Thursday in Bird World

26 October 2023

Oh, good morning everyone!

I hope you are well!

It is dark outside. The time is 1800. In another month, it will be dark at 1630. The long days of winter will be upon us. There were small flakes of snow falling a little bit ago. Dyson was eating at the table feeder, and a couple of Blue Jays and some Dark-eyed Juncos were persistent in their search for seed. Earlier, sparrows and Starlings had been having bird baths!

Behind the birdbath, look closely. There are still tomato blossoms, you can see a red grape tomato and clusters of green ones. I ran out quickly and picked them all!

Lots of sparrows. You can hear their songs at least a half block away on a typical day. Hundreds stay in the lilacs – feeding and resting, resting and feeding.

Then the heavier snow came. The trees in the garden, particularly the conifers, look like someone sprayed that white ‘snow’ on their limbs. It is quite beautiful – and quiet.

Calico has decided that it is time to stop nursing Hope. Missey could not be happier. This means that Hope is hanging around with her more!!!!!!!! Calico seems to be enjoying the break in parenthood and not having Hope follow and copy everything she does. I have not observed a mother with a kitten for many decades, which has been an enlightening experience. Every day I am grateful that Calico trusted me enough to turn her life over to me and come inside and that little Hope found us. All I have to do is look at that snow, and I smile seeing them inside on their blankies.

Standing on the deck looking into one of the garden doors and there is Hope looking outside.

The benefit of Calico wanting to wean Hope is that Calico is no longer bothered if Hope wants to play with Missey! Missey loves the company and knows that if she moves her tail, Hope will pounce! The house is very peaceful with the girls except for the kitten version of a Formula 1 race from about 2130 to midnight!

While these two are in the conservatory, Calico is trying to get her beauty sleep on her blanket in the sitting room.

At Port Lincoln, Mum was still waiting for a fish to come to the nest. It was after 0900. The osplets had a good feed with those fairy fish last night (thanks Fran, Bazza, and Janet) and there will be more if the wind and weather prove to be too much for Dad. The chicks are 7 and 9 days old today – we are approaching the Reptilian Phase.

That really nice fish arrived. Thanks, Dad! It was 10:58. Mum and the kids waited a bit but look – Dad came through and it has its head on it. (Note to self: Dad has to eat, too! – as does Mum)

It is a really nice feeding.

Eighteen minutes later and Mum is still feeding but the crops of Galiath and chick 2 are growing and growing.

It’s 11:26. Dad might be hoping some fish is left for him. Let’s see.

Mum is making sure that those two osplets are full to the top of their heads before she lets go of any fish. “Here have one last bite!”

Dad flies off with a nice fish tail. Did Mum get enough to eat?

Look at the size difference between the two chicks in the image below. What do you think? Nice big girl and little boy?

Later, some nest work by Mum.

‘A’ sends us detailed observations of when the fish fairy arrives to help! PLO supplied an additional 7 slender fish to the nest. “Mum is fish calling…Dad delivered no more fish, and the chicks presumably got hungry as the day wore on. And then, visible to all observers, the fish fairy arrived at 16:44:19, delivering seven supplemental fish. She was gone again by 16:44:37 – a total of under 20 seconds. Little and Giliath do not even wake up. (They sleep half a metre apart, with Little out of the nest bowl.) By 16:47, both parents had returned to the nest. Dad immediately grabs one of the fish in his beak and flies away with it, while mum eats her way through a second. The chicks are watching her closely and eagerly. Dad returns at 16:48:17. Little’s sleeping position means he is much closer to mum than is Giliath, and around 16:49, mum picks up fish number three and begins feeding Little. Giliath reaches the table around 16:50 but is still behind Little. Mum gives Little a few more bites, then begins to feed them alternately. I know I repeat this often, but watching how this mum works hard to ensure both are fed is wonderful. I was very interested to see the fish fairy arrive today with so many fish. Perhaps the one huge fish dad brought in mid-morning and the feeding from it would have been considered enough to keep the osplets alive for another day, making supplemental feeding unnecessary, But no. They obviously intend to ensure that the older chick does not go hungry and learn that food is finite and so anything its sibling does eat is effectively stolen from it. The discovery that food is a finite resource can turn a nest in a few hours, as we both know. Avoiding aggression on a nest does actually depend on the oldest osplet never discovering the existence of a thing called hunger until it nears fledge and the younger chicks are large enough to look after themselves. Mum keeps feeding both osplets until fish number three is gone, then at around 16:51, she starts on fish number four. (She is eating many bites herself as she feeds the osplets.) Dad is still standing beside mum, watching her feeding the pair. At 16:55:45  mum finishes off that fish and moves on to what I believe is fish number five (unless dad brought back part of fish number one). This is a really good feeding, with mum feeding and feeding and feeding both chicks pretty equally, giving them big bites of juicy fish. They eat and eat. So does mum. By 16:58, Little can no longer fit another mouthful. He starts to turn away from the table. Mum keeps feeding Giliath, and herself. At 17:07, she finally stops feeding and settles down to brood. There is yet another feeding, at 18:06, at which both osplets ate a few bites but were generally not very hungry. Mum ate a bit herself and settled back down to brood at 18:16. That was it for the night. I think there might be a couple of part fish left on the nest, though it’s hard to be sure. I find it hard to believe all seven were eaten but dad may have removed a second fish from the seven. Other than that, mum and the osplets ate the other five (and this morning’s fish from dad was large and whole). So all in all, today should give Little a boost in growth. He has not yet really gone hungry on this nest, and of course nor has Giliath. They both look extremely healthy, with Giliath due to turn into a small dinosaur any day now. Talons crossed.”

Mum and the chicks were hungry. Thank you, Port Lincoln, for recognising that additional fish is required to get these two to fledge. We might never know the reason – is it a lack of fish for Dad to catch? El Niño and warming waters? overfishing by the commercial fisheries that are plentiful in the area? is it old Dad, and he is just worn out? What we do know is that this nest will now survive by the compassion and understanding of the people at Port Lincoln who supported intervention.

This was posted on the ops board:

16:42Mum flies off in a hurry as 7 Supplemental fish are delivered by the fish fairies (the process visible for all to watch). More information on the how and why will be put in the news section this evening, or tomorrow

It was no small feat to convince the board that manages the building of the platforms and care of the ospreys in South Australia to agree to an intervention at the barge in Port Lincoln. We can thank Fran Solly, Bazza Hockaday, and Janet Forster for studying the issues and being able to speak to the positive benefits of supplementary feeding. I would urge all of you who support this decision to send them a note, and you can do so by searching for Fran Solly on FB. This is the cover page. I know they will appreciate the support.

To those that have already sent me notes saying that they are now happy to watch Port Lincoln having stopped because of the past history, please send Fran a note. These folks need all the support that they can get!

I went to check on the sea eagles and my heart sank. There was an adult on the same branch that Dad perched on looking for SE26 when she was flailing around in the bush being pursued by the Currawong – pecked and dive-bombed! It broke back all the memories of that very sad year when 25 was driven out early to the salt marshes, never to be seen again and 26 to be eventually euthanised. Oh, let us hope this year is different – there is still a chance!

‘A’ sent us the report from Sydney: “October 26: neither eaglet was seen last night and parents were off early. Dad returned at 6:49 with a fish, which Lady took and flew off with. Is she searching for the eaglets? She appeared later to have eaten it herself and from about 8:30 was sitting above the nest –at times currawong swooping. It was a much colder and windy day today. The adults and probably fledgling have been heard calling at times, but not seen. One of our team did see the osprey catch a fish near River roost –which was then possibly pirated by Dad –the first interaction between them that we have seen. Much honking and flying about. Around 5:30 of our observers saw one of the fledglings on a path, surrounded by ravens and currawongs – it flew up onto a tree fortunately and back towards the forest – flying strongly and lifting well. At dark, we heard calls, adults were nearby, at least one fledgling in the forest somewhere – and the search goes on –and it was raining.”

This is the latest posting that I could find form Ranger Judy:

Meanwhile, all is well at Orange. The chicks look like they are getting goggles. Look at their heads. The wisps of down will be gone soon, and we will see the beginnings of their juvenile plumage bursting through.

They are both getting much more sturdy on their feet and they move around that scrape box like Hope running a marathon in the house. They are fast!

I wondered if Diamond was going to kick Dudley out of the scrape.


There is some self-feeding going on! Always be sure to check out the ledge cam, especially since these two are spending so much time over on the Cilla stones.

Redding Bald Eagle Dad, Liberty. He buys his beautiful black jeans at the same shop that Samson did! Each just needed an electric guitar.

Guardian. She isn’t young, but she is sure beautiful. We adore you, Guardian. So are Guardian and Cholyn the two oldest breeding Bald Eagle females on streaming cams? Give me names of others that are at least 25!

Liberty and Guardian! Another video by Gary.

More food gifts are coming to the nest from M15 to F23. Did he get it from the Publix store? Notice the European Starlings. Remember that the white dots on their plumage mean they are ‘non-breeding’.

Beautiful Gabrielle at the NE Florida nest.

Lots of moss coming in to line that nest! Come on Gabby and V3. We have been waiting for a year…

Lady was at the Superbeaks nest working diligently early this morning.

Intruders being chased off at The Campanile by Lou and Annie. Everyone wants the best penthouse in the City.

The latest migration figures coming from Hawk Mountain in PA.

Want to join the Ventana Wildlife Condor Chat? Last Thursday of every month. There is one on today. Here is the information to join.

There is not a lot going on in Bird World. Eating and growing at Orange and PLO. Hoping at Sydney. Nest building elsewhere while millions and millions of birds continue to migrate. It is a good time to learn some new things or read a good book – or, get out for a walk, call a friend, drink a nice mug of something warm.

This is a video you should watch. It is about Conservation without Borders, Sacha Dench, the Flight of the Osprey — and many other interesting things you might not know about. I really enjoyed it!

I also want to recommend an inspiring book about the rescue rehabilitation and release of a tiny Screech owl. Like Calico and Hope, that owl gave Safina and his family much more than they gave it. The book details the two years that Alfie was part of the family, but it is more than that. It is about how humans relate to the natural world and what we receive when we open ourselves to the possibility of understanding and connecting with another species. It is well-written and personal, and it warmed my heart. Safina put into words some aspects of rescuing Calico and Hope that I wasn’t – and it made me look at their presence in my life differently. I can tell you that I am much richer by their presence and all that they have taught me. Safina learned from Alfie in the same way.

There are good discussions on governments that have given legal standing to rivers and trees as well as the beautiful creatures trying to survive us and our oceans – dolphins, amongst others. There is a frank presentation on the need to cooperate with various agencies for the greater good.

Alfie & Me is another of several wonderful books (and some not so great) written during the pandemic when each of us had time to reflect on our relationship or lack of relationship with nature.

Last, to give you a giggle. I have been surveying the feral male cats that had the potential to be Hope’s father. Hope has the colouring of Calico but her build is definitely not that of Mamma. There are four possibilities: a Ginger, “the boyfriend” – the Black cat with the white boots, a very large White cat with black spots, and a huge tabby. It is silly and trivial but it is amusing me…and, of course, I will never know if I am right or wrong unless there would be a DNA test. I have images of two of the cats – but it is the big white one with the squared-off jaw and busy tail and stout legs – that stands out. He is here at the feeding dish most days. I just have to have the camera ready.

Of course, some of you with studies in genetics might be able to help me figure the out better!

Thank you so much for being with me. Take care, please. I hope that you will be back with us another day.

Thank you so much to the following for their notes, posts, videos, and streaming cams that helped me to write my blog this morning: ‘A, H’, PLO, Sydney Sea Eagles, Judy Harrington, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, FORE, Gary and FORE, Lady Hawk, NEFL-AEF, Superbeaks, SK Hideaways, Hawk Mountain, Ventana Wildlife Society, and Conservation without Borders.

1 Comment

  1. InstructorRita says:

    Thanks for the updates this morning. You can never give us too many pictures of the kitties ❤️ There’s a saying “so many books, so little time”; wondering if anyone else has seen it too. Hoping for Sydney. Go well 😌

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