10 November 2023
Did you blink, and it is the end of the week? I sure did! Last year, I planned a trip to see my son in Grenada, WI. Was it really a year ago? It feels like yesterday we were out in the mangroves looking for osprey, having ice cream, and watching the Magnificent Frigates. It was warm and there was a beautiful blue sky and the local food was extraordinary. Oh, how tempting when we are at the beginning of winter and it feels like three days have been forever.
Wet heavy snow. Two little Juncos by the small covered feeder. I have to get out and clear out the birdbath and put in the deicer. Birds need water in winter. To keep them from bathing when it is too cold, I put tiny strips of wood across so they can drink safely.
The girls had some catnip. It was a wee little treat from one of their aunties. Calico decided to jump in head first to exclude Hope and Missey. Hope looked in shock as her mother rolled around the floor with toys. Then Missey came and wanted in on the action, and Hope joined in. It was all way too funny. Calico was covered in catnip!!!!!!!
It was amazing to see Calico so active!!!!! She is seriously just a year old but motherhood in the wild was hard on her.
Hope is getting to be very long – even without stretching. She still has her ‘bushy tail’ (you should see when she puffs it up!) and look at those penetrating celadon eyes. I have never had a cat with eyes like those — and believe me, since having cats before I could walk, there have been a lot of feline companions.
Missey and Hope get in on the action with the catnip and the toys. Everyone is rolling around and playing.
They had a very good day. There was a lot of action in the garden with the sparrows, the Starlings, and the Dark-eyed Junco. Little Red was here as was Dyson and one of her kits. I could hear the woodpecker and I know that the Chickadee was flitting back and forth getting seed out of the little covered feeder.
They make a bit of a mess kicking the seed out but this helps the others find it in the snow. It took them less than an hour to finish off a three gallon pail of food.
It is, of course, personal taste but I think European Starlings in their non-breeding winter plumage are some of the most beautiful birds in the world. Just look at the subtle colour changes below…that rust is gorgeous as it lines those deep ebony feathers. Look close to the cheek and there is a touch of green and their piercing black eyes and the white dots. Stunning.
I love Sparrows and Starlings and the Blue Jays – all the birds that come to visit my garden. Not a single one is more important than the other and yet, at least several times a week I read about people wanting to know how to feed the ‘pretty songbirds’ and keep the Sparrows away. Or how the Blue Jays are bullies. Or how the Starlings ‘hog’ the feeders. In my experience, they have all shared just as they are doing in the images above.
The Bird Lab at Cornell states that the population of House Sparrows in North America has declined by 84% since 1966. They were first introduced to control inchworms in Philadelphia and now you would be hard pressed to find one! Now how sad is that?
House Sparrows are also declining in Europe.
Starling numbers are also in steep decline.
Let us embrace these beautiful birds instead of wishing them away from the feeders. The area around my house is filled with song; for the most part, it comes from the hundreds of House Sparrows that feed in the garden daily. Just like I cannot imagine my life with the ‘girls’, I cannot imagine it without the wondrous song of these birds.
Let’s check on the three raptor families we are watching in Australia.
Sydney Sea Eagles – New pictures from Cathy Cook showing a juvenile being harassed by the Currawong. Great seeing them. That juvie will get out from the mangroves and be near the parents to get food! This pair from 2023 are doing great manoeuvring in an environment with those little birds that would like them to leave. Yeah, Sea Eaglets!
Giliath is 24 days old and #2 is 22 days old. Waiting for Dad to bring a fish…and he is going to deliver in less than ten minutes! Yeah, Dad! A small headless fish.
Oh, look at the nice crops. That sure puts a smile on your face.
Goodness. Giliath is going to topple over. So pleased that Dad got a nice fish in there early for the family. So pleased.
#2 did not get as much fish BUT everyone had some fish and that is good.
It is after 1600. The wind has come in and the fish fairies have not yet made their delivery. Dad has only managed the one small fish. Thinking we need a tank for some fish!
The fish fairy arrived at 1705. Those two babies were so civil despite being so hungry. Mum fed them and fed them and hopefully ate herself…Thank you Fish Fairies. This beautiful family continues to owe you their lives. Tears. (A reminder. If you intend to make a donation to Port Lincoln to support this intervention, this is the information: “If you would like to help save our endangered Osprey please visit https://friendsofosprey.com.au/support (for $20, $50, $100 and membership)”. The cost of osprey platforms can be $20,000 Australian and this group are putting them around the area. We will be wanting one for Ervie!!!! But, for now, support the intervention, if you are able. Thank you.
Marri and Barru are getting closer and closer to fledging. There is hardly a baby feather left on their bodies. They are big beautiful falcons. Xavier and Diamond have done exceptionally well this year and let us all continue to send good wishes that good weather will hold for fledge day and for many days after so these two beat the odds.
The eyases are 40 and 39 days old. Fledge at Orange is between 38 and 45 days….folks we are there. Hold your breath. Get out the worry beads. Send positive wishes for these two. We want two healthy fledglings soaring high like Izzi!!!!!!
The scrape at Orange is looking small with Marri and Barru flapping and jumping around! Oh, what a relief. Two beautiful nearly fledglings with all their tail feathers and in fine form. ‘Rain, rain, stay away – come again in a month!’
And please, no fludging…with a sibling pushing one out of the nest prematurely.
At the eagle nests,
Gabby and V3 on the branches early morning.
Two eggs at Superbeaks and hard incubation began the minute the second one was laid. We are 28 days away from hatch.
Some great images coming from the Redding nest of Liberty and Guardian on Thursday.
More about the nest changes this year.
New Cam views! Dr Sharpe will give us great views of Thunder and Akecheta. Now which nest will they choose? old? new?
Bailey has been at the Audubon Centre for Birds of Prey for six years. She is living proof that ospreys do well in good care. If you are inclined and have the financial resources…do you live in the area and have extra fish? Phone and chat with Audubon to see if they could use them.
The two surviving osplets at Osprey House in Australia are beautiful juveniles with names! Atlantis and Kailani!!!!!!
An Osprey rescued.
Osprey counts in West Africa with Jean-Marie Dupart.
It is a wow moment. Flock migration.
This would be a great talk! I wish I could go.
More visitors to Loch Arkaig…gosh, I wonder where Louis and Dorcha are right now and where is Ludo?
Goodness. It is going to take me some time to learn the new names of the raptors and the ducks. Please bear with me…as I transition. Thanks ‘H’ for the beautiful captures.
A Male Northern Pintail at Barnegat Light and….oh, my. Formerly a Cooper’s Hawk but now…”Tawny Head Stripey Tail Yellow Leg”. Staring at my Sibley Life List.
Wondering how Falco, the Eurasian Owl, let free in Central Park is doing? Bruce Yolton gives us the latest with some excellent images.
Some think it is alright to rake and bag the leaves and leave them at the side of their garden. Maybe not. I found another reason not to bag those leaves!!!!!!!!
Cats not birds….Looking to make a cat shelter. Here is another idea using an old compost bin.
The wildlife rehab centres will be filling up with Bald Eagles and other carrion eaters in the months ahead as hunters leave the innards of the animals they have killed in the fields. The Medina Raptor Centre has been providing much information to educate us on why it is important to end lead in hunting and fishing equipment. Here is another example. Please encourage anyone you know that hunts or fishes to stop using lead. Educate them so they understand why we are concerned.
Before I close today, you will recall that I have a couple of helpers. One of those is ‘A’. We will be missing her lively reports from Australia for a bit. Her elderly mother is unwell. Please send out your warm wishes to ‘A’ and her family at this challenging time. Thank you!
Thank you also for being with me today. I love your comments and letters. Take care of yourself. See you soon!
Thank you to the following for their notes, posts, images, videos, articles, and streaming cams that helped me to write my blog today: “H’, The Guardian, BTO, Cornell Bird Lab, Cathy Cook. PLO, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam, SK Hideaway, Heidi Mc, NEFL-AEF, Superbeaks, FORE, Raptor Resource Project, IWS/Explore, Audubon Centre for Birds of Prey, Osprey House, Chris Goddard, Jean-Marie Dupart, Mark Avery, Ruth Tingay, Geemeff, Bruce Yolton, and The Medina Raptor Centre.