Falcon and Red-Tail Hawk Cams

I had a lovely note form ‘M’ asking about other peregrine falcon cams. Thank you for your letter, ‘M’.

Each one of us feels a little ’empty’ when the eyases fledge. Without trackers, we have no idea what happens to them. We just wish them well and I know that everyone is working hard to make their environment better. The only birds on the nest who have fledged and not left permanently are the PLO Lads – Ervie, Bazza, and Falky. It is winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the birds have migrated to warmer climates. I will, however, be checking on nests in Asia to see if there are any for you to watch.

This is not an exhaustive listing but it is a beginning and I will be adding to it for all of you as the camera streams return. We have streaming cams on the falcons in Winnipeg as part of the Manitoba Peregrine Falcon Recovery. I will post those at the beginning of the summer. Most of our birds are in southern Texas or Mexico right now.

So here goes – and if you have a favourite falcon or hawk cam, let me know!

One of my favourites are the Peregrine Falcons in Melbourne. They are known as the CBD or 367 Collins Street Falcons. The cam is currently not live. Will come back on line September 2022

Cornell Red-tail Hawks (Big Red and Arthur), Ithaca, New York. The construction work at Bradfield has caused a power outage on the Athletic Fields. Those building works are winding down and this camera should be live shortly. Big Red and Arthur will be very busy once late February and March roll around. There are only two Red-tail hawk streaming cams in the world and this is the best. Big Red is 19 this year. Arthur is 5 or 6 years old. They are a fantastic couple that normally fledge three eyases a year. There are birders on the ground that keep track of the fledglings so you get to see the parents do team training in hunting, etc. Highly Recommended.

Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam in Orange, Australia. Yurruga has fledged. Look for egg laying in the fall of 2022. This is the scrape box of Diamond and Xavier. They are a well established couple. For the past two years three eggs laid but only one fledgling each year which is fine. It is a nice comparison with the Melbourne falcons who fledge 3 consistently. Orange is more rural and, of course, Melbourne is urban. The camera is left on and the falcons come and go regularly.

The Campanile Falcons on UC-Berkeley. This is the scrape box and cams for the Peregrine Falcon Couple, Annie and Grinnell. Grinnell was injured by a male interloper on 29 October. He was in care, as a result, and has been returned to his territory. The male interloper is still at The Campanile. It is unclear which of the males Annie will choose. Nesting activity late March, 2022. Annie and Grinnell are incredible parents who traditionally fledge three adorable babies.

The following are falcon cams that I have watched ‘on and off’ and that have come highly recommended to me from viewers:

Illkirch, France:

Great Spirit Bluff, Minnesota

Anacapa Island, California. There are current a large number of Pelicans to watch.

I will definitely be posting more including a couple of streaming cams from the UK. All of that action will begin when spring arrives. I also want to post some sites in Asia which I will do over the weekend. There will also be the Northern Hemisphere Ospreys, White-tailed Eagles, Golden Eagles, as well as the returning storks to Latvia and Estonia.

For now, things are really pretty quiet except for the Port Lincoln Ospreys, Diamond and Xavier coming in and out of the scrape box in Orange, and the Bald Eagles laying eggs in the US. There are two nests that you might wish to consider and if you have never watched a Royal Albatross nest then you definitely need to check out the Royal Cam Family in New Zealand who are incubating an egg laid on 9 November. They are very experienced and adorable parents, OGK (Orange Green Black) and YRK (Yellow Red Black). They are already grandparents. I often suggest this site to individuals who have a difficult time watching any nest if there is sibling rivalry. The Albatross lay one egg every two years. Parents rotate all of the duties. Last year the Royal Cam chick, Tiaki, had a sat-pak attached to her. We are currently watching her fish off the coast of Chile.

It is a bit wet in NZ this morning. This is YRK’s 6th day on the nest. OGK will be flying in soon and they will switch. Should something happen, the NZ DOC rangers are there to step in and intervene. No one goes hungry, injuries are taken care of, etc. It is a great site and in the process you will bear witness to a country that really protects its wildlife!

There are way too many Bald Eagle streaming cams to list them all. For now, I am only going to recommend one. These are experienced parents Harriet and M15 at the SWFlorida Bald Eagle nest on the property of the Pritchett Family. Their eggs are due to hatch soon – December 25-28. Once Gabby lays her egg in NE Florida I will post that information. For now, you can have fun watching Harriet and M15 change places. The only un-fun thing is the GHOW that attacks the eagles regularly.

There is no word on Yurruga. Cilla says she will look for a few more days. Just so you know the building that Yurruga was last seen on is a gabled (triangle) pointed roof, a bit steep. It is a single story building with clay tiles. Yurruga is not there – not alive, not dead. He was there on Thursday – seen twice during a big storm. I would expect to hear this fledgling screaming for food. Falcons are loud! Is it at a distance from the tower? is Yurruga injured? is Yurruga somewhere else? There are no answers I am afraid. If I hear anything you will be the first to know. Now, it is time for me to go and take care of all my feeders. The gang will be here soon!

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

Ervie gets the breakfast fish!

The fish arrived on the nest at Port Lincoln at 6:35:01 and immediately Ervie was mantling it.

Needless to say, Ervie really is the boss of this nest and for good reason. He has fabulous survival instincts.

As you know, my interest is in third hatches and how well they do on nest and off. It will be very informative on how well Ervie does when he leaves the area of the nest seeking out his own fishing spots.

Bazza and Falky might wish that Ervie would fly off and not return.

I only commented once but watchers were calling Falky ‘Mellow Yellow’. It is time that Falky was not so laid back. Yesterday, Bazza took the second fish while Falky had the fish tail from Ervie’s earlier breakfast. If I missed Falky getting a fish, I apologize. It would be good if each had one fish per day. They are all well-feathered and Bazza and Falky will fledge when they are good and ready. e

Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful to watch Ervie learn how to fish?

At 7:43, Ervie is still eating but his two siblings are hanging close hoping to get some leftovers.

Ah, and Falky got it. Well done, Falky.

If you missed Ervie’s fledge, here it is again. It is quite beautiful on the take off and fly by but the landing was not impressive! Still, I applaud our third hatch lad. Ervie, you are amazing. You are definitely the leader of the pack, so to speak.

If you missed Victor Hurley’s Q & A discussion, it was really really super. I posted that link in my blog, Ervie Flies! early this morning. Very informative and you can start and stop it as you like. If you are interested in falcons or Australian birds of prey – it really is a talk not to miss.

Since the shut down of the 367 Collins Street camera, I hope that many of you are filling that gap with Yurruga in the water tower scrape of Charles Sturt University at Orange. As a former academic, we do not like to comment on others’ research. There were a couple of questions to Victor Hurley about the scrape at Orange and he answered in general terms. Someone asked about the low hatch rate and the eggs. VH said that if the eggs are too large (and he does not know that is the case at Orange) it is hard for the chick to kick them to create a crack all around the egg. He also noted that sometimes eggs get turned when a beak is protruding and the chick cannot right itself if the egg is turned around. Of course, VH said that those are general statements and not specific to Orange. He did comment that Yurruga gets all the food while the four at Collins Street had less bites per chick. He also noted that the Collins Street Four developed quite fast this year and that Yurruga appears to be developing normally. So, she is 8 days younger and the amount of floof she has is normal for this stage.

One of the things that I took away from VH’s discussion was how adaptable Peregrine Falcons are. If there is a drop in numbers of a prey item, they will move to something else. For example, some Alaskan Peregrines have been known to eat trout. The image below was shown as an example.

This year I noted a drop in the amount of pigeon delivered to the scrape at Collins Street. This could, according to VH, be a result of the several lockdowns they have had due to the pandemic. Less people eating their lunch and feeding the pigeons. He did note that the male did bring in Quail and Rail. The falcons normally have a 5 km hunting range but are known to go farther. The are for Collins Street is prey rich. The red dot indicates the site of the nest box.

The falcons do not spend a lot of time on the ledge after the eyases fledge. There is a good reason for this – parasites.

As we learned with Grinnell, the male at the University of California – Berkeley Campanile scrape, birds can become loaded with parasites and they might not be able to protect themselves as well as if they were healthy. Grinnell was taking anti-parasite medication to overcome this. We know he is improving and will be released shortly.

One of the most interesting things to come out of this talk had to do with how the females are attracted to a mate. VH said that there are ‘stunning’ Peregrine males. You and I have seen them. They have an almost orange cere and legs. Dark black, really black, hoods with cream chests and very fine pinstripe chests. Those are the extremely healthy males and the females want healthy. Pale yellow indicates unhealthy. So now when you look at a falcon you can tell healthier vs not so much.

Also falcons divorce. If the female hooks up with a male and he does not share incubation duties or bring in prey, she will move on the next year. The male stays with the nest but it could be in a prey deficit area. At any rate, it was a real good discussion! It is nice to listen to the expert in the area – even talk about rodenticide.

Little Yurruga is doing well. She was working on her breakfast the last I checked.

My daughter went to the Assiniboine River for a walk and discovered about thirty-five ducks still on the river. She sent some photos for us. She noted that there was at least one other group this size down the river.

There are a lot of signs on our park ponds not to feed the ducks and geese or they will not migrate. My daughter ran into a neighbour that says the ducks stay at that part of the river year round and people feed them. They added that parts of the river in that location have been open – not frozen over. I sure hope that is the case this year! There is also an American Bittern hanging around one of the creeks. Maybe they know that this big snow is just to scare us into thinking it is going to be a horrible winter and it will be mild. We wait to see.

The garden birds have found the seed left on the deck and Dyson has, of course, been helping himself. I missed getting him hanging upside down on a suet cylinder. The migrating birds are all gone from this area. Thankfully.

Dyson always knows when the food comes out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The feeders – and there are many different kinds – are all full. It was interesting to me that the sparrows did not mind standing on the snow. According to my daughter, the ducks really like being in the water and not having their paddles on the cold ice.

It is a good day to be inside!

Thank you for joining me today. There could be another fledge at Port Lincoln and we know there will be lots of prey for Yurruga. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross. I also want to thank the 367 Collins Street FB group for posting the link for Victor Hurley’s talk and my daughter for those great duck images.

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.

Should we stay or should we go?

As 8 November was beginning to reveal itself in Melbourne, all four of the 367 Collins Street Peregrine Falcon chicks were at the end of the ledge, near the scrape box where they had slept during the night.

At 06:34, Victor Hurley confirmed the first fledge of the 2021 season.

It was absolutely perfect. The sibling on the ledge did not even notice!

and off.

Interestingly, at 08:41:00 when the camera was turned to the other side in anticipation of catching more fledges, there were three falcons at that end and one at the other.

So, did the bird that fledged return? or did it quickly run down to the other end when the camera was turning?

With the camera now pointing to this gorgeous penthouse view of the falcons, we may never know.

These three entertained themselves, bobbing their heads, eating, and watching Mum and Dad do some aerial manoeuvres.

They ate and found scraps of food.

They love walking along the ledge.

In the image below, notice the difference in size. Yes, there is the camera angle and one in front and another behind. Victor Hurley suggests that there are two males and two females this year.

The one in front is likely the much larger female. The smaller male at the back. I think I will go so far as to add that it was probably a male that fledged first also. That tends to be the norm.

They are, of course, perfectly capable of flying. That one flew from the ledge overlooking the street to the window ledge. No problem.

So will these three stay or will they go?

It is nearing 11:10 in Melbourne and all three are on the ledge of 367 Collins overlooking the river.

It is hard to believe that they were ever small fluff balls like they were on 22 October, 17 days ago.

Oh, they still have their pink bills and legs. It is 8 October. The image below was precisely four weeks ago.

This was 1 October. We were all worried that the little one wouldn’t get enough food. That was a bit silly. 39 days ago.

It has been another fabulous year for the Mum and Dad and their chicks at 367 Collins Street in Melbourne. Victor Hurley has given us wonderful information on the FB page of the group, sharing all of his knowledge of Peregrine Falcons in the state of Victoria. The camera has been shifted at least twice. Thank you for that! No one wants to miss anything. It has been a great experience. When these three do decide to take the leap of faith and become birds – indeed, the fasting flying bird in the world – we will, indeed, miss them. But oh what a joy they have brought to each of us. We will always be grateful.

And a lesson learned. Falcons need pigeons, so feed them! Don’t put rodenticide up on your roof trying to kill the pigeons. It could be a beautiful falcon that eats that pigeon and dies. Tell your friends and family, too. Let’s make the world safe for these gorgeous birds.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I am still a bit zonked from staying up for the banding of the Port Lincoln Ospreys last night. Those chicks were also very healthy with beautiful feathering – just like the Collins Four.

Thank you to the 367 Collins Street Falcon Cam by Mirvac for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots and to Victor Hurley for being so patient with all of us and for his ongoing research on the peregrine falcons.

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.

Excitement in Bird World

It has been quite the day in Bird World. It started out with gorgeous weather on the Canadian Prairies and my hunt for Wood Ducks. Were they still here? Yes, they were! There was only a pair at Kildonan Park but what cuties they were. I almost didn’t see them at first. They were both standing on a log back in a hollow with an overhang. I have so fallen in love with Wood Ducks the last six months.

The last time I visited the duck area of Kildonan Park, there had to be three dozen in the stream near the Witch’s Hut but, not today. I walked up and down the shore, down close to the water, and well, they had to be hidden really well if they were there.

This time it was also easy to count the Mallards. 25 in total. Each of the Mallards were busy either preening or dabbling for food. I thought I would give you a view different perspectives for a couple of the males. Their plumage is simply gorgeous.

In the image below, I love the soft feathers on the chest in contrast with the two white borders of that deep navy. Look at the curls on the tail and the horizontals on the chest. Stunning.

This is a great example of how waterproof their feathers actually are.

There were about 350 Canada Geese at various locations. Some were feeding on the grass, others were in the water. None of them liked the people walking their dogs.

Today was a problem because I wanted to get back and hear the updates and discussion about Grinnell, the injured falcon from UC-Berkeley. Sadly, I did not have as much patience with a little Red Squirrel that seemed to not like my taking photos of the ducks. It chattered away the whole time. Perhaps it wanted its picture taken? I decided that it didn’t because it would not give me one of those cute squirrel poses everyone else seems to capture. This little one was determined to hide behind that branch!

Oh, it screeched at me til I got out of sight! My phone told me that I had a little over an hour. Would it be possible to check on the duck pond closer to where I live? Were there any Wood Ducks there?

I scoured Duck Island at St Vital Park, walked the entire perimeter of the pond, and could only find three Wood Ducks – 2 females and a male in Eclipse plumage (the one in the middle). All of the others were gone.

There were not nearly the number of Mallards or Canada Geese despite the wide open soccer and cricket areas where they can feed.

It seems that the cooler weather a few days ago really did get many to head South. It will be nice when April comes and we can hear them honking overhead. I can’t wait.

I have reported on the update on Grinnell earlier today. You can read about it here and there is a link to the live event in my blog:

https://wordpress.com/post/maryannsteggles.com/27983

At this point it felt like the day was almost over and I had yet to check on the ‘regulars’ – the PLO osplets set to be banded on 8 November, the 367 Collins Street Four, and Yurruga, the Peregrine Falcon nestling at Orange.

The first was little Yurruga. I think I will stop using the adjective ‘little’. Yurruga is growing and changing. She is really beginning to loose that fluffy down revealing her juvenile feathers. Despite the fact that Yurruga has had short bouts of self-feeding, today was a bit of a surprise. I captured it for you in a short video.

Several hours later, Diamond came into the scrape and fed Yurruga the remaining portion of the Starling.

What wonderful training. Yurruga worked and worked on that prey item until she was tired. She did well. Mum knew to give her time and then come in and feed her little one. These are incredible parents. I also want to add that Diamond is walking much better! Her injury is healing.

Wow. Could it get any better? Well, I don’t know if it is better or not but I can say that the three osplets at Port Lincoln are even civil when wing flapping. They take turns! That said, I just about fell out of my chair watching them. Little Bob is flapping first. The trio are to be ringed on Monday, measured, given names, and at least one will have a sat-pak attached to its back. I just hope they are still on the nest! Can you imagine planning for that and they have literally flown the nest? It could happen!

Little Bob really wants to fly.

I am not certain which of the other siblings is featured in this clip testing out its wings. Mum is feeding – it sure doesn’t take long now to consume an entire fish! What a change from six weeks ago. Little Bob is on the right and unknown sibling on the left eating.

They take turns.

All three are getting some air. Oh, my. I was almost afraid to check on the 367 Collins Street Four for fear they had all fledged while I was away or doing other things. Relief. All four were on the ledge a few hours ago.

These are bittersweet moments. Fledge can happen at any time. At least one of them is more than ready. In an interview today, Victor Hurley, the lead researcher of Peregrine Falcons in Victoria, says he believes that there are 2 females and 2 males this year. How lovely!

It has been an exciting day with more to come in the next week. There will be fledges in Melbourne and Port Lincoln for sure.

Thank you for joining me today. Take care everyone.

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

How is Diamond?

Diamond is the female at the Charles Sturt University Peregrine Falcon scrape box on the University’s water tower. Her mate is Xavier and their only chick this season is Yarruga. Yarruga is 27 days old today. Its name means ‘Sunny’ in Maori.

Several days ago Diamond injured herself, probably in a hunting incident. Her right wing was a bit droopy and she continues to have difficulty putting all of her weight on her right foot. Her mate, Xavier, has often taken over the feeding duties of Yarruga because feeding requires putting pressure on the feet to hold the prey and pull up to get the bites off for the chick.

Yarruga was particularly hungry this afternoon. Diamond was on the ledge of the scrape watching over her baby, trying to get some sleep, and also attempting to keep the weight off the right leg.

Instead of writing how Diamond is doing, I thought it was just best to take a few video clips so you can see for yourself. They do say a picture is worth a 1000 words.

Here is the first one. Diamond has been resting on the ledge of the scrape. She has kept her right leg slightly elevated and has been able to sleep some. Yarruga is hungry and, since this is the big growth spurt for Yarruga, she sees a parent and thinks it is dinner time. Poor Diamond. Yarruga is prey begging.

Xavier brings in the Starling that was left over from an earlier feeding. The falcons have a place where they stash food. It is a great idea. They never waste a single bit of the prey they kill for food. (We could all take a lesson from them!). Diamond wants to feed Yarruga. The following two clips are from later in the feeding.

The feeding went on for some time. This is the last bit of where Diamond finishes feeding Yarruga and then flies off with the rest of the Starling. Despite the fact that she doesn’t like Starling (prefers pigeons and parrots), it would not be easy for her to hunt now while she is healing so she will happily eat the Starling leftovers.

It still appears that Diamond is in a lot of pain. She is really limping but her wing appears to be better. It must be difficult because she wants to take care of her baby. I think that is why I actually believe she is improving. She could have flown out and let Xavier feed Yarruga but she chose to do it herself. It is going to take some time for her to heal and we need to continue to send her our best and most positive wishes.

A quick glance at other nest news:

The 367 Collins Street ‘Four’ decided to run along the gutter and let us have some really good glimpses of how they are growing and changing today. Remember when you look at them that they are precisely one week older than Yarruga. It is hard to imagine that they were mostly covered with white down a week ago! Here they are wanting to fly – and way too soon, they will.

The down is really coming off. They are so curious about the world outside of the scrape. Mum and Dad have been doing aerial demonstrations for them. This is something that the adults do to try and entice the eyases to fledge.

The Port Lincoln Osplets will be banded, named, and at least one will get a sat-pak on Monday 8 November, Australian time. Remember! It is possible that we will only get to see the event on tape. It is exciting. I cannot wait to see if Little Bob is a female with those thick stubby legs!

Just look at the size of Dad’s wing. Together they would be wider than the nest! He is bringing in the second fish of the day. Now when Mum begins calling the chicks join in. It is really sweet.

Mum is so quick to pull that fish off Dad’s talons. I often wonder if the males ever get injured when this happens.

Today, Little Bob is more interested in watching Dad go down to his man cave on the deck of the barge than being first in line to eat. That is almost shocking.

The trio are pancaked. They have eaten so much. Mum brought another fish in at 13:50 – their third of the day. On average, the osplets have 7 feedings a day so far. Fantastic parents. Can’t say enough good things about how well they have worked together this season.

There has been no new updates on WBSE 27 since 1 November, Australian time. When I hear anything, I will let you know.

Thank you for joining me and checking in to see how Diamond is progressing. We just have to be patient – and that is hard when we see her in pain. Take care everyone. See you soon.

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

The Falcon

We patronize the animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they are more finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.

Henry Beston, The Outermost House, 1928

If you have not read Henry Beston’s book, The Outermost House. A Year of life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod, you might want to check and see if your local library has a copy. Or, like me, you might want to check out the many on line used book shops unless, of course, you happen to live close to one. It is also very reasonably priced new at $17.99

Beston is entranced by his surroundings. His intent was to spend only a fortnight in the cabin on the windblown dunes but, as he became more and more enthralled with the seaside, the migrating birds, the blowing sand and the waves that surrounded him day in and day out, he could not leave. Beston spent a year living on the shore. He listened, observed, and began to understand the natural world. Beston would sit and write, often looking out a west window, observing the Terns and the Hawks. His descriptions of their lives is nothing short of vivid. You can almost reach out and hear the splash of the waves as a storm approaches or feel the warmth of the sun on a summer’s day or hear the birds.

As an art historian (at least in another life), I appreciate Beston spending some time reflecting on how the ancient Egyptians depicted the birds and animals in their art. He said, “The longer I live here and the more I see of birds and animals, the greater my admiration becomes for those artists who worked in Egypt so many long thousand years ago, drawing, painting, carving in the stifling quiet of the royal tombs.” Beston believed that the Egyptians were the only ones who were able to portray their true psyche. “A hawk of stone carved in hardest granite on a temple wall will have the soul of all hawks in his eyes. Moreover, there is nothing human about these Egyptian creatures. They are self-contained and aloof as becomes folk of a first and intenser world.”

Indeed, the Egyptians covered the inner chambers of their burial tombs with images of hawks, carved statues out of stone, painted their portraits on papyrus, and cast small amulets.

“Horus” by swanksalot is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“Horus – Temple of Seti I” by Riley and Amos is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Sheet gold collar depicting a falcon representing the god Horus found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb New Kingdom 18th Dynasty Egypt 1332-1323 BCE” by mharrsch is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Horus is the son of Osiris and Isis. Osiris is the God of the Dead as well as the God of Resurrection. His partner, the goddess, Isis , helps the dead through the afterlife. Together with their son, Horus, who is depicted with a falcon head wearing a crown with a cobra, they are to Egyptians, the holy family.

The name Horus means ‘the one who is above’ or ‘the one who is distant’. The eye of Horus, the Wedjat, is depicted in many works of art. It is said that the god’s right eye held the sun while his left eye held the moon. They represented power and healing and appear on many works of art and amulets as protective devices.

“The Eye of Horus, the Great Hypostyle Hall, the Temple of Hathor, Dendara, Egypt.” by ER’s Eyes – Our planet is beautiful. is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Eye of Horus, seen in the centre of the tomb painting above, became a powerful amulet in Old Egypt. The notion that Horus can protect a person continues today. Talismans of all types appear at the stalls in the old markets throughout Cairo and even on running shoes worn by teenagers.

Horus is a falcon. All one has to do is look at the profile of the peregrine falcons to see the similarity between the Egyptian representations of Horus. Peregrine Falcons are Apex Predators. That means that there are very few animals that will harm them – they are at the top of the food chain, so to speak. They are capable of flying at 390 kmh making them the fastest bird or animal on the planet. The falcons would have been known, of course, to the ancient Egyptians. There are written records of the falcons as early as 10,000 BCE in the Middle East.

There are many books on falcons. One that I particularly like was released in 1967. It is The Peregrine by J.A. Baker. There is a recent reprint with an excellent introduction by Robert MacFarlane, British nature writer and critic. If you are into falcons, I highly recommend it.

I have been thinking a lot about falcons. Yesterday when Diamond did not return to the scrape box at Orange for nearly ten hours, Xavier just stepped in and took care of their eyas. Just watching Yarruga or the 367 Collins Street Four in Melbourne gives me pause to contemplate Beston’s quote at the beginning of this blog. I can also ‘hear’ the falconer, Laura Culley, answering someone who asked if Big Red, the Red-tailed Hawk at Cornell, would know that one of her fledglings had died. Laura fired back, “And why wouldn’t she?!” One of the ways that we can move forward to find a balance between humans and the natural world is for us humans to stop thinking that we are superior. Beston is right – we aren’t. For so many people that I know, the birds continue to be the messengers of the gods giving us signals and warnings – if only we could recognize them.

Xavier did a top notch job of taking care of little Yarruga. This morning he brought in a Starling for Diamond to feed the little one. Diamond’s right wing was still a little droopy then.

Diamond gave the chick part of the bird and left with the remainder. A little later Xavier flew into the scrape box with a nice plump pigeon. He stuffed Yarruga til the wee one could hold no more.

Xavier is getting the hang of feeding Yarruga but he gets anxious the more Yarruga begs for food (or screams for it) as he finishes plucking the prey. So today, once again, Xavier fed Yarruga lots of feathers and, also, one of the legs of the pigeon. It had to have been larger than the one the other day. Yarruga struggled for awhile. Then bit the leg into two parts and Xavier then continued to feed her pigeon.

Yarruga’s crop was getting bigger and bigger. Xavier is doing a fantastic job feeding his chick. Do you remember all those days Xavier wanted to feed the newly hatched Yarruga and Diamond wouldn’t let him? Oh, he is making up for that desire to care for his baby now.

At the end, he is still wanting to make sure that Yarruga is no longer hungry. Diamond would be proud.

Diamond rested herself in one of her spots – possibly a nearby tree or on top of the water tower. Her shoulder or wing might just be bruised or sore. However, by the early afternoon, her wing was looking better and was back in place. You can see that in the image below.

The 367 Collins Street Four are losing down and losing down. They now look like Peregrine Falcons instead of fluffy little samurai warriors running up and down the gutter.

Here they were a few days ago:

Here they are today:

They have really changed. Just look at the one in the background standing on the ledge outside the scrape. What beautiful juvenile plumage.

All of the falcons seem to be just fine – including Diamond. She just needed to rest. With only one chick in the scrape and not four, Diamond can let Xavier be more active in both hunting and feeding. Having one is certainly less stress. It is, however, such a relief to have Diamond and her wing back to normal.

The following is an update on WBSE 27:

Thank you so much for joining me. Falcons are wonderful birds. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures: the 367 Collins Street Falcon Cam by Mirvac and Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam at Orange and Cilla Kinross. I would also like to than the Sea Eagle Cam FB Page for the update on WBSE 27 which I have cut and pasted here.

Please note: The blog for Monday, 1 November may not appear until late evening. I hope the weather is not too bad so that I can get out and catch up on the ducks and geese and there is, apparently, an influx of Robins in our City.

Wednesday in Bird World

One of the saddest things is seeing a parent bird look for their fledglings to feed them. That is precisely what WBSE Lady was doing yesterday. She flew around the salt marshes, around the river, and in the area where WBSE 27 (and maybe 28) were looking for them. She had a fish in her talon. With no luck she flew into the forest and left the fish on the natal nest in the old Ironbark Tree. Lady spent the night on that tree.

You can see the fish in the image below.

There is Lady sleeping in the tree on the parent branch. Is she sleeping there hoping that at dawn one of the fledglings will arrive for breakfast like they did before they flew off the nest?

Last year, Lady and Dad would come to the tree with fish trying to lure 25 and 26 back. Once 25 was chased out of the forest by the Currawong there was never another sighting of it. 26 did return to the nest after thrashing about the forest. She was exhausted, and, well, starving. She slept! I do not think that 26 planned to leave the nest the day she did. She flew over to the camera branch. A Magpie helped 26 keep the Currawong away but then, finally, they chased her out of the forest. There was a big storm that night with very strong winds and in the morning 26 was located on a 22nd floor condo balcony about a kilometre away from the nest. 26 was taken into care. There was great hope that she could be ‘repaired’ and become an ambassador bird but that was not to be.

Hopefully 27 will have a much better fate than 26. I hope that they will be able to give it fluids and antibiotics to heal the talons that have been injured. Maybe they will be able to release 27 near to the parent nest but not before it can fly strong. Send your positive wishes its way!

The chicks at the PLO Osprey nest had lots of feedings yesterday – six! They were at 6:39, 7:45, 13:42 (Mum brought it in), 15:01, 19:10, and 20:30. Wow.

I love the image below because of the crest on the chick on the right. Just gorgeous.

Here comes dad! Tiny Little is on the far left looking towards dad.

I do not think the chicks were expecting another meal but here comes the fish at 20:30.

Needless to say, these osplets are really well fed. All that fish is turning into feathers and the bulking up! Within the next 7-10 days they will be banded, measured, and fitted with satellite navigation systems. I understand there are three devices and since there are no other osprey chicks on the other nest (the eggs taken by the crows), then all three should have its very own little backpack.

Yesterday in Melbourne Mum had a terrible time trying to convince the four eyases that it was for their own good that they stayed in the shade of the scrape box. It will be 27 degrees today and no doubt she will be trying to corral them again into the shade. She tried hard to spread her wings to cover them from the glaring rays of the sun but with four it is really difficult.

They are very obedient. One cam running and you can see it pushing under Mum’s wing on the right to get to the shade.

It wasn’t long before the shade covered the entire scrape box area and Mum was not needed. I have often wondered if this is the reason she chose to lay her eggs at that end. Last year it was so hot – trying to keep cool herself as well as the trio was difficult. They were all panting trying to regulate their heat.

In the scrape box in Orange, little Yarruga cast a pellet at 5:55:30. Oh, this chick will be hungry and ready for more food. Wonder if the Starling’s leg was in that cast?? So what does this mean? A pellet is the indigestible material from the crop or proventriculus. Birds of prey or raptors regurgitate this material. Then they will begin to collect more as they eat. The casting of the pellet also cleans out the crop (the proventriculus or granular stomach).

It looks like the chicks are choking when they cast the pellet. It must scare them til they get used to this happening.

Yarruga feels so much better! Now if breakfast would only arrive!!!

It is early morning in Australia and Thursday is just starting for our bird families. I cannot think of anything more grand than having WBSE 28 land on the nest and let Lady feed it! That is really wishful thinking on my part. WBSE 27 will be eating well and by now should be really well hydrated. Warm wishes for a full recovery and return to the wild!

I have been alerted that the satellite tracking for Karl II’s family has not been updated since the 24th. I will be checking on that. It seems highly unlikely that all three of the birds have perished. I simply cannot imagine it. Udu was on Crete, Pikne was in Egypt, and Karl II had not transmitted since the 21st. Pikne’s battery % was quite low. If the GPS works on satellite transmission and it is overcast then the battery cannot function. As well, the birds can get in areas where transmitter signals cannot be picked up. I am so hoping that this is all one big malfunction! I will keep you posted.

It is pitching rain today on the Canadian prairies where I live and it is really, really welcome. The birds are still coming and going from the feeders despite the heavy drops. I noticed when I was picking up all the birdseed, peanuts, and corn cobs that the pet store version of a birdseed story had something interesting. It was a lovely metal holder filled with natural alpaca wool. The idea is that there are no toxins and the birds would pull out small skeins to help with their nest building in the spring. What a lovely idea as a gift for a birder friend! Bags of seed and suet blocks/cylinders would be welcome, too. Gosh. I cannot believe people are starting to get ready for the holidays. Ahhhh…by then Little Bob will have fledged and we will be watching him or her with the satellite tracking.

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, 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac, Sea Eagle @Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, and Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

Breakfast at 367 Collins Street!

It is 5 degrees C or 41 F on a grey Saturday on the Canadian Prairies. The Slate-Grey Juncos have departed and only a few brave souls are in the lilacs around the feeders. Even the squirrels and Mr Blue Jay seem to still be hunkered down and it is already mid-afternoon.

It is, however, morning in Australia. I have to hand it to the parents of the Collins Street Four, they are really working this year to keep these energetic and healthy eyases fed. Here is a two minute video clip of the first feeding of the day. Watch it all. You will notice that the chick on the far left really gets the first bites and this might cause you to worry that it would eat all the food but as the two minutes progress everyone is getting bites and that is how it is – they will all be fed. Another pigeon will come in shortly to top this one off!

For those Rutland Water fans reading this, sad news has come this morning. Blue 2AA known as Duracell has been killed. Duracell has been wintering in Portugal for the past five years and today, he landed on an unprotected hydro pole and was killed instantly. The authorities responded swiftly to cover the lines but, it is just devastating that an Osprey who has lived for six years navigating migration and poles should come to such a sad end – one that could be entirely avoided if every country had laws that required bird protections on hydro poles. I know that many of you are concerned and steps are being taken but, it generally takes a death of a beloved bird to bring about action. How about prevention?!

Speaking of preventions. I promised that I would do a full scale review of Chris Packham’s and Megan McCubbin’s book, Back to Nature. How to love life-and save it. I will do that but for now, if you live in the UK, I highly recommend this book. It is paperback and very inexpensive. It will give you great insights into what is really happening in the United Kingdom and why some things do not change. For those fans of Roy Dennis, Packham doesn’t hold back any punches when it comes to to why the estates want to keep their grouse hunting and how the tax payer is their major subsidy. Why would taxpayers subsidize hunting I ask. Packham gets to the point and if you are a UK taxpayer, you need to understand the environmental issues at hand and the stakeholders.

If you visit or live in the UK, I invite you to look up Knepp Wildland Estate. It is 3500 acres south of Horsham, West Sussex. It is the vision of Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree and is the only place you can hear turtle doves. Go to their website and read about what they have done to return the land back to the wild and if you haven’t read it, Isabella Tree’s book, Wilding will give you inspiration. Burrell and Tree have been influenced by the Dutch ecologist, Frans Vera.

https://knepp.co.uk/home

Here is the link to their page that talks about their vision. It is a good read.

https://knepp.co.uk/the-inspiration

I am a huge fan of their short videos showing the wildlife. Here is one of a White Stork but there is a host once you get to their website. I just know that you will enjoy them.

Here is another of the wild pigs and Robins.

And here is Isabella Tree talking about Rewilding – and how it can help save the environment, the wildlife, and us.

On my trip to Scotland next year to see the Ospreys I hope to find a way to get to Knepp as well as to Poole Harbour to see the Ospreys gather before migrating.

Everyone in the nests is fine today. It is just such a relief that all is going well. The individuals that run the cameras in Melbourne have said that they will not move the camera and have asked that this information be passed on. They have also asked that viewers not panic if they do not see all of the chicks. They would be out of sight but perfectly safe with Mum and Dad keeping watch over them. So I am passing it on. I know that we would really appreciate that other camera if the eyases decide to spend the majority of their time at that end. But, for now, let us be grateful to be able to watch this amazing family struggle with those four growing falcons!

Thank you for joining me today. Take care, be safe. Smile. See you soon.

Thank you to the Collins Street Falcon Cam by Mirvac for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots and video clip.