NE27 is pipping and other Bird World News

Oh, the sun is so bright this morning! It is beautiful and, at the same time, it is cold. We have another extreme cold warning. That is the problem with sunny days. If it is cloudy, it is normally warmer. The birds are already coming in waiting for the feeders to be filled.

NE26 continues to do really well and Samson has piled on the fish for Gabby and 26. NE27 is now working its way through that shell with its egg tooth and there is a confirmed pip.

NE26, are you going to be nice to your younger sibling?

This is the state of the pip at 13:00. You can sometimes see the beak moving under the shell.

Gorgeous Gabby. The morning snow casts a beautiful golden glow on our Mum.

Berry College eaglet. The eaglet is bright-eyed this morning. Its left wing was stepped on yesterday when something frightened Missy and she stumbled getting up. B15 is eating fine this morning although I would feel a whole lot better if Pa Berry had more filled pantry.

A quick check on the eaglet at the Kisatchie National Forest nests shows that it is another expected 10-feeding day! The eaglet weights about 1 kg or 2 pounds now with the weight on its bottom area. You can see this easily from the image below.

E19 and E20 had a lesson in plucking before breakfast this morning! M15 arrives with a mystery bird and Harriet lines the babies up to watch. E19 and E20 had just finished up the last of what looked like a squirrel before the bird’s arrival.

R1 and R2 have their thermal down, like E19 and E20. They have both eaten today and other than some scary moments with the kidlets looking over the edge of the nest things appear to be much the same. R2 has learned to remain submissive until R1 is finished eating.

In the image below both of the eaglets, now 3 weeks old, are enjoying the sunshine and the really mild 14 degree C temperatures.

We are on the countdown to the arrivals of the Osprey in the UK. 49 days now. The staff at the nature centres are busy getting ready, making sure the streaming cams are working, and just looking forward to their arrival as it also marks the beginning of spring.

A new Osprey platform has arrived at Lyn Brenig in Wales. I have seen no word on any arrests of the individual/s who cut the pole down and frightened the Ospreys last season.

In the garden, the European Starlings and Dyson seem to have a truce. Dyson sits and eats on what is left of the big seed cylinder and the Starlings are eating off the ground and a smaller one. Meanwhile, the sparrows finally get to eat out of the flat feeder while the chickadee flits back and forth stealing seeds when it can.

Dyson has been eating for about two hours. His thick fur is keeping him warm in our -40 temperatures (with the wind chill). He is a real sweetheart…yes, you are Dyson.

The colours in the Starlings are nothing short of beautiful. In the sunshine, everything turns beautiful iridescent colours. In the shade, the patterns range from caramel to rust with some blue and green . Their beaks are so long. These two have already managed to remove all of the meal worms! Cheeky.

I hope the Starlings stay all year. They have really brought some life to the garden.

I will continue to monitor NE27s progress towards hatching and will check in on Ervie several times if he is on the barge. In the meantime, Daisy the Duck seems to have found another spot for her eggs. Or will she land on the WBSE nest the minute I post this blog? There seems to be no recent news on Annie and Grinnell and this time ‘no news’ is going to be taken as ‘good news’. For those of you following the illnesses that have beset the dogs walking on the Yorkshire beaches, the historic deaths of crustaceans and sea birds, it appears that the cause has been found. It is the dredging up of toxins that were once dumped in the area. In Manitoba we are very familiar with this as the dredging of land to build the northern dams to produce electricity for the south of the province have caused the water – drinking, in lakes, and in ponds – to not be able to be used for at least two decades if not more. This is very sad as the marine life and sea birds continue to die off the coast of northwest England. If you haven’t already, please submit your name for the Kisatchie eaglet. The deadline is 30 January. The three names most mentioned will form the short list from which the winner will be chosen at the end of the first week of February. I will keep you posted. You can send your suggestions to: nameknfeagle@gmail.com

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

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB pages where I took my screen captures: NEFlorida and the AEF, Berry College, SWFlorida and D Pritchett, Brenig Osprey Project, KNF, and the WRDC.

Saturday in Bird World

Good Afternoon Everyone. It looks pretty quiet out in Bird World this morning.

The two eaglets of Rita and Ron’s, R1 and R2, continue to sleep and eat without any observable ill effects from the rat dinner that they had yesterday. Fingers crossed. They are such beautiful and healthy little ones, curious about the world beyond the nest. Hopefully we can all go ‘whew’ after this fright is over – let’s celebrate on Monday.

They are very mobile, scooting around on the nest, balancing themselves with their wings.

This is Ron feeding the little ones. He isn’t as good as Rita but he tries.

There is an active pip watch at the Bald Eagle nest of Pa Berry and Missy in Georgia. B15 is doing well. Right now it also looks like Mt Berry could be in line for some of that winter weather making its way across parts of the United States. I really hope they get little or nothing. It isn’t nice to have a hatch when the snow and ice are coming down.

Pa Berry was on the nest with Missy on alert this morning.

B15 seems to have a good appetite.

Chatters are working on names for the little eaglet at the Kistachie National Forest (KNF) Bald Eagle Nest. The deadline for submissions is 30 January. Late this morning Louis flew in with a Coot to add to the 4 or 5 fish already on the nest.

The area is experiencing high winds today and are under a high wind advisory. It is also very cool in the forest at 8 degrees C.

This little one is the cutest little roly-poly I have seen in a long time. Anna has the feeding down and the baby is happy to have those nice bites of fish!

It is hard to imagine that E19 and E20 were this small a few weeks ago! Now they are at the big clown feet stage and their feathering is coming in nicely. I wonder if Harriet left this fish to see if anyone would try and nibble?

While other parts of the US are being hit with tsunami warnings, record levels of snow and ice, Florida is having a heat warning and should be getting some rain from that system.

Here is a lovely little video of E19 and E20 having their fish breakfast!

Finally, the pip watch for Gabby and Samson will be coming at the end of the week! I am so excited.

There have been intruders and both Gabby and Samson have been watching and listening carefully this afternoon.

How gorgeous!

An alert.

Time for some territorial defense.

All is well. Whew.

This nest is an active site for intruders. Gabby and Samson have to always be vigilant.

The two little eaglets are getting their feathers at the Hilton Head Island Trust Bald Eagle nest in South Carolina. There is no roll back. All I can say is that they appear to be eating well, growing at the right pace, and Mitch seems to have food on the nest for Harriet to feed the wee ones.

If you are in the line of the storms, tsunamis, and heat warning areas of the US or elsewhere, please take care. I will continue to monitor the WRDC nest of Ron and Rita with the hope that the rat did not get sluggy because of rodenticide poisoning. Ervie is on the barge and I will also check in with him and everyone else at the PLO later today. Thank you so much for joining me.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Berry College Bald Eagles, SWFlorida and D Pritchett, KNF Bald Eagle Cam, NEFlorida and the AEF, WRDC, and Hilton Head Island Trust.

The Plight of the Adjutant Storks

Everyone reading my blog knows that I believe wholeheartedly that individuals can make a huge difference to our planet and to the lives of our beloved birds. You do not have to be a movie star or a business tycoon with lots of money, you just need to find ‘something’ that you feel is really important. Your belief, your dedication, and your enthusiasm will influence others if your cause is sound.

@Cornell University Bird Lab

The Hargila have the most magnificent, yet piercing blue eyes.

copyright Cornell Bird Lab

I have previously reported on the work of Dr Purnina Devi Barman of Assam, India. Dr Barman was determined to make the Adjutant Storks, known as Hargilas in Assam, important — important enough that people would stop cutting down trees, building structures on the few remaining wetlands, to help with the chicks or the adults if they were injured. She wanted to engrain the importance of these critically endangered birds whose population (50%) lives in Dadara, Assam to the people of that village. She has spent a decade fighting for the Hargila raising the numbers of nests from 28 to over 200 today.

Dr Barman was smart. After finding out what was causing a loss of population, she took that knowledge and approached the women and the children to protect these amazing birds that live in the forest canopy. She set up the Hargila Women’s Army. Her story and the plight of these amazing storks was recently captured and told by the Cornell Bird Lab in a 28 minute documentary. I have now watched it twice. It is so well done. Please do have a look and as you are watching realize that every little thing we can do to help our birds also helps us!

It is a beautiful inspiring film.

I just had to share this with you. I spent many years in India, some years more there than home. I know how difficult it is to get things done there. These women are very courageous. This is a really good documentary —–it is so well done. Thank you Cornell! I would Cornell takes those beautiful images and make it into a book on these General Adjutant Storks. Part of the proceeds could go to the Hargila Army!

Thank you for joining me! Ervie just got a fish delivery so I am happy. Take care everyone. See you soon!

If you are looking to purchase some of the items the ladies in Assam make to raise money for the education and protection of the storks, please go to Pashoo Pakshee. Their prices are in Indian rupees. The current rate is 1.70 CDN for 100 rupees.

Oh, Bazza

Bazza, the first hatch at the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge, is the last nestling to fledge. OK. He hasn’t fledged yet but you might have been fooled at 06:15 this morning when you saw an empty nest. Bazza was doing amazing hovering. Maybe this will be his day to fly! Wouldn’t that be grand? Bazza could begin to explore the cove with his brothers, Ervie and Falkey.

He really seems to want to be out there enjoying all the fun! But to put all of this into perspective, Ervie fledged early at 60 days. Bazza is 65 days old and Solly fledged last year at 65 days. DEW did not fledge til 73 days. Ervie just got us all excited! And then of course, Falkey followed suit rather quickly, too. But if Bazza does fledge today it will be right in line with Solly.

Yurruga, the nestling Peregrine Falcon in the scrape box of Xavier and Diamond on the grounds of Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia, is waiting for her breakfast. She is looking a little ‘ragged’ this morning. Almost all of the baby down is off!

Grinnell, the resident male Peregrine Falcon, at the Campanile on UC-Berkley’s campus, was released one hour ago in his territory. He has been in the Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital and in ‘home care’ since he was injured in a territorial take over bid on 29 October. That is the latest news that I have. The cameras are being rotated a bit to try and get a glimpse of what will ultimately happen when Grinnell tries to land on the Campanile and take his place beside Annie. Will he succeed? Will the interloper? Here is a link to one of the cams:

It is nothing short of a blustery winter day on the Canadian prairies. Snow is blowing everywhere, some more flakes are falling, and the temperature is warm enough to be causing ice. It was a bit worrisome when I stopped at the pond and found a few ducks in a small open space of water.

They seemed to be enjoying themselves. No one seemed to have feather or wing issues but that open water is closing in fast.

There they are from a distance. It will give you some perspective on the size of the little pond.

I was surprised to see a few standing on the ice. Ducks – at least here – tend not to like to get their paddles cold.

My garden has been ‘very loud’ all day with about 200 or more House Sparrows all clamouring for food – which is in abundance. This little fellow was all puffed up to stay warm.

There was one lone Black-Capped Chickadee eating something in the Flame Willow. Like the sparrows, the chickadees are year round visitors to the feeders.

The two books from Roy Dennis Wildlife – Mistletoe Winter and Cottongrass Summer – arrived today. I have just finished Chris Packham and Meg McCubbin’s book and Isabella Tree’s on wilding to help restore the environment. It will be interesting to see what Dennis says in his latest book, Mistletoe Winter. Now for a nice cup of hot tea to go with it.

Send out positive wishes to Grinnell and all our feathered friends.

Thank you for joining me today. Take care everyone and be safe.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Port Lincoln Osprey Project.

Less can be more

Hopefully today’s ramblings will make a point on how to help our birds. Bear with me. I love to tell stories and revisit memorable moments.

More than a decade and a half ago, I was in Beijing teaching some special workshops at the International School and also giving lectures on the history of Chinese ceramics. Yes, you read that correctly. A Canadian was in China talking about Chinese pottery! I had been there several times before and always enjoyed myself and treasured the friendships that I made. This particular visit I was staying in a hutong that had been converted into a small guest house. Hutongs are the traditional courtyard houses, many torn down now. During breakfast I met a very interesting lady whose name was Fanny Farkles. She had retired from owing a restaurant, catering, and cooking school in New York City. I asked her, being terribly curious, what she was going to purchase and take with her as a reminder of her time in Beijing. What she told me has stuck with me. She said, ‘I spent the first 50 years of my life acquiring stuff and I will spend the last 50 getting rid of it’. Instead of ‘something’ she was going for an experience – a 17 course Ming-Dynasty meal fit for the emperor.

It wasn’t until later that I fully grasped the wisdom of what Farkles was saying but when I did, it hit me hard and, like all great insights, you wish you could turn back the clock and start again sometimes. Stuff. This coming year I will be spending much time finding new homes for ‘the stuff’. Thankfully, my resolution for 2021 was not to buy any new books. I almost made it had it not been for Chris Packham’s Back to Nature or Emyr Evans, Monty. Almost any book can be purchased used from a myriad of international sellers but not those two when I checked.

Speaking of Emyr Evans’s book on Monty, the DFYI on line shop is now open. If you are interested, here is the link to their on line shop:*

https://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/

A signed copy is 15 GBP. If you live in the UK, the postage is a very low flat rate. The round the world flat rate is 11.99 GBP. If you are a fan of the Dyfi’s Monty, the super star of the male Osprey world (by some), it is a great book or gift. It is also a fundraiser for the Dyfi Osprey Project.

One other year a young woman asked women around the world not to buy any new clothes. To wear one thing and switch it up with what was in the closet. It was the year of my black sheath dress. The money saved was given to young women in India to purchase school uniforms because we all know that education is important but you cannot go to school without a uniform in India. It was a brilliant idea.

An article in the environmental section of The Guardian today talks about ‘stuff’ and how to save the environment by not buying. Several months ago, an economist suggested that if everyone in the world cut their spending of non-essential goods by 15% it would have a major impact on climate change. If it is good for the environment then it is good for the birds. Have a read.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/20/we-need-to-stop-buying-stuff-and-i-know-just-the-people-to-persuade-us

A quick check on those adorable feathered creatures that inspire us to leave the world a better place reveals that Middle Bob and Little Bob on the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge had a tug o war over the fish tail this morning. I think Middle Bob won but, that’s OK. Little Bob won when he pulled with Mum!

Despite their amazing growth and those awesome curved juvenile feathers, you can still tell Little Bob from the circle on top of its head. You can also count on Little Bob being as near to where Mum is handing out the food as anyone. They line up and he is there, right at the beak with gleeful anticipation in his eyes.

Mum is happy to oblige!

The feeding is over and Little and Middle are tugging for the tail. The osplet behind Mum is Big Bob. It looks like a circle on its head but it isn’t. It has lines radiating out when you can see the full design.

Middle Bob is eating the tail and Little Bob is checking to see if Mum finds any more food on the nest. Oh, he loves leftovers, too. First up to the table and normally the last to leave. Sounds like Little Bob is a female to me. They need about 25% more food than the males.

Yurruga is currently sleeping off that entire Starling that Xavier fed it for breakfast. It is a wonder the baby didn’t pop but, like a good falcon, when Xavier suggested it eat more and made that chumping sound, Yurruga ate. It is learning to eat when food is available. You don’t always have the luxury of a stash in the corner of a scrape box in the real falcon world.

At least one of the Collins Street Four looks like it wants to try out for one of the local rugby teams. My goodness these chicks are enormous. Look at those feathers coming in. One day we will wake up and they are going to look like their Dad and Mum – it will happen in a blink I am afraid.

No other news from the little sea eaglets that flew off the nest yesterday. Keep them in your positive thoughts.

Thank you for joining me today. Everything at the nests is just fine. What a lovely relief. You take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: the Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Charles Sturt University at Orange Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac.

* I might mention books or other things in my blog. I do not make any money if you purchase the items and never will. My purpose is to simply bring news of the birds as they add so much joy to our lives and to alert you to ways that you can help make the world a better place for those birds.

A Visit to Oak Hammock Marsh

My Hibiscus and the Vermillionaires for the hummingbirds continue to think it is summer. And why wouldn’t they with blue skies, sun, and 24 degrees C. The only things that seem to be on track for autumn are the trees and Virginia Creepers that are changing colour daily.

Today was a bit of an outing. Located about 20 km north of Winnipeg, the Oak Hammock Marsh is home to an Interpretative Centre, third floor viewing area, a marsh boardwalk and several trails through the marshes. Oak Hammock Marsh is a joint project between the Province of Manitoba and Ducks Unlimited Canada. The marsh covers a 3600 hectare restored wetland area in the Interlake (between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba) area of our province. The marsh supports 300 species of birds as well as a myriad of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects. My interest is, of course, in the birds.

There are daily tours of the grounds, special education programmes for schools, early bird breakfast and migration fests, and a Goose Flight dinner which is completely sold out.

It was a wonderful day – short sleeve weather with plenty of birds and lots of places to stop and catch your breath along the trails.

Tip: If you were going to visit Oak Hammock Marsh and you just want to walk the trails and not go inside the building, you do not pay the entrance fee.

One of the things that I like about Oak Hammock is that at each trail there is information on the wildlife that you ‘might’ see there. Of course, there are no promises that the Yellow-headed or Red Winged Blackbirds will be there when you are but, in general, these are areas where certain birds congregate if at the marsh.

These are a great help to me – I am a raptor person who is just beginning to learn about waterfowl and shorebirds! I would have loved having Ferris Akel with me telling me which was the Greater Yellow Legs and which was the Spotted Sandpiper. There are a stack of books open surrounding me right now and the images are disappointing. That said, let’s give it a try and see if some of these bird identifications work – and if you spot an error, tell me! Do not be shy about it.

The images are not great. This beautiful raptor soared for so long in the warm thermals coming off the prairie landscape. She was obviously hunting. She would come down and bank and then go so high she was like a speck of dirt. You wanted to rub the lens of your camera to see if she was real. This is an adult female Northern Harrier. Notice how slim the body is with the long tapered wings and tail.

In the image below she is gliding – holding her wing tips higher than the body. Northern Harriers is one of the easiest members of the hawk family to identify because they glide so close to the ground. They have excellent vision but are known to also hunt by sound

She has soared above the marsh and glided down for a closer look for her prey. In the image below she was banking but also pulling up. You can see that distinct white upper covert.

It was simply mesmerizing watching her hunt and then go back to soaring in the thermals of a beautiful fall day.

Did you know that Northern Harriers were once called Marsh Hawks? In Europe they are often called Hen Hawks. This marsh is a perfect place for our Northern Harrier female to have her nest. She will build it on the ground usually in long grasses or cattails. These hawks line their nest with cattails – and all over the marsh were cattails and other soft prairie grass.

It was quite difficult to actually hear any of the other bird voices (or calls). The Canada Geese were flying overhead, landing on the ponds, and in the fields surround the marsh.

This adult male Yellow Headed Blackbird paid no attention to me. He was foraging for insects, seeds, beetles, on the ground. They apparently also eat dragonflies and there were a lot of those on my walk today. Here he is with his distinctive yellow head and chest with white patches on his black wings. He has a black bill.

There is an understanding that if Yellow-headed Blackbirds are in the same area as Red-winged Blackbirds then the Yellow-heads will be dominant. I do not know if that is the case at Oak Hammock Marsh because the numbers of Red-winged Blackbirds seem to really outnumber the Yellows.

It’s a male Red-winged Blackbird, below. I think it is a juvenile male because the red patch above the yellow is faint. They are covered by thousands of the most beautiful ebony feathers. Their black eye and beak disappear in all the dark plumage.

The Red-winged Blackbirds also have their nests on the ground which they line with dried cattail leaves, reeds, and grasses. The marsh is a perfect place for them to nest, too, with all those cattails!

This Greater Yellowlegs was quite busy foraging in the mud. Because of its streaked neck, this should be a juvenile. The Greater Yellowlegs is larger than the Lesser and has a longer bill with longer legs and noticeable knees. These birds also nest on the ground near water making Oak Hammock Marsh a perfect nesting area.

It looked so small walking along the soft mud of the marsh.

Two female Blue-winged Teals. We have Blue-winged teals throughout our province but they prefer, like so many of these birds, the marshes. Sadly, many marshes have been drained for farming over the past 60 years and then turned into housing estates leaving the Teals to have to adapt to living in ditches and dugout ponds. Their dark beaks are quite wide and flat. The females are a mottled brown.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

A pair of American coots diving and dabbling like ducks in the waters of the marsh today. American Coots can forage for food on land as well. Some people call them ‘Mud Hens.’ They eat insects, worms, tadpoles and fish as well as land and water plants. Their white bill with the black plumage helps to identify them.

As I was leaving, more and more Canada Geese were arriving in their typical ‘V’ formation. The fields were filling up and so were the ponds. It was 15:00. Must go back out closer to dusk! There is something energizing about seeing all of those geese flying in – and the only sound being heard was not the noise of the city but the honk of the goose. Just lovely.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I know that most of my readers live in places around the world far away from Manitoba. Please do check out your local nature centres. There are wonderful surprises awaiting you. Take care everyone. See you soon.

New Year’s Resolutions, Sustainability, and the Birds

There was an article, “It’s Not That Hard to Buy Nothing” in the New York Times today about Elizabeth Chai who, at the end of 2019, before the pandemic, made a resolution “she would not buy anything in 2020, with the exception of food, coffee, toiletries (if she ran out of something essential) and the occasional service like a haircut. She would resist the urge to add to her wardrobe or to buy anything material for her home.” At the same time, she also vowed to sell 2,020 items. These actions were inspired by Chai wanting to live a more sustainable life.

Chai, of course, would not have known that the pandemic would happen and that everyone’s lives would be turned upside down. Even so, she continued with her plan to donate or sell things that she no longer needed or wanted. She came up with a plan. If there was something she wanted, she would put that item on a list and if, at the end of the year, she still wanted it, she would treat herself. She said she learned, “…temptations fade surprisingly fast.”

2020 was an exceptional year for many of us. Like Ms Chai, I spent my time at home. I was teaching my very last university class while researching and writing about the environmental impact of ceramics. At the same time I began to understand more fully the human impact on non-humans and it upset me. Greta Thunberg says that we can each have a profound difference – I hope so.

So for 2021 I will use Ms Chai’s example. Like her, I have lived within the walls of my home and over time have noticed what I need and how many things I have accumulated over time. I will not purchase any new clothes or shoes, no material objects for my home, and no new toiletries until I completely run out of items. At the same time, I plan to begin selling off my ceramics collection and my books. Monies raised from the sale of books will be donated to help wildlife in need.

Stay tuned and wish me luck! Ms Chai said that she felt so good about living in a scaled down environment and donating things. She also realized how much money she saved by simply not buying. She had a fantastic idea. Maybe you would like to join me in my pledge to now buy anything new in 2021.

NOTE: The Shino fluted bowl is by Warren Mackenzie and it might be the first vessel to be sold. I am looking at two commercial galleries to manage the pieces that I have.