Friday in Bird World

Just about the time I begin to think, and then say, that it looks like the parents at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge are slowing down with fish deliveries, they bring two nice sized fish to Ervie. There was a huge chunk at 07:34 and another nice fish arrived at 15:20. Ervie didn’t actually start eating it until 16:25. Ervie was the only lad about. Bazza was last seen on Sunday the 9th and Falky was last seen on the ropes with Mum and Dad at 19:40 on the 12th. Will Ervie stay or go?

Ervie is still full from the morning fish when the afternoon delivery arrives.

Ervie is still eating at 17:34! My goodness those were nice fish brought to the nest. Ervie finished off his fish and flew off the left side of the nest.

Will that be our last sighting of Ervie on the nest? No one slept on the barge last night. We wait.

Missy has been feeding the little one on the Berry College Eagle Nest. It appears to be doing fine. Everyone is watching for the second egg. Sadly that broken shell has really attached itself to that egg.

I believe this is Missy’s first eaglet to survive. She is figuring feedings out!

B15 is getting stronger. You can see the issue with the second egg clearly here. I cannot tell if the extra piece of shell is over the narrow or wide part of the egg. The eaglets pip on the wider end. Pip watch coming for that second egg.

The nest is empty this morning at Big Bear, California but everyone is on egg watch for Shadow and Jackie.

Anna let Louis brood the chick this morning! Last year she waited a long time and Lous is delighted to be involved with his chick. Both Anna and Louis have been on the KNF nest this morning and the eaglet is eating well. Lots of nice fish for everyone on that nest!

There seem to be two words used for Harriet and M15’s E19 and E20. They are ‘nice’ and ‘cute’. Look at the feathers coming on E19 and E20 and then look at Anna’s baby above. They change so quickly!

This is a great little film about the Kakapo. Since it is breeding season and we are looking at eggs, it seems like a good time to refresh what we know about this very endangered non-flying parrot and how they are cared for. The update on the numbers is that there are now 202 Kakapo down from 208 the beginning of last year.

Daisy the Duck has not returned to the White-Bellied Sea Eagle Nest to lay eggs since she visited with her mate on 1 January. That was two-weeks ago. Fingers crossed she has found another spot and is successful. One of the women who visits the centre was to send us images of Daisy paddling but nothing so far. Maybe Daisy is away from the area of water around the Discovery Centre and the Duck Pond.

Great Horned Owls have been mating on the Savannah Osprey Nest and the GHOWs have been mating on the nest that was stolen from a young Bald Eagle couple in Newton, Kansas last year. The couple who became known as Bonnie and Clyde raised two of the cutest little owlets on this nest. When the eggs are laid, I will definitely let you know.

For the most part the Owls and the Eagles live cooperatively but I really don’t like the owls when they try to knock the eagles off or hurt their eyes and heads as at the WBSE Nest by the small BooBook Owls and at SWFlorida when it is a GHOW hitting M15 and knocking him off the branch into the nest, sometimes.

One thing I did not know is that there are no Great Horned Owls near the WRDC Bald Eagle Nest in Miami-Dade County. The Coot delivered yesterday, the second one to arrive as prey on the nest, is gone! They seem to love the taste of that waterfowl. My eagle expert tells me that the WRDC are thinking about putting up more nests like this one for the eagles. Fantastic. It seems to be a really good design and they can work out any kinks watching this nest.

R1 ate well and now Dad is making sure that R2 is full to the brim. Ron, you are a great Dad! You can see R1 passed out in a food coma and Ron has even moved across the nest to feed the youngest sibling. Fantastic.

Today is Day 40 for the eggs at Captiva Bald Eagle Nest on Sanibel, Island. It is the home of Connie and her new mate, Clive. There is some chatter that the eggs might not be fertile. Let’s wait and see.

I haven’t seen any of Ervie’s tracking uploaded since 26 December. I will be checking on the PLO nest during the rest of the day to see if anyone returns to the barge at Port Lincoln. That wing of his could be our last sighting of the Erv until people along the coast send in images of him. There appears to be a huge interest ‘and caring’ for the Osprey in the region. That really helps!

Take care everyone. Have a great end to your week. Thank you for joining me. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, SWFlorida Eagle Cam and D Pritchett, Berry College Eagle Cam, KNF Bald Eagles, Friends of Big Bear, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Forest, Captiva Bald Eagles, Farmer Derek Owl Cam, and the WRDC Bald Eagle Nest.

Friday in Bird World

There is an update on WBSE 27 but, first, some background for those that do not know what happened. White-Bellied Sea Eaglet 27 had a forced fledge. The Pied Currawong were attacking 27 who was alone in the nest after WBSE 28’s fludge. 27 flew to the camera tree and then was, more or less, escorted out of the forest by the Currawong. A few days later, 27 was spotted. It was on some pavement. When it flew up, the Currawong began to attack its head. 27 fell to the ground. Thankfully help was at hand! WBSE 27 was taken into care and checked. Luckily there was nothing broken. The latest news is promising. I do really hope they will keep 27 til it is a very strong flyer. Maybe we will also find out if 27 is a male or a female.

This is the latest update this morning from Judy Harrington: “SE27 is doing well, gaining in strength and is feeding by itself. It has moved to a larger raptor cage to allow it 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.”

Oh, it is so good to hear that 27 is improving.

Photo taken by Cathy Cook.

There is a lot of discussion and concern for Grinnell, the mate of Annie, at the Campanile on the grounds of UC-Berkeley in San Francisco. An undergraduate student wrote a great article on the falcon family for The Bay News. I was excited when I read it because it mentions Holly Parsons, who runs the FB group for Xavier and Diamond on the Charles Sturt Campus, and the Manitoba Peregrine Recovery Project in the city where I live and the City’s 19 year old female falcon, Princess. The article is really informative. What a good writer this undergraduate is. Have a read:

I was hoping to have an image of the Spotted Eagle Owlet in Joburg back in the nest but it isn’t there.

In fact, the Mum has just noticed that one of the babies is out of the nest box. You can see its fluffy head under the Mum’s left leg. Poor little thing. It must be scared and hungry. I understood that someone was to place it back in the nest box. Hopefully this will happen soon.

Xavier flew in with a Starling to the Peregrine Falcon scrape on the campus of Charles Sturt University in Orange. Yurruga had been waiting and watching!

Yurruga spends a lot of time looking at the world outside the scrape. She is 28 days old today.

Here comes Xavier with a freshly caught Starling. Yurruga is so excited!

Dad can hardly get the bird into the scrape.

Yurruga is tugging and pulling.

Xavier looks like he really wants Diamond to fly in and feed Yurruga.

Yurruga reaches up and bites Dad’s beak. Look at how big ‘she’ is! Notice also that the down is coming off from around Yurruga’s eyes. She will look like she is wearing goggles tomorrow. Yurruga is right on track in the transitioning from the down to her juvenile feathers.

Xavier cannot prepare the Starling with Yurruga wanting to eat ‘now’.

He opens up the bird and feeds Yurruga some of the nice meat.

Then he flies out of the scrape with the remainder of the bird. He will either put it in storage for later or eat it himself or give it to Diamond. Clearly Yurruga is very healthy and doing quite well. It is nice to see Xavier feeding the little one. Maybe Diamond needs to rest her leg. No doubt Yurruga will have a couple more feedings today. Fingers crossed. She needs all the lunch she can hold.

At the Port Lincoln Osprey barge, Dad brought in a fish tail. Little Bob got it and Big Bob tried to take it. No real tussle and it looked like Little Bob was able to keep it. Just look at the strong mantling (putting wings over prey to protect it from being stolen). These three are going to be a handful to band on Monday!

Despite the mantling, the chicks definitely were remaining civil. This was not a real tussle for food.

Good practice for the future. Dad is so cute. He acts like he isn’t paying attention but he is. These parents are watching everything the three of them do. Everything is about being able to survive in the real world. They have done an amazing job.

Friday has started out pretty good. I hope it continues that way. Diamond is healing but still a bruise on her foot. 27 is improving and so is Grinnell. Yarruga is growing like a bad weed and soon will be bigger than Xavier. There are still four falcons at 367 Collins Street and it is hoped that someone will put the owl back in the box – again.

Thank you for joining me. Take care everyone and have a great day.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, EcoSolutions JoBurg Owl Cam, and the Sea Eagles FB Page for the image of 27.

The Migratory Bird Acts – do they really protect the birds?

It has been a little over a week since the furor erupted at a local park in our City when a public utility company was clear cutting trees near a Cooper Hawks Nest. The outpouring of anger by residents and concerned citizens paused the clear cutting until fall when there would be no active nests. A victory for the birds!

Several of us were pretty certain that the migrating birds were protected under the Canadian Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994 – an act originally passed in 1917 and updated in 1994 and 2005. But, we were wrong. Raptors are not protected under the federal act. They are protected by the Wildlife Act of Manitoba!

As Tracy at the Manitoba Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project reminded me:

The original Act was written to protect birds that migrated between Canada and the US and  were either a) beneficial (songbirds eating agricultural pests or waterfowl which were hunted) or b) harmless to humans (puffins for example).  Birds of prey – dead or alive, whole or their constituent parts – are generally protected under provincial and territorial Acts.  In Manitoba all vultures, eagles, ospreys, hawks, falcons and owls are designated as protected species under the Wildlife Act – the Act protects them, their nests and habitat.

As I sat reading Tracy’s words, I began staring at two books on my shelf. The first one was Rosalie Edge. Hawk of Mercy. The Activist who saved nature from the Conservationists and Winter’s Hawk. Both paint a picture of wanton killing of birds, not protecting them. Rosalie Edge will use her influence and money to establish a protective area in the United States called Hawk Mountain. She will take on Audubon and all the men she knows who love sport hunting and the bagging of raptors. What a woman. Hawk Mountain is the site where the thermals are so good and birds migrating from eastern Canada and the US pass through to get to their winter grounds. You can visit Hawk Mountain and you can go there and help count migrating raptors. Google it.

Rosalie Edge was a very special woman. She was not afraid of going against the establishment. Rachel Carson has often been given the credit for sounding the early alarm against DDT in her book, Silent Spring. In fact, it was Edge that was raising concerns fourteen years before Carson. Edge was a leader in seeing the need to really conserve the birds and protect them against humans.

The book is a good read. It shows the real attitudes towards birds at the turn of the century – the impact of sport hunting. Edge had the strong constitution to take on some of the most powerful men at the time and win. Hawk Mountain remains today a place of refuge for the migrating birds and, of course, my dear raptors. I am actually including provincial wildlife acts of Canada at the bottom of today’s blog. If you wish to read The Migratory Bird Act of Canada (MBAC) it can be accessed by Googling.

So lesson learned: When demanding protection for raptors in your province, you need to go to the provincial wildlife acts which I have included below!

I went to check on Little Tiny Bob at the Foulshaw Moss Nest in Cumbria. He has been getting stronger and growing the past few days. He also appears to have gained some confidence – a very good thing. We saw that in Tiny Tot as he began to get so clever in order to get food. Blue 35 has been doing really well feeding the trio. I am really proud of her and White YW keeps the fish coming in.

All of the Bobs were full. Little Tiny Bob just wanted to go to sleep and there was enough fish for mom to have a good meal, too. Any food insecurities seem to be dissipating on this nest. Yes! That is a good thing on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Tiny Tot was waiting on the nest and hoping for a fish drop early this morning. Jack did not disappoint. He arrived with a fish at 7:40:36.

“Thanks, Dad!”

Jack took off and left Tiny to his fish. Tiny continued mantling. He knows there is an adult intruder in the area and he doesn’t want to loose his fish.

Sadly there has been no fish delivery at the Cowlitz PUD nest. Those babies have gone through all that food they ate yesterday. They were starving. They are once again food begging. Electra called out to Wattsworth for a long time. She left the nest and I thought she was returning with a fish for the babies but she wasn’t gone long enough – she came in with bark. Of course, Wattsworth had to come sniffing around. What a lazy Osprey! I guess Electra will have to leave the babies and go fishing again today if they are going to survive.

The babies were cold and crying for food.

No sooner than Electra had that piece of wood on the nest than Wattsworth appears thinking it was a fish. Does he have another family? Is he just a lazy osprey? Yes, I do believe that birds have individual characteristics. Or is he just completely inept? Reminds me too much of Louis and the way that he treats Iris on the Hellgate Nest. Thankfully the Ravens took Iris’s eggs this year before there could be any starving chicks.

While it is true that this nest needs some rebuilding on the sides, it surely needs fish to keep the babies alive so they actually need the crib sides!!!!! Wattworth – go fishing! You make me disappointed.

I always check on Tiny Tot, Little Tiny Tot, and the Ks every morning. This time I took a deep breath. I could only see one of the Ks at the very far end near a good spot to fledge. My mind was racing telling me that they are not ready to fledge yet. I had counted the rings on K1s tail and concluded that and yet, where are they??!!!!!!!!

At that moment I remembered that there is a second camera at the Cornell site. Well, it made me feel a little better. There all three of them were but one of them is over where Big Red has been standing – on the fledge ledge. It is going to be soon. Better watch these kids while there is time!

Thank you for joining me today. Send warm wishes, as always to those wee ones who need warmth and food – the Cowlitz Kids.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Cowlitz PUD, and Cornell Bird Lab RTH. Thank you to Tracy at the Manitoba Peregrine Recovery for pointing out the difference in the wildlife acts.

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Here is the wording for the Canadian provincial and territorial laws:

Birds in Canada are protected under provincial and territorial statute in addition to the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. Please consult the legislation of the relevant jurisdiction before making any decisions regarding the protected status of a bird species in Canada. The following links are provided for convenience, but may not be current.

This table provides information on legislation of other jurisdictions regarding migratory birds in Canada.

Province/TerritoryLawURL
British ColumbiaWildlife ActBritish Columbia – Wildlife ActDesignation and Exemption Regulation: Schedules A and C
AlbertaWildlife ActAlberta – Wildlife ActWildlife Regulation, Schedule 4
SaskatchewanWildlife Act, 1998Saskatchewan – Wildlife Act (PDF; 155 KB)The Wildlife Regulations, 1981 (PDF; 216 KB)
ManitobaWildlife ActManitoba – Wildlife Act: Schedule A
OntarioFish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997Ontario – Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997: Schedules 3, 7 and 8
QuebecAn Act Respecting the Conservation and Development of WildlifeQuebec – An Act Respecting the Conservation and Development of Wildlife
New BrunswickFish and Wildlife ActNew Brunswick – Fish and Wildlife Act
Nova ScotiaWildlife ActNova Scotia – Wildlife ActGeneral Wildlife Regulations
Newfoundland and LabradorWildlife ActNewfoundland and Labrador – Wildlife ActWildlife Regulations: Schedule B
Prince Edward IslandWildlife Conservation ActPrince Edward Island – Wildlife Conservation Act
NunavutWildlife ActNunavut Wildlife Act: Subsections 6(2) and 6(3)
Northwest TerritoriesWildlife ActNorthwest Territories – Wildlife ActBirds of Prey RegulationsWildlife General Regulations: Schedule General
Yukon TerritoryWildlife ActYukon Territory – Wildlife Act : Schedule H

As the sun goes down

Typically I check on ‘the babies’ many times a day. This evening there is a soft glow coming across the eagle nest onto Gabby and little NE24. The Japanese have a name for this particular light that shimmers down through the trees causing everything to appear slightly golden. It is komorebi and it is magical. It looks like the universe is laying a soft warm blanket around Gabby and NE24.

Just look into Gabby’s eyes gazing down on NE24. Pure love.

It is just turning 6pm. The setting sun is softly lighting the Spanish moss hanging down from the old tree, too. And up in that deep nest where Samson was born is Gabby and Samson’s little one, NE24. NE24 is nine days old today.

It is a Slash Pine tree. Sometimes these trees are called Swamp Pines because they grow in the watery swamps of Florida.

Samson’s parents, Romeo and Juliet, brought the very first twig for this nest for the 2008 breeding season. They placed twig after twig in that spectacular ‘V’ about eighty feet off the ground. And every year they added more. It is now estimated that the amount of sticks and leaf debris, moss, etc. making up the nest would weigh more than a metric tonne. For ten breeding seasons Romeo and Juliet successfully fledged every eaglet they reared in that nest, nineteen in all. There was plenty of food and little sibling rivalry.

No one knows anything about Gabrielle. She appeared one day, a female looking for a mate and Samson liked her out of all the others. We know that Samson was born on this very nest on 23 December 2013. He fledged on the 22nd of April 2014. Samson returned four years later and bonded with Gabrielle. Their first breeding season was 2019-20. The administrators for the NEFL Eagle cam named the eaglets Romy and Jules after Samson’s parents. Both fledged successfully.

The same soft glow of the day’s end falls over Bonnie, the GHO in the Eagle’s nest. Bonnie must be anticipating that her mate, Clyde, will come in with some treats for her. It has now been sometime since she had a meal because of the frigid temperatures. The temperature may stay in the range around 6 degrees F so there might be hope that those mice Bonnie loves will be running about tonight so Clyde can catch one for her.

As the sun set, Clyde was ready to wake up and go hunting. It wasn’t long until he brought Bonnie her first mouse of the evening.

I wish that my hearing and my eyesight were as good as Bonnie and Clyde’s. It is said that a Great Horned Owl has such good hearing that if a mouse steps on a twig they can hear it even if they are 23 metres away (75 feet). And, from observing Bonnie, we know that she really can turn her head for a complete 360 degree view. But, even though she is called a Great ‘Horned’ Owl, she doesn’t have any horns! How silly. But she does have those soft feathery tufts coming off of her incredible ears that resemble horns. Bonnie’s feathers are not hard like other raptors; they are very soft. The ends of Clyde’s feathers are round which allows him to fly virtually undetected – like a Stealth bomber – just not as fast. Bonnie hears him; she sits up in anticipation as he nears the nest (below).

Clyde flies into the nest with the mouse.
Bonnie quickly took the mouse.
After dinner they had a wee bit of a conversation.

We are so fortunate to be able to see the exchanges with these owls – what a rare treat! And aren’t they cute together?

Updates on all the gang will come later tonight. Have a fantastic day everyone.

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Thank you to NEFL Eagle cam and Derek the Farmer for their streaming cameras where I took my screen shots.

So excited, had to share

Today is my wedding anniversary and we had a lovely breakfast – croissants with lovely marmalade – and my husband bought me two books and I can’t tell you how excited I am. One is Raising Ducks and the other is Wilding. The Return of Nature to a British Farm. Can he read my mind? Ducks! I wonder if the city would give me a permit? I was threatening to dig up our 10 x 10 lower deck for a little pond for ducks the other day. Oh, how to breed, care, and keep healthy ducks. Yes.

Oh, I miss Daisy the Duck!

But three other things also caught my attention just have I had posted my earlier blog. The first is an update on E17 and E18, Harriet and M15s kiddos. They still have their eye infection and they still are eating CROW out of house and home. Gosh, those eaglets love being fed by tongs! But what I noticed was a feisty attitude in the images and I had to share them with you.

In the top image, E17 and E18 look like little angels. They are getting pin feathers (oh itchy), losing their egg tooth, and they are grey with little tails starting to grow. Precious.

Image courtesy of CROW FB

Ah, this is more like it. E18 with its beak open ready to start the bopping game! These two look like they could climb out of their fresh white towel nest at any moment! But look, I think they are also enclosed in an aquarium. Smart.

Oh, I love to see the cheekiness. It means they are getting better. Just like us when we are sick and fighting an infection.

Image courtesy of CROW FB

Here they are on January 31. Look at the difference in their colouring from then and until today and those eyes are so much better. They are not out of the woods on that infection. I had hoped to hear they might be returning to their nest in Fort Myers tomorrow but, no. Poor darlings.

Image courtesy of CROW FB

Some of you will be very familiar with my rant against rat poison. Several years ago I had the most gentle cat, Duncan. She would go outside and sit with me while I drank my morning coffee on her leash. The minute Duncan smelled the coffee she would sit, back straight, right at the end of the kitchen counter waiting to go outside. She was an angel of a cat. She never tried to get away. One day Duncan caught a mouse in our house. At the time, the mice were very bad in our neighborhood despite there being feral cats still out and about. Duncan died because of the rat poison. It does terrible things to cats. I was devastated.

Duncan had been one of three kittens born to a feral cat that my neighbour, Bert, took care of in his old school van. He fed all of the feral cats and any time one of them was to have kittens, Bert would take it into the van, feed it, and then find homes for the little ones. I took Duncan when she was not ready to leave her mother because the other two would not allow her to nurse. She was raised on a bottle and well, she was just the sweetest cat! To lose her was terrible but it also made me realize how the new designer pesticides and rodenticides could cause many more to lose their pets. We have sense filled in every hole with copper mesh so that the mice cannot get in the house. There is also the hawk that visits our garden. I hope he enjoys them. BUT, I don’t want this tiny Sharp-Shinned Hawk to die either.

Since the death of Hope and Peace at the Captiva BE nest, there has been a concerted effort across the state of Florida to ban these anticoagulant killers. I don’t live in Florida but I belong to the group to raise awareness. Below is an image of an owl that was in care because of poisoning and an image of the d-Con boxes of this poison.

So why am I so happy? d-Con has announced that it is pulling this highly effective anti-coagulant poison from the shelves! This is an even more effective killer than the one that Duncan died from. The cats don’t even hate to eat the poisoned mouse, they just have to bite through the skin. Well, my hats are off to d-Con.

Now spread the word. If you know of anyone that has used this, is using it, or has some in their cupboard, ask them to find out where in their community they can safely take the box to have it disposed of. Do not put these boxes in the garbage. It may take you a bit of time during the pandemic to even find the place to turn these poisons in for destruction.

Images courtesy of EarthJustice.org

I can promise you that no one wants to get me started talking about wind turbines. As I continue to say, I will be the first one on my block to stand up for the environment but I have a problem with wind turbines. The older ones are real killers of birds. As my son reminded me, cats are the number 1 killer and that is actually a sore spot with me, too. But today, let’s just focus back on the wind turbines. To power our homes, shops, factories, and cars, I am all for alternative sources of energy. In the case of wind turbines, I am concerned about the lack of regulation and where big companies are proposing to position these contemporary wind mills. More and more birds are being killed. It is a fact. One solution is to paint one of the blades black. But, here today, is news of another way to stop Bald Eagles from being cut to shreds.

The smart camera systems stops the wind turbine before the birds get killed. The URL is below so so that you can read the article that has me smiling by copying and pasting. For some reason it will not embed properly.

https://interestingengineering.com/smart-camera-system-saves-eagles-from-wind-turbine-deaths

What a grand day. There are good people working hard to protect the world’s wildlife. And everyone can help in their own little way. I am attaching the poster that we made for our campaign to get rid of rat poison. Feel free to share it on Social Media. And also remember to check your own cabinets and tell your friends and family. Good old human interaction often works best!

Thank you for checking in with me today. I have some ‘bird’ stories that will warm your hard coming up this week. Take care and please stay safe.

For birds and ducks, it seems that the term ‘hawk eye’ really applies, updated

I have to make a confession. It has been a long, long time since I ‘considered’ ducks, ducks of any breed. As a young child, I had a pet white domestic duck that my father brought in his pocket one Easter. Along with a hoard of cats, a three-legged dog, the duck was one of my greatest companions. I spent much time at the zoo but where I really loved to go was to the ‘Duck Pond’ at the University of Oklahoma.

Fall on the University of Oklahoma and part of the large duck pond.

Hours and hours were spent feeding the ducks and just sitting and looking at them. When I visited with my children, they, too, learned to love all of the ducks at the Duck Pond. It is an institution in Norman, Oklahoma, that Duck Pond. I have no idea how long it has been there. It is much beloved and I continued to visit it until the very last time I was in Norman. But I haven’t actually thought about ducks. Hawks, yes. A Sharp-shinned hawk visits my garden regularly in such of prey. The garden is full of birds that can attest to my devotion to feeding them and I have written extensively not to feed birds of any kind – crows, our Canada geese, the ducks at our duck pond at St Vital Park – bread. Feed them corn and peas. Crows love hard boiled eggs, dog kibble, and grapes. But ducks did not get into my head until Daisy. When she first came with her mate in December to check out the nest of the WBSE, I didn’t think too much of it. But, it is what I have learned watching her, talking with others, and researching that has me totally enthralled. I hope you are, too. Just some facts that astound me. Daisy will have lost half her weight in creating the eggs and brooding. They also have the calcium in their system partially depleted. It is hot in that seventy-five food high nest in Sydney, Australia and they tell me it is going to get hotter in the next few days. While this helps the eggs to stay warm when Daisy has to go forage, it also means that she must hydrate more often. Each time she leaves the nest, the eggs are vulnerable. Today before leaving at 14:02 for foraging and a cool down, she gathered up some of the down that the WBSE and the Pied Currawong tossed. She put some of it on the nest but the wind has been blowing and one of the eggs appears to be exposed.

Daisy has been slowly pulling the down that was removed by the WBSE and the Curra closer to her nest cup.

The exquisiteness of her nest woven with nothing but what she has found left on the sea eagle’s nest – leaves, sticks – and the down she pulled from her breast was nothing short of remarkable. A contemporary artist would have difficulty coming up with something so beautiful and organic if they tempted to replicate her work.

And I admire this little duck more than I can ever say. Is it the old David and Goliath story? Think about it. This is a little duck who knows nothing about the forest. She has, for all purposes, made her nest in the ‘King Pin’ of the forest, Dad, the White Bellied Sea Eagle’s nursery!

The last visit that Dad paid to check on his nest was on January 18. That was three days ago. That day he stayed for about six hours waiting for the intruder to return. He did not realize how smart our little duck is!

There are Ravens and Currawong that would destroy her nest and eat her eggs quickly.

Pied Currawong courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Daisy is one brave little tenacious duck, intent on brooding her eggs and having ducks jump over the edge and make their way to the water with her. On the way, if we make it to that point, there are other dangers including foxes. As a result of watching her, my admiration for all of the birds has grown immensely and I want to know more about them and how I, someone writing a blog on the cold Canadian prairies, can help them.

Daisy brooding her seven eggs on the WBSE nest.

Today, Daisy left well before dawn to go and forage and cool off. It was 4:20am. She returned an hour later, about forty minutes before dawn. Most hawks, falcons, and eagles will venture out at dawn and settle to roost at dusk. That, of course, does not apply to birds like owls who hunt at night. My question is how can Daisy manage in that light? It seems that she might be creating a pattern of leaving before dawn and right before dusk to forage with a break in mid afternoon. But, I cannot say for certain. It will take more days to make that kind of a generalization. But what about her vision

Daisy is back at her nest before dawn. Note that she has one eye on each side of her head. They are not situated together on the front of her head like humans.

Almost all birds have some of the most sophisticated and advanced vision of any animals. And their eyesight is much better than humans! Ducks, like Daisy, have monocular (single) vision. Humans have binocular (stereo) vision. Look at Daisy. Her eyes are located on the side of her head. She does not see in 3-D like we do but, if you have ever noticed a duck or a raptor bobbling their head back and forth, that is what they are achieving but with more precise sight than we ever could have without the aid of a device like a powerful spotting scope. Our eyes have blood vessels. Ducks do not have blood vessels in their eyes. Instead their blood is contained in the pecten. The pecten is a small organ at the back of their eyes that contains the blood. Daisy (and other birds) also have something else that humans do not have, panoramic view. She can see almost 360 degrees. This really helps to protect her from predators. So to sum, it up, ducks have eyes that are capable of seeing at least two or three times farther than humans. Their eyes have other characteristics to help them survive in the wild. This includes being able to see ultraviolet light because their eyes have cones. It is also known that they are very good at differentiating colours which, luckily for them, causes duck hunters many problems. They can tell between someone wearing camouflage that isn’t quite the colour of the environment that surrounds them. Good for you Daisy and all Ducks. You might just outwit the hunters. And, speaking of hunters, many in Australia are saddened by the new duck hunting laws for 2021 after seeing Daisy.

Along with her excellent sight, Daisy relies on her hearing. While she is relative unfamiliar with many of the animals and birds who live in the forest (remember she normally lives by the river, not in the forest), she does listen for vocalizations. She tends to raise her neck if she hears alarm calls by other birds nearby. A good example is the calls of the Raven because the Ravens tend to follow the sea eagles if they enter the forest. The ravens are not a direct threat to the WBSE but they are an annoyance. And, of course, Daisy often sleeps with one eye open!

Daisy raises her neck high to listen.

Notice how Daisy raises her neck high in the image above. She can never really relax completely. She must always be alert to any noises or disturbances that might threaten her. On occasion, she has had to leave very quickly and has been unable to cover her eggs. That is what happened the other day when Dad the WBSE arrived on an adjacent tree and she has to leave very quickly. It was that same day that the Curra tried to eat the egg that Dad had rolled out of the nest cup.

Daisy literally sleeps with one eye open so that she can not only hear but see any predators.
Late afternoon shade is almost completely covering the nest.

So far, since Daisy left to forage around 14:00, no predator has arrived at the nest to do harm. In fact, the forest is relatively quiet. Most of the activity occurs at dawn and at dusk. It is a good time for Daisy to forage. As it hears 15:30, Daisy should be returning within an hour and a little bit to start her brooding. She might, like last evening, sneak out for another dip in the water to cool her off before dark.

Thanks for coming to read about and check on this precious duck. She is, according to locals, the first bird that has ever made a nest in the White Bellied Sea Eagle Nest in the Sydney Olympic Park. She is one brave duck and there are thousands of people watching and wishing her well.

Stay tuned for an update in the morning. Nite all, stay safe.

Well, thanks to Daisy’s good eyes and quick reflexes. She was flying into the nest around 16:49 when spotted ‘Dad’, the White Bellied Sea Eagle landing on the branch of the nest tree! She aborted her landing very quickly. Dad had arrived with Lady around 16:01 and both were on the camera tree. One of the sea eagles left and another flew to the parent branch of the Ironbark Tree. See the images below. It is quite windy and hot and the eagle is busy looking around everywhere from his perch. Did they see Daisy?

Dad? Lady? is using his ‘Eagle Eyes’ to look around everywhere hoping to catch the bird who is brooding their eggs in his nest!

The wind was blowing frantically. The WBSE left at 16:58. Where did they go? Neither went to the nest. It looks like it was a quick fly in to see if they could catch the intruder. It is difficult to say if it was Dad or Lady who remained behind. They looked a little ragged suggesting that it is Lady who has not finished their moult. Maybe they left to catch some fish before dusk. Spotters on the ground say that Dad and Lady have returned to their River Roost on the Parramatta River.

Wonder if either will return to check on the nest again? Remember, their vision. They will not come after dusk! The only bother for Daisy during the night is BooBook Owl.

Wind gusts blowing Dad’s feathers ever which way.

Thank you to Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Centre for providing the camera for my scaps.