My ‘love affair’ and complete obsession with birds goes back to a single moment looking into the eyes of a large hawk only 30 cm away from me. I have not looked back, as they say, since that day. It is the behaviour of the birds that I find so interesting – the challenges they face, their daily rituals, how they learn and respond to events that simply amazes me.
There had never been a plan to even observe a White-Bellied Sea Eagle nest. It was one of those things that simply happened. The events that unfolded last year on the WBSE nest in the Sydney Olympic Park were utterly inspiring. A chick born, its leg broken almost immediately, couldn’t stand for well over a month that was determined to self-feed, branch, and fledge taught a lot of people that you never give up, you continue to strive for your goals, and you darn well don’t complain. Literally hundreds of people that had mobility issues stepped up and were determined to face their demons and challenges – ‘if 26 can do it, so can I’ became a bit of a mantra. I doubt if another chick will ever take her place in the hearts of so many where she ‘lives now’.
One of the things that 26 loved to do was to sing the duet as dawn broke with Lady and Dad. Oh, how I wish that I knew how to record those mornings then but, I didn’t.
The Duet is a form of bonding. The adults – well, sing isn’t quite the word..honk it?? Lady and Dad do this every morning. It is also a way to wake up the forest, a way of thanking the sun for living through the night and welcoming the day.
Dad is higher up on the branch. Lady has been incubating the egg over night and has gotten upon the branch to do the duet with Dad. I do not have the sound which really bothers me but I love the way that Lady moves up from the nest cup to join Dad.
I have put another YouTube Video of the duet in 2017 below my video non-audio.
The juveniles join in. I can’t find a clip with WBSE 26 singing with Lady and Dad so right now this one from 2015 will have to do. However, it is wonderful because you can see the beautiful rich plumage of the eaglets.
The juveniles are really beautiful and here is a longer look at WBSE 25 and 26. WBSE 26 – the one who won everyone’s heart for its dedication, has the lighter head and is facing the viewer in the image below.
You can watch the gorgeous White-Bellied Sea Eagles yourself. Lady has laid one egg and we will be expecting a second in about a day. Then she will incubate those eggs and hatch will be around the 23 or 24th of July. It is marvellous to watch these beautiful birds. I hope all goes well this year for them.
The couple have already done their duet – it is early morning the 21st of June in Australia. Remember that if you go to watch this nest! I sometimes forget. These is not much that goes on at night except for Boo Book Owl trying to knock the sea eagles off their branches. Last season Boo injured Lady’s eye. He is tiny but fierce and has a nest close to this one.
Thank you for joining me. Have a great start to the week. Take care.
Thank you to the White-Bellied Sea Eagle Cam, BirdLife Australia and the Discovery Centre in the Sydney Olympic Park for their streaming cam where I took my video clip and screen shots.
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.
You will remember from my earlier posting today that our favourite little duck, Daisy, got home to her nest at 19:03. A couple of hours later and not having any evening contact with the mated pair of White Bellied Sea Eagles, Daisy was relaxing. And then BooBook Owl came and scared the wits out of her. She did not leave her nest but she got in defensive posture ready to protect her nest. At first Boo flew low right over Daisy on the nest. It is 20:51:40.
In the image below, Boo is nothing more than a blur as she flies directly over the centre of the big sea eagle nest. She is so close that she almost touches Daisy when she does the fly through.
Daisy immediately gets into defensive posture. Boo circles the nest flying around the branches, going round and round. It keeps Daisy attentive and moving with the small owl. She always wants to know where the owl is. At 21:06:35 Boo lands on one of the small branches up near the top right corner of the image below. You can see the legs on the branch but not clearly. Look carefully. The left leg appears lighter than the right.
BooBook Owl finally decides to sit closer to Daisy. Now you can see the eyes, the beak and the left leg along with the little owl’s body.
Boo is a nuisance to our Daisy, right now. She is also curious about this little duck in the sea eagle nest. Boo is used to bumping into the eagles in the night often injuring Lady’s eye. Boo is especially aggressive when she has her own nest of babies, November-December, and would love it if she could harass the sea eagles enough to get them to leave the forest. Fat chance on that happening!
Boobook is the smallest owl in Australia. Owls are nocturnal so that is why Boo only pesters Daisy after dark. Boo will hunt all kinds of insects and very small mammals such as mice, small bats, and moths. Boo is about 27-36 cm tall or 10-14.5 inches, and weighs only 140-360 grams or 5 ounces to 12.6 ounces. The wings span ranges from 188-261 mm, or 7-10 inches. In comparison, remember that the White-Bellied sea eagle is the largest bird in Australia with a wing span of 2-2.3 metres, standing 80-90 cm tall and weighing 2.5 to 4 kg. Pacific Black Ducks are approximately 54-61 cm or 21 to 24 inches in length and they weigh 1025-1114 grams or 2.25 to 2.4 pounds. Daisy is bigger than Boo but the most important thing for her right now are her precious eggs and their protection. Boo could make a terrible mess and while the little owl does eat insects and bats along with mice, it might also be interested in Daisy’s eggs.
The sea eagles did not show up this morning. They were at Goat Island and it was raining and windy. Daisy’s morning was, as posted earlier, rather uneventful til she starting listening and raising her neck listening to the vocalizations from the other birds in the forest.
At 9:29 the ravens arrive. You cannot see them but Daisy heard them coming and knows they are about on the nest tree. The little duck immediately goes into a defensive posture. Notice, in the image below, how she has fanned out her tail and she has her feathers puffed up. This makes her look larger.
The Unkindness stay for approximately twenty minutes. Daisy moved as they did, just like she did when Boo was on the nest tree. She always kept her head tucked, her tail fanned, and her other feathers puffed.
As the day wore on, there were periodic showers on the nest. Daisy did some housekeeping, moving leaves closer to the nest in case she needed them for cover.
By noon, Daisy was relaxed and ready to take a wee bit of a rest. She tucks her bill in under her wing for warmth. Instead of being 40 degrees C like it was two days ago, today it is only in the low 20s with showers. What a change in temperature!
Daisy begins sweeping the leaves toward the nest and tucking the now dry down inside. She is preparing to go foraging. It is 13:58:14. This is quite a bit earlier than the last several days.
Daisy has camouflaged her nest well. In with the fluffy down are some leaves and twigs.
It is now 16:04 and Daisy has not returned to the nest. She often returns around 19:00 or 20:00 right before dusk but when she has left this early she has come back around 16:45. One day Dad had arrived and she had to abort her landing on the nest to avoid him seeing her. I wonder when she will come home today?
Thank you so much for joining Daisy and her adventures in the big sea eagles nest!
Thank you to Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for providing the cameras where I did my screen captures.
Before I start with today’s update on Daisy, our beautiful little duck living in the forest, I want to thank Daisy’s friends from Brazil, Poland, Mexico, Canada, Australia, the US, and China for checking on her. The whole world cares about a little duck trying to brood her eggs in a huge nest that belongs to the Australia’s largest sea eagle. We are on day 15 of brooding. I am beginning to believe that some of the seven eggs will turn into ducklings leaping to the forest floor. Everyone please send Daisy positive energy. She has had to deal with the sea eagles and the ravens, twice each, in twenty-four hours and now it is 40 degrees C with 98% humidity. In other words, it might feel like a sauna.
Daisy, you are so beautiful!
Every once in awhile, Daisy tucks in the down and uses her bill like a broom to shift the leaves and plant material closer to the nest so that she can use them to conceal her eggs when she goes foraging.
Daisy gets every more busy moving leaves. She even gets up off the eggs to bring in some old down and more leaves. Then she begins to cover up her nest so that she can depart for a break.
Daisy was slow and methodical in getting many more leaves up toward the nest cup. Now she is beginning to take some of the down and folding it over.
There were no alarming sounds in the forest and Daisy made a slow walk over to the left hand side of the big nest to fly off. Two things are interesting to me. If she is caught on the eggs by the WBSE who are literally landing on the big nest, she can fly off from her nest through the twigs on the left. Second, today Daisy spent a lot of time getting leaves over. Look how many there are! But she left them scattered and she did not cover the eggs completely with down (or that is how it appears from this angle). I wonder if this is because of the heat – the 40 degrees C scorching heat on the nest?
After having a couple of frights from the sea eagles, Daisy has been very smart to return to her nest about ten to fifteen minutes before sunset. Tonight, she arrives on the big sea eagle nest at 19:55:48. She does not immediately head to where her egg cup is concealed. She stops and listens.
Daisy raises her neck up as far as it will go to listen. She has returned a little before sunset and the sea eagles could still come and check on the nest to see if anyone is there.
No alarming sounds so Daisy settles down to incubate her eggs. It is a good time of day to really see her beautiful plumage and the distinctive markings on her head. Did you know that she has about 12,000 feathers?
It is now Day 16 of Daisy’s incubation, 27 January 2020 in Sydney, Australia. This means that there remains 10-14 days til hatch!
Daisy did very well in the 40 degree C heat. It is already 22.8 degrees C on the nest at 4:45. But, there could be a little rain today in the forest where Daisy’s nest is. It will certainly be cooler. The weather report says it should not get hotter than 26. That, of course, means that the sea eagles might want to check on their nest since it is cooler! Let’s hope they just stay at Goat Island. There will be gusts up to 29 kph which means the old Ironbark Tree will really be creaking and swaying.
At 5:37:07 Daisy hears someone coming! She puts her head down and then realizes she has to get off the big nest. There is no time to cover the eggs!
It is Lady! And she has seen Daisy. You cannot see her in the picture below but she just got off the nest the second the WBSE landed.
This is the first time that Lady has seen that there is a real live bird sitting on his nest. This is the first time that one of the sea eagles has swooped in fast enough to catch a glimpse of Daisy as she flies out. Lady is not happy! Someone is trying to take over her nest she thinks. She is puffing out her chest.
The most interesting thing to me is that the Sea Eagles have not disturbed the eggs as of late. Remember, before she finished laying all her eggs, Dad removed one and ate it. He did not like the taste or he would have eaten all the eggs. And both him and Lady have been curious but not destructive to Daisy’s nest.
Instead of destroying Daisy’s nest, Lady flies to the parent tree. She can hear Daisy quacking in the distance.
At 6:00:28 Lady is joined by Dad. Since Daisy began laying her eggs, I have never worried about Dad, the WBSE. For some reason, he was very curious when he ate the first egg but he is ‘hard wired’ not to step on eggs in his nest because they might be his eaglets! Lady knows better. And she is fierce and would not want another female bird using her nest. It is hers.
In the image below, Lady is getting ready to jump off the parent branch and join Dad on the main nest.
Dad, sea eagle, just doesn’t seem to care as much as Lady. She is starting to look at that nest with eggs again.
Dad goes up on the parent branch to keep watch. Daisy is quacking and flying around the forest. Daisy knows that this is the last half of her brooding and the eggs cannot get cold! Daisy must be afraid that the big sea eagles will tear up her nest.
In fact, Lady tries to do just that. She pulls out down and tries to grab an egg with her beak but the egg is too big. Relief for Daisy. For some reason, Lady does not try to destroy the eggs which she could do with her talons. But she starts to pull apart the down. She doesn’t like it. It feels funny and sticks to her beak. And she stops.
Lady jumps up to the other parent branch and watches out for Daisy in the forest as she flies about. And then, she gives up. First Lady flies out of the forest and then Dad. They are both gone by 6:15:15. This terrifying event for Daisy has unfolded over a period of fifty-two minutes!
In the image below you can see the huge sea eagle flying into the forest from the nest tree. In a few minutes, Dad will join lady down on the Parramatta River for breakfast.
Wonder if Daisy will be scared and stay away for five or six hours? She must be quite shaken.
Remember that Daisy didn’t have time to cover her eggs for protection. Well, when Lady was trying to demolish the nest, she tossed the down about covering up the eggs. How lucky for Daisy. Now the Ravens will not see them.
But wait! I cannot believe it. This is one brave little duck. I think she needs a big round of applause. Daisy only waits in the forest for twelve minutes. The sea eagles leave at 6:15 and she gets back on her eggs at 6:37. Tears of joy are pouring down my cheeks. The eggs will not get cold!
Daisy, you are the bravest little bird I have ever seen to stand up to the big sea eagles.
No doubt Daisy will be on her guard today. The sea eagles are not far away. Instead of being at Goat Island today, they will stay at their roost on the Parramatta River since it is cool.
Oh, my. I hope this is the last excitement Daisy has until sunset. That is when the sea eagles might return to check on their nest. Sometimes, you will remember that they come earlier in the afternoon. Each time Daisy has been away foraging.
Daisy has some nestorations to do but her eggs are safe and so is she. That is the important thing. Daisy looks so happy to be back on her nest. She has in a few minutes gathered up some of the down. Thank goodness Lady just really doesn’t like it. She didn’t make a big mess. Daisy can easily get her cozy nest repaired!
I will bring you an update tonight, in about nine hours. Thank you for checking in on Daisy, perhaps the bravest little duck in Sydney, Australia.
Thank you to the Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discover Centre for providing the camera for the scaps.
I was reminded yesterday that Daisy the Black Pacific Duck is not normally an inhabitant of the forest. She lives down by the water and would, at most other times, make her nest on the ground. She would shape grasses and other plant material into the egg cup or bowl. It is only once she has started hard incubation, that Daisy, like other ducks, will pluck the down from her breast and line the nest. She will continue to add plant material and down to the nest as needed, often replacing what others pull out and destroy.
This year, Daisy didn’t make her nest on the ground. Instead, her and her mate selected a very old nest in an Ironbark Tree in mid-December. That nest belongs to the White Bellied Sea Eagles whose territory is around the Parramatta River and the Sydney Olympic Park forest.
Daisy would have had many intruders if her nest were on the ground. But she would have been familiar with them and they with her. Because she is brooding her eggs in the forest, she is a curiosity. The birds and animals that live there do not know about ducks. They do know that it is the sea eagles that raise their young in this particular nest. Of the curious, one of the first was the the Pied Currawong who, unable to eat the exposed duck egg, threw a little mini-tantrum pulling out much down from the rim of the nest and tossing it over the rim of the sea eagle nest. Others who have come to the nest to check out Daisy have been the BooBook Owl, possums, Ravens, and Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos.
Today, the Rainbow Lorikeets returned. They are the most colourful parrots in the forest! They are ever so curious about the duck in the sea eagle nest! Oh, not just six or seven, but dozens of them! And Daisy was not sure she liked them getting close to her and her precious eggs. Rainbow Lorikeets are a medium sized parrot that are plentiful along the east coast and southern part of Australia. Unlike Daisy who has a bill, they have a beak. They are nectar feeders and are no threat to Daisy. But she doesn’t know that! And like any mother, she will protect her nest and her young as best she can.
At first, it was only three (one out of the picture frame). They were a little cheeky and one of them, totally curious as to why a bird they had never seen should be in the eagles nest, crept over close to Daisy. Daisy turned around in her nest and away from the pleasant morning she had been having and ruffled her feathers and readied to defend herself against birds that she had never seen also. She did not know if they were looking for insects in the nest or if they would harm her.
One of the rangers that researches the nest of the WBSE said that the Rainbow Lorikeet were there to give Daisy the Duck a lecture about not making a nest in a nest owned by sea eagles. But, alas, it is too late if that is what they are doing. Daisy is now on day 7 of incubation duties. She is devoted to her duties!
After all of the commotion – and it really was a boisterous affair – with the Rainbow Lorikeets everywhere, Daisy settled into a little bit of nest renovation. Remember the Curra and Dad the Sea Eagle had moved down off of the nest. Look at how far Daisy can stretch her neck. I had no idea looking at her that her neck could get so long. She also used her bill to help gather up some down and plant material that had scattered.
A bill of a beak? Ducks have bills. They are very lightweight. The exterior coating over the interior spongy bone is made out of the same material as our fingernails, keratin. And just like our fingernails, the keratin covering is always growing, healing over dents and scratches, but also maintaining its shape after much use. Ducks do not have to go to a nail salon for a trim!
After nest renovations, Daisy takes some time to do some preening. Daisy’s feathers are very important to her. She is a ‘diving duck’. That means that she submerges under the water to find food. For ducks like Daisy, it is essential that their feathers be in prime condition. Many types of birds spend up to seventy percent of their time preening, conditioning their feathers. Daisy’s beautiful feathers have grown very tightly. The feathers are stiff and are quite strong compared to the down. In fact, people used to use the feathers as quills to use with ink for writing. Daisy’s feathers grow close together and overlap one another. Look closely and you can see this. They make many layers that are weather resistant and protect our duck.
It is nearly 11am in the world of Daisy. Dad the Sea Eagle did not show up at dawn to try and catch the intruder using his nest. Daisy has decided to try and rest a bit. She is still very alert.
Will Daisy take time in the heat of the Australian summer to go and forage? Will she voluntarily leave covering her nest? Will Dad come at dusk? We wait.
The Pacific Black Duck, Daisy, left her nest at 14:41 to forage in the nearby Parramatta River. I watched her as she began to ready herself. She pulled more leaves and plant material to the nest and began quickly to push the down into the nest bowl. She carefully covered all up and departed from the right side of the Ironbark Tree, the exact spot that the White Bellied Sea Eagles land when they bring food to their eaglets.
It has been almost a half hour since Daisy left and I find that my pulse is racing. There are noises in the forests, alerts, vocalizing. Which are friend? and which are foe? It is a blistering hot afternoon in Sydney. Maybe Daisy knows that the other birds will be out hunting at dawn and dust and maybe quietly napping during the sweltering heat of midday. If so, that could certainly help protect her eggs while she is away. It is a shame that there is no defensive mode for the male partner to play so that the eggs are safe while she is away.
Daisy has been gone almost an hour. Most of the literature on ducks and their incubation says that they normally stay on the eggs twenty-three out of twenty-four hours. I find my heart racing faster every time I hear the call of a bird glancing up as nervous as Daisy is on the nest. I do wish she would return! Quite honestly if I could jump through the computer screen, I would go and sit on those eggs so that no one could harm them.
A falconer acquaintance, Laura Culley, says that we should not worry. She says it is assuming the outcome before it has even happened. And, of course, she is right.
Most duck nests actually do not survive. But I think that this one is special. Daisy arrived on the nest just about the time a friend of mine had an operation and received some ‘not so terrific’ news from her doctors. My friend does not want to die, she wants to live and the people that she has met and the fact that this duck is on this nest has energized her. Daisy just could be a life saver. I hope so. But for her to do that, she needs to be able to incubate these eggs and have her beautiful ducklings jump off the edge to start their lives. For now, just sharing the comings and goings, the suspense, and the hope of the nest with others is making my friend happy to wake up every morning. Bird cams have a way of doing that.
My anxiety. I wish it had been for naught. At 1600, WBSE landed on the nest. They carefully, looking all around them, walked over to the nest and began flinging the down. Then after what seemed like a life time but was only a minute, they jumped up to the parent branch and then went and stood guard on a the far end of a branch of the nest tree. It was quite nerve wracking. The WBSE has been acting erratic. He appears to be completely confused by the nest and the down. The fact that he has not returned to eat more eggs is hopeful. But he appears to be both curious and weary of whoever is using ‘his’ nest.
But thankfully, mess or not, Dad did not disturb the eggs!
Dad leaves just as quickly as he arrives. He made a mess of Daisy’s tidy nest but he did not disturb the eggs. He spent most of his time poking his beak into the down and then quickly raising his head to see if anything was approaching the nest. Indeed, when he was on the nest he was just about as anxious as I have been all day hoping that no predator would arrive while Daisy was away. And then poof! Dad is gone. What is he doing with the down and where does he go?
Daisy returns to the nest about twenty minutes after Dad the WBSE has departed. She is cautious. You can tell that he knows something has been there. She looks around and slowly makes her way to the nest where she begins to gather the plant material and the down that Dad had tossed about.
It is nearing 1700 Sydney time. It is unlikely that Daisy will leave again before night falls. The shade is falling over the old Ironbark Tree and Daisy’s camouflage offers her some security – let’s hope!
Daisy might have been awake all night with the loud creaks and swaying of the Ironbark Tree in the frequent gusts of high winds last night but not a single intruder was spotted. BooBook Owl stayed home. WBSE Dad didn’t venture out to check on the nest in the evening or this morning. It has been more than twenty-four hours since he has been about. Spotters on the ground say that he is off at Goat Island, some 12.2 km away, with Lady. And, so far, Raven has not made an appearance. It is nearly 7am, the tree is creaking gently and Daisy is quietly doing nest maintenance. If you squint your eye, the white in the down lining of the nest looks like little twinkle lights.
Sometimes Daisy will quickly get off the eggs to go and fetch more plant material somewhere else on the big WBSE nest that she can’t reach by extending her neck as far as it can.
When Daisy prepares to leave to forage for food, which she did last evening for about an hour, she tucks the down into the nest cup folding it over on the inside. She also uses her beak and stretching her neck she pulls leaves up close. This way she can cover the eggs while she is away. Of course, we have now seen times when Daisy is frightened off the nest by both the WBSE Dad and BooBook Owl but, normally, she takes the time to gently and quickly conceal those precious eggs.
I wonder if you have ever thought about the amount of energy it takes a duck to lay an egg? I certainly hadn’t until this year when I watched Bald Eagles have hard labours when laying an egg and then Daisy. Those eggs don’t just pop out easy!
Sibley says that a single egg can weigh as much as 12% of the bird’s body weight. For Daisy, remember that she layed an egg every day for nine days. That has to be exhausting! Specials with precocial young often lay more eggs because the mother does not have to feed them. Precocial young are more fully developed when they hatch. Their eyes are open and they are fully feathered. In the case of the Black Pacific Ducks they can walk and find their own food. Remember that the ducklings will jump off the nest and follow the parent to the water to forage for food. They will actually jump off the nest before they are fully capable of flying like their mother. Daisy will keep them warm at night for approximately two to three weeks. Altricial young require much more care. They are born without feathers and require their parents to feed them until they are capable of self-feeding. A good example of an Altricial young is a Tree Swallow.
It is now after 10 am and Daisy has had only one intruder. The Raven showed up about 8am. Daisy quickly reached over and clacked, like she did yesterday, and off it went! Hopefully Daisy will have a non-eventful day on the nest. Fingers crossed!