Godwits, owls, fireworks, and Aussie raptors…early Saturday in Bird World

29 October 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

It was so nice to hear from so many of you. I am glad you enjoyed seeing some of the feathered friends at my local zoo. I have not been there for years and it was simply a delight to see how zoo management has changed. One of the big features is our Polar Bear Conservation Project. Children love them. The place was packed – that made me happy but, I wish more people would sit and watch the birds and not be so attracted to what they are told is exotic – aka, ‘the tiger’.

Making News:

Alaska to Tasmania in one 13,000 km epic journey?! It seems a Godwit has set a new record!

https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/godwit-migration-alaska-tasmania-record-1.6632658?fbclid=IwAR2Sq0cOfXqg3aJDFCdwk02a4ZkWRKpMZ9_tHLeMxImoeezDPpPXmrKjc5s

A wee owl being attacked by seagulls 100 miles out to see in Scotland was saved! This is a make you feel good read.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-63425826?fbclid=IwAR0vCiStXvVZWRNQl8sHjNA4faCQIeJ2Uob9VjW7gXlChlEWS95wSej_ZZU

Please don’t put all your leaves into bags. If you must, rake them and put them in a pile, Lovely Greens made this great poster to remind us that it is better for the birds if you just leave the leaves! Look at all the wonderous creates that will thank you.

The Kakapo Recovery Group – those great people that monitor, care for, assess, and generally make sure that as many of these critically endangered non-flying parrots live – have opened up adoptions for the next year. I can say as someone who waited too long – if you are intending to make a donation to the Kakapo by adopting one of the birds, do it now! Don’t wait. My Kakapo lives in one of my huge plants, often hiding, just like the real ones.

If you are looking to help out other wildlife groups or nature centres, many are busy making money selling their annual calendars now. Check out the individual websites.

Checking on the Australian Nests:

The takings at the Port Lincoln Osprey nest would not win any awards today. It is now 2100 on the Canadian Prairies on Friday night and it is 12:17 in Port Lincoln. There have been two deliveries: 061847 and 093829. Both were small! And I do mean small. The first appeared to be a chunk of fish and the second was simply a teaser. Let us hope something bigger comes on the nest soon. Still, it has been pleasant and that is fantastic.

Another fish, a little larger, came in at 131223. Big got the lion’s share of this fish. Middle is hungry and was doing a bit of snatch and grab but at 1315, Middle pulled away as if he was afraid Big would attack. Big continued to eat and at 1324, Big took the tail and ate it. This nest needs 2 big fish to come on it. Middle will be fine but both Middle and Mum need to eat, too.

Middle pulls away. He has had some bites but Big had domineered the feeding.

Middle watches Big eat the fish tail.

I don’t know if anything could get cuter than the antics of Rubus and Indigo. Particularly when prey is delivered. The pair of them seem to go after Xavier much more than Diamond – jumping, and pulling, and trying to take the prey out of Dad’s beak. I wonder if Xavier and Diamond have noticed that it is double the work taking care of these two than it was when they had only Yurruga last year or Izzi in 2020? Mind you those two were a little like energetic Rubus!

This scrape is the real winner in terms of prey deliveries. They had six deliveries yesterday of which 5 were Starlings. Today, there have been three deliveries already – a Starling at 060733, a parrot at 063831, and a Noisy Friar at 091333.

Here is a video of the earlier feeding:

It is getting much more difficult to tell when the Melbourne Four have been fed. They had a whole pigeon early and if you rewind you will not see any feedings. Still it is 1300 and, based on past performance, we know that the adults would have been in with prey. The sun is shining and so far there is no rain falling.

There is some serious concern over the Mum at 367 Collins Street. She was abruptly woken last evening and flew off the perch at 213426 and has not returned. It sounded to me like it was people partying in the CBD. Were there fireworks set off? Was it the Spring Carnival Fireworks? If that is truly the case, this is a very good reason not to have fireworks! It definitely disturbs the wildlife! I hope that Mum is perched somewhere safe. If you live in Melbourne and know what was happening around this time in the CBD, please send me a comment. Thank you!

‘H’ caught it all on video. Thank you ‘H’ for alerting me to this happening and creating this video for us. It is much appreciated. There are falcon sounds coming from the ledge above a few minutes later.

Continuing with the loud noises that happen when there are big gatherings, dozens of people were treated for cardiac arrest in Halloween celebrations last night. Perhaps it is time for civic leaders to recognize the harm to all by loud surprising noises bouncing off of tall buildings in urban spaces.

All of the Bald Eagles in the US are building their nests or renovating their old nests. Sometimes hearing that Xavier brought in another Starling can be like fingernails on a chalkboard. So ‘A’ and I have come up with something that we hope is fun and helps oil everyone’s brain! ‘A’ began making a list of the names of streaming cam birds that correspond to the alphabet. Then she sent it to me. Oh, it was fun trying to remember all the names and clear up the few missing bits. So, we both thought you might enjoy it, too. So, get a sheet of digital or real paper, get out your pen or your keyboard and put down all the letters of the alphabet. Then start adding the names of the birds next to them. Let’s give ourselves until Midnight Wednesday 2 November -CDT. I will give you a count down so you remember. I will post the results as soon as I can collate all of them. You can send them to me via e-mail: maryasteggles@outlook.com

To get you started. Can you think of a female Peregrine Falcon living at The Campanile whose name starts with an A. It is ____________________!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Enjoy!

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

Thank you to the following for their posts and/or their streaming cams where my screen captures came from: ‘H’ for her alert and video of 367 Collins, ‘A’ for her fun game idea, Lovely Gardens, CBC Canada, BBC, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Kakapo Recovery, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

Middle’s enormous crop…and then Big’s fury…plus more news in Bird World for early Thursday

27 October 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope this finds everyone well with a smile on their face!

Going for a walk, no matter how short or how long, can be invigorating for one’s mind and for our bodies. I remember when my mother broke her hip. Her surgeon, at that time, was the surgeon for the OU Football Team. I have forgotten his name but, I will never forget the day he looked into my mother’s eyes and told her if she didn’t get up out of that hospital bed, she was going to lose her ability to walk. It had been 2 days since the surgery and I laughed when he told me he was ‘nothing but a glorified carpenter’. What a character and an amazing surgeon. My Mum took it to heart and got herself up and within the month was walking 2 miles. Oh, she did well. The weather was lousy and her and her best friend, Dorothy, would go to the mall and window shop as they got their exercise. It was a good lesson for me, too!

It was a frigid early afternoon yesterday. It was 1 degree and the wind was blowing over the pond and bringing a chill even through the wool coat. I reminded myself that it will soon be parka weather. The state of the Wood Ducks needed checking. There was only one lonely male that I could find. He came swimming towards me thinking I had food. What a tragedy. Several of the ducks at that particular park pond had ‘Angel Wing’ this year. It is doubtful that they will survive. I left before he wasted his energy coming all the way to the shore. What a beautiful sight he was!

Did I tell you that I have the greatest fondness for ducks?

It is rather miraculous. When I look at a male Wood Duck, the patterns in the plumage remind me of weavers in India. Those women have the patterns emblazoned in their minds but, for these precious ducks, the pattern is laid out as the feather emerges from the follicle and grows. Feathers grow out of a quill or shaft. In young birds, we call these ‘blood feathers’ because they actually contain blood until the feather is completely finished growing.

A single follicle can produce, like a weaving, multiple colours and patterns. If I think about it for a long time my mind just becomes boggled. Just look at the multiple colours that go into this handsome duck. Did you know that the male Wood Duck plays no part in raising the young? Absolutely none just like poor Daisy, the Pacific Black Duck that laid her eggs on the Sea Eagle’s nest in the Sydney Olympic Forest. Daisy had absolutely no help – not even security. So if the male doesn’t bring food for the female or provide security or help with the little ones, what does he do? Well, guess what? He just has to look extremely handsome! The female picks him for his beautiful plumage – they want a male that stands out from all the others.

On the other hand, the female needs not to stand out in a crowd but, blend in with her environment. She needs to have good camouflage in order to not call attention to predators.

I really adore female Wood Ducks. It is because they are quiet and shy, often hovering in the background wanting seed tossed on the ground and concrete by visitors but not daring to do so. They are often chased by the geese and by the Mallards.

The females have a tiny crest compared to the males and instead of a red eye ring and eye they have a yellow eye ring in a gorgeous white teardrop shaped eye patch. No flamboyant colours for them. Grey leading into a dabbled brown breast with some lovely blue on the wing to match their bill.

Oh, to me she is the most beautiful delicate little thing. I missed seeing the females. This image was taken on 10 October. I will check again in the next couple of days as the weather warms to see if any were just lurking on the island where I could not see them.

In the mailbox:

‘L’ sent me a great article from BirdLife on a recent study on how to make overhead power lines safe so that birds do not collide with them. It is a good read.

https://www.birdlife.org/news/2022/10/24/new-study-how-to-stop-birds-from-getting-electrocuted-by-and-colliding-with-power-lines-across-the-eu/

Nest News:

Besides the sight of a few ducks putting a big grin on my face, it was absolutely the state of the Port Lincoln Osprey nest that has had me grinning from ear to ear. I continue to say that it is horrific to lose a chick, heart breaking every time and they are not forgotten. Never.

Middle is doing so well. He is really showing his stuff – sitting right by Big, doing the snatch and grab, not being fearful to eat the last bite offered. Confidence. Middle was doing really well for the past several days and most of Thursday in Australia and then…he wasn’t. Middle now has a bald spot on his head!

Another fish arrived on the nest and while it wasn’t as big as some of the early morning ones, it was large and everyone got a good feed. I almost think Mum caught it as she appeared slightly damp when she returned to the nest. I cannot be 100% sure, however.

Middle is on the left side of Mum and Big is on the right when she begins feeding. We can just see cute Middle peaking out from under Mum’s wing.

Middle standing getting ready to stretch his wings. You can see the dark thermal down that will be under their juvenile feathers on Big who is leaning over.

In the image below you can really see Big’s tail feathers coming in and her thick

In between rain and wind, Middle and Big continued to eat and eat and eat. It is difficult to even imagine where they put all that fish. In both of the subsequent feedings that I watched – and that was even before mid-afternoon, Middle got the lion’s share of the fish. There were no quarrels, no disputes, just Middle full of confidence eating away. It just put a smile on my face from one side to the other. Here are a selection of images from those later feedings.

Middle got the lion’s share of this feeding as well. By 1321 he is full and has moved away looking back at Mum with such a precious delicate face. Big is now having a turn.

The rain and the wind begin and Middle gets under Mum as best he can.

The storm passed and Mum flew off the nest. Look what is over on the rim of the nest? The rest of the fish that Mum was feeding Middle and Big when the rain and the wind started. Middle sees it. This time next week Middle would go over and grab that fish and start eating it but, he isn’t going to do that today.

Mum returns to feed her babies. Middle has found some room for some more fish. I honestly do not know where these two are putting the fish – they have almost been eating non-stop all morning.

At the end of that feeding, Middle, standing in profile, his showing off his enormous crop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It has been a really good day so far for Middle and it isn’t even the middle of the afternoon.

Was Middle just feeling his oats when he decided to peck Big at 18:10? (I want to send a thanks to ‘H’ here. I was up with my coffee and had not rewound the end of the days footage. So thankful for her warning). As ‘H’ said, ‘It is a reminder not to mess with Big.’ It was a frenzied attack. Both had eaten well. Middle more than Big. I hope Middle has learned to leave his Big sister alone. Enjoy the peace and quiet and don’t push it or she will attack if provoked and Middle could be the big loser. As it stands, if you see feathers missing, Big did it but Middle provoked the attack. Gracious.

Big, satisfied that Middle, was submissive and would never do that again stopped the ferocious attack at 18:13:52 – a little over two and a half minutes from when it started.

The Melbourne Four are the most energetic and expressive eyases. They run up and down the gutter until their batteries are all worn down and their tummies are full and then they stop. All in a big puddle, altogether keeping one another warm on a drizzly day.

One of the highlights of the feedings today was when Dad brought in a freshly killed pigeon and began plucking it right in front of the four ravenous eyases. Now I say pigeon because once upon a time someone told me that the only reasons there are pigeons is for the falcons and hawks to have something to eat! The feathers were white and some of you might have a more clear idea if it was a pigeon or a gull or something more exotic. Then when the prey was plucked and all the kids were ready for some real bites instead of feathers — Dad flew off with the pigeon. What?! He did bring it back and was ready to fill those crops and then Mum showed up. She pulled a Diamond taking the prey away from Dad who had almost lost it to the oldest eyases. Mum then proceeded to fill their tanks.

Then Dad leaves taking the pigeon with him and leaving only feathers.

A few minutes later he returns with the prey.

Then Mum arrives to take over! Diamond-style.

Dad is off!

Everyone is hungry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

‘H’ clocked 7 feedings of various links at the 367 scrape on Thursday.

At Orange, Rubus and Indigo have been eating and eating, too. I love when Little Rubus gets full and turns his back to the adult who is feeding. When did he start this behaviour?

I could watch the expressions on Rubus’s face all day. He is quite the character.

Once Indigo finishes eating she goes over to cuddle with her little brother in the corner. A little cotton candy pile.

Beautiful Diamond looks over lovingly at her two eyases. What a real treat it has been seeing Diamond and Xavier with two – the very quiet grown up Indigo and the feisty little Rubus. Such treasures.

How many times a day do we need to thank these bird families for bringing such joy to us?

Migration News:

Bonus crossed the Dardanelle Strait and flew to the Greek island of Lesvos.

Bonus is feeding near this creek. It looks like a lovely place to be.

Little Waba was in Israel. He flew into Jordan and decided to return to Israel.

This is where Waba is feeding. There were reports of 85 Black Storks at this site. Hopefully Little Waba is there among others, safe and getting full and strong. There is still more flying to do!

There has been no transmissions from either Karl II who was last heard from in Egypt and Kaia whose last transmission was from Chad. Please send them your most positive best wishes, please.

Please send all kinds of positive wishes to Middle so that he will just leave Big alone from now on. No need to bother Big. Everything was going just fine. Middle has to remember that Big is the boss even if he gets to eat first. That is only because she is letting him.

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

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 and to Looduskalender for their maps and news of Karl II and his family. 

Can AI save raptors from wind turbines and other news in Bird World?

23 September 2022

Good Morning Everyone.

It is a gloomy day today. The sky is solid cloud cover and it is cool enough that I can hear the furnace kicking in once in awhile. The juvenile Blue Jays are quite busy eating along with one squirrel and a few sparrows this morning. It has also rained. Today is Open House at the rehabilitation centre. It is about half an hour outside the City. We always wish them to have a beautiful sunny day. Perhaps tomorrow. It is going to be a good day to finish reading some of the books sitting on my desk before the pile gets higher!

In the Mailbox:

‘A’ wonders if the intruder male falcons ever kill the eyases.’

That is a question on everyone’s mind that is watching the 367 Collins Street Falcons. So, first. I am more knowledgable about Ospreys – for transparency! Osprey males if they believe the eggs to be of another male will wildly kick them out of the nest. I hope to find an old YouTube video of that happening. It is simply crazy the flap they get into. Of course, they do not want to spend the time feeding and raising another male’s chicks. This is why Xavier and Alden, Peregrine Falcons, are so special. They did not have to compete with a male – the male was deceased but, they did step in and help the female raise the chicks. What a civil way to get a mate and a fantastic piece of territory, too. But to answer your question, the second male has not been able to get rid of those eggs of the old male and we must wait and just see what happens. The old male is a ‘sitting duck’ so to speak if he incubates so he has chosen only to bring prey items to the female. If he is flying and hunting to feed the family he is less of a target. Sadly, we have to wait and see how this plays out but I have seen non-parental males kill the eyases. Yes.

Making News:

Wind turbines” by ali_pk is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Technology is going to come to the aid of endangered eagles in Germany because of the deaths caused by wind turbines. Let’s support the effort and get every wind turbine trained to keep our raptors from being killed!

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/20/germany-hopes-ai-can-stop-rare-eagles-flying-into-wind-turbines

Nest News:

Things seem to be going rather well at Port Lincoln. These are the time stamps for yesterday, thanks to the chatter, Gtr Kitarr. 11:30 & 12:35 chicks close-up. 12:36 & 14:23 & 17:42 fish delivery/feeding. 17:55 Dad takes the fish. 18:05 fish back/feeding. 18:12 Dad takes the fish. 18:25, 18:42 & 21:55 feeding. There were the two earlier feedings as well and I might have missed one. Everyone is eating including the little gaffer.

Thankfully Mum is managing to get some sleep. These three are healthy and active.

Victor Hurley, the researcher for the 367 Collins Street Falcon Scrape and the Victoria Peregrine Falcon Association posts some wonderful information weekly. This was part of this week’s early posting and you might be interested in it. It is specifically about the site at 367 Collins Street. Indeed, earlier in his PDF, Dr Hurley says that many of the Victoria Peregrine Falcons are using stick nests due to the lack of high locations.

“The reason Peregrine Falcons were first (and continue to be) attracted to 367 Collins Street is because of the building design has inset windows with external ledges and an architectural feature of indented corners to the building structure. The original ledge selected (and the one used to this
day) faces south east. This orientation provides warmth from the rising sun until late morning by which time the shadow from the building’s own south wall provides shade across the selected ledge. With the prevailing rainstorms tending from the west/north west means that most of Melbourne’s late winter rains blow over and past this ledge. Peregrine Falcons have had “the freedom of the city” to select alternatives and yet once the gravel filled trays were installed in 1992 pairs have repeatedly placed their thumping big feet to claim this one as their own ever since.”

No one knows how this season is going to turn out. We cannot even possibly begin to guess. We are, however, three days prior to a potential hatch and the female – and she is gorgeous – is holding firm to those eggs.

Dr Hurley did do a Q & A session and it is posted on the 367 Falcon Watchers FB Group, not YouTube. Indeed, Dr Hurley has posted lots of information on that site so please join their group if you are not a member already so you can access it.

Here is the link to that very informative PDF by Dr Hurley mentioned above.

file:///C:/Users/marya/Downloads/FFS%2005-22%20Why%20367%20Collins.pdf

The Sydney Sea Eagles will certainly win the beauty contest this week. Just look at the light on that beautiful plumage. The pair are still figuring out how to self-feed. They are not branching or hovering so there will be more time with them. When they stand on those branches and begin flapping then you can think fledge!

The cam operator did an amazing job and the light was just perfect to see that rusty peach. Incredible. I wish they would stay this way! Like the juvenile Ospreys, the plumage – to this person anyway – is much more beautiful than the adults!

At the scrape on the grounds of Charles Sturt University in Orange, Xavier and Diamond are patiently waiting and eating, eating and waiting, for the eggs to hatch the first week of October.

I will be so excited when this very devoted couple have their first hatch.

Some of you might not know about Xavier. Diamond was at the scrape with her mate Bula. Bula died when the eyases hatched. Diamond could not have done all of the duties and kept them alive – and then Xavier came along. He did not actively care for the chicks but he brought food for Diamond and the chicks so everyone could live. The chicks survived and the rest is history. Xavier’s name means Saviour and he was definitely a saviour to this nest, like Alden for Annie at Cal Falcons. If something untoward were to happen at Melbourne, we might all begin to hope that the second male would be as kind as Xavier and Alden.

Thank you so very much for being with me this morning. Stop in and check on the PLO Chicks. They are quite adorable and keep your eyes on those lovely sea eagles. Take care of yourselves, too. Thank you for your letters and comments. They are always appreciated. I try to answer as quickly as I can. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and FB posts which make up my screen captures: 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac, 367 Collins Falcons FB, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, and Port Lincoln Ospreys.