Breakfast with the Melbourne Four

15 October 2022

The scrape box on the ledge at 367 Collins Street is really teaching us a lot about falcon behaviour this year — or about this particular couple, F22 and M22. To recap, the old mum, F17, was found injured in June and had to be euthanized. Cute little Dad M17 took another mate F22. Four eggs were laid. Then came a territorial crisis with old dad M17 last being seen in September. Since then Male 22 and Female 22 have been incubating and now feeding and brooding the offspring of male 17 and female 22.

The behaviour of the female and, in particular, her penchant for leaving the four eyases in the hot sun at mid-day has caused some concern. Little Dad has tried to shield them as best he could. Little Dad often does a lot of the feeding. Sometimes Mum feeds then broods and Dad comes and feeds again.

Today was peculiar – actually Sunday in Melbourne. Mum flew off at 0602 and returned with a freshly caught pigeon, unplucked. She considered plucking it by the scrape and feeding the chicks but, she changed her mind and flew off with it. She returned more than an hour later with a somewhat plucked bird and went about to feed the eyases and then changed her mind again and left. I wondered if Dad would have to feed them!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, Dad did arrive. He was empty taloned. He recognized that the chicks were ravished. He went over and first found a bone and went about getting anything off of it for them. He then dug around and found a bit more carcass and fed the wee ones. I am seriously starting to wonder if he doesn’t have more maternal instincts than the female.

Dad looked and found every morsel that he possibly could in order to feed the four eyases. In the meantime, they remained civil to one another . This has to be noted. Siblicide, sibling rivalry, beaking abuse, and food competition such as we are seeing at Port Lincoln is almost unheard of in falcon and hawk nests.

Finally, Mum arrives with a big pigeon. She gives a great plucking demonstration to the Melbourne Four who take it all in. I wonder if they thought she might take that bird away, too. But, no, this time, some three and a half hours after breakfast sort of began, the kids were fed. Goodness.

The four eyases were fed and Mum flew off. She has returned. I hope that she stays with the chicks during the heat of the day today.

‘A’ and I continually speak about the need for a shade over this scrape box like the one at the other end. It will surely protect the chicks from the elements as well as the heat of the sun if Mum continues to make it a habit. It would also help in the future. We have a few more days and these eyases will be able to run down the gutter to get in the shade if they are left.

Have a great day everyone. These four are quite full. Now if we can only get a good feeding into Little Bob. That would be a grand Sunday in Australia.

Thank you for being with me. See you soon.

Thank you to 367 Collins Street by Mirvac for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.

Parent arrives at Melbourne scrape

9 October 2022

After nearly an hour of being MIA, a parent landed back on the ledge of 367 Collins Street scrape. Thank goodness. The chicks were panting so fast and hard, their beaks wide open accompanied by frantic movements that, at one point, it looked like one might actually go off the edge. Instead, two of the chicks went down into the gutter with two in the scrape.

At one point in time on her return, Mum tried to pick up the two eyases in the gutter to get them back into the box. Eventually with that encouragement, one made it up. I believe that the eldest eyases is still below in the gutter. Mum has done the best she can – she initially alternated between the two groups of two to cool them off. You could see her trying to figure out how to get the two back up. There is only one down in the gutter as I write. Shade is covering the area and it seems a wee bit perky. Let us hope that it gets up with the others.

The question remains: what happened? It is highly unusual for raptor parents to be gone for an hour when their chicks are little. Normally, at this scrape, the male would come and going over and stand above the chicks. That did not happen this time.

Are there two adults? Were there intruders? We will have to wait to see if the male turns up with food. Right now I feel like someone has run over me with a truck…I cannot even contemplate having only one parent at this scrape after all that has already happened this season.

Continue to send this nest your very warmest and most positive wishes. It was good that all of the eyases were fed good this morning. They need hydration. Now we wait for the wee one to get up to the box and for the other parent to come with food. I am trying to be the most positive I can be.

We were worried about Port Lincoln getting fish and the Currawongs at Sydney. Concerned about Rubus getting enough to eat at Orange. I had relaxed and was enjoying Melbourne. This incident just shows us that we cannot assume anything. ‘A’ sent me a Buddhist saying, ‘The only certainty is uncertainty.’ So true. I want to be certain that this is still a family of six and not five.

Thank you for being with me. I will give a full update tomorrow. As I leave you, Mum is down in the scrape with the eldest. She is trying to encourage it to get up. Fingers crossed.

Thank you to the 367 Collins Street streaming cam by Mirvac where I took my screen captures.

Update on Victor and other Bird World News

13 July 2022

Good Morning Everyone. I hope the start of the week was a good one as we celebrate the rescue of Victor at the Fraser Point nest in the Channel Islands.

Here is the latest news on the Fraser Point eaglet of Andor and Mama Cruz:

As new birds go into wildlife rehab, it is easy to forget some that remain in care. At the Pitkin County Osprey nest, both chicks were pulled off the nest when the female’s talon was tangled in nest material that had fishing line. Here is an image of the chick in care and below it is the mass of fishing line and nest material that came off. One chick died. This one will be in rehab for some time and will not be returned to the nest area as the parents will have migrated when it is ready to be released.

How possible is it for every nest that is on a streaming cam to have the nest material examined and any fishing line, hooks, or other dangerous items removed when the camera gets its annual maintenance? That would help – it certainly won’t keep new items from coming on the nest but it would go a long ways to mitigating issues. Then, of course, there is the whole issue of educating the public about fishing line and hooks! And how dangerous they are to the water birds.

There has been no update on Little Bit ND17 this week. Will post as soon as I see one. No news is good news!

The Patuxent River Park Osprey nest 1 is empty. Was there a fledge?

Tonight there is a huge storm with thunder and lighting at the Patuxent River Park #1 nest. It could even scare me! You can see the nest because the lightning is making the entire sky glow.

Yes, it was a fledge at Patuxent River Park and the new flier has returned to the nest to the delight of Mum and Dad.

It has been 25 hours without her brother, Victor. Lillibet is on the nest panting and hot in the California sun.

The mother has returned to the Janakkdan nest in Finland to her two osplets. There has been lots of fish and she has been feeding them. Let us hope that what has been ailing the female is getting better. They are super beautiful and big osplets. It was just lovely to see her and the chicks are getting stronger and older and should be feeding more to themselves. That will certainly help. Mum does look better than the past couple of days. Fingers crossed. Send those good positive warm wishes to her. They help!

The first egg at the Sydney Sea Eagle nest is 35 days old today. Pip watch begins on day 40 which will be July 16/17. Lady and Dad are busy incubating and rolling the eggs. The cam operator gave us a good look. Thank you!

The White-bellied Sea Eagles are the second largest bird of prey in Australia.

Diamond looking out of the scrape at Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia.

The scrape box on the water tower has been used by falcons for the past twelve years. Before that they made their nest on the water tower itself. The first couple were Swift (female) and Beau (male). In 2015, an entirely new couple were in the scrape. They were Diamond and Bula. In 2016 just when their three eggs were hatching, Bula disappeared and was presumed dead. Xavier means ‘savior’. He came along, just like Alden, right at the moment he was needed. He saved the breeding season. Xavier provided prey for Diamond and the chicks. He proved to be a very capable mate and Diamond accepted him with wonderful bonding displays in the scrape. Xavier is a darling. This will be Diamond and Xavier’s 6th breeding season. Diamond is at least eight years old and Xavier is at least seven years old.

The average life expectancy of a peregrine falcon in the wild is often considered to be quite low, 2-4 years. Our Princess in Winnipeg lived to be 19 years old. It is unclear to me how accurate that 2-4 years estimate is.

Diamond. 13 July 2022
Xavier. 13 July 2022 with a prey offering for his mate.

The other peregrine falcon nest in Australia is in Melbourne. They will start streaming nearer to hatch once eggs have been laid. It is quite interesting to watch the rural nest of Xavier and Diamond with the urban one in Melbourne.

Do you like Great Horned Owls? Would you like to learn more about their lives on the prairies? Here is a free Zoom talk that you might wish to join.

Louis and Dorcha’s two osplets were ringed yesterday. They have two girls! LW6 was 1760g with a wing of 300mm and LW5 weight was 1910g with a wing of 350mm.

Chick LP8 fledged at Loch of the Lowes today. In celebration of this achievement, Louis brought in a fabulous fish! Congratulations LOTL.

The three girls at the Dyfi Nest of Idris and Telyn are really hovering. Who will be next to fly?

Thank you so much for joining me this morning. We send our good wishes to L3, Little Bit ND17, the Pitkin Osprey, and Victor as they continue to work hard to get better in care. Stay safe. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and/or FB pages where I took my screen captures: the Ojai Raptor Centre, Patuxent River Park, the Finnish Osprey Foundation, Pitkin County FB Page, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, Explore.org and the Institute for Wildlife Studies, Prairie Conservation Action Plan, Friends of Loch Arkaig, People’s Postcode Lottery, and Woodland Trust and the Dyfi Osprey Project.

Late Sunday in Bird World

The other day, Jean-Marie Dupart took photographs of a Scottish Osprey in the Saloum Delta in Senegal. The band on the leg, slightly obscured, could read JJ2 or JJ7. JJ2 was believed to be a female at the time of banding. JJ7 was believed a male at the time of its banding.

Here is the photograph Jean-Marie Dupart took of the Osprey in question:

The Woodland Trust and People’s Post Code Lottery put out the following announcement today:

I had so hoped it was JJ7 but, in the end, it is wonderful to see a healthy Scottish fish eagle that hatched in 2019.

In a sadder note, the H5N1 highly pathogenic strain of Avian Flu that killed the two white-tailed eaglets in the spring of 2021 is striking again in the UK. First swans were culled and now the Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary in Yorkshire.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-60188953

Ervie has been waiting on the nest hoping that Dad would either bring him a fish or that he would catch one as he focused on the beautiful waters of the cove. And then, at 8:20:39, Ervie finds an old fish tail on the nest. He did several double takes when he saw it a few seconds earlier. What a delight! An old dried up fish tail for our lovely boy.

Ervie really enjoyed that old piece of fish.

Ervie had been standing fish calling to the parents missing that piece of tail down by his talons. In the image below you can see that this is not a big piece of fish but for Ervie, it must have felt like he had found gold in that nest.

Gosh, Ervie is a handsome Osprey.

Ervie is still working on that old piece of dry fish. He is not giving up.

And he is still working on it…

You can see from the time how long Ervie has been pulling this dry fish. He is making good progress. Ervie would love to share some of the fish from the KNF nest! But he is not going to give up until he eats every single scrap of this tail. That is why you are a survivor, Ervie.

While Ervie is dreaming of having a big fish soon, the eaglet at the KNF nest in Louisiana has been filled to the brim by Anna. Look at that crop. Incredible.

Anna is making up for missing the feedings yesterday afternoon but, at the same time, Louis did a fantastic job taking care of the eaglet. The baby was never hungry and always had a bit of a crop. Louis was extraordinary – just like Samson was when Gabby was away for 24 hours before NE26 and 27 hatched.

Diamond did not seem to spend the night at the scrape but she is on the ledge early this morning. I wonder how much the hot weather impacted her and Xavier? As you know, many Peregrine Falcons wound up in care from dehydration.

Last breeding season the Mum at the Duke Farms Bald Eagle nest spent most of it buried in snow. This year is starting off the same way. Whether it is extreme heat or extreme winter storms, our feathered friends are being impacted.

Mum will keep the eggs warm and dry. These eagles are amazing.

I wanted to do a last check on the WRDC eaglets, R1 and R2. They are doing fine. R2 is being fed at the moment which must mean that R1 is full! You can tell the difference between the two because R1 still has a big drop of light natal down on its head.

If you are a Pittsburg-Hayes eagle fan, the couple were just mating on the tree. Eggs are not normally laid til 15 February or after. I wonder if they will be early this year? Looks like they have a nice egg cup created. Last year this couple raised triplets. Yes, three eaglets. 3.

Thank you for joining me today and for all your letters and comments. I really enjoy hearing from you. Take care everyone. Stay safe!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB pages where I took my screen captures: WRDC, KNF Bald Eagles, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Duke Farms, Charles Sturt University at Orange Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Friends of Loch Arkaig Ospreys, and Pix Cams.

Late Friday in Bird World

First, let’s head down to Port Lincoln in Australia. Falky’s reservation for the nest on the Port Lincoln Osprey barge included yesterday afternoon, evening, a bed for the night and the breakfast fish which arrived around 06:15. Ervie tried to steal it from Falky but failed so he got on the perch and was a little pouty! Poor Bazza doesn’t have a chance with these two.

Honestly, these birds are more entertaining than most things on the telly including the streaming movies!

Just look at Ervie all puffed up. He won’t even look at Falky. Too funny. We know that Ervie doesn’t remember the agreement, right? Spend the night on the nest and you get a free breakfish.

Ervie is very good at stealing fish. Falky gets a little nervous he is going to lose out so he moves over to the corner and eats his fish on the ropes. Ervie takes the nest.

Ervie is still on the nest. Falky is gone and Mum is on the ropes. All of the boys must be fishing themselves, too. It is, however, much easier to have Daddy Door dash!

I wonder who has the next reservation? Ervie looks like he thinks it is him.

Dr Cilla Kinross and Charles Sturt University in Orange just installed a cam that shows a view of the water tower where Xavier and Diamond hang out and where their scrape box is located. There have been a few storms and one yesterday. Cilla posted an image of lightning around the tower stating she was thrilled it has a lightning rod. Wow!

The storm is over and Diamond spent the night in the scrape box. Here she is in the morning. All is well.

There has been some chatter about the WRDC nest of Ron and Rita. Terry Carmen posted the announcement by the WRDC. Here it is.

While we mourn the little one, there is nothing at fault. The nest cup was narrow and deep – a great way to protect young eaglets from GHOW attacks. The other two, R1 and R2 are doing very well.

I had a question sent to me. Yes, Rita removed the chick from the bottom of the nest cup and placed it at 06:00 on the nest rim. Yes, she did feed R1 a bite and took a bite herself. The remainder of R3s body will become part of the nest if it is not moved or consumed completely. This practice is quite normal within the eagle species. I simply chose not to show what happened in graphic detail.

Both Ron and Rita have been undertaking some nestorations. Meanwhile, R1 and R2 are in food coma, sound asleep. They are doing great.

Now say awwwwww. Isn’t he handsome? Sharon Pollock posted this screen capture. I would say that Grinnell has fully recovered. He has a nice crop and his beak has grown back. But what really interests me is that yellow orange cere and legs. This is one healthy peregrine falcon! We love healthy. Glad to see you back in great shape, Grinnell.

I have not seen Daisy the Duck return to the Sea Eagles nest in the Sydney Olympic Forest since her visit a week ago with her mate. This is a good think! She is adorable and has brought a new interest in ducks to my life. I wish her and Mr Daisy well and I just hope that after I post this, they do not show up!

Thank you for joining me. Everything else is clicking along at all of the nests. Get ready for pips and hatches over the weekend! Take care.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB pages where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Osprey, WRDC Bald Eagle Cam, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, Cilla Kinross and Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam, Orange, Australia Peregrine Falcons FB, and Bald Eagles Live Nest Cams and News FB.

New Year’s Eve in Bird World

The Audubon Society has posted a list of five rules when photographing Bald Eagles. I think that they apply to every bird. Be respectful. Prey is often scarce and if you see a raptor hunting food don’t disturb it, please. Their life could depend on it!

https://www.audubon.org/magazine/winter-2017/five-rules-photographing-bald-eagle-nests?fbclid=IwAR0rgIDuOUG1oXKaHil_H4B_mFz6TF6JzcL-1fuIpMJG8Hgw4Smxbh_02BE

The other day I called E19 and E20 little stinkers. What a pair! One of them was even beaking an adult this morning! E20 holds its own – it just makes everyone a little anxious. They are strong and healthy. The images are a little fuzzy as I tried to crop them so you could see the little ones better.

Here they are going at it first thing while Mum tries to get over to feed them breakfast. Both had huge crops and at the second feeding weren’t interested in eating just dusting it up.

This cheeky eaglet facing Mum was beaking at her feathers!

Even with all the action, they are both adorable with their spiky tops.

Harriet has just finished feeding the pair some nice fresh fish.

Harriet is so experienced. It is often one bite for you and then a bite for your sibling.

Here is a video showing Dad, M15 giving E19 and E20 the last meal of the day yesterday!

It was a gorgeous morning at the NEFlorida Bald Eagle nest of Gabby and Samson.

Gabby is having a break looking over their territory in the morning mist.

Samson always enjoys getting some time with the eggs. Oh, so handsome.

Anna and Louis seem to have perfected transitioning incubation duties while protecting that one precious egg of theirs.

It is a beautiful nest full of pinecones for this little eaglet to use to learn how to grip with its talons.

It is already New Year’s Day in Australia and the Port Lincoln Lads were up early trying to get the first fish from Dad. It was 06:23 and Falky was on the nest!

Dad didn’t even eat the head!

Well done, Falky.

Diamond does not seem to have spent the night in the scrape box on the water tower at Charles Sturt University but she did arrive early. There was a lot of eee-chupping. It sounded like she was calling Xavier to come and join her. Xavier might have been off hunting for breakfast. It was a beautiful morning.

You are so beautiful, Diamond.

Everyone in Bird World seems to be doing just fine today. Big Red and Arthur have been spotted hunting together over by the power plant. It is comforting that all are doing well. We hope that all of the 2021 fledges fly safe, stay healthy, and have lots of prey items.

Thank you so much for joining me. Wishing you all a healthy and happy start to 2022. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: SWFlorida Bald Eagle Nest and D Pritchett Family, KNF Bald Eagle Nest, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and NE Florida Bald Eagle Nest and the AEF.

Diamond, Xavier, and the eggs

Whew! It was a terrifically busy day yesterday in Bird World and it was all good. To recap Yurruga did a beautiful fledge at 6:03:54 Monday 22 November (camera time). Bazzy officially flew a little over three hours later at 09:25:45. If that was not enough, Cornell’s Red Tail Hawk couple, Big Red and Arthur, were spotted on a branch together at BeeBee Lake. It was all together amazing. Bazza did cause a search party to go out but, in the end, he returned safely to the nest at 10:24:48. Ervie had left quite a large piece of fish and Bazza was very happy to finish it off.

Cilla Kinross posted this news about Yurruga.

Dr Kinross also posted this video of the event.

Everyone has been concerned about Diamond and her eggs. It seemed the closer Yurruga came to fledging, the more broodier Diamond became. We know that one egg was unviable. There is indication that the other egg had a chick that tried to break out of the shell but was just not strong enough as evidenced by the egg-tooth make a hole in the shell and seeing the beak.

Diamond used up a lot of her good health making those three eggs. She would have depleted her calcium and lost about 20-30% of her weight. Now that Yurruga has fledged it is time for Diamond to get herself back into tip top form.

Around 11:47, Dr Kinross removed the two eggs from the scrape box. She is going to check to see if the National Museum would like them for their collection. Diamond was not happy hearing voices inside the tower.

It seemed each time Cilla tried to get one of the eggs, Diamond would come calling loudly. Cilla tried to shooo her away. In the end both eggs were retrieved. Diamond returned to her scrape now devoid of eggs and began ‘scraping’ the area.

It is difficult not to feel sorry for Diamond. Her chick has fledged and she is still feeling the urge to mother.

Even Xavier has returned today to the scrape box to look for the eggs.

It is very sad trying to understand what Xavier and Diamond are feeling. I am busy reading Jane Goodall and Marc Bekoff’s Ten Truths and Bekoff’s The Emotional Lives of Animals. Can the actions of Diamond and Xavier be anything but a sense of confusion – where did the eggs go, they were here? and sadness. They were ‘potential chicks’.

Decades ago there was a guinea hen that arrived at the little acreage in Southern Manitoba. Having not see her in the attic of the barn for some time she was found incubating at least two dozen eggs. She had made a nest cup in the grass. There was no mate; the eggs were infertile. She would have risked her health or life as she was broody. They had to be broken. This past spring we witnessed Milda, the White-tailed Eagle in Durbe County, Latvia try and incubate eggs after her mate, Ramsis, had not returned. For eight days she remained much to the detriment of her health. It is with delight that Milde is back with a new mate Mr L working on her nest.

This is the latest report on Annie and Grinnell. It is from the Instagram Feed for Cal Falcons:

Oh, I so hope that Grinnell will come to the scrape. He might not feel 100% secure in taking on the interloper. Only time will reveal what will happen with this love triangle. I am reminded when I say that of the very happy Bald Eagle Nest on the Mississippi River with Star and the two males, Valor I and II. For several years that nest has benefited from having three parents. I wonder?????

And with that thought I am off. It is a horrible grey white day on the prairies. It is -8 C.

Thank you so much for joining me. I will continue to monitor the news on both of these peregrine falcon nests. Take care everyone. Stay safe. See you soon.

Thank you to Charles Sturt University and Cilla Kinross for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots and the Instagram account for Annie and Grinnell.

Yurruga

Yurruga is 43 days old.

Yurruga is a Peregrine Falcon whose parents, Xavier and Diamond, have their scrape on the water tower at Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia. Soon this beautiful fully feathered falcon will take its first flight out to that world that it is becoming increasingly interested in.

There are, according to Helen MacDonald in her book, Falcon, “60-odd species of the falcon family Falconidae…Those species are subdivided into four groups: the largely insectivorous hobbies, the tiny, bird-killing merlins, the kestrels and…the large falcons which are divided into two groups, the peregrines and the desert falcons.” The Falco Pereginus or the peregrines are fast flying hunters in the open air whose physical traits have developed over millions of years.

In the world of falconry, the female peregrine is called a falcon while the male is called a tiercel. In French, tiercel means a third indicating that the male is roughly 1/3 the size of the female.* This is called sexual dimorphism. Many also believe that the third hatch is always a male, a tiercel.

Yurruga has incredible vision. In The Peregrine by JA Baker, he says, “The eyes of a falcon peregrine weigh approximately one ounce each; they are larger and heavier than human eyes. If our eyes were in the same proportion to our bodies as the peregrine’s are to his, a twelve stone man would have eyes three inches across weighing four pounds.” * White goes on to say that the whole retina of a hawk’s eye records objects “twice as acute as that of the human retina…with a resolution eight times as great as ours.” Helen MacDonald states that while humans have one fovea and falcons have two enabling them to have two images of the same object fused in their brain.*** Humans have three receptors – red, green, and blue but falcons have four. We have three-dimensional colour vision, falcons can see four. In other words, these magnificent slate grey birds with their streaked chests, yellow cere and legs are far superior in their vision than we could ever wish to equal.

Southern falcons, such as Yurruga, are said to have significantly larger beaks than northern birds. Historically it was believed that these evolved for killing parrots. Researchers today are not quite sure of the discrepancy in size between the two geographical locations.

Peregrines also have a tomial tooth. This is a razor sharp point shaped like a triangle on the outer edges of the upper mandible that fits into a slot in the lower mandible. They use this tooth to bite into the neck of their prey to cut the vertebrae killing the bird instantly.

Sometimes Yurruga sits on the ledge of the scrape box with her mother, Diamond, looking out on the family’s territory.

Once Yurruga fledges, her parents, Diamond and Xavier, will teach her to hunt and will supply her with prey until she makes her very first kill. Yurruga will normally leave the parent’s territory after 4-6 weeks of training.

In the image below, you can clearly see Yarruga’s tomial tooth and her large eyes. She looks so much like a falcon today as opposed to a nestling. She is a gorgeous bird. Some viewers and chatters have gotten upset when Yurruga is aggressive with either Diamond or Xavier. Cilla Kinross said, “Shrinking violets won’t last long in the real world.” So true. Sadly, the survival rate of falcons in their first year is low. We know that Yurruga’s brother, Izzi, was thriving and we hope that she will, too.

One last observation. Diamond has been broody lately. She has incubated or fiddled with the eggs on numerous occasions. This could just be hormones or the physical eggs being there triggering Diamond. But, I wonder if she understands that ‘her baby’ will only be in the scrape a little while longer and she wants to ‘mother’?

In the middle of the night, Diamond was looking at her beautiful daughter.

As winter sets in, we are all looking for some good reads. There are many field guides that feature falcons but it is difficult cuddly up with a field guide. Looking at my bookshelf, I can see any number of them. If, however, you are looking for a really good read to understand the cultural history of falcons and their mythology, I highly recommend (and have done so many times) Helen MacDonald’s Falcon. MacDonald is an excellent and knowledgable writer that easily draws you into her respect and love for these birds. If you have exhausted the guides and have all three of MacDonald’s books, then there is another one. It is a small book illustrated by Welsh artist, Jackie Morris. She is incredibly talented. It is called Queen of the Sky and tells about the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of a peregrine falcon in Wales. An enjoyable read. Morris has a great website full of her wonderful animal stories and bird images.

https://www.jackiemorris.co.uk/

Thank you so much for joining me today. Stay warm! and safe!

Thank you to Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.

*The males are 7.62- 10 cm or 3-4 inches shorter than the females who are 43 to 50.9 cm or 17 to 20 inches long.

** 12 stone is 76.20 kg or 168 lbs

*** The fovea is the tiny pit located in the macula of the eye’s retina. It allows light to fall directly on the cones to give extremely sharp images.

Reflecting on Melbourne’s sadness

I would have moved on to a different topic but several of my readers have written to me sad and frustrated that nothing was done to treat the ill peregrine falcon nestling in Melbourne. Others are very concerned that if the little male’s corpse is not removed, other, larger birds of prey might consume it and get ill. Each raises some interesting moral and ethical issues as well as practical and legal ones.

As in all cases, it is good for readers to know where the writer stands on matters so to be clear – I encourage banding of birds and the use of sat-paks for tracking information in research. I do not believe we have too many birds and I take the position of Rosalie Edge that we must know the numbers we have to be able to determine if they are dwindling. I promote safe fishing practices to protect all seabirds. I also believe that humans have had a catastrophic impact on our planet and that the fine line of when to intervene or not is blurred. I believe that animals and birds have a positive impact on human life. I know, from all the letters I receive from each of you daily, that the streaming cams of the birds has added a level of joy to your lives that many did not think possible. Many have written to me who were dying of cancer saying that the streaming cams of the birds took their mind off themselves. How wonderful. As a former university faculty member with numerous research projects, I know that permissions, specific protocols, and agreements are made and it is not always easy to tweak these. In other words, some researchers hands are simply bound and they can do nothing even if they wanted.

There is a treatment protocol for Trichomoniasis in peregrine falcons. (There is also treatments for song birds and I thank ‘L’ for reminding me of this). I am posting the first page of an article in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery. The abstract at the top gives a very good synopsis of the paper. (I have yet to find a free PDF so I can post the article in its entirety).

It is unclear how practical it would be to treat wild birds such as the male on the ledge. Indeed, there could be legal issues for the researchers that do not allow for any intervention. That is something that has to be realized.

This brings me to the second concern of my readers – the corpse of the young male left on the scrape box. Peregrine Falcons are very particular about what they eat. I am not concerned about the other chicks and I do not know what other birds in the area might venture up to that high of a level for carrion. In a rural area where there could be vultures, I would be very concerned. And in my own urban area, I note that gulls will eat anything. So, yes, I am also concerned and hope that the body is removed and disposed of properly.

This was an unusual year watching this pair of Peregrine Falcons raise their chicks. At the onset, I stated that the majority of the prey items would be pigeons. As you will have noticed, there have been a variety of birds including what appears to be one of the released Peace Doves in yesterday’s Remembrance Day celebrations yesterday. So was this caused by there not being as many pigeons as normal? And is this because there has been bouts of Trichomoniasis within the species in Melbourne that has killed off numbers of the birds?

Where is the male falcon that fledged? We have seen the two large sibling sisters with their little brother. Is it possible that that little male also ingested enough of the diseased bird to be impacted?

There could be answers for the question around the disease killing off large populations of Melbourne’s pigeons. I will try and find out. I doubt if we will ever know the answer to the question about the other male unless it is found and identified and a post-mortem conducted. I truly hope that I am wrong and it just doesn’t want to fly that high yet!

I really want to thank all of you that reached out over the past week and those today. You show a genuine concern for the wildlife and birds which is refreshing and hopeful. I will, most likely, put this little one to rest now. Your letters are always welcome. Your concerns are never trivial. Thank you for caring!

Send your warm wishes to Diamond

Diamond, the female at the Charles Stuart University scrape box in Orange, Australia, was away from the scrape for ten hours a few days ago. When she returned her right wing was droopy and she was limping slightly. Xavier, the male, has been doing the hunting and feeding little Yarruga, their three week old plus 2 day chick, its meals. Xavier is getting more proficient with each feeding!

Diamond slept in the scrape box last night with little Yarruga. She was standing on ‘her’ rocks in the corner.

When she went to go to the ledge to fly out for a break, she could not put weight on her right foot and stumbled.

She fell down, got up and stumbled some more.

Just watching her trying to make it to the ledge to fly off made you realize how difficult it is for her to heal. It will be a long process. She doesn’t have the ability to put a lounge chair in a tree or in the scrape box and elevate that leg. Anyone who has sprained an ankle or hurt their foot can have great sympathy with this devoted Mum. Of course, Yarruga had no idea what was going on.

Xavier arrived at 07:03:06 with a very prepared fat pigeon for little Yarruga. He might have been expecting Diamond to be in the scrape and feed their baby. He hesitated.

All Yarruga wanted was breakfast and she began to make her way over to Dad.

At that point, Xavier realizes he is on feeding duty and dragged the carcass into the middle of the scrape, away from the ledge so the baby wouldn’t accidentally fall out.

Yarruga was delighted. Dad is getting very good at this!

Little Yarruga is so cute. She will go into the corner when she is full to the brim. Xavier always has to check to make sure she doesn’t want anymore!

Xavier makes his way over to the ledge. I am hoping that he shares that lovely breakfast with Diamond.

Send Diamond your warmest wishes.

Port Lincoln has confirmed that the trio will be banded Monday, 8 November – Australian time. The bander is arriving from Adelaide. I do not know the time.

Thanks for joining me. I knew that you would want to know how Diamond is doing. We all hope that she is well soon but, in reality, it will take some time. There is no need to panic. Xavier is doing a wonderful job. No worries for little Yarruga. Dad is definitely up to the job.

Take care everyone.

Thank you to Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross and the Port Lincoln Osprey Project streaming cams where I took my screen captures.