What keeps us busy while NE26 hatches?

Samson has come to the nest to check on the progress of the hatch and to see if Gabby wants anything. Samson is more than anxious for NE26 to hatch – just like the rest of us.

Samson comes in to check on Gabby. Do you need anything, sweetie?

26 is using his egg tooth to chisel away at that shell. At 08:20 this was just a tiny hole.

Looks like a nice hole!

You can see that egg tooth chipping away.

Hello, NE26

Samson is back again, just checking on progress.

Samson decides to redo the rim of the nest and add and move sticks while he is waiting.

Waiting is hard!

Gabby has rolled the eggs. Look carefully you can see some cracks underneath the branch on the egg.

Samson is as anxious as the rest of us. He keeps jumping down on the nest to see how 26 is doing.

What a great portrait of our NEFlorida couple.

Look at the progress! Wow. This little one is getting that egg open quickly. I am really impressed with the progress. It won’t be long til 26 can give a karate kick and be free!

Come on NE26! We want to see you.

Progress!

Thank goodness for Ferris Akel. I was getting a little bit like Samson wondering how things were going with the hatch and the notice popped up that Ferris was on his tour. So between Ferris and the garden birds it is helping to pass the time while we wait for N26 to hatch! There is heat shimmer on the images and some were at a great distance.

It has been a great day to see raptors on Ferris’s Tour especially in the Montezuma area. There was an American Kestrel, a Rough-legged Hawk, and a Red-tail Hawk mixed in with Starlings and Horned Larks.

Rough-legged Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk

This is one gorgeous hawk!

Rough-legged Hawk

There were a pair of them hunting. The light one above and a darker plumaged one.

Rough-legged Hawk

This is such a beautiful dark Red-tail Hawk. Look at that amazing patterning on the scapula, the ‘V’ formed on the back when the wings are folded.

Red-tail Hawk, Adult

Horned Larks do not really have horns. They normally show two little feathered tufts on their heads. Horned Larks are the only true species of lark in North America. There is one other lark, the Sky Lark, that was introduced to Vancouver Island.

The Horned Lark is larger than a sparrow. The pattern is striking. Notice the yellow under the beak and then the dark brown/black line across separating the head from the breast.

Horned Larks
European Starlings

All of a sudden there was open water and there were Mallards, Black Ducks, and a female Red-breasted Merganser plus an array of Canada Geese.

Ferris took us to see some amazing water falls on the way to Ithaca. They are Taughannock Falls at Ulysses, New York. Incredibly beautiful. They are 8 miles away from Ithaca and if you are ever in the region, this would be a great place to visit.

Having promised myself to take images of a wasp nest hanging over the street in the tree canopy, it seemed like a good time between the falls and Ithaca to do that.

This nest is so fragile looking. It was in tact, like a tight round ball, until our snow storm the other day.

I will go out during different lighting conditions to document the change in the nest as winter progresses.

This little Black-capped Chickadee kept itself busy getting seeds and moving around the many European Starlings.

It seems like they would use more energy retrieving the seed and cracking it than the energy contained inside. But what do I know? I am just a silly human.

One brave sparrow sat with a sea of European Starlings today.

This fellow decided it was easier to knock the seed cylinder down and eat on the ground! The Chickadee thanked him.

Ferris is trying to find Big Red and Arthur. NE26 continues to work itself out of that shell. All of the other birds are doing well even with the cold temperatures in areas such as Louisiana.

Dad delivered a fish for Ervie. It was a bit of an appetizer. Ervie has been away from the nest. Maybe he is out fishing!

Ervie knew that day was coming before we could see him. Ervie flew into the nest and started prey crying.

Ervie is great to flap his wings and call for food at the same time. He can also stand on its tippy-toes.

There is Dad. Mum watches from the perch.

It is a flurry of wings and feet. Thanks, Dad!

Everything seems to be fine in Bird World. So far Ferris has found lots of Crows but not Big Red and Arthur. What in the world is going on? The Crows are flying, in the trees, just moving about.

They are also on the roof of Barton Hall at Cornell University. Is the beginning of hundreds of Crows gathering together? Researchers believe that they gather at dusk to share food sources and to find breeding partners in the spring.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Take care. Just think tomorrow there will be a new eaglet in the world. Yes!

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Ferris Akel Tour, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, NEFlorida and the AEF.

Wednesday in Bird World

Let’s start off with what is on everyone’s mind: Has there been a confirmed sighting of Yurruga? Yesterday, Dr Cilla Kinross was inspired by a very quick prey drop at the scrape. Diamond flew into the trees. Cilla was in the trees looking half an hour later – she only saw Diamond. Diamond returned to the scrape with quite a large crop also. Some believed they had heard Yurruga calling but, Cilla is unable to confirm that. So the answer is – we simply do not know. Yurruga has not been seen since last Thursday when he was on a building during a storm. We can only wait.

My goodness that little one was such a cutie.

October 20. Yurruga and Diamond

Diamond was really beautiful this morning as the soft glow of the sun worked its way through the fog.

Both parents, Xavier and Diamond, have been inside the scrape – scraping. They also had some bonding moments this morning at sunrise.

My heart aches for them.

The second question of the day is what is going on with Grinnell, the male Peregrine Falcon of the Campanile, mate to Annie, that was injured by a male intruder that is trying to cosy up with Annie? Here is the latest news.

The New Zealand Department of Conservation rangers on Taiaroa Head are shutting down the streaming cam so that they can move it to the site of the Royal Albatross family for 2021-22. There are lots of guesses as to who the couple might be. The announcement is due tomorrow.

One of my favourite Bald Eagle couples, Samson and Gabby, at the NE Florida Bald Eagle nest near Jacksonville have been putting the finishing touches on their nest. They are perfecting the Spanish moss lining the nest cup. Now all we need are some eggs!

Gabby doing some final inspections this morning.

The three lads at the Port Lincoln all had fish yesterday. Falky had more than Ervie or Bazza. Falky has become a master at slipping the fish out of Dad or Mum’s talons. A magician.

There is a lovely shot of the PLO Mum. She has done an extraordinary job raising these three boys to fledge this year (with Dad’s good help). Yesterday she even spent some time feeding Bazza. He is definitely a Mum’s boy!

Bazza can be a bit naughty. I know that the banders were certain that there were three males. Someone looking at Bazza’s legs and that beautiful necklace in the image below might mistake him for a lovely female.

Bazza and Falky sleep with their heads tucked under their wings – adult style – standing on the nest. Ervie is sleeping over on the perch or the ropes. They are all doing well. I continue to pinch myself. This Osprey nest really turned itself around this year to fledge all three hatchlings.

There are many articles coming out in international newspapers and academic journals on the effect of warming oceans on the seabirds including the beloved Osprey. I picked one of those for you as some are frustrating. They allow me to embed the article but then want you to subscribe to read it! That is a major irritant to me – like Subarus are to Ferris Akel!

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/climate-change-threatens-survival-of-albatross-60906

It is a grey damp day, 3 degrees C. The snow is melting. There are lots of birds at the feeders. A large European Starling is sharing the peanut and bark butter feeder with some cute little House Sparrows.

The tiny suet balls called Bark Butter by our supplier are a really big hit since winter has set in. Junior has been around to get the corn while Dyson was busy elsewhere. Nice to see all of them.

One of my former students posted this today on FB. It is a perfect little giggle for all of us!

Thank you so much for joining me today. Take care everyone. Stay safe.

Thank you to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and NE Florida Eagle and the AEF for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures.

Fall to winter

The beautiful weather that we had on the Canadian Prairies yesterday was due to dramatically change over night.

Footpath linking Portage Avenue with Assiniboine Park over the Assiniboine River

Our weather will go from nice blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures to snow and then snow mixed with rain. It is currently 0 degrees C and will warm up to a balmy 2 degrees C in the morning when the precipitation begins. My daughter messaged me to tell me there were still some Canada Geese and ducks in the Assiniboine River. It seemed like a good time to get out and go for one last nice walk.

The little Red Squirrel at Assiniboine Park knows that the warmth is not going to last. It was busy pulling off the seeds from a Maple tree and cramming them into holes and in the grooves in the bark of a tree. He was so busy he did not even notice the people standing and watching him.

The geese were looking for any blade of grass to eat they could find.

Some were in the duck pond flapping their wings trying to stir up the plants from the bottom of the pond.

Others were simply enjoying a beautiful afternoon in the warm sunshine.

It gets dark around 17:00 and as I was leaving some of the geese were flying away. Are they heading south for the winter?

I really hope that the geese and ducks got out of the City last night like the ones above taking flight. As promised, we have snow. Mr Blue Jay has come to visit and the sparrows are trying to find seed under the snow.

There are many feeders filled with sunflower chips, suet, black oil sunflower seeds, and then that wonderful ‘trail’ mix which looks better than what I make.

The sparrows in the snow on the deck know there are goodies underneath. Why they are not back at the feeders I cannot tell you. There is room for everyone there.

What a handsome little House Sparrow this fellow is. You can always tell them by their grey caps!

So how do birds cope with winter? This article was published by Daisy Yuhas in 2013 but it is still accurate now. Have a read – it is really interesting:

“Each autumn as many birds begin epic journeys to warmer climates, there are always some species that stay put for the winter. These winter birds have a better chance of maintaining their territory year-round, and they avoid the hazards of migration. But in exchange they have to endure the cold.Like us, birds are warm blooded, which means their bodies maintain a constant temperature, often around 106 degrees Fahrenheit. To make enough heat, and maintain it, they’ve evolved many different strategies–some similar to our own.Sparrows, for example, seek out shelter in dense foliage or cavities to avoid the elements. They also huddle, bunching together to share warmth, and try to minimize their total surface area by tucking in their head and feet and sticking up their feathers. Cardinals, impossible to miss against the snow, and other smaller birds puff up into the shape of a little round beach ball to minimize heat loss.”Big birds, like geese and grouse, do what we do,” says physiologist David Swanson at the University of South Dakota. “They put on insulation.” Their insulation often involves growing an extra set of insulating downy feathers.Birds can also put on fat as both an insulator and energy source: More than 10 percent of winter body weight may be fat in certain species, including chickadees and finches. As a result, some birds spend the vast majority of their daylight hours seeking fatty food sources, making feeder food even more precious for surviving a frosty night.When asked which birds are toughest winter survivors, Swanson points to little ones like chickadees. These small creatures can’t put on too much bulk for aerodynamic reasons. Instead, explains Swanson, they are experts in shivering. This isn’t the familiar tremble that mammals use to generate heat. Birds shiver by activating opposing muscle groups, creating muscle contractions without all of the jiggling typical when humans shiver. This form of shaking is better at retaining the bird’s heat.Another adaptation shared by many species is the ability to keep warm blood circulating near vital organs while allowing extremities to cool down. Take gulls. They can stand on ice with feet at near-freezing temperatures while keeping their body’s core nice and toasty.Keeping warm when the sun is up is one thing, but few winter challenges are more daunting than nightfall, when temperatures drop and birds must rely on every adaptation they have to survive their sleep. Some birds save energy by allowing their internal thermostat to drop. Hummingbirds are a famous example of this, undergoing torpor nightly as their body temperature drops close to outside temperatures. But torpor is not too common in winter birds, because the morning warm up would take too much extra energy. Instead, black-capped chickadees and other species undergo a more moderate version of this, reducing their body temperature as much as 22 degrees Fahrenheit from their daytime level in a process called regulated hypothermia.One simple way to help birds when the weather outside is frightful is to hang feeders. To attract a diversity of birds, select different feeder designs and a variety of foods. A tube feeder filled with black oil sunflower or mixed seeds, for example, will attract chickadees and finches. Woodpeckers devour suet feeders. And a safflower or sunflower-filled hopper feeder entices the usual visitors plus larger birds like cardinals and red-winged blackbirds. The birds benefit from the backyard buffet, and you’ll have a front-row seat to numerous species flocking to your plants and feeders.” Some raptor species, lower their body temperatures. More on that another day as we shift from fall to winter.

It is not clear how many birds are on the ledge at 367 Collins Street. The Mum was there overnight with one – the one with some floof still on its back and wings in the scrape box below. There were two. Where is the other one? at the other end? flown off? difficult to tell. The one on the scrape box has just vocalized and headed down the gutter. I suspect it could be breakfast.

It is almost flying along the gutter now.

Fledging will be happening soon down in Port Lincoln and if you want to see how a hungry falcon acts just go over to the scrape in Orange. Yurruga is a week younger than the eyases in Melbourne. It is really foggy in Orange this morning so breakfast could be delayed. That link is:

Look for a lot of wing exercises and hovering from the trio at Port Lincoln. Ervie was doing a fabulous job yesterday.

Oh, I am really going to miss these lads when they fly to find their own way. Last year it was this Osprey nest that almost put me off my interest in third hatch ospreys. Siblicide is horrific. And it is this same nest (along with Achieva and Foulshaw Moss) that gives me hope that things can turn around for the good for the chicks. It has been incredible this season.

It is time for some hot tea. Thank you so much for joining me. Take care everyone. See you soon.

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

Corn Cob Show Down

It has been an interesting morning in the garden. First, it is wet and cold – again. 8 degrees with a cloudy sky.

Because of the recent rain, all of the old seed and shells were cleared off the deck and put into the bin. Birds can get sick from eating wet mouldy seed. Wet seed encourages bacteria to grow and the diseases can be fatal. I would like to think that birds know better than to eat that wet, sometimes smelly, seed but they do not always, especially if they are ravenous. Over the years we have experimented with many different ways to keep the bird seed dry. Putting a roof or a dome over the feeder works best. Other people recommend mesh feeders so that there is air circulation. I have found that these work best in conjunction with some type of a roof or dome.

The garden birds do not like it when things are cleaned up. Today was no exception! Some of the bowls were left to be cleaned while others were filled. The House Sparrows arrived wanting baths – yes, they take baths when it is 8 degrees C! Others were dismayed to find their bowl empty. We warm the water for them in a heated bird bath during the winter but it is only enough for then to drink with wooden slats placed across so they will not bathe. Thank goodness they do not weigh enough to move those boards about! It is really important to remember as the cold days of fall and winter set in that birds need water to drink. If you put out seed in the winter, they also need water. Yes, they eat the snow but they often need more. See if you can figure out a way to provide it for them.

This is one of the sweetest little House Sparrows. It along with the one above wanting a bath were just darlings.

Grey Squirrel (Bushy) joined everyone on the blocks eating his favourite seeds with big nuts and fruit.

The Slate-Coloured Juncos are still here and they like that fruit and nut seed just as much as the Millet. Sadly, with the wet on the deck and their favourite red carpet, the Millet turns to mush and might make them ill. So it is fruit and nuts today! Hopefully the weather report is right and the sun will be out tomorrow and we will be back to non-seasonal temperatures for a few days so everything can dry.

The plumage of the Slate-Coloured Junco is quite extraordinary when you begin to look closely to the variations of rusty brown over the slate grey.

Mr and Mrs Blue Jay came for the corn cob but were joined later by another Jay. The reaction to that bird seemed to signal that it was an intruder.

Blue Jays are often overlooked. Many dislike them as much as they do House Sparrows. As for me, I adore them both but – because Mr and Mrs Blue Jay have been coming for several years and each summer they bring their surviving fledglings to show us, I am especially attached to them. They eat their corn and love it if they can get a peanut ahead of one of the squirrels.

I found a woman who loves Blue Jays, too. She made a great little video explaining their courtship behaviour. Have a look!

I love the drawing on the top left and the saying: Birds Make Me Happy. As all of us know, that is absolutely true. They bring such joy.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope all of you are well and happy. See you soon.