There has been, so far, not a speck of drama on Daisy’s nest on a cool, wet Sydney Saturday. From the last posting, you will know that Daisy’s vision allowed her to get off the eggs and have a week break in the middle of the night, from 2:45-3:30.
She anticipated the sea eagles might arrive for dawn but, no one came. Maybe it is too wet and soggy for them to go into the forest to try and catch the stranger using their nest? Or maybe it is Saturday and Dad is taking a day off. That would be splendid.
When I asked my friends who normally watch the sea eagles using this nest if they thought that Daisy would still be on this nest incubating her eggs for the 18th day, everyone said no way. They believed that Daisy would be evicted early on. If you have kept up, you will know that the Sea Eagles behaviour has been one of confusion and, increasingly, perplexity. But they don’t appear hostile. I worry more about the Ravens who would love to eat those eggs that Daisy keeps rolling or, better still, grab a duckling right at hatch. The Ravens have been around today but left just as quickly as they came and made a ruckus.
It was so quiet in fact that Daisy took a short break from 9:11:27 to 10:03:59. Just as she has done over the last few days, she cautiously approached her nest while doing some preening.
And it would seem that she is rolling her eggs much more today than she has previously. This morning alone, between the first roll at 7:22 and the last one at 11:34, she did one more big roll after she returned to the nest at 10:03. Does the frequency of rolling the eggs increase as hatch approaches? or does Daisy roll the eggs more often so none of them will get soaked with the rain?
Wild duck eggs are said to have a thicker membrane than domestic birds. One of the reasons that care is needed is so the pores in the eggs do not get clogged. Apparently sitting in a lot of water can do that. If in water for too long, the pores that help regulate the air can be blocked. It is interesting, however, that ducks naturally get wet. In fact, people that raise ducks and artificially hatch their eggs, note that duck eggs require at least 55% humidity. Some actually spray the eggs in their incubators. So it would seem that Daisy does that when she returns from dabbling. The moisture remaining on her feathers coats the eggs. Well done, Mother Nature. You think of everything. Certainly the humidity in the forest is 55% or higher. Today it is 100% again! Not a surprise. Still showers and it is cool, around 21.6.
Daisy is taking more frequent shorter breaks. She is off again at 12:32. She tries very hard to completely cover up her eggs but the down is wet. The little duck tried to pull everything over so that nothing would see her precious eggs.
About thirty minutes after Daisy left to go and eat, the Unkindness showed up at the nest. The first raven looked around and then went over to the nest of eggs. One egg was removed.
That egg was broken and eaten. It was a viable egg with the growing form of a duckling that could be seen as the raven consummed it. We now know that Daisy was sitting on a nest with at least one duckling that would have hatched had this tragedy not happened.
More Ravens came.
Eggs were carried away til all of the eggs were gone.
Daisy returned to the nest. She stopped and ate the egg shell. Remember egg shells give the birds their calcium and Daisy would have depleted much of hers forming the eggs and brooding.
Daisy went to the nest and for the past hour she has been looking for her eggs. She is making the nest larger and larger as she tries to find them.
Daisy has been looking for her eggs for more than an hour and a half since she returned to the nest. While other birds, such as eagles, have mates to protect the nest, Daisy had to do this all alone.
I feel a huge sadness for this little duck who made her nest in the big sea eagle’s nest. I have always thought that she might have already lost a clutch of eggs with a nest on the ground so that was why she chose this unusual spot in the forest.
There is some information about Pacific Black Ducks that says the male helps protect the nest while the female is away. The male was only seen on this nest back in December when it was with Daisy on the first visit. Perhaps he has died. The life expectancy of Pacific Black Ducks is very short, two years.
Daisy remains on the nest. She continues to look for her eggs and to dig the nest a little deeper and wider in her search. She continues to talk to the missing eggs in the same way she talked to them when she was rolling them around today.
It is a sad ending for a little Pacific Black Duck who confused the sea eagles and defied the odds of lasting a single day. Daisy has been on the nest now for nearly a month and in about 8 days her ducklings would have hatched had all gone well.
I do not know how long Daisy will stay on the nest looking for her eggs or how she will process her grief. But I know that we all are glad she is alive and that she will live to lay more eggs. She has proven what a good little mom she is!
Thank you to all of you who believed in Daisy. Thousands of people from all around the world joined together to wish this little duck well. She was very brave and outsmarted the sea eagles many times.
Daisy, we wish you good health and many ducklings in the future! Your presence has enriched all of our lives. We just hoped the ending of this story would have been different.