Wednesday in Bird World

21 September 2022

Good Morning!

It is early (for me). The garden birds are very quiet. It is starting out to be a beautiful day as I work on getting to know this computer but, rain is to start today and be with us again on Friday and Saturday. It is always good to get the trees that have grown so much over the summer with all the torrential downpours a good soaking before frost.

One of the things that was lost were the images that I took yesterday at one of the ponds. So I want all of you to use your imagination. I could not believe my eyes. There before me were seven young ducklings just like the singular one at the nature centre. No feathers just fuzz on their bodies. They were all cuddled up together keeping warm. Today it is 10 degrees C. We are at the time of migration. All of the nature centres are opening up for special events as the birds from the north make their way to the wetlands and the big ponds enroute to their winter homes far south of us. Will the arrival of winter be late? What will happen to these wee ones? I have never seen small ducklings like this at this time of year. The spring floods and destruction of eggs has certainly caused issues. There are ducks that overwinter on our Assiniboine River near to where my daughter lives but…what about these little gaffers?

Making News:

Victor at his release. 19 September 2022.

For all of those wondering, the site where Victor was released is at the coast right across from the Channel Islands. Great choice! Let us all hope to see Victor near Fraser’s Point in a couple of years! Wouldn’t that be grand. It appears it was the best site for release like the Channel Islands but the closest point to his nest without breaking any regulations. Isn’t Dr Sharpe the best?

It seems that once we get a good population of birds established we then want to take their habitat away. This is what is happening in Albania wit the pelicans!

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/21/albania-dalmatian-pelican-colony-narta-faces-threat-vlora-airport-aoe

Nest News:

So far, there are still only two osplets at Port Lincoln. The third egg is 37 days old and there is still time for it. Some chatters are wondering if there is any movement inside. We will have to keep our eyes opened! The other two and Mum seem to be doing splendidly.

The streaming camers (3) at the SWFlorida Bald Eagle nest of Harriet and M15 will be going live during the first week of October.

Xavier brought an Eastern Rosella, well prepared, for Diamond who was excited and got off the nest. Xavier is a lovely! Hatch not expected til the first week in October but we are getting there…2 weeks?

Beautiful Diamond.

Xavier gets some ‘eggie time’. Yes! Can you tell how much I love this cute little falcon who is no longer in his prime but gosh, he is a fantastic mate and he loves his chicks. I sure hope this season turns out well for these two.

So many of you are marveling at the plumage colours of the little sea eaglets. They are gorgeous. A friend laughed at me for loving the feathering of the Red-tail Hawks. “Just wait til you see the Sea Eagles!” Oh, she was so right. It is hard to see the colours when the sun is at a certain angle but have a good look at them.

Our eagles are approaching their 10th week. They are still growing some feathers under their wings. Their wing flapping and jumping around is going to continue to get every more vigorous. Just breathe. They can scare the wit’s out of you when they start jumping on and off the rim of the nest and the branches . In week 11 you will see them gain some real height in their hovering. They will begin to sleep more and more with their head tucked into their wings rather than duckling style although fledglings also prefer duckling style on occasion. It must be much more comfortable! Self-feeding is getting better.

We do not want to talk about fledging but, after 70 days it is possible. And we are at that point. So spend your time watching these two and the hatches at Port Lincoln. SE29 and 30 will be gone in a blink and the osplets will be growing and changing so fast it will be hard to recognize these sweet fuzzy babies in a week!

Victor Hurley is going to post a pre-recorded session where he answers your questions about what is going on at Melbourne on Thursday, Australia time. That will be in a few hours. If you have questions, you can submit them on the 367 Collins Falcon Watchers FB page. Dr Hurley asks that you read the PDF that he posted on the top of the FB site before submitting questions.

We are all very curious to see what will be happening. The second male does some quick on and off mating which – well, we are now nearing hatch which should be 5 days away. Mum’s hormones will not be in breeding but incubation and caring for young. It appears that the old male continues to provide food for Mum. Oh, I hope that this clutch makes it but we are going to just have to wait and see.

Migration News:

Checking on the Black Stork family from the Karula National Forest in Estonia. There has been no transmission for Karl II since the 4th of September. Bonus and Kaia were still in their respective areas with their last report coming in on the 20th of September. Hopefully this evening there will be some new news.

Birdmap is showing tremendous progress for the Ospreys and, one, in particular, flew across Europe to Spain instead of going directly South. Brilliant! The Ospreys are already heading into central Africa! You can go to BirdMap and get the animated version of their journeys.

Did you know:

How long do Bald Eagles live?

https://birdfact.com/articles/how-long-do-bald-eagles-live?fbclid=IwAR28ZeEq0BVJMgSX852wOBP7kcICCL6iKHdzvl0FIB7TUUxGNZSliJdQBFk

Thank you so much for being with me today. We are looking forward to the third hatch in Port Lincoln but, for now, in the night, Mum is getting some much needed rest! Take care of yourself and I will look forward to seeing you again real soon.

If you are sending me e-mails (which I love), please use this new address: maryasteggles@outlook.com Thanks so much!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Ojai Raptor Centre, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam, and BirdMap.

Hatch and a Pip at Port Lincoln

18 September 2022

Well, it is Sunday morning and I did not make it to Toronto this trip. I have been slightly unwell – nothing concerning – just a bad reaction to a new medication which I have not stopped using. Still, it makes you feel like you just want to get under the duvet and sleep for a week. I want to spend superior time with that Harris Hawk so soon. Until I am back to normal, the blog will probably be a little shorter than usual.


So, like many of you, I spent Saturday anxiously awaiting the arrival of Ervie’s sibling. It seems that this pip did not emerge into a crack as soon as some of us might have hoped. Here are some images from today. It is now after noon in Port Lincoln. Perhaps there will be a little osplet by evening – and, perhaps, just perhaps, its cheeping will bring the second one along!

Mum will be very tired. Dad blew in and gave her a break at 12:16:17 until 12:26:41. Good for you Dad. Mum was hungry! Here is an image of the changeover! (Thanks Renie for that timestamp!)

The first egg pipped on the 17th of September at 20:53:37. Hatch was on the 18th at 21:27:30. The second egg pipped at 19:53:00.

Making News:

The male intruder at the Melbourne Peregrine Falcon nest has made the news along with the nest and the wonderings about how this might end.

It remains unclear what will happen at Melbourne, however. The arrival of the second male has clearly caused a disturbance in what should have been a routine incubation and hatch with the old male and the new female. The fact that the old male has not been able to rid his territory of this second male is very worrisome. The old male began breeding at this site in 2017 which makes him at least 8 years old now. The average life span, according to Victor Hurley, is 6 years. There is definitely competition for the nest site and the female which might prove to create a very difficult season for hatch and raising chicks. There has been a lot of ‘racket’ in the background. The competition will probably not end well as normally the males will fight to the death.

Meanwhile things are fine at the Sydney Sea Eagles cam. Lady Hawk posted a video of a great feeding with the eaglets flapping and getting stronger every day as we enter week 9. SE 30 continues to get some really good fish, too. Both sea eaglets doing well. Expect much more flapping..

Everything is rock solid at the scrape in Orange, thankfully. We do not need the drama that Melbourne is experiencing – just a strong healthy eyas or two in about 12 days.

Handsome Xavier.

Loch Arkaig has produced their season review. Have a look. Enjoy the bag pipes! Thanks Mary Kerr for all the great memories from arrival to departure.

Thank you for joining me for this short blog. Stay tuned to Port Lincoln as the second hatch will probably come quicker than the first. Then we wait for three and hope that they are grouped together closely. Let us all hope that Melbourne can settle and save this years clutch. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams, videos, or posts that make up my blog today: Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Lady Hawk, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, Mary Kerr and Friends of Loch Arkaig, the Woodland Trust and the People’s Post Code Lottery.

It’s 3 for Diamond and Xavier and Bonus and Kaia were 25 km apart…Early Wednesday in Bird World

31 August 2022

Good Morning Everyone.

The sun is once again shining bright on the Canadian prairies. There is not a cloud in the sky and it is getting hot. By tea time the temperature will have risen to 29 degrees C from the current 22. It is a day to make certain that there is plenty of water for the birds in the garden — and lots of food. The migrants are moving through.

Yesterday, I went for a ride to check the birds in the countryside. The gulls were enjoying the fields that the farmers had just plowed and a single Ring-billed gull thought that it could share my lunch.

There was a quiet stillness over the wetlands at Oak Hammock Marsh. A few geese, a handful of ducks and shore birds were around but nothing like what will begin to happen as September begins. Migratory birds will be landing at dusk and taking off in the early morning hours.

In the Mailbox:

This letter comes from a local friend but, it could be from anyone: “Every time I reach out to help the wildlife, I get told to leave nature alone (in the rudest way), nature will take care of itself. What is your advice?”

I wonder what you would say to this individual?

My advice is to ignore the negative comments. Lead by example. We have destroyed the habitats and, thus, the lives of the wildlife. We poison their water and have caused the oceans to warm. We throw our garbage into their ponds. We have destroyed their food supplies…we shoot them. It is time to embrace caring and understanding. Wildlife – the whole of it – are sentient beings, they have feelings and emotions. They deserve the best we can give them. We need to become selfless and put wildlife first, not ourselves. Putting humans first has caused us to be in the present state we find our planet in. Peter Merren says, ‘Care for Nature begins at home.’

Making News:

The plans to stop two pairs of Bald Eagles from being able to access their nests is causing a lot of outrage in British Columbia. You can sign the petition, too, by copying the link into your browser!

BirdGuides finds many human-induced changes to the environment that are killing the migratory birds. Of these infra-structure, hunting, and earth warming are the top three.

https://www.birdguides.com/articles/conservation/built-infrastructure-hunting-and-climate-change-linked-to-huge-migrato/

Nest News:

The birds are on the move and I found a super guide to Osprey migration. Everything you wanted to ask and were afraid to…It will give you some great insights as to what is happening at all the nests.

https://birdfact.com/articles/osprey-migration

Loch of the Lowes has an announcement:

While Loch of the Lowes is empty, the Glaslyn nest of Aran and Mrs G still has three chicks yelling at Dad to bring in the fish!

Louis has delivered a nice fish to Sarafina at the Loch Arkaig nest this morning.

Idris brought a nice fish to Padern who appears to be the only fledgling at the Dyfi Nest. Paith was last seen at 1700 on the 29th.

I got a little emotional when I saw that Bonus and Kaia were just 25 km apart in Belarus. My heart beat a little faster wondering if it was possible that they would fish together along the shores of the Priyapat River. It was not meant to be…Kaia flew into the Ukraine again and then set a trajectory quickly east. Meanwhile Karl II remains in Estonia enjoying an empty nest (yes, parents do love their children but it is also nice to have some quiet and fish to one’s self). I want to give a real shout out to those that are posting the maps and images on the Looduskalender site for Karl II and his family’s migration. I have included their comments and image notes so you can see where Bonus and Kaia are in the image below.

Moving forward, on the 31st, here are the locations of the individual Black Storks.

The other big nest news is that Diamond has now laid her third egg. It happened at 0525 on 31 August 2022. Historically, Diamond has only laid 3 eggs and for the past two seasons, only one of those has hatched.

You could tell things were happening. Diamond was focused and standing.

Xavier comes into the scrape box and he is so excited!!!!!!!!! Diamond is happy to show him the three precious eggs. The bowing and the rituals fascinate me…oh, to be able to speak falcon!

In celebration, Xavier brought Diamond a very nice breakfast. Now we can get a good look at those three beautiful eggs.

Diamond took a break and Xavier comes into the scrape to incubate the eggies…he loves doing helping out. Diamond does not always oblige him but he can incubate those eggs with the best of them!

“Oh, she’s back….maybe she won’t see me here!”

The Sea Eagles are picking up sticks and 29 is standing stronger and doing some wingersizing. Both are fine.

The light on SE29 really shows off the variation in plumage colours. One year I was thinking that everyone should go to their stylist and ask for a 26…the little eaglet at the time but, this year, right now, it could be a 30. They just get more and more beautiful.

As many know, my first love was hawks. There is nothing cuter than a precious Red-tail juvenile. One of the moderators of the Sea Eagle cam who also was the admin on the Cornell Chatters kept poking me and telling me that I would change my mind the minute I saw a sea eagle juvie. ‘TCR’ you were positively right, of course.

This eaglet just makes me melt. So gorgeous. Talk about clown feet! Whoaaaaaa. Did I hear someone say they would like to cuddle with this cutie pie??? Now before you hold up your hand, just look at those very sharp talons and think about your answer carefully.

This image shows the difference in the back plumage. SE 30 is on the left and SE29 is on the right. Plumage progress is going well for these two.

But if SE30 sits differently, it is hard to tell them apart!

SE 29 flapping those wings! SE30 is watching carefully.

I should warn you…when they both start flapping on that nest -at the same time – you are going to need some worry beads!

Everything is fine on the ledge in the CBD of Melbourne. Dad is really enjoying getting some incubation in the warm Australian sun.

All is well at Port Lincoln. As the month changes from August to September, we are now only two and a half weeks away form hatch. It has just been too long since we have seen a little osplet with its back stripe in a nest.

Just like it was at the marsh, it is pretty quiet in Bird World today. Everyone is on the move, incubating eggs, or enjoying a time not raising chicks and getting strong again.

Thank you so much for joining me this morning. Take care of yourselves wherever you are. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams, posts, and videos which make up my screen captures: vancouverisawesome.com, LOTL Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn, Friends of Loch Arkaig and the Woodland Trust, Dyfi Osprey Project, Looduskalender, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam at Orange, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Friends of Osprey.

Remembering Lindsay…and more. It’s Friday in Bird World

26 August 2022

Amidst the joy of Peregrine Falcon eggs in Australia at both Orange and Melbourne, the loss of dear Lindsay, the eldest of the two siblings hatched at The Campanile on the grounds of the University of California-Berkeley, remains heavy – a real heartbreaker. From the news it is apparent that Lindsay died several weeks ago; her body just being found today. She was last seen on the Campanile on 5 August precisely three months after she hatched on 5 May. A life cut way too short.

Lindsay was one of a two-part miracle. Lindsay’s Mum, Annie lost her mate Grinnell when he was killed after chasing an intruder away from The Campanile. There was worry that there would be no chicks this season. Alden arrived in 5 or 6 hours hours (already a friend of Annie and Grinnell’s) and offered to help Annie incubate the eggs and take care of the chicks. We rejoiced at the love the two siblings had for one another, when they played, and when they chased moths. They grew strong and they flew. It is with such deep sadness that we say goodbye to Lindsay today. Fly high, Sweet Girl. Soar to new heights you never imagined.

Here is the full announcement from Cal Falcons. It appears that Lindsay’s death, from the evidence found from her body, was killed by another raptor.

It is heartbreaking. Lindsay had such potential and, of course, it is very possible that she was the last chick our beloved Grinnell fathered. She brought us such joy! I would like to share a few images of this remarkable falcon moving back in time from the last sighting of her on The Campanile on 5 August to the day she hatched.

Lindsay and Grinnell, Jr adopted many of the quirks of Alden including loafing. Annie has perfected it!

Annie and Grinnell, Jr playing together at The Campanile. The two siblings seemed to really enjoy playing with one another, something that I have not seen for a long, long time. It was refreshing.

Lindsay on the roof of the library on 18 June after fledging. Just look at this exceptionally beautiful juvenile. Stunning.

Do you remember banding day 27 May (on the right)? Lindsay was frightened but quiet. Alden would not stop being loud! Lindsay was still sit ting with a not so scared look on her face in early June.

Lindsay was also sitting in that same pose on 22 May.

Hatch day for Lindsay, 5 May. Grinnell wants to come and help. Annie is not sharing – yet – but she will and each of us will rejoice watching this wonderful family.

‘H’ just sent this press release on Lindsay. Thank you, ‘H’. Just made it before I hit send! Grateful.


From the Mailbox:

‘M’ writes: What do you think about this from Dyfi project? I am not sure I would pass off some of that behaviour as just “playing”, at least not based on how the smaller chick reacts. Wondered about your view, based on your study of third hatches.”

For transparency, I posted the information from Dyfi in one of my blogs. Emyr Evans has a long history with the Dyfi Nest in Wales. I have great respect for him but, in this instance, I choose to disagree.

In the UK Osplet deaths are generally attributed to either very poor weather in the early days after hatching or lack of prey, starvation not siblicide. There is little history of siblicide; there are so few breeding pairs and chicks compared to North America. This year, however, we did see it at the Loch of the Lowes Nest. It was rather horrific treatment of the third hatch that was killed by the eldest during a period of low prey delivery.

As you are aware, my research is on siblicide and, in particular, the success of any third hatch osplets vs the other two siblings. Because I track the juveniles long term this is limited to those that are ‘ringed’ and/or ringed with SAT tracking. My findings also rely on the good fortune of someone seeing the juveniles in the future and providing that information to various data bases! In my experience, the aggression shown by older siblings ranges from mild displays of dominance to more serious concerns that seem to taper off around the age of 26-28 days. Serious aggression often ends in the death of the smaller weaker sibling. There is much research to support the fact that it is not always about food. Sometimes it is just dominance.

‘M’ this, in my opinion, is not play. It is establishing the dominant bird on the nest. The dominant bird will eat first and if there is little food it will be the only chick that eats. Had food been scarce the treatment might have escalated but, thankfully, it didn’t. Gender may play significant roles also with the females requiring more food to grow 1/3 larger and feather a larger body. Thus, the females, especially if they are the first hatch, tend to be more aggressive.

Multiple times this year we have seen the third hatch killed by the eldest sibling and sometimes in conjunction with the middle one. As mentioned, this happened at the Loch of the Lowes this year when food was scarce. It also happened at the UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey nest amongst others. It also happens on eagle nests and other species. However, there appears to be a higher rate of siblicide among North American Ospreys than those in the UK. It is likely that these numbers reflect the higher population of Ospreys in North America. In addition, the lochs are full of fish and there are restrictions on many of them to prevent human intrusion during the breeding season.

Loch of the Lowes

In the News:

We are going to start with some fantastic news. When I lived in the UK, I studied in Leicester but lived in Lincolnshire and Belvoir (pronounced Beaver) Castle was a regular haunt for me – so close to where I resided. For the first time in 200 years, we have Ospreys breeding on top of Belvoir Castle! Oh, my goodness. I am delighted. Here is the BBC News report.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leicestershire-62675910?fbclid=IwAR2oh_nwcQ04Sgqp9W2VubAHNIWEVdklHCduT0KiCfsp1lu7y_-92-kc-hI

There is more news coming in about the sad state of the White-tail Eagles on Mull Island — known internationally for the birds and their nests.

https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/mull-white-tailed-eagle-chick-dead-from-bird-flu/?fbclid=IwAR1dQ2AI_bU07KxyTS0T6CeKgHBU0FFA5bnjUFrTF1LOCudnRC2vPFJhjhU

Bird Flu is also killing Black Vultures. Deaths from migration, Avian Flu, human disturbance and killings, fires, habitat loss, lack of food…how many of our raptor friends will be left?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/aug/24/bird-flu-has-killed-700-wild-black-vultures-says-georgia-sanctuary

There is a lovely documentary on YouTube on the return of the Black Storks to Germany in the 1980s. The cinematography is excellent as is the narration. So much to learn – 53 minutes. Find a nice quiet time to watch!

Nest News:

The 367 Collins Street Falcon Cam in Melbourne is up and running. So far there are 2 eggs!

Here is the link to the camera:

As you will be aware, the first egg of the season for Xavier and Diamond at their scrape in Orange was laid at 0713:48.

Diamond resting in the scrape after her labour and the delivery of the first precious egg for these two.

Diamond incubating the egg. How beautiful.

Xavier comes to the scrape to relieve Diamond. A short bonding ritual takes place before Diamond flies off.

Xavier scraping and trying to turn the egg as he settles down.

Xavier carefully rolls the egg.

Everything is alright with the world. Oh, what a joy to finally see the first egg for Diamond and Xavier. Let us all hope that their year is as successful as it was in 2020 with the hatch of the ever adorable Izzi.

Here is the link to one of three cameras for Xavier and Diamond:

I am so used to the Ospreys in the UK and the Dads bringing in a fish right before or when the sun is rising in the morning. That first fish delivery for SE29 and 30 at the WBSE nest in the Sydney Olympic Forest did not come until 12:31 today. Thankfully the chicks were civil and it was not huge but was a good size.

Images from early morning to feeding.

Early morning preening of those itchy feathers.

Beautiful Lady listening and waiting for Dad to bring food to the nest.

SE29 and 30 watching Mum aerate the nest. Just look at how carefully they are looking at her every move. This will imprint in their mind’s and they will know to aerate their own nests.

Finally, a fish has arrived!

Things appear to be going good at the Port Lincoln barge except for Mum making cries for fish. On occasion Dad has flown in eaten more than his fair share while Mum is fish calling. He then delivers the remainder to her. Come on Dad! Dad is taking his turns incubating.

Oh, it seems so long until 19th of September – may the time pass quickly! There is nothing cuter than nestlings a couple of days old.

Checking on Kaia’s transmission. She remains in Belarus. On the 25th of August she flew 123 km. She is now near the village of Liaskavicy. It is in an area that is part of the wetlands of the Pripjat River. There is a national park and the area is considered to be quite safe for Kaia.

Karl II is looking a little tired. Thanks to Urmas the supply of fish continues so that he can feed the four Black Stork fledglings. Soon they will fly and hopefully Karl II will have some days to recover and gain some weight before he leaves. Of course, when they do depart we shall all be worried for them. I wonder if by some means Karl II and the children will meet with Kaia and decide another route to their winter home???

It appears that all of the White Storks from the nest in Mlade Buky, The Czech Republic have left for their migration. It is raining heavily and both of the nests of Bukacek and Betty appear so lonely. Safe travels dear family.

Suzanne Arnold Horning has caught L2 on the Cornell Campus! So happy she is here with us. In the history of the nest, it seems that the 28th of August is the last day to see fledglings in the past. Enjoy these moments then with our first fledge of the year. Gosh, she is beautiful. We know that she is catching her own food – she was the second of the fledglings to do so more than a month ago. So all is well with L2.

It is Friday. A friend sent this to me to cheer me up because of Lindsay. I did giggle…love those sour worms. Thank you ‘S’.

Thank you so much for joining me today. If you have any questions, you can send them through the comments page or through e-mail. My address is maryannsteggles@icloud.com Have a fabulous Friday! Take care of yourselves. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams, videos, and posts that form my screen captures: Cal Falcons, Berkeley News, Dyfi Osprey Project, Friends of Loch of the Lowes and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB, The Guardian, BBC, 367 Collins Street Falcons and Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydeny Olympic Park, Looduskalender, Eagle Club of Estonia, Mlade Buky, and Suzanne Arnold Horning.

Fall to winter

The beautiful weather that we had on the Canadian Prairies yesterday was due to dramatically change over night.

Footpath linking Portage Avenue with Assiniboine Park over the Assiniboine River

Our weather will go from nice blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures to snow and then snow mixed with rain. It is currently 0 degrees C and will warm up to a balmy 2 degrees C in the morning when the precipitation begins. My daughter messaged me to tell me there were still some Canada Geese and ducks in the Assiniboine River. It seemed like a good time to get out and go for one last nice walk.

The little Red Squirrel at Assiniboine Park knows that the warmth is not going to last. It was busy pulling off the seeds from a Maple tree and cramming them into holes and in the grooves in the bark of a tree. He was so busy he did not even notice the people standing and watching him.

The geese were looking for any blade of grass to eat they could find.

Some were in the duck pond flapping their wings trying to stir up the plants from the bottom of the pond.

Others were simply enjoying a beautiful afternoon in the warm sunshine.

It gets dark around 17:00 and as I was leaving some of the geese were flying away. Are they heading south for the winter?

I really hope that the geese and ducks got out of the City last night like the ones above taking flight. As promised, we have snow. Mr Blue Jay has come to visit and the sparrows are trying to find seed under the snow.

There are many feeders filled with sunflower chips, suet, black oil sunflower seeds, and then that wonderful ‘trail’ mix which looks better than what I make.

The sparrows in the snow on the deck know there are goodies underneath. Why they are not back at the feeders I cannot tell you. There is room for everyone there.

What a handsome little House Sparrow this fellow is. You can always tell them by their grey caps!

So how do birds cope with winter? This article was published by Daisy Yuhas in 2013 but it is still accurate now. Have a read – it is really interesting:

“Each autumn as many birds begin epic journeys to warmer climates, there are always some species that stay put for the winter. These winter birds have a better chance of maintaining their territory year-round, and they avoid the hazards of migration. But in exchange they have to endure the cold.Like us, birds are warm blooded, which means their bodies maintain a constant temperature, often around 106 degrees Fahrenheit. To make enough heat, and maintain it, they’ve evolved many different strategies–some similar to our own.Sparrows, for example, seek out shelter in dense foliage or cavities to avoid the elements. They also huddle, bunching together to share warmth, and try to minimize their total surface area by tucking in their head and feet and sticking up their feathers. Cardinals, impossible to miss against the snow, and other smaller birds puff up into the shape of a little round beach ball to minimize heat loss.”Big birds, like geese and grouse, do what we do,” says physiologist David Swanson at the University of South Dakota. “They put on insulation.” Their insulation often involves growing an extra set of insulating downy feathers.Birds can also put on fat as both an insulator and energy source: More than 10 percent of winter body weight may be fat in certain species, including chickadees and finches. As a result, some birds spend the vast majority of their daylight hours seeking fatty food sources, making feeder food even more precious for surviving a frosty night.When asked which birds are toughest winter survivors, Swanson points to little ones like chickadees. These small creatures can’t put on too much bulk for aerodynamic reasons. Instead, explains Swanson, they are experts in shivering. This isn’t the familiar tremble that mammals use to generate heat. Birds shiver by activating opposing muscle groups, creating muscle contractions without all of the jiggling typical when humans shiver. This form of shaking is better at retaining the bird’s heat.Another adaptation shared by many species is the ability to keep warm blood circulating near vital organs while allowing extremities to cool down. Take gulls. They can stand on ice with feet at near-freezing temperatures while keeping their body’s core nice and toasty.Keeping warm when the sun is up is one thing, but few winter challenges are more daunting than nightfall, when temperatures drop and birds must rely on every adaptation they have to survive their sleep. Some birds save energy by allowing their internal thermostat to drop. Hummingbirds are a famous example of this, undergoing torpor nightly as their body temperature drops close to outside temperatures. But torpor is not too common in winter birds, because the morning warm up would take too much extra energy. Instead, black-capped chickadees and other species undergo a more moderate version of this, reducing their body temperature as much as 22 degrees Fahrenheit from their daytime level in a process called regulated hypothermia.One simple way to help birds when the weather outside is frightful is to hang feeders. To attract a diversity of birds, select different feeder designs and a variety of foods. A tube feeder filled with black oil sunflower or mixed seeds, for example, will attract chickadees and finches. Woodpeckers devour suet feeders. And a safflower or sunflower-filled hopper feeder entices the usual visitors plus larger birds like cardinals and red-winged blackbirds. The birds benefit from the backyard buffet, and you’ll have a front-row seat to numerous species flocking to your plants and feeders.” Some raptor species, lower their body temperatures. More on that another day as we shift from fall to winter.

It is not clear how many birds are on the ledge at 367 Collins Street. The Mum was there overnight with one – the one with some floof still on its back and wings in the scrape box below. There were two. Where is the other one? at the other end? flown off? difficult to tell. The one on the scrape box has just vocalized and headed down the gutter. I suspect it could be breakfast.

It is almost flying along the gutter now.

Fledging will be happening soon down in Port Lincoln and if you want to see how a hungry falcon acts just go over to the scrape in Orange. Yurruga is a week younger than the eyases in Melbourne. It is really foggy in Orange this morning so breakfast could be delayed. That link is:

Look for a lot of wing exercises and hovering from the trio at Port Lincoln. Ervie was doing a fabulous job yesterday.

Oh, I am really going to miss these lads when they fly to find their own way. Last year it was this Osprey nest that almost put me off my interest in third hatch ospreys. Siblicide is horrific. And it is this same nest (along with Achieva and Foulshaw Moss) that gives me hope that things can turn around for the good for the chicks. It has been incredible this season.

It is time for some hot tea. Thank you so much for joining me. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac and Port Lincoln Osprey Project.

Checking on the birds

Oh, how they have entertained us. How we waited to see if that fourth egg would hatch. How we watched as Dad was incubating during the earthquake. It has been quite the season with the Melbourne Peregrine falcons. Today, there is another nice article on the 367 Collins Street Falcons today. I have attached it in case you missed it!

We are so lucky that the four of them have decided to come out so that we can see them. Those downy feathers are disappearing quickly and they look like grown up falcons capable of taking on the skies of Melbourne -for awhile – til Mom and Dad boot them out. Certainly Mom and Dad have been doing flying demonstrations trying to lure them into thinking about taking the leap! They are a little over 5 weeks old today. Forty days and onward is approximate for fledging.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/for-melbourne-s-falcons-and-their-fans-a-new-domestic-drama-20211001-p58who.html?fbclid=IwAR1bgeKR4w2H622TETCdcJ0r0bgzLtVEE9BoK_35wrlcuWA4b0BzJ9VC0JI

Over in Orange, or should I say ‘up’ in Orange, Yarruga was one hungry chick waiting for supper that did not arrive. S/he had two feedings yesterday so she is going to be ravenous when breakfast arrives. There is no need to worry, though. She had a nice crop, larger than Diamond’s and Yarruga will not starve. In the world of raptors there are days of plenty and days of naught. Little ones need to learn that, too. Yarruga is 28 days old today. Four weeks.

Diamond was seen putting her entire weight on her right leg in the middle of the night to clean her talons. This is very good news. She has moved over to the ledge to grab some sleep before dawn and Diamond seems to be doing much better. How grand.

The Port Lincoln osplets are sound asleep. Little Bob is 50 days old today – while the two big siblings are 52 days old. We will be keeping an eye on those numbers because last year Solly fledged at 65 days (in the Northern Hemisphere it is 49 days onward). Solly was banded at 47 days and DEW at 46. On Monday, 8 November, these three will be banded, named, measured, and at least one will get a tracker. They are just wonderful – the three of them. I am surely going to miss this nest – perhaps the most civilized brood I have ever seen.

There is sadly some commotion going on at Taiaroa Head. Our beloved OGK may have realized that his mate, YRK, is not returning. He tried to mate – rather vigorously – with BOK who is also waiting for her mate to return. Being the gentleman that he is, OGK, returned to apologize in the Albatross way by doing a sky call with BOK later.

If it happens that YRK, Pippa Atawhai’s mum, does not return, it will not be from old age but from being caught in the lines of the fishing trawlers. I hope that you will think about our beloved Pippa and what a horrible death that would be – and it is entirely preventable! I feel rather gutted because these are all useless deaths that never have to happen. An albatross does not need to be decapitated every 5 minutes! The fixes are really easy. They include setting the lines at night, line weighting, and bird scaring lines. Some organizations are supplying these measures for free to the boats. The deaths are preventable. There needs to be international laws. Every country needs to stand up and demand that the fishing factories take these simple steps or not be able to fish. Write letters, phone your political representative – do it for Pippa. Then check out what the RSPB is doing. They are working alongside the Albatross Task Force to help end bycatch. Check out their website, ask who to contact. And remember – writing e-mails does help. Public pressure helps.

https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/policy-insight/marine-and-coastal/saving-seabirds-globally/the-albatross-task-force/

The Bald Eagles are really busy working on their nests in the US while the ones who came to Manitoba for their summer breeding are very slowly making their migration. Images of 30 or 40 along the river in my City have been posted locally the last few days but are not available to share beyond the Manitoba Birding and Photography FB page. I still have a few Slate Grey Juncos and today that meant a trip to the seed seller to get some more Husked Millet for them. The day is just starting in Australia and New Zealand so no telling what will happen. I long for YRK to fly in and just land on OGK’s head! That would be a rather dramatic entrance fitting for this very patient male who has been working on a nest for about six weeks now. No doubt Yarruga is going to be screaming for breakfast! I will post the updates on Grinnell tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, thank you for joining me and take care everyone.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC.

Less can be more

Hopefully today’s ramblings will make a point on how to help our birds. Bear with me. I love to tell stories and revisit memorable moments.

More than a decade and a half ago, I was in Beijing teaching some special workshops at the International School and also giving lectures on the history of Chinese ceramics. Yes, you read that correctly. A Canadian was in China talking about Chinese pottery! I had been there several times before and always enjoyed myself and treasured the friendships that I made. This particular visit I was staying in a hutong that had been converted into a small guest house. Hutongs are the traditional courtyard houses, many torn down now. During breakfast I met a very interesting lady whose name was Fanny Farkles. She had retired from owing a restaurant, catering, and cooking school in New York City. I asked her, being terribly curious, what she was going to purchase and take with her as a reminder of her time in Beijing. What she told me has stuck with me. She said, ‘I spent the first 50 years of my life acquiring stuff and I will spend the last 50 getting rid of it’. Instead of ‘something’ she was going for an experience – a 17 course Ming-Dynasty meal fit for the emperor.

It wasn’t until later that I fully grasped the wisdom of what Farkles was saying but when I did, it hit me hard and, like all great insights, you wish you could turn back the clock and start again sometimes. Stuff. This coming year I will be spending much time finding new homes for ‘the stuff’. Thankfully, my resolution for 2021 was not to buy any new books. I almost made it had it not been for Chris Packham’s Back to Nature or Emyr Evans, Monty. Almost any book can be purchased used from a myriad of international sellers but not those two when I checked.

Speaking of Emyr Evans’s book on Monty, the DFYI on line shop is now open. If you are interested, here is the link to their on line shop:*

https://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/

A signed copy is 15 GBP. If you live in the UK, the postage is a very low flat rate. The round the world flat rate is 11.99 GBP. If you are a fan of the Dyfi’s Monty, the super star of the male Osprey world (by some), it is a great book or gift. It is also a fundraiser for the Dyfi Osprey Project.

One other year a young woman asked women around the world not to buy any new clothes. To wear one thing and switch it up with what was in the closet. It was the year of my black sheath dress. The money saved was given to young women in India to purchase school uniforms because we all know that education is important but you cannot go to school without a uniform in India. It was a brilliant idea.

An article in the environmental section of The Guardian today talks about ‘stuff’ and how to save the environment by not buying. Several months ago, an economist suggested that if everyone in the world cut their spending of non-essential goods by 15% it would have a major impact on climate change. If it is good for the environment then it is good for the birds. Have a read.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/20/we-need-to-stop-buying-stuff-and-i-know-just-the-people-to-persuade-us

A quick check on those adorable feathered creatures that inspire us to leave the world a better place reveals that Middle Bob and Little Bob on the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge had a tug o war over the fish tail this morning. I think Middle Bob won but, that’s OK. Little Bob won when he pulled with Mum!

Despite their amazing growth and those awesome curved juvenile feathers, you can still tell Little Bob from the circle on top of its head. You can also count on Little Bob being as near to where Mum is handing out the food as anyone. They line up and he is there, right at the beak with gleeful anticipation in his eyes.

Mum is happy to oblige!

The feeding is over and Little and Middle are tugging for the tail. The osplet behind Mum is Big Bob. It looks like a circle on its head but it isn’t. It has lines radiating out when you can see the full design.

Middle Bob is eating the tail and Little Bob is checking to see if Mum finds any more food on the nest. Oh, he loves leftovers, too. First up to the table and normally the last to leave. Sounds like Little Bob is a female to me. They need about 25% more food than the males.

Yurruga is currently sleeping off that entire Starling that Xavier fed it for breakfast. It is a wonder the baby didn’t pop but, like a good falcon, when Xavier suggested it eat more and made that chumping sound, Yurruga ate. It is learning to eat when food is available. You don’t always have the luxury of a stash in the corner of a scrape box in the real falcon world.

At least one of the Collins Street Four looks like it wants to try out for one of the local rugby teams. My goodness these chicks are enormous. Look at those feathers coming in. One day we will wake up and they are going to look like their Dad and Mum – it will happen in a blink I am afraid.

No other news from the little sea eaglets that flew off the nest yesterday. Keep them in your positive thoughts.

Thank you for joining me today. Everything at the nests is just fine. What a lovely relief. You take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: the Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Charles Sturt University at Orange Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac.

* I might mention books or other things in my blog. I do not make any money if you purchase the items and never will. My purpose is to simply bring news of the birds as they add so much joy to our lives and to alert you to ways that you can help make the world a better place for those birds.

Birds, the Environment, Cop 26

With world leaders set to meet in Glasgow for Cop26, there are plenty of individuals expressing their opinion on what needs to be done to ‘slow’ the impact of climate change. Individuals reading my blog will have seen the devastating effects that the heat surge of summer 2021 in the Pacific Northwest had on the Ospreys and Cooper’s Hawks. Many Osprey chicks died on their nest while the Cooper’s Hawks jumped out of their nests to a sure death because they didn’t want to roast to death. Luckily a few were saved by brave wildlife rehabbers and friends who removed the chicks from their nests and took them into care before the heat could kill them.

Many of you know who Roy Dennis is – the man who translocates Ospreys as well as the individual solely responsible for reintroducing the White-tailed Eagle back into the UK. Dennis, 81, is a big presence on the environmental and bird scene in Scotland and he has just been awarded the RSPB’s most prestigious metal last evening. I cannot think of a more deserving individual.

https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/rspb-medal-2021/?fbclid=IwAR39tGEvVUnGRXhUwthohCpEou-0ViAicVAXRAXU7oa3I6SFJxboARYuIIM

Dennis has also written his last blog on swans and what he feels – along with others – must be done to protect the land for both humans and birds. It is an excellent read. If you haven’t found his website this is a good entry point.

We can’t all be a Roy Dennis but each of us can help! It is not too late to tell your government officials what you expect they will do for our future.

I want to close today (the birds are all crackers) by giving you one of those moments of laughing til you cried – or at least as one Australia woman did when she saw my comment on the 367 Collins Street Falcon FB Page.

This was the image:

Anyone that knows me, knows that I look for falcon and osprey chicks that have some ‘fat’ on them. It shows they are getting more than enough food. To me, that eyas with his ‘necklace ps’ surely qualifies as a fat little bottom and legs!

Once I realized that there is actually a company in Australia that sells chicken legs, I was also laughing til I cried. Enjoy the joke on me. Thank you Kirsty Wain!

Have a great Sunday. I am off in search of Wood Ducks today. It is finally sunny!!!!!!!!! and not raining. Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the 367 Collins Street Falcon Cam and FB page where I took my screen shots.

Incredible

The weather in Port Lincoln, Australia deteriorated further with winds blowing at 47 kph around noon with even stronger gusts. The humidity is 74% and it is 14 degrees C.

The little ospreys were fed at 7:00:33 and again with the same fish returned at 8:09:50.

Dad delivered a whopper of a fish at 11:20:11 for the third feeding. Just look at the size of that nice fish. Little Bob is staring. It looks like his eyes are going to pop out! I bet he is already calculating where to get in the feeding line. Right now it looks like Big Bob is eating first. That is Middle Bob kinda’ slumped over. He still has a crop from the earlier feeding and he looks like he would rather sleep than eat.

That is an amazing fish. Thanks, Dad.

Nothing has changed in those three seconds. Little Bob is still staring and Big Bob is still eating.

Well, you can see from the image below, taken 29 minutes later, that not only did Little Bob figure out where to sit at the table but he has already been fed enough to make a nice sized crop. Middle Bob seems to have woken up and is ready to eat, too. Of all the chicks, Middle Bob seems to be terribly laid back for a raptor.

Thirty-eight minutes later and the only one remaining at the table is – yes, you guessed it – Little Bob. This kid can sure pack away the food. And he doesn’t seem to stop when he is full but keeps on going if there is fish to be eaten.

Speaking of fish. Look! There is hardly any fish left. What a feeding.

It had to be difficult trying to feed the chicks in such wind gusts. Can you believe it? Little Bob is still at the table, still eating.

Little Bob has one of those nice big crops that looks as if it would feel rock solid if you touched it. Of course, Little and Big are still waiting to see if there is any fish left. Middle Bob is out! Meanwhile, Mom has also gotten to eat some good pieces. She needed fish. That huge fish fed the entire family very well.

Little Bob is certainly doing well and can hold its own on this nest as long as Dad keeps getting the food in. He is certainly growing.

Everyone is full. Mom is holding those babies down tight on that nest – as tight as she can. The trouble is trying to get them all under! Look at that tail and those big feet. These osplets are doing well.

Let’s keep their hatch dates in mind. Big Bob on 13 September 22:03, Middle Bob on 14 September 02:30, and Little Bob 16 September 00:51. Little Bob is 51 hours younger than Big Bob. Today, Big Bob is three weeks old.

As you can see the chicks are getting their feathers. The rusty-gold-coppery ones (I often call them peach) are coming in nicely on the head and neck. You can see in the image above, the feathers starting on the wings and the little tails. Those feathers are often called ‘blood feathers’. Feathers need blood to grow. The blood quills will disintegrate once the feathers push through that quill. The flight feathers on the wings and tail will be the last to appear. The chicks are already doing some preening and, indeed, will spend a substantial amount of their time cleaning those feathers. Some researchers say as much as 70% of their time is spent working on their feathers. Right now we are in a rapid growth period where the size of the chicks is continually doubling with the feathers growing and the muscles in the legs and the wings developing. They seem to change their appearnance almost before our eyes. Most times it is hard to differentiate one from another.

The Collins kids are doing well, too. Here is a good look at all four of them from this morning:

This is an image from their last feeding about a half hour ago. No worries here either. Eyes are all open, everyone keeps their head up nice and high for food, and Dad is really cutting down on the number of pigeons in the area.

It is early afternoon for these Australian bird families. It is late on the Canadian prairies. I always sleep better when I know that all of the ‘babies’ have eaten. Take care everyone. Continue all those powerful positive thoughts you have been sending to Port Lincoln during this period of bad weather. It is obviously working!!!! See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: the Port Lincoln Osprey Project and 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac.

Late night check in with the PLO and Collins Street kids

The males have been working overtime it seems making sure that there is food for all of the nestlings.

As many of you know, the weather in Port Lincoln has been anything but ideal. The winds were blowing from 40-50 kph and there were white caps on the water. At one time the barge and nest appeared to be rocking around quite a bit. Still, a miracle happened. Having been hunkered down, Dad brought in the first fish for the osplets at 8:37:58. It was truly remarkable. But what was more outstanding was that he delivered a second fish at 8:38:02, a third at 10:14:25, and a fourth at 13:53. It is just now turning 15:00 on the nest. This is simply joyous. Everyone has eaten, they have had crops, and there has been complete civility.

I put in the image below for two reasons. The crops of the two osplets on the front row are getting bigger. Secondly, because that is Little Bob who is on the front left. I want you to have a very good close look at his cere, the lighter bits below the beak and the black line through his eye. Look at its thickness. It is thinner than the other two. additionally, his head is just a wee bit lighter, for now.

I believe that it is Little Bob and Big Bob eating with Middle Bob holding back. It will get fed. Do not worry!

You can almost lose them on the nest these days. Little Bob has decided to flap his wings a bit while Middle Bob eats some fish.

Just look at Little Bob. Chubby tail, wings, fat little bottom and those soft pantaloons to go with the big white clown feet. They are so adorable. I never knew pin feathers could be so strikingly beautiful.

Oh, dear, watch out Mum!

Ah, look at those legs! These osplets are nice and healthy.

In Melbourne, the eyases are being fed just about every hour. Birds, mostly pigeon, arrived at 6:12:50, 7:10:34, 8:07:39, 9:12, 10:20:07, 12:42:14, 14:40, and 15:51:06. Everyone who was hungry got fed until they fell asleep. We will be seeing some remarkable growth for these little fluff balls. Tomorrow their eyes will be open wider, their necks will be getting more stronger and the amount of space they take up in the scrape box will be larger. Of course, we are only mid-afternoon, and already eight feedings. There will be quite a number before it is time for these wee ones to tuck it in for the night.

Oh, wonderful. They are ready for a snack.

Oh, relief. It is not a pigeon.

Here I come with another Melbourne Blue Plate Special kids.

Wake up everyone! It’s tea time!!!!!

Open wide!

Sleeping babies.

Let us all remember the great joy that the birds brought us last year and now. Hopefully you had an opportunity to take a deep breath. Maybe you were able to enjoy your garden or the wildlife in your area. Perhaps you came to love many of the bird and animal families on the streaming cams. I know that I felt more joyful just by becoming more connected with nature. So when someone asks you if you are ready for things to return to normal, think about your answer carefully.

Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin remark, “Under a dark cloud of fear and confusion people all over the world found solace and respite in nature; it improved the quality of their lives and their physical and mental health.” I believe that everyone reading my blog finds joy and inspiration in birds. You also do whatever you can to make their lives better. Each and every one of you has either aided or is aiding birds in one or in many ways. We all do what we can. The simple act of providing water during migration can be a huge help. Making sure your windows are left dirty or have deflectors so the there is no bird strike is another. Writing to people who can lobby for laws that ban lead in hunting and fishing equipment as well as the designer poisons such as rodenticide help tens of thousands a year. Educating people and working with your local parks authority to eliminate the feeding of bread to ducks can keep the waterfowl healthy. Donating even the smallest amount can keep the streaming cameras running for some not-for-profit nature centres and bring joy to hundreds of others. The list is endless.

Thank you for popping in to check on these two nests. Take care of yourself and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my screen shots: 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac and the Port Lincoln Osprey Project.