Migration. Spring is coming!

A very wise person told me not to watch the calendar. The birds know when spring is coming and when the ground will warm and the icy waters of Manitoba will melt. My friend’s name was Hector Gray. The village of Graysville, Manitoba where I had my pottery was named after his family. The Grays – Hector, Wilma, and their son, George – were my best friends and always there when George Toews rang for me to come and pick up meddling lambs. George carried the orphans downstairs to the cellar for me and my kids fed them with bottles of milk from our cow until they could safely go in the barn. Spring lambs! The low flying honking geese abounded. They landed on the farmer’s fields looking for leftover grain from the harvest in the fall. ‘Back then’ the geese arrived after 1 April. Today, however, is 4 March and sightings and photographs of the first arrivals from their winter migration brought joy for many in the Manitoba Birding community yesterday.

In the southwestern corner of our province, Gary Bajus caught sight of these Canada geese on a farmer’s field and posted the images for all to enjoy on the Manitoba Birding & Wildlife Photography FB page. Thanks Gary!

3 March 2021 Southwestern Manitoba @ Gary Bajus
3 March 2021. Southwestern Manitoba. @ Gary Bajus

And in Winnipeg, photographer, Andrew Standfield, took the images of this Bald Eagle in Charleswood and posted them on the Manitoba Birding and Wildlife Photography FB Page. I am posting these here because the local group is seeking information about the band. Can you help identify this majestic raptor?

3 March 2021. Charleswood, Winnipeg, MB. @Andrew Standfield
3 March 2021. Charleswood, Winnipeg, MB. @Andrew Standfield
3 March 2021. Charleswood, Winnipeg, MB. @Andrew Standfield

In Manitoba, the adult Bald Eagles tend to return to Lake Winnipeg congregating around Hecla Island. Soon the Ospreys will be arriving, too. A public utility, Manitoba Hydro, built nesting poles for the Ospreys after many had been electrocuted on the hydro poles in an area south of Gimli. This is a great ‘birding’ area of Manitoba.

Just twenty kilometres north of Winnipeg (at the bottom of the map), near Selkirk, is Oak Hammock Marsh. The Wetlands of this Nature Center are renowned for the diversity of the species that visitors can see. Besides the other wildlife, there are over 300 species of birds alone. And like all of us, the first arrival of a Canada Goose signals spring! And that goose arrived today, 4 March, at 1:05 pm.

First Canada Goose arrived at Oak Hammock Marsh, 4 March 1:05 pm. Image from Oak Hammock Marsh’s Streaming Cam.

The Manitoba Bison herd at Fort Whyte Alive on McCreary Road in Winnipeg is always there – rain, snow, sleet, and sunshine. The wetlands area of this beautiful nature area are also home to hundreds of species of birds and the lake is awaiting the arrival of the geese and ducks. What you want to bet one arrives today or tomorrow!

Bison herd at Fort White Alive

Oh, and spring means that the geese and ducks will be coming back to the park near to where I live. The Dark-Eyed Juncos will be back picking the threads out of my carpet while the Grackles will be hoping to have a successful clutch with no interference from the local Crow family. Of course, Sharpie will be keeping an eye on all of the garden activity.

Dark-eyed Junco

Take care everyone. Spring must be here! It will be +9 degrees Celsius in Winnipeg on 6 March 2021 – or that is what the weather news is promising.

Incubation Day 13 or the hottest day in Sydney

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.

There is finally shade on the nest but it is still very very hot for our favourite duck.

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.

Wood Ducks Leaping from a very high nest in a tree.

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.

Daisy moves her quickly to tuck in the down and pull leaves towards the nest.
Daisy finding some last plant material to conceal her eggs before leaving.

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!

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Daisy wants to say hello to all her friends in Poland and she welcomes her new viewers from China. Thank you for joining us on Daisy’s journey.

Thank you to Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for providing the camera for my scaps.