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.

Let’s Talk, Darling Starling

8 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I was a little ahead of myself. The banding at Port Lincoln does not take place until the 12-14th (Australian time).

I have been trying to lure the European Starlings back into the garden. Last January there were 58 eating snow and hard seed cylinders along with butter bark and meal works. Nothing seems to bring them to the garden currently and this is troubling me.

The pictures below were taken in my garden on the 26th of January 2022.

This evening I was thumbing through and reading different entries in the two books – collaborations between writers and artists – that form the fundraiser on the Red Series by the British Trust for Ornithology. How disgusted was I when I found the Starling. So my plan is to introduce you to a different bird every day between now and the end of the year that is vulnerable. Today we are talking Starlings.

“Nowadays you can count them, when at one time they were literally countless.” Scientists think the causes of the decline involve farming practices that have poisoned insect prey with pesticides and chopped down grassland habitat. Other farmland bird populations too are reeling from the impacts.”

This report on the decline of Old World House Sparrows and European Starlings is excellent. It is long and it is thorough, some 244 plus pages divided into sections dealing with each species. It is not for bedtime reading but, even skimming through some sections and pausing to read bits and bobs will underscore the challenges that these two species face. These are two birds that I often hear people complain about at their feeders – there are so many of them. And yet, there aren’t. It is a delusion. If we cannot protect the Sparrows and the Starlings, what birds can we help?

Diamond doesn’t like them but they must be easy prey for the Peregrine Falcons in the rural areas of NSW Australia. Indigo is frightened by them and Rubus just gets down to business and eats them.

Some of you might have seen the recent YouTube video of the Starling that has learned to talk and sing but, did you know that this was common knowledge during the time of Shakespeare? In his entry for the Starling in Into the Red, M.G. Leonard begins with Henry IV and the entry where Hotspur declares that he will teach a Starling to repeat the name ‘Moritimer’ over and over again to drive the King mad since he declared his brother-in-law a traitor. Leonard is fascinated that a Starling would be a proper gift for a King, and that over 400 years ago it was well known how intelligent they were and how they could be taught to speak.

Leonard continues with Mozart who purchased a pet Starling in 1784 and taught it to sing. Mozart trained his pet Starling to sing his concertos. It was well-known that he loved his Starling more than anything in the world. The bird is said to have died a week before Mozart’s father. Mozart did not attend his father’s funeral. Instead he staged an elaborate memorial for his beloved bird.

In order to create a European landscape full of birds and plants, a German brought and released 60 Starlings- along with every other species mentioned by Shakespeare- in New York City in March 1890.

We think of murmurations and we think of Starlings.

Leonard ends blasting humans — “What monsters must we be, that we have reduced it to sit on the Red List.”

I agree. My heart is broken.


Australian Nests:

I have been thinking about the Melbourne Four. Risking getting egg on my face, I am going to come out and say that I think that the ‘Four’ will fledge within close proximity of one another on the same day. They have been very busy today watching the flying demonstrations that Mum and Dad have been doing. And one of them is ‘loafing’ like Alden. ‘A’ says Alden’s stance has gotten all the way to Australia!

Loafing.

Loafing and flapping. There are hardly any dandelions left on these beauties. They have the great DNA of old Dad and the new Mum and the love and care of new Dad. How fortunate.

That must be some aerial display – like 2 Stealth Bombers at an Air Show but for the private viewing of their kids…it is hard to imagine these four a month ago!

‘A’ has alerted me to a storm hitting the Melbourne area causing thunder and steady rain. It is not a good day for the eyases to fledge – and also. Look at the one on the ledge. The size of that crop dictates that bird will probably want to stay put and go into a food coma any moment!

At the nest of Cornell University’s Red-tail Hawk Big Red, she will always fill the eyases up to the brim if she doesn’t want them to fledge.

My goodness, I don’t know how that one eyas can stand she is so full. Gracious. It looks like she swallowed a small beach ball instead of a pigeon. Now, I wonder. Did she eat all of the pigeon leaving only scraps for her siblings??? Sure looks like it!

‘H’ reports that 5 prey items were brought to the Melbourne Four by both Mum and Dad. One of those was eaten almost entirely by Mum who took away the scraps. Thanks, ‘H’.

A super nice fish was delivered to Mum and Big by Dad around 1034. The winds will be gusting up to 30 mph and well, Dad is a great fisher but, he, too, can have difficulties. This is a lot of fish and should keep Big til later in the day. In the real world, a fish this size might be the only prey of the day.

‘A’ sent the observation board from Port Lincoln also. To recap, Big is 52 days old today. Mum and Dad brought in fish – Dad brought in 2 and Mum brought in 1. Those times were: 10:34, 13:15, 19:23. Thanks ‘A’.

I wonder how many more mornings we will wake up to Indigo looking off the ledge to the world beyond? She can fly. Rubus can’t.

Indigo is doing the same exercises that Diamond did in the morning – great stretches.

What a beautiful falcon Indigo is. She is watching carefully as the adults fly around the tower. They will begin to lure her with prey. Many on the chat do not realise that Xavier and Diamond will provide prey for about 4-6 weeks while they teach Indigo to hunt and be independent. Cilla Kinross says she does not monitor them after they fledge but she sees them in the trees about 400 m from the tower.

Rubus is not nearly ready to fledge.

‘A’ sent the days feeding recap for us at Orange: RECAP: 06 56 59 prey, left for chicks; 7:25:02 prey, Rubus takes; 9:17:05 X w/juv starl, leaves with chicks; 9:22:42 D w/GST, feeds; 13:25:17 X w/juv star, leaves with chicks; 16:48:25 pigeon, D feeds. In other notes, one of the prey had a blue leg band and Diamond ate it! Oh, goodness.

Other Nest News:

A major storm, one of the worst to hit the Big Bear Valley, is arriving today. Jackie and Shadow are getting prepared. Please send your positive and warm wishes to them.

Everyone has their favourite species of bird and within that species, most of us have one or two favourite bird families on the streaming cams. I have my own favourites and then I have the nests that I recommend to others to follow. Those nests are steady as you go and reliable and they include Harriet and M15 at SWFlorida, Samson and Gabby at NEFlorida, and Liberty and Guardian at Redding. The Channel Islands Bald Eagle nests have their challenges. The parents are incredibly amazing but, eaglets found themselves clinging to the sides of cliffs last year. It can literally put a hole in your heart while you wait to see if Dr Peter Sharpe will arrive in time to save the baby. So that is why West End and Two Harbour are not in those top 3. Fraser Point is a great nest, only about 2 metres off the ground, and is the home of Mama Cruz and Andor. I do not and will not recommend Dale Hollow which is on the border between Kentucky and Tennessee. The male is currently injured and last year there was siblicide at this nest. There is also a strict no intervention policy by the people that run the cams and that includes if fishing line is on the nest. The Captiva Bald Eagle nest has had its issues and it remains unclear if Connie and Clive will have a successful clutch this year. The last two eaglets to hatch on the nest, Peace and Hope, died from rodenticide poisoning. Glacier Gardens is a great nest but the visibility of the nest is not good. So, if you are starting to make a list and have limited time and want colourful characters and steady as you go then Harriet and M15 along with Samson and Gabby and Liberty and Guardian are your nests. I personally love Shadow and Jackie at Big Bear – talk about characters – and so do about 6000 other people. They did successfully raise one chick last year -Spirit – and that eaglet was amazing. I will be watching them again. Another good nest is the KNF nest 1 of Anna and Louis at the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. Louis is an incredible fisher. One year he had 20 fish on the nest – 20 – for a recently hatched eaglet. They have fledged 1 eaglet for each year of the past two years. There are many, many others but if you want safe and secure for beginning eagle watching head to those three mentioned above.

That storm has hit Big Bear Valley. The winds are horrific and you can hear the rain and/or ice pellets alongside the howling wind. I will continue to check on this nest for today and the next couple of days. The eagles at Big Bear are used to harsh winter weather and, as we saw in Florida, they survived a hurricane. Looking forward to seeing Jackie and Shadow back on the nest when this is over.

Samson and Gabby are making their nest very comfy. Look at the reeds and moss that are coming in for lining. Fantastic. For those of you who do not know this nest, Samson hatched on this very nest. It belonged to his parents Romeo and Juliet. Samson and Gabby have fledged Jules and Romey, Legacy, and last year, Jasper and Rocket – success for the three years they ahve been together. Let’s see what year 4 brings.

Of course, after mentioning Harriet and M15, it would not have been fair to not have included some images. This couple, whose nest was entirely destroyed by Hurricane Ian, have rebuilt and has many of you note and ‘A’ reminds me, Harriet is now giving M15 ‘the foot’ to remind him it is time to fertilise some eggs.

Thank you so much for being with me today. Please take care wherever you are. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts, their videos, and their streaming cams and for their notes: ‘A’, ‘H’, BTO, SWFlorida, D Pritchett and Lady Hawk, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, NEFL-AEF, and FOBBV.

Will the Melbourne Four fledge? …and other news in Bird World

7 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone!

I am so sorry that the link I published to the story of WBSE26 did not work. The one under question 1 below works! Thank you ‘J’ and ‘H’ for alerting me to this issue!

___________________________________________________________________

It is actually 2030 on the Canadian Prairies, Sunday evening, and the snow that was forecast, arrived. The precipitation goes back and forth between snow and freezing rain so it is like a slushy drink outside. The garden birds will not be happy. Watching them during the torrential rains last spring, it is readily apparent that they prefer the snow (dry snow not heavy wet) to the rain. Their food does not ruin and they can fly easier. So many prefer to eat directly off the deck than from the feeders that I worry about them when it is so wet. Will this snow be here in the morning?

It stayed. The squirrels have run all over the place. Dyson was here early with her two kits.

The miniature weeping Caragana and Japanese lantern look lonely this time of year.

One of Dyson’s kits. The other is in the lilac bushes.

Dyson under the bird bath eating Black Oil seed and peanuts she found under the snow.

On the Bookshelf:

One of my biggest complaints about bird guides is the images. We have a locally published book on Manitoba Birds. It has drawings instead of photographs and they are lovely but, they are only helpful to an extent. Sometimes there is only the image of the adult male. There are never immatures! And definitely not an immature female bird. How are we supposed to learn which is which in the garden? Merlin ID has driven me crazy. My best book for sparrow ID has been the hefty Crosley’s Sparrows. But, what if you want to identify other species? Some have pictures or drawings the size of postage stamps and the layout designer used the size 8 font so that anyone over the age of 30 or someone with poor eyesight cannot read the text.

There is a new book out that will help those living in Europe. You might still need a magnifier to read the text or probe the maps, though. The book is Europe’s Birds. An Identification Guide. It is a weighty volume. You will not be hauling it around with you in the field but, it should be a much used reference for home. The images are far superior to any I have seen in other volumes. In Canada, the hard copy is $36…well below the average of some of the other guides that take up space but do not help one bit with IDing a bird!

In the Mailbox:

Oh, I love getting questions! There were 3 today and all of you might be wondering about one or more of them.

1. ‘J’ wrote about having difficulty opening the link to the former blog about WBSE26. I am so very sorry if this happened to all of you. Here is a link that works. 26 is inspirational and needs to be remembered for all the joy and encouragement she gave to all of us in her short life.

https://maryannsteggles.com/tag/wbse26/
January 5 is National Bird Day!

2. ‘K’ wrote: ‘Will the parents continue to feed the chicks on the ledge in Melbourne after they fledge?’

‘K’, that is a difficult question to answer. Normally, the adults would begin teaching the eyases how to hunt when they fledge. They would deliver prey to them in mid-air transfers and would be finding other places to feed their fledglings. The previous couple did not feed the fledgling falcons on the ledge. Mirvac turned the camera off at that time. These are first time parents and we will have to wait and see but I assume the answer is ‘no’, they will not bring prey to the ledge for the falcons if they have fledged. Prey would be taken to those that have yet to fly. You might also have noticed that the adults have begun to reduce the amount of prey that is being delivered. Food is a great motivator!

3. Several asked, ‘Will the Collins Street eyases fledge one by one or will they fledge together?

Like question 2, this is difficult to answer for several reasons. Males tend to fledge before females. The reason is simple. It takes females longer to produce all the feathers for their larger size than the males. At the present time, we do not know the gender of these chicks and it is likely we never will as they are not ringed nor has any blood been taken to determine gender. We should, however, expect the male to fly first. Victor Hurley has said he believes that there are 3 females and 1 male. But is the male the 4th hatch or the 1st? or the 3rd? Hatch order and gender could impact the timing of fledge. So if the male is the 4th hatch he might fly the same time as the 1st if that bird is a female because of the difference in their ages.

I have seen many nests where the eyases get so excited seeing one of their clutch fly that they all fly off within an hour. It has happened at this ledge. Now that the youngest has made it to the window ledge, I am wondering if the eyases might not all fledge within an hour or one another. We should know the answer to this question soon! I know that this does not answer your question. It might even confuse it more and my apologies. We just don’t know! They will keep us guessing until they take off…and then we will wish them safe skies, long lives, and full crops.

Fledglings depend on the parents from 4-6 weeks to help and teach them how to hunt and obtain prey. They will then leave the parent’s territory.

One of the most difficult things about getting close to the birds is not knowing what happens to them. Some people prefer to not know while others like myself, want to know every detail of their life. I think that is why satellite tracking is so interesting to me or a book such as Bowland Beth.

Australian Nests:

You might well have noticed. Mum and Dad at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge don’t seem to be in such a big hurry in the morning to get up and off and find fish. Dad appeared to have a leisurely morning and Mum went and had a spa break. Good for her. She must eat and take care of herself.

Mum and Dad are also spending a lot of time with one another. Mum has fed Dad – a tender thank you for the food he brought when she was so desperately hungry -, they have sat together in the shed, and now they are spending time on the perch. If someone believes that they are not mourning, they need to consider the behaviour of these two beautiful ospreys who have lost two chicks. The loss of Middle had to be particularly difficult, a fully feathered osplet.

Dad flew in with a large whole fish. It looked like Big wanted that fish for itself but Mum prevailed and kept control. She remains in charge of the feeding. Is this on purpose? Big is now the age that she should be self-feeding. Big hatched on the 18th of September. If we count hatch date, Big is 51 days old. She will be ringed anytime between today and Thursday. We should be able then to confirm the gender, the weight, a name, and see Big with her tracker.

I had to laugh. One of the chatters said that, ‘Big is just an eating machine’. That is possibly why Mum still controls the reigns of the fish so that she gets fed properly, too, when an extra nice fish like the one that came in this morning is delivered.

Look at that fish. Wow!

Watchers of 367 Collins Street are having a hard time deciding if any of the eyases have fledged. They are such beautiful eyases. At 1400 all four were on the ledge.

‘H’ did a great compilation of the 4th hatch, ‘little Peanut’ branching up to the window ledge. Watch as the others come down and do a ‘cheer’ for the wee one.

Indigo and Rubus are changing every day. Like Big, Rubus is a bit of an ‘eating machine’. When Rubus hatched and was so absolutely tiny and couldn’t get up to eat – do you remember? -, I felt so sorry for Rubus. Indigo was just tall, stoic, and elegant. At one point it seemed like Diamond didn’t want to bend down to feed Rubus. And then…Rubus started jumping and stretching that neck. What a long neck and well, that is all history. Rubus practically knocks the parent over if there is food. Indigo appears to want to look out to the world beyond and feed herself. Rubus gets fed but is doing quite well at self-feeding, too.

‘Hello Everyone!’

Rubus was very happy that Indigo left some prey.

Rubus is doing a great mantling of the second prey delivery. Indigo is not interested. She ate most of the earlier delivery and is looking out to the world where she will be flying with her parents – the fastest bird on the planet!

Look at Rubus’s wing feathers. Lovely. We will wake up one morning and Rubus will look like Indigo. What a shock that will be!

At 1642 prey was delivered. Indigo expected to get it but, Rubus was quicker grabbing the item and carrying off into the corner by the Cilla Stones.

Indigo is telling Xavier and Diamond about how naughty Rubus was taking her prey!

The adults leave the kids to it…Rubus takes the prey to eat it in the back of the scrape while Indigo comes over and wants the food. Rubus turns quickly to protect his meal and heads back to the Cilla stones. Rubus has had some good fast bites.

Indigo will eventually get the prey from Rubus through the great ‘stare down’.

Need a refresher on falcons? This is a good resource on Peregrine Falcons that includes many helpful links that you might find interesting.

https://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/birds/peregrine-falcon.html

What’s Up with the Eagles?

Harriet and M15 have been working really hard rebuilding their nest that was completely destroyed by Hurricane Ian. Lady Hawk has posted a video of their progress. And guess what? Harriet is sleeping on the nest tonight. Eggs might be coming soon!

Philippe Josse posted some super screen captures of Mum and Dad at the Notre Dame Eagles nest in St Patrick’s Park in South Bend, Indiana. This is the home of our beloved Little Bit ND17 – the little eaglet that could. Their nest completely collapsed and many wondered if they would rebuild in the same place. They did and both have been walking around testing the nest to make certain it is sturdy. Thank you, Philippe!

Jackie and Shadow continue to work on their nest in the light snow in Big Bear.

And last but, never least, some great news. I have been tracking down information on ospreys that went into care before they fledged. There is an urban myth that they do not do well in care and, in particular, before fledging. You might remember the two osplets that had not fledged at Pitkin County Open Spaces and Trails. Their mum pulled them off the nest by accident. One died while the other went into care. It is doing great and is being over wintered and will be released in the spring. Urban myth proved wrong. (I have been asked not to publish the name of the wildlife centre as they do not have the staff to answer queries). This is good news and details will be sent to Port Lincoln.

Banding will take place anytime between today and Thursday at Port Lincoln. I have seen no specific time or day indicated yet.

Thank you so much for being with me this morning. Please take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘H’ and 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Amazon.ca, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, FOBBV, ND-LEEF and P Josse, SWFL and D Pritchett plus Lady Hawk.

Worry for Middle at Port Lincoln as fish are few…and other bird world news

1 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope that your beginning of the week has been a good one. We are on the third bad weather day at Port Lincoln and Middle has had little food. It is a very somber day. We wait to see if the weather changes and then to see if Big will allow Middle to eat. Things are not looking good. I wish I had great news for you this morning but ever so sadly, I do not.

Some of you are coming in late to the Alphabet-Name Game. It is for fun but, I have also discovered that it is a really good way to remember our feathered friends. Someone wrote that SE26 needed to be remembered and, well, the tap started running. That sea eaglet was such an inspiration to so many. I am so utterly deflated that she is not with us! — But, back to the fun part. Take a digital or physical piece of paper and put down all the letters of the alphabet. See what names of the streaming cam birds you come up with for each one. E is for Ervie. A is for ______________. Who can come up with a name for U? Anyone watching those Finnish Osprey nests? Send me your list by e-mail before midnight the 2nd of November. I will then set about collating them hopefully with some pictures! I hope to have the list complete over the weekend. Thank you to those that have already sent in their names. I saw so many that I knew and had forgotten! And do not feel bad if you come up with a lot for one letter and none for others, just send them in to me and join the challenge! That e-mail is: maryasteggles@maryannsteggles.com

In the Mailbox and Comments:

‘F’ comments: ‘The Port Lincoln nest is the hardest I’ve seen since I started seeing ospreys at the beginning of the year, very hard, the only thing missing is for the mother to be sick.’

You are so right, ‘F’. Yesterday I thought we had lost Mum and my heart just sank watching Dad try to feed the two osplets, Big and Middle, and failing miserably. It is very difficult to watch a nest that does not have enough fish. As I continue to mention, I have huge concerns over the commercial tuna fishing fleets that are based in Port Lincoln. Are they taking all the fish? I hope to find out more about this later.

NOTE: There was only 1 fish yesterday, 1 November, in Port Lincoln. Big attacked Middle many times. Mum is currently sleeping on top of Middle. I am concerned now that Middle will not survive unless there is a massive amount of fish brought to the nest. There will be no intervention. Port Lincoln would not have permission unless as Ian Falkenberg and others have said they deem the bird to be ‘near fledge’. There have been ospreys taken into care who have done well at Audubon’s Centre for Birds of Prey at Mailand, Florida such as Smedley who lived to be 28 and Bailey. I am attempting to find other factual information on Ospreys in care. If you know of any, please let me know.

Smedley and Bailey at the Audubon Birds of Prey Centre in Maitland, Florida. Smedley passed away in the past year at the age of 28. Bailey is still alive at the Centre and I understand there is another osprey in care…perhaps more. I must check with our friend ‘L’ that works with these amazing raptors to find out precisely how many ospreys have gone through the centre. Some have stayed as ambassadors while others are returned to the wild.

Making News:

Just more research findings supporting birds and nature are good for our health and might, in the future, be prescribed by doctors! Have a read and smile.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/27/bird-birdsong-encounters-improve-mental-health-study

There is a new article on birds and pollution by the British Trust for Ornithology. Have a read when you get a chance. We can all learn something new every day!

https://www.bto.org/understanding-birds/articles/birds-and-pollution-%E2%80%94-masterclass

Australian Nests:

One of the older siblings of the Melbourne Four looks up perhaps seeing the parents flying about. Next to her in the gutter is the wee 4th hatch, a little boy.

Victor Hurley, the head researcher for the Victoria Peregrine Falcon Research Group, has posted what he believes are the genders of the Melbourne Four on FP. Here is that announcement:

Oh, goodness. Ervie’s tracker has been off line for a few days and last night the camera went down on the Port Lincoln Osprey barge just when we were all getting more than concerned for Middle. Ervie has been seen roosting on a tree near the water so he is fine. He had flown away early probably hoping to find some fish.

The waves are really, really choppy at Port Lincoln. Rain and gales have hit the nest and the number of fish deliveries has been dwindling since the start of the stormy weather. There was only one fish delivered on Tuesday.

This is one gorgeous osprey looking at us with their crest up high.

They are hard to differentiate between unless they are standing up and you can compare size and then see both head’s. Middle is missing feathers from the nape and so is this bird with this gorgeous crest. Is this Middle? or is it Big fooling me?

‘A’ tells me that there is even snow predicted for Port Lincoln. I simply cannot believe this is happening. This nest is ‘fragile’.

Everything is fine at the scrape box on the water tower in Orange. Indigo is really flapping those wings and Little Rubus watches and then he does some precious little flaps, too. He copies everything that Indigo does – my goodness what an utter joy it is to watch these two grow up together.

Indigo works her wings all during the day. Little Rubus often watches closely and if you look, he will give a little flap to his wings.

Xavier brings in a European Starling for breakfast. Indigo gets frightened and moves back toward the wall and then scurries to the Cilla Stones.

Just look at that beautiful Dad, our loving Xavier.

Xavier decides to take the prey and prepare it elsewhere. By this time Indigo is curious and hungry and comes down from the stones. Will that Starling return?

Yes, it does. Xavier returns in about 50 minutes and Diamond flies in to take the prey and feed Indigo and Rubus. Oh, dear. Look at that is left on the stones!!! The Starling Head. Indigo is going to be scared out of her wits when she sees it.

Just look at those beautiful tail feathers now revealed. If you look at Rubus, he is now losing the soft down from around his eyes and on his wing tips.

Every time Indigo really gets to flapping more down flies through the scrape.

The eyases had a Starling feeding but the head was left. Diamond comes in to take it and Rubus rushes over to take it. Poor Indigo. Rubus is going to put it right near the wall where she is sleeping. Will she be frightened when she wakes up and there is that beak and eyes staring at her? Rubus has never been frightened and Indigo is so easily scared. It would be a trick a younger sibling would pay on its older one!

Rubus grabs the head.

He carries it over and places it next to Indigo!

Diamond returns in a few minutes and retrieves the head and feeds it to Rubus. I don’t think Indigo even moved. Rubus is an endless pit when it comes to prey. Where does he put it? Definitely not in his skinny long legs.

Indigo and Rubus had a European Starling and a Large Honeyeater (Noisy Miner) for their morning meals. Rain is forecast for Orange, too. You can see some dark clouds looming in the distance.

The Melbourne Four continue to be fed and to find out when you have to listen and watch them scurry down the gutter towards the adult with the prey. Their legs are certainly getting stronger and the oldest is starting to look like a juvenile falcon!

Just checking on some of the Bald Eagle nests in the US as the couples continue to do nestorations or rebuilding.

Jackie and Shadow’s nest at Big Bear in California.

Gabby and Samson’s nest near St Petersburg, Florida.

Ron and Rita’s nest in the Miami Zoo.

Bella and Smitty have been bringing in nesting materials to the NCTC nest.

Lady and Dad were bonding at the WBSE nest in the Sydney Olympic Forest.

My thoughts go out to the Port Lincoln nest this morning as we wait to see if Middle will survive. I am sure that I speak for all of us when I say that it feels like our heart has been pulled out of us. The turn in the weather and the amount of fish at Port Lincoln has put our beautiful Middle’s life in jeopardy.

The other two scrapes we have been watching are doing just fine. Much of the fluff is now off three of the falcons at 367 Collins Street. There is plenty of food available at both scrapes.

Take care everyone. Thank you for being with me. See you soon.

It is freezing in Port Lincoln tonight. Turned really, really cold. Mum is working hard at keeping Middle warm. Beautiful Mum.

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams where I took the screen captures: ‘A’ and ‘H’, Audubon’s Birds of Prey, The Guardian, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Victor Hurley and 367 Falcon Watchers, FOBBV, NEFL-AEF, WRDC, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park.

Early Monday in Bird World

31 October 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope that each of you had a joyful weekend and your start to the week is showing promise.

Most Canadians are obsessed with the weather. We are also slightly superstitious. OK. Many of us are highly skeptical if it is too nice late into the fall. We fear that we will pay for it by having 5 months of -35 C with lots of deep snow. So everyone that was out today – again – in their shirt sleeves and runners with no socks hopes that there won’t be ‘a winter retaliation.’ It is seriously hard to believe. Families were having picnics! Some brought their lawn chairs to sit by the edge of the pond and take in the sun’s rays. One of the biggest delights was the fact that almost everyone said ‘hello’ to one another. Being outside really does make us happier!

The number of waterfowl is dwindling at all the city parks, however. Less than the people! Duck and geese counts today at our St Vital Park were 350+ Canada Geese, 7 Mallards, 5 Wood Ducks and 3 Ring-billed Gulls.

My photos are not the greatest. The light was ‘odd’ but, I did notice how clear the water is today compared to earlier in the year. I also noticed that the parks personnel (or a fairy) has cleared the island, the water, and the shore of human litter. It is nice!

The male Wood Duck blends in so nicely with the colour of the pond and the leaves.

So many were flapping their wings today in the water. It is impossible to see the face but I love the light going through the primaries of the wing.

Oh, these sweet little female Wood Ducks. They are so tiny and so adorable.

Notice how the plumage of the female Mallard is such good camouflage in the fall when all of those hunters are trying to lure them to the marshes and wetlands to shoot them. Oh, goodness. I have an immediate knee jerk reaction just thinking about it.

Every year Canada Geese replace all of their worn out feathers at once – this means that when they are molting they cannot fly at all. It also accounts for all of the feathers around the park in the summer. It is quite odd seeing them without any tail feathers. Canada Geese are not the only ones to do a complete moult. Townsend Warblers, after the breeding season is over but before the southern migration also replace all of their feathers.

Audubon has a short and to the point article on the basics of feather replacement if you are curious:

https://www.audubon.org/news/understanding-basics-bird-molts#:~:text=Townsend’s%20Warblers%2C%20for%20instance%2C%20go,wrap%20up%20the%20process%20there.

The water is low. The torrential spring rains flooded the island ruining all of the nests and the eggs. Many had second clutches but a large number of the ducks and geese moved northward away from the pond. You can see on the bottom of the totem pole how high those waters rose.

There were some late hatched Mallards. I could see 2 small ones today and I do not know what happened to the others. I did find my images from a few weeks ago of the two female Mallards with ‘Angel Wing’. They can swim and feed but they will never be free to fly. It was simply pure sadness that could have been avoided. The two were taken to the wildlife rehabilitation centre. They had to be euthanized. The cause is nutrient deficiency from feeding ducks bread.

Please feel free to use my picture of this beautiful creature whose life was cut short because she preferred eating bread instead of the pond plants. Ducks do not know bread is not healthy. It is junk food and it tastes good to them just like candy and chips taste good to humans.

Most people want to be good to the ducks and geese. They have no intention of harming them – they are feeding them to be kind. ‘Killing with Kindness’ – should be the next campaign slogan at the park ponds.

There were so many people walking yesterday at the pond. It was fantastic to see – young and old. There are many trails of varying lengths, some through the forest and others around the pond or the cricket pitch.

The Guardian had an interesting article on walking. Please read it. So many people I know think that unless they walk that magical 10,000 steps a day there is no benefit to them. This article points out that the use of that number was not medically driven but was part of a marketing campaign. Recent research has shown that 10 minutes of brisk walking a day is very beneficial. So forget all the fancy gadgets that you think you might need and just get moving! And if you can walk in an area where there are trees – and even better animals and birds – any stress that is sitting on your shoulders dissipates. The author of the article agrees:

“But as the contemporary American philosopher, Arnold Berleant, argues, it is when we’re actually moving through a landscape, rather than treating it simply as scenery, that we most fully connect with a place and ignite all our senses. Berleant uses the term “aesthetic engagement”, but it needn’t be quite so lofty: A walk along the river might count, or perhaps time spent practising shinrin-yoku (forest bathing), really attending to the details of the trees, the leaves, the smells and the sounds.’

Nature does cure our ills. It can be a profound sea change to our lives. Sit in the sand and listen to the ocean and the gulls. Close your eyes in a soccer field and absorb the honks of the geese flying overhead. It is very healing. And I want all of you (and myself) to live long and well with our feathered friends. If everyone understood how powerful walking in a forest and listening to birds can be in terms of changing our lives for the good, would we be so quick to cut down the trees with nests of the Bald Eagles, bulldoze another 64 acres of good agricultural or forest for houses that are big enough for 10 families but hold only a single couple?

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/oct/30/walk-nature-good-for-mind-body-soul

Well, I know that I am on my soapbox and ‘preaching to the choir’ because anyone reading my blog loves all of the birds – from the tiniest hummingbird to the largest raptor and all in between. We know they make us happy and heal our souls. We just need to spread the word!

__________________________________________________________________

In the Mailbox:

Responses to the Alphabet Fun Game – make a list of the Alphabet and put the name of a bird from a streaming cam by as many letters as you can – are starting to come in. Thank you! I hope it was great fun! Remember to get yours in by midnight 2 November Central Time. Email is: maryasteggles@outlook.com

Making News:

Amur Falcons are being protected in three Indian States! Nets, catapults, guns, and air guns used to harm the beautiful raptors are being banned and confiscated. This is much welcome news.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/31/indian-officials-ban-guns-airguns-and-catapults-to-safeguard-amur-falcons

The fast decline of many species is alarming. Sharon Dunne posted this in the Albatross group and I know that many of you will find this article both interesting and disturbing. The number of birds disappearing is frightening.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/cDTxh7HCCtKM6jM7pTnrl9/revealing-the-plight-of-the-antipodean-wandering-albatross?fbclid=IwAR1iQDVnQFSD8B-BG5YyIWu5L26l5T_0wghPUUQ63RFw4rITywDY61CXrzU

Eurasian Jays are showing how intelligent they are! Birds do not go for instant gratification showing higher intelligence. Many of us can attest to the intelligence levels of birds making decisions every day as we watch them meet the challenges that humans have given them. That said, this is a good read. As I write this my own Blue Jays are on the roof of the conservatory telling me the peanuts are all gone! They do not get peanuts at the weekend so Mondays are always a flurry.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/31/eurasian-jays-show-ability-to-exert-self-control-study-finds

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/31/eurasian-jays-show-ability-to-exert-self-control-study-finds

Do not forget to check nests during the off season. The Osprey nest at Mispillion Harbour in Delaware continues to amaze ‘H’ with its visitors. Bald Eagles have eaten fish on it, an immature Hen Harrier came to visit, a soaked Peregrine Falcon found the nest in a story, and today, a Turkey Vulture visited and cleaned up all the scraps. How grand. I love Turkey Vultures, and Condors, and Adjutant Storks. They are the vacuum cleaners of the natural world.

https://youtu.be/lJoXoCBxFoMhttps://youtu.be/lJoXoCBxFoMhttps://youtu.be/lJoXoCBxFoMhttps://youtu.be/lJoXoCBxFoM

Australian Nests:

As I write this, there have been three feedings at the Port Lincoln Osprey nest. They occurred at 0634, 0717, and 0815. Big got the vast majority of the fish but, Middle did eat. Mum has had little and she flew off the nest around 0834. It is now past noon and she has not returned. Dad delivered a large flat fish to the nest at 11;44:45. Dad flew off and then returned at 120438. I thought he was going to fly off with the fish but the osplets were prey calling so loud that he stopped and tried to feed them. He could not. He has left the fish on the nest with Big and Middle to their own devices. It is quite clear that these two cannot self-feed. Yes, they can hork down a fish tail but they are not capable of feeding themselves. They have nibbled at the open edge that Dad created.

I have to admit that I have a bit of a lump in my throat. I hope that Mum is catching a fish for herself and is eating it. She has had little to eat for a couple of days. At the same time my mind goes back to the two osplets on the Finnish nest whose Mum died of Trichomoniasis (a parasite that causes lesions and impacts the bird’s ability to eat, swallow, etc. The 4th hatch at Melbourne scrape died of this last year). I am not saying this Mum has that deadly disease (if not treated) – far from it. I am just saying that it reminds me of that nest with the two osplets. One could self feed but Boris could not and had a difficult time. They both survived to fledge – their dad dropping off fish at the nest and both of them – to various degrees – successfully. But…these two cannot feed themselves, yet. So what has happened to Mum?

 Dad has dropped off the fish but there is no one to feed Big or Middle. They both sniff around the fish.

Dad returns and watches his two chicks struggle. Middle is at his feet calling to be fed.

Dad decided to try and feed the two. He is not successful and leaves. — Many Osprey males feed their chicks. Some will also feed in tandem with the females when there is fear that a smaller chick will not get enough. Many of you will remember how Louis and Aila at the Loch Arkaig nests shared feeding duties in 2020 when there were three chicks with little Captain, JJ7, getting a private feeding. When this happens, everyone wins. The third hatch usually gets strong enough and time passes and it survives.

Dad returned and took the fish off the nest. This is interesting. The weather has turned really nasty. Did he take the fish off so that predators would not be attracted to the nest? or does he think they are not hungry? will he break the fish into pieces and return them? or is he as hungry as Mum and will eat the fish?

The weather has turned bad. Both Big and Middle are trying to find comfort together in the nest.

Oh, my gosh. Just about the time my heart has dropped to my little toe, Mum returns. She has the tail piece of the fish and it is 125445. Dad is there. I bet he is so happy to see her arrive! The kids are ravenous and, in particular, Middle. Let us hope he gets a good portion of this fish.

Middle got bites by doing his famous snatch and grab. This makes Big very upset if Big perceives that Middle is getting more fish than her.

Middle got a couple of bites at the beginning but he is clearly afraid of Big. It isn’t a huge piece of fish but, I am sure hoping that Middle gets some.

The key is – when Mum is feeding Big if she feeds slow he will get full sooner and there will be plenty left for Middle. You may have witnessed this happening at other nests. When she feeds Middle she has to feed him fast so he can get as much fish as possible within a short time.

Middle went to snatch and grab a bite and Big furiously attacked him. This is not good. Middle needs some food.

Middle waited – not long – til Big got situated and moved up. Mum made sure that he got some bites of fish. Not a huge amount like Big got but, Middle did get some fish. Regardless, he needs more, much more compared to Big.

Mum flew into the nest with the tail end of a fish. It should be presumed that she ate the front portion or part of it before returning to the nest. She, too, as noted many times, needs to eat. Hopefully when this bad weather system passes, more big fish will arrive. That is what this nest needs.

Big with her big crop and Middle flapping. I bet he will want off this nest as fast as his wings will carry him. Oh, I wish we could hire Ervie to teach his little brother to fish!!!!!!!!!!!! Ervie and Middle could trade stories about Big and Bazza. Maybe they could even invite Dad and sit down at the shed together leaving Mum and Big upstairs. Just imagine.

I continue to be very curious about the amount of fish that the tuna fishing fleets take out of these waters that are not tuna. What impact has this local commercial fishing had on the Ospreys?

I woke up very concerned as to whether or not Middle had any more fish at Port Lincoln. He really has not had enough to keep a sparrow alive and it is concerned. There is no way to check how he did. Perhaps some of you in Australia will know for the later time in the day as the live stream at Port Lincoln is down. It is to rain again and the winds are blowing at 31 kph.

Both of the Peregrine Falcon scraps have had at least one or more meals by the time I am writing this (1900 on the Canadian Prairies).

Indigo and Rubus are eating well. According to ‘A’ and the moderator, this is a recap so far of today’s feedings: RECAP: 4:20:36 D w/prey, eats, feeds 4:57:42; 6:42:14 X w/noisy miner, leaves with chicks; 8:36:12 D w/stubble quail/ feeds; 8:51:25 D takes NM; 9:41:51 X w/rosella, he feeds.

It is often some of the expressions that occur during these feedings that are so hilarious. Rubus just stretches and jumps to get his bites. Please note, I continue to say he/his because I really believe Rubus is a male. There are times when Indigo, who is so large and already declared a female, gets the Diamond look of seriousness in her eyes. Rubus never has that. He has long thin legs like he is trying out for a basketball team or long distance running. They are quite the characters.

Indigo, however, also gets frightened! We saw it with the Starling Head and again today when Rubus was trying to eat ‘Eggie’. My goodness. Here are some of the images from today at the scrape in Orange, enjoy.

Indigo stands and looks out the window of the scrape at the world beyond, just like Diamond.

Indigo protests loudly when Diamond shows up without breakfast!

Prey is left to see what Indigo and Rubus would do with it. It is a Noisy Miner.

That beautiful plumage is coming. You can see the peach on the feathers from various angles.

Indigo was really trying to get some more bits and bites out of Mum. But…look at that tail!

Look at Rubus’s eye. ‘What is up with you, sis?’

The stormy weather has reached Orange. There was lots of lightning and Diamond spent the night inside the scrape with Indigo and Rubus.

The Melbourne Four are eating fine. They are also losing most of that white soft down off their feathers. While we may not see the parents, one of them would normally be close by keeping an eye – perhaps up on another higher ledge. The amount of ‘ps’ and feathers tells it all!

Freshly plucked whole pigeon and consumed in a few minutes.

That is not an adult. That is one of the older eyases – I think the eldest. There is hardly any down left.

The Melbourne Four are fine.

Migration News:

In migration news, there is no word from Karl II or Kaia. They had both reached Africa. There is scant service where they winter and it is hoped that they are both enjoying themselves, feeding and replenishing their weight lost in migration. Bonus was last on the Island of Levbos. He appeared to be flying in the wrong direction but has righted himself and is back in Greece heading South. Little Waba is doing well and is in Egypt – ahead of Bonus.

Send your best wishes to all our nests including the Port Lincoln Osprey barge. Hang in there Middle. The weather will be better after Tuesday. Hoping for big fish to fall from the sky!

Thank you for being with me. Please take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: The Guardian, BBC Four and Sharon Dunne, HM, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, and 367 Collins Street by Mirvac.

Birds at the Zoo…and breakfast with the Australian nests

28 October 2022

Hello Everyone!

So happy to have you here with me. I set out ‘in my mind’ last evening that I would get up early and head out to find Snowy Owls sitting on large round hay bales near Oak Hammock Marsh. I got a text from a friend – ‘no’ owls seen. So, determined to see a Snowy Owl today, I did something entirely different! I went to the zoo.

How long has it been since you have been to a zoo? With all the criticism against keeping animals in small cages, our Assiniboine Park Zoo set out to try and make the enclosures for the animals considerably larger. At the same time they addressed issues of ‘boredom’ and the environments that the animals would live in if they were out in the wild. It was a much more pleasant place to visit because of those major changes.

One of the zoo volunteers saw me looking at the map and asked me what I wanted to see. The answer was Snowy Owls and Birds. I wonder if they were disappointed that I didn’t say ‘tiger’ or ‘cougar’. As it happened we were very close to the Snow Owls and it was feeding time. Fluffy yellow chicks raised specifically for the purpose were being dished out. For several seconds, it seemed that a woman standing near to me was going to pass out she was so overcome by seeing the owls eat the chicks. I stood in wonderment trying to figure out if she thought that they ate lettuce – our zoo purchases an inordinate amount of Romaine lettuce – or fruit. It is a good thing that she was away from the cougar or the Stellar’s Eagle compounds at that specific moment.

The real character of the entire four hours was the Toucan. He made eye contact immediately. What an incredibly beautiful bird he is.

This is the Toco Toucan. They are the largest of the species at 62 cm long with a bill/beak that is 17 cm long. Their lifespan is approximately 20 years. The Toco Toucan is native to South American rainforests where its numbers are decreasing due to deforestation.

I wish we could have had a conversation. This chap was a real cutie pie.

These little Sun Conures were tiny in comparison to the Toco Toucan. No wonder they have the ‘sun’ as part of their name. Oh, those faces ranging from yellow to orange to red are the colours we painted the sun as children. They are native to northeastern South America. They are approximately 30 cm in length but these certainly did not look that big unless you count that long olive green tail in the measurement! These little cuties were using their bill and their feet to dig around the edge of their enclosure. They have a stubby quite muscular tongue that helps them move their food around in their mouth.

This beautiful Golden Eagle was finishing up its breakfast and not the least bit interested in anyone looking at it. What a beauty. It is one of the largest birds of prey in North America, about the same size as a Bald Eagle. Unlike a Bald Eagle whose legs and talons are bare, the Golden Eagle has feathers on its legs. In Canada, they are ‘at risk’. Their meals consist of small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels.

The Stellar’s Sea Eagle is the largest of the sea eagles. With its striking bright yellow beak and legs and its espresso brown/black and white plumage, it is easy to recognize this raptor. It has a wedge-tail and fine pointed wings. They are rare. In the northern areas they will stand on the ice and fish and love the salmon in the north. It is thought that they almost exclusively breed in the north of Russia. You may recall that there is a Stellar’s Sea Eagle that has come to Newfoundland, Canada travelling south to parts of New England. I believe it is back in Newfoundland.

There were so many little Red Squirrels. This one is eating a ‘helicopter’, the seed of the Maple Tree.

Little Red stuffed these Maple Tree seeds in every part of the old shed. There were boxes full. Never knew if he used them for insulation to stay warm as well as eating. There is a large box full of them in his new home if he ever moves in!

It was great fun. Lovely to see families out with small children running about. Next time you are looking for a place to go – think the zoo!

A very small fish landed on the Port Lincoln Osprey barge at 061847. Middle got some of the tail but Big got most of it at 062652.

Breakfast arrived at 0618 on the ledge of 367 Collins Street for the Melbourne Four. Another plucking lesson, too!

This big one has run off with a nice piece and is self-feeding.

After eating it was running to get those legs strong, finding scraps of prey, and flapping those wings. What a brilliant place for these eyases to get exercise! I wonder how being able to run and flap freely – running a great distance – might give these falcons an edge in terms of physical strength that would help them survive? Just a thought!

This is the Recap for the morning feedings at Orange. Goodness Xavier has been busy hunting!

BirdieCam​ RECAP: 6:07:33 starling, X leaves, 6:20:58 D feeds; 6:38:31 X w/RRP?, he feeds; 09.13.33 X w/Noisy Friarbird, D feeds

Everyone has had breakfast, some more than others. Wish for fish – a big one for Port Lincoln.

Take care all. This is just a quick check and all are doing well at the 3 nests we are watching in Australia.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

Did Middle learn his lesson? and other news in Bird World

27 October 2022

Good afternoon Everyone!

Oh, the forecast for the Canadian Prairies was spot on. We went from -1 to 13 degrees C right now. The sky is blue with only a whisp of a cloud but, there is some wind. It was a lovely, lovely day. It should be this way tomorrow and for the weekend and maybe even into early next week. I went out to a small market in the country hoping to see some of the Snowy Owls that are returning but, alas, none. The most activity is in my garden where the Crows are alerting the rest of their family that the buffet is open – peanuts, cheesy dogs, cheese, and eggs. Here they come!

In the Mailbox:

‘H’ sent a question to the mailbox and I bet a lot of other people are wondering about the use of the term ‘predation’. ‘H’s question was: If a Crow steals an Osprey egg, is that the same as saying that the egg was predated by the Crow?

The answer is a simple yes. The egg was not allowed to develop into the Osprey, ended any hope of life. I found an article on Crow’s predating Cormorant eggs using the term ‘predation’. It is helpful to see how others apply the term.

Breakfast in the Australia Nests:

The oddest thing happened at the Orange scrape this morning. Xavier landed on the ledge of the scrape with a freshly caught Starling. Diamond and Xavier appeared to have a chat. Indigo ran over and wanted to take the breakfast prey item and then quickly ran to the Cilla Stones but returned. Both eyases indicated that they were hungry but, nothing happened. Xavier flew off with the Starling and has yet to return!

I suspect Diamond asked Xavier to take the Starling and prepare it. Oh, if we could only speak falcon. How frustrating that we can’t!

Diamond left and returned. It is 0728 and the Starling has not been returned to the scrape yet.

Ah, Xavier returns with ‘a’ Starling, unplucked at 0830. Rubus and Indigo also get a plucking demonstration but they are starving and Rubus, especially, is jumping and biting at Dad’s beak.

Xavier was doing a pretty good job considering he is being run over by his very large ‘babies’. Can we really call them babies now. Just look at how big Rubus is getting…my goodness. Indigo really has to work for her prey bites now.

Then Diamond shows up. Mum stands at the ledge and watches what is going on before her eyes. Xavier continues to feed Indigo and Rubus. He is doing a pretty good job.

Then Diamond decides it is time to take over and feed the kids.

She gets the prey and little Rubus, for some reason, runs over to the other side of the scrape.

Oh, but don’t worry. Rubus can’t be somewhere if food is elsewhere. He quickly gets back over and starts leaping for bites!

Both Indigo and Rubus have finished their meal. Indigo has stretched and now, for some reason, each has decided to go into a different corner. This won’t last long. They love to have a cuddle puddle.

Just look at Indigo’s wing feathers as she stretches.

I wonder how long they will stay like this?

Not long is the answer! Indigo goes over to join little Rubus. Well, OK. ‘Little’ Rubus is not going to apply for long. Aren’t they just sweeties?

At the scrape on 367 Collins Street in Melbourne, Mum slept on her perch above the four eyases. She flew off early.

An adult returned with a freshly caught pigeon (I could recognize it this time easily, thank goodness) and began plucking and plucking and plucking. The Melbourne Four will be very capable of plucking their own prey with all of these lessons. This was followed by a pretty good feeding. It looked like all that was left of the carcass was the backbone holding the wings when the parent flew off. One eyas appeared not to want to eat. I wonder if it is getting ready to cast a pellet? Eyases are often not hungry when this process is happening and many are very frightened when their body begins to regurgitate a hard clump of bones and hair!

Middle doesn’t look the worse for wear after the dust up with Big last evening. I wonder if Middle learned anything from pecking Big when everything was otherwise going quite well?

The breakfast fish that arrived was small, a bit of a teaser but, if both of the osplets behave each will get some fish. Dad landed with it at 070928.

Big got the lion’s share of the fish. Middle waited and was a wee bit nervous. Middle did wind up getting the fish tail which he turned away (Big was eyeing it) and horked.

Middle did wind up with a nice little crop. And the meal was civil. Hopefully Middle will just eat and leave Big alone today.

Everyone has eaten. That is a great start to the day in Australia. No one is traumatized. Everyone will sleep or pick at the leftovers on the nest until the next meal arrives.

Thank you so much for being with me for this early report on the breakfast offerings in the Australian nests. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams: Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross. Thanks ‘L’ for the report on electrocutions and how to cease those unnecessary deaths and ‘H’ for the great question on predation.

Peace at the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge and other news in Bird World

26 October 2022

Good Morning to Everyone!

Oh, gosh, golly. Tomorrow I will be telling you what a wonderful day it is but today, it is another grey, cloudy, and miserable day. The joy is seeing all of the birds in the garden this morning. There is a row of lilac bushes about 13 metres long. Every branch is moving a little. If you look long enough, you can see the birds. (There are still leaves on those bushes). So happy that you could be with me and the birds.

Little Red and I hope that you have a fantastic day today!

Making News:

Lori Covert posted an image of the new Osprey platform for Lena and Andy. Oh, my goodness. Isn’t this wonderful! Thank you Lori and Connor at Windows to Wildlife.

There she goes!

It is always nice to have a really good news story and this is one of those. Thinking back on the eaglets from last spring, you might well remember the eaglet from the US Steel Nest, that ‘fludged’. Rosie was taken into care and on the 21st of October, after being in care for 5 months, this beautiful eaglet was released into the wild. Read the full story here:

https://triblive.com/local/shes-a-big-girl-now-rehabbed-steel-mill-eagle-rosie-released-with-a-7-foot-wingspan/?fbclid=IwAR1_oN5Jh-Lolusjh8w3fT–bsAPgl597KbzTHy5OGx_NdH-x63SkqtEhCI

https://www.observertoday.com/news/latest-news/2022/10/audubons-bald-eagle-liberty-dies/?fbclid=IwAR0mVfXhkw59mBB1xiw3a68JL63yA40RVVTbDcK431cB95pMfa4d9qBDvRA

The Audubon Centre’s beautiful Bald Eagle ambassador, Liberty, has died. She is going to be sadly missed by all the visitors and the staff she has delighted for decades.

Here is her story:

Liberty, Audubon’s Bald Eagle has passed

One of the things that I am looking forward to, when I next visit the UK, is a murmuration. There are many places to travel to see these amazing images of Starlings (and others) – hundreds if not thousands – flying and changing direction is a distinct coordination. A murmuration will take your breath away the first time you see one. Check to see if there are any local happenings near you!

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/22/country-diary-a-vast-murmuration-of-lapwings-and-starlings

If you are unfamiliar or just want a refresher on murmurations, here is a very good to the point short article by The Woodland Trust.

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2018/11/starling-murmurations/

I would add Gretna to that listing.

Australian Nest News:

Checking on the Australian nests later in the day, another nice fish landed on the Port Lincoln barge at 12:04:11. Oh, I thought Big was going to be a bit grumpy but, she wasn’t. She always demands to be fed first and Middle began his snatch and grab and eating – he is behind Mum – about half way through the fish. Oh, Middle is getting so smart! He is now eating very well in part because Big has calmed, there are big fish arriving on the nest, the pair eat more at a sitting but require less feedings…and also Middle being clever. He can really read the environment and he watches and listens and knows when to stay out of Big’s way!

Middle is behind Mum enjoying the last half of that fish. Big will, like usual, want some late fish but there is lots.

Big decides she wants another bite!

Mum gives Middle some fish scrapes but she also gets to eat a few bites herself.

There is absolutely no discord. All is going well. Dad brought in a bedtime snack late in the day. It was 1953.

The cam operator took some lovely close ups of Big and Middle earlier.

If you have been avoiding Port Lincoln for fear of further beaking, now is the time to return. The nest is very harmonious. These two are getting their beautiful juvenile plumage and they are beginning to be much steadier on their walking. They will be measured, weighed, banded, given names and their genders will be revealed at a time to be determined from the 12-14th of November. Here is the link to their streaming cam:

At Orange, Diamond picked around through the scrape finding tidbits of scraps to feed to Indigo and Rubus around 1050. At 10:54:36, Xavier arrives with what looks like a well prepped parrot. Indigo got the first of many good bites but, then, all of a sudden, Rubus, who had been standing on the Cilla stones, decided he was famished. My goodness is Rubus aggressive when there is food around!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is a cute video of the 1530 feeding at Orange yesterday. There are some great images of Rubus! It is nice to hear the sounds and see the eyases moving and wanting food!

This video was shot from the side cam but ‘A’ is telling me to make sure we look at the ledge cam often as it covers the corner that Indigo and Rubus are liking for sleeping.

Melbourne’s pigeon population is dwindling — OK. I doubt if the number of pigeons will even be noticed but, normally, on an Osprey nest with three chicks, anywhere from 450-500 food items are eaten. I wonder how many on a Falcon nest? Five feedings a day?? Yesterday was an interesting one. At 0834, there was a tug of war and a small prey item was taken and the eyases were self feeding.
After breakfast, there was another pigeon delivery at 1013:07 and then another one at 13:51. The 1013 feeding lasted 10 minutes with Mum and Dad feeding the eyases. The 1351 lasted 18 minutes.

Food is such a great motivator. The eyases will, eventually, get themselves up out of the gutter where they have been running and sleeping for that lovely pigeon.

The Melbourne Four will have another two meals before the day is over. At 1437 there is a terrifically short feeding of two minutes with the longer evening meal lasting seventeen minutes at 1849. Thank you to ‘H’ for providing those feeding lengths and confirming my times.

Just look at those wings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This image is from that self-feeding frenzied moment earlier in the day.

Thank you so very much for being with me this morning. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams, posts, and videos that make up my screen captures: Liz M and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Lori Covert Instagram Post, Observer Today News, Tribilive, Port Lincoln Ospreys and 367 Collins Street by Mirvac.


Breakfast arrives at Port Lincoln Osprey barge

25 October 2022

I am still nervous about Port Lincoln despite the fact that everything has been going well. Today. as I was going through old screen shots, there were so many of Little. It is always a reminder that the challenges our feathered friends face – whether they are song birds, sea birds, or big Apex Raptors – are serious. All it takes is a late fish arrival to set off a series of events that often leads in the death of the smallest and most vulnerable.

So, it is reassuring to see that everyone on the Port Lincoln nest had a good feed. Dad came in with a large whole very much alive fish at 08:46:17. At one point, Big ‘sort of’ raised her neck high. It was enough to leave Middle at the far side waiting…waiting for the time when Big was full enough to go up for fish but, not so long that nothing was left. Middle watched, listened, and moved over. Middle and Mum are really going to enjoy the last half of that fish! Thanks, Dad.

Just look at that nice fish! Mum had full control of it. She wrestled it around with her strong talons and jaw so that there was no chance it would get away.

Big is ducking over. That fish gave it a bit of a flap when Mum was hauling it in. (Facing the screen – Big is on the right of Mum and Middle is on the left).

Middle is just waiting while Big eats.

Mum has been feeding the two osplets for nearly an hour taking some nice bites for herself. Big now has her second wind and has decided she is up for seconds. Not surprising. Big does love her fish.

That nice fish will keep Mum and the two osplets for quite some time. They should not be thinking about another fish until tea time!

I knew that you would be as anxious to hear how the feeding went at Port Lincoln as I am. It is all good. We can each rest a little easier today knowing that Middle has had a good feed and that there was no beaking.

Big horked the tail down at 09:43:30.

The feeding took 57 minutes – what a fish! Everyone is full.

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care all. See you soon.

Thank you to Port Lincoln Ospreys for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.

What’s for breakie? and other tales from Bird World

25 October 2022

Hi Everyone,

I hope that you have had a great day! I am here just checking in on the breakfast arrivals down at the nests in Australia. I wonder what is on those silver platters today?

The morning walk has reminded me of something very important. In some countries, Halloween is quickly approaching. It appears that my neighbourhood has decided to go quite fancy with the decorations but, are they aware that some of those are absolutely deadly to the birds with their tiny little legs?

This inexpensive Halloween decor can be deadly. Please pass the word. It is no different than the birds getting their legs caught in those mesh bags that companies insist using for oranges, lemons, avocadoes and other fruit.

One of the adults is awake at 367 Collins Street! The eyases, those cute little cotton ball running machines, are still sleeping, all in a puddle. Adorable.

Oh, it looks like the adult (I cannot tell which from this angle) has only a small leftover piece of pigeon. Not sure that will satisfy those ravenous eyases. Just look at them. They are so big! This new couple has done well despite our initial worries.

It is…you guessed it – a European Starling for Indigo and Rubus. I had no idea that they had such gorgeous orange beaks in Australia. They really are quite beautiful birds with their iridescent feathers. Xavier arrives with breakfast and begins giving the two chicks a plucking demonstration. It is not long until Diamond arrives. Rubus is never interested in this part. It looks like he is thinking about going over to the Cilla stones but changes his mind.

What little darlings. Indigo is getting much steadier on her legs and little Rubus wants to walk just like his big sister. He is still using his ankles but trying to walk straight up. Adorable. Look at that sweet face.

At 0648 Xavier lands on the ledge again. This time with a prepared prey that looks like a parrot of some kind. It is so hard to tell when the feathers are mostly gone. At first Indigo and Rubus just watch. Xavier would have been so happy to feed them. Diamond arrives. Indigo goes over to the other side to do a ps and returns for some of this delicious breakfast dessert.

Diamond continues to offer Indigo and Rubus occasionally taking a piece. Notice that her chest is sunken. Diamond needs a good breakfast – she needs to fill up her crop, too!

Someone has post a sweet video already! Enjoy.

Big and Middle are still waiting for their breakfast fish to arrive. It looks like there is some rain or drizzle. Their backs appear to be a little wet.

Big and Middle are still waiting but they are not showing signs of being impatient. Thankfully.

Oh, those two are so beautiful. You can see the wind is blowing. Mum’s crest is sticking right up. Stay nice you two!

As I sign off it is 0837 in Port Lincoln and no breakfast yet. They had a big late dinner last night so hopefully neither are ‘starving’.

I belong to the American Society of Ornithologists and the US Government has just issues their ‘State of the Birds’ Report for 2022. It is 17 pages long with some good graphics. It shows some encouraging news for waterfowl where wetlands are being developed but an overall trend downward in bird populations.

Here is that report if you would like to have a read. It will really help you understand the urgency in taking care of our environment for our feathered friends.

For those of you getting super excited about the beginning of Royal Albatross season, here is the latest news from Sharyn Broni. Thanks Holly Parsons for the post! Holly is the Admin for the Albatross Lovers FB Page.

Thank you so much for being with me this afternoon. Take care everyone. See you soon! Wish for fish for Big and Middle.

Thank you to Holly Parsons and the Albatross Lovers FB, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross for their posts, videos, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures.