Manton Bay Sadness and other news in Osprey and Falcon World

11 May 2022

I want to start this newsletter with something that is pretty wonderful before we get on to the big story of the day coming out of Rutland Water’s Manton Bay Osprey nest.

Forgive me if I am wrong but it looks to me like Alden is feeding the two chicks at Cal Falcons! Why do I think this is Alden? and why is this such a big deal? Well the left foot has a problem or did something happen to Annie? or is this just nothing and I am seeing things? Annie likes to feed the kids so that is why this is a big deal. But Alden has been nervous and seemingly shy of feeding. So what is going on?

Well this looks like an experienced parent.

The time is 06:03 and I am confused. The adult behaves like Annie but I am confused by the left foot.

At any rate, the chicks are fine. Gosh, golly. Do we have a foot injury on Annie??????? or has Alden suddenly turned into a pro at feeding chicks?

Everyone watching the Manton Bay nest of Blue 33 (11) and Maya are simply at a loss for words. A large fish came on the nest and flipped from the side over to the top of the nest cup hitting both chicks and the third egg. Just as watchers were stunned so was mum, Maya. Ospreys are used to fish flapping. Indeed, one of the historic reasons that the males eat the heat is to ensure that the fish is dead when they deliver it to the nest. Of course, that is not always the case. It can be a tragedy when day old osplets are on the nest.

One of the chicks has survived. The other was still breathing but was left exposed for a period of time. At 13:17 Blue 33 (11) comes to check on Maya. With what we can only believe as his encouragement, Maya moves the fish out of the egg cup and to the side of the nest where she eats some fish. With the fish out of the egg cup, she gathers both chicks under her to brood. Am I crazy to hope that wee one will survive?

Is the little one stuck under a stick or something? I wonder.

By 14:35 the rain is pouring down on Maya. She has both chicks and the egg under her and is hunkered down. Send your most positive wishes to this Osprey family. Hope for a miracle for that wee babe to come around and for two healthy osplets.

It is 15:30 and the rain has stopped. That is really good news for this Osprey nest. Maya is feeding a chick and eating herself. The other chick is drying off and is still moving but, honestly, it would be a miracle if this one makes it. Still, I hope.

Its little wing was raised up and moving. It is in front of the egg towards us. Maya will cover up both chicks and the egg. Mum is looking a wee better. We must remember that Maya may have had fish flop around in the nest before but she has never had a chick fatally injured by one. She has little time for mourning but did appear stunned and very lethargic when the event happened.

More tragic news has come from the Dahlgren Osprey nest. The third hatch has died. That nest is located at the mouth of the Machodoc and William’s Creek in King George County, Virginia. It is the nest of Jack and Harriet. The creek has had very high water and has flooded in places causing murky fishing for Jack. It is not clear but as of the 8th of May the third hatch was getting little food. It died this morning.

Things are, however, continuing to go well on the Captiva Osprey Nest. Middle Little or Captiva’s Daddy Long legs fledgling has been flying on and off the platform with a very large fish. He is flying like a pro now. So good!

There he goes in the middle to the 8island to enjoy his late breakfast!

After the Ospreys, it is often reassuring to check on the falcons and the hawks.

Everything appears to be fine as the day starts for Annie and Alden and the two eyases at the U-California Berkeley scrape.

All five eyases are alive and either preening or trying to sleep at the Manchester, New Hampshire scrape.

The three chicks at St Mary’s Church in Andover, Hampshire, UK had a really good feed today and all are doing well.

The two at the Indiana & Michigan Power scrape are also fine!

These two are really losing their baby down.

There are still only two eyases at the Utica NY scrape. Both are doing well and with sadness on the nests overall, two energetic chicks is great.

Sadly, there has been a unexplained death of the youngest eyas at the Cromer Peregrine Falcon scrape in the UK. Both chicks were eating fine and developing well. There appeared to be no problem. Sometime between 1315-1430 yesterday the youngest on died. I was not expecting that news. The fact that the chick ate well does not indicate Avian Flu. The owners of the scrape commented on its pale egg and feet thinking that there was something the matter with the wee ones health all along. Condolences go out to all the individuals associated with the Cromer scrape who work so hard to reintroduce the Peregrine Falcons into the UK.

All is well at the Dolina Baryczy Peregrine Falcon nest in Poland.

The chicks ate for a very long time and it was recorded. They look healthy. They are losing their down around the eyes and you can see the feathers coming in on the wings and the tail.

All is well at the nest of Big Red and Arthur on the Cornell Campus in Ithaca. the four eyases are growing like bad weeds, getting their feathers, and starting to spend a lot of time preening. Relief. They are sure taking up a lot of space along that ledge of the lightbox!

Thank you so much for joining me as I continue to monitor the situations at the Manton Bay and UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey nests. Take care all.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: LRWT Manton Bay, Captiva Ospreys and Window for Wildlife, Cornell Bird Lab RTH, Cal Falcons, Peregrine Networks, I & M DNR, Utica Falcons, Sokoi D Baryczy Zdenka, and Cromer Peregrine Falcons.

Little Yurruga

As many of you are aware, Yurruga has not been seen since last Thursday. Cilla Kinross saw him on the top of a building in the pitching down rain and later, university workers also saw Yurruga on the same building. Cilla sent me a short note this morning because I had written to her earlier about Yurruga’s 2nd right tail feather still being contained by the quill. The local vet did not think this was a problem but, like Cilla Kinross, was concerned about a lack of feather development on the little falcon. What impact this might have had will never be known. Cilla has looked and looked in all the places Yurruga might be and others but she is concerned and has posted a note that has been placed on the FB Page for the Orange Peregrine Falcons. I was very touched because she referred to Yurruga as a ‘poor little lamb.’ Every day is a test for our birds. Even the strongest have challenges. It is difficult enough for fledglings but compounded with unkind weather for numerous days, well. Yurruga should be flying around screaming at his parents for food and the conclusion is that he is no longer with us.

The parents, Xavier and Diamond, had an extremely long – fifteen minute or more – bonding session in the scrape yesterday morning at 05:15. This is simply not something that would normally happen with a fledgling needing prey and training. Considering the work of Marc Bekoff (Emotional Lives of Animals), Jane Goodall, the observations of Hob Osterlund with the Laysan Albatross, the bonding behaviour of Xavier and Diamond should be considered alongside grief. While we have only a limited view of the falcon’s behaviour, it might be assumed that the couple have now grieved for their wee one and are, with the weight of that loss, reconfirming their love and commitment to one another. We cannot do a brain scan on Diamond’s hippocampus (area of brain in human animals for emotion) to see if it lights up, Barbara J King in her book, How Animals Grieve, would tell you that the investment in the mating, the making of the egg, the care and incubation, the care and feeding after and training, she says that ‘grief comes from love loss.’ There have been roadside funerals of Crows, Ospreys who have mourned the loss of their chicks by predators. Other bird species and drowned themselves after the death of their mate. And, of course, all of you reading my blog, will know about Arnold and Amelia, the two Canada geese. Arnold and Amelia lived at the pond on the grounds of the clinic (fortunate for them!).* Arnold had one of its digits severed by a snapping turtle and required surgery. Amelia went to look for Arnold and watched through the glass, finally sharing a meal and a pen til Arnold was released.

So, today, we grieve with Xavier and Diamond over the loss of little Yurruga.

It was a beautiful morning when little Yurruga flew for the first time.
Diamond and Yurruga bathed in the golden glow of the sun the morning Yurruga flew.
Xavier feeding his baby.
Xavier brings prey for Yurruga.
Diamond and her baby.
Xavier feeding Yurruga. Xavier loved getting a chance early on to feed his little one.

What an adorable little eyas. Fly high little one. Fly high.

I am so sorry to bring this terrible news to you. We join Xavier and Diamond, Cilla Kinross and the team at Orange in their mourning.

Thank you to Charles Sturt University and Cilla Kinross for the streaming cam where we get to share the joys and the sorrows – and where I took my screen shots of this lovely Peregrine Falcon family.

  • I say this because many do not consider the mate when one is taken into care. Arnold and Amelia were extremely lucky.

Sadness and Joy

Everyone has been very saddened by the fact that there will not be four fledges from the 367 Collins Street Peregrine Falcon scrape in Melbourne. Everyone was both shocked and happy when Mum laid that fourth egg. It would have been a historic moment if all four had fledged. It is hard to lose a little one that we have come so close to – watching all of its antics.

Trichomonosis is caused by a parasite. In urban raptors, it is normally by the eating of an infected prey item. The neck and throat can swell and sores or cankers can appear. The birds cannot swallow and it is difficult to eat and breath. That is certainly not something we would wish on any bird. No one will ever know which of the prey deliveries carried this deadly parasite.

As one person said today – putting this loss in perspective – “we are lucky that we did not lose all of the birds.” They are absolutely correct. We have seen how prey items are shared and we now must hope and send warm wishes that none of the other family members succumb to this parasite. You can see in the image below how swollen the neck is of the little male in this image taken last evening. He is the one with the floof on his wings and back still. It is so sad.

Two of the siblings stayed with their little brother in the scrape box last night. The parents had been in earlier. I will disagree with anyone that says the parents and the siblings do not know what is happening with their family member. They do. They are just not afforded the luxury of having several days to mourn. They have to get on with their lives so that they survive.

In her book, The Genius of Birds, Jennifer Ackerman addresses (briefly) issues related to death and mourning in Corvids. The Peregrine Lady (Kate St John) who writes about the falcons in Pittsburg in her blog Outside My Window, has often commented that whenever one of the fledglings would die, the Mum falcon would go to her “mourning corner”. While she could not stay there for long because she had survivors to look after, it was a noticeable change in her behaviour when one of her own died and it was the only time she goes to that particular place. Kate St John’s blog is excellent and can be accessed at: birdsoutsidemywindow.org

Here is another article on mourning.

As Jennifer Ackerman states, “The jury is still out on whether birds grieve their own. But more and more scientists seem willing to admit the possibility.”

There is not a lot happening on the other Australian nests today, thankfully. The water is still a little choppy at Port Lincoln. Certainly not like it was yesterday when one of the nearby boats sunk. The three will no doubt be working on their hovering after getting some energy once that breakfast fish has arrived. And, yes, they could fledge anytime but I am counting on another week with these guys.

Yurruga is also waiting for her breakfast. She will be ready to fledge in a week but will she fly then? That is hard to imagine with all the floof still on her body! At that time the parents will continue to provide her with food and train her so that she can live a successful life as a falcon. Once she reaches that stage, they will invite her to leave their territory and find her own space.

Yurruga is adorable. Her name means ‘Sunny’ in Maori and she does certainly brighten up everyone’s day. Notice that she is standing on the rocks in the corner. She slept next to her Mum, Diamond, on Diamond’s rocks last night. Those rocks were put there on purpose so that Diamond would not be able to lay her eggs where they could not be seen by the camera. Yurruga only knows that Mum stands there and we get the benefit of seeing her beautiful face up close. What a darling.

Please do watch this beautiful family. Diamond and Xavier are fabulous parents! Yurruga is very vocal and right at this moment she is screaming for the parents to bring breakfast! I promise that Yurruga will delight you just as her brother Izzi did last year. Here is the link:

It is a very snowy day on the Canadian Prairies. A wonderful day to hunker down and read and drink lots of tea. If you have good weather and are heading out for a walk, enjoy it for me, too. This snow is like walking in a 15 cm or 6 inch Slurpee it is so heavy and wet. The birds are hiding in the wood boxes today, some of them.

Take care everyone. I so wish I had been able to have brought you good news about the little fellow. See you soon.

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