Marri self-feeds…Friday in Bird World

20 October 2023

Hello Everyone!

Friday was beautiful. 16 degrees C. No wind. It was the perfect day to go birding. Indeed, it was so perfect it was hard to remember that this is the third week in October. If you looked in one direction, the geese fed on green grass in the fields and on the other the farmers were harvesting the flax, everything brown, the Poplar trees in the distance a sunny yellow edged by a lovely bronze-brown. It was delightful to be outside. Calming to the mind – tranquil would be the correct word. Sitting and listening to the geese honking as they flew in at a distance, it took me back decades to when I first moved to Canada and discovered the geese. Then it was April and they were the harbinger of spring. They always arrived around the time of my first son’s birthday. We knew winter was on its way out. Their departure in the fall signals the opposite…I hate for the last ones to leave when the sky goes silent.

The first images are from one of our lovely City parks – Kildonan – on the way to Oak Hammock Marsh for me. The Marsh is closing the first week of November for extensive renovations to their Interpretative Centre. We will still be able to walk the trails. It will not reopen until the summer of 2024, and I will miss snooping around amongst the displays. The area around Oak Hammock is a haven for migrating geese and ducks. They are still flying in by the thousands. I had a giggle. The lady at reception said, “As long as geese are flying in, we know winter is not near.” She is right. When we see them high-tailing it out of the City, we know something ‘bad’ is coming. Sometimes, a few are still around when the first snow falls, but they quickly get in the mood for a winter holiday!

At Kildonan Park there is a little pond that is fed by a creek that runs through the park. There were at least 75 Mallards and another 35 Wood Ducks along with about 400 Canada Geese this morning.

The pond is by the Witches House and people come throughout the day and feed the geese and ducks. They are overly friendly if they think you have a bag of seeds.

Oak Hammock Marsh is a joint venture between the Province of Manitoba and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). It is one of those partnerships that has created vast wetlands that benefit both the ducks and geese and sadly, those that like to hunt them. ‘R’ and I chatted about this and it appears that the way forward to saving our wildlife is to partner with groups that might have seemed unthinkable in the past. I do not like shooting ducks but if it is the duck hunters that are creating all of the wetlands throughout North America that benefit all manner of waterfowl – some hunted and some not – then I am going to sit down and be relatively quiet in the hope that someday there will be huge wetlands and people might be dissuaded against killing animals.

Snow Geese, Ross’s Geese, and Canada Geese in the fields feeding near to Oak Hammock Marsh.

These are rosehips. Many collect them and make rosehip jelly or syrup. It is delicious. Rosehips are the fruit of the rose plant.

A Northern Shrike. They are a large songbird. These birds unusually feed on small birds, all manner of rodents including mice and voles, as well as insects. They are also known to eat frogs. They live in my area during the winter.

The range for the Northern Shrike.

At Port Lincoln, ‘A’ was watching and left me this note, “Watch the feeding at Port Lincoln from around 18:13 to see how very carefully mum is working to ensure that the younger osplet gets fed. Her awareness of it and her efforts to ensure it gets fed really are very encouraging indeed. The eldest has been in the front position and getting all of the food to this point of the feeding, and has a large crop by now. So mum turns to the younger chick to ensure that it gets fed. She moves the fish over to the younger osplet, who is behind the older, but the older one turns around so the two chicks are facing each other. Mum moves again, so she can make sure she is directing each mouthful to the second hatch. She gives it some fairly decent-sized chunks, which it manages to swallow. It is a determined small person and is getting steadier by the hour. And dad did bring in another fish, albeit a late one. Both chicks will go to sleep with full tummies and mum has eaten well during the day. I suspect that mum’s dedication is going to be extremely important to the survival of this second chick. If the fish supply is low, then it will probably be the factor that determines whether or not two osplets survive.”

Heidi caught a good feeding, too.

The second chick is definitely getting stronger. The third egg is not hatching or cracking. It is nesting material stuck to the shell. You can really see the egg tooth clearly in the image below.

‘A’ gives us the run down on the feedings at PLO: “There were three fish brought in today, all large and all by dad. The first one was huge at 06:34, the second was large at 15:50 and the last at 19:50. There were at least nine feedings between 06:38 and about 20:00 and perhaps more after dark (I haven’t checked). The younger chick ate at all but two of those feedings, though it only had a small amount on each occasion (sometimes just a bite or two). But it is getting better at the whole eating thing (facing the right way, seeing well enough to correctly time the grab, managing to deal with larger pieces) and will be much better at all of those skills tomorrow. So far it is getting enough to eat, though not nearly as much as its sibling. At least mum is looking for it once the older chick is fed and is being relatively patient with it, offering the food two or three times if it misses on the initial grab. She is still giving pieces that are too large but the little one is struggling manfully with them and managing most. Such a sweetie. So far, dad has stepped up his game with the fishing to make sure mum and the kids are getting properly fed (today’s fish were all a good size and one was super-large) and mum is well aware that she has two osplets that both need to be fed. So that’s an excellent start. Talons crossed that these two actually decide to skip the bonking phase altogether. Is that even possible? I’m also interested in dad’s response to the offspring – he seems extremely interested and perhaps wants to get involved. Does this suggest/confirm that he is as we believe a new dad at this nest and learning the ropes as it were?”

Marri and Barry are ‘scooting’ around the scrape. They are adorable, interested in their surrounds, the feathers all over the floor of their home, and one another.

The soft fluffy down is going away. Look at how different Marri is – as she is changing. Notice the pink beak has given way to a soft dove grey. Pin feathers are appearing. The beak is much more raptor-like. They are still adorable and their individual personalities are beginning to show along with – the clown feet!

“Have some delicious feathers”.

Marri passed a major milestone – she is self-feeding. Thanks Heidi!

‘A’s observations: “Meanwhile, at Orange, that pair are little eating machines. (Why is it that falcon chicks are the most voracious eaters of all? Even hawklets and eaglets and osplets don’t attack the feeding process – as opposed to their siblings – with such incredible gusto and energy. Falcon eyases take it to a whole new level. As with their screeching to demand sustenance.) At today’s mid-afternoon feeding, Marri downed an entire grebe leg, complete with attached foot. Seriously grown-up now. They are climbing onto the Cilla Stones, exploring their expanding world as they start to get up off their tarsi and onto their feet. They compete for every bite, usually getting alternate mouthfuls most of the time so that the food ends up being relatively equally shared between them. They are beyond adorable, sleeping together in a pile and today getting into some allopreening (little Barru allopreened his older sister Marri). Both chicks PS’d on mum this afternoon (Marri at 12:03:39 and Barru at 13:24:36, so poor Diamond had a difficult lunch hour today). All in all, Xavier is keeping the prey coming as this little pair eat increasingly voraciously with every passing day. The feeds are getting bigger (they are consuming a lot of food in a relatively short time at each meal now) but less frequent (they are getting about four or five feeds a day compared to the six or seven they were getting for the week or two before that). They are also starting to attempt some self-feeding, with limited success, but they will learn quickly. “

As I write this, SE32 has still to fledge. Both have been bombarded by the little Boobook Owl at one time or another and parents are bringing in food. It feels like a good year. Still hoping.

The summary from WBSE: ” October 20: a quieter night, and both eaglets slept in the nest. Early morning at 5:33 a smaller owl swooped Lady, starting their early chorus. 31 was not disturbed though sitting beside Lady. Dad brought in a fish part at 7:35, snatched and eaten by 32. When Lady brought a fish later at 11:27, 31 was there first with 32 hanging about trying – nothing left for 32 though other than a few scraps. Then both stayed around the nest area, on a hot windy day, 31 below the nest camera and 32 in the nest. Both magpie and currawong were swooping Dad up high above the nest mid-afternoon. The eaglets finally moved after 4 and were jumping about and flapping – 31 slipped and nearly fell at 16:22, but recovered well. 32 was very quick to get to the nest to grab the juvenile gull that Lady brought at 17:36 – then was de-feathering it alone, with 31 watching on. Then 31 took over, Lady came closer, both ate a bit, Dad came in with a fish, a great scrabble on the nest, Dad left, Lady still there, 32 still defending the bird – where is the fish? Confusion. Then 32 was eating the fish on the edge – all ate in the end, except Dad. Both eaglets were on PB at dusk, back and forth a little close by.”

The Real Saunders Photography gives us some dynamic images of M15 and F23 flying!

These two are bonded and building a home for their babies. I cannot wait to see them as a couple together!

Last year was a very sad season for Ospreys breeding in some areas of NE United States. It is heart warming to read that the breeding season in Italy was so successful.

There is news on how well the re-location of the Kakapo back to mainland New Zealand is doing.

Hope would like everyone to leave the chipmunks and squirrels alone. They are her friends in the garden and she has been watching them for more than a month storing up their seeds and nuts. Her Mamma watched them before that and Lewis and Missey have enjoyed their garden buddies for a year. Don’t trap them and move them far away just because you don’t like them around. Hope will tell you why after she shows off her beautiful busy tail. Perhaps – with the exception of Missey – who has the most gorgeous and expected fan tail – I have never seen a cat with such an exaggerated tail as Hope. It looks like something pinned to her body that might have adorned an old children’s hat. When she decides to ‘puff’ it up, the crazy thing could dust all the furniture its diameter is so large, we could hang it on a pole and it could tell us which way the wind is blowing like a wind sock. Seriously this tail is enormous.

More rare sightings in Norway.

Thank you so very much for being with me today. Take care of yourself. See you soon!

Thank you so much to the following for their notes, posts, articles, photographs, videos, and streaming cams that helped me to compose my blog this morning: ‘A, H’, Vail Gail, PLO, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, Heidi Mc, Sydney Sea Eagles, Real Saunders Photography, Gracie Shepherd, Gregorious Joris Toonen, Progetto Falco Pescatore, Sirocco Kakapo, NZ DOC, For Fox Sake Wildlife Rescue, and Bird Guides.


  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for these wonderful pictures of the ducks and geese!
    Thank you for all the other pictures and info on our beautiful birds too!
    Little Hope is so cute and I always enjoy seeing all of their pics as well.
    So glad to hear Mom at Port Lincoln is looking after both of her little ones and I hope they both grow up and fledge this season. The little ones at Diamond and Xavier are so cute. One already eating on its own is amazing!💕💕
    Good news about the Kakapo!❤️praying for a better season for our Ospreys this year. Good luck to the eagles and all newcomers this season! ❤️
    Have a great Friday Mary Ann and see you soon here!

    1. Oh, isn’t it nice that so many wonderful events are happening – the sea eagles are doing great, Marri and Burra are adorable and then there are the osplets at PLO. Feeling so fortunate. Glad you enjoyed the images from the nature centre and the park!

      1. Linda Kontol says:

        It is wonderful Mary Ann! Thanks for helping us to see all of it!
        Have a great evening!

Leave a Reply