Fish feast for Zoe…and other news in Bird World

25 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope those of you that celebrated Thanksgiving had a lovely celebration. It was another warm day in the garden. Today it will be 6 degrees C. The sky is a beautiful blue and the sun is bright. There should be a lot of activity in the garden. I am quite enjoying watching the Starlings and the Sparrows flit about their lives enjoying the Butter Bark and the soft suet. It is hard to imagine that they are both vulnerable and in decline and on The Red List in the UK but, as I am told by many, their lives are so precarious and the Avian Flu last year could rear its ugly face again this year.

I just think that the Starling below is quite stunning. The so called ‘white’ spots on their bodies during the non-breeding season actually look silver in the sunlight. That coupled with those magnificent rust and rust tipped ebony wing feathers make them stand out and yet, if you don’t know they are there, they blend in quite nicely with the bark on the branches of the Lilacs.

Dyson has been coming for peanuts for several days but, instead of running about storing them, she has stopped and taken the time to eat several before scurrying about. She is really adorable. I notice that her colouring is also changing. Some of the youngsters have great tufts coming out of their ears now. I will see if they will sit still long enough for me to get a photo for you soon.

Junior was about today along with a least one of the three fledglings but Mr Crow and his family were not about. I wonder where they found food. It always scares me if I see road kill as I know they will chance it to get some food. I wish everyone would stop and if they see road kill get out and move it to the side of the road, way off the shoulder, if it is safe for them to do so.

The Australian Nests:

I cannot possibly tell you how quiet it has gone in Bird World now that all of the Australian birds have fledged. You might already guess that Xavier and Diamond are taking good care of Rubus and Indigo and that Zoe is screaming her head off for a fish. Dad went out and came back with nesting material. What in the world is up with the fishing in Port Lincoln?

Cilla posted a prey transfer for Indigo that took place yesterday in Orange.

Dad brought in a fish for Zoe at 09:56. She ate the entire thing. The fish tail went down at 10:21:08. Dad ‘appeared’ to have a crop. Mum was sitting on the ropes as she is above. Will Mum get anything to eat?

With Dad appearing to have a crop and Zoe getting a fish, what is there for Mum? Has Dad decided now that the chick has fledged, his duty is only to feed it and him and Mum can fend for herself? It is certainly common at other nests.

Mum did not sit around. She has proven herself today. She brought in a nice fish for her and Zoe at 13:30:31 and another one at 14:39:40. Indeed, Mum was on the nest with Zoe and flew off quickly as if the fish had skimmed the water near the barge. Isn’t this just excellent! Everyone will have had a good feed today.

Indeed, Mum was just finished feeding Zoe the 1330 fish when she spotted the next one. We will have to start calling her ‘Eagle-eyed Mum’.

Off she goes!

Zoe and Mum are having feasts today while Dad sits on the perch. Good for Mum. She is going to make sure that her and her daughter are well fed.

In his book, After They’re Gone. Extinctions, Past, Present, and Future, author Peter Marren says of the Ospreys, “To survive the Sixth Extinction, it may help to be useful- useful to humankind, that is” (164). Marren continues on the following page, “In Britain, nesting ospreys and sea eagles attract tourists and hence income to places that need it” (165). Every place that has wildlife should heed Marren’s words. They should consider the environment and rush to bring it back to life because those beautiful animals and birds and the landscape that is cared for and respected will help with the economy in the future. Indeed, my granddaughter is looking for a place for a holiday to see birds and animals. It would be truly sad if I had to tell her to go to a zoo!

Making News:

a little change from plants- hen harrier looking for dinner.” by island deborah- New Book ‘Song of the Sparrow’ vig is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Well, to tackle this entire issue of the vulnerability and extinction of the Hen Harrier, Hen Harriers will be bred in captivity and released in England on the Salisbury Plain. Twelve birds, six males and six females, have been brought from France and Span to establish the breeding pairs. This is a project between Natural England and the International Centre for Birds of Prey. Their goal is to release 100 birds over the next 5 or 6 years.

Fantastic. You can read more about this intervention to increase biodiversity here:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/23/hen-harriers-to-be-bred-in-captivity-and-released-on-to-salisbury-plain?CMP=share_btn_link

I have become increasingly aware of these magnificent birds over the past year and have devoured as many new books on them that I could. There are a couple that I have quite enjoyed and will mention if you or someone you know is interested in the life and the plight of these magnificent birds of prey. They are Bowland Beth. The Life of an English Hen Harrier by David Cobham, The Hen Harrier’s Year by Ian Carter & Dan Powell

Hen Harrier male (Circus cyaneus) illustrated by the von Wright brothers. Digitally enhanced from our own 1929 folio version of Svenska Fåglar Efter Naturen Och Pa Sten Ritade.” by Free Public Domain Illustrations by rawpixel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The problem is the illegal killing and the destruction of the land that supports these beautiful birds. So when will the courts begin to crack down on those who persecute the raptors?

A nauseating story is coming out of County Down, Northern Ireland of a lovely Buzzard found with a plastic bag around its neck hanging on a tree. Unbelievable. Just look at that face and that gorgeous plumage.

Inquisitive Buzzard” by John C Williams is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Here is that Story.

Dead buzzard found hanging from a tree in County Down – Raptor Persecution UK

Each year the Raptor Persecution UK puts out a report on the killing of raptors and, sadly, this year – 2022 – has been the second highest record in history. What a tragedy and why is this happening?

RSPB’s 2021 Birdcrime report reveals second-highest figure on record – Raptor Persecution UK

Fieldfare on a cherry tree” by hedera.baltica is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

No 15. The Red List. The Fieldfare

FF 031 ~ Fieldfare~” by Mike Hazzledine — British Biodiversity is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Fieldfares are a large member of the thrush family. The name Fieldfare comes from the Anglo-Saxon meaning ‘traveller of fields’. Look at the image above. They have the most beautiful light steel-blue-gray heads and wings. Their back, which you can see in the image below, is the colour of a beautiful Horse Chestnut. Their tails are black. Their ivory breast is spotted with a deep espresso tinged with chestnut. A peach wash makes a gorgeous collar. Their back end is a grey and they have black legs with touches of black around the eye. The female looks very similar to the male but has slightly more chestnut than the blue-grey and some consider the colouring more ‘dull’ on the female. There is an image of a female feeding her nestlings below. Make up your own mind if she is dull!

The decline of the Fieldfare from a handful of breeding pairs to now only one or two brings much sadness to many British birders. The author of the entry in Red Sixty Seven, Nick Acheson, writes about Joe Harkness another author whose book, Bird Therapy, speaks to the joy that birds bring to all of us. In writing about the Fieldfare, Harkness says that he is elated when two Fieldfares visit his garden during the winter’s snow and ice. Acheson says that Harness’s joy comes “not from the beauty of the birds, though beautiful they certainly are, not from their rarity, for per se they are not rare at all (globally). His joy comes from their shining witness, perceived – this once – in a place of domesticity.” Indeed, Fieldfares are not found in fields despite their name and do not frequent gardens but are mostly seen on the wet hawthorn hedgehops, Buckthorn bushes in the sand dunes along the sea.

Fieldfare” by Linton Snapper is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Fieldfare is not a thrush but it can be found spending time with flocks of thrushes during its migration from Northern Europe to spend time in Britain in winter. In the Scandinavian countries, they are known as Birch Thrushes or Bjorktrast. There they feed on berries until they arrive in Britain in mid-September where they roam the country side, the fields, the hedgerows and the gardens looking for food. In particular, they will search for berries from the Rowan, Hawthorn, and Holly. In farmlands, they feed on invertebrates and earthworms.

Fieldfare on a cherry tree” by hedera.baltica is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The decline of the Fieldfare is due directly to the steep decline in insects. Studies in Europe have shown that the biomass of insects in Germany has declined by 75%. The decline is serious in other countries and this is due directly to the use of pesticides. Climate change is also playing havoc with these lovely little birds. Milder temperatures in the northern countries and then quick freezes have cost the lives of nestlings. Many Fieldfare have also chosen not to migrate which is one reason there is the decline in numbers in the UK. Of course, the Northern European countries are not the only ones that are using pesticides. In the UK, there are similar issues and declines in birds that depend on insects for their food source.

Oh, thank you so much for being with me today. Take care all. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Openverse, The Guardian, RSPB, and Raptor Persecution UK.

Shaded nests for eagles, prey drop for Rubus and other news in Bird World

23 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone!

I hope that you are well. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. In Canada, we have already had our harvest festival in October but, as one of the readers reminded me, it is a time to give thanks for all of those in our lives — so to all of you wherever you may be, ‘thank you for being part of this great community’. Your empathy, caring, understanding, and joy are remarkable and this year we have been so much together. And to all of our feathered friends, thank you for the joy and the tears and for reminding us that we are all in this world together, not separate.

Dyson sends greetings from all of us to all of you. She hopes that you have plenty of ‘nuts’ for your celebration while reminding all of us to share with the wildlife.

There is simply not a lot going on in Bird World. Only one thing seems to be on anyone’s mind now that Zoe has fledged. When will Rubus fly up to the scrape?  Rubus has flown. Shines reports that Rubus was on the ground and observed to fly 200 m to his perch. Indigo has been up in the scrape box and so have the adults. And he flew some more later and picked up a prey delivery (see below). Life feels good right now. All are well.

Interesting to note that Xavier was in the scrape box ‘scraping’ – is he already thinking about next year? A scrape is a shallow indentation in the gravel or sand in which the eggs are laid.

It is extremely heart warming to know that all of the staff at Charles Sturt University keep an eye out for the falcons. Rubus was found on the ridge of the Printery Roof. Here is a video showing a prey delivery for Rubus from Xavier. So, we can all relax. Xavier and Diamond are taking good care of both Indigo and Rubus and there are all kinds of caring eyes looking out for them!

Thanks ‘A’ for sending me the link to the video and this comforting news!

If you missed Zoe’s fledge, here is my short video clip. She was really working her wings earlier and her first flight took her right down to Dad’s shed. Perhaps Ervie will come and join them for a good old ‘chin wag’. Zoe is 66 days old.

Mum is in the nest and Dad is on the ropes. Zoe is still down in the shed. She will figure out how to fly back up to the nest. If I recall, this is what Bazza did last year! Please correct me if I am wrong.

There should be no worries. Zoe flew up to the nest at 1451 and booted Mum off. She is now prey-calling and I presume that one of the adults will be out to get their girl a nice fish for her accomplishment!

Zoe later flew back and forth to the perch and around the barge. It appears from all the time tables that Zoe did not get a fish after fledgling. Thanks to ‘A’, here are the major events from the observation board for Port Lincoln for the day: Fish count: Dad: 2, Mum: 0 Fish times: 08:37, 11:49 08:37 dad with headless fish, mum takes it away 08:46 mum returns, Zoe self feeds 9:00:56 Zoe eats the tail.

10:54:45 Zoe fledges from the nest and ends up in the mancave Facebook post on fledge 

11:49:45 Fish tail end by Dad. Zoe was in the mancave 11:55 Mum eats the tail. 14:51:55 Zoe returns to the nest, where mum was, who then leaves

18:40 Zoe from nest to close perch (and back and to the perch) and flying around the barge

‘H’ made a video clip that shows Zoe’s fledge and her subsequent flights which are not included in mine. Thanks so much ‘H’.

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Making News:

Dave Hancock of Hancock Wildlife is building shaded nests for the eagles to help them with the increasingly number of heat domes that are part of climate change in British Columbia. Here is an image of one of those nests with the Delta 2 Eagles.

The British Trust for Ornithology is watching with great concern as the migrant birds from parts of Europe arrive in the UK for their winter holidays.

BirdLife’s 2022 Photography Awards are in and there are some stunning images.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2022/nov/23/the-2022-birdlife-australia-photography-awards-in-pictures?CMP=share_btn_link

There are many categories and many birds that will be familiar that are in those winning shots including the Albatross, BooBook Owl, Wood Ducks, Petrels, Wrens, and Lyrebirds. Enjoy!

What you might not know is that you do not have to be Australian to enter. Maybe think about submitting some of your images next year. One section of the Birdlife website that fascinated me was the ‘tips and tricks’ to getting bird photos. Mine would never win any awards but I would love to be able to take better photos of our beautiful feathered friends. To check out on the regulations for the annual awards and to see the tips and tricks, please go to:

birdlifephotoaward.org.au

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In Senegal, Jean-marie Dupart reports that he counted 331 Ospreys in a stretch of beach measuring 143 km. That is fantastic news!

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In the United States, the Osprey breeding season starts after the Bald Eagles. Jack and Diane at the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida have been visiting their nest. I wonder if they even know where to start with all the weeds that have grown up!

I keep heading over to the West End nest of Thunder and Akecheta to see if I can catch them at the nest but, no luck today!

I didn’t find anyone at home at Fraser Point either and they are playing highlights on the Two Harbours cam.

Harriet and M15 have been on and off the nest today. Many thought that today might be the time for the first egg’s arrival but, it doesn’t appear to be the case. Perhaps tomorrow!

Gabby is looking particularly gorgeous these days. She is keeping her eyes out for any intruders near the nest she shares with Samson at Jacksonville, Florida.

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No 12. The Red List: Ring Ouzel

Alpine Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus), Karwendel mountains, Austria” by Frank.Vassen is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

In his description of this beautiful Blackbird with its white half moon torque on the male, Nick Baker says, “It’s the thinking person’s Blackbird, the connoisseur’s choice; a passerine, that keeps itself to itself and is somewhat exclusive, hiding away from the cheap (ing) twittering masses of other perching birds, other than the odd curved, Wheatear and pipit.”

Ring Ouzel male” by Rainbirder is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Baker likes the stunning black birds because they are elusive one has to “invest some kind of effort to find one makes them all the more appealing…” Baker lives in Dartmoor, where a small population of these passerines “hangs on.” He says “the situation is about as delicate as the frosted feather edges on the bird’s breast.”

This lovely print shows the adults and the wee one. Notice the silvery wing panels on both the male and the female. You can see them easily in the photograph by Rainbirder above, also. The male’s crescent moon is pure white while the female’s is ivory barred with a rust brown. Instead of a black chin, the female has vertical barring, dark chocolate on white. Once again, I think that the female is just as stunningly beautiful as the male – her head, back and tail are not the pure deeply saturated black. In fact there is more variety to her plumage. The spots on the chest of the juvenile with its brown head, back and wings remind me of the work of Denmark’s most accomplished ceramic artists, Priscilla Mouritzen.

Ring Ouzel (male left female above young right)” by Wildreturn is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The ring ouzel is a member of the thrush family. It grows to approximately 24 cm or 18 inches in length. They are smaller than Blackbirds but are often misidentified as being a Blackbird unless you see that stunning half moon panel.

They breed in the drags and gullies of the steep valleys from mid-April through to mid-July normally having two clutches. Their nests are located close to the ground in dense heather or in a crevice. It would be very rate to see them nest in a tree. They feed their young earthworms and beetles and as adults they eat insects and berries.

The threats that these birds face are quite numerous. The predation of eggs is a start because of nesting close to the ground. They are disturbed by humans, their habitat has been destroyed due to deforestation in the areas where they winter in Spain and in Africa. Climate change has had a significant impact on the bird. The authors of the book noted below, possibly the very best study of these birds, notes that the landscape of the North York Moors might become completely unsuitable for them in the future.

One of the best books on this species is this volume, The Ring Ouzel. A New from the North York Moors. The retired duo hiked, observed, and gained considerable knowledge which they have passed on to us in a delightful little book. I keep thinking how wonderful they were to find this specific place now and provide us with insights into a bird that is most elusive.

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Migration News:

I am still following two of the four fledglings from Karl II’s Black Stork family from the Karula National Forest in Estonia. Those two are Waba and the foster chick, Bonus. The only surviving strolling from the last brood of Jan and Janikka.

Bonus remains in the area of Turkey (Konya Province) where he has been for what seems like forever. It is an area that can get cold in the winter with snow and everyone is hoping that he will decide to get moving!

Waba remains in the Sudan feeding on the Nile River. He travelled 242 km in the last few days (his tracker was not transmitting for some of that time).

Both of the Black Stork juveniles seem to have found water and lots of food and it appears that each is reluctant to leave their respective locations. It is always a relief to know that they are well but, like everyone else, I hope that Bonus will get an itch to fly and that he will head south to catch up with the remainder of his family in Africa.

Thank you so very much for being with me today. We will be keeping an eye on Zoe as she perfects her flying skills along with dear Rubus and Indigo at Orange. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘A’ and ‘H’ as always – so grateful, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross and gang, Port Lincoln Ospreys, British Trust for Ornithology, ave Hancock and Hancock Wildlife, The Guardian, Achieva Ospreys with Jack and Diane, IWS, SWFlorida Bald Eagles and D Pritchett, NEFL-AEF, Openverse, and Looduskalender Forum.

Hovering, Nest building…Saturday in Bird World

19 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone!

I hope that you are well. So nice to have you with us this morning. It is a blue sky cold day, -14 C, on the Canadian Prairies. The kittens are up carrying toys and watching the Crows come for their morning feeding. The Grackles have already been to the suet feeder and the little Sparrows are all puffed up keeping warm in the lilac bushes.

It is a type of soft suet that the Starlings like. They can stand back and poke at it with their long sharp beaks.

The Blue Jays that fledged from the nest across the lane are still here. One was eating peanuts while these two were in the lilacs sunning themselves.

Nest News:

Yesterday Zoe got some really good height in her hovers. Thankfully she remained on the nest and did not fledge into those strong winds as that storm did roll in.

If you missed it, here are those beautiful early morning hovers.

Later, Mum is down in the nest with Zoe taking care of her only ‘baby’. Dad was not out fishing. If you remember, Zoe ate really well on Friday so did Mum. On Saturday morning, Mum took Dad’s fish and returned with the tail portion for Zoe. That has been the only meal so far and if the weather stays, it could be it for the day. Zoe will be fine. She is not going to starve.

Indigo continues to fly out of the scrape and return. This is excellent. Most of you watch the Bald Eagle nests as well as the Ospreys and it is ‘normal’ for fledglings to return to the nest for food, to fly and strengthen their wings being fed by the parents for a period of 4-6 weeks.

Rubus continues to do his wingers and the pair enthusiastically eat all that is brought into the scrape. There are still a few dandelions on Rubus but not many.

The brothers 9 days ago.

Just look at them all covered in down with Indigo revealing some lovely back and tail feathers.

Oh, little Rubus had to get to the front and jump in the beginning to get some prey. Hard to imagine now when both of them are screaming and running all over the scrape. Diamond and Xavier have raised two healthy feisty chicks.

‘A’ reports that it was raining so hard in Melbourne yesterday that the wipers had to be on full speed. Of course, all we can think of are the fledglings from 367 Collins Street. Positive wishes out to them to be safe and fed.

As the season in Australia winds down, everyone is on egg watch at the nest of Harriet and M15 in Fort Myers, Florida. The pair have been working diligently to rebuild their nest after Hurricane Ian. Sadly, that GHOW continues to plague our beloved eagle couple. Oh, I wish their nests were further apart!!!!

Harriet and M15 continue to work on their nest together. They are amazing.

Samson and Gabby have been at their nest, too, working away. They have had a three year old Eagle visiting the nest and I began to wonder if it could be Jules or Romey.

Mum and Dad have been rebuilding the nest in St Patrick’s Park in South Bend, Indiana. You will remember that this is the home nest of Little Bit ND17. They are making good progress and now, some snow has arrived. I sure wonder where Little Bit is! Gosh, we long for them to fledge and then we grieve to see them again hoping they survived that almost insurmountable first year.

Humane Wildlife Indiana sent out a clever fundraiser. They are asking for donations for the strays in their care to have a full fledged Christmas dinner. You can purchase one for one animal or more. I wonder why more animal sanctuaries do not do this? You might mention this to your local care group. It is a marvelous idea.

Making News:

Sadly, for the wrong reasons the adorable Melbourne Four make the news.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/collins-street-falcon-chick-dies-days-after-taking-wing-20221115-p5byi1.html?fbclid=IwAR22J_pnOqqPaRA8JqL7WcplN8ddPreG3bIpfCVw8kNgpVudjgCKWoSHXgI

Oh, our beloved Canada Geese are making news in the UK.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/18/country-diary-canada-geese-are-on-the-move-with-a-melancholic-honk-but-why?CMP=share_btn_link

No 9 The Red List: The Nightingale

It is the song of the Nightingale that has attracted writers for thousands of years. Pliny the Elder described its song more than 2000 years ago when animals were denied artistic abilities. He wrote: “the sound is given out with modulations, and now is drawn out into a long note with one continuous breath, now made staccato . . .” Ellen Finkelpearl continues in her short article on Pliny and the Nightingale that he did believe, strongly, that the natural world including our feathered friends can be artistic!

https://classicalstudies.org/plinys-cultured-nightingale

If you are a lover of Shakespeare, you will know that the Nightingale shows up in more of the plays, not just when Juliet educates Romeo on the wonderful song of the Nightingale.

Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day.
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear.
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree.
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.

Here is a fantastic blog that captures the portrayal of the Nightingale in all of Shakespeare’s works.

https://blogs.bl.uk/sound-and-vision/2016/04/shakespeare-and-the-nightingale.html#:~:text=The%20morning%20after%20their%20secret,is%20not%20yet%20near%20day.

In his entry in Red Sixty Seven, writer Luke Massey says, “…We should be ashamed that in our quest to clean our landscape, in our acrimonious divorce from nature, we have forgotten this songster and let it suffer. Despite its song we have ignored it ; we have let it fall silent in our copses, our scrub and our hedgerows. We have failed it and with that we have failed nature. Will we really let this be the last song of the Nightingale?”

Its very last space in the UK is under threat.

https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/animals/2018/04/last-stronghold-of-nightingale-under-threat

There are problems with the Nightingale’s wings getting shorter due to climate change. That is mentioned in this great report for The Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/01/nightingales-at-risk-due-to-shorter-wings-caused-by-climate-crisis

Changes in farming practices, the destruction of hedgerow and copses for more modern farming are all adding to end the life of this most beloved bird who nests are on the ground. There are fewer and fewer sites for this beloved bird to raise their young safely.

As I read more and more of what we have done to halt the lives of so many birds, it is readily apparent that the world needs to return to some of the ‘old ways’ and continue policies or re-wilding if we are to save our precious wildlife.

In the Mailbox:

‘EJ’ was wondering how these transmitters work – like the one put on Zoe at Port Lincoln. She found a great article and you might be wondering how these transmitters work, too. Thank you, ‘EJ’. Here is the link. You should be able just to click on it.

Technology (ospreytrax.com)

Thank you so much for being with me today. Take care everyone. As I look at the weather report there is a severe weather alert for wind in both Orange and Port Lincoln. Maybe Zoe and Rubus – as well as Indigo – will take care today. Send best wishes to them!

Thank you to the following for their posts and their streaming cams that make up my screen captures: RSPB, The Guardian, Osprey Research, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, The Age, Lady Hawk and SWFlorida Eagles and D Pritchett, NEFL-AEF, and Notre Dame Eagle Cam.

Sex hats for Birds?…and other stories from Bird World

12 November 2022

Good Morning!

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful start to their Saturday. It is -8 degrees in Winnipeg, heavily overcast with some flakes of snow drifting down. The Blue Jays have been scurrying back and forth for peanuts since dawn.

The following quote is from an article that ‘K’ sent me and I wanted to share it with you. I do so treasure these feathered friends of ours. They have brought me so much love and joy. I cannot imagine – for a single instant – life without them. When I park my car on the street and walk to my house, I can hear them. Singing. What happiness that brings!

“All is an Ocean. All flows and connects so powerfully that if, in this life, you manage to become more gracious by even a drop, it is better for every bird, child, and animal your life touches than you will ever know.” (Dostoyevsky’s, The Brothers Karamazov)

The pictures are from the day before the snow. Mr Crow is here, Junior and one of the three siblings, a White-breasted Nuthatch came to visit, too.

This is Junior. He is the Dad of the three fledglings this year. Junior normally stays all winter. How do I know it is Junior? His feathers are a little duller but it is the thin eye line that extends further back. You can compare them. Junior is sitting on the edge of the bird bath while one of the fledglings is down getting a peanut.

Black isn’t just Black but depending on the light it is a green black or an iridescent purple blue with green as in the second image. Mr Crow is beautiful. My heart warms every day that he comes as it does for all the others.

It was the first time ever I have seen a White-breasted Nuthatch at the feeders in a long time. The last was on the 13th of October in 2019. A little over three years. According to the recent bird surveys, the Nuthatch population is on the rise in Canada and the rest of North America. We normally recognise the Nuthatch because it moves along the tree branches with its head facing downwards.

The squirrels have all been here, too. They have not cooperated for photos! Most of the time they are trying to get as many nuts off the solid seed cylinders as they can!

Making News:

Oh, we all love those shy flightless parrots who are more than vulnerable. There is new research that might help in caring for these marvellous characters. Adorable. Simply adorable.

Halfway around the world, a much anticipated California Condor release took place a week ago. The Condor is as vulnerable as the Kakapo is. These releases are always great moments, full of emotion and excitement. I missed this event and am so grateful that the release of these four birds back into the wild has been archived so that we can see it at our leisure.

In the Mailbox:

‘N’ writes: Today this was posted by one of the moderators at one of the streaming cams: “We’ve been trying to discourage anthropomorphic stuff for years, I’m afraid. It’s a losing battle. people project human emotions on the birds all the time.” You have mentioned this subject several times. Is it possible for you to repeat what you have said?

I would be happy to, ‘N’. First I would like to introduce Dr Marc Bekoff who is the international authority on animal emotions. He is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I am extremely impressed with the work that Dr Bekoff and other Cognitive Ethologists are conducting. Cognitive Ethology is the comparative, evolutionary, and ecological study of animal minds. This includes their emotions, their beliefs, their reasoning and processing, their consciousness, and self-expression. The keen interest, ‘N’ in animal cognition is not new and it is extremely important for animal welfare and protection. Bekoff sees the field as all encompassing in terms of understanding the subjective, emotional, empathic, and moral lives of animals.

In his research, Dr Bekoff has consistently said that as humans the only language we have is our own and it is the only thing we have to describe animal emotions. If we do not look at them and use the words joyful, grieving, then what words would we use to describe what we are seeing? We have nothing more than what we have. Dr Bekoff continues in his book, The Emotional Lives of Animals, by saying that he knows no researcher who, when working with their animals, “DOES NOT FREELY ANTHROPOMORPHIZE. THIS ANTHROPOMORPHIZING IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF, BY THE WAY; AS ALEXANDRA HOROWITZ AND I HAVE ARGUED…THESE SCIENTISTS ARE SIMPLY DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY. ANTHROPOMORPHIZING IS AN EVOLVED PERCEPTUAL STRATEGY…IT IS NOW LARGELY ACCEPTED AS FACT, THAT ANIMALS, SHARE THE PRIMARY EMOTIONS, THOSE INSTINCTUAL REACATIONS TO THE WORLD WE CALL FEAR, SURPRISE, SADNESS, DISGUST, AND JOY.” (10). The capital bold letters are mine.

I could continue on for pages ‘N’ but, it is upsetting when someone makes the statement that you have written. I am sorry but they are not informed by the current science. There are many who believe that animals do not feel pain or fear. It makes it easier to kill them! We know animals feel pain. I have seen eagles and other raptors grieving along with the Corvids in my own neighbourhood. I have seen Grackles celebrate the fledge of one of the chicks in my garden (they invite the extended family) and we have all heard and some have been blessed to witness the rituals associated with Crows when one of their group dies. I hope this answers your question and provides you with a beginning from someone expert in the field, Dr Bekoff, to rebuff those statements. I also urge everyone who is interested in this topic to get a copy of this amazing book. It is paperback and can be ordered through library loan as well. It will provide you with a clear foundation on this subject backed up by clear examples, not anecdotes.

In other mail, ‘K’ sent me a wonderful letter and an article, “Cherish This Ecstasy” by David James Duncan from The Sun written in July 2008. I want to share the topic of that article with you – bringing back the Peregrine Falcons from extinction. It seems so appropriate as we just watched Indigo and 2 or is it now 3 of the Melbourne Four fly and await Rubus’s triumphal departure.

Now do you know what the invention was that brought the Peregrine Falcons back from sure extinction? It was the Peregrine Mating Hat invented by one of Cornell’s Ornithologists. The ornithologist would put on the hat. He would sing Chee-up! while, at the same time, bowing Buddhist style. You have seen our falcons do this in their bonding rituals. The male falcon copulates with the hat. The scientists remove the sperm and inject it in the few females they had at the time. The hatchlings were raised in a DDT free environment – and that is how we now have Peregrine Falcons living almost everywhere.

Here is an example of the hat and the process. Turn your sound down a wee bit.

While we are talking and thinking about everything falcon, it is a good time to mention some of the really good books that are out there. They are in no particular order but each is loved and well worn and I pull them off the bookshelf often.

Falcon by Helen MacDonald. I love MacDonald’s books. That is not a secret. This little paperback volume is the social history of falcons from the gods of the Ancient Near East and Egypt to the hunting falcons of Europe and the Middle East. Everything you wanted to know about falcons and more including their use in the military. It really is a good read particularly if you want to known more about falcons than just scientific data – their entire cultural history of falcons in a wonderful narrative. My first pick always for a book on the subject of falcons (not just peregrines) other than a guidebook.

On the Wing. To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon by Alan Tennant. Ever wanted to fly? to understand how falcons migrate? This is the view from Tennant’s flying and tracking of the falcons as they migrate. Tennant narrates the voyages tracking the birds with the tiny little transmitters on their tails. I like it because the science is woven in with the narrative.

Queen of the Sky by Jackie Morris is a beautiful little book. It not only includes the stunning watercolours of Morris and gorgeous photographs of Hiss and her friend, Ffion Rees, who rescued this dying falcon from the sea and nurtured it back to health. This is a profoundly personal and moving book. There is a deep connection between Ffion Rees and Hiss that develops over time but which began the minute Rees looked into the eyes of that raptor. They looked into the souls of one another. Highly recommended for the art work alone but the story will certainly move you.

The Peregrine by JA Baker. Baker tracks a pair of peregrine falcons during their daily lives. He is transfixed by them. You get to know their habits – everything about them – through the eyes of Baker. Many consider this a ‘must have book’ for the shelf.

There are more but these would get you started – but, as I said, out of all the MacDonald is first. Since I love the paintings of Morris and the positive story of a falcon rescue and release the Morris is second.

And one last falcon bit. Dr Cilla Kinross (the researcher at Orange) went out looking for Indigo today. Xavier and Diamond saw her. I imagine they did not want her to get too close to their beautiful fledgling. The video will not win any awards but it does give you a fantastic idea of the sounds the adults can make if they are anxious about someone being near their offspring.

Before we check on any of the other nests, let’s see how Rubus is doing in the scrape alone. It would appear that some of those dandelions are shedding but there are lots to go. Rubus also appears to be only interested in the visits by parents if they have prey! My goodness Rubus is ferocious when there is prey about. Diamond has been flying up and checking on Rubus quite a bit this morning.

The beautiful golden glow of dawn falls over our dear little one, Rubus, who now looks out to the wide world of Indigo and the parents. Rubus, you will fly too but…it is going to be awhile. You need to get rid of most of that fluffy down. Flap those wings and shake, shake, shake.

Dare I say that Rubus is missing Indigo?

Rubus would love another prey delivery.

Diamond goes over to check on Rubus.

At 367 Collins Street, it is anyone’s guess as to how many of the eases are now fledglings. We know from a video clip from ‘Bathroom Guy’ that at least one has fledged. It is now believed that there are two. This morning very early there were three erases on the ledge waiting for a prey delivery – or at least hoping for a prey delivery! Did one return for breakfast? We know that the eyases can easily reach this height.

Here is a group of photos of the erases on camera this morning. Looking, listening, eating, and loafing.

Loafing has spread around the world…starting with Alden at UC-Berkeley. What an influencer he is!

It seems as if two have fledged and two remain to fledge – but, in truth, we have no idea! That is the nice thing about the scrape at Orange. You can be absolutely certain when the eyas flies for the first time!

The streaming cam remains off at Port Lincoln. This morning when it was back on there was a note that Big had two fish meals both of them brought in by Mum. Thank goodness Big is older and Mum is a good fisher. It is difficult to determine what is going on with Dad but, whatever it is could be linked to his two seizures seen on camera during the early incubation stage.

5 Red Listed Bird: The Mistle Thrush

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) captured at Borit, Gojal, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan with Canon EOS 7D Mark II

I first saw an image of this lovely bird after the ospreys had started their migration to Africa. For the life of me I cannot remember if it was the Glaslyn or the Dyfi nest in Wales but, on one of them was this stunning little bird, the Missile Thrush. The scientific name Turdus viscivorus means ‘devourer of Mistletoe’. It is a large songbird with a grey-brown head, back, and wings. Its breast is spotted with the same grey-brown on ivory. Piercing deep espresso eyes with an ever so slight eye ring. The pop of colour comes in the pinky-peach legs. One can only imagine that this combination in haute couture would land it on the Paris runways. In its behaviour, this Thrush is powerful and aggressive. It eats insects, invertebrates, and loves berries. They do love mistletoe but will also eat hawthorn or holly berries. The largest of the warblers in the UK, their son is loud and is carried for a distance from their perch high in trees. Actually, it isn’t a song but a rattle.

These lovely birds are globally threatened. Their numbers have declined dramatically, as much or more than 50%. The cause is a lack of habitat. Hedgerows where the find food and wet ditches because of the drainage of farmland has led to a lack of earthworms and other invertebrate that the Missile Thrush relies on for its food. Cow pastures and woodland have also been lost or degraded.

Research conducted by the RSPB suggests that ‘Farming measures likely to help song thrushes include sympathetic hedgerow management (with tall, thick hedges), planting new woodlands on farmland, and planting wild bird seed mixtures including leafy cover.’ In addition, the RSPB found that preventing the soil from drying out during the summer would be of great benefit to the thrushes. Hotter summers have brought more rain so perhaps, there is some hope here.

Migration News:

Bonus remains in close proximity to the area he has been in Turkey for the last little while. Waba is still in the Sudan feeding at the Nile but has moved slightly south.

It is so wonderful to have you with us. Thank you so much for being part of this marvellous international family of bird lovers. Take care of yourselves. See you soon!

Special thanks go to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures: Kakapo Recovery, Ventana Wildlife Society, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and 367 Collins Street by Mirvac.

Let’s Talk, Darling Starling

8 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I was a little ahead of myself. The banding at Port Lincoln does not take place until the 12-14th (Australian time).

I have been trying to lure the European Starlings back into the garden. Last January there were 58 eating snow and hard seed cylinders along with butter bark and meal works. Nothing seems to bring them to the garden currently and this is troubling me.

The pictures below were taken in my garden on the 26th of January 2022.

This evening I was thumbing through and reading different entries in the two books – collaborations between writers and artists – that form the fundraiser on the Red Series by the British Trust for Ornithology. How disgusted was I when I found the Starling. So my plan is to introduce you to a different bird every day between now and the end of the year that is vulnerable. Today we are talking Starlings.

“Nowadays you can count them, when at one time they were literally countless.” Scientists think the causes of the decline involve farming practices that have poisoned insect prey with pesticides and chopped down grassland habitat. Other farmland bird populations too are reeling from the impacts.”

This report on the decline of Old World House Sparrows and European Starlings is excellent. It is long and it is thorough, some 244 plus pages divided into sections dealing with each species. It is not for bedtime reading but, even skimming through some sections and pausing to read bits and bobs will underscore the challenges that these two species face. These are two birds that I often hear people complain about at their feeders – there are so many of them. And yet, there aren’t. It is a delusion. If we cannot protect the Sparrows and the Starlings, what birds can we help?

Diamond doesn’t like them but they must be easy prey for the Peregrine Falcons in the rural areas of NSW Australia. Indigo is frightened by them and Rubus just gets down to business and eats them.

Some of you might have seen the recent YouTube video of the Starling that has learned to talk and sing but, did you know that this was common knowledge during the time of Shakespeare? In his entry for the Starling in Into the Red, M.G. Leonard begins with Henry IV and the entry where Hotspur declares that he will teach a Starling to repeat the name ‘Moritimer’ over and over again to drive the King mad since he declared his brother-in-law a traitor. Leonard is fascinated that a Starling would be a proper gift for a King, and that over 400 years ago it was well known how intelligent they were and how they could be taught to speak.

Leonard continues with Mozart who purchased a pet Starling in 1784 and taught it to sing. Mozart trained his pet Starling to sing his concertos. It was well-known that he loved his Starling more than anything in the world. The bird is said to have died a week before Mozart’s father. Mozart did not attend his father’s funeral. Instead he staged an elaborate memorial for his beloved bird.

In order to create a European landscape full of birds and plants, a German brought and released 60 Starlings- along with every other species mentioned by Shakespeare- in New York City in March 1890.

We think of murmurations and we think of Starlings.

Leonard ends blasting humans — “What monsters must we be, that we have reduced it to sit on the Red List.”

I agree. My heart is broken.


Australian Nests:

I have been thinking about the Melbourne Four. Risking getting egg on my face, I am going to come out and say that I think that the ‘Four’ will fledge within close proximity of one another on the same day. They have been very busy today watching the flying demonstrations that Mum and Dad have been doing. And one of them is ‘loafing’ like Alden. ‘A’ says Alden’s stance has gotten all the way to Australia!

Loafing.

Loafing and flapping. There are hardly any dandelions left on these beauties. They have the great DNA of old Dad and the new Mum and the love and care of new Dad. How fortunate.

That must be some aerial display – like 2 Stealth Bombers at an Air Show but for the private viewing of their kids…it is hard to imagine these four a month ago!

‘A’ has alerted me to a storm hitting the Melbourne area causing thunder and steady rain. It is not a good day for the eyases to fledge – and also. Look at the one on the ledge. The size of that crop dictates that bird will probably want to stay put and go into a food coma any moment!

At the nest of Cornell University’s Red-tail Hawk Big Red, she will always fill the eyases up to the brim if she doesn’t want them to fledge.

My goodness, I don’t know how that one eyas can stand she is so full. Gracious. It looks like she swallowed a small beach ball instead of a pigeon. Now, I wonder. Did she eat all of the pigeon leaving only scraps for her siblings??? Sure looks like it!

‘H’ reports that 5 prey items were brought to the Melbourne Four by both Mum and Dad. One of those was eaten almost entirely by Mum who took away the scraps. Thanks, ‘H’.

A super nice fish was delivered to Mum and Big by Dad around 1034. The winds will be gusting up to 30 mph and well, Dad is a great fisher but, he, too, can have difficulties. This is a lot of fish and should keep Big til later in the day. In the real world, a fish this size might be the only prey of the day.

‘A’ sent the observation board from Port Lincoln also. To recap, Big is 52 days old today. Mum and Dad brought in fish – Dad brought in 2 and Mum brought in 1. Those times were: 10:34, 13:15, 19:23. Thanks ‘A’.

I wonder how many more mornings we will wake up to Indigo looking off the ledge to the world beyond? She can fly. Rubus can’t.

Indigo is doing the same exercises that Diamond did in the morning – great stretches.

What a beautiful falcon Indigo is. She is watching carefully as the adults fly around the tower. They will begin to lure her with prey. Many on the chat do not realise that Xavier and Diamond will provide prey for about 4-6 weeks while they teach Indigo to hunt and be independent. Cilla Kinross says she does not monitor them after they fledge but she sees them in the trees about 400 m from the tower.

Rubus is not nearly ready to fledge.

‘A’ sent the days feeding recap for us at Orange: RECAP: 06 56 59 prey, left for chicks; 7:25:02 prey, Rubus takes; 9:17:05 X w/juv starl, leaves with chicks; 9:22:42 D w/GST, feeds; 13:25:17 X w/juv star, leaves with chicks; 16:48:25 pigeon, D feeds. In other notes, one of the prey had a blue leg band and Diamond ate it! Oh, goodness.

Other Nest News:

A major storm, one of the worst to hit the Big Bear Valley, is arriving today. Jackie and Shadow are getting prepared. Please send your positive and warm wishes to them.

Everyone has their favourite species of bird and within that species, most of us have one or two favourite bird families on the streaming cams. I have my own favourites and then I have the nests that I recommend to others to follow. Those nests are steady as you go and reliable and they include Harriet and M15 at SWFlorida, Samson and Gabby at NEFlorida, and Liberty and Guardian at Redding. The Channel Islands Bald Eagle nests have their challenges. The parents are incredibly amazing but, eaglets found themselves clinging to the sides of cliffs last year. It can literally put a hole in your heart while you wait to see if Dr Peter Sharpe will arrive in time to save the baby. So that is why West End and Two Harbour are not in those top 3. Fraser Point is a great nest, only about 2 metres off the ground, and is the home of Mama Cruz and Andor. I do not and will not recommend Dale Hollow which is on the border between Kentucky and Tennessee. The male is currently injured and last year there was siblicide at this nest. There is also a strict no intervention policy by the people that run the cams and that includes if fishing line is on the nest. The Captiva Bald Eagle nest has had its issues and it remains unclear if Connie and Clive will have a successful clutch this year. The last two eaglets to hatch on the nest, Peace and Hope, died from rodenticide poisoning. Glacier Gardens is a great nest but the visibility of the nest is not good. So, if you are starting to make a list and have limited time and want colourful characters and steady as you go then Harriet and M15 along with Samson and Gabby and Liberty and Guardian are your nests. I personally love Shadow and Jackie at Big Bear – talk about characters – and so do about 6000 other people. They did successfully raise one chick last year -Spirit – and that eaglet was amazing. I will be watching them again. Another good nest is the KNF nest 1 of Anna and Louis at the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. Louis is an incredible fisher. One year he had 20 fish on the nest – 20 – for a recently hatched eaglet. They have fledged 1 eaglet for each year of the past two years. There are many, many others but if you want safe and secure for beginning eagle watching head to those three mentioned above.

That storm has hit Big Bear Valley. The winds are horrific and you can hear the rain and/or ice pellets alongside the howling wind. I will continue to check on this nest for today and the next couple of days. The eagles at Big Bear are used to harsh winter weather and, as we saw in Florida, they survived a hurricane. Looking forward to seeing Jackie and Shadow back on the nest when this is over.

Samson and Gabby are making their nest very comfy. Look at the reeds and moss that are coming in for lining. Fantastic. For those of you who do not know this nest, Samson hatched on this very nest. It belonged to his parents Romeo and Juliet. Samson and Gabby have fledged Jules and Romey, Legacy, and last year, Jasper and Rocket – success for the three years they ahve been together. Let’s see what year 4 brings.

Of course, after mentioning Harriet and M15, it would not have been fair to not have included some images. This couple, whose nest was entirely destroyed by Hurricane Ian, have rebuilt and has many of you note and ‘A’ reminds me, Harriet is now giving M15 ‘the foot’ to remind him it is time to fertilise some eggs.

Thank you so much for being with me today. Please take care wherever you are. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts, their videos, and their streaming cams and for their notes: ‘A’, ‘H’, BTO, SWFlorida, D Pritchett and Lady Hawk, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, NEFL-AEF, and FOBBV.

Will the Melbourne Four fledge? …and other news in Bird World

7 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone!

I am so sorry that the link I published to the story of WBSE26 did not work. The one under question 1 below works! Thank you ‘J’ and ‘H’ for alerting me to this issue!

___________________________________________________________________

It is actually 2030 on the Canadian Prairies, Sunday evening, and the snow that was forecast, arrived. The precipitation goes back and forth between snow and freezing rain so it is like a slushy drink outside. The garden birds will not be happy. Watching them during the torrential rains last spring, it is readily apparent that they prefer the snow (dry snow not heavy wet) to the rain. Their food does not ruin and they can fly easier. So many prefer to eat directly off the deck than from the feeders that I worry about them when it is so wet. Will this snow be here in the morning?

It stayed. The squirrels have run all over the place. Dyson was here early with her two kits.

The miniature weeping Caragana and Japanese lantern look lonely this time of year.

One of Dyson’s kits. The other is in the lilac bushes.

Dyson under the bird bath eating Black Oil seed and peanuts she found under the snow.

On the Bookshelf:

One of my biggest complaints about bird guides is the images. We have a locally published book on Manitoba Birds. It has drawings instead of photographs and they are lovely but, they are only helpful to an extent. Sometimes there is only the image of the adult male. There are never immatures! And definitely not an immature female bird. How are we supposed to learn which is which in the garden? Merlin ID has driven me crazy. My best book for sparrow ID has been the hefty Crosley’s Sparrows. But, what if you want to identify other species? Some have pictures or drawings the size of postage stamps and the layout designer used the size 8 font so that anyone over the age of 30 or someone with poor eyesight cannot read the text.

There is a new book out that will help those living in Europe. You might still need a magnifier to read the text or probe the maps, though. The book is Europe’s Birds. An Identification Guide. It is a weighty volume. You will not be hauling it around with you in the field but, it should be a much used reference for home. The images are far superior to any I have seen in other volumes. In Canada, the hard copy is $36…well below the average of some of the other guides that take up space but do not help one bit with IDing a bird!

In the Mailbox:

Oh, I love getting questions! There were 3 today and all of you might be wondering about one or more of them.

1. ‘J’ wrote about having difficulty opening the link to the former blog about WBSE26. I am so very sorry if this happened to all of you. Here is a link that works. 26 is inspirational and needs to be remembered for all the joy and encouragement she gave to all of us in her short life.

https://maryannsteggles.com/tag/wbse26/
January 5 is National Bird Day!

2. ‘K’ wrote: ‘Will the parents continue to feed the chicks on the ledge in Melbourne after they fledge?’

‘K’, that is a difficult question to answer. Normally, the adults would begin teaching the eyases how to hunt when they fledge. They would deliver prey to them in mid-air transfers and would be finding other places to feed their fledglings. The previous couple did not feed the fledgling falcons on the ledge. Mirvac turned the camera off at that time. These are first time parents and we will have to wait and see but I assume the answer is ‘no’, they will not bring prey to the ledge for the falcons if they have fledged. Prey would be taken to those that have yet to fly. You might also have noticed that the adults have begun to reduce the amount of prey that is being delivered. Food is a great motivator!

3. Several asked, ‘Will the Collins Street eyases fledge one by one or will they fledge together?

Like question 2, this is difficult to answer for several reasons. Males tend to fledge before females. The reason is simple. It takes females longer to produce all the feathers for their larger size than the males. At the present time, we do not know the gender of these chicks and it is likely we never will as they are not ringed nor has any blood been taken to determine gender. We should, however, expect the male to fly first. Victor Hurley has said he believes that there are 3 females and 1 male. But is the male the 4th hatch or the 1st? or the 3rd? Hatch order and gender could impact the timing of fledge. So if the male is the 4th hatch he might fly the same time as the 1st if that bird is a female because of the difference in their ages.

I have seen many nests where the eyases get so excited seeing one of their clutch fly that they all fly off within an hour. It has happened at this ledge. Now that the youngest has made it to the window ledge, I am wondering if the eyases might not all fledge within an hour or one another. We should know the answer to this question soon! I know that this does not answer your question. It might even confuse it more and my apologies. We just don’t know! They will keep us guessing until they take off…and then we will wish them safe skies, long lives, and full crops.

Fledglings depend on the parents from 4-6 weeks to help and teach them how to hunt and obtain prey. They will then leave the parent’s territory.

One of the most difficult things about getting close to the birds is not knowing what happens to them. Some people prefer to not know while others like myself, want to know every detail of their life. I think that is why satellite tracking is so interesting to me or a book such as Bowland Beth.

Australian Nests:

You might well have noticed. Mum and Dad at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge don’t seem to be in such a big hurry in the morning to get up and off and find fish. Dad appeared to have a leisurely morning and Mum went and had a spa break. Good for her. She must eat and take care of herself.

Mum and Dad are also spending a lot of time with one another. Mum has fed Dad – a tender thank you for the food he brought when she was so desperately hungry -, they have sat together in the shed, and now they are spending time on the perch. If someone believes that they are not mourning, they need to consider the behaviour of these two beautiful ospreys who have lost two chicks. The loss of Middle had to be particularly difficult, a fully feathered osplet.

Dad flew in with a large whole fish. It looked like Big wanted that fish for itself but Mum prevailed and kept control. She remains in charge of the feeding. Is this on purpose? Big is now the age that she should be self-feeding. Big hatched on the 18th of September. If we count hatch date, Big is 51 days old. She will be ringed anytime between today and Thursday. We should be able then to confirm the gender, the weight, a name, and see Big with her tracker.

I had to laugh. One of the chatters said that, ‘Big is just an eating machine’. That is possibly why Mum still controls the reigns of the fish so that she gets fed properly, too, when an extra nice fish like the one that came in this morning is delivered.

Look at that fish. Wow!

Watchers of 367 Collins Street are having a hard time deciding if any of the eyases have fledged. They are such beautiful eyases. At 1400 all four were on the ledge.

‘H’ did a great compilation of the 4th hatch, ‘little Peanut’ branching up to the window ledge. Watch as the others come down and do a ‘cheer’ for the wee one.

Indigo and Rubus are changing every day. Like Big, Rubus is a bit of an ‘eating machine’. When Rubus hatched and was so absolutely tiny and couldn’t get up to eat – do you remember? -, I felt so sorry for Rubus. Indigo was just tall, stoic, and elegant. At one point it seemed like Diamond didn’t want to bend down to feed Rubus. And then…Rubus started jumping and stretching that neck. What a long neck and well, that is all history. Rubus practically knocks the parent over if there is food. Indigo appears to want to look out to the world beyond and feed herself. Rubus gets fed but is doing quite well at self-feeding, too.

‘Hello Everyone!’

Rubus was very happy that Indigo left some prey.

Rubus is doing a great mantling of the second prey delivery. Indigo is not interested. She ate most of the earlier delivery and is looking out to the world where she will be flying with her parents – the fastest bird on the planet!

Look at Rubus’s wing feathers. Lovely. We will wake up one morning and Rubus will look like Indigo. What a shock that will be!

At 1642 prey was delivered. Indigo expected to get it but, Rubus was quicker grabbing the item and carrying off into the corner by the Cilla Stones.

Indigo is telling Xavier and Diamond about how naughty Rubus was taking her prey!

The adults leave the kids to it…Rubus takes the prey to eat it in the back of the scrape while Indigo comes over and wants the food. Rubus turns quickly to protect his meal and heads back to the Cilla stones. Rubus has had some good fast bites.

Indigo will eventually get the prey from Rubus through the great ‘stare down’.

Need a refresher on falcons? This is a good resource on Peregrine Falcons that includes many helpful links that you might find interesting.

https://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/birds/peregrine-falcon.html

What’s Up with the Eagles?

Harriet and M15 have been working really hard rebuilding their nest that was completely destroyed by Hurricane Ian. Lady Hawk has posted a video of their progress. And guess what? Harriet is sleeping on the nest tonight. Eggs might be coming soon!

Philippe Josse posted some super screen captures of Mum and Dad at the Notre Dame Eagles nest in St Patrick’s Park in South Bend, Indiana. This is the home of our beloved Little Bit ND17 – the little eaglet that could. Their nest completely collapsed and many wondered if they would rebuild in the same place. They did and both have been walking around testing the nest to make certain it is sturdy. Thank you, Philippe!

Jackie and Shadow continue to work on their nest in the light snow in Big Bear.

And last but, never least, some great news. I have been tracking down information on ospreys that went into care before they fledged. There is an urban myth that they do not do well in care and, in particular, before fledging. You might remember the two osplets that had not fledged at Pitkin County Open Spaces and Trails. Their mum pulled them off the nest by accident. One died while the other went into care. It is doing great and is being over wintered and will be released in the spring. Urban myth proved wrong. (I have been asked not to publish the name of the wildlife centre as they do not have the staff to answer queries). This is good news and details will be sent to Port Lincoln.

Banding will take place anytime between today and Thursday at Port Lincoln. I have seen no specific time or day indicated yet.

Thank you so much for being with me this morning. Please take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘H’ and 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Amazon.ca, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, FOBBV, ND-LEEF and P Josse, SWFL and D Pritchett plus Lady Hawk.

Bursting crops and branching…tales from Bird World

4 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

Gosh, I cannot believe it is November. Today marks the beginning of the cooler weather for the Canadian Prairies. It is -5 and the Crows and the Blue Jays have been telling me all morning that we need to bring out the heated bird bath! The problem with the heated baths is that you must, in my climate, put small boards across the surface so they can drink and not bathe. It is too cold. Well, actually it is easy to put the boards across the top, it is the Crows that whack them out of alignment causing the entire exercise to be futile.

I can see no more double digit days ahead – maybe not until May! The Snowy Owls continue to arrive in the province while the number of Canada Geese, Mallards, Wood Ducks, and Dark-eyed Juncos is dropping dramatically. I do not blame them! I need to go out and have a last check at three local ponds and do the duck and geese count but, I have been having so much fun watching Missey and Lewis play that I just have not done it.

In the garden, the Blue Jays are here and so are the Crows. The Black Capped Chickadee stays all winter as does the Downy Woodpeckers. There are about 40 or 50 Old World House Sparrows that remain also. The numbers feeding drops substantially but, there is always a huge push for food from those migrating and that happened on Tuesday.

I am so glad that you have enjoyed the photos of the kittens. To all who realized what a wonderful distraction they are for the sadness at Port Lincoln, it is true. Lewis and Missey have really helped ease that tragedy. There is nothing more wonderful than your own animal or bird friend at home. The energy of Lewis and Missey is unmatched in my mind as my last cat, a lovely Red Aby rescue, was 14 and much slowed down when she passed away in July 2021. It took awhile to get ready for other fur ball companions. There is not a place that these two haven’t explored. I will include more pictures tomorrow!!!!!!!!!! But for now, ‘H’ cheered me up with this compilation of the two Lewises. So cute.

Australian Nests:

This image of Big at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge pretty much sums up this nest for this season. Look at Big’s crop. I would also like to see that size on Mum!

Big is massive.

Dad brought an enormous fish to the barge early yesterday morning. He had a good fill, so good that Mum was screaming at him to get that fish over to her and Big.

She is not too happy thinking Dad is going to eat that entire fish! He wouldn’t but…what we have to still consider is that during the stormy cold weather – our dear Middle got little to eat. At the same time, Mum had only the head of a fish more than Middle and some bites she could ‘steal’ while feeding Big. She was absolutely famished and still is hungry. You know I always say how much these adults lose in terms of body mass raising their chicks, it can be tremendous. I am hopeful that Mum will step back and, while feeding Big, take some care for herself.

The fish was estimated to actually weigh more than Dad. He had some trouble dragging it on to the ropes. It was just the kind of fish this family needed to start the day. Good work, Dad!

Mum and Big ate for an hour and a half.

There was some fish left for Mum, too, at the end which she ate by herself. Big was full – can you believe it? And moved away from the beak.

Last evening Mum went down and spent some time with Dad in the shed. Remember these two are grieving the loss of two chicks. Mum has fed Dad and now she has slipped down so they can spend some time together. I actually do not recall Mum being down in the shed very often. This has been a difficult season after the triumph of last year with the three males.

The attention at 367 Collins Street in Melbourne is not how much prey is brought to the nest but when the eldest eyas or two will fly. They are sure getting ready! Here are a mixture of images from today.

Dad missed the ledge – thanks, ‘H’.

Most of you will be familiar with the term ‘branching’ when it comes to eaglets. The flight from the nest to the branch. Well, there are no branches for either the Collins Street or Orange flacons but, ‘H’ caught the eldest having flow up to the other ledge at Collins Street – branching Melbourne style!

Rubus seems to have taken over the entire Orange scrape. From that tiny wee eyas that had to really jump to try and get any prey in its early days to now when it intimidates Xavier and seems to be eating everything, Rubus is a force to be reckoned with. Indigo, meanwhile, is becoming the most beautiful falcon, just like her mother Diamond.

Indigo reminds me of Izzi in this picture!

Rubus has been self feeding and plucking. He made quick work of a Starling head the other day. I wonder what he will do with this piece of prey?

I still say he but that does not mean Rubus is a ‘he’. Indeed, Rubus is eating so much and growing so big that we might be looking at another female. I don’t think Cilla has declared yet – if you know and I missed that, let me know please.

In Taiaroa Head, the first egg of the Royal Albatross breeding season has been laid and everyone of the NZ DOC rangers is looking forward to an exciting season! If you want to watch a mostly ‘unstressful’ nest, the Albatross is your seabird of choice. Why? The NZ DOC rangers take such good care of their birds. Eggs are removed right before hatch so that fly strike will not happen, eggs are shifted around between parents if a foster family is needed, and — there is normally no starvation as the chicks are weighed and topped up if their parents cannot supply enough food or if one or both are lost.

I will not say that the nests do not have their sadness. They do. We waited and waited for the return of OGK this year – he was last seen in mid-May-. He was young! Albatross can live to be quite old. Wisdom, a Laysan Albatross, from Midway Atoll, will be 71 or 72 this year.

The NZ DOC has posted a video of what to expect:

On the Bookshelf:

I am not certain that this isn’t a book that all ages would enjoy. It was intended for children – to introduce them and convince them that birds are stunningly extraordinary. The topics cover every aspect of a birds’ life from their ancestry, to their behaviours, how we can help protect them and how to make your garden more bird friendly. The images are gorgeous and, the message is clear – protect the birds they are amazing! It is by David Lindo. Published in the UK, price varies but roughly $22 CDN for the hard cover. Highly recommended as a fantastic holiday or birthday gift.

The Name Game:

I want to thank everyone who took the time and sent in some of the names of their favourite streaming cam birds. It was quite fun.

Finally this morning, the ‘Name Game’. Thank you to absolutely everyone who sent in names. There were many duplicates and quite a few that I did not know. The letters in brackets are meant to help you figure out the nest but some, like (BS) stand for Black Stork. The Welsh names are either the Glaslyn or Dyfi nest. There were 3 names that tied for being submitted the most – 27 times each: Ervie, Izzi, and Xavier!

A: Annie and Alden (UC-B), Aila (LA), Andor (FP), Akecheta (WE); Andy (Captiva), Arthur (Cornell), Aran (Glaslyn), Aeron (Pont Cresor), Axel, Abby (EC), Alex and Andria (KNF), Audrey (CC)

B: Bazza (PLO), Big Red (Cornell), Blaze (EC), Bonus (BS), Blue33 (Rutland), Betty and Bukachek (Mlady Buky), Bella (NCTC), Brooks (SF), Baron Blue and Baroness Barefoot (WTE), Boone (JC), Bailey (HI), Barb (BPF), Bonnie (GHOW), Boris (Finnish nest)

C: Chase and Cholyn (2H); Captain JJ7 (LA), Carson and Cade (UC-B, 2020), Connie and Clive (Captiva), Ceulan, Clarach, Cerist, CJ7 (PH), Cookie (BBV), Charlie and Charlotte (Charlo Montana), Claire (USS), Clyde (GHOW)

D: Diamond (Orange); Dorcha (LA), Doddie (LA), DEW (PLO 2020); Daisy Duck (WBSE 2021), Dylan (LC), Dinas, Delyth, Della (MH), Dory (Boathouse), Diane (Achieva), Decorah North Mom and Dad, DM2, Duke and Daisy (Barnegat L)

E: Ervie! (PLO), Einion, Eitha, Eerie (BS), E9 and all the Es (SWFL)

F: Falky (PLO), Fauci (UC-B 2021), Freedom (RE, GG, Hanover), Franklin (Dollywood)

G: Grinnell and Grinnell Jr (UC-B), Gabriella/Gabby (NEFL), Glesni, Gwynant, Guardian (RE), Glory (NADC), Grislis, Glory (Dunrovin)

H: Harriet (all the Harriets but especially SWFL), Helyg, Hesgyn, Hope (GG), Harry (MN-DNR), Honor (NADC), Helju (GE), Hal (Dunrovin), Honor (Dunrovin)

I: Izzi (Orange), Indigo (Orange), Idris (Dyfi), Iris (Hellgate), Iniko (CC), Independence (Dollywood), Irvin (USS)

J: Jackie (BBV), Jasper (NEFL), Joe (Captiva), Juliet (NEFL), Jan and Jannika (BS), Jack (Achieva), Jack (Dahlgren), Junior (GI), Jolene (JC)

K: Kaknu (UC-B), Kana’kini (WE), Kindness (GG), Kaia and Karl II (BS), Kincaid (KNF), Kisatchie (KNF), Klints, Kalju (GE), Kingpin (CC)

L: Louis (LA), Lady (WBSE), Lotus (NADC), Lena (Captiva); Little Bit ND17 (ND), Legacy (NE FL), Lindsay (UC-B); Lancer (2H), Lillibet (FP), Lawrencium/Larry (UC-B), Love (GG), Liberty, Louis (KNF), LGK and LGL (RA, Taiki’s parents), Louis (HG), Lily (GHOW), Lady (LOTL), Laddie LM12 (LOTL), all of Big Red and Arthur’s Ls

M: M15 (SWFL), Mama Cruz (FP), Mr. President (NADC), Monty (Dyfi), Merin, Menai, Mrs G (Glaslyn), Martin (Captiva), Mitch (HH), Maya (Rutland), Mahala (GI), Missy (BC), Molate (SF), Malin (CM), Ma Berry (BC), Mom Decorah, Milda (WTE)

N: Nancy (MN-DNR), Nora (Dyfi)

O: OGK (RA)

P: Pedran, Padarn, Peace (GG), Pa Berry (BC), Pikne (BS), Pa Decorah, Phoebe (HI)

Q: QT

R: Rosie and Richmond (SF), Rocket (NEFL), Rick, Rubus (Orange), Rocket (NEFL), Ron and Rita (WRDC), Romeo (NEFL), Rachel (HI), Redwood Queen (CC)

S: Shadow (BBV), Samson (NEFL), Solly (PLO), Simba (BBV), SE26 for the brave eaglet she was (WBSE), Spirit (BBV), Seren (LC), Star and Sentry (RE), Skiff (HI), Sloop (HI), Schooner (HI), Slapjack (HI), Sarafina (Loch Arkaig), Star (WE), Smitty (NCTC), Spilvie, Superman (WE), Swoop (Dunrovin), Salli (Finland)

T: Thunder (WE), Takoda (NADC); dear Taps (PLO), Taiki (RA), Telyn (Dyfi), Tuul (BS), Titi (FN), The First Lady (NADC), Tom (CC), Tiny Tot Tumbles (Achieva), Tiger (GHOW)

U: UV (KF), Udu (Black Stork)

V: Victor (FP), Vera (Loch Arkaig), Voldis (WTE)

W: Wek Wek (UC-B), Willow (Loch Arkaig), Warren (MH), Waba, Wilfred and Wilma

X: Xavier

Y: Yurruga (Orange), Ystwyth, YRK (RA)

Z: Z1 aka Tegid (AO4, Wales, one of Monty’s boys), Z2 aka Aeron (PC, one of Monty’s boys)

Thank you so much for being with me today. Take care all. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their videos, streaming cams, and posts that make up my screen captures: ‘H’, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and the NZ DOC.