Corn Cob Show Down

It has been an interesting morning in the garden. First, it is wet and cold – again. 8 degrees with a cloudy sky.

Because of the recent rain, all of the old seed and shells were cleared off the deck and put into the bin. Birds can get sick from eating wet mouldy seed. Wet seed encourages bacteria to grow and the diseases can be fatal. I would like to think that birds know better than to eat that wet, sometimes smelly, seed but they do not always, especially if they are ravenous. Over the years we have experimented with many different ways to keep the bird seed dry. Putting a roof or a dome over the feeder works best. Other people recommend mesh feeders so that there is air circulation. I have found that these work best in conjunction with some type of a roof or dome.

The garden birds do not like it when things are cleaned up. Today was no exception! Some of the bowls were left to be cleaned while others were filled. The House Sparrows arrived wanting baths – yes, they take baths when it is 8 degrees C! Others were dismayed to find their bowl empty. We warm the water for them in a heated bird bath during the winter but it is only enough for then to drink with wooden slats placed across so they will not bathe. Thank goodness they do not weigh enough to move those boards about! It is really important to remember as the cold days of fall and winter set in that birds need water to drink. If you put out seed in the winter, they also need water. Yes, they eat the snow but they often need more. See if you can figure out a way to provide it for them.

This is one of the sweetest little House Sparrows. It along with the one above wanting a bath were just darlings.

Grey Squirrel (Bushy) joined everyone on the blocks eating his favourite seeds with big nuts and fruit.

The Slate-Coloured Juncos are still here and they like that fruit and nut seed just as much as the Millet. Sadly, with the wet on the deck and their favourite red carpet, the Millet turns to mush and might make them ill. So it is fruit and nuts today! Hopefully the weather report is right and the sun will be out tomorrow and we will be back to non-seasonal temperatures for a few days so everything can dry.

The plumage of the Slate-Coloured Junco is quite extraordinary when you begin to look closely to the variations of rusty brown over the slate grey.

Mr and Mrs Blue Jay came for the corn cob but were joined later by another Jay. The reaction to that bird seemed to signal that it was an intruder.

Blue Jays are often overlooked. Many dislike them as much as they do House Sparrows. As for me, I adore them both but – because Mr and Mrs Blue Jay have been coming for several years and each summer they bring their surviving fledglings to show us, I am especially attached to them. They eat their corn and love it if they can get a peanut ahead of one of the squirrels.

I found a woman who loves Blue Jays, too. She made a great little video explaining their courtship behaviour. Have a look!

I love the drawing on the top left and the saying: Birds Make Me Happy. As all of us know, that is absolutely true. They bring such joy.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope all of you are well and happy. See you soon.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving from my garden to yours

It is 17 degrees C, clear blue skies, and the birds are chirping their heads off. After two days of grey damp rain, everyone is happy to celebrate and we are all thankful for the wonderful weather.

Thanks to the birds or squirrels there are sunflowers popping up around the planters. The Vermillionaires are for the hummingbirds, and the Cosmos for the bees and butterflies. The thicket in the back of the garden is a favourite place for hiding or cooling off.

I am thankful to each of those that live in or visit our garden every day. There are three different Blue Jays, one Red Squirrel (Little Red), three Grey Squirrels (Baby, Scraggly, and Monk), Mr and Mrs Wood Pecker (he is missing from the images today), Mr Chickadee, and Hedwig, the garden rabbit.

The joy they bring is immense. The Blue Jays have been demonstrating the many ways to clear the kernels off their corn cobs before Scraggly takes the entire cob. Everyone else has also had special seed or suet over the weekend to thank them.

It seemed that half of our City was at the local park today enjoying the beautiful weather and having picnics instead of big elaborate dinners. You could hear laughter all around the pond. Sadly, there was one female Mallard that has a broken wing. I am waiting for someone to bring me the proper pole with netting and we will be out to attempt a rescue to Wildlife Haven.

Of things to be thankful for today, is not only the joy that all of the birds have given me but also for those that dedicate their lives to trying to mend them and get them out in the wild again. Wildlife Haven is certainly one of those!

The trip had been to check on the little Wood Ducks. The one below is an adult female in her summer/fall plumage. Note her striking white eye patch and the yellow line around her eye. She does not, however, have the red iris of the male. She has white streaking on her breast. You can see the blue secondaries.

Indeed, it is very difficult to ID the Wood Ducks at this time of year because there are so many variations occurring.

We know this to be a male because of the red Iris. There is stunning secondaries. In this instance, they look iridescent green at this angle. This is a first year male in his winter plumage.

I was looking for the adult male. The last time I checked he was almost finished his moult and it would be so nice to see him in his magnificent plumage before they leave the pond for their winter homes. He is sleeping up on the bank of Duck Island on the left. You can get a glimpse of how gorgeous he is. Indeed, most of the wood ducks were having a nap. Perhaps they do not like all the people walking about, laughing, having fun.

From my garden to yours, I hope that like us you have family, friends, and critters who delight you and for whom you can say ‘thank you’ every day! Wildlife is wonderful.

Thanks for joining me today. Wish us good luck in getting that female Mallard out of the pond! Take care everyone. See you soon.

Late Friday in Bird World

It is 10:16 in Australia as I begin this short newsletter.

The osplets on the Port Lincoln barge had a small fish between them around 06:15. They have had nothing since and Big Bob is getting a bit restless. Sadly, he has been pecking Little Bob’s neck and Little Bob is going to have to learn to use his backside to protect himself when this happens. So far the beaking has not been too bad but, as all of you know – this Osprey nest makes me nervous. I will not be able to relax until Little Bob is a little older. It seems that Big Bob is trying to establish nest domination. Tiger Mozone wondered on the chat about DNA causing excessive aggressiveness in the chicks. Certainly this nest has a history of that type of behaviour. I also wonder about toxins in the water that enter the fish and stay in the tissue of the Ospreys.

Mom was hopeful around 09:45 and the chicks were in line to eat. Their crops have dropped from the small fish three and a half hours earlier.

The chicks are being fed more fish and for a longer period. What was six minutes a week ago has stretched into 45 minutes at the table. And these chicks will be fine today if a big fish does not come on the nest for a few more hours. The issue is Big Bob who seems to want to press his authority by fighting with the other two. Middle Bob is the clever one (so far) and seems to be able to stay out of the way but Little Bob still needs to learn how to protect itself.

The two older chicks are moving straight into the rapid growth period where they need lots of fish. Little Bob is following as quickly as he can. You can see that he is moving into the reptile phase himself. The dark feathers are coming in and he is losing the down on his head. Big Bob is awfully dark and a bit scary looking! He is the one holding his head the highest and looking towards you.

It is nearing noon, nest time. Dad has come to the nest without a fish. Is there a predator in the area? I actually thought that this nest was relatively free from predators unlike those in Europe and the US that have to deal with Goshawks, Great Horned Owls, etc. Or has Dad arrived to get the meal order from mom?

I couldn’t help myself. I had to check. Dad must have been taking the fish order at 11:25 because he delivered a fish to the nest around 12:25. Thank goodness. Big Bob behaved himself and everyone is getting to eat.

Look at who has his little mouth open wide!

Little Bob ate first. You can see from the crops. Middle and Big will eat next and by the time they finish, Little Bob will be hungry again. I hope that fish is big enough!

The big news over in New Zealand is that Tiaki has fledged on 25 September. She was 244 days old. Both her and Plateau Chick left the headland but, it has not been completely determined when that was. By the sat-pak it seems that Tiaki might have fledged at night but sometimes that sat-pak GPS requires adjustment. We all wish her a wonderful safe life, full of fish, and a return to us in five years time.

You can follow her satellite GPS. I will put the link below the fledging video.

Cornell Bird Lab caught the moment:

Here is the link so that you can check on Tiaki. Her satellite tracker should continue working for a year until her first moult. You can follow her dad, LGK also. His tracker should be good til he moults – another couple of months. There are only six chicks remaining to fledge.

https://my.wildlifecomputers.com/data/map/?id=6008d9ba31af59139976bcfe

The migration continues in Manitoba with everyone is excited. There are dawn breakfasts and evening dinners celebrating the arrival and departure of the Canada Geese – and, of course, the swans and all the other ducks and birds. Today marked the return of the Dark Eyed Junco to Winnipeg. Oh, people are so happy to see these adorable little birds. There are several sub-species of Junco and the one that visits Manitoba in the summer to breed is called the Slate-coloured Junco.

The Juncos love my red outdoor carpet. Tomorrow or the next day there will be 50 or more hopping about on it and jumping in and out of the dill. They love it if we ‘intentionally’ spill some seeds on the carpet. They are better than a vacuum clearing them up if we do. They do not feed at the feeders but are also seen on the ground for invertebrates. Isn’t this a real cutie? It was definitely not shy. The image was shot through a triple pane of glass so as not to disturb the bird. It seemed to not notice me.

Today, Mr Blue Jay had two other Blue Jay male visitors that wanted to help him eat his cob of dried corn.

By the time dusk arrives, the Jays and the squirrels – both red and grey – had made a real mess of the seeds. I think one of the squirrels wanted some of that corn but the Blue Jays were not having it. They would eat 3 or 4 kernels and then take some away in their beak. It was fascinating watching them through the windows.

Little Red decided it was easier to get up in the lilac bushes and balance himself on the bird feeder and eat his dinner there. Contending with three male Blue Jays was not something he wanted to do. So he kept quiet and ate and ate. He also doesn’t get on with the Grey Squirrels. He has picked a good place to eat in peace and quiet.

Awwww. Look at those tiny little nails.

It was a good day. All of the garden wildlife save for the rabbit were accounted for. There were also several new species of sparrow in the lilac bushes eating seeds. There were Chipping sparrows as well as Clay Coloured Sparrows today.

Hatch watch is coming soon for the 367 Collins Street Peregrine Falcons. WBSE 27 and 28 are doing well. 28 actually managed to get a prey delivery today. Here is a short video showing 28 mantling the prey and then wanting to share it with his big sib. They have their beautiful juvenile plumage and are so adorable.

I also checked in on the Bald Eagles who are working on their nests. Will put in a report some time this weekend. I know that many of you are anxious for Samson and Gabby, Harriet and M15, as well as Jackie and Shadow to get those nests built and those eggs laid! And while the last of the Albatross are fledgling, it will not be that long til the other adults return to Taiaroa Head to make their nests and lay their eggs for the 2022 season. Sometimes time feels like it melts in front of our eyes.

Thank you for joining me. I have promised myself that I am not going to worry about the Port Lincoln Ospreys tonight. The crazy thing is that I wish the winds would pick up. Dad seems to be able to fish better when that is the case. Yes, I know. That is a crazy idea. Take care all of you. Stay safe. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC, and Wildlife Computers.