All of the other nests are relatively quiet. While I do love to see the adults sharing incubation duties, watching a bird incubate eggs can sometimes feel like watching paint dry. So I decided to go and see what was happening with the little sea eaglets. They were just finishing a meal when I started watching them. I turned away for a second and a second gull was brought to the nest by Dad at 12:47. Good gracious. Had Dad won the Silver Gull Lottery?
This is an image from the feeding when I first started watching the sea eaglets. Thank goodness for rewind. This was the first prey delivery of the day and it arrived at 12:19:01.
Both eaglets are sharing the prey and behaving themselves in this feeding. WBSE 27 is on the left and 28 is on the right. The picture shows Lady giving 28 a morsel of meat. She alternates between them. There is absolutely not a hint of rivalry.
Here they are standing up. It is a wonder they aren’t falling over from being top heavy.
They hear Dad approaching the nest.
Dad arrives at the nest with another gull. Both of them sit on their little bottoms in shock. Look at their faces seeing that prey. Also notice that 28, in the front, has a large crop, too.
The time for the second delivery is 12:47:20 as shown on the time stamp.
Remember, both have literally just eaten. Both chicks have crops. Neither one of them is ‘starving’. Indeed, there is no shortage of food on the nest. The behaviour in this second feeding demonstrates that rivalry is not always because there is less food being delivered. It is strictly about dominance on the nest.
In the image below, 27 is up by Lady getting ready to be fed. 28 is moving up from the back to go to the left of 28. I wonder why 28 did not go to the right. That is its usual spot – and it is a good place to catch the eye of Lady.
27 first gives 28 ‘the look’. Was it because 28 had to balance itself by extending its wing out and it touched 27’s back?
Whatever it was, 27 pecks 28 making sure that 28 realizes who is boss.
28 immediately goes into submission and stays that way for approximately 12 minutes while 27 eats the gull. These are the hardest things to watch on these large raptor nests between the chicks. We always want them to be nice to one another.
By the time that 28 straightens himself and gets up to the feeding place, the gull is almost gone. 27 got 98% of that gull while 28 got a few bites.
The behaviour of 27 shows that despite there being plenty of food, she will insist on dominance. She will eat first. Anyone watching large raptor nests will know that there is always a dominant bird. Often the one dominated gets very clever. They listen, watch, and learn to read ‘the clues’ so as not to be attacked. 28 has a little more learning to do. It would be interesting to see if 28 is only pecked when it is on the left.
So the time is 13:07:18 – and guess what?! A third gull arrives on the nest at 13:15:13. Yes, I am serious. Dad must have found a nest of gulls. If I remember correctly there is an old barge and the Silver Gulls make their nests there. It is not far away. Someone told me once that the pigeons are for falcons and gulls are for eagles. It certainly seems true at some of the Australian nests!
Here is the next prey item arriving on the nest.
Both chicks get up to the feeding area. 27 is on the left and 28 has its usual spot on the right. It is important to note that the eagles do not see straight in front of them; they must tilt their head a bit.
Just look at how full these two are! I do hope that Lady gets a chance to eat.
This time 28 got lots of food. Lady alternated between them. In the end, 27 was too full to eat anymore and 28 finished off that gull.
Both are in food comas.
There is no moral to this story. There is a lot of prey coming on the WBSE nest. This is the first time I have seen three prey items delivered and eaten in this short of time. WBSE 27 still feels that it needs to, sometimes, throw about her position on the nest. At this last feeding there was no rivalry. Both ate and they had big enough crops to last them til evening!
As they grow, each will need more and more food. The gull chicks are not that big. The food that is delivered is also meant for Lady. Let us hope that she gets a good meal today. The female’s lose vital nutrients making the eggs they lay and it is said that they lose approximately 30% of their body weight during the nesting phase. Hopefully Dad will bring on a nice big fish or eel for later.
The Silver Gull that Dad brings to the nest are the most common gull in Australia.
They are found everywhere. While the adults are 40-45 cm or 15.7 to 18 inches and have a wing span of 94 cm or 3 ft, the chicks would be much smaller. Last year Dad was always raiding the nests of the gulls in addition to fish, eels, and at least one turtle. I recall that one eagle expert said that the ‘red meat’ of some prey tends to make the eaglets more aggressive than the fish. That could be what happened today or maybe 27 was just annoyed at 28 for touching her.
Both sea eaglets are eating as you can see. It is a bit unnerving to see the eldest whip the little one into shape especially since they had been doing so well. Still, this is a worthwhile nest to watch because the behaviour is so fascinating. I am going to have to watch this nest more closely. I am curious as to whether the pecking only occurs when WBSE 28 is on the left of 27. Perhaps it doesn’t matter.
The link to the WBSE camera is here:
One of the things I find most fascinating are learning the birds connected with their vocalizations in the Sydney Olympic Forest.
Thanks so much for joining me today. Stay well, stay safe. See you soon.
Thank you to the Sea Eagle Cam @ Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre where I took my screen shots.