Thursday Morning in Bird World

14 April 2022

Dyson sends his love to everyone and he wants you to know that he is doing what he does best – getting seeds off the hard seed cylinders!

Thank you so much for your kind notes. The snow storm did precisely what had been predicted. There was a lull yesterday in the late afternoon and then the snow began with earnest around midnight. The forecast is now at the higher end of the snow accumulation at 80 cm or 2.62 feet. We continue to clear periodically and put down a line of seed that extends across 9 metres or 30 feet of decking and keep the feeders full and check on the hard seed cylinders as they need replacing. It has been a challenge. The sheer number of birds in the garden speaks to the recent arrival of thousands of birds during spring migration. Rain is set to start shortly turning to snow in the afternoon. Could it get worse for our feathered friends? The winds continue to bring some white out conditions. Hopefully the storm will taper off, as predicted, late Friday. Sadly, it brings out the worst in the birds who are hungry and fearful that they will starve to death. It is not unlike the beaking in the streaming cam nests when a weather event or diminished prey delivery sets off the ‘survival’ instinct in the biggest bird. Difficult to watch.

When you think you have absolutely ‘had it’ – you ‘are done’ with the birds and their beaking and bonking, stop and watch this piece of archival film that Charles Puleston shot in one of his Osprey nests on Long Island in the 1950s. It is called ‘My Turn’.

I can promise you that there is nothing more joyful, more tearful, and more satisfying than having a third hatch almost die in front of your eyes and then to have them turn around and become the most clever and dominant bird on the nest! It happens! Those are the nests you never forget.

A few of you have written to me in the last week about your need to pull back from the streaming cams and the chats that go along with some of the nests. The last note came this morning from a reader and I thought it would be a good time to discuss this. Watching the streaming cams can often bring about a sense of utter helplessness and frustration instead of the joy you anticipated. Instead of shutting the birds out of your life, I would like to make a couple of recommendations. The first is to educate yourself about the species you are watching. You do not have to purchase the books, go to your local library and if they do not have a copy see if they can order one in for you to borrow. The second is to arm yourself with emergency call numbers. Last year when a fostered Osprey chick fell off the nest at Patuxent River’s nests, the nature centre was closed. No one was answering the phone. People watched in horror hearing the chick splashing in the water. A number of us began to call leaving messages. One of the staff heard these and took their canoe back out to the park and found the chick – just in time – and literally tossed it back on the nest. This was a perfect outcome. That said frantic phone calls came from Hawaii, Canada, and the US to anyone who would listen. Every streaming cam needs the number of the local wildlife rehabber. Sadly, they do not post them. So it is up to you to find those numbers and have them ready if something happens. You also need to understand that most times help does not come. That is why Patuxent was simply so fantastic.

OK. Back to educating yourself. If you want to understand how the use of DDT caused the large Apex predators such as Eagles and Osprey to become almost extinct, get a copy of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Here is an article that speaks to the importance of this book.

Find out who Dennis Puleston was to the environmental movement and how he signalled the decline in Ospreys. Who was Charles Broley to the Bald Eagle community? These are people who fought the good fight to protect and restore the populations of Ospreys and Bald Eagles. You should know who they are. For a specific UK approach, any of the books by Mark Avery who headed the RSBP for 25 years are excellent.

The current threat is often from climate change and for eagles it is heat. Many eagles went into care last summer as did Ospreys particularly in the Pacific Northwest. One of the newest additions that David Hancock (Hancock Wildlife) is adding to the artificial nests for the Eagles in British Columbia, Canada is a shade screen. Ground breaking. How fantastic! Indeed, you might have noted the artificial nest in the Miami Zoo for the WRDC nest. These human-made nests will become more common as trees fail just as artificial platforms are now common for Ospreys.

How many times have you seen individuals belittled and having to apologize for putting human emotions on birds? This especially happens in some chats. I suggest that you read Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals. Good solid research. You won’t apologize again! Jennifer Akerman’s The Genius of Birds and The Bird Way are also very good.

My library is mostly full of books on Ospreys and the smaller raptors, Peregrine Falcons and Red-tail Hawks.

Falcons: The Peregrine by J.A. Baker, Falcon by Helen Macdonald, and H is for Hawk are some good starters. Winter’s Hawk speaks to the persecution of the Red-tail Hawk where I grew up, in Oklahoma. The Kings and their Hawks gives a particular historical perspective. These are a few to get you started.

Ospreys: Alan Poole’s Ospreys is a good solid introduction to the birds. I am particularly fond of David Gessner’s Soaring with Fidel: An Osprey Odyssey from Cape Cod to Cuba and Beyond for a good look at the issue of migration, particularly the New England ospreys. It is a good read. Gessner’s other books speak to various environmental issues impacting birds. There are others: Scottish Ospreys by Philip Brown, Lady of the Loch by Helen Armitage amongst others. I will try and bring one up now and then.

If you want to understand migration, A World on the Wing. The Global Odyssey of Migrating Birds is a great start!

If you want a good laugh, Zarankin’s Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder is excellent!!!!

I did a quick check on some of the nests. The third hatch is hanging in there at the UFlorida Gainsville Osprey nest! Good for it. Spunky little thing.

Here is the link to the UF Osprey cam. It is not on YouTube.

https://wec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/ospreycam/

The sun is coming out on Little Middle and Big at the Dale Hollow nest. They will be anxious for some fish to arrive on their nest.

Deb Stecyk did a short video of Big and Little Middle in the storm.

I found a new Peregrine Falcon nest this morning! It is in the UK at the Chichester Cathedral. There are four eggs.

When people get burnt out of watching Bald Eagles and Ospreys – where there is often a lot of beaking – I highly recommend both falcon and hawk nests. They are often overlooked because they are smaller raptors but the way that they take care of their young is reassuring that life is good.

There is also a Kestrel nest in Yorkshire. Eggs soon!

I highly recommend the streaming cam of Big Red and Arthur at the Cornell Campus in Ithaca, New York. Good solid nest. Big Red is 19 and Arthur is 6. Big Red has been raising little hawklets for 17 years – for ten on camera. Only one did not fledge and that was K2 in 2021 due to a beak injury and infection. There is also a good respectful moderated chat for a couple of hours in the morning.

The Queen of the RTHs, Big Red incubating four eggs on the Fernow Light Tower. This is the first time she has laid 4 eggs since the camera was set up in 2012.

Indeed, you will notice a lot of nests of falcons and hawks with four eggs this year. It could be nature’s way of adjusting for the quickly spreading Avian Flu.

Half way around the world, Lesser Spotted Eagles will be nesting in Latvia. The nest of Anna and Andris is now happy as Andris returned from his migration yesterday. Anna came home on the 12th.

And because incubation can be so boring to watch, Cal Falcons has done a really fast day in the life of Annie and the New Guy incubating! So funny and a good way to end this blog.

All of the nests seem to be doing fine. The first egg at Llyn Clywedog was laid at 10:27 this morning UK time. That is the nest of Dylan and Seren. I will be checking on those UK Osprey nests later today.

Thank you so much for joining me and for all of your good wishes, prayers, and warm thoughts for us and the garden birds and animals in the storm. It is much appreciated. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Under the Feeders. 14 April 2022

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: DHEC, UFlorida Osprey Nest, and Cornell Bird Lab and RTH.

From Port Lincoln to Kauai to Juneau

Oh, gosh. We really are going to miss these three boys when they finally leave the Port Lincoln barge. Ervie was wet this morning. He has been focusing very hard on finding a fish and catching it. We might never know, sadly, when that moment occurs – unless he brings it up to the ropes like Dad. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?!

Bazza seems to have landed the first fish this morning on the nest. Falky doesn’t seem bothered and Ervie had flown off earlier.

Port Lincoln gave us a nice image of Bazza over on the ropes. These three males are quite handsome.

When Ervie flew back to the barge he was really keen on preening those feathers.

You can really see that sharply hooked beak that helps to tear the fish so they are easier to eat. Unlike Peregrine falcons, Ospreys do not have a tomial tooth. In my images it is a bit difficult to see that valve which seals the Osprey’s nostrils when they dive for their fish but, it is there.

Looking at that beautiful image of Ervie below you will notice that the Ospreys lack that very heavy eyebrow of some of the other raptors. Instead, they have that incredible black line which passes from the eye down to the neck. That black line helps them with the glare.

Ervie missed the the 8:14:14 fish that Dad brought in. Falky claimed in.

Port Lincoln has reported that Ervie has been flying farther. They also note that he has been checking out the coast. Here is the latest map of Ervie’s movements from the barge.

Ervie and his siblings will get their adult plumage at their first moult which is fully completed by the time they are a year old. That change in plumage does not indicate Ervie’s sexual maturity. Osprey do not normally breed until they are three years of age. The 2019 fledgling from Port Lincoln, Calypso, has been spotted sitting on a branch with a male. Might there be chicks next year? That would be marvellous!

When Penny Olsen’s book on the raptors of Australia was published in 1995, the map of Australia indicated that the Eastern Ospreys were located only around the coast. Ironically, that map did not indicate any ospreys in the Eyre Peninsula. This is one of the things that has changed since its publication. We have to look no further than the Port Lincoln Opsrey Barge and Thistle Island. We also know from Solly being the first tracked Osprey that the birds do go inland. Not all that far but further inland than anyone had understood previously. We are fortunate that Solly was able to provide so much information to us in the 14 months that she was alive. Port Lincoln can now compare the dispersal of a female to that of a male with the tracking of Ervie.

There are many threats to Osprey. I imagine that everyone reading my blog can name at least four. I want to add warming seas and the decline in fish numbers as yet another.

As you know, I highly recommend Dr Marc Bekoff’s book, The Emotional Lives of Animals. He also wrote The Ten Truths with Jane Goodall. A very moving story is coming from the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Some of you might recognize the name of Hob Osterlund. She posted a very moving story that can be added to the cornucopia of evidence that Bekoff and Goodall have that support animals having emotions which they express. Once you have read those two reasonably priced books, you will never ever apologize again for anthropomorphizing animals again.

Here is that posting:

Tears.

One of my readers ‘B’ asked me if I had seen the snow at Glacier Gardens. I had not! So I went to check. Oh, my goodness, it is so beautiful. If you close your eyes you can see that beautiful Kindness using that nest and those branches like a trampoline. What a magnificent juvie Kindness was. She is off eating Salmon along the river.

On Taiaroa Head, 122 birds have been seen so far and there are 36 eggs laid. No mention yet on who the Royal cam stars for 2021-22 will be! Soon. And there has been no update on Grinnell. No further updates on WBSE 27 either.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Glacier Gardens Bald Eagle Cam, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, and to Hob Osterlund and her FB page for that moving story. Much appreciated.