood ducks and only a couple of females at this pond that it was curious. Now there is not a male Wood duck in sight. Are they on the island in the shade while the females are out on the pond with the wee ones foraging?

More ducklings, Mallards.

This gosling has its beautiful juvenile feathers coming in on its back as that soft natal down just seems to be peeling away and falling off. I was shocked at the size of this one who came right to 3 metres of me and my camera without any fear. Look at those huge muscular legs.

The ones in the image below are all starting to get their wing and tail feathers. Like the other one above you can see the back juvenile plumage already in place.

Weeding the flower beds?

Adults trying to herd the youngsters across the road so that they can all go back to the river.

The newly hatched. It is hard to believe but all of these will be ready for their migration flight which will take place from September to the end of October.

As is typical, I want to bring the sad news first so that we can end on a ‘high’ note. The Newfoundland Power nest brings me to tears. Things are much better at the MN Landscape Arboretum nest, but I will remain cautious. While ‘MP’ finds joy in the sparrows living in the nest under the Patchogue osplets, my joy is walking in the trees and listening to the birds. I am so grateful that I was out today, for when I returned, ‘T’ sent me news of the death in Finland – another siblicide at the Janakkalan nest and then the death of the last surviving falcon at the University of Montreal. Tomorrow, I expect to add #105, the other osplet from the Newfoundland nest unless Hope continues to feed it and it somehow frees itself from that mud. 105. We are only beginning July. ——- Still, we must rejoice in all the ones that survive and, of course, one of those is our own Little Mini from Patchogue.

Dad brings in a fish to Mum and the two surviving osplets at Janakkalan.

Hope continues to brood and feed the chick that is alive and stuck in the mud of the nest. This is beyond sad. Will the chick get strong to free itself? is it injured? Why doesn’t someone climb the ladder and help? Bring some grasses, assess the chick and then decide what to do. Even bring a fish or two! It could help and it sure wouldn’t hurt. A great big show of human empathy is what is needed here!!!!

The second chick at Newfoundland is free from the mud but, is dying. Two very healthy babies. Sad beyond belief. There has been no shortage of fish. I wonder what this male thinks when his chicks die year after year after year.

Dad looking down at his dying chick. Poor thing is crying and raising its head.

‘H’ reports that with even five fish delivered yesterday the first hatch or in this case also the Alpha chick on the Fortis Exshaw nest is continually beaking the little one – not just at meals, all the time. We are now watching this nest for siblicide.

At the Minnesota Arboretum nest, the Mum has tried to create a little nest…if the wind would cooperate and leave the grasses alone. She is also continuing to feed the chick who is right at the table when fish is brought in when it is hungry. Things are looking good here. But like the Newfoundland nest there is a lot of sticky gumbo and these couples need nesting materials.

Will this osplet chick grow up not knowing that a nest needs lots of bedding? Instinct? Observed and learned?

The single surviving osplet is entering the Reptile phase. Send positive wishes…we are not out of the woods until this one has a successful fledge and returns to the nest.

Just look at the Clark PUD nest in comparison. The two chicks are doing well. (I worry if there are rains that the Minnesota chick will also get stuck in mud.)

I no longer count the bites of fish Mini gets (if I can see to do this). Mum is feeding her and she is also self-feeding. This chick is strong and resilient. She is also a beauty! Some images from the Patchogue nest today where hovering is reaching new heights! We are into fledge season for many!

Please look at these four beautiful osplets. Did you ever think that Mini would catch up with Third Hatch? I suspect but, will never know, that Big, Two, and Mini are females and Three is a male. Why? Little Mini’s growth continues while Three has stopped. Three’s legs are long and skinny. We can now see the size of Mini’s wings in comparison to Three which is right beside her.

Can you see the tail of Big? Hovering is off the scale on Tuesday. Fledge is near.

Look at Little Mini’s expression to the sibling hovering.

Gorgeous Little Mini.

Mini self-feeding.

The Patchogue nest was on high alert with Mum mantling at 10:11. No fledges yet but more wing flapping including our Little Mini! Yes, that is Mini with its wings spread. Smile everyone.

One of the chicks, perhaps, Big is dangling just like Big at Patchogue. Getting lots of air. ‘H’ reports, “The community held its July 4th parade, and the parade route traveled right in front of the nest.  So, there was a slight bit of a disturbance.  Otherwise, there may very well have been a fledge on 7/4.  ‘Big’ (I assume) did some decent hovering.  See the feet dangling in one of the attached pics.”

‘H’ reports that the Forsythe nest continues to do well. “There has been a heat wave along the coast, with temps in the low to mid 90’s for a few days.  The heat may be responsible for a reduced amount of fish being delivered to the Forsythe nest.  There were only four fish brought to the nest on 7/4, although two of them were pretty big.  Opal delivered the two large fish herself.  Big took the first small fish to self feed, then Middle stole the tail!  Cool Osprey stuff.  Even with the reduced amount of fish, ‘Big’ maintained his ‘composure’ (lol) . . no aggressive behavior.  (ages 44, 43 days on 7/5)”

The osplets at the Boulder County Fair Grounds wished they were a little smaller so they could fit underneath Mum during the rain.

The two surviving osplets at Collins Marsh appear to be thriving. Just look at that beautiful nest their parents have made for them.

The foster chick at the Patuxent River Park 1 nest fledged yesterday — and to the relief of all, returned to the nest 27.5 hours later! Look at the smile on that chick’s face. Great flying. I bet she is glad to be home. Thanks ‘H’ for the great news.

‘H’ adds “At 1319 Dad delivered a large fish to the nest, and in contrast to her usual demeanor, ‘Foster’ grabbed the fish from Dad.  Mom wanted the fish and a brief tug of war ensued, but Mom got the message, and ‘Foster’ won.  Foster’s crop was hollow, and she ate ravenously.  When she was full, there was still plenty of that fish left for Mom to feed to her foster siblings.  Dad delivered large fish two more times, and ‘Foster’ was back to being her normal reserved self, standing by until Mom had fed her offspring, and ‘Foster’ was then fed by her foster Mom.  (the siblings are 50 and 49 days old)”.

Blue 33 always makes me smile…On Tuesday, he delivered three fish to the nest in less than an hour! He’s got fledglings to feed. Blue 3H3 took off today and 3H5 is really doing fantastic at hovering.

As was mentioned in my blog yesterday, many of the females are out fishing to supplement the fish from the males. This has been a year of injuries and intruders that have caused all the Daddy Door Dashes to wish they had a cell phone and a credit card to the nearest live fish market.

Laddie was back delivering fish to the nest of Blue NC0 and the two kids today, thankfully.

I promised an update on the Australian nests and I keep forgetting. ‘A’ sent this to me after I hit ‘send’ on my Tuesday morning blog.

Sydney Sea Eagles: :A wet day, with Lady spending much longer on the eggs – 8.5 hours – and as usual only leaving them uncovered for short times. Dad brought in bird prey at 9:16am – a coot again – the cameras were down for some time. Lady took it off to eat, but Dad had a full crop too. I am wondering where he is catching the coots – I would expect people to see him hunting in the wetlands the coots are found in. Coots have very distinctive lobed feet. After a damp day, both eagles settled again as usual at dusk.”

Orange Falcons: “Xavier spent some time hanging out in the nest box today, doing some scraping. There were a couple of bonding sessions, with a two-minute chat and bonding at 17:48:40. Diamond then went to the Cilla Stones. She is sleeping on the Stones again tonight. Both appear well.”

Speaking of falcons, Annie and Lou are enjoying some peace and quiet after the 2023 season. I wonder if the fireworks bothered them? Or maybe SF didn’t have any loud light displays. — There were fireworks in the Channel Islands on the night of the 3rd and ‘B’ tells me that Thomas slept through them. Oh, that is wonderful. We worried about the impact on all the eaglets.

CBD Falcons: “At Collins Street, they will not turn on the cameras until about 10 or 12 days before the first hatch is due. Maybe a few days earlier than that but not much. So I will keep an eye on the local news for any sign of the first egg being laid. Of course, it is still several weeks away. August is usual, I believe.”

Royal Albatross: “In New Zealand, Manaaki had a very rare night-time feeding when a parent (identify impossible to discern in the darkness) arrived to feed him at 2.40am!!!”

‘A’ comments on what is happening at the Bald Eagle nest that adopted the little Red-tailed Hawk named Tuffy, “Meanwhile, I was disturbed to hear that the eagles who are fostering a red-tailed hawklet are starting to attack the chick and dropped it off the nest the other day. Poor little thing must be awfully confused by the schizoid behaviour of its foster parents, but I hope it wakes up to the danger in time to depart before it becomes a snack. What interests me is the number of these cases that are now becoming apparent. It suggests, of course, that this situation is way more common than we realised before the era of streaming cams – we are now seeing something we previously did not have an opportunity to observe for ourselves, and in the process we are finding that these ‘strange’ things are not as rare as we perhaps thought. The fact that the hawklets are faster-maturing than the bald eaglets and are confident little chicks who are not used to bonking on their natal nest and therefore confidently beg for food. I believe it is at that moment that the eagle parents recognise the hawklet as a baby chick rather than as prey. If the hawklet does not beg, it becomes lunch. If it does, it turns into a chick in the eyes of the eagles. The situation is obviously unstable, and if there are food shortages, the hawklet may be in serious danger. But many of these hawklets do seem to fledge and survive, albeit with a weird taste for fish!” 

In the UK, raptors are continuing to be openly shot on the wealthy estates. This one is Westerdale in North Yorkshire. When will the shooting and gaming community come together, buy some extra grouse – I understand there are often many left after the shooting parties, and let the wild birds live their lives.

There are young osprey chicks in Canada and ones getting ready to fledge. There is banding going on in the UK and other parts of Europe. Some of the Mums will begin to feed themselves to regain their lost weight, raising their chicks and preparing for their migration to Africa. It is hard to imagine, but in 3 weeks, females like Blue NC0 could leave their nests for their long journey. It is typical for the females to leave the nest first. The male stays and brings fish to the fledglings until they leave. He may remain and eat up before flying off – generally in September. I hope to have some news for us on the status of HPAI in West Africa as that is the winter home to many of the UK Ospreys. We also need to check and see what is happening with Avian Flu in South America, as it is the winter home to most of the North American ospreys.

Thank you so much for being with me today. Please take care. See you soon.

I am grateful to the following for their notes, posts, videos, and streaming cams that helped me to write my blog today: ‘A, B, H’, Finnish Osprey Foundation, Newfoundland Power, MN-Landscape Arboretum, Clark PUD, Boulder County Fair Grounds, Collins Marsh, PSEG, Patuxent River Park, LRWT, Friends of Loch of the Lowes and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Sydney Sea Eagles, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, SK Hideaways and Cal Falcons, Severna Park, Fortis Exshaw, Patuxent River Park, Raptor Persecution UK, and the NZ DOC.


  1. Sabine says:

    Thank you, Mary Ann, for another great newsletter! What is happening at that Newfoundland osprey nest?! I’m not that familiar with that one…are chicks dying because of the lack of bedding and therefore cold and wet conditions, are they not being fed properly?? Sorry, there are so many nests that it’s easy to miss some of the information. Thank you for those amazing photos of geese, ducks and their offspring. They are so, so lovely!!! And I will add Mini to my miracles of this season. I suspect that she’s a girl too. What a fight for survival, what a spirit! She has been so smart all along…sorry, not trying to discriminate, but there’s just something otherworldly about the fighting spirit that females possess in the animal world. I’m so, so happy that Sydney’s Dad is doing better. Special birds and a very special couple! Thank you for slowly ringing in the Australian peregrine season! If there’s one bird species that I’m mesmerized by, this is it. Thinking even of adding a tattoo of this amazing bird, that’s how much I love them.I still hope that most of Savanna’s and Newman’s chicks at Great Spirit Bluffs survived and are hanging out somewhere outside the camera view. There are no better news to follow than yours. Love xxx

    1. Oh, thank you. I am glad you enjoy the news and there is so much to be thankful for…Sabine, Hope has been the female at the nest since the 2019 season. She is well known for sitting on the rim of the nest and eating fish and not feeding her chicks unless they crawl right up to her. Historically she made no effort to go to them. In 2019, one of 3 fledged. The others starved. Same for the subsequent years and then this one. The first chick was on its back for over 3 hours and could not right itself. Got stuck in the gumbo of a nest with no bedding. Hope had not really fed them either. But that one lived for so long without food! And then the second one she did move over and to give it some fish from the rim and then she brought in sticks and it looks as if she might have either injured the chick or pressed it into the mud. Then both parents stepped on the chick….Hope did give it some bites of fish but it expired today, thankfully. — I am going out on a limb here to say she has no real maternal instincts. It would appear she is better this year than in the past but there has to be something ‘wrong’ – genetics, mental illness, something….It is a sad situation. — I also think that the power company needs to create railings and put in nesting material like they do at Glaslyn for this couple in the future.

  2. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for all the updates !
    Thanks for all the photos of the ducks and geese with their goslings! I wish I could have been there to see all
    Of them! Prayers for the hawklet. Tuffy 2. I was thinking all was going well there.
    I pray Tuffy can leave so it won’t become prey 🙏
    Little Mini and all the others are really growing and look at that hovering and flapping and today big was on Mom’s perch! Glad the foster made it back to the nest ok. Ao glad most all the others are doing well. Prayers for the one with sublicide. 🙏
    Have a good evening and hope to see you here again real soon Mary Ann!

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