Instead of sending out my blog first thing in the morning, it will be tomorrow evening. This blog will be short but it is packed with three news items near and dear to all of us.
Samson of the Northeast Florida Bald Eagle nest is missing. Indeed, that news has caused my stomach to go down to my toes and back again. All of you know that I adore Samson and Gabby. I cannot even imagine a Gabby without a Samson. Let us all hope that he is just taking a couple of days off – which is more like Gabby than Samson. Gabby is on the nest and is not calling him but she might not know he is missing.
Here is that announcement from the American Eagle Foundation:
At the NEFL nest of Samson and Gabrielle:
“As most of you are aware, Samson has not been seen at the nest since Thursday evening; however, he and Gabrielle were spotted perched together Friday morning on a nearby tree off cams. We are concerned that Samson has not returned to the nest, and can assure you that everything is being done to try to find his whereabouts. When we have any information at all, we will post updates. We appreciate everyone’s concerns and prayers for Samson’s safe return. “
There has been an intruder at the nest. It is not Samson. You can see the dark chocolate bars still in the white head so this birds has just turned 5 years old.
In the Mailbox:
If you have been wondering how you could see BBC 4’s Flight of the Osprey, ‘G’ sent me the YouTube links they have been recording so that we can enjoy. And if you don’t know what Flight of the Osprey is, then here is the promo information from BBC:
Follow Scotland’s ospreys on their epic migration. Over ten weeks, Emily Knight joins a team of conservationists following these beautiful birds of prey from Loch Garten to Ghana.
Some of the latest news coming out of Orange. Sharon Pollock writes, “In case you haven’t seen this from Cilla on the YouTube Box Cam Chat: Just had a message from Security Guard Dave. He’s confident he saw both juveniles taking off very noisily from the car park in front of dentistry. I quizzed him about the physical appearance. And it does sound hopeful.” Now isn’t that grand news?!
The camera is tilted crazy at Port Lincoln so it is impossible to know what is going on but, Zoe had 1 huge fish to herself yesterday and portions of 2 others. She is fine. Even if she had no food today she would be good.
I knew that you would want to know about Samson and I hope that you enjoy the BBC series, Flight of the Osprey. We are all delighted that Rubus is now believed to be alive – let us all hope that is true. Please send your best wishes out to Gabby and the NE Florida nest and especially to Samson. If he is injured, I hope he is found or he returns to the nest soon.
Thank you so much for being with me. Take care all.
Thanks to the NEFlorida Bald Eagle nest and the AEF, ‘G’ for the links to his YouTube programmes on the Flight of the Osprey, Sharon Pollock and the announcement re Rubus, and to Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.
What we have been witnessing at the 367 Collins Street scrape in Melbourne this breeding season is providing ‘the gold’ of raptor research.
It has always been presumed that M (2017) was the father of the potential chicks in the eggs that were laid by F (2022) at the scrape box on the ledge. A territorial dispute happened between M (2017) and M (2022) with M (2022) usurping M (2017). He has not been seen since September. The former female was found injured in June and had to be euthanized.
Since the M (2017) was last seen, we have watched the new male ‘watch’ the female feeding the chicks. We have seen him brood them. We have seen him feed them.
For the past two days, the F (2022) has disappeared for nearly an hour yesterday at noon at the height of the heat leaving her eyases uncovered. Today, she has been gone since 11:01:48.
The chicks were clearly hungry and hot. Male (2022) or, better, Dad (not even Step-Dad) flew off the nest leaving the eyases alone at 12:45:12. He returned with a pigeon at 13:12:43 and is now feeding the four.
Can you see the tears rolling down my cheeks? Can he possibly keep this up? I really want to see him try. He can leave them and get a pigeon back to the ledge in half an hour. Is it possible that he can raise them by himself if the female never returns? I want to add that it is highly unusual for a female to be gone during brooding but I have seen it happen with Bald Eagles and Ospreys. You might recall that Gabby at the NE Florida Bald Eagle nest was gone for over a day and Samson took care of Rocket and Jasper. Blue NC0 needed a break and was gone from the Loch of the Lowes Osprey nest in Scotland for a similar amount of time. We will have to wait to see if the female at 367 Collins Street returns. We have no idea what has transpired. We only know that she has now been gone nearly 3 hours.
Clearly anything that can happen has happened at this nest.
We often say we understand the challenges that the raptors face but the situation at Melbourne is clearly bringing this home. A male Peregrine Falcon is feeding and will try to raise the chicks of another male – without help from their mother who is possibly severely injured or dead – that he probably killed or badly injured. I am immensely impressed. I hope that he figures out a way to be both mother and dad. I think he can if he hunts early in the morning. Gets a pigeon or two in a safe place and stays with the chicks during the heat of the day and keeps them shaded.
As Step-Dad departs, we can only hope that Mum will show up but, if she doesn’t, let us send this young male falcon who has no DNA ties to any of the four eyases on this scrape all our love and positive energy. He recognized that the chicks were hungry and needed food, he saw they needed shade and he turned himself into an umbrella — now can he raise them all alone if that is what is required? He clearly has a bond with them. I hope it is strong. His instincts are to care for them and that is a good thing.
Thank you for being with me. I have not stopped to check on the other nests because of the events here at the Collins scrape. I hope to have a good report for you tomorrow. In the meantime, take care. Stay safe.
Thank you to 367 Collins Street by Mirvac for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.
First a correction! Shame on me for saying we know where Telyn winters. It is not Telyn but, the beautiful Seren from Llyn Clywedog that spends her winters in The Gambia. I knew that and wrote Telyn. Thanks, ‘C’ for alerting me. Much appreciated!
One other clarification that ‘CE’ caught that needs explaining. Osprey fledglings are the raptors that do not require their parents to teach them to hunt or fish. Others do. You will have seen the eagles and hawks showing their fledglings how to hunt prey! I bet Ervie did chase Dad around in his efforts to find some good fishing spots, though!
Ervie, dear Ervie. Port Lincoln posted images after I had sent out my blog last evening so our dear Ervie is up first. Thanks to ‘B’ for alerting me to these.
As so many of you are aware, Port Lincoln Ospreys is working hard to introduce our fish eagles to Southern Australia. They are getting attention from government agencies and, of course, the population is growing to love these birds – many because of our dear Ervie. Here are the latest postings from Port Lincoln and the beautiful pictures of Ervie out fishing with Dad by Fran Solly. There are more on the Port Lincoln Osprey FB page. Head over and have a look. This is the place to continue checking on Ervie and his antics with Dad — or alone.
It is always good to see you, Ervie.
Is there room for you, Ervie??????!!!!!!
Remember when we worried that Ervie would only be able to catch puffers? Well, he has certainly adjusted to fishing without that other talon (I have not seen it fully grown in on the pictures but I would love to be corrected!). That is a beautiful fish. Well done, Ervie.
At the Black Stork nest in the Karula National Forest of Karl II and Kaia, Bonus, the adopted storklet of Jan and Janika, Bonus, fledged first today. He was followed by Volks who hears Bonus in the forest and flies off to the left.
Both returned to the nest. Ilks is looking at his reflection in the camera. Will you fly next? So funny when they find themselves. After fledging the Black Storks will stay at least a week around the nest being fed. If the food is plentiful they may stay longer before venturing out to find food for themselves and beginning migration.
As ‘B’ says, it is hard to beat the WBSE for cuteness. SE30 is a bit of a corker. When it was 2 days old, 30 beaked at 29. Not a good thing to do. We have all worried about 30 but unless there is an unexpected ‘something’, they should both be fine. SE30 gives as good as it gets and they both fool around with one another and then seem to stop before it gets too rough.
Chubby little bottoms. Their soft down on the head is giving way to pin feathers and the feathers are coming in nicely along the wings. They will begin to do a lot more preening as things get itchy. You can see their black talons and those big clown feet getting started. So cute.
Of the streaming cams in Australia, we now have the WBSE eaglets and the first egg at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge for Mum and Dad as of yesterday. We are awaiting the beginning of the season for Peregrine falcons Xavier and Diamond and the Melbourne CBD – 367 Collins Street. Xavier and Diamond are amping up the bonding in the scrape! Eggs before the end of the month?
The only chick on the Landscape Arboretum platform at the University of Minnesota fell off yesterday. It has not fledged. Here is the video of that incident. This could have turned out badly – and would have if not for the quick actions at finding the chick and getting it back on the nest. Thanks to all involved!
Boris and Titi (yet to fly) on the Janakkalan nest in Finland. 9 August 2022. Handsome!
All of the White Storklings of Betty and Bukacek have fledged. They seem to spend their time finding the parents and following them back to the nest for good feedings.
Look carefully. Bukacek is flying into the nest from the left (right above the grassy area at 930 on the nest).
All of the storklings came to the nest quickly so as not to miss a meal.
All of the UK chicks have fledged. This year the three at Foulshaw Moss did not get the best attention from me – in terms of publicizing the nest activities here on the blog. Last year I followed every move because of the third hatch – Blue 463 who survived and did extremely well. Waiting for her return next year! The Cumbrian Wildlife Trust have put out a very nice blog with an overview of the nest activities including some links to videos.
There appears to have been a fledge this morning at the Fortis Exshaw Osprey platform near Canmore Alberta. Thanks ‘H’ for the tip off! They seem to all be relatively equal – perhaps the others will fly today. You can see Mum looking on over the nest at her three beautiful chicks from the perch.
The fledge was a quick take off, fly around the nest and return landing on the right side.
I am counting a fledge as a flight off the nest and a return. In my mind, the chicks jumping up or getting to the many perches is equivalent to branching for Eagles, not a full blown official fledge. The real question is how far away is the perch? It is too difficult to tell. Mum certainly looks small and if it is a distance, then it might be counted as a fledge. If that is the case, then there were two fledges at Canmore this morning so far.
Big Red, Arthur, and L2 have all been accounted for by Suzanne Arnold Horning this week. Excellent news. Still no recent updates on L3 or L4.
L2 in the top picture screaming for a prey item and Big Red and Arthur calmly relaxing in the second.
Everyone remains curious as to how Victor got so much zinc in his system that he almost died. The Institute for Wildlife Studies has indicated that there are fishing lures coated with zinc. Thanks ‘B’. Here is the posting on the chat at the IWS. The question still remains: how much zinc does a fledgling eagle have to ingest to almost kill it? I do not know the answer to that question but I hope to find out.
The posting of the images of Little Bit 17 prompted a lot of mail. Everyone is thrilled and so very reassured that it is our little tenacious eagle. So grateful to the boots on the ground for chasing after this family and sharing their photos and videos with us on the Notre Dame Eagles FB.
‘CE’ had a very interesting analogy that seems quite fitting given the sponsors of the camera and the university that they are associated with – Notre-Dame. CE noted that the image of Little Bit looks like a Franciscan Friar with his friar’s crown. He said, “In the 5th century, the tonsure was introduced as a distinctive sign. In the East, the Pauli tonsure was used (all hair was cut), in the West, the Petri tonsure (only the top of the head was shaved). This was also called Corona Christi (Crown of Christ). Since the 16th century, the tonsure of regular clerics has been reduced to a small circle.” Friar Little Bit. It sounds nice.
Thank you so much for joining me today. It is lovely to have you with us and the birds. I will continue to monitor the nests during the day. Tomorrow I am heading north for two days to count and enter the GPS for the Bald Eagle nests in and around Hecla Island. That information will be sent to David Hancock whose foundation monitors bald eagle nests in Canada. I hope to get some good images of the adults and juveniles before they leave for their winter homes. There will not be a newsletter tomorrow morning but I will try my best to get some images out to you tomorrow evening. Please take dare. I look forward to seeing you again soon.
I want to thank everyone who wrote in and sent me news. I still have some of your images to post! Much appreciated. I want to also thank the following for their streaming cams and/or posts or their photographs that I used for my screen captures: Fran Solly and the Port Lincoln Ospreys, Suzanne Arnold Horning, the Notre-Dame Eagles FB, the Eagle Club of Estonia and Looduskalender, Mlade Buky White Storks, Fortis Exshaw, the Finnish Osprey Foundation, the IWS, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam, Landscape Arboretum Ospreys, and Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, Sydney Olympic Park.
Good Morning Everyone. I hope the start of the week was a good one as we celebrate the rescue of Victor at the Fraser Point nest in the Channel Islands.
Here is the latest news on the Fraser Point eaglet of Andor and Mama Cruz:
As new birds go into wildlife rehab, it is easy to forget some that remain in care. At the Pitkin County Osprey nest, both chicks were pulled off the nest when the female’s talon was tangled in nest material that had fishing line. Here is an image of the chick in care and below it is the mass of fishing line and nest material that came off. One chick died. This one will be in rehab for some time and will not be returned to the nest area as the parents will have migrated when it is ready to be released.
How possible is it for every nest that is on a streaming cam to have the nest material examined and any fishing line, hooks, or other dangerous items removed when the camera gets its annual maintenance? That would help – it certainly won’t keep new items from coming on the nest but it would go a long ways to mitigating issues. Then, of course, there is the whole issue of educating the public about fishing line and hooks! And how dangerous they are to the water birds.
There has been no update on Little Bit ND17 this week. Will post as soon as I see one. No news is good news!
The Patuxent River Park Osprey nest 1 is empty. Was there a fledge?
Tonight there is a huge storm with thunder and lighting at the Patuxent River Park #1 nest. It could even scare me! You can see the nest because the lightning is making the entire sky glow.
Yes, it was a fledge at Patuxent River Park and the new flier has returned to the nest to the delight of Mum and Dad.
It has been 25 hours without her brother, Victor. Lillibet is on the nest panting and hot in the California sun.
The mother has returned to the Janakkdan nest in Finland to her two osplets. There has been lots of fish and she has been feeding them. Let us hope that what has been ailing the female is getting better. They are super beautiful and big osplets. It was just lovely to see her and the chicks are getting stronger and older and should be feeding more to themselves. That will certainly help. Mum does look better than the past couple of days. Fingers crossed. Send those good positive warm wishes to her. They help!
The first egg at the Sydney Sea Eagle nest is 35 days old today. Pip watch begins on day 40 which will be July 16/17. Lady and Dad are busy incubating and rolling the eggs. The cam operator gave us a good look. Thank you!
The White-bellied Sea Eagles are the second largest bird of prey in Australia.
Diamond looking out of the scrape at Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia.
The scrape box on the water tower has been used by falcons for the past twelve years. Before that they made their nest on the water tower itself. The first couple were Swift (female) and Beau (male). In 2015, an entirely new couple were in the scrape. They were Diamond and Bula. In 2016 just when their three eggs were hatching, Bula disappeared and was presumed dead. Xavier means ‘savior’. He came along, just like Alden, right at the moment he was needed. He saved the breeding season. Xavier provided prey for Diamond and the chicks. He proved to be a very capable mate and Diamond accepted him with wonderful bonding displays in the scrape. Xavier is a darling. This will be Diamond and Xavier’s 6th breeding season. Diamond is at least eight years old and Xavier is at least seven years old.
The average life expectancy of a peregrine falcon in the wild is often considered to be quite low, 2-4 years. Our Princess in Winnipeg lived to be 19 years old. It is unclear to me how accurate that 2-4 years estimate is.
The other peregrine falcon nest in Australia is in Melbourne. They will start streaming nearer to hatch once eggs have been laid. It is quite interesting to watch the rural nest of Xavier and Diamond with the urban one in Melbourne.
Do you like Great Horned Owls? Would you like to learn more about their lives on the prairies? Here is a free Zoom talk that you might wish to join.
Louis and Dorcha’s two osplets were ringed yesterday. They have two girls! LW6 was 1760g with a wing of 300mm and LW5 weight was 1910g with a wing of 350mm.
Chick LP8 fledged at Loch of the Lowes today. In celebration of this achievement, Louis brought in a fabulous fish! Congratulations LOTL.
The three girls at the Dyfi Nest of Idris and Telyn are really hovering. Who will be next to fly?
Thank you so much for joining me this morning. We send our good wishes to L3, Little Bit ND17, the Pitkin Osprey, and Victor as they continue to work hard to get better in care. Stay safe. See you soon.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and/or FB pages where I took my screen captures: the Ojai Raptor Centre, Patuxent River Park, the Finnish Osprey Foundation, Pitkin County FB Page, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, Explore.org and the Institute for Wildlife Studies, Prairie Conservation Action Plan, Friends of Loch Arkaig, People’s Postcode Lottery, and Woodland Trust and the Dyfi Osprey Project.
It is almost the end of November and in about 25 days there will be at least one bobble head, if not two, on the Fort Myers, Florida Bald Eagle nest of Harriet and M15. Bald Eagles are strikingly beautiful – the gorgeous pure white head of the adult with that large bright yellow beak, espresso brown body plumage and watery light blue eyes. The hatchlings are just as adorable with their light grey down. They are called ‘bobble heads’ because they do not have the strength
While we are waiting for those eggs to hatch in Florida, there is a new streaming cam focused on a small New Zealand falcon, the Karearea.
They are adorable. Thanks Sharon Dunne for mentioning this new cam. The chicks are delightful! Here is the link:
Here is a short video of the chicks trying to get settled in the nest cup.
The Kareara are indigenous to New Zealand. At present, they are very vulnerable. They believe that there are between 5-8,000 birds in the whole of New Zealand. Their threats are loss of habitat, cats, mustelids (they are like wolverines), and hedgehogs. Hedgehogs like their eggs.
The falcons have also been found on several islands but, the area with the highest population is the Kaingaroa Forest between Rotorua and Taupo on New Zealand’s central North Island. You can see Taupo on the map above. The Kaingaroa Forest is the largest forest plantation in New Zealand and is the second largest forest in the Southern Hemisphere. It is 190,000 hectares. The first trees were planted in the early 1900s. They are harvested for the construction industry.
The adults are 40 cm and 50 cm in length. Like almost all raptors, the females are larger than the males.
In fact, the female can weigh almost twice as much as the males who weigh between 240 g and 350 grams. The females are between 410 g and 720 grams. They cannot fly nearly as fast as the Peregrine Falcons but the Karearea do reach speeds of up to 100 kmh. They are also capable of catching prey that is larger than they are. Wow! They do not eat carrion (dead animals). Their diet consists of mammals, lizards, birds, and insects. These small falcons hunt by watching from a high point flying fast, grasping the prey with their talons and then killing it with a bite to the neck.
Oh, I hope that you enjoy these adorable little falcons. It is a perfect time to watch them. The Port Lincoln lads will be taking the fish deliveries off the nest to eat them soon. Ervie has already tried fishing and last night he slept on the post not in the nest. He is growing up! No word yet on who will be the Royal Cam family and Cilla Kinross is planning to hunt in unexpected places for Yurruga. And one of my favourite Bald Eagle couples, Gabby and Samson, have been working on their nest. Oh, they are a stunning pair.
Thank you so much for joining me. Take care. See you soon.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or their FB pages where I took my screen captures: Northeast Florida Bald Eagle Nest and the AEF and Southwest Florida Bald Eagle Nest and the D Pritchett family.
I want to thank ‘L’ for asking if I would share parts of that amazing book Australian Birds of Prey by Penny Olsen. I am so happy to do this! We can all learn together.
There are 24 species of raptors at the time the book was written in Australia, 1995. I know that many of you are familiar with the Eastern Osprey and the Peregrine Falcon so I want to start with some gorgeous raptors that you might not know. My plan is to introduce 1 or, at the most, 2 species a week. Our first is the Black-shouldered Kite. The scientific name is Elanus axillaris. Just look at that lovely bird. She is simply gorgeous.
The Black-Shouldered Kite is easily identified by the black patch on their wing. There is also a small black underwing patch. This is a small to medium bird with a gorgeous white head, body, and tail. The shoulders are black as is the beak. The back and upper wings are mostly a very pale grey. The eyes are a captivating red! The cere is a brilliant yellow as are the legs and talon.
The female is 36 cm and the male 35 cm in length. The female weighs approximately 300 grams with the male weighing 260 grams when fully grown. As you can see, the female is slightly larger than the male which is known as Reverse Sex Dimorphism.
The Black-shouldered Kite has two front toes and two in the back (as opposed to three forward and one back). The wingspan is 80-100 cm.
In terms of its habitat, the Black Shouldered Kite prefers open grasslands, woodlands, and croplands in lower altitude areas that are within the tropical or temperate climate zones. At the time the book was written the population numbers were climbing.
The birds prefer rodents as their first choice of prey while their second is insects. The Black Shouldered Kite tends to breed when prey numbers are higher. They raise one clutch per year normally between May-November. Clutch sizes vary between 2 and 5 with the majority being 3 or 4 eggs. In a poor year with little or no food, it is expected that Black Shoulder Kites would have a much smaller clutch or lay no eggs at all. Eggs are on average 4.2 cm. This can be compared to an Osprey whose eggs are, on average 6.1 cm long. Eggs are incubated for 31 days with chicks fledging at 5 weeks. The chicks will have their adult plumage in one year, after their first moult.
The image below is a juvenile. Notice the rusty brown wash on its head and shoulder. What a beauty. Even though this chick is waiting for food, at 5 weeks it is fully capable and does hunt mice.
As we know, raptors adapt and below the kite is eating a lizard.
Oh, what a beautiful bird! I hope that you have enjoyed learning about one of the raptors that live in Australia (and other parts of Asia). Like every species of bird, the protection of their habitat (and keeping it from fragmenting into small patches) is important to the continuing health of the Black Shoulder Kite. Other threats are egg collectors (yes, they still exist), pesticides, rodenticides, and electrocution on power lines.
Thank you so much for joining me today. Take care. See you soon!
My intention had been to go to the nature centre to check on the geese and ducks but that didn’t happen. First, a note came in my mail about a new book by Ron Dennis and second, I spent way too much time talking about bird feeders, seed, and trays at my local seed store.
First up is Roy Dennis’s latest book, Mistletoe Winter.
The description on the web site says:
Times of darkness offer opportunities to reflect. In Mistletoe Winter, Roy Dennis offers his reflections on the natural world from the past year – from the welcome signs of change to the ongoing problems we are posing for nature, and what humankind must do about them.
Signed copies can be purchased through roydennis.org I have ordered a copy and will tell you all about it when it arrives.
We feed several hundred birds a day. I am not Kathleening!!!!!! One of the biggest problems is the seed or shells falling on the ground and accumulating, particularly in winter. It is not difficult to clear in the summer and early fall except when it rains. In the winter it is a real chore. We have tried various types of seed and feeders. Today’s experiment is a feeder with a tray that can be screwed on the bottom, covered by a dome, and filled with chipped sunflower seeds. Fingers crossed!
There are definitely changes with the Australian birds. The three osplets at Port Lincoln are looking more and more like juveniles. That is Little Bob there in the very middle looking towards Mum.
I did not see it but it was reported to me that one of the trio mantled a prey delivery at 16:12 yesterday.
Little Bob has turned around and is calling to Dad – helping Mum. How cute. The other two are completely oblivious to what is going on. Maybe Little Bob is in training for its role as the female????
There is a bit of a flurry when Dad arrives.
Little Bob has a nice crest from the blowing wind. It doesn’t look like anyone is mantling at this feeding.
All lined up nicely for the last meal of the day.
The Collins Street Four are one month and one day old. The fluffy down on their backs covering their juvenile feathers is falling off fast! This was early morning. I imagine that there will be more juvenile plumage revealed as the day goes on. It is hard to imagine but in a fortnight these four could fledge.
Yurruga is trying to stand and walk. That cannot be an easy feat in the scrape box. She seems to like to sleep tucked into the corner. Meanwhile, Diamond will move the eggs close together trying to keep them warm. I feel so sad for her.
Little Yarruga face planted in the corner!
Cilla Kinross posted a very short video of Yarruga trying to stand up and walk two days ago.
I want to give you a giggle. Richmond and Rosie are the Ospreys on the Whirly Crane in the Richmond Shipping Yards. Richmond is known for bringing interesting items to the nest. Rosie doesn’t particularly like all of this stuff! This video was posted yesterday on their Throwback Thursday videos. It is very short. Be sure to watch until the very end.
The incident took place in 2017. Thank goodness. If this were live we would all be worried that Richmond is going to get his head caught in that back opening of the cap!!!!!!! That is actually very dangerous for birds.
Thank you for joining me. It is a nice day in the garden. Mr Blue Jay is eating his corn on the cob and Dyson is busy at one of the feeders! Take care everyone.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screenshots: the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge, 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.
There is a superb little video of Dad delivering Mum a pigeon carcass to feed the Melbourne Four. You will notice that the chicks really come to attention when they hear the ee-chupping that signals that a food delivery and meal are eminent.
I wonder how many prey items have been delivered to this nest so far? Awww…cute little dad just melts my heart. He is such a sweetie.
The Port Lincoln Ospreys had 7 feedings yesterday, 7 different fish deliveries. They were getting off to a good start today with a delivery very early in the morning and several quickly following. This nest just amazes me this year. Everyone is doing so well. Just look at those beautiful juvenile feathers growing in and the tails! Those magical tails with their white fringe.
I have been interested in birds since I was a child – enjoying the ones in my family’s garden and feeding them as well as the regular trips to the duck pond. It was not until I was an adult and had an encounter with a female Sharp-shinned hawk that my life catapulted into a different direction. Today I have two very focused ‘bird interests’ – Osprey nests with three hatches and urban raptors.
Today I turned back to thinking about the need for large parks within cities so that there would be a diversity of wildlife. One person who covers the Central Park area of New York City has a great blog with incredible photographs and short videos. His name is Bruce Yolton and he covers all of the birds and sometimes other species that live in the urban parks of New York City. This is the address of his blog, take a look. He has recently written about a beautiful Belted Kingfisher and Great Horned Owl.
Indeed, the very first streaming cam I ever watched was a pair of Red-tailed Hawks raising eyases in a nest on the ledge of New York City University’s library. I learned so much about the challenges that urban wildlife faces watching their daily lives unfold, learning the history of the nest, and chatting with many of the other people watching. Then one year, the female died of rodenticide poisoning. The male tried to incubate the eggs but, as we all know, it generally takes two full time adult birds to raise a nest. It was quite sad. Eventually, I discovered Big Red up at Cornell.
Bruce is an expert on the notorious Pale Male whose nest is on Fifth Avenue across from Central Park. You might have seen the full length documentary The Legend of Pale Male and the fight for this raptor to maintain his nest at this prestigious address. Pale Male is, I believe, coming on 32 years of age. He arrived in Central Park in 1991, thirty years ago. Bruce just uploaded a video of Pale Male hunting in Tupelo Meadow for a Brown Rat.
One of the greatest causes of death to urban raptors is rodenticide. Every time I hear or see a bird of prey eating a rat or mouse I worry that they will die from secondary poisoning. As you well know, raptors kill more rodents than any poisons. So why aren’t the designer poisons banned?
It was, however, Bruce’s video of Chimney Swifts, hundreds of them, flying into the chimneys of New York City that intrigued me. I think it will you, too.
All of the birds are doing well. Really well actually. It is reassuring in a world full of anxieties.
Thank you for joining me. I will put the link to the movie about Pale Male in case you haven’t seen it. If that is the case, grab your favourite snacks and enjoy watching the lobbying for a bird to keep its nest. It is quite remarkable. Take care. See you soon!
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screencaptures: 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac and Port Lincoln Osprey Project.
You can find the Legend of Pale Male here. It is free and well done.
As soon as you read that title, I bet you thought I was going to bombard you with more floofs, cute little Peregrine Falcon eyases. Not today. Surprise! The Port Lincoln Osprey Barge cam operator gave everyone a present by zooming in on the adorable faces of the osplets.
There are several interesting things about these close ups. First, notice that the chicks still have remnants of their egg tooth remaining at the tip of their beak. Can you see the white dot? That will grow and wear off. Ospreys must keep their beaks clean and sharp! You can also see the dark charcoal down that is actually underneath the feathers. It remains while the white fluff disappears. I cannot see any quills but the feathers are growing out of quills that contain blood. Feathers have to have blood to grow. For those who have been reading my blog regularly, they will know that I have carried on and on about how to identify Little Bob. Because he is a third hatch Osprey, I have a special interest in him and his survival and future success so I have to be able to recognize him. So, I discovered that his cere, the part above the beak but before the feathers, has a lot of white. It looks like someone sloshed white paint. That white continues more under Little Bob’s eyes, too. Big Bad Bob has a smooth black cere with little white. As it happens, Big Bob and Little Bob hang out together. So on the left is Big Bob and on the right is Little Bob. Throughout the images below, Big Bob will remain on the left and Little Bob will be on the right. The portraits were snapped off the streaming cam every 5 seconds. There are subtle differences in their expressions.
Oh, just look at that face staring directly at us! So cute.
The angle of Little Bob’s head shows you all the white on the cere and under the eye. It is a degree more than the other chick.
Oh, how I wished Little Bob had looked up like Big Bob earlier.
They are adorable. Several of those will become fridge magnets. Awhile ago now, my ‘eagle expert’ that I consult with my questions, told me that they always make magnets out of their favourite juveniles for each year. I started doing it. It is a super way to wake up in the morning when you open the fridge and say hi to all of them!
There is the following thinking in raptor circles. The first theory is that two females never hang out together. Female raptors do not get along. There is the further belief, since medieval times, that the third, the tiercel, is always a male. Additionally, there is also a belief that the first hatch is a female. If all of those things are true, then Big Bob is a female and Little Bob is a male. In the end, of course, only DNA tests and an egg prove one way or the other. However, since these three will get satellite-paks and will be banded, I am assuming that they will also determine the gender just like was done with Solly and DEW last year. You do not want to band the chicks too early but, the rule is before they are 35 days old. After that, the stress and the approach by humans might force an early fledge. Any earlier and their legs would not be the size of an adult bird and the bands might prove to be problematic.
Tomorrow is the October Big Bird Day. You can help. All you need to do is look out your window for at least 15 minutes and count the birds that you know. You do not have to spend all day and you don’t have to travel if you don’t want to or can’t. Here is the information to sign up. The information helps track declining and increasing population numbers, locate migrate waves, check on how climate change is impacting the birds during migration, etc. Everyone can join in. It is free and it would be very helpful if you did a count. Go to this link for all the information that you need.
There is still only one hatch for Xavier and Diamond. And at 367 Collins Street, Mum finally let dad feed the kids.
It is easy to look at the scrape and think it is a mess. Falcon experts say that couples look for a scrape box where there is a lot of ‘ps’ markings everywhere as they know that means it is a prey rich area.
After Dad fed the little ones, Mum came in with a huge fresh pigeon and fed them again! No one goes hungry on a Peregrine Falcon scrape.
Thank you for joining me today. I hope you enjoyed the close ups of the Ospreys. I have to admit that out of all the birds of prey I am extremely partial to Ospreys, falcons, and hawks. Take care of yourself. Have a lovely weekend. See you soon!
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge and 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac.
If you have come to find out about ceramics today, I am sorry to disappoint. Today’s chatter is about some of the visitors to our garden. One of the reasons that we have remained living in the urban centre of a growing Canadian city is our garden. Twenty years ago a dozen lilac bushes were planted along the east side of the property at the back. There is also a peony bush that thrives despite the fact I am told it is over fifty years old. The wild roses climb about along with a flaming willow inspired by a friend’s in Kelowna, a super tall Brandon cedar, a myriad of thickets and Virginia creeper. There are literally hundreds of birds every day, a pair of Chickadees and Nuthatches, a lone Downy Woodpecker this time of year, two grey squirrels, a red squirrel, and three rabbits. And then, there are ‘them’.
‘Them’ refers to the Sharp-Shinned Hawks. These hawks are small ‘accipiters’. That is they have short round wings and a long tail. When their tail is folded, it appears to be square or notched, with a narrow pale tip. When fanned it is slightly rounded in appearance. Their head is small and rounded (not flat like the Cooper Hawks). Their neck is short and they can rotate their head almost 360 degrees. Their breast is rusty-barred and they have an orange eye. They fly, according to Peterson, in several rapid beats with a short glide. Petersons also says they are better adapted at hunting in the woodlands than most of the other hawks. While several other books on Manitoba birds does not indicate it, Peterson says this: “Habitat: Breeds in extensive forests; in migration and winter, open woodlands, wood edges, and residential areas.” Their food is chiefly birds and occasionally small mammals.
My first encounter was on March 29, 2018, when I came face to face with a female at 10 am – in my nightgown no less. She was perched on one of the sheds that hold the firewood for our wood stove. She was rapidly plucking something and thinking it was ‘the’ rabbit, I ran out in the snow to confirm and discovered- seriously, much to my relief- that the lunch was one of the songbirds. [I need to add here that we do not feed the other animals so they will be a hawk buffet]. She was stunningly gorgeous and quite large. We stared at one another for about sixty seconds. I would like to think that day that our chat might keep her away from the rabbits and realising that hawks are endangered, I recognised that she also had to eat and feed offspring. She and her mate came again in April. The male is much smaller (about 22 cm tall) than the female (at least 35-45 cm tall) and his hunting skills weren’t very sophisticated last year. If this is the same one, he has much improved.
Today, he was successful and then just sat, quite content on the edge of the firewood holder. This appears to be his ‘plucking post’. The hawks catch their prey with their long legs and sharp talons. Normally, he would have left after he finished eating but, today, he was there – frozen still – for about forty-five minutes. The songbirds in the lilacs and the grey squirrel on the suet did not move. At the end of almost an hour, they even got a little squirmy. Some were hiding in the Brandon Cedar. Then the hawk flew away only to return to the thicket some five minutes later. The photo was taken with my iPhone. My presence, less than two metres from him, was not a bother nor were people walking up and down the back lane and cars. Then he left again. We were looking out the window to see if he had returned, talking about how well he was camouflaged, only to be surprised when we looked ‘to our right’ and there, on a 2 x 4 holding a solar panel to the outdoor lights, he was cheekily perched. Several minutes later he swopped past the lilacs and away. It was 4;40pm.
Has climate impacted these hawks? Most of the bird books talk about their migration and the fact that they live in forested areas in the north, not in the City of Winnipeg!