Late Thursday in Bird World

5 May 2022

Tonight, the Audubon Society believes that 380 million birds will be on the move from the south where they wintered to the north to their breeding grounds. Manitoba is set for a huge number of birds flying in especially to the very north near Churchill and to the wetlands in the middle of the province. I draw your attention to the Wapusk area because I want you to see Churchill. Churchill is now as the ‘accessible Arctic’. Here beginning in June you can see many species including Ross’s Gull, the Northern Hawk Owl, Smith’s Longspur, Spruce Grouse. the Three-Toed Woodpecker, and Harris’s Sparrow. Of course, the list is endless for the ducks and geese that make Hudson’s Bay and the area around Churchill their summer home. Raptors include the Northern Harrier, Gyrafalcons, Merlins, Bald Eagles, and Golden Eagles. Lots of other wildlife abound in the area including Polar Bears.

North of Riding Mountain National Park, also in Green to the south and west of Wapusk is Winnipegosis. This is the place to see Osprey. Directly east and north of Gimli near Hecla Island is a large concentration of Bald Eagles. Canada Geese have arrived and the Trumpeter Swans are arriving now along with the American Pelicans and Red-winged Blackbirds. The shores of the two very large lakes, Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg, are home to a huge variety of shorebirds that are beginning to arrive.

It felt like I watched Annie and the wee hatchling all day under a microscope. Alden got to see the chick and brood it and incubate the other two eggs. There is a dent in one of the two remaining eggs.

Alden checked earlier to see if Annie wanted a break and she wasn’t ready yet.

The baby was wanting food so Annie gave Alden a shift. I noticed how extremely careful he was with his lame leg not to stop on the chick. Well, done, Alden.

Annie arrives with a bird for the little one’s first meal. I could not possibly tell you what species this is. It is not familiar to me in Manitoba.

First hatch had a nice meal.

Annie catching some sleep. She is going to need all she can as the next eyas appears to be working on its shell. So happy for Annie. Things feel like they are going to turn out just fine.

Afterwards I went to check on the osplets at the UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey nest. I had been watching earlier in the day but not early enough to catch a morning feed. It was apparent that the chicks and Mum had eaten as all three had crops heading into the evening.

It is good to see the Mum on the nest and the osplets – and her – nicely fed. Middle is the one closest to Mum.

Middle is growing. A few days of good meals makes all the difference in the world.

Big Red has a nest full!!!!!!! She must be in her glory. Oh, I hope the weather holds.

L4, the smallest one, hatched a week after the first, likes to be at the front of the line. Gosh, sounds like another Ervie!

At 19:32, two Crows arrived at the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida. This is the nest of Jack and Diane. Last year Jack and Diane fledged three – this is the home of Tiny Tot -. Those chicks hatched the beginning of March. Jack and Diane had a previous clutch of eggs that went down a hole in the nest. Diane laid three more eggs but the dates were unknown because the cam was offline. I know that the Achieva nest is a favourite of many but, perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. It is really late to have osprey chicks in Florida due to the extreme heat.

It is doubtful that any of the eggs made it. Crows watch and wait just like they did with Daisy Duck’s clutch. Eggs left alone even for a few minutes will be eaten if there are Covids around.

Bird flu continues to be in the news as 37 million factory farm birds are killed.

https://kdvr.com/news/bird-flu-not-just-affecting-colorado-bald-eagles-other-wild-birds-dying/?fbclid=IwAR21A8vcIZW0WgdOK4c4rYk9prFMvvUbxDm3u6BqNHLQkV4cEq-YYHkkG6k

We are one week away from pip watch for Richmond and Rosie at the SF Osprey nest on the Whirley Crane in SF Bay.

One of my favourite Osprey nests in the UK belongs to Idris and Telyn at the Dyfi in Wales. Idris is know as Daddy Long legs but he is also one of the best fishers amongst all the UK osprey. Look at this one he hauled in today!

Beautiful Maya at the Rutland Manton Bay nest she shares with her mate Blue 33 (11). We are on pip watch for this couple!

Another fantastic Osprey Mum, Blue NC0 at the Loch of the Lowes nest in Scotland that she shares with Laddie. We will be watching for her eggs to hatch after Maya’s. What a beautiful setting for a nest!

The oldest Osprey in the UK is Mrs G. She is believed to be 22 years old. She is incubating the three eggs of her and Aran’s. They will be hatching late as Aran was late returning from migration. Today Aran was busy keeping intruders away from the nest.

Of the nests I have checked, all seem to be doing just fine.

Thank you for joining me. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Brywd Gwyllt Glaslyn, Dfyi Osprey Project, LRWT, Friends of Loch of the Lowes and Scottish Wildlife Trust, UFlorida-Gainesville Ospreys, Cal Falcons, Cornell Bird Lab RTH, SF Ospreys and Golden Gate Audubon, and Achieva Osprey.

Monday in Bird World

On the Canadian Prairies, it is 8 November and it is 11 degrees C. There are some birds still around the southern part of our province including a large number of Great Horned Owls (GHOW) and Barred Owls (BADO). Several hours from where I live there are some hawks and Bald Eagles still making their way south. In celebration of such a gorgeous day with the promise of snow and plummeting temperatures on Wednesday, we decided to make one last check at Oak Hammock Marsh.

It was simply grand. You could see for miles.

The walk was great. It was sooooo quiet, a wonderful change from the noise of the city. If you were intent on counting tonnes of birds and seeing lots of species, then it was a bust! There were about 60 Canada Geese scattered about and a couple of Mallards, a male and a female.

They were all feeding on the tender marsh grasses below the surface.

Even the geese were quiet, no honking, nothing. Just working hard on those plants.

The two Mallards were quite interesting. They were sort of breaking down the grasses as they moved through forcing them under the water with their paddles and then eating them.

Beautiful little female Mallard.

The ducks were not bothered by the geese – everyone seemed intent on eating and enjoying the warm sunshine. The farmers in the area have finished harvesting their crops and the fields are bare. In several hours only six or seven Canada Geese flew into the wetlands.

It might have been quiet in rural Manitoba but there was a lot of things happening elsewhere. First up, for all of you that watch the Royal Albatross, OGK’s mate since 2006 has been YRK. OGK was first in on the peninsula excited to see her and build a nest but…she didn’t arrive. Time passed and she didn’t arrive. Today, 9 November YRK landed on Taiaroa Head. If people could have rung bells they would have. Instead many of us sat and shed tears. The fear is always there. OGK and YRK were the parents of very popular Royal Cam chick, Atawhai (aka Pippa) in 2020. This year will be their 8th breeding attempt.

In other Royal Albatross news, the new couple – Red and BOK (Blue-Orange-Black) have really been entertaining us. They are so sweet. Well, today, Red got some new bling. As one of a mated pair, he is now WYL (Whit-Yellow- Lime).

The image below shows the Ranger giving Red his new bling and identity. BOK is walking off the nest. She will return once everything is over.

Could this new couple with their first attempt at breeding turn out to be the Royal Family of the year? We wait.

The Port Lincoln Osprey Mum decided it was time to go to the spa. She flew off the barge and went over and had a lovely bath in the warm Australian waters of the cove yesterday. It is well deserved. Her and her mate have raised three healthy boys this year.

Isn’t Mum just beautiful?

It is hard to keep up with the 367 Melbourne Peregrine Falcons. I ‘believe’ that there are two (probably female) still on the ledge.

Yes, still there. There is a lot of noise and it could well be the parents trying to lure these two off with prey.

There are theories about gender and fledging times in falcons and hawks. Because the females are substantially larger, it takes longer for their bodies to feather. Therefore, they generally fledge after the males. I do not know how accurate it is but I hear this often.

In Orange, Diamond’s foot is doing much better. At 8:11 Xavier, the male Peregrine Falcon of the scrape on the water tower of Charles Stuart University, delivers a Starling to Yurruga. Xavier does not wait. He drops the breakfast prey and gets out. I don’t blame him. It could definitely save his talons.

Notice how big Yurruga is compared to Xavier. Think Yurruga is a female like her mum, Diamond?

Yurruga is a very good plucker!

Cilla Kinross just posted a video clip of Yurruga. It is really short. Have a peek. I do not think those eggs are going to last much longer.

Everything is as it is expected at Port Lincoln. Dad flew in with a really nice fish but instead of letting the chicks do a grab, Mum got over quickly, mantled the breakfast, and proceeded to take control of the feeding.

It should, by now, not surprise anyone to the identity of the chick right up at Mum’s beak. Now the chick can be identified quite quickly – it’s Ervie! aka Little Bob.

The rule of thumb is that the males return to make their own nests near their natal nest. I hope there are three or four more barges available.

One last nest. NEFlorida with Samson and Gabby. They are both very busy working on that nest. They have been bringing in a lot of big twigs. Here is Gabby moving some of those around.

Cute little Samson looks like he is standing very still in his tight black jeans waiting for orders. What a sweetie.

Samson is a very good listener and Gabby is giving precise instructions. Looks like they are already thinking they need high rails this year.

Thank you so much for joining me today as we check in on some of ‘my’ favourites. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures: Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, NEFlorida Eagle Cam and the AEF, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac.

For the love of Sparrows

There are so many birds that come to our feeders. The visitors come and go during migration and then there are the ‘old standards’ that stay with us year round. They know our habits just like the squirrels do. Every day we put out the food and water and wait for them to come just to know they are alright.

One of the issues that I have is identifying the sparrows. While the majority that remain are Old World House Sparrows just like this young man enjoying playing in the water today, there are other varieties and I want to learn about and appreciate them, too.

I love Sparrows.

This male House Sparrow had such fun playing in the water.

Did you know that House Sparrows were introduced into New York City in the 1850s to help with insect control? They didn’t help much because they are vegetarian preferring seeds and fruit. Today, most of the bird books indicate that they do feed on insects now. Birds adapt. House sparrows are not related to the other sparrows but, rather, originated in Eurasia and are a member of the Weaver Finch family of birds. In my province, they are abundant year round and we certainly love it when they are flitting about between the deck and the lilacs.

Not so common in my garden is the Harris’s Sparrow. This is an immature Harris’s Sparrow below. This one is just getting started on his black crown. Notice the pink beak and those lovely pink legs. He has a bib which also helps to identify him.

I am really grateful for one of our e-Bird ‘birding giants’ in my community for confirming the identity. The Harris’s Sparrow is not in Manitoba Birds. These sparrows migrate to their breeding grounds in the far reaches of Canada’s boreal forests near Hudson’s Bay and in Nunavat through Manitoba. They are arriving in Winnipeg now to begin their long journey to Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas (straight south of Winnipeg).

You have a long way to go little fella. Happy to help you fatten up for your journey.

Then there was this little cutie. If you look carefully you can see the spot of yellow between the beak and the eye. These are called lores. There is a white throat with a striped crown. The rusty underparts are just coming; there are no stripes on the light breast. The bill is grey. This is a White-throated Sparrow. It is known for its beautiful songs in the early morning. These lovely little sparrows visit from April to October. Their winter homes range from a line running through Kansas to Pennsylvania down to the very southern tip of New Mexico, Texas and across to Florida (and all parts within those borders).

Some were scratching in the grasses looking for invertebrates.

Others were taking baths.

You will notice that our grass is long and we are leaving all of the leaves. We not want to disturb the butterfly larvae, microbes, and worms. Leaf litter is where many of our butterflies and moths overwinter. It is a good excuse to put away the mower and the rake and those dreaded leaf blowers – which should never have been invented.

Oh, they are all so sweet. Each of them has been feeding on a variety of seeds that included insects and berries. Most of all they loved the water today. If you are reading this and live in a place where birds are migrating, please leave out shallow dishes of water for bathing and other dishes of water for drinking. Water is so important to them on their journeys. They can easily get dehydrated.

One of the favourite dishes for baths, other than the bird bath, is actually a shallow dish meant to go under a planter. You can see that it is not very deep. The depth is, however, perfect as the birds are not afraid of being drown.

If you don’t have dishes, check at your local secondhand or charity shop. They tend to carry lots of ceramic dishes that would be perfect for the birds at exceedingly reasonable prices.

The Dark Eyed Juncos are here, too. The numbers arriving on the deck are growing each day. I hope to get some images of the Juncos in the dill tomorrow. My goodness they seem to love the stuff! or maybe there are insects in there that I cannot see.

Juncos will not normally eat from the feeders. They prefer to scratch the ground for invertebrates, dig in my outdoor carpet for fallen seeds, or help the sparrows make a mess with the fruit, bug, and nut seeds that are left in bowls. Those that breed in Manitoba during the summer are the ‘Slate’ coloured Juncos. They winter throughout the US midwest to the southern most parts of Texas across the Gulf and up to Georgia. They seem to not winter in Florida according to Peterson’s guides. I wonder why?

They are certainly easily recognized and they come through in huge groups. We know that spring has arrived when the Juncos appear and that fall is definitely here when they leave. Something to look forward to again next April will be their return.

All of the usual suspects were here today. Mr Blue Jay would like it if more dry corn cobs appeared on the deck but, he did seem satisfied with his peanuts in the shell. Little Woodpecker has a new cylindrical suet and he and she are happy. The easiest to please these days are the Black-capped Chickadees and the squirrels. They seem to be willing to eat almost anything – the squirrels that is. It is doesn’t matter what species they are, each day they bring so much joy.

Thank you so much for joining me as I share some of the visitors to the garden with you today. Take care everyone. Stay safe!

Wednesday Happenings in Bird World

Gosh, it was just a gorgeous ‘fall’ day. No, it isn’t officially fall but the leaves appear to be changing and there is a ‘nip’ in the air. The birds are flying south and others are arriving home from their summer forays. One of those returning to her breeding area and nest is Gabrielle, Gabby for short, the mate of Samson at the Northeast Florida Bald Eagle nest near Jacksonville. It was right around 14:48.

She looks good. Oh, Samson is going to be so excited!!!!!!!!!

Samson you are such a cutie. As my friend ‘T’ said when she heard the good news, ‘Love is in the air.’ She is absolutely right.

It was a gorgeous day to go and find some pelicans and I was hoping for a cormorant or two. The waters of the Red River near St. Andrews did not disappoint.

Pelicans are the longest native bird in North America measuring in at 2 metres or 6.56 feet. The California Condor is the only bird in North America with a longer wingspan. The pelican’s wings measure 2.7 metres or 9 feet from tip to tip. In other words, these are large birds!

This is a small hydroelectric dam. These American white Pelicans often work together to get the fish ’rounded up’. Here they wait for them to come over the dam. There were six fishing together.

The pelicans dip and scoop for fish. They are able to hold as much as 12 litres of water which goes out the sides of their mouths before they can eat the fish. They spent a lot of time bobbing up and down.

Manitoba is the summer home of the largest number of American White Pelicans. They spend their winters in California or areas around the Gulf of Mexico. In late April to early June, they return to their summer breeding grounds here in Canada.

With the changing climate, it is believed that the American White Pelican will gain areas in Canada while losing them in the US.

Some were fishing while others slept and preened.

There were a few Double-Crested Cormorants with the pelicans today.

I just loved the silhouette of their wings against the water.

Manitoba is also home to a huge number of Double-Crested Cormorants in the summer. Did you know that Cormorants lack the ability to waterproof their feathers? Because of this they can dive deep because they are less buoyant but it also means that they can become water-logged and have a struggle reaching shore.

There were lots of gulls flying above the water. This lonely Ring-Billed Gull caught my eye. In the city they are constants around the garbage dumps. I did not know that they eat the eggs of other birds as well as little goslings, carrion, insets, rodents, etc. They are real scavengers.

Look carefully and you will see the black ring near the tip of its bill. That is what gives this gull its name.

This is the mystery duck. It was all alone. There have been several discussions as to whether it is a female Ruddy Duck, a female Northern Pintail, or a female American Wigeon. Or is it an anomaly? A Black Duck? If you have any idea, I would love to hear from you! I know that it is not a Mallard, not a Wood Duck, and not a member of the Merganser family but it is alluding all of the Manitoba and Canadian bird books. Maybe you are a juvenile. Someone really does need to do a more comprehensive book of Manitoba birds with excellent images.

The sun, fresh air, and climbing up and down gravel banks to the water has sure made me tired. If you have trouble sleeping, I highly recommend it as a remedy. One of my birding friends wrote just now to say that they had seen ‘my Ospreys’ today – so if it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I am heading north to check it out. They will be migrating soon!

There is little news in Bird World. Diamond has yet to lay another egg. The two little sea eaglets are eating well and behaving themselves. The majority of the Ospreys in the UK have begun migration. Aran was still at the Glaslyn nest this morning. The Black Storks from Latvia and Estonia seem to be making their way without hiccups now to their winter homes. It is just a nice calm Wednesday save for the arrival of Gabby back at The Hamlet. That caused great cheers.

Take care everyone. Thanks so much for joining me.

Thank you to the NW Florida Bald Eagle cam and the AEF streaming cam where I took my screen shots.

Streaming cams in Canada?

Like all of you I have been watching birds in the Southern Hemisphere. Yesterday, the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos were exploring the White Bellied Sea Eagle nest down in the Sydney Olympic Park.

The sea eagles are still enjoying being in the ‘off season’ but spring is arriving in the North and there are lots of happenings ——-everywhere. Too many to try and keep up with! This morning a reader from Brazil who turned me on to Latvian White-Tailed Eagles asked if anything was happening in Canada. I felt a little embarrassed. So here is the condensed version to help you locate several of the streaming cams in Canada. There are many more!

One of the best wildlife sites is Hancock Wildlife Foundation in British Columbia. They support five streaming cams and there are already eggs on the nests. The link to their streaming cam sites is:

Dave Hancock is known for his passionate devotion to the Bald Eagles.

Their site also has a link to several satellite trackers so that you can follow the migration patterns of the banded eagles. Here it is:

And if you are looking for books on Indigenous culture including the Haida, various species of birds, fishing, Indigenous healing, or arts and culture you might want to check out Hancock Publishing. They have a large selection of books that you might not find at your local shop or the one line stores. I was certainly surprised when I first located that link and found a book on the behaviour of the Golden Eagle that I had searched for elsewhere.

https://www.hancockhouse.com/

And if you don’t know about Dr Christian Sasse, you need to Google his name. He is a passionate photographer who chases eagles around Vancouver. The images he captures are quite incredible. Here is one of his short videos:

You can also join us in Manitoba for the Peregrine Recovery Project. The clock is ticking away. We are, at this very moment, expecting the falcons to arrive here in twenty-two days! I will be keeping you informed here and will be anxiously awaiting fledge when I along with many others join in keeping tabs on these young falcons. The link to that page and the various cameras is here:

http://www.species-at-risk.mb.ca/pefa/

The feeder cam at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta attracts songbirds just like the Cornell Bird Cam at Sapsucker. They also have a live chat feature. Have a peek:

Besides the falcons in Manitoba we also have the polar bear cams up in Churchill, Manitoba but…just to show you the massive number of streaming cams run by one organization, here is a link below that will direct you to any kind of bird or mammal you want to watch:

https://explore.org/livecams

I apologize for this being short. Today I have to put my artist hat on. Happy International Women’s Day and take care.