Falcon and Red-Tail Hawk Cams

I had a lovely note form ‘M’ asking about other peregrine falcon cams. Thank you for your letter, ‘M’.

Each one of us feels a little ’empty’ when the eyases fledge. Without trackers, we have no idea what happens to them. We just wish them well and I know that everyone is working hard to make their environment better. The only birds on the nest who have fledged and not left permanently are the PLO Lads – Ervie, Bazza, and Falky. It is winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the birds have migrated to warmer climates. I will, however, be checking on nests in Asia to see if there are any for you to watch.

This is not an exhaustive listing but it is a beginning and I will be adding to it for all of you as the camera streams return. We have streaming cams on the falcons in Winnipeg as part of the Manitoba Peregrine Falcon Recovery. I will post those at the beginning of the summer. Most of our birds are in southern Texas or Mexico right now.

So here goes – and if you have a favourite falcon or hawk cam, let me know!

One of my favourites are the Peregrine Falcons in Melbourne. They are known as the CBD or 367 Collins Street Falcons. The cam is currently not live. Will come back on line September 2022

Cornell Red-tail Hawks (Big Red and Arthur), Ithaca, New York. The construction work at Bradfield has caused a power outage on the Athletic Fields. Those building works are winding down and this camera should be live shortly. Big Red and Arthur will be very busy once late February and March roll around. There are only two Red-tail hawk streaming cams in the world and this is the best. Big Red is 19 this year. Arthur is 5 or 6 years old. They are a fantastic couple that normally fledge three eyases a year. There are birders on the ground that keep track of the fledglings so you get to see the parents do team training in hunting, etc. Highly Recommended.

Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam in Orange, Australia. Yurruga has fledged. Look for egg laying in the fall of 2022. This is the scrape box of Diamond and Xavier. They are a well established couple. For the past two years three eggs laid but only one fledgling each year which is fine. It is a nice comparison with the Melbourne falcons who fledge 3 consistently. Orange is more rural and, of course, Melbourne is urban. The camera is left on and the falcons come and go regularly.

The Campanile Falcons on UC-Berkeley. This is the scrape box and cams for the Peregrine Falcon Couple, Annie and Grinnell. Grinnell was injured by a male interloper on 29 October. He was in care, as a result, and has been returned to his territory. The male interloper is still at The Campanile. It is unclear which of the males Annie will choose. Nesting activity late March, 2022. Annie and Grinnell are incredible parents who traditionally fledge three adorable babies.

The following are falcon cams that I have watched ‘on and off’ and that have come highly recommended to me from viewers:

Illkirch, France:

Great Spirit Bluff, Minnesota

Anacapa Island, California. There are current a large number of Pelicans to watch.

I will definitely be posting more including a couple of streaming cams from the UK. All of that action will begin when spring arrives. I also want to post some sites in Asia which I will do over the weekend. There will also be the Northern Hemisphere Ospreys, White-tailed Eagles, Golden Eagles, as well as the returning storks to Latvia and Estonia.

For now, things are really pretty quiet except for the Port Lincoln Ospreys, Diamond and Xavier coming in and out of the scrape box in Orange, and the Bald Eagles laying eggs in the US. There are two nests that you might wish to consider and if you have never watched a Royal Albatross nest then you definitely need to check out the Royal Cam Family in New Zealand who are incubating an egg laid on 9 November. They are very experienced and adorable parents, OGK (Orange Green Black) and YRK (Yellow Red Black). They are already grandparents. I often suggest this site to individuals who have a difficult time watching any nest if there is sibling rivalry. The Albatross lay one egg every two years. Parents rotate all of the duties. Last year the Royal Cam chick, Tiaki, had a sat-pak attached to her. We are currently watching her fish off the coast of Chile.

It is a bit wet in NZ this morning. This is YRK’s 6th day on the nest. OGK will be flying in soon and they will switch. Should something happen, the NZ DOC rangers are there to step in and intervene. No one goes hungry, injuries are taken care of, etc. It is a great site and in the process you will bear witness to a country that really protects its wildlife!

There are way too many Bald Eagle streaming cams to list them all. For now, I am only going to recommend one. These are experienced parents Harriet and M15 at the SWFlorida Bald Eagle nest on the property of the Pritchett Family. Their eggs are due to hatch soon – December 25-28. Once Gabby lays her egg in NE Florida I will post that information. For now, you can have fun watching Harriet and M15 change places. The only un-fun thing is the GHOW that attacks the eagles regularly.

There is no word on Yurruga. Cilla says she will look for a few more days. Just so you know the building that Yurruga was last seen on is a gabled (triangle) pointed roof, a bit steep. It is a single story building with clay tiles. Yurruga is not there – not alive, not dead. He was there on Thursday – seen twice during a big storm. I would expect to hear this fledgling screaming for food. Falcons are loud! Is it at a distance from the tower? is Yurruga injured? is Yurruga somewhere else? There are no answers I am afraid. If I hear anything you will be the first to know. Now, it is time for me to go and take care of all my feeders. The gang will be here soon!

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Birding Action has started in Australia

Wow. At 00:52:40, Mom goes into labour. She is the female Osprey on the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge in Australia. Dad is sitting right at nest side in support. It was magical. The minute the egg was, Dad was off. My time said 00:57:58. And with that single significant event, the Port Lincoln Osprey season for 2021 is underway!

Mom looks very content in the early morning Australian sun.

I was very glad to see Dad there. Last year Dad just about ended my love of Ospreys. The death of Tapps, the third hatch in 2020, practically cemented that. The Achieva Osprey nest brought back the pain but the triumph of Tiny Tot gave me faith. It also has made me question the entire notion of ‘survival of the fittest’. So this year I am wishing for consistent fish drops when the eggs hatch – Dad, that means enough fish for everyone every day with no breaks.

The Northern Hemisphere fledglings are preparing to migrate (if they hatched in an area where the birds travel to warmer climates during the winter) so for all Osprey lovers this is a chance to start at the very beginning again — in Australia.

The adults spent a lot of time bringing in new twigs and lining the nest cup with bark. It is quite beautiful. This nest looks like someone cares!

Of the chicks that have fledged from this nest, Calypso (2019) fishes and is seen regularly in the Port Lincoln area. Solly (2020) was fitted with a satellite tracker as well as a leg band. It is reassuring to know that she is well. There have been no reported sightings of her brother, DEW, that I am aware of.

Solly is 317 days old and she is at her favourite place, Eba Anchorage.

The two eggs have hatched at the White-Bellied Sea Eagle cam in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park. They are WBSE 27 and 28. Both are doing fantastic. Dad has been bringing in Bream, Pigeon, several other types of birds, and Eel-tailed Catfish. The chicks are not wanting for food or variety!

The link to the Sea Eagle Cam is here:

Are you a Peregrine Falcon lover? There are two excellent nests in Australia on streaming cam. One is on all year round and has covered the antics of Xavier, his mate Diamond, and their son, Izzi. The scrape box is on the water tower on the grounds of Charles Sturt University in Orange, NSW. This family is part of a research project of Professor Cilla Kinross.

I should tell you that this nest is hilarious. Xavier is such a sweetie and he is courting Diamond now even though they have been a bonded pair for a number of years. He brings her gifts of prey to the scrape box and they do a courtship dance. Sometimes Xavier forgets and brings Diamond a Starling. Diamond hates Starlings and refuses to accept the gift from Xavier! And then there is Izzi. Izzi is like the cutest almost one year old falcon. He should not be at the nest but he is. You see, Izzi fledged three times. The first was accidental so he was taken back up the 170 stairs to the scrape box on the water tower. The second was a good fledge but he ran into a window. He was in care for several days and returned to the scrape box. The third time was the charm. The problem? Well, Izzi should have left his parent’s territory before the beginning of 2021. Yes, it is now August. That is the problem.

I mean seriously – could you tell this cutie pie to leave home?

Both Diamond and Xavier have been ‘scraping’ in the scrape box. The indentation they are creating is where Diamond will lay the 2021 season eggs. The couple have already been mating on the top of the water tower.

This is Xavier. The yellow around the eyes, the cere (part above the beak), and the legs and feet are a deep yellow when falcons are adults. Look at the beautiful plumage patterning.

This is Xavier scraping in the scrape box.

This is Diamond scraping in the scrape box. Notice the colour of the stones. In his book, The Peregrine, J.A. Baker states that “Peregrines bathe every day…The bed of the stream must be stony and firm…They favour those places where the colour of the stream-bed resembles the colour of their own plumage.” Absolutely. Camouflage. But why do they take so many baths? Baker believed that it was so they would not transfer any lice or other parasites from their prey onto them that could cause illness or disease. The same is true of the scrape box. Peregrine falcons lay their eggs in gravel and not on a twig nest to avoid illness or disease.

Here is a very short but loud pair bonding in the scrape box. Have a look at the dance that Xavier and Diamond do together. Xavier is the smaller of the couple. Falcons, like other raptors, have reverse sex size diamorphism – meaning the female is larger.

Here is the link to the box camera. There are in fact two cameras: one looks at the inside of the box as above and the other is positioned to look forward from the back taking in the ledge and a bit of the outside world. That is cute little Izzi looking out to that big world beyond.

The chat feature has moderators, often Professor Kinross, as well as a FB Page where you can get great information.

The second is the Collins Street Falcons better known as the CBD Falcons in Melbourne. The camera is not operational yet. There are many videos from last year if you search for Collins Street Falcons on YouTube. In 2020, the couple had triplet girls. Triplets? Three eggs hatch within a period of 24 hours. These girls grew like crazy. They grew bigger than their dad.

I am including one video of the male delivering a pigeon to feed them. I just love this tiny little male. He melts my heart every time I look at him.

The diet of the two falcon families is different. The Melbourne falcons are urban. Their diet is almost exclusively pigeon. In contrast, the falcons in Orange are rather rural with a more varied diet including Starlings (remember Diamond dislikes those), Galah, sometimes a Supreme Parrot, other parrots, and birds. One thing that eyases love are cicadas. They hold them in their foot and eat them like a popsicle. It is crazy. In one day last year, Izzi ate 17 cicadas in a row. There had to be a swarm of them! It was incredible.

As night comes to the Canadian prairies the sun is rising on a new day in Europe for all of the birds. The rain falling in the Latvian forest where the three Black storklings nest sounds wonderful.

It was reported today that my city had only 1/10 the average amount of rain in July. It has been 150 years since this small amount of rain was last recorded. We long for a day just to listen to the sound of rain falling like it is here on the Black Storklings in Latvia:

Thank you so much for joining me today. It is wonderful to have you with me. Take care everyone!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: The Latvian Fund for Nature, Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Centre, Charles Sturt University and the Falcon Cam Project, Port Lincoln Osprey Project and PLO FB Page for Solly’s transmitter data.

Note: The next newsletter will appear late Tuesday.

A hurricane, two nests, and falcons

Elsa was a category 1 hurricane when she bore down on the Southwest Florida coast last evening. The two chicks on the Sarasota Bay Osprey Nest had their talons anchored, riding out the gusts and the rain. This was the pair of them at 23:08 Tuesday, 6 July.

Whew! No chicks blown off the nest just a good soaking.

As the gusts calmed some in Sarasota, they were picking up at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg. It is nearly midnight. What is surprising are the number of cars on the streets and even people walking. The nest perch weaves back and forth. Oh, I am ever so glad that Tiny Tot is not on this nest! Indeed, I can see why the birds might choose to migrate north for the summer to get away from hurricane season.

All of this made all of the aunties and uncles relatively nervous. We can’t do anything but watch which is precisely the problem! And none of us knows what kind of damage the storm will do.

Instead of drinking coffee and eating way too much chocolate, I turned my mind to Peregrine Falcons.

“Peregrine Falcon” by Bill Gracey 26 Million Views is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Peregrine Falcons. The fastest animal on the planet. Speeds up to 390 kph or 243 mph. They are flying killing machines attacking their prey in the air instead of on land. They are magnificent creatures who appear in art, literature, culture, and sport.

“Peregrine Falcon” by DaveInman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Falcons appear on the shoulders of the terracotta figures, the haniwa, on the Kofun (mound tombs) in Japan from 300-555 CE. These were royal tombs. The haniwa were not placed on the inside of the tomb but, rather, on the top of the mound as if in a ceremonial parade. They served many functions. One of those was utilitarian – they kept the soil from eroding as they would have their bottom portion pushed into the the ground.

Using Google Earth, satellite images show you the distinctive ‘keyhole’ design of these ancient burial sites. Forests now cover the sites but originally, they would have been cleared. These hollow clay figures covered the surface. Were they there to protect the deceased? did they tell about the status of their life on earth? No written records exist but we know that over time simple clay cylinders developed into very elaborate human and animal shapes like the falconer, above.

Falconry was known to be practised by the aristocracy in Japan. Taka is the Japanese word for falcon. Taka means strength and bravery. It is no wonder that the art of falconry, takagari, was adopted by the warrior class, the samurai.

The military class ruled Japan during the Edo era. During the Tokugawa Shogunate, 1603-1858, local war lords (daimyo) and the Shogun hired painters to depict the falcons on crests, screens, textiles such as boy’s kimono, in hangings as well as in single sheets or albums.

The image below is one of many woodblock prints depicting falcons. This one is Falcons with nestlings in a pine tree at sunrise by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

Falconry is still practiced in Japan today. Here is a lovely short video about a woman who desired to take up the sport.

As it happens, I have just finished reading Queen of the Sky. That is probably why falcons are on my mind. In fact, this beautiful little book is sitting next to me. The illustrations are gorgeous.

What a marvellous little book written and illustrated by Jackie Morris. It is the story of Ffion Rees’s rescue of a Peregrine Falcon off the coast of Ramsay Island. It might be easy for someone to think, on the surface, that it is a condensed version of H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald. If so, they would be missing the book’s heart. It is about love. “Come and see what is in my kitchen” Ffion urges Jackie. It is a story that weaves the lives of the women and the bird – love, loss, and friendship – together in a book that you will not wish to set down. Morris draws you in – you can smell the sea and the land, you can hear the gulls and you want to escape into the wild that is Ramsay Island. Required with the book are at least half a dozen tissues.

Morris tells us that the Peregrine Falcons hatched on Ramsay’s Islands are believed to be the fastest and most fierce in all of the United Kingdom. The kings of England kept many birds from Ramsay.

As a child do you recall the nursery rhyme about the Four and Twenty Blackbirds baked in a pie? Can you conjure that image? Like the one in the old coloured drawing below?

“King William IV sits with knife and fork at the ready before a pie containing blackbirds served to him by Lord Melbourne. Coloured lithograph by H.B. (John Doyle), 1836.” is licensed under CC BY 4.0

But did you know that King Henry II (1133-1189), known as Henry the Falconer, allowed his noblemen to bring their falcons with them whenever there was a feast? And adding to that, did you know that Henry’s chefs made special pies full of live songbirds (they could not have baked them!) and when they were opened the birds flew out as fast as they could while the owners took the hoods off the falcons?

Hoods protect the eyes of the falcon and help to keep it calm. They can very elaborate. This one is in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England. It dates from the early 17th century and is made of leather which has been incised and gilded. There is silk velvet embroidery with silver thread along with silver breads and a tuft. It is typical of the type of hoods used in Europe at the time. Isn’t it gorgeous?

@Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Can you see it in those cold stone castles with their long wooden tables, pies full of birds flying and thrashing about being chased by stealth fliers? Plucked feathers flying all about and landing in the food?

Falcons raise their eyases in scrape boxes or on the sides of cliffs or in caves. The scrape are shallow and contain gravel. It is believed that the falcons developed this method of raising their chicks to keep away the pests and diseases associated with twig nests.

There are several falcon scrapes that have streaming cams. One of the most famous couples in the United States is Annie and Grinnell who have their scrape box in the Campanile of the University of California at Berkeley. They have just fledged three boys – Fauci, Kaknu, and Wek-Wek. At this time of year, if you want to watch falcons hatch and fledge, you have to go to the falcon streaming cams in the Southern Hemisphere. Two are the CBD Peregrine Falcons otherwise known as the Collins Street Falcons in Melbourne, Australia and the scrape box of Xavier and Diamond on top of the water tower on the campus of Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia. The CBD Peregrine Falcon Cam is not up and running yet. I will let you know when it is.

Here is the link to the live streaming cam with Diamond, Xavier, and their nine-month old son, Izzi, who refuses to leave home!

I am very happy to say that the two chicks on the Sarasota Bay Osprey Nest survived their very first hurricane. Here they are at 10 am, Wednesday, 7 July.

Tiny Tot’s nest held up perfectly well, too. No one was on it but one of the adult visitors this morning for a bit. We all assume that the impact of the storm had no harmful effects on our beloved Osprey family in St. Petersburg.

The question of who this bird is has driven me a little nuts. The bird has the white ‘V’ and the rounded white heart shape that Tiny Tot has. It has the black patch on the rear of the head that Tiny has. It has Tiny’s short thick legs. But, this is an adult!

Thank you for joining me today. Many of us are quite tired having stayed up to ride the hurricane out. It is such a relief that it has passed. If today’s blog is a little disconnected – that was the state of my mind last night. It will all pass (we hope). Take care all!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen images: The Bay Sarasota Osprey Cam and the Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg, Florida.