Sea Eagle arrives! No time to cover the eggs.

Daisy had no more than returned from her dabbling at 16:18:07 and settled in for a wee bit of a rest when the ravens sounded an alarm at 17:55:58. Daisy stretched her neck to listen.

In the image below, Daisy is alerted by the sound of the ravens approaching. Remember that the ravens often follow the White-Bellied sea eagles into the forest.

Daisy stretches her neck. The distance from the river roost of the sea eagles is only about 1.2 kilometres to the nest in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park.

The sea eagles fly really fast and there is no time for Daisy to cover up her nest. She hurries off to the left of the nest tree tree. Daisy is just a blur in the image below.

You may remember that it has been raining and that the sea eagles have come to the nest sometimes tearing off the down. Lady made a mess the other day and Daisy took her time and moved all of the eiderdown back onto her nest. But this evening she did not have time to cover the eggs and it is cool in the forest, only around 21.8 degrees C.

You might also remember that wet down. Look how fluffy it is now. The temperature from Daisy’s body and the wind as well as the rain stopping have fluffed up the down again so it now has its insulating values back. This is so good!

The sea eagles are still mystified about the little nest holding seven eggs right in the centre of their big nest. Dad arrives and looks. He can see the eggs instantly but no Daisy! He stands and stares at them. What are these eggs doing in my nest? I sometimes giggle because it reminds me of a story that I my mother and grandmother read to me when I was little and, in turn, I read it to my children: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Do you know that children’s story?

WBSE Dad moves cautiously towards the eggs.

Dad leans down to take a closer look. The only eggs that he has ever know are those of his eaglets that Lady lays. But these are not Lady’s eggs! but they are in my nest!

Again, ever so slowly he moves towards Daisy’s nest just staring into that beautiful nest cup.

And then he sticks his beak in! Oh, no. Is he going to try and roll out an egg to eat it like he did before?

In the same amount of time that Dad took to closely inspect those big white eggs, he raises his head and looks off the nest. Does he know that the owner of the eggs is watching him? does Dad think they are a threat? does Dad associate Daisy with these eggs, a little innocent Pacific Black Duck?

And then he looks down again. Each time Dad looks into the nest cup he rolls the eggs for Daisy! Thank you, Dad sea eagle.

The Dad raises his head and looks off in the other direction. You will remember that Daisy flew around the nest quacking the last time both sea eagles visited the nest. She was very frightened but also, as much as she was scared, she knew she needed to get back to her single focus, incubating her eggs.

The behaviour of the sea eagles towards the little duck’s nest is of great interest to anyone wanting to learn about bird behaviour. No one that I know of has had a close look at the interaction between the largest birds in Australia and a tiny little duck that doesn’t belong in the forest.

Dad simply is stumped. He stands for the longest time staring at the eggs. Then he rolls them one more time and turns around and gets back on a branch of the nest tree.

Dad stands on what is called the parent branch looking around. When Dad and Lady raise their little eaglets in this nest, this is the branch that they roost on to protect the little ones. It is also the first branch that the eaglets attempt to walk and fly to as they get ready for their fledge.

Is Dad looking for Daisy? is he looking for a bigger bird? He flies off the parent branch and back towards his roost on the Parramatta River at 18:06. His visit lasted four minutes. Doesn’t seem like he is too concerned, does it?

Daisy might have taken the opportunity to go and forage some more. She does not return to her eggs until 19:27, an hour and nineteen minutes after Dad has flown out of the forest.

Still she is ever so cautious. In fact, Dad could be lurking off camera hoping to catch her. She stops and looks this way and that.

The rain started between the time Dad left and Daisy returned. Her beautiful fluffy down is all wet again! Let’s hope that her eggs did not cool down too quickly. That would be just so sad for our brave little duck.

And then she stops and listens. Dad was on the nest remember for four minutes and Daisy takes four minutes to make certain that he is no longer a threat.

Daisy slowly lowers herself onto her wet nest to warm her eggs. Remember that eggs need to be held at 37.5 degrees to hatch.

The sun has set and the light on the soggy nest has changed. Daisy knows that the sea eagles will not be back again tonight. Except for BooBook Owl, Daisy can rest. And we know Boo is just curious about Daisy. He is not going to hurt her.

Indeed, I often wonder what the other animals in the forest are thinking when they see the sea eagles coming and going and Daisy returning to her eggs time after time. Daisy is afraid of them but not enough to keep her from brooding. Her hormones and instincts and her entire self are tied to the hatching of the eggs now. She is ‘hard wired’ for incubation.

Thank goodness. Daisy had a very quiet night. It is now just before dawn. Because the sea eagles could have spent the night at the river roost, Daisy is being very careful to listen for the vocalizations of the other birds. She can tell which ones mean the eagles are coming. Daisy has learned much about the forest.

It’s after 7:30 and the sea eagles have not shown up today. It is rainy. The area around where Daisy has her egg cup is soaked with water.

Daisy has a visitor. Can you see the little grey and white bird with the black mask and yellow beak peeking down to see Daisy? Look carefully in the top right corner. They are grey with a black head, an orange or yellow beak and yellow feet. There are white tips on the tail feathers.

It is a Noisy Miner. These birds are loud and create all kinds of havoc in the forest. They like to chase other birds away. They eat insects but are also opportunist especially in cities. They are called ‘honeyeaters’.

The Noisy Miner is a nuisance to Daisy because it can be so loud but it is not such a threat that I am aware of, certainly not like the Ravens and the Currawongs. I am not even sure the sea eagles are a threat anymore. It is really that they keep Daisy off the nest and away from her incubating duties and her eggs are exposed and could get too cool to hatch.

The golden glow of the morning is moving across the nest.

It is going to be a cool day for Daisy and her eggs. The morning temperature is 19.4 degrees C. It is not supposed to get higher than 20 C with rain again for today. It sure is a change from when it was 40 degrees C a few days ago. Then we were worried about the eggs getting too hot. Today we worry about exposure and cold.

Everyone send Daisy your positive energy. Our brave little duck sitting on the big sea eagle nest needs all of it. Daisy is grateful to all her friends who check in to see how she is doing. From around the world – from Canada and the United States, Mexico, Brazil to Australia, Singapore, Australia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Poland, Denmark, Germany, and France – each of you has joined to wish Daisy good luck. Thank you!

An update on Daisy’s Day in about nine hours. Please check back.

Thank you also to the Sea Eagle cam, BirdLife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the camera that provides the feed for me to take my scaps.

Oops. Too close for comfort!

Before I bring all of you up to date on our cute little duck, Daisy, Daisy wants to thank everyone from Canada, the US, Australia, and all the people from Poland who are concerned about her and come to check on how her day has been going. The last 20 hours have been anxious ones for Daisy.

Zanim opowiem wam wszystkim o naszej uroczej małej kaczce, Daisy, Daisy chce podziękować wszystkim z Kanady, Stanów Zjednoczonych, Australii i wszystkim ludziom z Polski, którzy się o nią martwią i przyjeżdżają sprawdzić, jak minął jej dzień. jechałem. Ostatnie 20 godzin było niespokojnych dla Daisy.

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It had been so hot on the nest, with the temperature rising to 36 C, that Daisy took another break, yesterday, at 16:14:38. It had only been four hours since she returned from her last break. The heat is very hard on Daisy. She has lost so much weight and her stores of calcium creating eggs, laying them, and now brooding. And unlike other mated pairs of birds, she has no one to bring her food to the nest or to relieve her. Daisy is all alone. There is no one to even protect her from predators except herself. And the predators are lurking about today.

Daisy sitting in the hot sun before she takes her break.
Daisy carefully covers up her nest of eggs with lots of leaves and other plant material.
Daisy using her bill to get more leaves to cover her nest.
Only a little bit of down is showing!

While Daisy is away dabbling, one of the White Bellied Sea Eagles flies in to check on the nest.

Dad sits on the branch at 20:04:58

WBSE ‘Dad’ looked out all over his territory and waited by the nest right at dusk to see if anyone was there. But no one! You don’t see anyone on the White Bellied Sea Eagle nest, do you?

Daisy was very lucky.

Daisy returned to the nest at 20:15:36. Our little duck might not be a permanent resident of the forest but she has learned how to listen and tell when the big eagles are about. She waited until she was certain that Dad would not be returning. They missed one another by eleven minutes!

Daisy carefully returns to her nest.

The sun had completely gone down by the time Daisy returned to her nest. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that ducks are not smart. So far she has used all of the powers that she has to keep her and her eggs safe. And we have also learned something. Daisy has much better night vision that the sea eagles. In the image above she is carefully returning to her nest. She does not want to drawn any attention to where her eggs are.

There are no visitors to Daisy’s nest during the night. She is awake many times preening or turning her eggs. The sun will be coming up in about half an hour.

Daisy is awake on her nest at 15:53.

It is going to be 40 degrees in Homebush Bay, Australia where the duck nest in the Ironbark Tree is located. I wonder if Daisy will go out to forage and cool down before dawn?

Daisy thinks she has heard something in the forest.

Daisy decided against going out to forage. But at 5:50 am, she raises her neck. She has heard something!

Daisy has a split second to get off her eggs before the Sea Eagle lands on the nest! In the image below you can see her flying directly off the eggs to get out of the way of danger.

Daisy flies directly off the nest and out of the tree.

Daisy had no time to cover up her eggs. The White Bellied Sea Eagle lands just as Daisy clears the big branch. It is 5:50 am.

Daisy had to leave the eggs uncovered,

The White Bellied Sea Eagle walks over to check on the nest and look around.

First of the sea eagles lands and looks around.

In a few minutes the second White Bellied Sea Eagle comes to the nest in the old Ironbark Tree. In unison, they both look down at the eggs.

For some time, the sea eagles have appeared utterly confused by what is happening in their nest. Who has laid these eggs? Where are they? Who are they?

I often wonder if they think it is a bigger bird trying to take over their territory. There is, of course, no concern that a tiny little duck would want to do that.

Utterly confused.

Both of the sea eagles look like they are talking to themselves. One of my friends thinks that this could be a very funny conversation between Dad and Lady with Dad trying to explain to Lady that he has nothing to do with these eggs.

WBSE look like they are having a confab.

Once again, the White Bellied Sea Eagles do not disturb the nest. They are curious about the intruder into their territory but they do not appear to be hostile to the eggs. It is all quite interesting.

For a few minutes both of them are on one of the branches of the big Ironbark Tree. You can barely make out one on the branch that cuts through the middle of the right hand side of the image.

Sea Eagles stay on the tree watching.

At 5:57 the sea eagles do the second of what is known as the ‘duet’. It is a morning greeting for the sun. At the same time it is also a sound they make when they are defending their territory. It is a series of honks.

Lady leaves at 6:11 but Dad stays on the branch for at least another hour. Meanwhile, Daisy eggs are exposed. It is 21.8 degrees C.

Exposed duck eggs.

Daisy returns at 7:50:11 and once again is very careful when she gets on her nest. She has no more than relaxed and she begins to hear a commotion in the forest coming towards the nest tree. She raises her head to listen carefully.

Daisy listens to see who is coming.

Daisy listens very careful. It is the Ravens. The Unkindness comes to the tree at 7:58:06. They are cawing and Daisy is afraid. She fans out her feathers to not only make herself look larger than she is but also to protect her nest. Just like raptors protect their food, mantling.

Daisy stays still. You can see one raven on the top right.

The ravens leave after about ten minutes returning in half an hour to harass Daisy again. They want her to get off her eggs so they can eat them! Daisy remains still turning in the nest so that she can always see where the ravens are.

Whew! In the period of two and a half hours, Daisy has been frightened off her nest by the WBSE and has had two visits by the Ravens. It is getting hotter and hotter for our little duck. She is going to have to come and go often today if she is to stay cool. The humidity is 98% and the temperature is climbing steadily up to 40. Right now the nest is in the shade. It is nearly 11 am and maybe Daisy will now have a quiet day. The Ravens and the WBSE should be trying to find a spot to stay cool for the day.

I have checked with a person who knows about eggs. The Ironbark Tree is a very deep and wide tree. It actually holds the heat. Daisy’s nest is right in the middle. Even though she did not get to cover her nest and despite the fact that it was only 21 or 22 degrees C then, it is thought that the down and the warmth from the WBSE nest would have kept the eggs sufficiently warm. This is Day 15 of incubation. Let us hope so! The individual that told me about the temperature said that they were worried if the eggs got too hot from being exposed to direct sunlight. We learn something every day!

Thank you for joining Daisy. She hopes to have a nice quiet albeit hot day in the Sydney Olympic Park forest. I will provide an update if anything should happen in about six or seven hours. Otherwise Daisy and I will see you tomorrow. Good night. Stay safe!

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Thank you to Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the cameras where I took my scaps.

Ravens threaten Daisy!

Daisy’s Monday morning in Australia (Sunday in North America) started out as beautifully as it ended the evening before. She had gone to forage returning at 19:45 yesterday evening. It appears to be a growing pattern, leaving in the heat of the afternoon and returning right before dusk. This pretty much ensures that she will miss the sea eagles if they come.

While she was away yesterday, the Rainbow Lorikeets came to visit Daisy, full of energetic chatter but, at the same time, wondering where she was! They are so cute. They almost look like stuffed plushies someone has placed on Daisy’s nest tree.

Where’s MY Daisy?

It is going to be hot again today for Daisy. They are predicting temperatures of 34 climbing to 39 tomorrow. Our pour little duck needs a paddle pool up there with her!

Daisy decided not to leave this morning for a bathroom break or to forage. Instead, she stayed on the nest. The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos can be heard around 7:15 but it is an Unkindness that rattles Daisy’s world at 8:04. A group of Ravens is called an Unkindness and they were certainly not nice to Daisy. In fact, they were downright threatening. They moved from the top of the tree down closer. It was impossible to get am image of them in the tree (see second image below) but their shadows could be seen and their noise was deafening. Daisy was so frightened.

Australian Raven. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Look at the image below. Notice that Daisy has spread her feathers out in a manner similar to when a raptor mantles its prey. Her tail is fanned out and the feathers on her back are raised. She is protecting her clutch of eggs from these predators. The Ravens try harder and harder to get Daisy off her nest of eggs so they can eat them!

Daisy flattens her feathers and her head against the nest.

The Unkindness bullied Daisy trying to get her off her nest for five minutes. It must have seemed like a life time. And then they were away!

Except for the heat, the rest of the day has been relatively uneventful. The birds and animals of the forest are trying to expend as little energy as they can and remain cool in the hot Australian heat.

Daisy gathers up leaves and methodically covers her clutch of eggs and flies off to forage at 13:04:44.

Daisy leaving her nest to forage.

Notice how Daisy has moved leaves over on top of her down and tucked it in tight today. She might be worried about the Ravens coming back to try and find her nest. Or maybe she thinks the sea eagles might stop in to see if anyone is incubating the eggs.

Daisy flies from the nest.

Look at the image above. You can just see Daisy flying off. It got really hot on the nest today. The afternoon is the worst. Daisy left a little earlier than usual. Eggs are incubated at 37.5 degrees. It is possible that the heat from outside and the down stuffed around could keep the eggs toasty warm until later today. I wonder if Daisy will return around 17:00 or if she will wait til almost dusk.

Update: It was a very short foray for Daisy. She was gone only until 14:32 – so under an hour and a half. When she returned it looked like she was pretending like she had just landed on the nest. Like always, she looked around and walked very slowly before going over to her nest. What I find interesting is that she does not immediately move the leaves or open the down. It is always like she is simply waiting a little more being overly careful. Daisy is so cautious. What a good little mother!

Thank you for joining us and checking in on the little duck that built her nest inside the nest tree of the big sea eagles.

Thank you to the Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the cameras that provided the images.

So far, all is well in the old Ironbark Tree, updated

It is Day 12 of Daisy’s brooding. Thank you for joining on this magical journey of the little duck who, instead of making her nest near the water, chose the great big nest of the White-Bellied Sea Eagle.

To 12 dzień lęgów Daisy. Dziękuję za udział w tej magicznej podróży małej kaczuszki, która zamiast założyć gniazdo nad wodą, wybrała wielkie, duże gniazdo orła bielika.

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It has been a very quiet and rather hot day for Daisy, the Black Pacific Duck whose nest is in the old Ironbark Tree in the Sydney Olympic Park. Thus far, the only visitors of any note today were the chattering Rainbow Lorikeets who came around 8am.

A friendly Rainbow Lorkeet curious about the little duck in the big sea eagle nest.

Yesterday, I mentioned that Daisy is in a category of ducks known as ‘dabbling’ ducks. The information that I had, at that time, was that they foraged along the shores of the rivers and lakes. This did not support pictures I have seen of them in the water hunting for food. So I looked for more information. One small informative page for children said that they mainly dabble at night. Photographs show them foraging during the day. And we know from Daisy’s behaviour that she goes out normally mid afternoon to feed. But we also know from our observations of Daisy that she can see well enough in the dark to come and go from the nest. That same bulletin stressed that the duck plunges its head and neck under the water, raising its rear end vertical to the surface. That is why one of the people working as a moderator for the Sea Eagle cameras said that when she saw the Black Pacific Ducks in the canal, all she could see was their back end. Now it all makes more sense. They also feed in grassy areas.

This is a domestic duck dabbling. I am using it as an example to show you what Daisy would look like if she were in the water foraging for food. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Like Raptors, Pacific black ducks are monogamous. Males and females will stay together having only one partner until one of them dies. Their courtship consists of preening one another, flapping their wings, and bobbing their heads. While most Pacific black ducks build their nests near a source of water, we have learned from observing Daisy the Duck that she did not do that. So it is not always the case. Indeed, you might remember that a woman from Poland wrote to me about a duck making her nest also in an eagle’s nest. Those ducklings survived. The female lays from 8 to 123 eggs. If we look closely at Daisy’s eggs, they are white. Daisy will incubate the eggs from 26 to 30 days. That is two days shorter than the information I have previously posted. We know that they are precocial, able to feed themselves at birth. What I have not mentioned is that they will be fully independent of Daisy in 48-58 days after hatch. Daisy’s ducklings will be ready to find their own mate and breed when they are one year old.

One of the most beautiful parts of Daisy’s plumage is the speculum. It is a beautiful iridescent green. You can see it in the image above with Daisy and the Rainbow Lorikeet and in the image below. Depending on the light, the emerald green speculum sometimes appears blue or purple.

You can see Daisy’s green speculum clearly in this image.

And did you know that Daisy does not have any teeth? She has tiny serrations located along the inside of their bill that helps them filter out their food from the water. Daisy’s ability to sort out her dinner from the river water means that these serrations work kind of like a colander or a strainer!

It is 14:57 and Daisy has just left the nest to forage. I noticed two things about her departure just now. First, she covered her nest with the down folding it over like she has on other days but she did not spend as much time arranging leaves and plant material over the top of the nest. She also flew out a different direction to some days. Often she goes to the right but if she leaves from the left side of the nest, as she did today, she will be closer to the water. She must be very hot and hungry. She returned from her foraging last evening at 19:07 and has not left the nest since.

Daisy is preparing to fly off the nest on the left hand side today. She might be very hot. She has waited a long time for a break. Leaving from the left is the closest to the water.

I don’t quite understand why Daisy left and did not cover the down over the eggs with plant material, leaves, and twigs this afternoon. I wonder if it is because of the intense heat? She is always very meticulous about concealing the eggs well so predators cannot see them. And the wind is blowing. She was not scared from the nest. So, what do we think: was it the heat and the sun? she did not want the eggs cooked in the heat of the Australian summer?

Perhaps the nest is not covered so much and so packed down because of the intense heat in the forest today. 33 degrees C.

It has been a hot day and the forest has been relatively quiet. Daisy was incubating her eggs for twenty hours straight before taking her break. The weather report for tomorrow says that it will be even hotter, 36 degrees in Sydney.

A quick update: The White Bellied Sea Eagle called ‘Dad’ fly onto a branch of the nest tree at 16:59:24. He did a little preening. Never went down to the nest. Thank goodness as the wind had blown the down open and eggs could be seen. He departed at 17:03:43. I am so very glad that Daisy was not there or flying in. It does seem that this time of evening is the typical time he arrives. Well, he is gone now. Back to find some cool breezes off the water of the Parramatta River.

WBSE ‘Dad’ trying to catch the intruder in his nest. No luck today, Dad! Sorry.

Please join us again tomorrow as we follow the life of this little Black Pacific Duck.

Thank you to the Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Center for their camera from which these scaps came.