Sometimes I get the most delightful mail and today word has arrived from France of the sighting of Loch Arkaig’s LW5. Thank you to Bernard Lagadec who took the time to write and send the coordinates! Much appreciated by all of us as this nest is so dear to our hearts.
Bernard observed Willow LW5 from 11 to 14 09 2022. Here is the place and the coordinates: COMBRIT FINISTERE IN FRANCE L 47°053’17” L 4°09″29″
Combrit (Breton: Kombrid) is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France.
Just look at what might have been Willow’s route. If she did do as Google Maps suggests, she flew almost straight south taking a turn and going over to the southwest coast of England and then crossed the water. Of course, I am only speculating on this route. What we know is that Willow left Loch Arkaig on 28 August and as you can see, she wasted no time getting to France. Just a fortnight. Oh, I wonder where she is now.
I had goosebumps running up and down my arms. LW5 is Willow with LW6 being Sarafina who stayed on the nest forever so long.
Here are the pair after being ringed with Mum Dorcha and Dad Louis.
Here is Willow fledging.
Here is Willow taking her second flight.
And this is the last sighting of Willow at Loch Arkaig before she begins her migration.
Thank you so much Bernard Lagadec for sending this wonderful news to all of us. It is so appreciated.
Thank you also to the Friends of Loch Arkaig, the Woodland Trust, and the People’s Post Code Lottery for the streaming cam videos of the events in Willow’s life.
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!
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Greetings from a wintery wonderland on the Canadian Prairies. We have snow – thankfully not like what has been landing in the Great Lakes area of the US. Just lovely snowy drifting down giving everything a crisp clean Hallmark card ‘look’.
Before I go any further, Rubus and his fludged-fledge has been located in a tree near to Indigo by Shines. Later Indigo flies up to the scrape but has difficulty due to the very strong winds getting the landing perfect. It was like Rubus who had little control with those winds as he exited the scrape but greater control near the ground. Both are safe and sound. We can all breathe a little lighter! Zoe remains on the nest as I write this. So everything is, so far, alright at both of the Australian nests we have been watching. Only one fledge to go, Zoe, the Port Lincoln osplet.
If you missed it, here is Rubus’s start to his great adventure:
Thanks to ‘B’, who sent me this link, we can see Rubus and Indigo perched in trees! Thank you so much ‘B’.
This is the feeding recap for Zoe at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge up until 1500. 06:14 Dad with partial fish. 06:14:12 Zoe steals fish from Mum.8:24:50 Partial by Dad. Zoe self feeds. 9:10:50 Zoe finishes the tail.
Paith, the third hatch at the Dyfi nest of Idris and Telyn of 2022, has been spotted in another country. Emyr Evans needs permissions for all the details, etc. but this is fantastic news. Oh, tears. Need these third hatches to do well!!!!!!
The Melbourne Four make the news again and they are right. Who needs Netflix when we can have Nestflix?
There was also just an amazing season tribute to the Melbourne Four that included ‘Old Dad’ (M17). Thank you for this! It came on a day when we needed some really positive news with Rubus fledging/fludging.
The Black-naped Pheasant-Pigeon was thought to be extinct. It was last seen in 1887. It has been found in New Guinea.
The very first egg of the season at the Kistanchie National Forest nest has been laid on Nest E-3. Congratulations!
Big Red was spotted on the Cornell campus along with one of the juveniles. It is always great to see Big Red, the international star of all Red-tailed Hawks! She is all flooded up to keep warm. Big Red had been spotted earlier out hunting – and it was successful. There is great comfort in knowing that she is alright. It seems that L4 is also still around the campus. That is also wonderful news.
I have never heard of a Tree Pipit. As far as I know, we do not have them in Manitoba. Ed Douglas describes them this way, “Pipits are often regarded as dreary-looking birds, the avocado bathroom of the avian world. That only makes me love them more, but telling these flecked brown birds apart visually is a task of tooth-grinding attention to detail.” The Tree Pipit is a bit bigger than the other Pipets and its beak is thicker. “The Tree Pipit has a touch of swagger, strutting across the ground, tail pumping rhythmically, like a wagtail, as it hunts for insects.” The birds also breed on the ground laying a clutch of approximately six eggs in the grasses beneath the trees. Indeed, the birds like the woodlands and the fringes at the edges for raising their families. They flutter through the air in a way not dissimilar to a Black Capped Chickadee.
Personally, I do not think they are Avocado Bathroom at all. The colouring is marvellous. Stop for a second and examine the range from a soft silvery white to the creams, the darker ash blonde, moving into the very dark blond and on to that deep 70% chocolate. They are stunning! Notice the white eye ring and the very subtle eye line.Move on to the wing and the teardrop pattern with the dark espresso lined by the white. Incredible. Striations only on the upper breast. This melody of brown and its hues is all topped off by velvety light rose legs and beak. I expect this little one to be wearing a matching light rose velvet hat with feathers carrying a matching handbag!
There are parts of the world where the Tree Pipit is of least concern but in the UK, its song and it are in dramatic decline. They migrate annually to Africa and when in the UK, their diet consists of insects gleaned from the woodland floor and old rotting trees. Declines can also be attributed to the use of insecticides and herbicides both in the UK and in Africa – to kill the insects which are then eaten by these small birds causing them to die. Secondary poisoning.
Little Waba is still in the Sudan fishing at the Nile River near Nori. She is obviously doing very well. The temperature in the area today was 26 degrees C.
Bonus is also in the same area in Turkey in Konya Province. It is considerably cooler there at 13 degrees C. Bonus also landed on a transmission tower today and everyone was very, very concerned because of the deaths from electrocution. He left, thankfully!
Oh, the time just flies by. It is hard to believe that we have our first Bald Eagle eggs in Florida and in Louisiana now and that we have only one more raptor to fledge in Australia, Zoe. It is a good time of year to take a deep breath, to remember those lovely feathered friends we have lost, and to be ever so grateful for those that survived.
Thank you for being with me today. Please take care of yourselves. Looking forward to having you with me again soon.
Thank you to the following for their posts, their videos, and their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘B’, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Looduskalender Forum, OpenVerse, Suzanne Arnold Horning, Cornell Bird Labs, US Forestry Service KNF Bald Eagle Nests, CTV News, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, The Age, Ospreys. Ringed Birds and Sightings (UK), and 367 Collins Falcon Watchers.
It is Tuesday on the Canadian Prairies. It seems like the days have passed by so quickly – just a blur. One day it is Friday and in a blink, we find ourselves waking up to Tuesday. In part, I attribute this to the time difference between North America and Australia where all of the streaming cam action has been taking place these past three months. At any rate, I hope that you are well and I am so glad that you are here with me on this sunny day. It is only -6. Glorious! The Starlings are eating the suet and the lilacs are full of sparrows. Three grey squirrels have been running about this morning hoping that I will put out peanuts or a new seed cylinder for them. Soon!
Last week I received a letter from someone who had commented on one of the streaming cams and who had been admonished for putting human feelings on the birds. As you might recall, I am an ardent supporter of the research of scientists such as Dr Marc Bekoff at the University of Colorado and others such as Jane Goodall. I reassured my reader that, according to Dr Bekoff, it is currently acceptable within the science community, to anthropomorphise wildlife. Indeed, him and his colleagues do this all the time. I received so many letters in response to this question. It is reassuring that so many people, from every corner of our planet, understand that animals have emotions, that they feel pain, they experience joy and grief and fear. One reader shared the story of one member of her flock and how they grieved following the death of their mate. ‘J’ has given me permission to share the story of her budgie, Wolpe, with you. Thank you ‘J’. Here is a brief recount of how Wolpe mourned and how the death of her first mate changed her attitude towards life and love.
As a child, ‘J’ had a pet budgie that would sit on her shoulder when she was reading. It was her dream to have her own aviary ‘when she grew up’ and to share her life with these amazing birds.
The beautiful budgie below is Wolpe, one of 15 budgies that make up ‘J’s bird family. Each is a rescue that shares ‘J’s flat with her in Europe. In my City, we do not have budgies that look like Wolpe; they are all one colour. I find the colour patterns of Wolpe fascination but, I am disgressing from our story.
Wolpe and Peppi were long term mates. Peppi would preen Wolpe and give her all the love and care that he could. He also showed his affection by feeding his mate. Wolpe loved Peppi but did not reciprocate in showing her affection. She never preened Peppi – never ever – and she never fed him.
When Peppi died, Wolpe physically and mentally went into mourning. She “stood still on a branch for 10 days straight after her mate died last year. It was horrible to see.” She was not her usual self. She did not interact with any of the flock, or the enrichment toys nor was she actively engaged in shredding things – her favourite activity. It was totally clear that she was grieving her lost mate.
At the same time that Wolpe was morning so was ‘J’. One of the hardest things that ‘J’ had to deal with was the fact that most people did not understand her grief. A common response was, “it’s only a bird.” For ‘J’ each time one of her family passes, it “takes away a little piece of my heart.”
This is Wolpe with her mate, Peppi, before he died in 2021.
When Wolpe chose a new mate, it was Kobito. Kobito is also green just like Peppi. It was a huge surprise to ‘J’ that these two began their relationship as a couple. It mean huge changes in each of their behaviours.
For Wolpe, this meant that she became more physically caring for her mate. She now carefully goes through Kobitos head feathers, running each one through her beak cleaning it. She organizes the feathers on his head, something that a bird cannot do for themselves. Wolpe also feeds Kobito. It is as if she realized that she needed to be more tender and more caring. Kobito, on the other hand, always sat in front of the window looking ‘out’ He was isolated and distant as if he wanted to be somewhere else. Once he courted and won Wolpe, it seemed that he “actually turned in Peppi II!” Kobito began to socialize with the other birds; he became part of the flock and even became closer to ‘J’. It was like a 180 degree turn. He also spent much time preening and feeding Wolpe.
It seems as if Wolpe realized what she had lost when Peppi died. She missed that closeness of having a mate, of being able to show her love. She is making up for that now. Grieving can lead to introspection and changes and I hope that Wolpe and Kobito live long and happy lives together with ‘J’.
If you have an example of grieving feathered friend or raptor that you remember and would like to share or remind me, please send me an e-mail!
Indigo and Rubus learned how to sort out who was going to eat. Indigo was famished when she arrived back at the scrape on the 13th. Indigo spent Monday evening in the scrape.
As he calmed down, glad to be back in the scrape, and was fed, the frenzy to eat calmed. At one point Rubus and Indigo had a bit of a tussle over a prey item. They wound up sharing it! One ate off one end while the other was at the other.
Diamond flew in and fed both Indigo and Rubus.
Later, Xavier arrived with more prey and Xavier and Diamond each fed their youngsters.
Indigo was still working on the last prey delivery at 1824.
As the IR lighting was preparing to turn off, Rubus was in her favourite corner of the scrape while Indigo was sleeping on the ledge. It is so nice to have Indigo back in the scrape. We are always so anxious for the birds to fledge but it has to be difficult for them. Indigo is eating and resting. Rubus continues to lose dandelions. Soon they will look alike!
This morning it is only 4 degrees C in Orange.
‘A’ sent me a thorough recap of the happenings at Orange. Thanks, ‘A’.
RECAP: prey at: 5.43.29 Xavier with prey, Indigo takes; 6.03.43 Xavier with prey, Indigo takes; 6.05.25 D w/StubQuail, feeds Rubus; 9.41.51 X w/?juv BFCS (black-faced cuckoo shrike), Rubus takes; 12 57 55 X with star, leaves it, Indigo claims; 13.06.50 X w/star, Rubus takes; 13 12 07 D w/prey, Indigo takes; 14:19:22 X w/pardalote; 16:46:15 prey, 18.06.46 X prey; 19:42:29 D retrieves nestovers from near Cilla Stones and takes them into the centre of the scrape and starts eating herself; 19:43:33 Diamond feeds Indigo.
The lack of fish continues to plague Port Lincoln. Two fish came in yesterday both brought by Dad. The times were 0836 and 1707. In both occasions, Mum took the fish and flew off to eat a portion. She returned and Zoe got the tail in the morning but nothing in the evening. Mum is obviously desperately hungry. We know that she often fed the osplets to her own detriment. I am glad that she has some food but, what is really going on at Port Lincoln. Is Dad unwell? is there a lack of fish? Dad is notorious for bringing in a historic average of 7 fish per day.
It is 11 degrees this morning at Port Lincoln.
I really hope that more fish arrive on the nest today. We have one big healthy osplet getting near to fledge and a Mum who was desperate for food yesterday. Send this nest your good wishes, please.
‘A’ reminded me that we now also have a true name for the ‘Z’ in our list of birds: Zoe will now take that spot.
As you are probably aware, the camera at 367 Collins Street is no longer streaming. ‘H’ reports that the camera had a technical issue and then with the death of the fledgling, Victor Hurley asked Mirvac to leave the camera off until next season.
‘H’ reports that the injured fledgling was euthanized on 15 November, yesterday. Having hit a window or a wall, the beautiful fledgling suffered a broken spinal column. The clinic determined that the injured bird was a female. Oh, how sad. It is a reminder that live for urban raptors is very challenging. Thanks, ‘H’.
‘A’ sent the following description, comparing Orange and Melbourne. I hope she does not mind that I share it with you as I thought it was particularly appropriate after the death of that healthy eyas. The parents can provide them with prey, teach them to hunt but they cannot protect them in the environment into which they fledge. I wish they could! ‘A” writes: The Orange eyases fledge into a relatively sheltered, semi-private area, a bit like the eaglets at SWFL eagles, whereas the poor Collins Street chicks fledge into an urban jungle filled with concrete and glass and difficult wind currents and gusts (for example, at every cross street, the bird flying down a city street would be hit by a strong wind gust from one side or the other, rushing down the cross street). I am sure you know what I mean about the wind tunnel effect through those walls of massive skyscrapers in modern-day CBDs. It may be a safe scrape but the environment into which they fledge is very dangerous.
The last to fledge, dubbed Peanut by ‘H’ – and a very fitting name at that – fledged at approximately 0712 on the 15th, yesterday morning.
Send your very best wishes out to this family – may they all soar high, have full crops, remain safe in an area full of prey but also high buildings with deadly wind currents. We will look forward to seeing Mum and Dad 2022 again next year! Thank you to Mirvac and Victor Hurley for allowing us the privilege to watch these incredible falcons. There is rain in the forecast today in Melbourne and it is cool, 7 degrees C.
Cornell reports that it was one of their best Bird Count Octobers ever! Excellent news. So many people participated around the world.
There will be no news of Kaia and Karl II til spring it seems.
Bonus remains “near Başkaraören, in the Seydişehir district, Konya province in Turkey. He stayed mainly on the north side of the Beysehir Channel.”
There must be really good fishing there for our fledgling Black Stork.
Waba is still in the Sudan. He has also found a very good area to fish.
The Looduskalender Forum indicates with the rainy season this area would be much greener now than in the satellite view that they have of the region.
It is wonderful to know that these two fledglings will do well. Remember that migration is driven by food availability and these two, Bonus and Waba, seem to have found good feeding grounds for now. I wonder if they will try to stay where they are for the winter?
Thank you so much for being with me today. I will resume The Red List of vulnerable birds tomorrow! Take care everyone. See you soon.
Thank you to the following for their pictures, posts, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures: thanks ‘A’ and ‘H’ for the Australian reports, thanks ‘J’ for sharing Wolpe’s story with us, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Cornell Bird Labs, Google Maps, and Looduskalender Forum.
Saturday was one of those quiet stay-at-home days. It gave me a chance to think of the ways that those of us who live in wintery climates cope with the weather. As it is, the sow is dancing down right now. The European Starlings are eating suet and Butter Bark and Mr Crow cawed so much that I gave him high protein kitten kibble. Oops. The Starlings have found the kibble!
Inside the house, the candle holders have been cleaned and given new candles. An apple crisp is in the oven. So, instead of starting out birds today, we will begin with something simple to make your house cosy on a crisp day. Put 1 sliced orange and 1 sliced lemon in a 2 litre (qt) pot. Leave the peel on – that is where the lovely oils are. Add a few bay leaves, 2 or 3 cinnamon sticks, a good tablespoon of cloves, and cover the whole with water. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and let it simmer. You can add water as needed. I used to add tea bags to the brew. It is a lovely spiced tea but needs some straining. The other thing you can do is to take the peels of your oranges and lemons and use them. I always have bags in the freezer! It is part of a strategy to have zero waste.
Our darling Ernie. Poster child of handsome beginning to do some moulting.
For the very first time successful fledges at Maine’s Hog Island Boathouse Osprey platform. Dory and Skiff are making the news! Congratulations to this Osprey couple who successfully fledged three osplets from the Hog Island Osprey platform this year. What an amazing family this was to watch.
Oh, so very grateful to Cilla Kinross for finding Indigo and showing us how this handsome lad is doing after fledging. Isn’t he a stunner?
Tweed Valley fledged three ospreys this year. Two of them have perished. The other, Glen, found himself on a couple of container ships before finally making it to Spain! Here is the latest on this youngster.
‘EJ’ sent me some grand news. It is amazing what we can do when we get together to help benefit the environment and wildlife. A community joined together and raised 2.2 Million GPB to purchase a tract of land to enlarge a nature reserve. Just think – this could be a way of halting development in areas that are needed by the wildlife. Is there land where you live that is adjacent to a nature reserve that could benefit from such an endeavour? Keep this positive action in mind if ever you get a chance to work with your community.
All eyes are on Port Lincoln. Ian Falkenberg was up at midnight finishing up the permit forms – that myriad of red tape that Port Lincoln has to do in order to ring the osplets on the nests. Fran and Bazza said that he was up again at 0600 getting ready. So, today, Big, whether you like it or not you will be weighed, measured, hopefully a sample of your blood is taken for DNA, and you will be given a sat pak. Big, we all know that you are one big cranky girl that won’t let any bird get in your way. You are now the only hope of Port Lincoln for 2022 – you carry a heavy responsibility. Please do not ever land on a hydro pole no matter how much you might want to.
Ian Falkenberg has made the call to postpone putting the tracker and ringing until later today or tomorrow. This cannot be done in wet weather. In addition, it really is now or never. In the UK, birds are not banded after 45 days because of the great fear of scaring them off the platforms and fledging early.
Mum and her ‘Big’ Girl crying out to Dad.
Dad brought a fish in around 0815. Big kind of rushed Mum once she had the fish. Mum got the catch anchored to her talon and flew around the nest arriving on the other side where she had control of the fish. It was headless so Dad has his share, too. Mum and Big had a nice chunk.
A small headless fish arrived around 1515.
The rain began. Mum and Dad had been perched together. Mum flew over to the nest to Big and Dad joined them at 19:44.
It appears that three of the Melbourne Four have now fledged. One remains at night and some of the others show up on the ledge for prey deliveries.
At Orange, Rubus is shedding many of the dandelions and is watching for Xavier and Diamond to deliver prey. They do not disappoint. Here was yesterdays recap from the moderators: RECAP 10 41 15 D w/ prey, Rubus takes; 11 25 12 X w/prey, D arrives/feeds: 13:31:22 X w/juv star, feeds, X takes: 16:30:10 X w/prey, feeds 18 53 31 Xw/prey, Rubus takes, D arrives , tug o war, D feeds.
There was a tug o war and lots of excitement. Just look at how much of the baby fluff is now gone.
Other Bird News:
One of the things that changes for me – during the winter – is that I do not travel on the roads as much nor do I go to the nature centre 5 days a week for a walk. Saturdays become very quiet and one of the joys is having Ferris Akel in the background doing his live stream around Wildlife Drive, Montezuma, Sapsucker Woods, and Ithaca, New York. We have a few ducks still in the City and a few geese were flying overhead this evening. Someone even has a Baltimore Oriole in their garden today – with the snow! I am, however, having duck withdrawal and Ferris does seem to find them this time of year! I really recommend Ferris Akel’s tours on Saturdays beginning about noon Eastern time. Ferris is humble always saying he doesn’t know this or that but, he does. I have learned so much for him. In fact his tour is often on in the background to whatever else I am doing. You can also check out some of the archived tours of Ferris by going to YouTube and entering Ferris Akel Live.
‘A’ said that she had learned to embrace ‘brown’ never realising that there are so many shades and hues. Fantastic! That brings me great joy. Most of the female birds are considered dull compared to the flamboyant colours of some of the male species. Here is a female Ruddy Duck. Just look at all those wonderful browns and tans, there is a touch of caramel and espresso, and that lovely sort of grey-brown.
All of the birds are at a great distance from where Ferris is streaming. The images are then quite soft. Nonetheless, I hope that you enjoy the few that I am including.
Just a slightly different angle.
A female Shoveler. You can never mistake a Shoveler for a Mallard. Just look at that bill. It is massive in comparison to the size of the head.
There were American Coots and I know that none of us will ever make the mistake of saying a Coot is a duck. It isn’t.
Oh, how I love Sandhill Cranes. They glean the farmer’s fields just after the seed crops have been harvested. There are many in Southern Manitoba in October doing this exact same thing. Gorgeous.
I don’t blame the Canada Geese getting out of Canada. Gosh, golly, it looks like much more fun in the pond at Sapsucker Woods than it is walking around in the snow in Canada and not finding any food.
What shocked me is precisely how much smaller the geese are when compared to the swans.
Just look at that. It makes the Canada Geese look like miniature ducks. Seriously. And I have always thought of them as large.
There was a juvenile Bald Eagle lurking about at Sapsucker Woods also.
Looking for some lunch?
No 6 The Red List: The Hawfinch
Ah, this is another one to pull out those shades and hues of brown. With its head the colour of rust or Corten Steel, its black bib and black eye surround, and heavy beak, this beautiful little bird, the Hawfinch, has a jaw and beak so strong that it can exert pressure of more than 50 kilograms on a seed! The strong triangular beak is black in the winter changing to a blue-black in the summer. Notice the rusty head in comparison to the grey-brown back and that intensive brick-brown eye. Both males and females are similar in appearance.
Hawfinches like to live in woodland where they will feed off various hard seeds. Some, if you are lucky, can be found around gardens eating cherries. The male builds the nest out of dry twigs and grasses lining it with lichen. The female will take over in roughly a fortnight.
Today there are less than 1000 breeding pairs of Hawfinch in the UK. There are a number of causes. Nest predation by Jays and Grey Squirrels is one of these. In Wales, the culprit has been trichomonosis. Trichomonosis is an infectious disease caused by the parasite Trichomonas gallinae. The parasite attacks the upper digestive tract, mainly the crop and esophagus making it difficult for the bird to eat. It can also impact the liver, lungs, and air sacs. The fourth hatch at Melbourne last year died of trichomonosis as did the Mum at the Janakkalan Osprey nest in Finland this past summer.
That’s it for today. I hope that each of you have a wonderful weekend. It looks like it could be dry at Port Lincoln so maybe, at the age of 57 days, Big will be ringed and get that sat pak. We wait to see.
Thank you for being with me. See you soon!
Thank you to the following for their posts and streaming cams which make up my screen captures: Friends of Osprey, Audubon, Cilla Kinross and the Orange, Australia Peregrine Falcon FB, BBC, Tweed Valley Ospreys, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Ferris Akel Tours.
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!
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
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.
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.
Oh, it is the gloomiest of days. Wet and cold. The snow was forecast to turn to rain. And it did. The garden birds do not like the damp. They do sooooo much better if it is a dry snow.
Is it possible to lure any of the European Starlings into the lilacs to feed? There are 57 of them roosting in the back trees. The owner of the bird seed shop mentioned that maybe there is still enough food out in the fields for them. I paused and then realised that their big feeding frenzy began in January. Perhaps she is right.
Mr Crow and Junior were very happy when a new bag of peanuts arrived. Did I mention they sort through the peanuts for the heaviest ones? No sense carrying off a shell with nothing in it! So smart. So gorgeous.
The hanging light makes Junior’s feathers look more intense.
Even with their favourite suet they are not budging. The squirrels are happy, the Blue Jays have come for peanuts and corn, and the Crow has been in for peanuts and to yell at me because the water is frozen in the bird bath! He gets right on top of the conservatory glass roof and caws as loud as he can – like he used to do when the cats were in the garden. Speaking of cats, it seems once the weather turned bad their owners are keeping them inside. Of course, it does appear that all of the Hedwigs have met their demise because of the cats according to the neighbour. I am certain that he is right. I have not seen the rabbits since the summer and it is unlike them – all three of them – to be away for so long. With everything at Port Lincoln, I have convinced myself not to think about it.
Their name means ‘Little Brother of the North’ and they are, by far, one of the most beloved sea birds around the world. Did you know that they can dive up to 60 m in depth? This really helps when they are feeding their young 24 times a day! Yes, seriously, 24 times a day. Think twice an hour if you take 12 hours off to sleep. Do Puffins sleep? But, there is a problem. Changing sea temperatures and pressures from yes, you guessed it – those big trawling fishing boats – is causing a food shortage for the Puffins. As Beccy Speight says in her article on the Puffins in Into the Red, “If the food shortages don’t get them, pollution events and ground predators (Rats, Mink, Cats) will. If we want our Puffins to be more than jolly pencil case illustrations, then sustainable fishing, protection of feeding grounds, considerate placing of offshore wind farms, a reduction in marine pollution and preventing ground predators from reaching nesting colonies are what’s needed” (90).
Many of the issues facing Puffins can be mitigated. Two serious ones that need immediate attention are over fishing (because if we have the will we can do something about this) and nest predation. It is not too late to help in these areas.
Do you remember this poem about Puffins? Here it is with sound!
In what seems like another life now, I wrote about the work of Montana ceramic artist, Julia Galloway. Ms Galloway made a series of porcelain ginger jars. Each had a motif of an endangered species on it from the New England area of the US. One of those was the Atlantic Puffin. She notes, “The Atlantic Puffin has been listed as globally endangered due to climate change, pollution, overhunting, invasive predators, and gill nets, among other factors. Climate change has caused sea temperatures to rise, and this causes a decrease in the puffin’s abundance of prey and habitat.” Of course a lack of sufficient prey causes all manner of problems with breeding and the sufficient raising of offspring. What I did not know is that motorists are asked to check under their cars during the mating season and young puffins take shelter under the vehicles because they become disoriented by the lights. Galloway does acknowledge some of the efforts in the NE US including hunting bans and conservation efforts to cut back invasive plant species that are harming the Puffin’s nesting area. Decoys have also been placed on good nesting islands to lure these quite social birds to other areas to establish new colonies.
Like so many others, Galloway believes that art and literature might be the most effective means of encouraging people to stop, look at the natural world, and then, get mad and do something to help make our planet a better more biodiverse place for the wildlife.
In the Mailbox:
I have been sent quite a few links to videos on YouTube the past couple of days. I will spread them out. Today, ‘A’ sent me a compilation of events from Middle’s life at the Port Lincoln nest. She warned me to get a tissue and suggested that I turn off the music – which I did. You can also save it and watch later!
The scrape box located on the old water tower on the grounds of Charles Sturt University in Orange was full of prey this morning. It looked like the remains of a Starling plus two other birds. At one point, there was even a live bird in that box! Seriously. Apparently Xavier delivered it. Thankfully, Indigo lunged at the poor little thing and it took the opportunity to fly out the window.
Dad brought an early fish to the nest on the barge at Port Lincoln. Mom gave Big bites and took some good sized ones for herself, too.
Mum had a spa moment. I am so glad she is taking some time for herself. It has been a difficult season for this family.
I want you to have the link to the Friends of Osprey website. It is here that you can track our favourite South Australian male Osprey, Ervie! Here is the link and here is a good photo of Ervie with his tracker and some of his latest tracking.
Is it possible that Ervie is one of the best known Ospreys in the world? It sure seems so!
Is Dad safe from the eyases on the perch?
Off he goes!
Note: Tropical Storm Nicole is set to make landfall in Florida. From the map below you can see that the nest of Samson and Gabby in the NE area near Jacksonville is going to get hit hard as this storm increases in intensity. SW Florida the home of Harriet and M15 will get a lot of rain and, of course all of the other nests such as Super Beaks in central Florida will be impacted (Superbeaks is a private nest). It could get really bad. Please send all our feathered families your most positive wishes as they ride out this storm system.
Samson and Gabby continue to work on their nest near Jacksonville, Florida. What a gorgeous couple! You can tell by their size and also their white head. Gabby is always slightly ruffled while Samson’s is normally slicked down as if he had been to the stylist before arriving on camera.
The winds and some precipitation have started at Samson and Gabby’s nest this morning. It will intensify as Tropical Storm Nicole gets closer. The nest is rocking although you cannot tell it from the still image and the rain has begun.
Thunder was perched over on the cliffs near the West End nest she shares with her mate, Akecheta.
It was raining at the nest site where the couple raised The Three Amigos last breeding season – Kana’kini, Sky, and Ahote -on Tuesday.
This morning it is simply beautiful there. Oh, it would be so nice to see the Three Amigos again. If you need a ‘Three Amigo Fix’ check out the highlights that play often on the West End Bald Eagle nest.
This still does not give you any impression of the wind and the freezing rain pelting down on the nest of Shadow and Jackie in Big Bear Valley, California.
This was the scene at Big Bear last night. The camera seems to be offline now. You still cannot get good sense of the snow coming down.
The Decorah North Eagles are around the nest. Gosh do they ever blend in with the fall look of the Iowa landscape.
Louis and Anna have been working on their nest in the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. There have also been some intruders coming around the nest! If only they would find the vacant E-2 nest. There is another couple Alex and Andria on the E-3 nest. It also has a camera and great sound system.
Ron and Rita have been working on their next in the Miami Zoo and – were having a meal there the last time I checked. It is safe to say that if you go to an eagle streaming cam and rewind you might be able to see the raptors there at some point during the day.
Waba has been feeding on the Sudanese side of the Nile River while Bonus has been feeding in Turkey. Neither have made any effort to leave their area to go further south into the center of Africa. There must be enough food and they must feel safe. We will check back in with them in a few days but, they might have found their winter homes. No news from Karl II or Kaia as is expected. Send good positive wishes for the four members of this family.
Thank you so very much for being with me today. It is so nice to have you with us! Take care everyone. We hope to see you soon.
Special thanks to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures: earth.org, There Once Was a Puffin YT, Julia Galloway, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Friends of Osprey, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, NOAA, NEFL-AEF, IWS and Explore.org, FOBBV, Raptor Research Project and Explore.org, KNF Bald Eagle E1 Nest, WRDC, and Looduskalender Forum.
Thank you so much for joining me this morning. It is lovely to have you here. I want to say, right off the top, how inspiring each of you are to me. Osprey season, for me, begins in Australia and it has been a particularly devastating start after the great breeding year of 2021 that produced Bazza, Falky, and Ervie. Fortunately, I did not share that sadness alone and I thank you again for being such an empathetic and caring community.
As migratory season winds up in Manitoba, the wetlands and estuaries that were teeming with ducks, geese, swans are silent. There are no skeins of geese flying over my conservatory and already, I am missing their loud honks. Soon our time will ‘fall back’ and it will be dark by 1615. It appears, however, that the Blue Jays and Crows are staying on. Today, one of the Crows was able to tap hard enough on the bird bath to get some water. I must now find the water heater for them. It is very important to have water when you are giving seeds. Here, during the winter, the birds and squirrels will eat the snow but, they do not get the quantity needed so a heated source is very helpful.
It is 5 degrees. There are European Starlings in the trees in the back. Last year they came and ate and filled up before moving South. This year I wonder if they are intimidated by the Blue Jays. The weather report is for snow to arrive in three hours. It has been falling north of the City for hours.
Lewis and Missy are never apart. You would think they were litter mates. I just looked down and each was eating out of their hard food dish with Lewis straddling the water bowl so they could be parallel with one another. I have not seen kittens behave like this. It is literally like they are joined at the hip.
In the Mailbox:
‘C’ sent me a very long discussion with lots of good links from the Looduskalender English Forum about siblicide or cainism. I have skimmed some of the contents and have several parts thoroughly. The information provides good definitions and also alerts you to species that practice ‘obligatory’ siblicide. It is extremely stressful to watch a nest with two healthy chicks that have hatched knowing that the eldest will kill the youngest. If this troubles you, then please avoid those species or wait to start watching.
It is, perhaps, too early to read about this particular type of avian behaviour having lost Middle but, put the link aside and educate yourself.
This late summer, we were blessed with a Great White Egret in our City – indeed, eight or nine of them on a single tree at dusk. Here is a lovely story coming from the UK about walking in the marshes and discovering this amazing bird.
It is unclear if was fireworks that frightened F22 at the 367 Collins Street scrape last week but, something loud that sounded like fireworks echoing between the tall buildings of the CBD in Melbourne, scared this first time Mum off her perch.
Today, The Guardian is carrying an article demonstrating how fireworks causes geese to become stressed.
Many are choosing to use drones to light up the sky but, has anyone looked into the direct damage hundreds and hundreds of drones might have on birds? If you see anything, please let me know.
Sharon Dunne has posted some information about the new season at Taiaroa Head. It is getting off to a great start!
Pentobarbital Poisoning. There is at least one Bald Eagle in the US struggling for its life because it found a euthanized prey. It laid unresponsive but not dead and was taken to a rehabber who is posting information and working hard. How did this eagle get in contact with the euthanized animal?
So far, it has been a relative quiet day in Bird World. Every nest had prey deliveries in Australia and the last time I checked there were still four eyases on the Collins Street ledge.
At the Orange scrape of Xavier and Diamond, it appears that Cilla Kinross has changed her mind and believes Indigo to be a male. Is this size? legs? lack of aggression? I have not seen her statement and only noticed this latest information when one of the chat moderators included it today.
An unplucked Starling was dropped off inside the scrape box. Indigo began plucking it. It appears that Indigo’s very active plucking frightened little Rubus for a few seconds. Rubus ran and stood on the Cilla stones and then, watching and well, Rubus is always hungry, s/he begins to think about helping.
Rubus decides s/he will go and help.
The chicks made a good effort. Indigo was very good at plucking and little Rubus helped her by holding down a part of the Starling with the talons. But they did eventually give up despite their early morning hunger.
Rubus was really working on that Starling’s head.
Rubus twisted and turned and pulled getting some bites.
Looks like Diamond came and saved the day! Both chicks reasonably aggressive but, squealing Rubus slightly more so.
When I finished watching 367 Collins Street today, there were still four eyases on the ledge.
Oh, this one wants to fly so much!
They have been watching the adults fly. It is to lure them off that ledge. ‘Hey, look, you are a bird. Flap those wings and fly’ – Mum and Dad are telling them. ‘You can do it!’
It is 12:21 and all of the Melbourne Four are accounted for – there is one that is blending in well with the scrape box and one in the gutter looking like a piece of prey!
Sometimes Mum – who is now slim and trim – can look like one of the eyases. To tell the difference between an adult and a juvenile Peregrine Falcon, look at the bars on the chest. If they are vertical, the bird is a juvenile. If they are horizontal, they are an adult.
All present and accounted for at 1417. Just look at how much the youngest one has changed. You can easily see which one or ones are hungry. See the sunken crop of the one on the ledge and the full crop of the one in the gutter. Falcons do not need to eat every day and…of course, all of us want them to have banquets but, a day will not harm them. These four have learned how to pluck and are preparing for what they are meant to do – fly! So proud of these first time parents. They overcame so much to be able to fledge these four healthy eyases – and that fledging will be soon. I hope they all wait and fly off together.
Here is a very short video of a pigeon delivery to the Melbourne Four. They are sooooo loud. Once you know that sound you will never mistake it for anything else! Poor parent. Besieged.
Mum and Big have been eating. All of the nests have had food – at least one prey drop or more.
Big is big.
Big had a monster sized crop.
Big is very aware of her surroundings and around 1322 pancaked in the nest. A few minutes later she was looking around as if there was ‘something’ or ‘someone’ about.
Mum got a chance to eat some fish on her own — in the middle of the night while Big slept. Thank goodness. Big will eat everything unless the fish is huge. We are now within 5-7 days of banding.
Brief Eagle News:
If you are a Decorah North fan, Mr North and DNF were working on their nest this morning! There is hardly a Bald Eagle nest in the US that is not now going through nestorations.
Muhlady laid her second egg. Pepe was there at the Superbeaks nest in Central Florida giving support. Muhlady was the first Bald Eagle to lay an egg this breeding season. She will have the clutch finished before most even consider an egg!
Waba is still in the Sudan feeding at the Nile River while Bonus remains in Turkey. There will most likely not be any transmissions from Kaia or Karl II as they were already at their wintering grounds. This is typical. In past years there has been no transmission from Karl II until he began his return journey to Estonia. This is the first year that Kaia has a transmitter.
Thank you for joining us today. I hope that your weekend has been good. Please take care. See you soon!
Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, articles, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures today: Raptor Education, Royal Albatross Cam and Sharon Dunne, The Guardian, Looduskalender Forum, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, Decorah North, and Superbeaks.
I hope that each and everyone of you has had a wonderful start to this first weekend in November. Here on the Canadian Prairies we are really saying goodbye to autumn as the days get colder and colder. It is now time to put away any light to medium weight jackets and pull out the scarves, toques, boots, gloves and all other paraphernalia such as snow scrapers and shovels. The forecast is for a 70% chance of snow on Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!! Then a further possibility next Wednesday and Thursday. Of course, it is going to rain in between which means icy roads. I dislike winter until we are right in the middle of it and life has settled down to something resembling a hibernating bear with a mug of hot chocolate.
Are there days in your calendar where events coincide? The 5th of November is one of those for me. It is Guy Fawkes Day in the UK. Fawkes was part of a Catholic group that tried to burn down Parliament in 1605. It is now better known as Bonfire Night when effigies of Fawkes are burned on bonfires along with the traditional eating of the ‘jacket’ potato. There are many fond memories of the smell of the leaves, the smoke and the fires, the potatoes with all their fillings, and just the camaraderie of friends gathering on a fall evening. 5 November is also the birthday of my late mother-in-law Vi (she was a real sweetheart), the birthday of my late friend Joanne (who died in a fire), and very much the birthday of my BFF here in Winnipeg who is celebrating her birthday today in Dublin. Happy Birthday, ‘S’.
There are many good things in life – ‘good’ friends, ‘close and loving family’, sunshine warming our face, a soaking forest walk, watching birds, warm cookies from the oven, warm bread from the oven, a smile from a stranger, our wonderful feathered friends with their large beaks and huge talons, and our pets, if we are able to share our lives. Many can’t. Of course, that is not an all inclusive list and everyone will have their own and I can add each of you to that list also. A community of empathetic, caring, concerned individuals. I am so lucky.
My Dad loved all animals. He hand fed the Cardinals and Blue Jays in our garden, took in and found homes for all the stray dogs and cats that mysteriously wound up in our yard and tended a gorgeous rose garden…I am so very grateful to him for opening up the beauty of the natural world to me before I could walk. That is where I turn – the birds, the trees, the animals – when life is at what seems its bleakest.
Lewis and Missy really helped me ‘adjust’ (I never get over) the death of Middle. They could not have come into my life at a better time.
Forget factory made toys, roll up a piece of aluminum foil! Everyone will want to play with it.
Missy likes the in floor heating.
It is not always the little brother that starts all the dust ups.
Lewis just loves toys —————- and food! I don’t know where he puts it.
In the News:
Want to understand more about climate change and its impact on the seabirds of the UK, here is an excellent article from the British Trust for Ornithology. The implications could be applied to other areas as well. It is a good read and it will help us to better understand the challenges that seabirds have and will continue to have only multiplied.
It seems that we need to be careful with our toques (knit caps) in Canada. An owl might just swoop down and take it right off your head! I wonder if it had a pom-pom? or what colour the toque was? do owls prefer cool or warm colours?
This article talks about the prowess of Crows getting carrion off the highway. Want to help them? It wasn’t mentioned but, seriously consider stopping and putting the dead animal off to the side of the road – as far as you are able – to keep the Crows, Eagles, Vultures, etc – birds of prey- from getting killed trying to get food.
At Port Lincoln, the camera will sometimes find Mum along the opposite shore having a bath but I have never seen one close up. Here is a wonderful opportunity to see an Osprey enjoying a bath close up!
There are so many places to adopt birds. Our local wildlife rehabilitation centre will announce their holiday fundraiser shortly – you can adopt one raptor or the whole lot of them. Many of the nature centres connected with Osprey streaming cams in the UK also have fundraising programmes including adoptions. Many rely on calendar sales for 2023 – lovely images of the raptor families from this year to brighten your day and remind you of their bigger than life personalities. If you are looking for a gift that will have a huge impact and not wind up in a landfill, think about these fundraisers.
I have mentioned the Kakapo Recovery last week and I promise this is the last time…but, they do such a fantastic job monitoring, finding, assessing, and caring for this rare flightless parrot. They have limited adoptions available. Every cent goes to the welfare of the birds! (And I promise I do not get a single cent for mentioning them!)
Here is the announcement from the Kakapo Recovery: In case you missed our announcement last week, adoptions are once again open! If you’re ordering for delivery outside of New Zealand by Christmas you have until Monday the 7th to get these in. Kiwis, you have until the end of the month. Please note that if you log in to PayPal to make the purchase it automatically takes the shipping address from your PayPal account details – if your order is a gift then select ‘pay with card’ in order to be able to enter different shipping details!
If you live in the UK, the British Trust for Ornithology has a programme for youth to stimulate learning about birds. They provide binoculars and guidebooks to youth. It is part of their Equipment Donation Scheme. If you live in the UK and have a pair of binoculars to donate, please get in touch with the BTO. You can check out the programme at http://www.bto.org/equipment
If you live elsewhere and are wondering how to help youth get involved with nature and learn to appreciate our feathered friends, why not get in touch with your local wildlife rehabilitation centre or birding groups to see if they would like to start an equipment donation programme for youth. It is a win-win.
Jackie and Shadow, one of the most popular American Bald Eagle couples flew into their nest in Big Bear Valley this morning to find snow. The pair are used to it. Indeed, they could be lucky. Raptors do better in cooler weather! They are working on their nest. You might remember that they fledged Spirit last year – she stole our heart! And theirs. A successful hatch following several years of no chicks. Let us wish them the best of luck again this breeding season.
It is so good to see you, Jackie and Shadow!
Dad came in with a big fish for Mum and Big at Port Lincoln this morning. There wasn’t much time to sit on the nest and get hungry! Look at that time stamp.
I miss Middle. He was like a gentle soul on that nest. But, now, I need to live in the present with the birds, not wishing what could have been. We need to see Big grow and get ready to fledge. Banding and the name giving will take place between the 12th and 14th of November. That is one week away.
It took about 24 minutes for that large fish to be consumed. Wow. I sure hope Mum got enough. She was very careful in the delivery to make sure that she had control of the delivery, not Big. Good for Mum. Once Big starts taking the prey and self- feeding Mum will need fish, too. Wonder if she will just fly out and get them?
Big and Mum saw Dad come in with the fish. He was eating it on the ropes. Everyone had dinner before it was light’s out.
It was a bit of a change this morning at the scrape on the grounds of the Charles Sturt University. It seems that Indigo got a lot of the prey delivery. Goodness. Rubus was a little pouty. Still, they both had plenty. Diamond and Xavier will not let either eyas go hungry.
Rubus decides that if he isn’t going to be fed, he will just eat the prey himself! Remember Rubus has already successfully plucked and eaten a Starling’s head.
Thanks to ‘C’ who sent me this great screen capture of Xavier and Diamond putting on flying demonstrations yesterday. This will be to lure Indigo into joining the fastest raptor on the planet club. There is still fluff and Indigo is about a week behind Collins Street – and the older eyases could fledge there any time! They have their plumage – it is fully developed.
At 131730 Indigo has decided to pull Rubus across the scrape by its toe. Poor thing. You could hear Rubus crying.
A meal came in and all was well. No damage done! It was one of the most pleasant feedings I have seen in a long time at this scrape…equal shares.
When I last checked there were still four eyases living – running, flapping, eating – on the ledge at 367 Collins Street in Melbourne. Just beautiful beautiful eyases. I wonder when we will have our first fledge? It will be soon!
I had to watch and wait for all four heads.
Sometimes we get a tip of a wing showing and we know someone is still home.
There was some confusion surrounding a falcon that flew off the ledge at 0956. It was Mum, not one of the eyases fledging.
There goes Mum. There are 2 eyases in the scrape, one in the gutter, and another on the ledge. It will not be long but it did not happen at 0956. And it is an easy thing to assume until you begin to count bodies. We are all on pins and needles waiting for the first fledge – and it could happen while I sleep tonight!
All four were still present at 1730. Mum and Dad have done a fantastic job raising four healthy – very healthy eyases – for the first time. Just look at the place – what a mess.
There has been no news from either Kaia or Karl II for some time. They had each arrived in Africa and it is assumed that they are in their winter grounds without satellite service. This happens every year. We lose contact until the spring. As always, extremely grateful to the wonderful folks at Looduskalender that report on the transmissions and create the maps and landscape views. It is terrific.
Waba is now in Sudan. He is still feeding along the Nile River – just in Sudan now and not in Egypt.
Bonus is near Baskaraoren in the Turkish Province of Konya. He seems to have found good feeding spots.
Thank you so very much for being with me. It is always a pleasure to have you here. Please take care of yourselves. See you soon!
Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: British Trust for Ornithology, The Guardian, Sprotborough Flash, Kakapo Recovery, FOBBV, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Looduskalender Forum.
Thank you for your very kind messages. I am phenomenally lucky to have such empathetic people in my life. The collective mourning of Middle is a way of healing our hearts and our minds. For many it will be some time when we can look at Big and not think of Little or Middle. The circumstances this year were very challenging to this Osprey family and it was not only the osplets that suffered from lack of fish but also, Mum and Dad. It was worrying watching Mum not have fish to eat. The water has calmed today and an enormous fish arrived early. Big and Mum ate for more than an hour and a half. The seas are calm and the weather is better.
You will, of course, notice that I say ‘she’ and I have always referred to Big as a female. Some wonder if it makes a difference on a nest if the first hatch is a big female. So, let me try to explain. If the entire clutch is female – and there were several Osprey nests in the UK this year with just females – Manton Bay at Rutland and Dyfi in Wales – there are no problems. If the clutch is all male such as that at Port Lincoln last year, the lads are angels. Put a big female at the head of a mixed clutch on a nest with problematic fish deliveries and well, you have trouble. The key phrase is ‘problematic fish deliveries.’ It can be as simple as only one fish arriving on a particular day mid-afternoon and immediately, the eldest female, who requires 50% more food (all females require more food to feather than the males) is alert that there might not be enough fish available to feed the entire family. In some instances, there are no problems with mixed clutches because the fish land on the nest, the feeding is extremely democratic, and well, life is good. If there is a problem, the first place to look is gender/birth order and a period of few fish being delivered. Because so few nests band and take DNA tests, it is impossible to say with 100% accuracy that the culprit is a large female first hatch but, overall, it appears that is the case.
It is very true. New kittens are a distraction. These two came on a day when I needed that, a wee break from the ospreys. (I highly recommend taking mental health time from the nests – it is very beneficial). These two are rescues. They were found as newborns along with their siblings and Mum. They went into foster care before they could be adopted. They are not related but, knock on wood, they are getting along splendidly.
This is Lewis. Named after Lewis Hamilton the race car driver because he zips around everywhere too fast.
This is Missey. She is a week older than Lewis, a really tiny fluffy girl. All that fur makes her look bigger than she is and she fooled Lewis right away, establishing her right to dominance. Lewis did not care! He just wants his food and his toys and some loving attention! Lewis enjoys seeing all the birds and squirrels in the garden and Missey could care less. She likes her cat tree and she has taken over the hidey-hole in it.
In the Mailbox:
Many wrote to ask if they were seeing things. ” Were there really fish left after Middle’s body was retrieved?”
The answer is ‘yes’. There is a standard practice by banders to leave fish on the nest after they remove the chicks from the nest and return them. Additionally, there were fish placed on the Port Lincoln barge nest just around 0906. You could see two hands. It is apparent that Port Lincoln applied for and was given permission to supplement the fish for the nest. Sadly, those fish came late. Hopefully permission can be given to PLO for eventualities, a blanket permission if this situation presents itself in the future.
The Australian Nest and Scrapes:
367 Collins Street. The Melbourne Four. Look at that eyas below. There are only a couple of dandelions on the head and wing, reminders of its fluffy youth. What a beautiful falcon. It is the 4th of November in Melbourne. If the scrape at Charles Sturt University in Orange goes on fledge watch around the 12th, this means that we are entering fledge watch at the Melbourne scrape for the eldest tomorrow. I must check that!
‘H’ reports that there were at least two prey drops on camera and one off yesterday. The eyases have also been chewing on all the leftovers in the scrape.
And if you are wondering, no one cleans up the area. The wind and the rain between the end of this season and the beginning of next seem to do a good job. Falcons also like to know that wherever they raise their eyases is a good prey area so if they see a scrape like this one, well, they will know in an instant. That said, you will notice, that when the eyases are quite tiny the Mum will keep the scrape pristine for a bit. It helps to detract predators if there are any.
Wow. Look at those wings!
Mum deserves to be proud. Look at her four ‘babies’. They are nearly ready to fly off the ledge and start learning how to hunt their own prey. Soon – if they have not already started – Mum and Dad will do flying lessons, some with and some without prey, to lure the eyases into fledging. There is still some time to go. They need their fluff gone!
Do you remember when we worried so much about this particular scrape? I have almost forgotten Mum leaving these wee ones in the middle of the day in the Melbourne heat before they could stomp down to the other end. They survived. Mum and Dad did well – first time parents.
Rubus and Indigo are precious. Fledge watch will start for Indigo on the 12th of November. I simply hope that Rubus doesn’t do what he always does and copy her immediately. He will not be ready.
The only prey so far at Orange is the early delivery of that large prey item. It is now 1439. As the chicks get older, the number of feedings drops considerably because the eyases can eat more and more at one sitting. I bet they would love a parent to fly in with a nice fat pigeon right about now.
One of the most tender moments on any nest is when one of the adults feeds the other. In this case, this morning Mum fed Dad at Port Lincoln. He brought in a huge fish and Mum and Big had been eating for an hour and a half. What a wonderful way to thank your mate. And it was more than one bite!
We need to pause and imagine just how hungry Mum was. I need to remind myself of this. How many times did we see her feed almost every bite of fish to the osplets? or just to Big without having more than a handful of bites herself. She must stay healthy and the same goes for Dad. I often say it is like flying in the plane, ‘Put the oxygen mask over the adult before the child.’ Mum did not always do that and there were plenty of times that Dad came to the nest and there was no leftover fish.
Both of these parents are mourning the loss of their chick. They don’t have the liberty to take a mental health day like I did, they must be there and carry on, making sure Big fledges.
The arrival of the big fish on the nest this morning.
It was a lot of fish and would keep Big until tomorrow if another does not come on the nest today.
Port Lincoln has expressed some concern that other chicks were lost on unmonitored nests during this period of bad weather where the males were unable to bring in enough fish.
Let us all hope collectively that permissions to assist with fish come in a timely manner or a blanket permission.
Bonus has found a good place to rest and feed now that he has left Greece. He is currently in Konya Province in Turkey just north of Lake Seydisehir.
Waba is feeding along the Nile River in Egypt.
Making News Elsewhere:
I am finishing reading Bowland Beth, the story of an extraordinary Hen Harrier who died way too young. A second book, The Hen Harrier’s Year by Ian Carter and Dan Powell (newly released) arrived today. I am very interested in the topic of the Hen Harrier because they are becoming more rare than they already are because of persecution by grouse hunting community and the games keepers. In the Foreword to the book, Roger Riddington states, ‘In recent years the Hen Harrier has become the de facto flagship species for the birding community in its stance against raptor persecution.’ While the Hen Harriers are, in particular, being shot with their populations on the knife edge, it is also other raptors that we should be concerned with as well – such as the White-tailed Eagle.
A recent report talks about the ghastly people who are these games keepers and how sadistic they are. It is good that the Scottish government has taken a stance and the prison terms will be such that they might deter the practice. The real way is to outlaw hunts. Fox, Red Grouse, you name it…outlaw them.
What if there are no birds to create the images the artist depicted above? What if the climate is heating faster and faster and warming the seas quicker? There are many sobering questions for humans who have caused the destruction of our planet and the myriad of challenges for our beloved birds (and all wildlife). The warnings of our planet heating faster than anticipated are beginning to make headlines in certain papers.
There is also news coming in regarding SE29 from the Sea Eagle Cam. There is no news on SE30.
November 2 : news from the vet caring for SE29 : today SE29 has moved into a slightly larger room that can be monitored with CCTV -doing as well as can be expected , everything is stable at this point.
Harriet and M15 on the branches after working hard on rebuilding their nest destroyed by Hurricane Ian. If they don’t put a smile on your face, I honestly do not know what will!
The first Bald Eagle egg of the year has been laid in Florida. That honour goes to the nest of Superbeaks, Muhlady and Pepe. The first egg of the Royal Albatross season has been laid at Taiaroa Head. Those parents are GK (Green Black) and BKW (Blue Black White).
Remember to send some of the names you came up with for the Alphabet Game by midnight tonight! E-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for being with me this morning and being the caring community that you are. Please take care as we all collectively heal. See you tomorrow!
Thank you to the following for their posts, their videos and/or their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘H’, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, SWFlorida Eagles and D Pritchett, The Guardian, and those great people at the Looduskalender Forum.