Daisy’s great night vision helped her to slip out in the middle of the night!

Daisy left to go foraging at 15:31:45 on a soggy Sydney Friday afternoon. She returned to her eggs at 17:49:49. Two hours and eighteen minutes. Not bad! There was some concern over the wet nest and the cool temperatures but, Daisy knows best!

Like all of her returns recently, Daisy is hyper cautious. She lands on the nest and looks around. Then she listens. We have all seen how the WBSE can arrive in a split second!

Overly cautious when returning from her dabbling.

Daisy even stops to do some preening.

Preening

Then, all of a sudden, Daisy rushes over to get on her eggs. She is a bit of a blur in the image below. Gosh that nest is wet and soggy.

There is plenty of time for the sea eagles or the ravens to return to the nest before the sun sets but, they don’t. Sometimes boring quiet days are the best – even for humans, too!

Daisy settles into incubating.

Not everyone believes that ducks have good night vision. Some people think that birds can only see during the daylight hours – any kind of bird. And if you have bird feeders you will have seen the songbirds arrive at dawn and depart at dusk. Falcons and hawks do that and so do sea eagles. But we have seen Daisy return after dark when the sea eagles have arrived before dusk. And we have watched her leave around 4:00 one morning and return before day break.

Last night Daisy left her nest at 2:45. She tried to cover it up as good as she could but the down is so soggy! She returns forty-five minutes later. Daisy probably took a bathroom break. But again, this solidifies our knowledge that ducks can see when it is very dark. Daisy has been able to freely move around in the forest.

I began to think that she should move any ducklings that do hatch under the cover of darkness while all of their predators are sleeping! Except, of course, BooBook Owl.

Daisy covers her eggs.
Down is wet, some eggs exposed.

You can see in the image above that some of the eggs are exposed. Daisy has done the best ever with that old wet down. Surely the Ravens are asleep and I think that the little owl will not bother them, hopefully. Daisy returns and all is well at her nest.

It is Saturday in Australia. At dawn, the temperature is 21.8 degrees C and they are predicting more showers. However, it should get fairly hot on Sunday rising to 26. This really could be a help in drying out all that down and making it fluffy again.

In the image below, it is 5:30. Daisy is waking up and waiting to see if the sea eagles will fly through the forest trying to catch her. They certainly have done this a few times lately.

Daisy is alert at dawn.

But no one comes. By 7:00 the glow of the morning is spreading across the forest. Daisy is trying to catch some rest. She has her beak tucked under her wing.

Daisy resting.

Wow! Look at the beautiful markings on Daisy’s head and those gorgeous brown eyes.

In the image below, Daisy is rolling her eggs. Remember that Daisy plucked down from her own breast to line the nest and help keep the eggs war. Removing the down creates a bald spot known as the brood patch. This touches the eggs and transfers the heat from Daisy to the eggs so that the duckling can grow. But the eggs cannot simply sit there. They must receive even heat. Daisy uses her bill and her feet to roll the eggs and move them about so that they each receive the same amount of heat. Rolling helps ensure that each of the developing ducklings will hatch at roughly the same time.

Daisy has her beak in the nest turning the eggs and her feet are also gently paddling them. Daisy is such a good mother!

Rolling eggs

It is only 7:30 in Sydney. Wet and cool. So far the WBSE have not ventured into the forest and even the Ravens are not moving about. Let us hope that it is simply a boring day for Daisy!

I will post an update on Daisy’s Day about 11pm CDT. Stay tuned for any happenings during the day. Still, I hope that there is nothing to report.

A big welcome to Daisy’s new fans from Belgium. Our girl is so happy that people around the world care about her plight.

Thank you to Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discover Centre for providing the camera so that I could capture the screen shots.

Daisy ducks!

No sooner than I had posted my last update on Daisy, than the little duck got busy covering her eggs and going to forage. The time was 14:41:26. It is in the normal range of when she leaves the nest. Sometimes she has not returned until dusk because she knows she will avoid the sea eagles. Now that she is getting nearer to hatch, will she stay away that long?

Covering the nest

As she leaves she finds some down that she has missed when restoring her nest. She loosens it from the twigs and pulls it down to the floor of the nest.

This time Daisy has tucked the down and added some leaves at the side. She tried to fold the top onto itself but not getting it tight like she did during the early stages of her incubation. Let us hope that the gusts of wind do not pull the down apart leaving the eggs open to eating or destruction by the Ravens or the Currawongs.

You can compare the next image below to the one right above. Look at the fluffy light down. Looks like it has twinkly stars embedded in it.

Well the rain became heavier and made its way through the canopy of leaves.

There isn’t much difference in the image above and the one below except for the down covering Daisy’s nest. It has begun to rain just a little harder with more of the drops making their way through to the nest. Daisy’s nest looks so wet and so sad without her in it. It is 17:50. Wonder how much longer she will stay away? It is 20.3 degrees and rain is forecast through Sunday.

The protective down gets very wet.

Daisy returned to her nest at 19:03, an hour before sunset. She was a very wet duck! The nest was soaked and the down was a solid wet glob.

Daisy is a little soaked.

Daisy settled in at the task in hand. Daisy was away from the nest for five hours. The sea eagles did not return at dusk. Whew! But, two hours later, once it is dark, BooBook Owl comes to call and scares Daisy by flying from branch to branch.

Ducking!

Daisy flattens herself over her eggs increasing the size of her body and extends her neck. She is in protective mode. Boo bothers her for about a minute and a half and Daisy goes back to incubating her eggs.

The old Ironbark Tree where Daisy’s nest is located.

It is now 7:34 in the Sydney Olympic Park. The heat from Daisy’s body and the wind have dried out the down. The sea eagles did not arrive. They have been spotted at Goat Island. That does not mean that they will not return. It just meant that Daisy didn’t have to scurry from the nest before dawn. A good way to start the day, nice and relaxed.

Daisy and the down have dried. Rain is forecast for today.

It may look boring but a boring, quiet day without any visitors to Daisy is a good day! Let us all hope that it stays that way for her.

Yesterday, some of you noticed that Lady didn’t like the down. It looked like is was sticky. Now we know that sea eagles do eat birds so, Lady would be very familiar with feathers. But she might not know about eiderdown. This is what I was told from someone very familiar with ducks and geese, “Cling is an attribute of eiderdown and very mature goose down, also known as”sticky down”. “Cling” is found when tiny hooks develop on the individual filaments of a down cluster”. I immediately thought of Cling film that we pull over bowls and things to keep food fresh. It sticks to itself and to the bowl. Well, that is precisely what Daisy’s down did to Lady. It must cause Lady a lot of confusion. And, you know what? That is OK. I know that this is Lady’s nest where she raises her eaglets. But Daisy is not a threat to the sea eagles or their babies. Yes, she chose their nest but this might have been because she lost all of the ducklings in her first brood this season and she wanted to see if this nest might help see some of them to hatch. I know that each and every one of you are cheering our little duck forward.

One of Daisy’s fans also sent a video for all of you to watch. A Mandarin duck made her nest on the balcony of an apartment twenty-stories up from the ground. It is an amazing video showing how the people of this city came together to help the ducklings. Have a look!

Daisy wants to thank all of her friends wishing her success. People have joined her from Canada, the United States, Australia, Mexico, Poland, Croatia, China, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. Check back for updates. We are getting closer and closer to hatch!

Thank you to Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for providing the camera for the 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.

Wonder what will happen today on ‘As the Nest Turns’?


Before I begin today, I want to thank all of Daisy’s fans from Poland who come every day to check on her well-being. It is so nice to have you with us on her journey.

Zanim zacznę dzisiaj, chciałbym podziękować wszystkim fanom Daisy z Polski, którzy codziennie przyjeżdżają, aby sprawdzić jej samopoczucie. Miło jest mieć cię z nami w jej podróży.

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I have to admit that the time difference between the Canadian Prairies and Sydney, Australia often means that I am awake at 1:30 am waiting for Daisy to return to the nest from foraging. Last night it caught up with me and I turned out the light. Daisy is being smart. She waited til the sun was beginning to lower itself before returning to the Ironbark Tree. It was 17:07.

Daisy approaches her nest cautiously. Remember, she has, at the last minute, looked up and glanced the White Bellied Sea Eagles sitting stone cold still on the camera tree and had to leave quickly. I am impressed with her approach. She lands on the old creaking tree, stopping and looking, and slowly proceeding to her nest. Someone might think she is just a curious visitor. But we know better! So far this little Black Pacific Duck has outwitted the sea eagles!

Daisy continues to be cautious as she slides onto her nest.

The sun lowering on the horizon leaves a beautiful filtered light on our beautiful little duck. For those of you who have been following along every day on Daisy adventures, you will notice that she is really cleaning up the down that was tossed about and getting it back on the nest.

It is 4:40 am in Sydney and Daisy is enjoying the cool before the heat of the day arrives.

The Homebush Bay weather says it is now 21.9 degrees C at 5am. It is expected to climb to 33 degrees C at the height of the day. Oh, Daisy, it is going to get pretty toasty on that nest!

In an article for the Smithsonian Magazine, Brian Handwerk says in ‘Defying Stereotypes, Ducklings Are as Clever as They Are Cute’ that “a duckling’s ability to imprint confers a remarkable ability for abstract thought, often associated only with primates and other animals considered highly intelligent. Ducks even outperform supposedly “smarter” animal species in certain aspects of abstract reasoning. Just hours after birth, those yellow fuzzballs understand concepts like “same” and “different,” remember them, and apply them to never-before-seen objects with no social cues or training” (14 July 2016). In being able to distinguish likeness and difference, the ducklings are demonstrating that they are not ‘bird-brained’ but, rather, they have a high level of abstract thought.

I was so glad to see someone writing something positive about ducks. It isn’t that I have found negative statements about ducks but, rather, it is the absence, the invisibility of ducks in recent popular books on birds. For example, in Jennifer Ackerman’s, The Genius of Birds, there is not one mention of a duck! Magpies, yes. House Sparrows, yes. Even one little mallard, no. I would like to think, from observing Daisy, that ducks are as capable of complex behaviour as every other bird discussed in the book. I think that you might agree with me. She has, thus far, outwitted the boss of the forest, the largest seabird in Australia, the White Bellied Sea Eagle. Let us hope that this pattern continues!

I begin to look at my bookshelves and realize that I have been focused entirely on Red Tail Hawks and falcons. There must be as many beautiful books on ducks. Surely people have adopted ducks, made ponds for them and feed them in the same way that people in the English countryside have swans or wildlife rehabbers have Red Tail Hawks. Perhaps you know of some books on ducks that I should read. Lists are always appreciated. When I looked on line, there are pages and pages of children’s stories about ducks and geese. There are some about making duck decoys and how to line them up so that ducks can be shot. Sorry, I don’t wish to shoot them. I would like them to live happily in a pond or at the edge of the water like our Dabbling Duck, Daisy.

It is 5:57 and the forest is beginning to wake up. Daisy hears ravens cawing in the distance. Ravens normally follow the sea eagles in the forest. She stretches her neck to listen intently and then relaxes again.

There are enormous demands and dangers for Daisy while she is nesting. She has pulled off the down on her breast to line the nest. This also creates a bare spot which is the ‘brood patch’. The heat from Daisy’s body goes directly to the eggs. Periodically during the day and night, she will rotate the eggs. Daisy has, as mentioned before, lost a lot of her body weight creating the eggs and lining the nest. She also is not able to go and forage as frequently as she would when she is not nesting. We know that she goes out to replenish herself but that is on average about three hours a day. Otherwise, she is alert and on the nest tending to her eggs. Daisy is not like larger waterfowl, like geese and ducks. She does not have a fat reserve to draw on when she is incubating. So besides the danger of her own health, there are also other animals in the forest that are predators. We have met many of them in the days that Daisy has been incubating – Ravens, the White Bellied Sea Eagles, the Pied Currawong, and perhaps BooBook Owl, Magpies, and possums. Sadly, a lot of wild ducks have an even bigger danger created by humans – the loss of their habitat.

There is no need to create any drama around Daisy. Right now she has out mustered all of the other birds and animals in the forest. As I said yesterday, an uneventful day is a good day for Daisy – just like it is for us!

The sun paints a rose-gold hue over the nest as it rises over the forest.

Our little duck uses this quiet time to do some aerating of the nest and some preening.

Look at that beautiful down nest lining! Wow.

The only visitors so far have been the Rainbow Lorikeets and they have spent their time on the bowl of the big nest.

Daisy heard them but she could not see them at first. They were climbing around on the bottom of the big sea eagle nest. When she realized that they were the beautiful rainbow coloured parrots and that they would not bother her or her eggs, she relaxed.

Daisy relaxes when she sees the Rainbow Lorikeets.
The beautiful parrots are all curious about Daisy.

I have this thought that always comes to mind when I see the Rainbow Lorikeets climbing over the nest tree. They are not frightened and that must mean that the White Bellied Sea Eagles are not close! That is a very good thing. The Lorikeets are still climbing around on the nest. They have been there for more than an hour. Daisy can relax and enjoy a nice morning.

I am so happy that you have joined me today to find out what has been happening in the world of little Daisy. I will bring updates as I try to do everyday in about six hours. Stay tuned to find out if your favourite Black Pacific Duck had any more adventures today!

Thanks to WBSE Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Center for the cameras so I can take my screen shots.

Quite a fright

Late yesterday afternoon Daisy arrived back at the nest right before 17:00. In a split second, she saw the two WBSE on the camera tree and was able, quickly, to abort her landing. They scared Daisy. She stayed away only returning at 19:43 as the sun was beginning to set on the old Ironbark forest.

And if that wasn’t enough of a fright, in the wee hours of the night she was literally scared off by sounds coming from the nest. Daisy was so frightened she quickly flew off after listening for a few minutes. And that scared off the Ringtail Possum that was climbing up the nest peeking in at Daisy sleeping in the sea eagle nest. It seems they both scared one another.

Common Ringtail Possums are small. They are about the size of a medium domestic cat. They are grey with some white behind the eyes with a white tip on their tail. They use this tail almost like a fourth leg wrapping it around branches to help them climb. They are forest dwellers and are very familiar with the sea eagles that raise young on this nest. Many people think they have their nest at the very bottom of the sea eagle nest. Like BooBook Owl and the more threatening Common Bushtail Possum, they hunt at night. They are vegetarians feeding on plants, fruit, and flora. The little Ringtail possum is the only species of possum in Australia where the male is actually involved in caring for the young possums. They are, again, not as much a danger to Daisy as the Common Ringtail Possum.

Common Ringtail Possum. Notice the thick tail that they use to help them climb. Photo courtesty of Wikimedia Commons.

The possum that Daisy should be very fearful of is the Bushtail.

Brushtail Possum at Grampians National Park, Australia courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Brushtail possums are the most widespread marsupial in Australia. (They are also in New Zealand). They are brown and have really bushy tails with a underneath furless patch that helps them to climb trees and hang on to the branches. They hunt at night and eat leaves, flowers, fruits, insects, small animals, and eggs. They are not related to the Opossum of the Americas and they are not the benign fruit eater portrayed by many books. They pose a real problem to Daisy as they are, as noted earlier, keen egg eaters. These possums are known to have eaten parrots, keas, robins, as well as larger kiwis. Researchers believe the decline of the North Island Kokako (endemic to New Zealand) to almost extinction was caused by the Brushtail Possum. The Kokako is a large grey-blue song bird. It has a black mask and long legs. New Zealanders are working hard to restore the populations of these lovely forest birds.

North Island Kokako perched on a Branch. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It is now past dawn in Sydney, Australia. No sign of the White-Bellied Sea Eagles. Daisy is setting serenely on her nest. You will notice that she has been bringing in some of the down that was scattered. The nest is quite fluffy now!

Daisy, after dawn, January 22

There is absolutely no telling what comings and goings will happen today. It is Day 10 of brooding!

Daisy’s beautiful layered plumage on her wings.

Dawn casts a beautiful rose-gold over all the forest.

Dawn

And just about the time Daisy settled into a quiet early morning, she heard something land on the camera tree. It is 7:18:48. Too late to get off the nest or cover the eggs, she decided the right thing to do was to freeze flat.

Daisy lays ‘frozen’ hoping that the large bird on the camera tree does not see her.

Whatever it was, it was, its shadow indicated that it was a large bird but not as large as a sea eagle. Spotters said it was white so it is likely not then the Raven who continues to come, hoping to find Daisy gone and eggs for dinner. The bird left in about ten minutes but Daisy stayed frozen like she is in the photo above. Gradually, she began to relax.

Daisy relaxing slowly.

The first threat of the morning has come and gone after the excitement of the possum who came during the early night.

Stay tuned. An updated post will come in about six hours. Stay safe. Thanks for dropping in to check on Daisy.

Thank you to Sea Eagle Cam, BirdLife and the Discovery Center for the cameras from which I took my scaps.

A Tree full of Rainbow Lorikeets

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!

One of the Rainbow Lorikeets got very close to Daisy and Daisy was contemplating what to do to defend her nest.
At first there were three and then more came until there were more than a dozen chattering away non-stop.
Two Rainbow Lorikeets sat on the rim of the sea eagle nest chattering directly at Daisy who is watching them carefully.
A Rainbow Lorikeet Preening on the Nest Tree.

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!

Look at how far Daisy can stretch her neck!
Daisy is using her bill to bring in some of the down the Curra removed from her nest.

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.

Daisy preening her feathers just like the Rainbow Lorikeets.

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.

Day 6 of incubation, updated

Daisy returned to her nest at 17:50 after spending most of the day away. If you are following the sage of this little Pacific Black Duck, you will know that yesterday, ‘Dad’ the White Bellied Sea Eagle owner of the nest arrived at dawn and stayed for some six hours before departing. During that time he did mess up a little of the down but, for the majority of the time, he stood sentry duty. Dad would, of course, really like to catch the bird that has violated his territory! Because Daisy had to leave so quickly, she was unable to cover her nest. A couple of hours after Dad departed, a Pied Currawong arrived at the nest and tried to eat an egg. Unable to do so, that bird threw a bit of a fit tearing the down from around Daisy’s carefully created nest and throwing it over the rim of the sea eagle nest. It was warm in Sydney yesterday and the sun shone on the nest for extended periods. Someone also told me that because of the way the sea eagle nests are constructed they hold the heat much better than ordinary nests. Let us hope so and also that the sun’s heat did not do any damage. Daisy is brooding seven eggs. They should be ready to hatch in about three weeks.

After all of the hassles yesterday, it was nice when Dad Sea Eagle did not show up at dawn! As a result, despite the wild gusts of wind exceeding 26 km an hour on the nest, Daisy was able to relax and nap.

Daisy rests but keeps alert to anyone approaching her nest.
Daisy resting with her bill tucked in behind her wing.

Daisy has had a quiet day on the nest so far. It is day six of her brooding. She has lost approximately half her weight laying her eggs and I understand that she has pulled half her down out to line the nest. Raising little ones takes its toll on mothers. Some bulk themselves up before laying their eggs. Again, I was told recently that the birds use up a lot of their calcium stores for the egg shells.

This reminds me about bird seed at your feeders for winter. You should be feeding the birds the black oil sunflower seeds. It helps give them fat to burn during the winter. It wouldn’t hurt to get a bird seed with added calcium and put it in your feeders several months prior to breeding in your area. This will help the female build up her calcium stores and help with the thickness of the eggs. That protects them from being broken easily. Some people crush the shells of the eggs they have eaten. But know that if you want to do that you need to wash the shells thoroughly to get rid of any bacteria from the chickens who laid them. Then you place them in a shallow pan and bake them at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes. You could save up a bunch and bake them the next time you used your oven.

A close up of the beautiful nest made of Daisy’s down and plant material from the sea eagle nest.

Daisy started moving plant material and leaves toward her nest around 1pm. She left the nest at 13:22 to go and forage near the Parramatta River that runs through Hornbush Bay, Australia. It is unclear whether or not she will return in a couple of hours or if she will wait as dusk begins to arrive. The last time she left volunatarily to forage at mid-afternoon, she returned and twenty minutes later, Dad Sea Eagle showed up and she has to fly away and wait until dusk to return.

Daisy carefully covered her nest with down before leaving to forage.
Daisy voluntarily left the nest to forage and carefully concealed her nest.

One thing that is worrisome is that there are ravens about today. They love eggs and are very smart. Daisy did a good job of covering her nest today. Hopefully they will not find it!

I also want to thank the individual who wrote to tell me about a nest in Poland. A Mallard laid its eggs in an eagle nest. They successfully hatched! Isn’t that wonderful? I wonder if it was an unoccupied nest? The individual told me that the Mallard did not have any of the hassles that our Daisy is having trying to brood her eggs. The story from Poland gave me hope!

QUICK UPDATE: Daisy returned to her nest at 15:51 without incident. She was cautious, listening for anyone who might be around or who might have followed her. A very wise woman said today that all of the creatures in the forest would be curious about Daisy because she normally doesn’t live there. She lives on the water. Of course. Let’s just hope that curiosity is all that is going on!

Daisy returns to the her nest after foraging.
Daisy listens carefully for sounds in the forest before starting to brood.
After checking that no one is around, Daisy finally lays on her nest cup.

Anxious moments….

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.

Dad the WBSE listens for any approaching bird.
Dad reaches down and puts his beak into the soft down.
Dad stops what he is doing to raise his head and check on noises from the forest.
Dad makes a mess of Daisy’s tidy nest walking away, for the second time, with a piece of down.
Dad at the far right of the image keeping watching over his nest.
Dad certainly can make a mess in a few seconds.

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.

Daisy returns to her nest and immediately knows something has been there.
After about a minute, Daisy begins to incubate her eggs slowly bringing the plant material and down back close to her body that Dad has 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!

The shadows and Daisy’s excellent camouflage are good protection.

Daisy lays another egg!

Daisy, the very brave Black Pacific Duck, returned to the nest of the White Bellied Sea Eagles (WBSE) at 5:19 am. Everyone believed that she had laid the last of her eggs yesterday and had returned today to incubate them. Not so! Despite being concerned and ever watchful for Dad to return, Daisy did, at 10:33:34 Australian time, lay egg number nine. This means that she has a nest of seven eggs. Remember, Dad ate one and it is presumed, but no one knows for positive, that Daisy laid an egg elsewhere in the forest the day she was frightened from the nest before she could lay her egg.

Daisy pushing out her breast and pushing.

One of the things that I noticed today was that, in addition to turning in the nest often and breathing deeper, Daisy also stood up, lowered her neck, stuck out her breast and pushed down diagonally during her labour. You can see a still image of this action above. You can, if you look carefully, see the growing number of eggs in the nest cup, too. Once the egg was out, Daisy relaxed.

Daisy bearing down to get the egg out
Once the egg is out, Daisy begins placing more down and enlarging and lowering the nest.

Notice the small amount of down that Daisy has pulled from her breast to line the nest cup. Over the course of the morning, she has increased the size of and deepened the nest cup by moving around and pushing with her paddle feet.

The amount of down and the depth of the nest have increased gradually during the day.

What has afforded Daisy all this time today? Remember that Dad WBSE ate one of Daisy’s eggs yesterday and then covered the eggs. I have been actually hoping that the egg gave him indigestion (do eagles get indigestion even?) and is off duck eggs! Observers on the ground say that he has joined Lady, his mate, at Goat Island. Goat Island is 12.2 km from the nest. Hopefully the sea eagles will stay there until mid-February away from the heat of the City. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Normally, Dad will come and check on the nest and the rest of his territory during off-season. It is like he is on vacation! It is currently over 26 degrees C on the ground and, presumably, a little hotter in the nest.

However, Daisy has very good camouflage and if she continues to lower her nest, just imagine. She could cover herself with fluffy down and leaves and just maybe the WBSE wouldn’t see her at all.

Stay tuned for further developments tomorrow in the adventures of Dad and Daisy.

Isn’t she gorgeous?

The Continuing Saga of Dad and the Duck or ‘As the Nest Turns’

Just to bring those of you up to speed in case you haven’t read my earlier blog. In early December, a pair of Pacific Black Ducks investigated the nest of a pair of White-Bellied Sea Eagles (WBSE) in an old Ironwood Tree in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park in Sydney, Australia. On 14 December, a nest cup was excavated in the centre of the sea eagle nest by the ducks. (Note: This is off-season for the sea eagles.). Six days later, ‘Dad’, the male partner of ‘Lady’, to whom the nest belongs, came to the nest for one of his periodic territory checks. The female aptly named ‘Daisy’ by Phyllis Robbins of the WBSE chat group laid her first egg in the nest cup on 5 January 2021.

Female Black Pacific Duck

On the morning of 11 January, Daisy arrives at the nest just after dawn. Before she could lay her egg, vocalizations from other birds in the forest alert her that the sea eagle is about. Indeed, Daisy might have been listening for the male sea eagle because he had come to the nest the previous day. That day she quickly covered the eggs and flew off the nest but stayed in proximity. Dad stayed for about half an hour before leaving and within a few minutes, Daisy returned to lay her sixth egg without interruption. This morning, however, Daisy had not laid her egg when the large sea bird appeared. She stood on the rim of the nest and quacked as Dad flew to the camera tree. She left so abruptly that she did not have time to cover her eggs but, it seems that Dad did not notice her physical presence on the nest or her quacking.

Dad surveyed his territory remaining on the tree that supports the camera for the live stream for about an hour. He might have thought that the bird laying the eggs would return without noticing him and he would find out who this mysterious bird is.

White-Bellied Sea Eagle Male known as ‘Dad’ scanning his territory for intruders.

After about an hour and a half, Dad flew to the nest tree to see first hand what was happening. He had noticed the eggs the previous day by rummaging around in the leaves. He even tried to pick one up with his bill but to no avail.

Three of the six Black Pacific Duck Eggs

Today the eggs were clearly visible. Look carefully. Daisy has started removing down from her breast to line the nest. This physiological process is called zugunruhe.

Under normal circumstances, Daisy would arrive at dawn to lay her egg. She would do this every day until she finished laying all of the eggs for her clutch. This can vary between 8-13 eggs. After laying her egg, Daisy often remains on the nest for a period of about an hour before departing for the river to forage for the rest of the day. Once all of the eggs are laid, Daisy will begin full incubation, being relieved periodically by her mate. After twenty-eight days, the ducklings will hatch. Then, the following day (after 24 hours), they will take a giant leap of faith and jump off the rim of the nest, a distance of approximately fourteen metres, to the forest floor. Here they will follow their mother to the Parramatta River where they will immediately begin foraging for themselves.

Dad inspecting the Black Pacific Duck’s eggs

Today, Dad began to curiously inspect the nest with the eggs. For what seemed like an eternity, he would look at the eggs and then look around the immediate environment of the tree. It was actually like he was confused. At one point he tried to pick up one of the eggs but he couldn’t do it. It isn’t that they are heavy; the shape is just awkward for him to handle with his beak. He did not try to move the eggs with his giant talons nor did he attempt to break them. He did toss some of the down around. At one point, it even looked like he might start brooding the eggs. It was a very strange exchange because Dad’s hormones are not thinking about breeding or brooding. He is in the midst of moulting.

Dad trying to move one of the eggs

The entire morning was very suspenseful. Currawongs and Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos were screeching in the background and at one point, it was thought that Daisy even did a fly by.

And then the oddest thing happened. Very delicately, Dad covered up the eggs at 9:01 am.

Dad covered up the duck eggs so that no one could see them

If that wasn’t peculiar enough, Dad went up to one of the ‘parent branches’ on the nest tree and stood vigil. More than once, Dad flapped his wings to keep the Currawongs away! Take altogether, these three actions scream out that his intuition is to protect the eggs.

Dad standing guard over the nest

Dad stayed for more than an hour before departing. At the time of this writing, he has returned once again to the nest tree where he is keeping watch over his territory.

Stay tuned!