Tropical Mockingbird, Rita’s update and more…in Bird World

2 December 2022

Good morning everyone from the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada. It is 29 degrees C – a real shock from the snow, ice, and blowing winds of Canada! It has rained – it is the wet season – and all of the trees, the grass, and the flowers are bright and beautiful. The forecast is now giving us so many good days. On Saturday it will be an all day birding trip starting at 0530. I am excited. The island is home to many species but I especially hope to see the Cattle Egrets, the Green Herons, and the Tri-Coloured Heron out in the mangroves as well as the gorgeous parrots, shorebirds, and songbirds of this island. And, of course, the Caribbean Ospreys. Fingers crossed.

Grand Anse Beach is pure white sand. It is one of the longest white sand beaches in the world. Looking to the right of this beach is an area of the island above the Lagoon known as Springs. There is always a mist and it rains a lot. The area has some of the nicest gardens. Even though it is such a small island there is another area near the airport that is completely dry!!!!!

My first bird came into view as the light was leaving us…It s a Tropical Mockingbird. Oh, its song was incredible. Tomorrow I am going to sit right under the tree where several seemed to be perching. They must be very used to the human presence along the beach. Indeed, they will eat human food along with spiders, grasshoppers, beetles, seeds, small fruits and berries, mangoes — there are a lot of mangoes on the island in the spring. There are so many falling on the roads that the cars slide around on those that get slimy from being run over. The Mockingbirds also eat lizards as well as other small bird and lizard eggs. They have been seen consuming seed from bird feeders just like Dyson!

Many of you will have seen and heard the Northern Mockingbirds in North America. This is the Caribbean equivalent. The Tropical Mockingbird lives in open or semi-open areas. In this instance they are living in the trees along a major tourist beach area.

They lack colour but if that is a problem their song certainly makes up for it. They have a black beak and legs, a striking bright ebony eye with a black eye stripe. The top of their head is a medium grey fading into a lovely silvery white which continues along the throat, the breast and underparts of the bird. The wings are a symphony of grey and black with white wing tips. The tail is a dark charcoal verging on black with a white tip and underneath area. You can hear their song here:

‘H’ kindly sent me the most recent announcement about Rita, the mate of Ron, the bonded pair of Bald Eagles from the Miami Zoo. Thanks, ‘H’. Here it is:

 Yesterday, “Rita,” the bald eagle had surgery performed to help repair her severely fractured right wing. The surgery was performed by avian veterinary specialist, Dr. Don Harris, assisted by Zoo Miami Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Marisa Bezjian and the Zoo Miami Animal Health Team. The surgery was successful inserting a metal pin to align and support the fractured bone. However, the prognosis for successful healing is extremely poor due to the lack of circulation in the wing as a result of the devastating trauma. At this time, it is unfortunately unlikely that the wing can be saved and even more unlikely that she will ever fly again. Having said that, we are not giving up hope! She is receiving daily drug therapy, laser treatments and acupuncture along with her wound care and dressing changes. She has already beaten tremendous odds by surviving the trendous trauma from which she would have certainly died from had it not been for the intervention of all of the involved parties. We are all praying that she can provide us with a miracle and continue on a positive path.

Wildlife Rescue of Dade County FB, 1 December 2022

American Eagle Foundation LIVE Nest Cams is reporting on Samson’s absence:

Still no news to report. No sightings of Samson. No visitors to the nest. Gabrielle continues to perch at the nest throughout the day and at night keeping watch.

(c) 2022 American Eagle Foundation eagles.org AEF-NEFL

Gabby waits patiently for dear Samson to return. Continue with your positive wishes.

This story is from several years ago but was posted today on the NEFL-SWFL Bald Eagle FB group. It reminds us, like the time with Bella and Smitty this year, that eagles can be gone for some time and return. This eagle was missing for 3 weeks! I live in hope for our beloved Samson.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/missing-bald-eagle-returns-to-dc-nest-after-a-weeks-long-departure-experts-say/2019/02/27/a06bf238-3acb-11e9-a2cd-307b06d0257b_story.html

My holiday is not just a chance to spend time with my son and his wife, or eating amazing Caribbean food, or find new birds but it is also a time for a battery recharge after all that has happened during the last month.

Like all of you, I need some good news and I know you do, too. Well, here it is coming from Lori Covert in Captiva. You will remember that Captiva and Sentinel, the barrier islands off the coast of Florida, were the hardest hit by Hurricane Ian. The ospreys and bald eagles lost their nests. Well, smile when you read this!

I just checked on Zoe at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge. Dad brought in a very small fish at 0925. Mum probably didn’t even get a chance to see it. Zoe is very quick when she wants her food!!!!!!!!!

Zoey doing her talon dance.

Dad lands and Zoe has it before Mum even gets there. I do hope that Mum and Dad have some fish to eat at other times. This is worrisome sometimes.

Yesterday there were 2 fish brought in by Mum and 2 brought in by Dad. Zoe even tried her wings. Here is her tracker information for 2 December.

Diamond has been spending time at the scrape box at Orange. This morning she seemed very interested in the stones. My friend ‘A’ has observed that the falcons prefer to eat only the white stones. Do any of you know why this is the case?

We know why the birds eat stones. Here is the standard Goggle answer:

Birds eat stones to form gastroliths that grind against food when they contract their gizzards. The grinding action of gastroliths aid in the digestion of fibrous food in birds. When the gastroliths begin to smoothen over time, birds eat new stones to replace the older ones.

But why do they prefer white ones?

Giving Tuesday has just passed – where donors often match what funds are given. Now…there is December and if you are thinking about ‘giving’ for the holidays, stop and think of your local wildlife rehabber — or a rehabber that you respect for all the hard work they have done this year. We watch our beautiful birds and many times they go into care and we are cheering for them to be taken in and made well and released. So remember the wildlife clinics and give. Our Wildlife Haven listed the costs associated with surgery — think dear Rita! The antibiotics after. These items are extremely expensive. So help if you can!

In Australia ABC news did an article on this very topic.

Thank you so very much for being with me this morning. At the time of publishing this blog, I have no new news on any of the missing birds or Rita. Keep sending all your good energy to our missing birds and to Rita as she continues to fight to fly — I would love to see her be the exception to the rule (ie lack of circulation in the wing). Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures today: Lori Covert Instagram, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, WRDC, NEFL-AEF and the American Eagle Foundation.

Zoe flies more, rare Albatross incubate their egg…and more news in Bird World

24 November 2022

Good morning to everyone and the best of Thanksgiving to those celebrating in the US today.

It has been wonderfully warm on the Canadian Prairies. I do not know if it is atypical for this time of year but, it certainly feels like it. The birds in the garden had some of their feeders rearranged and thanks to a lovely friend I swopped out some old feeders for some she gave me yesterday. One of the visitors today was a beautiful Starling. It’s an immature non-breeder. Note all of the white spots on his breast and it has yet to get its oily black head. The males and the female Starlings look alike. Did you know that? One difference is that the beaks of the males are a deep blue while those of the female are a pink colour. This then looks like an immature non-breeding male.

Look closely and you can see their rose coloured legs. It is also a pair of non-breeding adults. They are really loving this soft suet.

The Starlings will not perch on the metal. I do not know why. They want to lean down from the branches to get to the suet. You can see this behaviour in the image above also. So the feeder below was moved so they could more easily reach it! Who says I am a softie?

Junior was grateful for a bowl of corn today.

One of many varieties of the Sparrow family that visit the garden. They are particularly enjoying the Butter Bark Balls on these damp days.

The kittens have had great fun watching the birds and the squirrels. They continue to find places in the house to get into mischief. And they do not always come when they are called setting in a panic that they have miraculously gotten outside in the cold. Of course, they are somewhere laughing (do cats laugh?) while I panic!

Missy has discovered a Rodney Mott sculpture that is just perfect for hiding in. Lewis is in the overturned basket not even showing a whisker.

At the Australian nests, Zoe took off for her first flight of the day at 0901. It was an absolutely perfect take off and her landing at 0907 was spot on, too. She is a very strong osplet. I do hope she gets some nice fish. It has been 24 hours since she last had some food.

While the camera was down for a couple of yours, Dad brought in fish. We are only seeing the tail of the fish but I hope that Dad had some nice fish – the entire head – and that it was big enough for Mum and Zoe to also have a good feed. This family would really enjoy a day with several deliveries but, I am grateful to know that there was a delivery mid-afternoon.

Zoe had a nice crop.

At the scrape in Orange, things were decidedly low key. Xavier and Diamond in and out of the scrape box and Diamond enjoying sleeping in the box all by herself at night. They have busy days chasing after Indigo and Rubus. Little Rubus is, apparently, doing more flying and getting much better.

This was the news from Orange: “Rubus and Indigo both seen within the last hour. Rubus is exploring the campus, going from building roofs to trees etc. He fledged on 20th November. Indigo is way ahead getting flight training from parents, visiting the box etc. He fledged on 11th November at 41 days.”

If you haven’t checked out the FalconCam site in a few days, I urge you to do so. Someone is really adding historical data and you can go back to 2007 to see earlier chicks and read about the big events at the scrape. Here is that link if you lost it.

https://science-health.csu.edu.au/falconcam/home

Oh, it is stormy up near Jacksonville. Samson and Gabby have been on the nest today working despite the wind and the bad weather that looks like it is moving in.

I put this image in not so you could peer at the fluffy bottom of a big Bald Eagle but, rather, for you to see the colour of the legs and feet of Gabby. Then look at their beaks. This is a bright chrome-yellow. This is a very healthy bird.

Harriet and M15 are sleeping at the nest and so far no eggs, just like at NEFL.

At the E-3 nest in the Kistachie National Forest, they have their second egg today. Congratulations Andria and Alex.

There is also news coming out of the Midway Atoll about a very rare pair of Albatross.

As we give thanks for all the birds that bring our lives joy, remember that we are the cause of much of their suffering. Please spread the word to anyone you know – or where you work – that there are solutions other than using rodenticide to get rid of mice and rats. Also teach them about secondary poisoning. It could be their dog or cat but, it is often one of our beautiful raptors.

At small islands in New Zealand, Dr Digby and his team care for the rare non-flying parrot, the Kakapo. In 2016, they hand-raised more than a dozen of these precious little birds. Today they continue to do that work when it is required. The work that Digby and his team do to restore the health of these birds and to keep them safe and try and increase their numbers is remarkable. So thankful.

No 13. The Red List. The Marsh Tit

At first I thought these were out Black capped Chickadees. The Marsh Tit is small, it is mainly shades of a soft grey-brown or taupe with a shiny black cast, a black bib, and a pale ivory underbelly. The bill, eye, and legs are black. They are not plain by any means, look closely at the plumage patterns. Simply lovely.

The woodlands of the United Kingdom – and elsewhere – are changing and that it causing a huge decline in the number of this very small song bird, the Marsh Tit. The woods are more fragmented now, separated by grazing pastures, a growing number of introduced deer. Marsh Tits, according to Mike Toms, “favour woodlands with a complex understory and require surprisingly large patches of suitable habitat in order to breed successfully.” And they’re like their woodlands to be “wet”. Climate change has meant that they are now laying their eggs at least ten days earlier than they were 50 years ago. This change has had a decided impact on available or peak food supplies for the chicks which is also contributing to a decline in population numbers. The Marsh Tit is also known to visit older gardens, copses, and parks, and has sometimes been seen on feeders.

Marsh Tit” by Vine House Farm is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

They feed mostly on insects, seeds and berries, and often cache food over winter if they find a good supply. They nest in existing tree holes, rather than excavating their own, and produce seven to nine eggs.

Their song sounds like a sneeze “pitchoot”.

Here is their range.

Thank you so much for being with me today. I hope that each of you had a wonderful day no matter where you are — or will have a great day if you are just waking up reading this. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, NEFL-AEF, SWFL Eagles and D Pritchett, KNF, Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, A Place Called Hope, Kakapo Recovery and Dr Digby Twitter, Openverse, and RSPB.

Sunday News in Bird World

20 November 22

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.

Making News:

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?

https://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/bird-s-eye-view-who-needs-netflix-when-you-can-tune-into-nestflix-20221116-p5bywe.html?fbclid=IwAR2MHVlDtBYcr46mtwCPkpd9gkSg7bJDEqoFy_7MiTjJu6XQcAoFQbneNiE

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.

No 10 The Red List: The Tree Pipit

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)” by gilgit2 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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.

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)” by gilgit2 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/13/country-diary-the-song-of-the-tree-pipit-is-a-rare-pleasure?CMP=share_btn_link

Migration News:

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.

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.

Indigo flies out and in…plus more news in Bird World for Thursday Nov 17

17 November 2022

Oh, good morning to all of you. Thank you so very much for being with me today. I am so very, very happy to be with you! Thank you for all of the wonderful stories that you have sent. I will be working my way through them slowly. Much appreciated. We woke up to more snow. Everything is beautiful and white!

The kidlets, Missy and Lewis, had their first vet visit. I am a glowing proud parent. They were soooooo well behaved. They are not litter mates and the adoption person told us that they might not get along with one another. I have not had more than one kitten since I was a child and did not know what to expect.

I remember one stray that someone left at our gate. when I was a child. Oh, I loved that cat. To me the drab brown tabby was the most beautiful cat in the world. My grandmother was very diplomatic and said, ‘He sure is sweet’. I begged to keep this one particular cat. My dad agreed since it was a ‘boy’. Well, he apparently didn’t check very good…a few weeks later we had a pack of kittens. That tabby lived for more than 10 years. She was incredibly sweet. It is very different, having kittens outside with their mother and kittens in the house – in a conservatory, with very large plant pots and tall vines with flowers, or trees…yes, trees.

But, back to the topic at hand. Lewis and Missy are the best of mates. They do everything together including eating out of the same dish at the same time, drinking out of the same dish at the same time, having to have their paws touch when they are sleeping or sleeping in the same tent. Always together. So off they went in the same pet carrier, not separate, together. Not a single peep. At the vet they were so content. Proud Mum here!

I got a tip from the technician at the vet. One of the biggest culprits for cats will be their teeth. I hope if you have cats and dogs are brushing their teeth or giving them things to facilitate good gum health and clean teeth. If you have tried brushing their teeth and it didn’t work, get a nice flavoured tooth paste. Lewis and Missy like the chicken. Take clean nylon stockings or panty hose. Cut a square. Wrap it around your finger, put a dab of the toothpaste on it and away you go. Be sure to do the back ones and those sharp canines in the front. You can get them used to what you are going to do by rubbing on the outside of their cheek for a couple of days. Small toothbrushes or those prickly things you put on your finger did not – at least not for these two. Panty hose do! And I swore I would never wear the darn things again after I retired. So glad there is some use for them!

Missy is the ‘alpha’ You might recall she had Lewis well aware that she is the boss immediately. The vet saw it too! Indeed, the vet smiled and said, “Always the female!” Anyone watching a raptor on a streaming cam knows this. I said nothing. The odd thing is Lewis is so solid and looks ‘so tough’ and Missey appears to be ‘so fragile’. So funny. Missy is half Maine Coon – but both, at the end of the day, are literally ‘alley cats’. Found new borns taken to the shelter from different parts of my city. We are so lucky to have in our lives.

Missey likes to get inside plant pots – with or without soil. This is the tiny artificial tree that has been put up. The soft felted birds have had to be removed. LOL.

Looking so innocent! “We didn’t do it!”

Today’s action was still at the scrape box of Diamond and Xavier. Those parents are really making sure that both Rubus and Indigo are well fed. What a fantastic couple they are. The moderator put some history in the chat today and for those of you that do not know – we now have at least three male peregrine falcons that we know of that have started out as step-fathers.

The last sighting of Diamond’s mate, Bull, was on 30 September 2016. Their erases hatched on the 4th and 5th of October. The first sighting of Xavier in the scrape box at Orange was on the 7th of October. He brought prey to Diamond and the babies on the 8th of October. The rest is history as it is with Alden at UC-Berkeley and M2022 at 367 Collins Street.

Aren’t they adorable? Every day Rubus looses more and more dandelions.

Everyone has been wanting to know when Indigo would fly again. He certainly has been eating well and enjoying being back home. Today, right before 14:38 Indigo got a little frantic, running around the scrape just like he did the day before he fledged. At 143802, Indigo flew out of the scrape box. He returned 35 seconds later! I caught it on video for you.

​RECAP of feedings at Orange: 05:29:41 X/quail; 05 32 39 X/St.Quail Indigo Grabs; 06:05 38 X/juv star; 8 39 04 D/prey 8 47 58 D takes leftover quail; 15 41 31 D/pigeon; 18 32 52 X/red-browed Finch; 19 06 55 D/Live Star

‘H’ sent this link to me. It is a split screen video that Cilla Kinross made of a feeding. Disregard the word ‘kestrels’. It is definitely Rubus and Indigo. Thanks, ‘H’. Delightful.

Indigo and Rubus both in the scrape as the IR lights are turning off.

The wind was really blowing and there were lots of white caps at Port Lincoln. It made everyone wonder whether or not there would be any fish today but – alas, it turned out good.

At Port Lincoln, Zoe can surely scream for the fish! I have jokingly said that I hope she lives a long and healthy life with many osplets screaming their heads off to her…their poor Dad. Just imagine.

There have been at least 2 fish deliveries today. Mum was on the ropes eating a fish around 1400. Zoe took absolutely no notice. She was not hungry. Isn’t that grand? No one on this nest hungry. The fish are ever so unstable. But – we will take it. Today is a good day. Mum ate her bit and flew to the nest at 141408 and fed her large daughter.

Zoe doesn’t even seem to know or care if Mum is over on the ropes eating a fish. Normally she would be screaming her head off. Not today. It is a good fish day.

When the feeding was over, Zoe had an enormous crop.

All of the family together. Mum has a very nice crop from the earlier feedings.

Lots of food at Port Lincoln. These are the late time stamps from Gtr Kitarr:  19:16 headless fish by Dad, Mum off w the fish, back at 19:29 to feed Zoe. 20:24 Zoe wing flapping & 20:24:14 standing on one leg. 21:10 headless fish by Dad, Mum feeds Zoe in the dark.

Making News:

The investigation of the theft of four precious Albatross eggs continues.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/130488815/was-a-boat-used-to-steal-four-rare-albatross-eggs-in-daring-heist

How many of us love Iris? The oldest Osprey in the world whose nest is on the lot of Riverside Health Care Center in Missoula, Montana. A request has come in from lovers of Iris. Here it is:

Here is a very short report on the current status of Sea Eaglets 29 and 30. I also want to mention that my contact tells me that the sea eaglets are at different clinics. The specific names are not being mentioned as is the case with other popular birds to keep the phone lines open for injured wildlife.

The Red List 8. The Yellow Wagtail

Yellow wagtail” by hedera.baltica is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

There are many birds that I do not know. This bird is one of the first to be spotted when it returns from its winter migration in Africa to the fields in the UK. In Africa, they feed on the insects that the elephants kick up from under their feet so if you ever get to go to Africa on a safari and see a herd of elephants look for these dramatic sulphur yellow birds with their grey heads. In the UK, they follow the farm tractors kicking up the soil to reveal their next meal. They need a good supply of insects and spiders to survive. Besides fields, manure heaps and wet lands are good places for them to forage.

Yellow Wagtails raise two clutches a year if there is suitable nesting spaces and food. Their nests are low on the ground adjacent to wet lands, salt marshes, hay meadows, and some fields of vegetable crops.

Yellow wagtail” by hedera.baltica is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Changes to agriculture and crops grown put the Yellow Wagtail under threat. The RSPB has made some recommendations to farmers in the UK which would help stabilise and grow the numbers of these beautiful birds. This includes returning to having some manure heaps for them to forage through. They are beautiful songbirds. Let us hope that those who can do something to encourage their population growth will keep this in mind when they are planning their crops and how they do their farming in the upcoming years before it is too late.

We are waiting for both Zoe and Rubus to fledge. Rubus is not quite ready but is getting more and more interested as Zoe spends time in the scrape and now, that she has flown in and out again. Zoe is doing a lot of wingers. I am a bit old fashioned. The longer they stay on the nest or at the scrape and the stronger they are when they fledge, the more chance they will have of success. Weak tired birds do not do well in the field.

Thank you so very much for being with me today. Send your best wishes to our beautiful sea eaglets as they recover. Take care of yourselves, too. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Thank you to the following for their posts, their videos, and their streaming cams which make up my screen captures: OpenVerse, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Sea Eagles FB, Montana Ospreys at Hellgate, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Royal Albatross FB.

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.