There is something so joyful about a first time eagle parent and Akecheta sure gets the gold star for staying diligent and being ever so excited today. Akecheta wears a wing tag with the number A-61. He hatched at the Los Pinos nest on Santa Cruz Island in 2016 so he is six years old this year. He also has a silver band on his left leg with his numbers and an orange band on the right. His mate is Thunder and she wears the wing tag K-91. She hatched at the Two Harbours nest on Catalina Island in 2009. She is 13 years old this year. Akecheta has been Thunder’s mate since the 2020 breeding season. They had many problems including Akecheta, at the young age of four, not really realizing the importance of nest security. Eggs were lost to ravens – two clutches – in 2020 and in 2021 issues with eggs in nesting materials. This year is very different so far! In a good way. Akecheta is smitten with those babies and is being devoted to his family both in getting fish and in security. It is beautiful.
There were 3 eggs laid in the 2022 season on 29 Jan, 1 Feb and 5th February. The first two eggs have hatched on the 8th and 10th of March. Looking for the third to hatch on 12 March. Oh, goodness. What a difference in dates! Today the mods were happy to report that E2 had its beak wide open for food at 12:36:02 and that E1 had its first poop shot at 13:04:56. If you read about bonking on this chat, just smile. The nestlings’s vision and muscles are not developed. It is not intentional at this point.
Watching out for the Ravens that are flying around.
Such happiness – two fuzzy babies. Thunder is so happy!
An Eagle kiss between Thunder and Akecheta. Beautiful.
Akecheta is so excited and wants to do everything! Brooding, security, and fish deliveries!
Sweet little baby.
Yes, you are very cute. Look at that hairdo!
Proud Papa. Thunder can hardly get in any brooding time.
Why do some of the eagles have wing tags and not others? The ones with wing tags were part of an effort to reintroduce bald eagles into the region since they were wiped out by DDE prior to the 1980s. Here is a really thorough article on the hacking effort of reintroduction that both Thunder and Akecheta were part of:
Everyone is pretty much aware that there are at least 400,000 barrels of DDT that were dumped into the water around the islands. Some of these are leaking. It might turn out that the eagles and their chicks become part of an even greater study as to the continuing impact of this deadly chemical on their chicks and their future breeding.
Today, this family has just put a glow on my face today! I wanted to share that with you. Here is the link to their camera:
Thank you to Explore.org and the Institute for Wildlife Studies for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.
Just some background before breaking into the good news.
Avian Pox (AP) is a slow-developing bird disease caused by a virus belonging to a subgroup of poxviruses, the Avipoxvirus. There is no cure. AP is an international problem for every species of bird. One of the first ways of noticing that a bird has AP is the appearance of lesions on the non-feathered areas such as the face, feet, mouth and beak area, as well as the upper respiratory tract. Sometimes these lesions resemble warts and other times they look like blisters. Birds catch AP from mosquitoes, by eating infected prey, or being in contact with other birds or surfaces contaminated by AP. Researchers believe that the disease ranges from mild to severe but that it is rarely fatal (Wrobel et al. 2016). Birds are more likely to die if the virus impacts its respiratory tract. Additionally, secondary infections can be fatal. The USFWS found that the number of cases occurs less frequently in dry climates while the highest number are in hot and humid climates such as Florida and Louisiana. Those climatic conditions are perfect environments for mosquitoes.
One of the biggest issues is that there has not been a large study of Avian Pox in the Bald Eagle population. The study conducted by Wrobel et al found that the frequency of raptors having Avian Pox is far greater than the outward signs such as lesions would suggest. Of the 142 raptor specimens in their research project, ten were Bald Eagles. Of those, 30% had antibodies related to Avian Pox. The researchers admit that their study, which focused on urban and suburban raptors admitted to a Central Illinois clinic, had more small raptors such as Kestrels and Barred Owls. What they did learn is that 50% of all of the raptors had antibodies indicating that they had, at one time, Avian Pox or Conjunctivitis (effects the eyes such as we have seen on SWFL E17 and E18). That is a far higher amount than the scientists expected and their results indicate that the number of raptors exposed to either or both AP and Conjunctivitis is far more prevalent than anticipated. The researchers said that the free living or wild birds in the study indicate that most raptors are able to ‘mount a full adaptive immune response against these pathogens’ (291). This, of course, is excellent news for our raptors if it is correct.
As you are aware, if you have been reading my column or following the NEFL Eagle Nest, the eaglet N24 was observed by individuals of the American Eagle Federation to have Avian Pox on 20 February. On 27 February, the lesions were noticed by many people. Some posted videos expressing concern on YouTube such as Lady Hawk. I mounted a campaign in support of N24 in case an intervention became absolutely necessary. Neither Avian Pox or Conjunctivitis are caused directly by humans. The eaglets at the SWFL Nest, E17 and E18, had Conjunctivitis and were treated by CROW. Their eyes fully healed and they were returned to the nest. It was hoped that little N24 could receive similar help should it respiratory system become compromised.
The good news today, 2 March 2021, is that N24 has a very good appetite. N24 cast a pellet at 6:32 am. It is now 6:40 pm on the nest. There have been at least two feedings. (Pantry was bare til first feeding) The first was around 10:36. Samson brought a fish and started feeding N24. Gabby took over at 10:50 with Samson leaving and returning with another fish. The parents have been very attentive to the little one over the past few days. And, yes, of course. They knew he was sick! All parents know when their kids are not feeling well.
The second feeding began around 4:21pm.
A third feeding began around 5:46. A few minutes earlier Gabby offered fish but N24 did not appear interested in getting out of the egg cup to eat. He is leaning on ‘the egg’. Around 5:47 Gabby begins feeding the eaglet stretching to reach it in the nest. N24 has a large crop.
I can see no further lesions on N24’s face or mouth area. In fact, it appears that the lesion on the left of the face is reduced. Can you see me jumping up and down?
I am not a vet or a wildlife rehabber. Every research paper that I can find on AP indicates that the lesions can persist for 1-4 weeks. It has been ten days since the first lesions were noticed. I am hopeful that N24’s immune system is really working to heal this lovely ‘cutie pie’ whose permanent name will be Uno, Scout, Kendi, Storm, Journey, or Legacy. Voting for AEF members ends on March 5.
Just to give you a laugh and to thank you for joining me today, ‘the egg’ became quite an amusement today. N24 leaned on it for a feeding, brooded it in the nest while eating, and even Gabby wasn’t sure what to do with it all the time.
E. Wrobel et al, ‘Seroprevalence of Avian Pox and Mycoplasma Gallisepticum in Raptors in Central Illinois’, The Journal of Raptor Research 50 (3): 289-294.
Field Guide to Wildlife Diseases: General Field Procedure and Disease of Migratory Birds, US Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Resource Publication 167 (1987): 135-141.
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.
It is a soggy day in Sydney, Australia. Rain is falling and the temperature is 20 degrees C. What a change from a few days ago! Wish I knew if Daisy liked it cooler or hotter. Do ducks have a preference? They certainly don’t mind water and their down nest would get wet if Daisy built in on the ground.
For those of you dropping in but who haven’t been able to catch up with Miss Daisy’s news, I want to focus, for a bit, on the impact of the showers and WBSE Lady’s tearing the down off Daisy’s nest. Daisy doesn’t look like she is sitting on that lovely fluffy nest any longer. Daisy has collected all of the tossed down that she could – which was a lot – and has brought it back onto her nest. Just as quickly as it dries, it rains again. Then the eiderdown gets soaked and turns into a soaking blob. The heat from Daisy’s body will eventually dry it but the forecast is for four more days of rain and cool weather.
There is that saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. I am a very visual person as I imagine many of you are. So I am posting two images in order for you to easily see the impact that rain has on the eiderdown that Daisy has plucked off her breast to line her nest. The top one shows Daisy on her nest when it is dry. Notice how thick and fluffy the eiderdown is. Daisy looks like she is brooding on a cloud.
The image below is not focused but you will still be able to see the impact of the rain on the insulating down. The down is no longer fluffy. The wetter it gets the more it loses its volume. You can also see that the eggs can no longer be covered leaving them vulnerable to predators. Daisy does try hard to move other plant material on top. She has only so many leaves to use. If you think about it, she has not pulled any twigs over her eggs. She might intuitively know that those sticks of wood could break her eggs.
It is right after noon on the nest and it has been a relatively quiet morning for Daisy. She did have several visits from Ravens that sent her hunkering down on her eggs. They flew back and forth around the nest tree and into the forest and back again for about fifteen minutes. They were not chasing the sea eagles but when Daisy hears their caw she really pays attention.
After the Ravens had their turn disturbing Daisy, the Butcher Birds came to the nest tree. Butcher Birds are songbirds. They are similar to Magpies. The grey ones only live in Australia. They have a dark mask or an eye stripe just like Daisy! It is thought that these black stripes or masks help to block the sun for the birds so they can hunt or dabble better. If you know about American football, you might have seen the players smearing a black substance under their eyes. That also helps with the glare and I bet, a long time ago, humans learned that trick from birds. They have brown eyes and legs. The pointed beak, with a hook, is also grey. They can be very aggressive. They live in forests and mangroves feeding on insects and small mammals, fruits and seeds. They are known to also eat lizards or other small reptiles.
Daisy waits to go dabbling and to the bathroom. Around 15:31, she begins to gather the leaves and tuck in the down to try and cover her eggs as best she can.
She is in no rush. The ravens and the sea eagles are not about. She can take her time. Because it is cool, she will want to try and get as much insulation as she can over the eggs along with the leaves that she has been pulling toward her all day.
Daisy leaves her nest at 15:31:45.
Despite the down being somewhat soggy in places, Daisy does a really good job concealing her eggs. Notice the two identical leaves across from one another. Daisy has done a marvellous job at decorating her temporary nest with the terracotta covered foliage.
So far, except for the anxiety produced by the Ravens’ visit, Daisy has had a relatively quiet day. She has waited til later today to go hunting for food. It is now 21 degrees C and 100% humidity with rain. Sun set is around 20:04. That is four and a half hours away. It is certainly safer for Daisy to go foraging as late as she can because she would miss the sea eagles if they came right before dusk. However, WBSE Dad has been known to show up around 17:00 on several occasions. Let us hope that no one comes, the eggs stay covered, and Daisy returns in about an hour and a half. Hopefully those eggs will still be warm. It is too bad we can’t somehow slip a little electric or solar blanket in that nest for them!
Thank you for stopping in to check and see how Daisy is doing. It is currently day 17 of incubation. The hatch window opens on day 26. So many did not believe that Daisy would still have a nest or any eggs. No one knew how the sea eagles would react. Many thoughts the ravens would force Daisy off the nest and they would then devour the eggs. But so far, none of that has happened. The sea eagles have been confused and have not harmed the eggs other than the one dad ate. So, there could be hope for some of the eggs to be viable. Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the little fuzz balls jump off the old Ironbark Tree nest? Ducklings born in a big sea eagle nest. Puts a smile on your face!
Thank you again for joining us to find out what is happening with the brave little duck whose nest is in an old Ironbark Tree in the Sydney Olympic Park forest. We are so glad you stopped by.
Thank you to Sea Eagle cam, BirdLife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the streaming cameras where I captured my screen shots.
Daisy had no more than returned from her dabbling at 16:18:07 and settled in for a wee bit of a rest when the ravens sounded an alarm at 17:55:58. Daisy stretched her neck to listen.
In the image below, Daisy is alerted by the sound of the ravens approaching. Remember that the ravens often follow the White-Bellied sea eagles into the forest.
Daisy stretches her neck. The distance from the river roost of the sea eagles is only about 1.2 kilometres to the nest in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park.
The sea eagles fly really fast and there is no time for Daisy to cover up her nest. She hurries off to the left of the nest tree tree. Daisy is just a blur in the image below.
You may remember that it has been raining and that the sea eagles have come to the nest sometimes tearing off the down. Lady made a mess the other day and Daisy took her time and moved all of the eiderdown back onto her nest. But this evening she did not have time to cover the eggs and it is cool in the forest, only around 21.8 degrees C.
You might also remember that wet down. Look how fluffy it is now. The temperature from Daisy’s body and the wind as well as the rain stopping have fluffed up the down again so it now has its insulating values back. This is so good!
The sea eagles are still mystified about the little nest holding seven eggs right in the centre of their big nest. Dad arrives and looks. He can see the eggs instantly but no Daisy! He stands and stares at them. What are these eggs doing in my nest? I sometimes giggle because it reminds me of a story that I my mother and grandmother read to me when I was little and, in turn, I read it to my children: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Do you know that children’s story?
WBSE Dad moves cautiously towards the eggs.
Dad leans down to take a closer look. The only eggs that he has ever know are those of his eaglets that Lady lays. But these are not Lady’s eggs! but they are in my nest!
Again, ever so slowly he moves towards Daisy’s nest just staring into that beautiful nest cup.
And then he sticks his beak in! Oh, no. Is he going to try and roll out an egg to eat it like he did before?
In the same amount of time that Dad took to closely inspect those big white eggs, he raises his head and looks off the nest. Does he know that the owner of the eggs is watching him? does Dad think they are a threat? does Dad associate Daisy with these eggs, a little innocent Pacific Black Duck?
And then he looks down again. Each time Dad looks into the nest cup he rolls the eggs for Daisy! Thank you, Dad sea eagle.
The Dad raises his head and looks off in the other direction. You will remember that Daisy flew around the nest quacking the last time both sea eagles visited the nest. She was very frightened but also, as much as she was scared, she knew she needed to get back to her single focus, incubating her eggs.
The behaviour of the sea eagles towards the little duck’s nest is of great interest to anyone wanting to learn about bird behaviour. No one that I know of has had a close look at the interaction between the largest birds in Australia and a tiny little duck that doesn’t belong in the forest.
Dad simply is stumped. He stands for the longest time staring at the eggs. Then he rolls them one more time and turns around and gets back on a branch of the nest tree.
Dad stands on what is called the parent branch looking around. When Dad and Lady raise their little eaglets in this nest, this is the branch that they roost on to protect the little ones. It is also the first branch that the eaglets attempt to walk and fly to as they get ready for their fledge.
Is Dad looking for Daisy? is he looking for a bigger bird? He flies off the parent branch and back towards his roost on the Parramatta River at 18:06. His visit lasted four minutes. Doesn’t seem like he is too concerned, does it?
Daisy might have taken the opportunity to go and forage some more. She does not return to her eggs until 19:27, an hour and nineteen minutes after Dad has flown out of the forest.
Still she is ever so cautious. In fact, Dad could be lurking off camera hoping to catch her. She stops and looks this way and that.
The rain started between the time Dad left and Daisy returned. Her beautiful fluffy down is all wet again! Let’s hope that her eggs did not cool down too quickly. That would be just so sad for our brave little duck.
And then she stops and listens. Dad was on the nest remember for four minutes and Daisy takes four minutes to make certain that he is no longer a threat.
Daisy slowly lowers herself onto her wet nest to warm her eggs. Remember that eggs need to be held at 37.5 degrees to hatch.
The sun has set and the light on the soggy nest has changed. Daisy knows that the sea eagles will not be back again tonight. Except for BooBook Owl, Daisy can rest. And we know Boo is just curious about Daisy. He is not going to hurt her.
Indeed, I often wonder what the other animals in the forest are thinking when they see the sea eagles coming and going and Daisy returning to her eggs time after time. Daisy is afraid of them but not enough to keep her from brooding. Her hormones and instincts and her entire self are tied to the hatching of the eggs now. She is ‘hard wired’ for incubation.
Thank goodness. Daisy had a very quiet night. It is now just before dawn. Because the sea eagles could have spent the night at the river roost, Daisy is being very careful to listen for the vocalizations of the other birds. She can tell which ones mean the eagles are coming. Daisy has learned much about the forest.
It’s after 7:30 and the sea eagles have not shown up today. It is rainy. The area around where Daisy has her egg cup is soaked with water.
Daisy has a visitor. Can you see the little grey and white bird with the black mask and yellow beak peeking down to see Daisy? Look carefully in the top right corner. They are grey with a black head, an orange or yellow beak and yellow feet. There are white tips on the tail feathers.
It is a Noisy Miner. These birds are loud and create all kinds of havoc in the forest. They like to chase other birds away. They eat insects but are also opportunist especially in cities. They are called ‘honeyeaters’.
The Noisy Miner is a nuisance to Daisy because it can be so loud but it is not such a threat that I am aware of, certainly not like the Ravens and the Currawongs. I am not even sure the sea eagles are a threat anymore. It is really that they keep Daisy off the nest and away from her incubating duties and her eggs are exposed and could get too cool to hatch.
The golden glow of the morning is moving across the nest.
It is going to be a cool day for Daisy and her eggs. The morning temperature is 19.4 degrees C. It is not supposed to get higher than 20 C with rain again for today. It sure is a change from when it was 40 degrees C a few days ago. Then we were worried about the eggs getting too hot. Today we worry about exposure and cold.
Everyone send Daisy your positive energy. Our brave little duck sitting on the big sea eagle nest needs all of it. Daisy is grateful to all her friends who check in to see how she is doing. From around the world – from Canada and the United States, Mexico, Brazil to Australia, Singapore, Australia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Poland, Denmark, Germany, and France – each of you has joined to wish Daisy good luck. Thank you!
An update on Daisy’s Day in about nine hours. Please check back.
Thank you also to the Sea Eagle cam, BirdLife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the camera that provides the feed for me to take my scaps.
Before I start with today’s update on Daisy, our beautiful little duck living in the forest, I want to thank Daisy’s friends from Brazil, Poland, Mexico, Canada, Australia, the US, and China for checking on her. The whole world cares about a little duck trying to brood her eggs in a huge nest that belongs to the Australia’s largest sea eagle. We are on day 15 of brooding. I am beginning to believe that some of the seven eggs will turn into ducklings leaping to the forest floor. Everyone please send Daisy positive energy. She has had to deal with the sea eagles and the ravens, twice each, in twenty-four hours and now it is 40 degrees C with 98% humidity. In other words, it might feel like a sauna.
Daisy, you are so beautiful!
Every once in awhile, Daisy tucks in the down and uses her bill like a broom to shift the leaves and plant material closer to the nest so that she can use them to conceal her eggs when she goes foraging.
Daisy gets every more busy moving leaves. She even gets up off the eggs to bring in some old down and more leaves. Then she begins to cover up her nest so that she can depart for a break.
Daisy was slow and methodical in getting many more leaves up toward the nest cup. Now she is beginning to take some of the down and folding it over.
There were no alarming sounds in the forest and Daisy made a slow walk over to the left hand side of the big nest to fly off. Two things are interesting to me. If she is caught on the eggs by the WBSE who are literally landing on the big nest, she can fly off from her nest through the twigs on the left. Second, today Daisy spent a lot of time getting leaves over. Look how many there are! But she left them scattered and she did not cover the eggs completely with down (or that is how it appears from this angle). I wonder if this is because of the heat – the 40 degrees C scorching heat on the nest?
After having a couple of frights from the sea eagles, Daisy has been very smart to return to her nest about ten to fifteen minutes before sunset. Tonight, she arrives on the big sea eagle nest at 19:55:48. She does not immediately head to where her egg cup is concealed. She stops and listens.
Daisy raises her neck up as far as it will go to listen. She has returned a little before sunset and the sea eagles could still come and check on the nest to see if anyone is there.
No alarming sounds so Daisy settles down to incubate her eggs. It is a good time of day to really see her beautiful plumage and the distinctive markings on her head. Did you know that she has about 12,000 feathers?
It is now Day 16 of Daisy’s incubation, 27 January 2020 in Sydney, Australia. This means that there remains 10-14 days til hatch!
Daisy did very well in the 40 degree C heat. It is already 22.8 degrees C on the nest at 4:45. But, there could be a little rain today in the forest where Daisy’s nest is. It will certainly be cooler. The weather report says it should not get hotter than 26. That, of course, means that the sea eagles might want to check on their nest since it is cooler! Let’s hope they just stay at Goat Island. There will be gusts up to 29 kph which means the old Ironbark Tree will really be creaking and swaying.
At 5:37:07 Daisy hears someone coming! She puts her head down and then realizes she has to get off the big nest. There is no time to cover the eggs!
It is Lady! And she has seen Daisy. You cannot see her in the picture below but she just got off the nest the second the WBSE landed.
This is the first time that Lady has seen that there is a real live bird sitting on his nest. This is the first time that one of the sea eagles has swooped in fast enough to catch a glimpse of Daisy as she flies out. Lady is not happy! Someone is trying to take over her nest she thinks. She is puffing out her chest.
The most interesting thing to me is that the Sea Eagles have not disturbed the eggs as of late. Remember, before she finished laying all her eggs, Dad removed one and ate it. He did not like the taste or he would have eaten all the eggs. And both him and Lady have been curious but not destructive to Daisy’s nest.
Instead of destroying Daisy’s nest, Lady flies to the parent tree. She can hear Daisy quacking in the distance.
At 6:00:28 Lady is joined by Dad. Since Daisy began laying her eggs, I have never worried about Dad, the WBSE. For some reason, he was very curious when he ate the first egg but he is ‘hard wired’ not to step on eggs in his nest because they might be his eaglets! Lady knows better. And she is fierce and would not want another female bird using her nest. It is hers.
In the image below, Lady is getting ready to jump off the parent branch and join Dad on the main nest.
Dad, sea eagle, just doesn’t seem to care as much as Lady. She is starting to look at that nest with eggs again.
Dad goes up on the parent branch to keep watch. Daisy is quacking and flying around the forest. Daisy knows that this is the last half of her brooding and the eggs cannot get cold! Daisy must be afraid that the big sea eagles will tear up her nest.
In fact, Lady tries to do just that. She pulls out down and tries to grab an egg with her beak but the egg is too big. Relief for Daisy. For some reason, Lady does not try to destroy the eggs which she could do with her talons. But she starts to pull apart the down. She doesn’t like it. It feels funny and sticks to her beak. And she stops.
Lady jumps up to the other parent branch and watches out for Daisy in the forest as she flies about. And then, she gives up. First Lady flies out of the forest and then Dad. They are both gone by 6:15:15. This terrifying event for Daisy has unfolded over a period of fifty-two minutes!
In the image below you can see the huge sea eagle flying into the forest from the nest tree. In a few minutes, Dad will join lady down on the Parramatta River for breakfast.
Wonder if Daisy will be scared and stay away for five or six hours? She must be quite shaken.
Remember that Daisy didn’t have time to cover her eggs for protection. Well, when Lady was trying to demolish the nest, she tossed the down about covering up the eggs. How lucky for Daisy. Now the Ravens will not see them.
But wait! I cannot believe it. This is one brave little duck. I think she needs a big round of applause. Daisy only waits in the forest for twelve minutes. The sea eagles leave at 6:15 and she gets back on her eggs at 6:37. Tears of joy are pouring down my cheeks. The eggs will not get cold!
Daisy, you are the bravest little bird I have ever seen to stand up to the big sea eagles.
No doubt Daisy will be on her guard today. The sea eagles are not far away. Instead of being at Goat Island today, they will stay at their roost on the Parramatta River since it is cool.
Oh, my. I hope this is the last excitement Daisy has until sunset. That is when the sea eagles might return to check on their nest. Sometimes, you will remember that they come earlier in the afternoon. Each time Daisy has been away foraging.
Daisy has some nestorations to do but her eggs are safe and so is she. That is the important thing. Daisy looks so happy to be back on her nest. She has in a few minutes gathered up some of the down. Thank goodness Lady just really doesn’t like it. She didn’t make a big mess. Daisy can easily get her cozy nest repaired!
I will bring you an update tonight, in about nine hours. Thank you for checking in on Daisy, perhaps the bravest little duck in Sydney, Australia.
Thank you to the Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discover Centre for providing the camera for the scaps.
First, before you get anxious, Daisy the Duck managed through the high temperature of Sydney yesterday. She left the nest at 15:11:10 to forage and returned twenty minutes before sun down at 19:45. It is currently day 14 of her brooding and it is 5:43 Monday the 25th of January in Sydney. All is well in the nest. The sea eagles did not make an appearance in the evening and Daisy did not go out foraging before dawn this morning. It is due to be another hot day on the nest.
I have said often that the lives of our feathered friends hang on a thread. Anything can happen at any time. Sadly, much of the time the root cause has something to do with humans and our lack of respect for the environment. Rat poison – rodenticide – contains chemicals that cause the mice and rats to bleed internally. But before they did their movements slow down. Raptors (falcons, hawks, eagles) often catch the dying animals. While it is not always lethal for the larger birds such as adult Bald Eagles, it is for the smaller hawks and falcons and their babies. Toxins in the water flushed out from industrial plants is another or the heating of the oceans causes toxic red algae. Window strike breaks their necks. Tossing any food waste onto the highways causes the birds to come and not watching, they get hit by vehicles. The mesh bags that hold oranges and other fruits along with not cutting the ties on face masks tangles up the birds as does the mesh that people and farms use to cover the trees and bushes in their orchards. And of course the glue strips that catch the birds and cause them such devastating pain trying to free their little legs. I could go on. The list would be endless. The most prominent way is through the loss of habitat.
In a short period of time, in the world of our beautiful birds, there has been intense pain and great happiness.
At Captiva Island, there was such joy when Peace and Hope were each born, within six hours of one another, on 14 December 2020.
Fishing line was discovered in the nest with a hook on it. The American Eagle Federation got permission from the US Wildlife Service to have it removed. On or about the same day, the parents brought a rat into the nest to feed the eaglets. No one knows precisely what happened but it was observed that Peace no longer wanted to eat and was becoming dehydrated. Peace passed away. Hope continued to thrive until a couple of days ago when people started noticing that ‘something was wrong’. They didn’t know what. Many noticed tremors in her leg. Others watched as it appeared she could not cough up a pellet. (Raptors cannot process all of the food that they eat. What they can’t is formed into a pellet that is coughed up). Some saw blood on her wing and leg. She coughed and choked all day, January 23. Many think her heart gave out last night. Connie, her mother, flew to the nest as she was taking her last breaths. One of the saddest things is that prior to Hope and Peace, Joe and Connie had fledged nineteen juvenile Bald Eagles in the twelve years they have been together. In fact, people exclaimed how physically strong these two were. Hope crawled out of the nest and up to the end where the parents bring in food when she was only two days old. They were both growing and getting strong. Peace died on 13 January. A few days, Joe took her body from the nest. Many are hoping that a necroscopy can be done on Hope to determine the cause of her death.
In the image above, three days ago, you can see how Hope was getting her beautiful dark brown juvenile feathers.
In the morning fog, the same day of her death, Hope stands talls and is jumping up and down on the nest flapping her wings.
Today, Connie is standing over the body of her daughter, Hope, shading it. From all available evidence, birds grieve just like humans when they lose a child.
There is frustration and anger and the debates continue as to whether or not intervention in the lives of these majestic birds should take place. Some argue that we are fortunate to be able to view their lives but that we should not intervene to help them unless it is clearly something a human has caused. Others state the opposite. While we are now privileged to watch the comings and goings of the birds, it is our duty to protect them so that they thrive. Unfortunately, nothing will bring back to the vibrant eaglets, Peace and Hope.
January 23 was also the day that Harriet and M15’s two eaglets hatched at Fort Myers, Florida.
E17 and E18 hatched just an hour and a half apart. What were two wet limp bodies have turned into fuzzy little bonking babies this morning!
Notice the white at the top end of their beak. That is the ‘egg tooth’. The egg tooth is a small white protuberance that helps the birds chip away at the shell so that they can hatch. By hitting on the shell, the egg tooth makes the first pip! The egg tooth disappears in a few weeks.
Bonking of bobbing into one another after hatch is a rather normal experience. The little birds cannot focus their eyes well, their heads are bigger and awkward til they get some strength in their necks, and because they know that food comes from their beak and the parent’s, you will often see them bonking back and forth. This should end after a few days but in some nests it persists as a means of establishing dominance. In some cases it can lead to siblicide, the killing of the other sibling.
And on 23 January in New Zealand, the Royal Cam Albatross chick belonging to LGL, Lime Green Lime, and LGK, Lime Green Black, hatched. New Zealand gives the albatross born at Tairoa coloured bands for identification. This couple were chosen to be the stars of the camera this year. The baby Albatross will receive a Maori name right before it fledges and we should know in a couple of weeks if it is a male or a female.
I can always be found praising the New Zealand Department of Conservation. They protect their birds. Once the rangers noticed the ‘pip’ of the Royal Albatross egg of LGK and LGL, it was removed and a dummy egg was placed under the parent to continue incubating. The ‘real egg’ was placed in an incubator. The reason for this is fly strike, the infestation of fly larvae during the period that the chick is trying to hatch. This can lead to their death. Royal Albatross are a highly endangered species because of climate change and long haul fishing. The New Zealand government is taking a very proactive role in trying to keep their birds healthy and also in promoting the use of varies methods to protect bycatch, whether it is our gentle albatrosses or sea turtles.
This is a great video to introduce you to the topic of bycatch and how important it is to get international agreements in place to protect the ocean’s animals.
There is much you can do to help birds from cutting the lines to your masks and putting them in the trash, to educating people on feeding birds at feeders and ponds, to lobbying international agencies demanding the end to bycatch. If you go back through my posts you will find several dedicated to ways that you can help birds no matter what your financial status.
I will have a full report on Daisy’s day in about nine hours. The weather will be hot again in the Sydney Olympic Park and we hope that means that no sea eagles will come to see if they can catch Daisy!
Thank you for joining in the daily life of our favourite little Black Pacific Duck, Daisy.
And thank you to Pritchett for the camera views of Harriet and M15, Captiva Eagle Cam and the AEF for the camera views of Joe and Connie, to Cornell Bird Cams and the NZ Department of Conservation for their camera views of LGL and LGK, and to Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the camera views of Daisy.
Daisy has been on the nest quietly but alertly brooding her eggs. She took a very early morning break from 4:13:44 to 5:16:34. Possibly a bathroom break for a duck or a chance to grab a quick breakfast and cool off in the water before one of the hottest days on the nest. It is 14:06:40 and our cute little duck is panting quickly in order to regulate her temperature despite the fact that there is now shade on the nest.
Someone asked me about the ducklings. Is it safe for them to hatch and jump from a nest in a tree 75 feet high? Yes, it is perfectly safe. The ducklings are not harmed because the down on their body absorbs the impact. In fact, I am told that they actually bounce. It is hard to imagine! Last year a pair of Canada Geese laid their eggs in an Osprey nest in Minnesota. The goslings were recorded leaping down to the ground to everyone’s amazement. Some geese are known to build their nests on cliffs 150 feet high to be away from predators. No harm has come to the goslings when they have left from those nests.
Here is a video of a Wood Duck whose nest was in a very high tree. It is only 1.33 minutes long. Have a look. This is what Daisy’s ducklings will do. She will leap down to the forest floor and they will jump! Enjoy.
Of course, there are many fears for Daisy. Remember, she is effectively a single mother in an environment that is unusual. Her ducklings will hatch and immediately start peeping. This will draw attention to the nest. It is only twenty-four hours after hatch that they take their ‘leap of faith’ jumping off of the big nest on the Ironbark Tree. But first, before they can do that, they have to survive any predators and somehow make their way through all those twigs to the rim without getting their little paddles caught up in them. And then there are the predators on the ground. I have often wondered why WBSE Dad has not damaged any more eggs. Is he just dropping by to check, waiting for them to hatch? Him and Lady are well known for bringing in the Silver Gull chicks to the nest for their eaglets. And then there is Mr. Raven and all the Pied Currawongs and last, but never least, the foxes. I am told that they have been removed from the park. I hope so. That would be one less thing for Daisy to worry about. But for now, we will just simply rejoice in every hassle free day that Daisy has. We are now half way in the incubation period to hatch watch: February 6-10.
It is now late afternoon in the forest. The sun is back shining on Daisy’s head and the nest cup. It is so hot that there are no sounds of any birds. Everyone is trying to keep cool.
Daisy begins to tuck the down in around her nest along with pulling leaves closer to her nest. Then she sees a shadow of a bird cross the nest and she stops! She waits and listens. Five minutes later she resumes her preparations for concealing her nest and heading to the water to eat and cool off. She flies off the nest to the left, to the closest water source, at 15:11:10.
It was so hot yesterday and it is even hotter today. If Daisy follows her pattern of late, she will return to the nest between 19:45:00 and 20:00. And if the Sea Eagles are being typical, if they are coming in to check it will be around 17:00 and Daisy will be gone!
Oh, welcome to The Daisy Chronicles, a daily update on the life of the little Black Pacific Duck that has made a nest in a White Bellied Sea Eagle nest in the Sydney Olympic Forest. It is Day 13 of incubation. We could be half way to hatch!
Och, witamy w The Daisy Chronicles, codziennej aktualizacji życia małej kaczki Black Pacific, która założyła gniazdo w gnieździe bielika morskiego w lesie olimpijskim w Sydney. Jest 13 dzień inkubacji. Mogliśmy być w połowie drogi do wyklucia!
————————————————————————————-It is 7:44 on the nest in Sydney, Australia and Daisy knew what the weather was going to be today. She got up early, at 4:13:44 to go for a swim and some foraging. The weather news says it will be 36 in Sydney today and it will be hotter on the nest with the direct sunlight at times.
How many times have you checked the weather only to find out that the weather report was wrong? When I was a little girl staying with my grandmother, she would open the front door of her house and ‘sniff’. Then she would declare that it was going to rain. At the time, not knowing anything, I thought she was a witch! How silly was that? But how do birds know the approaching weather?
Some say that the hollow bones of a bird help them determine the barometric pressure and, thus, they are able to anticipate incoming weather. Others say that it is the pressure plates within their ears. Daisy is not a bird but a waterfowl and still she anticipates the changing in temperature, rain, etc. That is because she, also, has hollow bones. Recent research at The University of Western Ontario suggests that birds have an internal barometer. They can tell even the slightest change in barometric pressure and temperature. And, of course, they have these skills because knowing if they should forage or hunt immediately, if rain or snow are coming, are essential to their survival. Researchers at the University tested their ideas by lowering and raising the air pressure inside a specially built wind tunnel. If they lowered the air pressure, the birds would immediately start looking for food and prey. Low pressure means that a storm or rain and winds is approaching. They might even have to find a safe place to stay for hours or even days depending on the strength of the storm. Likewise, if the barometric pressure and temperature rise a bit, the birds will have a reasonable morning in the nest preening before heading out to hunt or forage. Today, Daisy leaves her nest early because she knows that it is going to be very hot during the day and she may need to dabble several times rather than just one long foraging trip.
For those of you who are ‘sort of’ keeping up with Daisy, things have been relatively quiet for a few days. Today is day 13 of brooding. The WBSE ‘Dad’ made a surprise visit to the nest tree last evening at 16:59:24 but as quick as he appeared, he left at 17:03:43. I am sure he thought he would catch whoever was brooding in his nest. But Daisy has been very smart. And with the heat she may stay out foraging or dabbling longer. She landed on the rim of the nest at 19:49:49 but was very cautious looking around before venturing over to her eggs. In fact, she did not actually go over to the nest cup until 19:52, three minutes after arriving.
Daisy is very much aware that the White Bellied Sea Eagles come and go in the forest. Sometimes they stay for a few minutes, other times for many hours. She listens for the vocalizations from the other animals and birds in the forest to let her know if they might be coming. Her survival depends on it.
At 4:13, it is already more than 22 degrees C on the nest. Daisy is anticipating a very hot day. She has decided to go dabbling early before all of the other birds and animals in the forest are awake. You can see from the image below that it is still very dark in the forest. What we are learning is that Daisy, a Black Pacific Duck, can see in the dark better than the WBSE.
In fact, anyone observing this nest is learning a lot. No one can remember a Black Pacific Duck making their nest on a Sea Eagle camera or a place where we could easily observe without threatening the wildlife.
If you look carefully at the image above, you can see Daisy’s tail on the right behind the tree branch. She is just preparing to fly off to the water.
Daisy forages for a little over an hour. She returns to the nest and quickly bets on her eggs to incubate them. She rolls them with her paddle feet carefully and turns in the nest gently.
Daisy returns just after 5am. Sunrise is at 6:05. She knows that the sea eagles often fly into the forest at dawn. In the image below she has heard the sound of ravens. Ravens, you will remember, often chase the sea eagles. She listens carefully for several minutes before settling down.
By 8:30, Daisy has already had visits from at least one Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos and the Ravens were alarming at 8:04. Now the Rainbow Lorikeets can be heard in the forest but I cannot see them on the nest yet.
It is now after 10:00, and the sun is shining on Daisy in the nest. She has already starting panting in order to regulate her temperature.
It will be 36 degrees C in the forest today. It is understood that it is hotter on the nest. Look carefully and you can see Daisy’s bill open. That is her panting. The shade is ever so slowly moving over Daisy but the heat is almost unbearable. Instead of panting slowly, now it is a fast clacking of her bill.
Let us hope that it is way too hot for the sea eagles to be in the forest today. A day without sea eagles is a safe day for Daisy! And it is going to be so very hot that she doesn’t need a hassle with other predators either today.
Thank you to the Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Center for the camera that supplied the scaps of Daisy and her nest.
It is noon on Daisy’s nest in the Sydney Olympic Park forest. She has started to pant as the sun shines directly on her. Like other birds, panting is a way for Daisy to regulate her temperature; she does not sweat like humans. It is, as summer days go, hot. The weather at Homebush Bay indicates that it is 34.1 degrees C. I wonder if it is actually hotter on the nest?? It is normally understood that heat rises. And, as you can see from the image below, Daisy is in direct sunlight right now. Some parts of Australia are bracing themselves for very hot weather in a few days, up to 39 degrees C.
Many have thought that Daisy would need to take more breaks during the day as the heat builds. However, since it is 12:30 and she remains, I am thinking that she will follow her regular pattern of going off in the afternoon to forage. She has now gathered up more down to cover up the eggs from predators.
At 13:18 Daisy begins to take the down of the nest cup and fold it over inwards. Sometimes she just does this and then will turn and do her cute tail wiggle. Occasionally, she does this when she is rolling her eggs but, most often, it is a sign that she is thinking about leaving to eat. Remember, Daisy does, if all things go serenely, have a pattern of leaving the nest between 1300 and 1400 to forage. Yesterday it was 14:02. And yesterday, she returned at 16:49 but noticed both WBSE on the camera tree and aborted her landing on the nest. So, on average, if voluntarily, it appears that she takes about a two and a half to a three hour break.
In the images below, Daisy begins to tuck the down in around the egg cup. Once the down is folded onto the top of the eggs, she then goes about placing leaves and plant material, and small twigs to further disguise the location. It took her eight minutes to get everything right so that she can leave. She departed at 13:26.
All birds have predators and Daisy is particularly vulnerable as she is an outsider to the forest. Her presence and her seven eggs have caught the attention of some, like the Raven and Pied Currawong, that would eat her eggs. Like Daisy’s plumage that serves as camouflage, the manner in which she has concealed her nest is meant to distract any potential threats. She has used the leaves and plant material on top. They blend in perfectly, there is absolutely nothing that would call attention. Daisy is also very discreet and alert in her comings and goings from the nest. Every move is slow and calculated unless she is frightened off by the approaching sea eagles or if she notices their arrival in another tree. Then she leaves quickly!
This is day 11 of Daisy’s brooding or incubation. Even though the eggs were laid on different days, Daisy did not start hard incubation until the last egg was in the nest. Imagine that one minute there are eggs, and within a few minutes the nest will be brimming full of peeping and clacking ducklings. This is precisely what will happen. This is known as synchronized hatching. The number of incubation days to hatching varies but is normally 28-30.
Daisy’s little ducklings – should the nest survive and they make it through the forest to the water – will be covered with fuzzy yellow down. They will have a characteristic dark chocolate brown-black line running from their bill through their eye. There are some white patches on their wings. They will be ever so cute!
Daisy’s ducklings are precocial at hatch. This means that they do not need Daisy to feed them. Daisy’s role will be to lead them to the water where they can forage themselves. Daisy will also help them to learn about predators and she will keep them warm in the evening. In a couple of months their new plumage will be that of an adult Black Pacific Duck, like Daisy.
They are known as ‘dabbling or puddle ducks’. They feed by tipping rather than diving to the bottom of the shallow water. They often forage at the edge of the river and lake like they are doing in the images below. They do not, however, hunt for food on land.
It is due to be another hot day in the forest tomorrow. The prediction is that it will be 37 degrees Celsius. This might turn out quite well for Daisy as the White Bellied Sea Eagles could be at Goat Island enjoying the cooler weather near the water. It is 16:42 and Daisy has not returned to her nest. She will be enjoying the cool waters of the canal and the river and, since it is so hot, might decide til near dusk when it is safe for her to return to her nest. The sea eagles are normally roosting then.
An uneventful day is a good day for Daisy the Duck.
Thanks for dropping by to check on the little duck who is occupying the large sea eagle’s nest in Sydney Olympic Park forest. Stay safe everyone. See you tomorrow!
I am grateful for the Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery centre for the cameras they support. This is where I get my scaps.