Bird World News 16.2.22

It is -17 C on the Canadian Prairies, almost noon on 16 February. The temperatures will drop overnight so that it is -32 C tomorrow. No snow. Yeah! But the wind was blowing this morning and swirling around Mrs Woodpecker when she was eating the suet.

Yes that white strip is actually how the blowing snow looked to the camera. Isn’t she lovely? None of the other birds had arrived and she had this compressed seed cylinder all to herself. They seem to prefer it over the more traditional suet- at least at our breakfast bar!

It is the middle of the night in Port Lincoln Australia and Ervie and Dad are on the barge. Ervie on the nest and Dad up on the perch.

Yesterday afternoon I needed a break from the worrying over NE27 and so I went and checked on Xavier and Diamond. Diamond had a large crop and was in the scrape. Oh, she is gorgeous.

Did you know that the Latin word peregrinus means ‘foreign, wandering’? Apparently they noted that the bird was constantly on the move!

Sharpie came to visit the other day and I was reminded, looking at him, that he is just so much smaller in size that the Peregrine Falcons which are medium to large size hawks.

I love how the raptors can close one eye with their nictitating membrane, that third eyelid unique to them.

It was comforting to see Diamond in the scrape. Breeding will not take place til the late summer but if you are longing for Peregrine Falcons, it is time to turn your attention to Annie and Grinnell at the UC-Berkeley Campus. Egg laying should be taking place in a couple of weeks.

Both of the chicks have hatched at the Eagle Country nest of Abigail and Blazer. The oldest was given the name Thunder and the youngest is Fern. Fern gets some bites amidst a bit of bonking from Thunder.

There is a pip on at least one of Andy and Lena’s eggs at the Captiva Osprey Cam. I thought it was on two eggs, some think only one.

Here is the link to the cam:

I grew up in Oklahoma. Sadly, one of the oldest living eagles, Taurus, who was an ambassador for the Sequoyah State Park in my home state died. Taurus was 43 years old!

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article258434148.html

At the 07:10 feeding on the NEFlorida Bald Eagle nest of Samson and Gabby, NE27 did the old snatch and grab. It got right under the parent and up so it could grab ignoring a couple of earlier pecks by 26.

NE27 needs to keep its head and neck away from NE26. It seems to know that. It is also figuring out how to circumvent NE26 and get up front quicker. Clever little eaglet.

Later NE27 stared down 26 with the older sibling not reacting. Well done, Little Bit.

That cheeping by Little Bit is because it is hungry. Some eaglets do it more than others.

We are in the third week. We should be seeing this competitive behaviour by 26 easing up in the next week. NE27 is going to be fine and much better suited to deal with the outside world where there will be huge competition with other raptors.

If you missed it, Liberty and Guardian now have three eggs as of yesterday! I missed that one for sure. Last year this couple fledged three juvenile eagles. The Redding California Bald Eagle nest is one to watch!

Here is the link to the Redding Cam:

The sun is shining bright and it is getting a little colder. I am off for my walk and to check on the chickadee at the park. There is a small bag of seeds for it in my pocket today.

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

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Osprey, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Captiva Osprey Cam, and NEFlorida Eagle Cam and the AEF.

New Year’s Eve in Bird World

The Audubon Society has posted a list of five rules when photographing Bald Eagles. I think that they apply to every bird. Be respectful. Prey is often scarce and if you see a raptor hunting food don’t disturb it, please. Their life could depend on it!

https://www.audubon.org/magazine/winter-2017/five-rules-photographing-bald-eagle-nests?fbclid=IwAR0rgIDuOUG1oXKaHil_H4B_mFz6TF6JzcL-1fuIpMJG8Hgw4Smxbh_02BE

The other day I called E19 and E20 little stinkers. What a pair! One of them was even beaking an adult this morning! E20 holds its own – it just makes everyone a little anxious. They are strong and healthy. The images are a little fuzzy as I tried to crop them so you could see the little ones better.

Here they are going at it first thing while Mum tries to get over to feed them breakfast. Both had huge crops and at the second feeding weren’t interested in eating just dusting it up.

This cheeky eaglet facing Mum was beaking at her feathers!

Even with all the action, they are both adorable with their spiky tops.

Harriet has just finished feeding the pair some nice fresh fish.

Harriet is so experienced. It is often one bite for you and then a bite for your sibling.

Here is a video showing Dad, M15 giving E19 and E20 the last meal of the day yesterday!

It was a gorgeous morning at the NEFlorida Bald Eagle nest of Gabby and Samson.

Gabby is having a break looking over their territory in the morning mist.

Samson always enjoys getting some time with the eggs. Oh, so handsome.

Anna and Louis seem to have perfected transitioning incubation duties while protecting that one precious egg of theirs.

It is a beautiful nest full of pinecones for this little eaglet to use to learn how to grip with its talons.

It is already New Year’s Day in Australia and the Port Lincoln Lads were up early trying to get the first fish from Dad. It was 06:23 and Falky was on the nest!

Dad didn’t even eat the head!

Well done, Falky.

Diamond does not seem to have spent the night in the scrape box on the water tower at Charles Sturt University but she did arrive early. There was a lot of eee-chupping. It sounded like she was calling Xavier to come and join her. Xavier might have been off hunting for breakfast. It was a beautiful morning.

You are so beautiful, Diamond.

Everyone in Bird World seems to be doing just fine today. Big Red and Arthur have been spotted hunting together over by the power plant. It is comforting that all are doing well. We hope that all of the 2021 fledges fly safe, stay healthy, and have lots of prey items.

Thank you so much for joining me. Wishing you all a healthy and happy start to 2022. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: SWFlorida Bald Eagle Nest and D Pritchett Family, KNF Bald Eagle Nest, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and NE Florida Bald Eagle Nest and the AEF.

E20 is a pistol

Social media is filled with pictures of Harriet and M15’s two little eaglets. Those eaglets are adorable.

The meaning of the word ‘pistol’ describing someone is a compliment. It means that they are full of surprises. And, so it was today, that E20 showed him or herself to be a ‘pistol’ when it provoked the first round of beaking on the nest at the 07:04 feeding, its first! It happened again at 09:04 and Lady Hawk caught it in a video for us.

Those eaglets are sure cute even when they have fish juice running all over them.

No problem opening wide. The eaglets are eating some nice fresh fish flakes today and loving it.

Look at the size of that bite. I think that is E19 up at Harriet’s beak.

Harriet always makes sure that each of the babies are fed. She is a very experienced and excellent Bald Eagle Mum. She also knows when to put her foot down on the nonsense – she just casually goes over and gets on top of both of them. Sometimes they will miss a meal if she decides they need too. Often M15 will step in and they will tandem feed the youngsters. That is the best!

Wonderful dad, M15 on guard.

Another example of fishing line! This hawk was really lucky. Around a river or lake and you see fishing line – help clean it up! We owe it to them. — In order to help we need to be ready. It helps to have a very sharp pair of scissors, a box, some garbage bags, and gloves in the trunk. Of course, you can add to that. A fishing net is great along with old towels to help the birds not get so stressed.

I am so proud of the three juveniles at the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge. I just went to check on them and Falky tries fishing. I recorded it for you. He will dive from the right ropes into the water and he will do several flybys before landing pack on the ropes. Oh, they are sure trying.

I want to close with a beautiful video of Xavier and Diamond bonding in the scrape box. Nothing more precious than seeing a pair of raptors confirming their togetherness. It was a hard season for them with the loss of Yurruga and the other two eggs not being viable. We wish them the best for next year.

It seems like today is a day of videos instead of images. I hope that you enjoyed them.

Take care everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today. Enjoy little E19 and 20. We will be at the clown feet stage before we know it.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen and video captures: SWFlorida Eagle Cam and D Pritchett and the Port Lincoln Osprey Project.

A Christmas Miracle for ‘Christmas’ the Fawn

It is always heart warming to find that individual effort can really move people to action to help wildlife. We have been fortunate to see this happen many times this year and it gives us hope.

Some of you might remember Carrot the Deer. Everyone knew her and then she showed up with an arrow in her head last year. The community of Kenora, Ontario were devastated. Carrot got help! Well, meet ‘Christmas with the broken leg’ – and the woman who saved Carrot goes into action and will not take ‘no’ for an answer until she gets help for another deer in Kenora, Ontario!

I wonder why Harriet is such a popular name for Bald Eagle females???? Does anyone know? News is out that the Hilton Head Bald Eagle Mum, Harriet, has a confirmed pip today. Congratulations Mitch and Harriet. That is one substantial pip.

Oh, can you tell I am really missing these Bobble heads? The Pritchett Family has confirmed that there is no pip or Harriet and M15 yet. Perhaps tomorrow – 26 December, Boxing Day!

I can’t think of a better way to end this newsletter than with this beautiful tribute to adorable Yurruga. It’s lovely. Please have a look.

Take care everyone. Thank you for joining me this evening. See you soon!

Christmas Day in Bird World

It is a gorgeous Christmas morning over Big Bear Lake in San Bernadino County, California. This is the home of Bald Eagle couple, Jackie and Shadow. What a beautiful view as the sun rises to wake up the forest and the animals that live around the lake.

A little later the camera operator gives us a treat by panning around the area where Jackie and Shadow live.

Jackie and Shadow have been delivering some nice (some large) twigs to the nest. This wonderful couple live in the hope of hatching eaglets and we send them positive energy as we hope with them.

Harriet and M15 might be wishing for a little bit of the cooler northern Californian weather in Fort Myers. The couple began ‘listening’ to their eggs last evening. It is pip watch!

About four days before hatching, the eaglets will grow their egg tooth. Imagine it as a sharp spike facing outward towards the shell on the tip of the beak. The little ones will chip away at the shell. They will take their first breath and continue picking away until they have broken through and hatched. This whole process can take up to four days.

Last year Harriet and M15, fledged E17 and E18 – the twins that won all of our hearts from their first bobblehead days, to going into care for conjunctivitis, to their return. Beautiful fledglings. Best friends.

I am so glad that Samson and Gabby did not lay their eggs at the same time as Harriet and M15. This way we will get to enjoy having two nests of bobble heads independent of one another! Last year, Gabby and Samson had one hatch, Legacy. S/he turned out to be a beautiful and formidable juvenile.

Gabby is on incubation duties.

Anna and Louis are also incubating two eggs and have a wait similar to that of Samson and Gabby. Their nest is in the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. This is the couple’s second breeding attempt. Last year they fledged Kisatchie, the first eaglet hatched and fledged on this nest in central Louisiana since 2013. Wow. Cody and Steve have installed sound at the nest this year.

It was fun watching Anna and Louis last year figure out what to do as new parents. Louis is a fabulous provider. When he is not loading the nest down with fish, he is aiming to give Anna the softest Spanish Moss he can find for the egg cup! Just look at it.

Clive and Connie are incubating two eggs over at Captiva. They have had some terrible weather there lately and this image is from yesterday. The camera appears to be down this morning.

Clive is a new mate for Connie. Last year, Connie and Joe hatched two eaglets, Peace and Hope, who died on the nest from rodenticide poisoning.

One of the ospreys over wintering at Urdaibai in the Basque Country of Spain waking up to Christmas morning.

While many of the Ospreys are opting to stay on the Iberian Peninsula instead of making the long journey down to The Gambia or Senegal, there are still celebrations as the December count along the Senegal coast was 1100 birds this year. Jean-Marie Dupart did an amazing job going out and counting all of the beautiful fish eagles. Thank you!

German Osprey along the coast of Senegal.

Closer to home, Jack and Diane have been working on their nest. Some really nice strips of bark have been brought in. Last year, the pair fledged three for the first time: Sibling 1, Sibling 2, and the miracle bird who survived against all the odds and became dominant, Tiny Tot Tumbles.

Cilla Kinross is celebrating the third camera at Charles Sturt Falcon Project. There is a ledge and box camera and now one that shows the falcons flying around the outside of the water tower. Congratulations, Cilla.

Here is the link if you wish to check out the new tower cam:

Big Red and Arthur have been spotted out hunting so all is well with the Red-tail Hawks on the Cornell Campus. Hope to have images I can post for you shortly.

The countdown is on for all the hawk and osprey fans…three months til Big Red is incubating eggs and three months til the first arrivals of the Western Ospreys back in the UK. Oh, and the beautiful storks of Latvia and Estonia. May they all stay safe until then.

Wishing all of the birds who bring us such joy, extra prey items, good weather, and safe flying.

Thank you for joining me today. No matter what holiday you celebrate, I hope that you have a peaceful, joyful day, with something a little special. For those birds not with us today, we thank them for the happiness they gave to us – and as one of my readers ‘B’ so eloquently said, ‘and all they taught us.’ So true. Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Friends of Big Bear, NEFlorida Eagle Cam and the AEF, SWFlorida Eagle Cam and D Pritchett Family, KNF Eagle Cam, Captiva Eagle Cam, Urdaibai Biosphere Osprey Cam, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and the Achieva Osprey Cam.

Note: Port Lincoln Osprey Cam is down or we would all get a look at those lads!

Little Yurruga

As many of you are aware, Yurruga has not been seen since last Thursday. Cilla Kinross saw him on the top of a building in the pitching down rain and later, university workers also saw Yurruga on the same building. Cilla sent me a short note this morning because I had written to her earlier about Yurruga’s 2nd right tail feather still being contained by the quill. The local vet did not think this was a problem but, like Cilla Kinross, was concerned about a lack of feather development on the little falcon. What impact this might have had will never be known. Cilla has looked and looked in all the places Yurruga might be and others but she is concerned and has posted a note that has been placed on the FB Page for the Orange Peregrine Falcons. I was very touched because she referred to Yurruga as a ‘poor little lamb.’ Every day is a test for our birds. Even the strongest have challenges. It is difficult enough for fledglings but compounded with unkind weather for numerous days, well. Yurruga should be flying around screaming at his parents for food and the conclusion is that he is no longer with us.

The parents, Xavier and Diamond, had an extremely long – fifteen minute or more – bonding session in the scrape yesterday morning at 05:15. This is simply not something that would normally happen with a fledgling needing prey and training. Considering the work of Marc Bekoff (Emotional Lives of Animals), Jane Goodall, the observations of Hob Osterlund with the Laysan Albatross, the bonding behaviour of Xavier and Diamond should be considered alongside grief. While we have only a limited view of the falcon’s behaviour, it might be assumed that the couple have now grieved for their wee one and are, with the weight of that loss, reconfirming their love and commitment to one another. We cannot do a brain scan on Diamond’s hippocampus (area of brain in human animals for emotion) to see if it lights up, Barbara J King in her book, How Animals Grieve, would tell you that the investment in the mating, the making of the egg, the care and incubation, the care and feeding after and training, she says that ‘grief comes from love loss.’ There have been roadside funerals of Crows, Ospreys who have mourned the loss of their chicks by predators. Other bird species and drowned themselves after the death of their mate. And, of course, all of you reading my blog, will know about Arnold and Amelia, the two Canada geese. Arnold and Amelia lived at the pond on the grounds of the clinic (fortunate for them!).* Arnold had one of its digits severed by a snapping turtle and required surgery. Amelia went to look for Arnold and watched through the glass, finally sharing a meal and a pen til Arnold was released.

So, today, we grieve with Xavier and Diamond over the loss of little Yurruga.

It was a beautiful morning when little Yurruga flew for the first time.
Diamond and Yurruga bathed in the golden glow of the sun the morning Yurruga flew.
Xavier feeding his baby.
Xavier brings prey for Yurruga.
Diamond and her baby.
Xavier feeding Yurruga. Xavier loved getting a chance early on to feed his little one.

What an adorable little eyas. Fly high little one. Fly high.

I am so sorry to bring this terrible news to you. We join Xavier and Diamond, Cilla Kinross and the team at Orange in their mourning.

Thank you to Charles Sturt University and Cilla Kinross for the streaming cam where we get to share the joys and the sorrows – and where I took my screen shots of this lovely Peregrine Falcon family.

  • I say this because many do not consider the mate when one is taken into care. Arnold and Amelia were extremely lucky.

Friday and Australian Raptors

The FB of the Orange Australian Peregrine Falcons posted an interesting article with the vocalizations of Peregrine Falcons. Want to understand what those falcons are doing or saying?

When Victor Hurley did his Q & A session about the Melbourne Collins Street Falcons, he mentioned a book. That volume, Australian Birds of Prey by Penny Olsen is one of the most informative and beautiful books. Published in 1995 most of the information remains relevant today. The statistics on how many birds exist will change but the information on all of the falcons, size, ID, brooding, etc remain the same. One of the things I love about it are the drawings of the raptors.

Note: Do not be fooled by books of a similar name. Check and make sure it is Penny Olsen 1995.

Images from old print collections. In this instance it is the Wedge-tailed Eagle, the largest raptor in Australia, in a hand coloured drawing from the early 19th century.

The stories of how these early drawings came to be made just wrenches your heart especially when foreigners to Australia would injure the birds and hope to take them back to England. This bird managed with a wound to claw its way through a rope and escape, thankfully. Our ideas of the rights of animals are changing but we still have much much more to do!

The image below is of a Hobby. Olsen comments that young raptors spend much more time lying down than they do standing. The photographer has caught this small falcon resting. What a lovely capture!

The Hobby is also known as ‘The Little Falcon’ or the ‘Little Duck Hawk.’ It is a member of the Falconidae family of diurnal, day time hunting, raptors.

One of the things that I like about the book are the tables that compare the various raptors in Australia to one another and the topics that cover everything from ecology (habitat, dispersion, , mortality), predators, reproduction, health, raptors and humans as well as conservation.

This is an impressive book and if you can get your hands on a copy – there are no reprints – it is, as Victor Hurley says, ‘essential for a library’.

Continuing on with the raptors from Australia, Cilla Kinross posted a video of a bonding session between Xavier and Diamond. Listen for the vocalizations (after you read and listen to the first article today).

There is no current update on Yurruga. He was seen day before yesterday on a roof. It rained hard and steady yesterday and Orange and I imagine our wee fledgling was hunkered down somewhere wanting to stay dry. Not good to try and hone your flying skills in a down pour!

I have not seen any updates or sightings of the 367 Collins Street fledglings. If something comes up I will let you know! It is still bittersweet looking at the four of them and the wee male not making it. But, on the brighter side, we could have lost all of the eyases this year. “Be thankful for what we have and don’t wish for what we don’t” was a common mantra of my grandmother.

The season in Australia is winding down as our lads on the Port Lincoln Osprey barge continue to get stronger and stronger and will become more independent and learn how to fish soon. It is wonderful that we will be able to follow Ervie on his adventures with his sat-pak. Let’s see if PLO has posted anything today!

This is the last posting when Ervie flew over land on 23 November. To the surprise of many, Solly also flew over land and into the interior a bit which will go a long ways to informing the power companies where they need to put those protectors on the hydro poles.

All three are sleeping adult style, standing up with their head tucked under a wing.

As to the situation with Annie and Grinnell and the interloper, the interloper male flew in to the Campanile and was greeted by Annie. UC Falcons have not seen Grinnell and Annie together as yet. Challenges and conflict over territory could happen. Fingers crossed.

As things go quiet in Australia, I will begin to list some of the Bald Eagle and Osprey nests in North America that you can watch. If you have a favourite, let me know and tell me why you like it so I can pass that along to others. Thank you!

Thank you for joining me today. Stay safe. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB pages where I took my screen captures: Orange, Australian Peregrine Falcons, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac, and Port Lincoln Osprey Project.

Saturday in Bird World

Sometimes you don’t need any words to go with the images. It was 13:30 Saturday 20 November at Diamond and Xavier’s scrape box in Orange, Australia. Yurruga is 44 days old.

Some of the volunteers at the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital are on the grounds around UC-Berkeley in case there is a falcon that needs to go in care. So far nothing. Annie has been seen soaring with the intruder that injured Grinnell. Despite Grinnell returning to his and Annie’s territory there is no certainty that he will be successful in winning his mate back or keeping his territory. Will bring all news to you when I hear it.

Bazza ‘finally’ got a portion of a fish at 12:36 yesterday. Here is a parent delivering.

The boys and their wings.

You can see Bazza’s red leg band – he has the portion of fish. Good job, Bazza. Look at Dad’s nice crop. My goodness. He has delivered so many fish to this nest I wonder if he had any portions for himself. We know the answer now.

It is so funny. Falkey is mantled like he has a fish too. Ervie is full and doesn’t care. Bazza enjoyed every morsel. Now – everyone has eaten and it is only the middle of the day. Dad has brought in at least three fish in 6 hours. Gold star.

Falkey will go on to get the 17:15 delivery from Dad. Falkey is really getting good at grabbing those fish. He seems to have ditched his nickname ‘Mellow Yellow’.

At 19:13 Bazza is going to steal what is left of Falkey’s fish right from under him. Good work, Bazza. He’s catching on. That is grand.

Bless his heart, Dad brought in yet another fish at 19:50. Bazza and Ervie fought for it. Lost it and then Ervie found it. Dad is really taking care of his boys. Thanks, Dad. If you are wondering, Bazza has hovered but has not done any flying other than the day he had the fight with Ervie and landed on the deck of the boat in Dad’s area.

Other News:

For those of you wondering about the Cornell RTH camera of Big Red and Arthur, there is a power outage at the Alumni Fields that is affecting the camera.

Poole Harbour Osprey Friends will be holding a free on line talk about the importance of bird life. Here is the information:

https://www.birdsofpooleharbourbookings.co.uk/event/osprey-project-talk?fbclid=IwAR0E886G-XBU-n5Q20cVXARlKaUNeaAxSsneJslHavl1Wjuza_EkqjSY1SQ

Bruce Yolton who writes the blog Urban Hawks and takes amazing images of the raptors in New York City, has been looking at the 86th Street Peregrine Falcons. Have a look.

I have been lucky to have stayed in Southeast Asia many times. I am particularly fond of Cambodia and Laos. The rice farmers in Cambodia have started planting a new type of rice to attract the birds back to their fields. It is a good little read.

It has been a great morning. We have not seen the garden rabbit, Hedwig, for some time. We were afraid that the construction of new condos about three blocks away destroyed the rabbit burrows. Perhaps the rabbits have moved. I was delighted to see him. He must have been under the feeders eating seed for some time because I didn’t have time to get my camera before he left.

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care everyone. Enjoy your Saturday. I am going to step back and listen to Ferris Akel’s Tour until it is time to feed all the birds.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots: the Port Lincoln Osprey and Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

Yurruga

Yurruga is 43 days old.

Yurruga is a Peregrine Falcon whose parents, Xavier and Diamond, have their scrape on the water tower at Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia. Soon this beautiful fully feathered falcon will take its first flight out to that world that it is becoming increasingly interested in.

There are, according to Helen MacDonald in her book, Falcon, “60-odd species of the falcon family Falconidae…Those species are subdivided into four groups: the largely insectivorous hobbies, the tiny, bird-killing merlins, the kestrels and…the large falcons which are divided into two groups, the peregrines and the desert falcons.” The Falco Pereginus or the peregrines are fast flying hunters in the open air whose physical traits have developed over millions of years.

In the world of falconry, the female peregrine is called a falcon while the male is called a tiercel. In French, tiercel means a third indicating that the male is roughly 1/3 the size of the female.* This is called sexual dimorphism. Many also believe that the third hatch is always a male, a tiercel.

Yurruga has incredible vision. In The Peregrine by JA Baker, he says, “The eyes of a falcon peregrine weigh approximately one ounce each; they are larger and heavier than human eyes. If our eyes were in the same proportion to our bodies as the peregrine’s are to his, a twelve stone man would have eyes three inches across weighing four pounds.” * White goes on to say that the whole retina of a hawk’s eye records objects “twice as acute as that of the human retina…with a resolution eight times as great as ours.” Helen MacDonald states that while humans have one fovea and falcons have two enabling them to have two images of the same object fused in their brain.*** Humans have three receptors – red, green, and blue but falcons have four. We have three-dimensional colour vision, falcons can see four. In other words, these magnificent slate grey birds with their streaked chests, yellow cere and legs are far superior in their vision than we could ever wish to equal.

Southern falcons, such as Yurruga, are said to have significantly larger beaks than northern birds. Historically it was believed that these evolved for killing parrots. Researchers today are not quite sure of the discrepancy in size between the two geographical locations.

Peregrines also have a tomial tooth. This is a razor sharp point shaped like a triangle on the outer edges of the upper mandible that fits into a slot in the lower mandible. They use this tooth to bite into the neck of their prey to cut the vertebrae killing the bird instantly.

Sometimes Yurruga sits on the ledge of the scrape box with her mother, Diamond, looking out on the family’s territory.

Once Yurruga fledges, her parents, Diamond and Xavier, will teach her to hunt and will supply her with prey until she makes her very first kill. Yurruga will normally leave the parent’s territory after 4-6 weeks of training.

In the image below, you can clearly see Yarruga’s tomial tooth and her large eyes. She looks so much like a falcon today as opposed to a nestling. She is a gorgeous bird. Some viewers and chatters have gotten upset when Yurruga is aggressive with either Diamond or Xavier. Cilla Kinross said, “Shrinking violets won’t last long in the real world.” So true. Sadly, the survival rate of falcons in their first year is low. We know that Yurruga’s brother, Izzi, was thriving and we hope that she will, too.

One last observation. Diamond has been broody lately. She has incubated or fiddled with the eggs on numerous occasions. This could just be hormones or the physical eggs being there triggering Diamond. But, I wonder if she understands that ‘her baby’ will only be in the scrape a little while longer and she wants to ‘mother’?

In the middle of the night, Diamond was looking at her beautiful daughter.

As winter sets in, we are all looking for some good reads. There are many field guides that feature falcons but it is difficult cuddly up with a field guide. Looking at my bookshelf, I can see any number of them. If, however, you are looking for a really good read to understand the cultural history of falcons and their mythology, I highly recommend (and have done so many times) Helen MacDonald’s Falcon. MacDonald is an excellent and knowledgable writer that easily draws you into her respect and love for these birds. If you have exhausted the guides and have all three of MacDonald’s books, then there is another one. It is a small book illustrated by Welsh artist, Jackie Morris. She is incredibly talented. It is called Queen of the Sky and tells about the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of a peregrine falcon in Wales. An enjoyable read. Morris has a great website full of her wonderful animal stories and bird images.

https://www.jackiemorris.co.uk/

Thank you so much for joining me today. Stay warm! and safe!

Thank you to Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.

*The males are 7.62- 10 cm or 3-4 inches shorter than the females who are 43 to 50.9 cm or 17 to 20 inches long.

** 12 stone is 76.20 kg or 168 lbs

*** The fovea is the tiny pit located in the macula of the eye’s retina. It allows light to fall directly on the cones to give extremely sharp images.

Oh, Bazza

Bazza, the first hatch at the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge, is the last nestling to fledge. OK. He hasn’t fledged yet but you might have been fooled at 06:15 this morning when you saw an empty nest. Bazza was doing amazing hovering. Maybe this will be his day to fly! Wouldn’t that be grand? Bazza could begin to explore the cove with his brothers, Ervie and Falkey.

He really seems to want to be out there enjoying all the fun! But to put all of this into perspective, Ervie fledged early at 60 days. Bazza is 65 days old and Solly fledged last year at 65 days. DEW did not fledge til 73 days. Ervie just got us all excited! And then of course, Falkey followed suit rather quickly, too. But if Bazza does fledge today it will be right in line with Solly.

Yurruga, the nestling Peregrine Falcon in the scrape box of Xavier and Diamond on the grounds of Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia, is waiting for her breakfast. She is looking a little ‘ragged’ this morning. Almost all of the baby down is off!

Grinnell, the resident male Peregrine Falcon, at the Campanile on UC-Berkley’s campus, was released one hour ago in his territory. He has been in the Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital and in ‘home care’ since he was injured in a territorial take over bid on 29 October. That is the latest news that I have. The cameras are being rotated a bit to try and get a glimpse of what will ultimately happen when Grinnell tries to land on the Campanile and take his place beside Annie. Will he succeed? Will the interloper? Here is a link to one of the cams:

It is nothing short of a blustery winter day on the Canadian prairies. Snow is blowing everywhere, some more flakes are falling, and the temperature is warm enough to be causing ice. It was a bit worrisome when I stopped at the pond and found a few ducks in a small open space of water.

They seemed to be enjoying themselves. No one seemed to have feather or wing issues but that open water is closing in fast.

There they are from a distance. It will give you some perspective on the size of the little pond.

I was surprised to see a few standing on the ice. Ducks – at least here – tend not to like to get their paddles cold.

My garden has been ‘very loud’ all day with about 200 or more House Sparrows all clamouring for food – which is in abundance. This little fellow was all puffed up to stay warm.

There was one lone Black-Capped Chickadee eating something in the Flame Willow. Like the sparrows, the chickadees are year round visitors to the feeders.

The two books from Roy Dennis Wildlife – Mistletoe Winter and Cottongrass Summer – arrived today. I have just finished Chris Packham and Meg McCubbin’s book and Isabella Tree’s on wilding to help restore the environment. It will be interesting to see what Dennis says in his latest book, Mistletoe Winter. Now for a nice cup of hot tea to go with it.

Send out positive wishes to Grinnell and all our feathered friends.

Thank you for joining me today. Take care everyone and be safe.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Port Lincoln Osprey Project.