Updates from Bird World…or, oh, gosh…WBSE released 6 days ago!

Holly Parsons posted an update from Dr Cilla Kinross on the FB page for the Orange Peregrine Falcons. Thank you Holly!

(Nov 23):”I had a look at the eggs. One was clearly unfertilised. The other was, I think fertilised, but there was no chick inside. It exploded (big POP) all over me and it was just yellow liquid. No chick remains. I’ll do updates later. I’ll also try to get some confirmation from the museum where there are candling experts (I am not).”

One great report that was featured by Sunnie Day on FB is this. Just look at those numbers. Now how do we take care of these amazing birds – our Osprey?

Osprey Report for 2021, USA

The entire report on the Ospreys for the 2021 season can be read here:

https://www.ctaudubon.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Osprey-Nation-Report-for-the-2021-Season.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3gLbtstZokgb5Ii6EVTE6gj5_ifSVGCQQGaUiFUUmj61p3SMgUJy-WkUQ

If you want to protect our Ospreys, The Observer focuses on them this week. They say:

“A growing cause of death for ospreys is entanglement:  If adults incorporate monofilament or other discarded non-natural twine into their nests, these can end up wrapped around chicks’ feet, injuring or trapping them.  And, as food specialists, with one main food source, a grave threat to our osprey populations is contamination of their aquatic ecosystems; our Sarasota waterways.  As top predators, they’re exposed to the highest concentrations of toxins (such as mercury) in our environment. 

To protect these beautiful birds, who are key members of our ecosystem, we can keep toxins out of our waterways, and plastic litter, including twine and fishing-line, out of our environment.”

White Bellied Sea Eagles. 28 on the left and 27 on the right.
Is this WBSE 28 and not 27?

And great news coming out of Sydney, Australia. Someone let the cat out of the bag. The juvenile WBSE that was grounded by the Pied Currawongs was released six days ago on 18 November. I am using the term ‘juvenile WBSE’. There is no proof that it is either 27 or 28. It is a juvenile WBSE.

Just like we compared the Peregrine Falcons on the ledge yesterday, I want you to look carefully at the two images above. Someone that I trust very much indicated to me that the juvenile taken into care was not WBSE 27 but, rather, it was WBSE 28.

Dr Christian Sasse is one of my favourite people. He is so dedicated to the wildlife of British Columbia and in particular the Bald Eagles. Have a look at this beauty!

https://fb.watch/9t2vM9rY8t/

It is 14:47 and Harriet and M15 appear to still have one egg in the nest at Fort Myers, Florida on the Pritchett Farm.

Falky scored the 06:37 breakfast fish. At that point, Ervie took off flying behind Dad. Maybe Ervie is gonna go and see if he can get a fish himself.

The Eastern Osprey in Australia do not migrate. Unlike the Northern fish eagles that do shift to warmer climates during the winter and catch their first fish when they migrate, the Eastern Osprey will fish before they leave the parent’s territory.

There goes Ervie off the perch. I sure hope he learns to fish. He can get his own breakfast and eat it somewhere away from the brothers!!!

I have seen no further news coming out of UC-Berkeley on Grinnell and Annie.

It is not late in the day but it feels like it. It will be totally dark in less than an hour and a half. So I am off to clear up things outside.

Thank you for joining me. Take care!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures or for their FB Pages: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Sea Eagles@ Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre and their FB Page, Sunnie Day and Holly Parsons.

Statues for beloved birds, why not?

If you have read my bio, you will know that part of my life was spent studying statues placed in the public realm. I wanted to study the History of Ceramics but, at the time, there was no such programme in existence. The rest is more or less history. My niche was the public statues exported from Britain to the India sub-continent and Southeast Asia. If anyone asked me why, I would tell them that I loved to meet new people and travel and certainly that topic facilitated many adventures. On occasion, I still write an article or two. Public statues to men – there were hardly ever any celebrating women – are always controversial as we have witnessed over the past several years with the toppling of many public figures. Can a statue of a much beloved goose be controversial? I hope not!

Derek was a Snow Goose that arrived in Watchet Harbour in Somerset, UK, a decade ago. There are no other Snow Geese and everyone believed her to be a male until she laid an egg. Derek never migrated like the other geese. The boat owners feed her broccoli and Weetabix every morning. If they are late, Derek would board their boats and honk and honk and honk til she is fed. Charming. Sadly, Derek disappeared with only feathers being found a few weeks ago. The community fears a fox killed her. She delighted people near and far. As a result of the joy she gave there is a collection to have a statue of her made for the wharf. What a lovely idea. You can read about it here.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-somerset-59252269

David Cohen’s statue to Ezra, Big Red, and chick

You might recall that a wooden sculpture was created to honour Ezra, Big Red’s Mate at Cornell. The work shows Ezra, Big Red, and a chick from their last brood. The detail in the carving is stunning. The artist, David Cohen, used acrylics for the plumage.

https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2021/10/cornell-hawk-family-immortalized-sculpture

It is a lovely work celebrating a much beloved Red-tailed Hawk. It will remain on display for three years.

The only problem with this beautiful tribute to Ezra is that it cannot be placed outdoors. I am hoping that the Rock Star of the group, Big Red, will receive a bronze statue in her own garden in front of the Fernow Building which is across from the nest and where her fledglings always flew to first.

There are many animal and bird statues around the world. They are touching and quite lovely. Why not erect something to celebrate the birds that have brought us so much joy? Seriously, the politicians that find themselves immortalized often cannot make that claim!

Checking on the nests: At Port Lincoln, Dad brought in a fish at 06:22. Guess who stole the fish tail? If you said Ervie aka Little Bob you are 100% correct. Here is our lad finishing it off. Later, he was nosing around the nest looking for leftovers. Quite the guy you are, Ervie.

It is kind of wet in Port Lincoln. Don’t think any of the lads are going to be taking off flying today but…the birds always surprise us! The puffer fish is still being batted about on the nest but the chicks did not touch it. You can see it behind the chick on the far right, Bazza.

Yurruga has also had her breakfast. Oh, she is such a little sweetheart. She is changing every day. The wing flapping is really helping to get the floof off!

Mum and daughter looking out to Diamond’s territory waiting for breakfast delivery. I know that Yurruga is closer to the camera but she is really growing and, well, she is larger than Dad. What does that tell you?

When Yurruga is really hungry, she often picks at Diamond’s talons. See how much floof has disappeared since yesterday. Beautiful juvenile feathers hiding – and what a nice tail. I might not have noticed it because of those fluffy pantaloons. But there it is. Its length will be revealed once that white down is off. I keep saying it but looking at her it is just so hard to imagine her fledging in a week.

Xavier is excellent hunter. The girls hardly ever have to wait in the morning. In fact, most falcons have a place where they ‘stash’ prey. A pantry for those days when prey items might not be sufficient or for leftovers. The birds do not waste anything. We might all take some lessons from them.

Yurruga is doing really well at the self-feeding.

Self-feeding is tiring and Diamond helps get every last piece of meat off the bones – teaching the little one. Look at how carefully Yurruga watches. She is imprinting everything including the type of prey that is alright to catch. Her plucking is getting better, too. Again, she learned that from watching her parents.

The latest news about Grinnell is that he is healing nicely and has specialized home care. He is preparing to be released back into the wild. Send all your warm wishes his way that him and Annie regain their territory together. Oh, Grinnell you are so cute and so tiny with your wings all bandaged. Look at those yellow sticks for legs. Oh, my. You take care little guy.

Everyone seems to be alright. The big snow promised for this afternoon did not materialize. Thankfully. The garden birds have really been eating — and thank you for your kind notes. No, I am not going to get out in this mess. I put on my big boots with great grip and took care of the birds and that is it. I appreciate the concern. So very, very kind of you.

Thank you for joining me today. It is nice to see all the birds doing well today. Take care all.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB pages where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Charles Stuart Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Lindsay Wildlife Hospital, and Suzanne Arnold Horning for the photo of the Ezra statue.

Three lads and a Puffer Fish

It is time to check on what is happening at Port Lincoln. Too soon these three fabulous males will fledge and oh, how we will miss their antics! Friendly banter amongst brothers.

Mum brought her boys a bit of a puzzle at 12:51:46. It was a Puffer Fish and she just let them go at it while she stood and watched each of the deal with this strange object.

“Puffer Fish” by ciamabue is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Puffer fish belong to the Tetraodontidae family. They are known by various names including blowfish, balloon fish, toadfish, globefish, bubble fish, and puffers. They carry a toxic poison – tetrodotoxin. It is one of the deadliest poisons found in the natural world. They are considered to be the second most poisonous creature in the world. These fish can live up to ten years and are found in tropical and subtropical oceans. Some species (there are 120) also live in fresh water. The puffers inhale air. This turns them into sphere. They also have poisonous spikes to try and keep from being eaten by larger fish. You can see those clearly in the image above. Their skin is also said to be extremely thick making it difficult for any predator to eat them. So why did the Mum bring the three boys a puffer fish? Was it a lesson?

I broke the event into two segments for you:

In the end, the lads left the ‘white football’ on the nest. You can see it on the left.

Ervie aka Little Bob could not stand to see the fish just go bad on the nest. The two other siblings didn’t seem to want anything to do with it so at 13:34:31, Ervie goes over and pulls the now mostly deflated fish over to the rim of the nest.

Ervie tries hard to eat that thick skinned fish.

Ten minutes later, Ervie has caught the attention of one of his siblings. In the end, Ervie lets his brother have a ‘go’ at the impossible fish. That is very unlike Little Bob. It must have been a struggle.

A half hour later the fish was abandoned again. It is lying on its side in the image below.

And it remains there. Possible lesson: Don’t ever waste your time catching a puffer fish, sons!

Thank you so much for joining me. I hope that the three lads at Port Lincoln bring a smile to your face. They do mine. But before I close, we can all use some sunshine – Yurruga style. Oh, my. She reminds me of her brother, Izzi, so much. She is soooooo loud!

Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the streaming cam of the Port Lincoln Osprey Project where I took my video captures and screen shots.

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.