Calypso intrudes at Port Lincoln, Bella battles intruder alone…Monday in Bird World

30 October 2023

Hello Everyone!

It is a beautiful blue sky, a bright sunny day on the Canadian Prairies. -3 C. The snow is beginning to melt, so some ice is building up on the walkways in front of the houses. Not good for walking, but getting outside today and having some fresh air was nice. Every year, I promise to document all of the bird nests within a five or 6-block radius from where I live. Now is the perfect time. I want to ‘learn’ these nests just like I want to continue learning the sounds/songs of the birds using Merlin Sound ID. Most of the ones I found today appear to belong to the sparrows. I could not find the Crow’s nest, but they were landing in a tree where I know they raise their young. I did find a new woodpecker home!

New woodpecker home.

Now I thought that this was a sparrow nest but I am beginning to wonder if it is not a drey made by a squirrel or a Blue-Jay nest. Any nest experts out there? Happy for any advice.

There were hundreds of sparrows at the feeders during the day.

Some puffed their feathers to stay warm.

Nearly 30 European Starlings visited.

All four of the Blue Jays appeared during one time or another during the day.

The girls watched from the comfort of the conservatory – sometimes the birds and squirrels and often one another. Missey is staring down Calico who is on the floor wanting to cause a hiccup but, she didn’t.

Hope loves spending time with Missey.

‘The Boyfriend’ visited the feral feeding station 5 times on Sunday. He had to be very hungry. I feel so sorry for the outdoor cats. He has food, water, and an insulated home with a heating pad if he wants. His fur looks good, and the patches pulled out in the summer during fights have grown back in. Hopefully, his life will be a little easier now that he has had a visit with the vet. Oh, and I want to reassure anyone that neither cat that was ‘fixed’ by the vet belonged to someone. They are well known for being feral, but, just in case, communiques were sent out a fortnight before the vet’s arrival. Geemeff named the white one with black patches and the teardrop on its eye – Dadpa. So fitting. He has not been around!!!!!!!

There is a contest for the Bird of the Century in New Zealand. Please go over and see the list of birds. Read about them and the challenges they have faced or are facing, and cast your vote for 5. Thank you. t is free. There is a donation page, but you can just say ‘no, thanks’ and continue. It is a great way to learn about what is happening with birds in a region of the world that might be unfamiliar to you.

One of the birds is the Kakapo. Attempts to reintroduce the Kakapo to their homeland on the mainland of New Zealand are underway. And those very smart tree climbing non-flying parrots are giving their handlers some headaches!

Ranger Sharyn has confirmed that our beloved OGK is lost. I had listed him on the Memorial Page last year when he did not return to feed Lillibet after 45 days. He went missing on 19 May 2022. When he passed and what the circumstances were will never be known. Lady Hawk has included the following information under a video of the new arrivals looking for mates. One of those will be YRK, who had been OGK’s mate since 2006.

“Ranger Sharyn Broni gave an update on OGK today and it is not the news we have been hoping for. It confirms what our hearts knew but our head kept hoping for that miracle return. OGK was a magnificent albatross and one of the best Royalcam Dad’s and faithful mate to YRK since 2006. He will always be remembered for his devotion to his family, especially returning injured in 2020 just so he could feed Atawhai Pippa. OGK & YRK have fledged 6 chicks and raised one foster chick over their years together including the Royalcam chicks Atawhai & Lilibet, & daughter KBR and sons RLK & LWK. Our hearts are heavy with this loss but our hopes lie with YRK finding love again next season. Here is the message from Sharyn. “Although we do not know for sure it looks like the much-loved OGK has not returned following his disappearance in the winter of 2022 while raising Royalcam chick, Lilibet. He would be 26 years this coming January and was one of the first cohorts of chicks that I saw raised here at Pukekura.… OGK and YRK first nested in front of the Royalcam in 2020 when they raised Atawhai during the pandemic and we all had many hours more of viewing time.… OGK has been with YRK since 2006 as toroa typically mate for life. 2022 was their eighth breeding attempt. They have fledged six of their own chicks and one foster chick (This was a chick of Button’s). They have raised the foster chick after the egg they laid was broken during 2018. The first chick they raised is a breeding female and the natal mother of the 2018 Royalcam chick, Amīria. During 2021 their 2012 chick RLK (male) raised a chick known as SSTrig near the Royalcam chick, Tiaki. YRK would, by late October be preparing to lay an egg. Instead, she is looking for a new mate as is typical of bereaved toroa as the urge to mate is strong. There is no way of knowing what has happened to OGK. We do know that there are certain risks on the ocean such as plastic pollution and long-line fishing. Disease and starvation cannot be discounted either. OGK had sustained an injury in 2020 and we do not know what long-term impact this may have had. In the event you come across any wildlife in NZ call our emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468). Although as a group albatross are at high risk from long-line fishing this does not seem to be the case for Northern Royal Albatross. Comparatively few are recorded on long lines compared to Antipodean Albatross, for example. The conservation status of Antipodean Albatross is Nationally Critical due to bycatch and marine pollution. in comparison the Northern Royal Albatross are Nationally Vulnerable. Read more about the Antipodean Albatross here:… z/albatrosses/antipodean-albatross/”

OGK was my all-time favourite, and he will not be forgotten. Let us all work towards safer seas for these magnificent birds that can live well past 70 years in his honour.

In the world of the Bald Eagles, some are having to really defend their nests. Belly and Smitty are busy trying to hang on to their NCTC nest on a daily basis with injuries seen on some of the eagles.

The problems continued on Sunday for Bella who is defending her nest alone against a male. Myth busted: Females only fight females. Not in this case.

Here is the video of the battle:

The only hatch at Windswept Heights, Tumby Island, South Australia has been predated by a raptor. Little Blythe was approximately 18 days old when she was taken although the precise time is unknown as the camera does not stream continuously. She hatched on the 11th of October. Her parents are Partney and Marrum. Condolences to all.

Port Lincoln has put out a weekly summary in video format.

At Port Lincoln, Dad delivered a whole fish to Mum, Goliath and Little at 0645:18 on Monday. Look at those two happy chicks. Goliath is really oily today – the fluff is gone entirely from her head. In a couple of days Little will look the same!

Oh, my goodness. There was drama at Port Lincoln. Dad delivered the whole fish at 0645 and the Fish Fairy came with 4 fish at 11:49. Then there were intruders wanting ‘free’ fish! This is the report from the ops board: “It starts normally with Mum feeding the 2 chicks. Giliath’s in front. Then there’s are intruder osprey that interrupts! It was Calypso and her mate! Dad to the rescue! Both chicks full. Mum done for now. 2 fish remain.”

Fish left and Mum protecting her babies. Mum will eat some more fish – she appears to be very hungry today but as always, she stuffed her babies to the brim.

‘A’ gives us her report of the day at Port Lincoln: “The day at Port Lincoln began with a large whole live fish delivered by dad at 06:45. Both chicks ate well before mum settled down to brood them. Dad took the fish, bringing it back 15 minutes later and Giliath ate briefly again (Little Bob was in a food coma). At 08:35 mum left to stretch her wings and Little decides to bonk Giliath, who retaliates. The fighting stopped when Little lay down. Mum returns and Little lifts its head, resulting in Giliath bonking him again till he submits. Mum leaves again and the siblings lean on each other, preen a bit and eventually fall asleep in a cuddle puddle. This aggression is all about pecking order (their crops get in the way of their bonking at times!) and it is relatively minor and brief. Not only that, it is being started by Little Bob as much as by his big sister. At 11:49, four medium-sized fish were delivered by the food fairy and an extended feeding took place (49 minutes!!) Both chicks ate themselves into food comas, and then CALYPSO (a previous fledgling from this nest) interrupts and his mate actually lands on the nest (12:08:47)!!! During the afternoon, there were six small feedings and no bonking between that massive feeding and the next fish delivery – Little Bob ate at all but one of those feedings, as did Giliath. At 18:38 dad arrived with a headless medium-sized fish and the dinner feeding began. Little Bob has the front position but soon turns away, still full from all the eating. Giliath downs a few bites and also gives up. The kids have eaten well today.”  

Banders can get it wrong. Unless a DNA test is taken and processed, no one is ever certain of the gender. I recall once being told by Tiger Mozone to ‘not question the banners’. Of course, he said it in jest! Now there is reason at Port Lincoln to wonder if Calypso, always presumed to be a female, might actually be a male – and that, of course, could explain why she has stayed so close to Port Lincoln like Ervie.

Marri and Barru, the Orange eyases, were hungry and very excited when the first prey item arrived at 0711. Marri had a nice tug of war wanting the prey to herself but…that didn’t happen!

More food later..

Marri and Barru scamper all over that scrape box. They are flapping their wings, doing some self-feeding, and running their talons off!

‘A’s report for Orange: “At Orange, our fluff balls are zooming about and their feathers are getting more prominent each day. And those eyes! Here are the time stamps for the day: PREY 07.11.26, 08:10:53, 16:24:51, 16:42:44, 19.08.08 FEED 07.12, 08:11, 16:25, 16:43, 19.08 (M+B) HIGHLIGHT 16:28:50 M & D tug of war; 17:54:27 Barrru running with morsel.”

The sea eagles nest is quiet. ‘A’ sent the report from Sydney but we both wonder what in the world they mean by progress? It takes many many weeks for fledglings to learn how to fly and hunt. They are normally cared for by their parents and this has been the issue at Sydney due to the Currawongs. “October 30: A quiet night, with neither parents nor fledglings seen at the nest – though they may have been nearby. Parents were heard calling in the forest in the early morning. Later, they were seen down on their off-season River Roost, on mangroves along the Parramatta River. Currawongs even swoop them down there. The fledglings have not been seen today – they may be anywhere in the forest or nearby – all part of their progress.”

The Redding Eagle Cam is live and there is an adult on the nest.

An eagle at Pittsburgh-Hayes where there will be a new male this year. This is V, the new male.

Eagles at Superbeaks. All of the eagles are getting serious about their nests. Pepe and Muhlady have been working hard. Will they win the race for the first egg to be laid?

Gabby is at NEFlorida with a HUGE crop!

Two eagles at Duke Farms early Sunday morning. It is not clear if this is Mum with a new male or if this is entirely a new couple at the nest. Waiting for confirmation.

Eagles at Decorah.

Non-breeding European Starlings and M15 at the SW Florida nest checking it out for the new lady, F23.

Ron at the WRDC nest in Miami.

Abby and Blaze have won the territorial dispute over their nest at Eagle Country with the GHO.

Martin and Rosa working on their nest at Dulles-Greenway on Sunday. There were some friendly beak nips…

That buzzard continues to visit the Loch Arkaig nest and is, as Geemeff notes, awfully talkative. Is it calling Louis to bring in dinner?

Saving vultures in Tanzania.

I received a note asking about the hunting in Scotland (both fox and beaten grouse) and why I am so against it. The girls and I are reading H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald and in the chapter we were reading today, she recounts T H White’s first fox hunt and what he said after. ” Riding out with the Old Surrey and Barstow Hunt, White recorded the first time he saw a kill with distanced fascination. The fox was dug out of a drain where it had taken refuge and thrown to the hounds. They tore it to pieces while a circle of human onlookers ‘screeched them on’. The humans, White thought, were disgusting, their cries ‘tense, self-conscious, and hysterically animal’. But the hounds were not’. The savagery of the hours,’ he wrote, ‘was deep-rooted and terrible, but rang true, so that it was not horrible like that of the human.’ I think that says it all. The gameskeepers at the grouse hunting estates are (some of them) as viscous in killing the raptors that take some of the grouse for meals. One recent incident of the stomping on a nest of little goshawk hatchlings was particularly gruesome in my mind’s eye.hese are sports of the wealthy and the influential and I hope that they stop due to the fact that people care about wildlife and the compassionate voices, I hope, will prevail.

Mark Avery’s, Inglorious. Conflict in the Uplands, gives particular insight to field sports – grouse hunting – and their links to the class system in the UK. Of course, it is also political as many of the men (they are almost exclusively men) are wealthy donors or politicians or even sit in the courts. It will be difficult to abolish the practices but not impossible. Ever so hopeful.

As you know, I am a big fan of Merlin Bird ID. Here is a list of some other apps that might be helpful.

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

Thank you to the following for their notes, posts, videos, articles, and streaming cams that helped me to compose my blog this morning: ‘A, Geemeff, H’, Forest & Bird, Kakapo Recovery, Lady Hawk, Deb Stecyk PLO, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, Sydney Sea Eagle Cam, FORE, PIX Cams, Superbeaks, NEFL_AEF, Duke Farms, Raptor Resource Project, SWFL Eagle Cam, WRDC, Eagle Country, Dulles-Greenway, Geemeff, Birdlife International, and the Guardian.


  1. Mario says:

    Hi Mary Ann,

    I was hoping that OGK would show up this year, but I knew the chances of that happening were slim. OGK was a magnificent animal, the star attraction of the colony as far as I’m concerned.

    According to ranger Sharyn, OGK’s grandmother was a rare hybrid between a northern and a southern royal albatross. Southern royals are a bit larger. OGK was 1/8 southern royal.

    Ranger Sharyn mentioned sickness as a possible cause of death, that never came to mind but perhaps it was. The last few times I saw him his voice was hoarse and he was having difficulty making his sky call. As has already been said we’ll never know what really happened to him.

    1. He was just a wonderful albatross, a great Dad like Karl II (and many other males). He is going to be missed. I had hoped, too but, after he did not return in 2022, I began to wonder and put him on the memorial pages. He is a big loss. Thank you for that information about his grandmother. I did not know that, Mario! Much appreciated.

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