Friday Morning in Bird World

Have you ever started looking for something and found something else, equally as interesting? As it happens, yesterday I was looking for a short film about a Japanese man living in Hokkaido with his falcon. What was found was a new film released on 1 June 2021.

The documentary is the story of the only African American falconer, Rodney Stotts. Stotts says falconering for him is all about second chances – for people and for the birds. Have a look at the trailer for The Falconer:

Yesterday there seemed to be no news in Bird World and then there was. Do you follow the Welsh Osprey Nests? If you do, you will recognize the name Aran immediately because he is currently Mrs G’s mate. Aran injured his wing (primary flight feathers) at the end of May or beginning of June. He had been battling crows around the nest and then the storm came. No one knows how he got his injury. No one saw. But he was unable to provide fish for the nest while Mrs G was hatching the chicks. The volunteers and people of Glaslyn set up a fish table for Aran and Mrs G. They lost their chicks and both have been rebuilding their strength.

Yesterday, Aran was in a ferocious battle with a blue ringed bird a distance enough from the nest that it caught the attention of Elfyn Lewis of the Glaslyn FB group who posted the following image that made the rounds of several groups so I am reposting it here. Aran is the bird on the bottom. The white is the injury he sustained earlier. Are there birds attempting to usurp Aran from the Glaslyn nest? Always it would seem.

@ Elfyn Lewis

Other news comes out of Hawaii. The State of Hawaii bans the release of ‘Albatross Killing helium balloons’. It seems they are not banning the balloons but the intentional release of them. Here is that announcement through the AP:

https://apnews.com/article/hawaii-environment-and-nature-government-and-politics-fb9c1cd959ffaad608f08610be548428

What child does not love a balloon? and how many young women did I see lined up at a shop with balloons in hand for a party the other day? The question is how to dispose of them properly — and it isn’t sending them off in the air with wishes attached! Release the air, put them safely in a scrapbook, etc. Or eliminate balloons from festivities altogether. It is not only the helium balloons that injure the birds, it is also the normal ones that blow away in the wind. It is a good way to educate your children about the many challenges the birds face and that balloons and strings can kill them.

Speaking of Albatross, the Royal Cam chick, Taiki, is now 165 days old (nest time). On 5 July she weighed 8.3 kg or 18.3 lbs. She will be stabilizing her weight so that she can fledge in mid-September. Her dad, Lime-Green-Black (LGK) has now travelled over 42,000 km or 26,000 miles in total since he received his satellite tracker in February to feed his precious chick. (The mother is alive but her tracker stopped working).

It is still two months until Taiki fledges in mid-September. She is just getting her beautiful black wings, she is building play nests, and the parents are flying in to feed her. It is all very interesting and it is such a calm nest to watch. The Rangers weigh all of the chicks on Tuesday morning and that is fascinating to watch also. Humiliating for such a beautiful girl to be stuffed in a laundry basket but – it is necessary. Supplementary feedings are given should any of the chicks require it. NZ really takes good care of their birds! As North American streaming cams wind down for the breeding season, why not have a look at some of the amazing birds in the Southern hemisphere?

Taiki stretches her wings and flaps them to help them get strong.

Here is the link to the Royal Cam chick on Taiaroa Head New Zealand:

Lady and Dad will be on hatch watch in about two weeks time. This is the only White Bellied Sea Eagle Cam in the world. These beautiful birds are the second largest group of eagles in Australia. The nest is in an old Ironbark Tree in Sydney’s Olympic Park. It is not always an easy nest to watch because their can be sibling rivalry but the sea eagle chicks are so cute and the juvenile plumage is simply gorgeous.

If you are a lover of Ospreys, there is still plenty of action in the UK nests where the nestlings have fledged or are getting ready to fledge. They will be around for another five weeks or so until they leave for their migration to Africa.

In Australia, the Osprey couple on the barge in Port Lincoln have just finished lining their nest with soft materials and the streaming cam is now live. These are the parents of Solly and DEW. Solly is the female Osprey with the satellite tracker. This is also not an easy nest to watch because of siblicide.

There are two falcon cams in Australia. One is on year round and the other, the CBD Peregrine Falcons in Melbourne, will start once the falcons are back in the scrape box. Here is the link to Xavier and Diamond’s scrape box on top of the water tower on the campus of Charles Stuart University. No one knows what will happen this year. The couples’ 9 month old son, Izzi, still continues to come to the scrape box and might even believe it is his own home. In the UK, chicks from an earlier hatch have helped the parents raise their new brood. In Australia, we watch and wait!

In Eastern Europe, there has been some concern over the amount of prey being brought in to the little Golden Eaglet in Buconovia, Romania. Lady Hawk was able to capture the delivery of a hare by the father and a really good feeding yesterday. That is excellent news! When the camera was first installed he was afraid of it and he is becoming more comfortable day by day.

That’s it for Friday. The Achieva Osprey Nest has not return visit from Tiny Tot and Electra is at the nest less and less. The Canadian chicks in Alberta seem to be doing fine as is Kindness up in the Glacier Gardens Bald Eagle Nest. Fingers crossed for continuing good health to all the birds.

Thank you for joining me today in Bird World. Have a wonderful Friday. Take care, stay safe.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project and the Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC Albatross Cam.

White-Bellied Sea Eagles and the birds that visit their nest

In a 2014 article in The Smithsonian Magazine, Rachel Neuwer asks why there is a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo in a Renaissance image of the Virgin and child, Madonna della Vittoria. Rebecca Mead examines the image by Andrea Mantegna, painted in 1496. You can see the painting of the Madonna and child with saints in the article below (sorry, it has a copyright so I can’t show it). The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is above the Virgin’s part in her hair a little to the left.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/why-there-australian-cockatoo-italian-renaissance-painting-180950227/

As I drank my morning coffee several days ago, I flipped through the latest New Yorker. In that 5 July edition, there is an article, Invasive Species.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/07/05/where-did-that-cockatoo-come-from

Each writer considers how the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo made its way from AustralAsia all the way to Italy focusing on the initial discovery of the bird in the painting by Heather Dalton, a British historian living in Australia.

The Mantegna is not, however, the first time that a parrot is included in a picture. Parrots show up in the murals of Pompeii, the Italian city buried by ash when Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE. They are also the subject of floor mosaics in the region. Indeed, exotic birds (not just parrots) appear as subjects in many mosaics and frescoes in the Roman domus.

Alexander the Great’s army went as far as parts of India before stopping on their eastern expansion of his empire. Their presence on what is today the Indian subcontinent heavily influenced the art of the Gandharan region. In turn, Alexander acquired a parrot from the Punjab in 327 BCE. If parrots were in Italy 1700 years before the Mantegna, one might begin to ask what is all the fuss? The Barber Institute of Fine Art in Birmingham, England hosted an exhibition solely on parrots in art in 2007. They were exotic, they were status symbols, and it appears that they were present in the art of the Italian Peninsula for some 2400 years to today. Of course, they were not all Sulphur-headed Cockatoos and that could well be the reason for the continuing discussion about the Mantegna. Other species of parrots came from the southeastern coast of Africa and from the region of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos originate in Australia and the islands of Indonesia and it was surely the trade through the islands of Indonesia that spirited the bird all the way to the port of Venice along with black peppercorns and other spices.

“20121210 Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) – a first-time visitor” by Degilbo on flickr is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos are extraordinarily beautiful and are the largest of the white parrots. I have never seen them in the wild. Indeed, it was not until I watched the White-Bellied Sea Eagle streaming cam in the Sydney Olympic Park that I heard them before I saw them. It sounded like someone being murdered in the forest! Seriously. One of the moderators answered the question, “What is that?” Later, these lovelies were seen climbing all over the old Ironbark Tree.

Sulphur-crested cockatoos are nut, root, and fruit eaters and live for up to eighty years. They make their nests in tree hollows where the female lays one to three eggs. Those eggs are incubated for thirty days. The little ones remain in the nest being fed by the parents for a period of approximately sixty-five days after hatch. The breeding season for these parrots is August to January in the Southern Hemisphere.

Why am I talking about these parrots today? It is because of the White-Bellied Sea Eagles (WBSE), Lady and Dad. The two eggs that Lady has been incubating will be hatching in approximately two weeks. There is a live streaming cam that is on day and night, 24/7 year round except for maintenance. If you like birds of Australia, you can often see them coming and going around the Sea Eagles nest. The birds are either curious as to what is going on in the nest or they would like the Sea Eagles to leave! The streaming cam in the Sydney Olympic Park is the only one in the world that observes the second largest eagles in Australia.

It is in the middle of the night. This is the WBSE nest in the Ironbark Tree in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park.

The Rainbow Lorikeets are curious. They come as a group climbing all over the branches of the tree. They are easy to spot!

“rainbow lorikeets” by cskk is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Every once in awhile the Galahs come to the Ironbark Tree. I think they are adorable. One of the WBSE chatters from Australia said that if anyone visits Australia and someone calls them a ‘Galah’, it is an insult meaning the person is not very smart. I have no idea how the Galah got that reputation except that I have seen several in the talons of Peregrine falcons in Australia.

“Galahs in Love” by David Cook Wildlife Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Noisy Miners are definitely heard before they are seen. They are a constant in the forest around the WBSE Nest.

“Noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala) (24 – 27 centimetres)” by Geoff Whalan is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Pied Currawong flits around the WBSE nest all the time. I do not like them! Once the nestlings have fledged the Currawongs gather and try to chase them out of the forest. They did this on the first try with WBSE 25 last year and during the re-fledging of WBSE 26.

“Pied Currawong” by Tatters ✾ is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Then there is the smallest owl in Australia, the BooBook. Isn’t it cute? This owl, like all others, flies silently and it can see very well in the dark. It comes in the night hitting the WBSE has they roost for the night. They fly low over the nestlings trying to hit them and make them leave. One attack injured Lady’s eye last year. Despite their size they are to be taken very seriously. The BooBook often has a nest in the forest the same time as the WBSE so it is very protective and wants the eagles gone for fear they will eat its young.

“Boobook owl” by jeans_Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Here is a compilation video of Lady and Dad after the first egg was laid through the 23rd of June. It shows the actual labour of the second egg and a changing of the incubation shift from Lady to Dad.

Here is the link to watch the WBSE in the Sydney Olympic Park:

https://www.twitch.tv/seaeaglecam

Be sure to check out the time difference. One of the most beautiful moments of the day is when the adults do a duet at sunrise. It is an amazing way to start the day. It wakes up the forest but it is also a continuous bonding method between the birds. The nestlings will join in with their parents when they are older. It will warm your heart. Here3 is a video clip I made after Lady laid the first egg. She leaves the nest and joins Dad on the branch for the singing.

Thank you for joining me today. It is now three days since Tiny Tot was at the nest. We are all having Tiny withdrawal. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the WBSE Streaming Cam, BirdLife Australia, and the Discovery Centre and Twitch TV where I took my screen shots and video clips.