Noisy Ravens come to call on Daisy

It is a soggy day in Sydney, Australia. Rain is falling and the temperature is 20 degrees C. What a change from a few days ago! Wish I knew if Daisy liked it cooler or hotter. Do ducks have a preference? They certainly don’t mind water and their down nest would get wet if Daisy built in on the ground.

Australian Raven

For those of you dropping in but who haven’t been able to catch up with Miss Daisy’s news, I want to focus, for a bit, on the impact of the showers and WBSE Lady’s tearing the down off Daisy’s nest. Daisy doesn’t look like she is sitting on that lovely fluffy nest any longer. Daisy has collected all of the tossed down that she could – which was a lot – and has brought it back onto her nest. Just as quickly as it dries, it rains again. Then the eiderdown gets soaked and turns into a soaking blob. The heat from Daisy’s body will eventually dry it but the forecast is for four more days of rain and cool weather.

There is that saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. I am a very visual person as I imagine many of you are. So I am posting two images in order for you to easily see the impact that rain has on the eiderdown that Daisy has plucked off her breast to line her nest. The top one shows Daisy on her nest when it is dry. Notice how thick and fluffy the eiderdown is. Daisy looks like she is brooding on a cloud.

Fluffy nest with dry down.

The image below is not focused but you will still be able to see the impact of the rain on the insulating down. The down is no longer fluffy. The wetter it gets the more it loses its volume. You can also see that the eggs can no longer be covered leaving them vulnerable to predators. Daisy does try hard to move other plant material on top. She has only so many leaves to use. If you think about it, she has not pulled any twigs over her eggs. She might intuitively know that those sticks of wood could break her eggs.

Matted wet eiderdown

It is right after noon on the nest and it has been a relatively quiet morning for Daisy. She did have several visits from Ravens that sent her hunkering down on her eggs. They flew back and forth around the nest tree and into the forest and back again for about fifteen minutes. They were not chasing the sea eagles but when Daisy hears their caw she really pays attention.

Daisy going into defensive mode.
Daisy relaxed ater ravens leave.

After the Ravens had their turn disturbing Daisy, the Butcher Birds came to the nest tree. Butcher Birds are songbirds. They are similar to Magpies. The grey ones only live in Australia. They have a dark mask or an eye stripe just like Daisy! It is thought that these black stripes or masks help to block the sun for the birds so they can hunt or dabble better. If you know about American football, you might have seen the players smearing a black substance under their eyes. That also helps with the glare and I bet, a long time ago, humans learned that trick from birds. They have brown eyes and legs. The pointed beak, with a hook, is also grey. They can be very aggressive. They live in forests and mangroves feeding on insects and small mammals, fruits and seeds. They are known to also eat lizards or other small reptiles.

Butcherbird

Daisy waits to go dabbling and to the bathroom. Around 15:31, she begins to gather the leaves and tuck in the down to try and cover her eggs as best she can.

Daisy begins to cover her nest.
Daisy pulling down and leaves with bill.

She is in no rush. The ravens and the sea eagles are not about. She can take her time. Because it is cool, she will want to try and get as much insulation as she can over the eggs along with the leaves that she has been pulling toward her all day.

Daisy leaves her nest at 15:31:45.

Daisy leaving to go forage.

Despite the down being somewhat soggy in places, Daisy does a really good job concealing her eggs. Notice the two identical leaves across from one another. Daisy has done a marvellous job at decorating her temporary nest with the terracotta covered foliage.

Eggs are concealed with down and leaves.

So far, except for the anxiety produced by the Ravens’ visit, Daisy has had a relatively quiet day. She has waited til later today to go hunting for food. It is now 21 degrees C and 100% humidity with rain. Sun set is around 20:04. That is four and a half hours away. It is certainly safer for Daisy to go foraging as late as she can because she would miss the sea eagles if they came right before dusk. However, WBSE Dad has been known to show up around 17:00 on several occasions. Let us hope that no one comes, the eggs stay covered, and Daisy returns in about an hour and a half. Hopefully those eggs will still be warm. It is too bad we can’t somehow slip a little electric or solar blanket in that nest for them!

Thank you for stopping in to check and see how Daisy is doing. It is currently day 17 of incubation. The hatch window opens on day 26. So many did not believe that Daisy would still have a nest or any eggs. No one knew how the sea eagles would react. Many thoughts the ravens would force Daisy off the nest and they would then devour the eggs. But so far, none of that has happened. The sea eagles have been confused and have not harmed the eggs other than the one dad ate. So, there could be hope for some of the eggs to be viable. Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the little fuzz balls jump off the old Ironbark Tree nest? Ducklings born in a big sea eagle nest. Puts a smile on your face!

Thank you again for joining us to find out what is happening with the brave little duck whose nest is in an old Ironbark Tree in the Sydney Olympic Park forest. We are so glad you stopped by.

Thank you to Sea Eagle cam, BirdLife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the streaming cameras where I captured my screen shots.

Catching up with Miss Daisy

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.

The blur of BooBook Owl.

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.

Defensive posture.
Boo moves closer down the branch to have a good look at Daisy.

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 Owl courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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.

Leaves and twigs help hide the nest.

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.

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.