Sunday Morning in Bird World

6 November 2022

Good Morning All!

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.

Making News:

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/nov/02/a-walk-on-the-wild-side-explore-the-avalon-marshes-somerset

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/03/bonfire-night-fireworks-cause-major-distress-to-wild-geese-study-finds

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?

https://www.knowledgefun.com/pdf/secondary_pentobarbital_poisoning_of_wildlife.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3xBTkh1FlmePDXANfrSQAljI8f08LCDAwxsq-_qj83gPgjq0px38JXzVA

Here is an article about Bald Eagles surviving eating euthanized cats. Are the vets not responsible for properly disposing of the animals?

https://archive.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/bald-eagles-recover-from-eating-euthanized-cats-ns5ah7v-150542725.html/?fbclid=IwAR1vtNBYxADyL7PhOOTOGELhRLvPIISvcthjOSQnpbqmCqA2myfsk9137PY

Australian Nest News:

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!

Migration News:

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.

Early Friday in Bird World

14 October 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

Some snow fell last night and it was still here – not melting – until half an hour ago. Everyone has been in the garden this morning and Canada Geese have been flying overhead. Everyone is visiting the garden. The number of Dark-eyed Juncos has increased, and the Starlings are here waiting for me to go and get Meal Worms and Butter Bark. I plan to do that shortly. They do cause chaos, but they are such beautiful birds and they also deserve a good feed on a cold day.

Making News:

Oh, I adored Rosa and Martin’s 2022 eaglet, Orion, at the Dulles-Greenway Bald Eagle nest. What a gorgeous chick. Orion hatched on the 13th of March. Well, guess what? Orion returned to the nest! But it gets better ———— Martin and Rosa were there!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here is the video:

Harriet and M15, the famous Fort Myers Bald Eagle couple, have made The Washington Post with their rebuilding activities! The raptors can show us all the way. Don’t grumble about what life throws at you, just get on making it better!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2022/10/14/bald-eagles-rebuild-nest-hurricane/?fbclid=IwAR2VxX84BEELvFGm6uHJXCm2lIm2qfvsDUHwDj4GLnnYCx9GTfPR0YsTYZU

Abby and Blazer from Eagle Country are on their nest tree. Just look at what Hurricane Ian did to their wonderful nest. I wonder if they will rebuild in the same place?

Do you adore the Kakapo, the charming green flightless parrots of New Zealand that are so threatened? Well, I do and am always thankful for the care they are given. They were New Zealand’s Bird of the Year for two straight years but, because of that, they have been struck from the ballot this year. Some are wondering if that is fair.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/12/new-zealand-bird-of-the-year-contest-favourite-kakapo-blocked

New research comes from all the poo samples collected of the Kakapo. Here are the results that shows gut health is key to their survival.

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2022/10/kakapo-gut-bacteria-key-to-its-survival.html?fbclid=IwAR3ArV1bv8gLBVh4wIP0drEOQQICOkkxbimeWUZwoMlwQTou2g6UZz5S3Is

Nest News:

Today, at Port Lincoln, Big is 27 days old, Middle is 26, and Little Bob is 23 days. Those four days and, perhaps, a gender difference with Big Bob certainly being a female, sure set those two apart. According to Port Lincoln’s data chart, there were 4 fish delivered with 5 feeds. That does not tell us much about what happened on this nest. I was, however, delighted to see that Little Bob had a feeding around 0100 Friday morning. That is interesting as the night before, Middle had been the recipient of those precious bites. I could not rewind to see how much fish Little Bob got but, on Friday in Australia, Big ruled the roost in frenzied attacks on all the siblings. Little Bob had some fish around 10:45 before it was attacked by Big three minutes later. That feeding was highlighted in my last blog.

There was a feeding at 12:36. Little stayed rolled up tight and did not get any. The third feeding at 16:28 Middle got some but Little did not. It was the break through very large whole fish that helped Little Bob. It arrived at 17:17:45. Little Bob moved up to eat with Middle at 17:36 getting its first bite at 17:37:58. After that Mum worked that fish tail again giving Little huge bites at the end. Little Bob went to bed full of fish. That is a good thing.

There was not a late fish delivery like there had been the night before. It sure would have benefitted Mum and Little. Big is out for the count so full after gorging all day. I remember the second hatch at Achieve Ospreys in 2020. That osplet would eat and eat and eat so that Tiny Tot could not get any food. We wondered how it could even hold another bite.

Looking at Port Lincoln and the age of the Osplets, let us remember that the beaking started on day 8. The late and only fish delivery that day came after 1500. It was also the onset of the Reptilian phase. We are now moving out of the Reptilian Phase and this nest should settle —- if it is going to. It is why the ages of the osplets are now important as the development of their juvenile feathering. Oh how I wish we could measure their hormonal levels leading up to that Reptilian Phase and then coming out of it.

The chicks at Melbourne were once again left out in the hot sun yesterday. I am mystified at the female at this scrape. I have never seen a female consistently leave her chicks for an hour and a half or longer every day. They were so hot. Hopefully in another week – when, according to the Melbourne weather reports it is to get hotter – they will be able to run to the other end of the gutter for shade. I want to say ‘should Mum leave them alone in the hot sun again’ but, it seems that a pattern has formed and that is precisely what Mum will do, sadly.

Indigo and Rubus are being well fed and taken care of. Rubus now gets lots of food and you can see that it knows precisely where Mum’s beak is. The eyes are open and they are focusing. When Rubus is an adult it will be able to see a prey item a mile away. There were six feedings yesterday at Orange.

Rubus and Indigo are just cute little buttons of things. Indigo is so calm and Rubus seems to be a live-wire. I do love watching Indigo take food out of Rubus’s mouth – but, only if, Diamond replaces it for Rubus!

There is no news about SE29 or SE30. I will be back with updates on migration later today along with the breakfast news from the nests. For those watching the Finnish Ospreys, Salli left Finland on August the 25th and she arrived at her winter home in Rwanda on the 13th of October. She is now feeding at Lake Llaema. Fantastic. The adult Royal Albatross have been arriving on Taiaroa Head. Some have been around Lillibet’s nest. Check it out.

Thank you so much for being here with me. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their news, their posts, and their screen cams where I took my screen captures: ‘A’ and ‘H’, Dulles-Greenaway, Osprey Friends, Eagle Country, Kakapo Recovery, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Port Lincoln Ospreys.

QT is now Lillibet, Little Bob has a huge crop and other news in Bird World

6 October 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

Oh, goodness. One area of my City had its first snow last evening and the temperature for the rest of us is 1 degree C. (Think of 0 as 32 degrees F). We had our first heavy frost last night. This cold snap will surely put some of the birds that are arriving in our City on a path south!

The active nests remain in Australia while the Bald Eagles work on their nests for egg laying later in the year in the US. Rain is the issue at some of the nests. Melbourne received 3 inches of rain or 7.5 cm. Mum worked so hard to keep those eyases dry. Sadly, the Collins Street scrape will have more rain today – perhaps an inch – starting at around 0800. My weather report says that should end around 1300. It has really rained in Sydney and there are some areas that are flooding. Rain should begin in the Olympic Park where the Ironwood Tree nest of the Sea Eagles is located at around 1100 and then stop. Port Lincoln could be dry today! Yippee. It looks right now that Orange could be dry as well. We wait and see how the forecasts hold up BUT regardless, these amazing raptor families are doing well despite the heavy downpours that are occurring. That is simply wonderful.

There is word that Friends of Osprey – think Janet Foster, Ian Falkenburg, Fran Solly – from Port Lincoln and all those who donated or joined Friends of Osprey – have received four sat pack transmitters for this year. There will be one available for Port Lincoln and one each going to the three other nests should they have fledglings. Calypso has been seen numerous times and is flying well. She is the 2019 fledgling from PLO. Ervie is, of course, out and about being the man about town in Port Lincoln. This is excellent news. More platforms are planned for South Australia as well as the number of Ospreys grow in the area.

Friends of Ospreys has a new website and they are grateful for all donations. All funds go directly to the camera, etc at Port Lincoln, new platforms in the area, and those precious transmitters. This is their new site and it is packed with information. Not a member? Consider donating. Membership is $20 Australian.

Here is the latest news from the blog on our darling Ervie:

https://friendsofosprey.com.au/our-tracked-osprey/

An announcement came out of the Royal Albatross Centre on Taiaroa Head yesterday that a decision was made and accepted by all members that the Royal Cam Chick known as QT be officially named ‘Lillibet’ after Queen Elizabeth II.

I was worried about Little Bob at Port Lincoln yesterday. Big and Middle continue to go at one another and well, I will sound like a broken record but, it is a real blessing that they stop fighting and act nicely at the fish table. ‘A’ noticed yesterday that Little Bob’s lack of a long neck is hampering him if he is not at the right position during feeding. That said, he walked away with several nice size crops later yesterday when larger fish came to the nest.

In the image below, have a look at Middle Bob. Notice the dark woolier down that is now replacing that light grey coat of down the osplets had when they hatched. They will retain this thermal wooly layer to help them regulate their temperature. Feathers will begin to appear. You can already see the rusty-gold ones on their head and nape. These will be followed by the wing, tail, and body feathers until they get their full juvenile plumage. They are going to be very itchy and will spend much time preening.

Remember that the feathers are often called ‘blood feathers’. The feathers grow from blood quills which will disintegrate and fall off as the feathers grow.

Little Bob looks great with that big crop of his. You will notice that all three chicks are in the full reptilian phase including having ‘clown feet’.

We all wondered if Little Bob would be another Ervie. He certainly does his best to get up front and at the beak for feeding. The beaking between the two older siblings does send him into safe positions and it does appear that he is often afraid of them — and for good reason. He is still very small. Let the older more evenly matched siblings take their angst out on one another!

Dad continues to provide lots of prey for the Melbourne eyases and he does his best to feed them and keep them covered from the sun. It is difficult for him to brood them – even last year, Old Dad has a huge problem when it came to four chicks. They all seem to be doing well including the smallest one.

Mum has been notified that prey is delivered. She has flown off to have a break and eat.

Dad arrives and stays with the eyases til Mum returns.

Some chatting and bowing and Dad is off!

The older chicks can see well. It is hard to determine if the 4th has its eyes fully open and focused yet. Oh, how I wish there was a zoom on that camera!

The wee one at Orange is getting some food while Big Bob is growing like crazy. Everything is going well at Orange for Xavier and Diamond and we will all get to see how these two manage as parents of two this year instead of one.

There have been lots of feedings and Xavier has been able to feed and brood his family! He so loves being such an active part in everything instead of just providing prey.

SE30 has not fledged yet. The heavy rains in the forest should slow down any flying but, SE29 does not seem to be bothered flying in and out of the nest. SE29 is roosting elsewhere. SE30 is so excited to see its sibling when it flies in. They seem to have such a special bond with one another this year.

Fish have been coming to the nest and Lady often feeds SE30 and also SE29 should s/he show up on the nest. SE29 is often more interested in what is going around making one wonder if s/he is not also being fed elsewhere.

All of the nests are as quiet as they can be in the middle of the night in Australia. Despite the weather, all of the parents are able to feed and keep their little and not so little youngsters fed and warm (if needed).

Migration:

Checking on Karl II family for 5 October. Bonus continues to stay in the same area of Romania. Tracking shows that he flew a lot. This is a map of where he is and an image of the area.

Waba is still in Moldova at an area around Glodeni.

Waba seems to be enjoying a pond in the landscape. You can see by the blue dots that he visits there often. How wonderful he has found a source of fish and frogs.

Karl II has just astounded people with a 450 km flight. He is now in Turkey!

I see that there are no tracking reports yet for Kaia. On 4 October she was 31 km from the Mediterranean Sea. She is perhaps in areas where there is little satellite transmissions available.

Don’t forget that 8 October is Big Bird Day at Cornell Bird Lab. Go to their website to register for the bird count if you are not already a part of eBird. It is free. Here is the information to get you started:

https://ebird.org/news/october-big-day-2022

Thank you so much for joining me this morning. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and posts where I took my screen captures: Friends of Osprey, Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, and Looduskalender Forum.

World Albatross Day is coming – 19 June!

The Guardian newspaper has consistently printed stories about the growing Chinese industrial fishing fleets. ‘It’s terrifying’: can anyone stop China’s vast armada of fishing boats?’ appeared on the 25th of August 2020.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/25/can-anyone-stop-china-vast-armada-of-fishing-boats-galapagos-ecuador

A few weeks later another article appeared titled, ‘Chinese fishing armada plundered waters around Galapagos, data shows’.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/17/chinese-fishing-armada-plundered-waters-around-galapagos-data-show

Just last week, The Guardian printed another article about the growing number of Chinese industrial fishing boats in the Pacific and the threat to the tuna. It stated that the number of Chinese boats had increased by 500% in a couple of decades. Another article addressed that these huge industrial boats switch off their trackers to avoid detection while they are engaged in illegal fishing.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/02/fishing-fleets-go-dark-suspected-illegal-hunting-study

All of this is really more than sad. It would not matter to me which country was doing it. About a year ago I wrote a blog on the labelling for sustainable fish that is sold in supermarkets. I am now wondering about those labels and whether or not all of the fish sold that carry them is actually sustainable. How much of that fish comes from the Chinese fishing trawlers? How do we really know? The whole notion of whether the fish is sustainable or not is linked to the theme and events for this year’s World Albatross Today which is coming up on 19 June.

The theme of World Albatross Day for 2021 is Ensuring Albatross Friendly Fisheries. The Albatross Task Force has lots of information on its website. There are tabs that come down and some of them will discuss the points I mention below in great detail.

https://www.acap.aq/world-albatross-day/wad2021-ensuring-albatross-friendly-fisheries?fbclid=IwAR2HCY4TmgofVJA7NEiLkypMo1_xciNtHgWwcJBX1ztoip7n34zVIVQkjfk

The mitigations against harming birds and stopping them from being bycatch are relatively easy to do so why don’t these huge industrial fishing ships want to help? In many instances, organizations will provide streamer lines for free for the boats! They include

  • streamer lines – those shiny coloured lines that will scare the birds away
  • setting their lines at night (gosh that sounds easy doesn’t it?)
  • shielding the hooks
  • integrated weight lines
  • using external weights for the lines

The other aspect of World Albatross Day is to introduce the general population to these beautiful, large, and gentle sea birds. Today, I will focus briefly on the Tristan Albatross which is the feature image of this blog. The Tristan Albatross are critically endangered because of longline fishing and mice. Yes, mice.

“Tristan da Cunha-12-010-albatross on Nightingale Tristan in background-Credit Paul Tyler and Alison Rothwell)” by darwin_initiative is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Tristan Albatross is listed as critically endangered because of its rapid population decline over the past 70 years. The two main causes are being killed by longline fishing boats and the chicks being killed by mice introduced to the islands by humans. The population of Tristan Albatross is mostly located on Gough Island. Do you know where that is? I wasn’t sure so I looked it up on Google Maps.

There are roughly 1750 pair of breeding Tristan Albatross on the Tristan da Cunha Islands and, in particular, Gough Island. Gough Island is a UK Protected Territory. At present, the decline is roughly 3.5%, according to Birdlife Australia, a year. Just like the Royal Albatross at Taiaroa Head, the Tristan Albatross breeds every other year. The single egg is laid in January and the chick, if it survives, will fledge in November. Juveniles return to the colony on Gough Island between the ages of 3-7 years. Most do not breed until they are 10 years old. The oldest recorded Tristan Albatross was 38 years old.

This is not a video for the faint of heart. It shows a small mouse killing a Tristan Albatross chick. You can certainly skip this one but it is good to know that humans introduced the predators onto the island in their boats. There have been plans to eradicate the mice from Gough Island. They were put on hold last year because of the pandemic. The little mice grow into mega-sized mice. They are really quite frightening. The plan continues to relocate the birds while the mice are killed.

Here is a short video clip showing how the Tristan Albatross flies over the ocean:

They are beautiful birds and I cannot possibly imagine a world without them.

A quick check in at the Cowlicks Osprey Nest showed a fish – albeit small – had been brought in for breakfast today so that is a good start.

The Ks on the Redtail Hawk nest of Big Red and Arthur are just antsy to fledge. K1 now has five dark bands on her tail. She is really a BIG girl – no doubt about the gender there. And I suspect that K3 is a little, little male. K2 – who knows?

Tiny Little Bob over on the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest continues to hold its own.

Over on the Achieva Credit Union Osprey Nest, Tiny Tot is really hoping that a fish is coming in to the nest now that the rain has started in St Petersburg.

Thanks so much for joining me today. Will introduce you to another albatross tomorrow but we will also take a good look at what is happening on some of these Osprey nests as fledge watch hits them – and, of course, I will be checking on the Ks every ten or so minutes. Fledge looks eminent. Will it be K1 or K2? Last year, K2 fledged first. K1, also a big female, was the last to fledge and she did so reluctantly. Sadly, J1 flew into a window of the Weill Building, the same building that E2 flew into and died. Oh, I wish they would put up bird friendly windows so near to where these juveniles fledge – but that is a complaint for another day.

Take care!

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, and Cowlitz PUD.