Oh, Ervie

So many are the greatest defenders of the ‘under dog’. You have watched and would have held talons, if you could, or delivered fish or chicken breasts! Oh, how you love the birds. I know that many of you could not watch the Port Lincoln Osprey nest this year because of Little Tapps last year. I promise you that I felt that pain. So, it was only right that we all worried about the third hatch this year – Little Bob. The history of the Port Lincoln Osprey Nest tells us that the third hatch has never survived. Never!

Born 51 hours after Big Bob, Little Bob proved us all to be wrong. We never had to worry but we sure did cheer him on and I know for a fact that I was not the only person watching him get in line to eat. As it happened, the few times that one of his siblings tried to claim nest dominance – and pick on Ervie – he turned it back on them. I stand to be corrected but I did not see him once back down. In fact, the aggression by Big Bob (again it really was only tussles), just made Little Bob more determined to be first in line.

You can really see the 51 hours difference in the image below taken when Ervie was 10 days old. He is in the middle. Big Bob is on the right. Middle Bob on the left.

Last year the sat-pak was placed on Solly. I don’t know if it was because she was the largest of the two surviving chicks or if she was judged to be the one that had the best chance of survival by her actions on the nest. This year PLO wanted a male – to compare the dispersal with a female. They had their choice of the three.

Little Bob was chosen because he was actually the ‘biggest’ of the Bobs. Over the course of the past 59 days of his life, Ervie has proven that he will try as he might to be the first up at the dinner table. As a result, he weighed more than the other two Bobs on the selection date. Is that single fact an indicator of his chances for survival in the wild?

Today, in 42 kph wind gusts – it was truly terrible in Port Lincoln – Dad proved that he was up to bringing in a fish to the nest. Mum normally still feeds the lads but she did not do that this morning. Was it because of the wind gusts? or was it so that they would begin to learn to fight for the fish in the wild? The fish came in at 07:04:55.

Look at the spread of Dad’s wings as he lands on the nest. Incredible. In fact, I really have to give Dad a lot of gold stars. He has come through the worst weather to deliver fish to this nest. I am truly impressed with his fishing capabilities. Not once was there food insecurity – and there was not a single stress line in the feathers of any of the three boys on this nest.

So Mum is not doing the feeding. She is down on the lower deck perch. I wonder if her and Dad discussed this?

Three hungry lads on that Osprey nest. All of them fit but only one is going to get that fish. Turns out it was a nice flounder.

There is your answer – Ervie! Nice mantling job. I wonder if Dad reports to Mum??

Ervie does a great job mantling that fish!

What was interesting to me was that neither Bazzy (Big Bob) or Falky (Middle Bob) did anything. Nothing. They were completely passive. they looked at the fish and ‘sniffed’ around but there was not a single second of any aggression.

Ervie was not going to share. He was still eating at 07:46:08. His brothers are watching and terribly interested but they are the same civil brothers that have lined up for their Mum to feed them.

Ervie was still eating ten minutes later.

In the end, Ervie ate all of the fish but the tail and he let Falky have it for breakfast. Hopefully the others will get some fish later but for now, this nest remains the most civil Osprey nest I have ever seen. My hope is that Bazza and Falky will be more aggressive out in the wild, if they need to. Perhaps with the low number of Ospreys in South Australia, they will not need to be aggressive.

Indeed, this nest ‘won’ this year because of the civility of the three brothers. Big Bob and Middle Bob are both 61 days old and Ervie is, said it twice, 59 days old. Solly fledged on day 65. So the count down is on. We wish them all well. History will be made with three fledges – a first for these parents and this nest.

It is rather bittersweet because I know that we are all still feeling the sadness from the death of Solly. I hope that the powers at be work hard to make South Australia a safe place for these beautiful sea birds. Our condolences go out to Port Lincoln and also to those at 367 Collins Street on the loss of Baby Bob.

The snow and blowing snow continue. The forecast is for much of the same – snow, blowing snow, and rain for the next week. Hunkered down it is. Tomorrow it will be shaking the conifers to get the heavy snow off. The garden birds and animals seem to have found the food inside the wood boxes and Dyson is on his belly eating seed out of the hanging tray. What a character. No sign of Mr Blue Jay and his family.

Thank you so much for joining me. Please do take care. See you soon.

Thank you to Port Lincoln Osprey Project for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots.

Statues for beloved birds, why not?

If you have read my bio, you will know that part of my life was spent studying statues placed in the public realm. I wanted to study the History of Ceramics but, at the time, there was no such programme in existence. The rest is more or less history. My niche was the public statues exported from Britain to the India sub-continent and Southeast Asia. If anyone asked me why, I would tell them that I loved to meet new people and travel and certainly that topic facilitated many adventures. On occasion, I still write an article or two. Public statues to men – there were hardly ever any celebrating women – are always controversial as we have witnessed over the past several years with the toppling of many public figures. Can a statue of a much beloved goose be controversial? I hope not!

Derek was a Snow Goose that arrived in Watchet Harbour in Somerset, UK, a decade ago. There are no other Snow Geese and everyone believed her to be a male until she laid an egg. Derek never migrated like the other geese. The boat owners feed her broccoli and Weetabix every morning. If they are late, Derek would board their boats and honk and honk and honk til she is fed. Charming. Sadly, Derek disappeared with only feathers being found a few weeks ago. The community fears a fox killed her. She delighted people near and far. As a result of the joy she gave there is a collection to have a statue of her made for the wharf. What a lovely idea. You can read about it here.


David Cohen’s statue to Ezra, Big Red, and chick

You might recall that a wooden sculpture was created to honour Ezra, Big Red’s Mate at Cornell. The work shows Ezra, Big Red, and a chick from their last brood. The detail in the carving is stunning. The artist, David Cohen, used acrylics for the plumage.


It is a lovely work celebrating a much beloved Red-tailed Hawk. It will remain on display for three years.

The only problem with this beautiful tribute to Ezra is that it cannot be placed outdoors. I am hoping that the Rock Star of the group, Big Red, will receive a bronze statue in her own garden in front of the Fernow Building which is across from the nest and where her fledglings always flew to first.

There are many animal and bird statues around the world. They are touching and quite lovely. Why not erect something to celebrate the birds that have brought us so much joy? Seriously, the politicians that find themselves immortalized often cannot make that claim!

Checking on the nests: At Port Lincoln, Dad brought in a fish at 06:22. Guess who stole the fish tail? If you said Ervie aka Little Bob you are 100% correct. Here is our lad finishing it off. Later, he was nosing around the nest looking for leftovers. Quite the guy you are, Ervie.

It is kind of wet in Port Lincoln. Don’t think any of the lads are going to be taking off flying today but…the birds always surprise us! The puffer fish is still being batted about on the nest but the chicks did not touch it. You can see it behind the chick on the far right, Bazza.

Yurruga has also had her breakfast. Oh, she is such a little sweetheart. She is changing every day. The wing flapping is really helping to get the floof off!

Mum and daughter looking out to Diamond’s territory waiting for breakfast delivery. I know that Yurruga is closer to the camera but she is really growing and, well, she is larger than Dad. What does that tell you?

When Yurruga is really hungry, she often picks at Diamond’s talons. See how much floof has disappeared since yesterday. Beautiful juvenile feathers hiding – and what a nice tail. I might not have noticed it because of those fluffy pantaloons. But there it is. Its length will be revealed once that white down is off. I keep saying it but looking at her it is just so hard to imagine her fledging in a week.

Xavier is excellent hunter. The girls hardly ever have to wait in the morning. In fact, most falcons have a place where they ‘stash’ prey. A pantry for those days when prey items might not be sufficient or for leftovers. The birds do not waste anything. We might all take some lessons from them.

Yurruga is doing really well at the self-feeding.

Self-feeding is tiring and Diamond helps get every last piece of meat off the bones – teaching the little one. Look at how carefully Yurruga watches. She is imprinting everything including the type of prey that is alright to catch. Her plucking is getting better, too. Again, she learned that from watching her parents.

The latest news about Grinnell is that he is healing nicely and has specialized home care. He is preparing to be released back into the wild. Send all your warm wishes his way that him and Annie regain their territory together. Oh, Grinnell you are so cute and so tiny with your wings all bandaged. Look at those yellow sticks for legs. Oh, my. You take care little guy.

Everyone seems to be alright. The big snow promised for this afternoon did not materialize. Thankfully. The garden birds have really been eating — and thank you for your kind notes. No, I am not going to get out in this mess. I put on my big boots with great grip and took care of the birds and that is it. I appreciate the concern. So very, very kind of you.

Thank you for joining me today. It is nice to see all the birds doing well today. Take care all.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB pages where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Charles Stuart Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Lindsay Wildlife Hospital, and Suzanne Arnold Horning for the photo of the Ezra statue.

Port Lincoln Osplets have names

Oh, there was such excitement yesterday. The Port Lincoln chicks were banded and, in addition, there were rumours that 3 or 4 of the Melbourne eyases had fledged. Let’s put that rumour to bed. Mum is sleeping on the weather protector above the four. So everyone is still home. That is fantastic. Maybe they will all fledge from this end so we can see!!! Ironically, Victor Hurley said they would turn the camera around to face the other direction after his Q & A session so there was a better chance to see them fledge. With two ends and one camera, it is very difficult to predict which end will prove to be ‘the one’.

Port Lincoln wanted to band a male chick because they wanted to compare his dispersal to that of the female, Solly, who fledged last year from the PL nest and has a tracker. Solly has taught osprey researchers much including the distances that female osprey will disperse. In Solly’s case, she traveled 311 km to Eba Anchorage. There were rumours that osplet 2, Middle Bob, was to get the tracker because it was thought he was the only male. In the end, Port Lincoln had three males to choose from and they went with the one who weighed the most – Little Bob – who turns out to be the ‘biggest’ Bob.

Here are the names and weights:

  • Big Bob, first hatch, has a red band, weighed the least at 1280 grams and is named Bazza. The name celebrates Take 2 Photography’s husband, Barry Hockaday, who did so much to bring the Osprey Barge to a reality.
  • Middle Bob, second hatch, has a yellow band, weighed 1330 grams and is named Falky after Ian Falkenberg, the bander.
  • Little Bob, third hatch, has a dark green almost black band, weighed 1380 grams and is named Ervie. It is the name of the Scottish town where Australia’s current Minister of the Environment grew up. This choice focused on the fact that the growth in the Eastern Osprey population and this project would not be possible without the Minister’s support.

And that is how ‘never miss a meal Little Bob’ became the biggest Bob! And got the sat-pak! Well done, Ervie.

The chicks behaved as expected. When the boat came close they pancaked so much you could not see them above the nest. Each was removed and put in a small sack. There was no stress at all. A gift of fish was put in the nest. The parents returned within minutes of the chicks being put back in the nest. It was a beautiful process and so much will be learned through the monitoring of Ervie’s travels including dispersal and threats. I will not deny that I am a huge supporter of banding and tracking. It is the only way to learn where the birds go, where they breed, what dangers there are in the environment, what happens to them, etc.

I admit to being very tired this morning. I could not stay awake long enough to find out the names last night or, should I say I stopped waiting at 2 am in Canada. It was so nice to run to the computer and see all the information this morning.

Many wondered how they could donate to keep the cam running at Port Lincoln. It is complicated and it is my understanding that they cannot accept donations. That said, if you or someone you know is going to the area why not take one of Calypso Star’s nature tours? Go out to see the sea lions or get in a cage and watch sharks. That would be a great way to thank them.

Update on WBSE 27 on 5 November (in case you missed it): “SE27 is doing well, gaining in strength and is feeding by itself. It has moved to a larger raptor cage to allow it to exercise and recover. The treating vets have advised that SE27 will be in care for a few weeks while it recovers and will be released back into the wild as soon as it’s well enough. Healing takes time so please be patient. Updates will follow when possible.”

It is another gorgeous day on the Canadian prairies. 13 degrees C. The sun is bright and I can see the squirrels already hoping that their breakfast will be taken out to the deck. They are a little early.

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

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: the Port Lincoln Osprey Project and the 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac.