Zoe flies more, rare Albatross incubate their egg…and more news in Bird World

24 November 2022

Good morning to everyone and the best of Thanksgiving to those celebrating in the US today.

It has been wonderfully warm on the Canadian Prairies. I do not know if it is atypical for this time of year but, it certainly feels like it. The birds in the garden had some of their feeders rearranged and thanks to a lovely friend I swopped out some old feeders for some she gave me yesterday. One of the visitors today was a beautiful Starling. It’s an immature non-breeder. Note all of the white spots on his breast and it has yet to get its oily black head. The males and the female Starlings look alike. Did you know that? One difference is that the beaks of the males are a deep blue while those of the female are a pink colour. This then looks like an immature non-breeding male.

Look closely and you can see their rose coloured legs. It is also a pair of non-breeding adults. They are really loving this soft suet.

The Starlings will not perch on the metal. I do not know why. They want to lean down from the branches to get to the suet. You can see this behaviour in the image above also. So the feeder below was moved so they could more easily reach it! Who says I am a softie?

Junior was grateful for a bowl of corn today.

One of many varieties of the Sparrow family that visit the garden. They are particularly enjoying the Butter Bark Balls on these damp days.

The kittens have had great fun watching the birds and the squirrels. They continue to find places in the house to get into mischief. And they do not always come when they are called setting in a panic that they have miraculously gotten outside in the cold. Of course, they are somewhere laughing (do cats laugh?) while I panic!

Missy has discovered a Rodney Mott sculpture that is just perfect for hiding in. Lewis is in the overturned basket not even showing a whisker.

At the Australian nests, Zoe took off for her first flight of the day at 0901. It was an absolutely perfect take off and her landing at 0907 was spot on, too. She is a very strong osplet. I do hope she gets some nice fish. It has been 24 hours since she last had some food.

While the camera was down for a couple of yours, Dad brought in fish. We are only seeing the tail of the fish but I hope that Dad had some nice fish – the entire head – and that it was big enough for Mum and Zoe to also have a good feed. This family would really enjoy a day with several deliveries but, I am grateful to know that there was a delivery mid-afternoon.

Zoe had a nice crop.

At the scrape in Orange, things were decidedly low key. Xavier and Diamond in and out of the scrape box and Diamond enjoying sleeping in the box all by herself at night. They have busy days chasing after Indigo and Rubus. Little Rubus is, apparently, doing more flying and getting much better.

This was the news from Orange: “Rubus and Indigo both seen within the last hour. Rubus is exploring the campus, going from building roofs to trees etc. He fledged on 20th November. Indigo is way ahead getting flight training from parents, visiting the box etc. He fledged on 11th November at 41 days.”

If you haven’t checked out the FalconCam site in a few days, I urge you to do so. Someone is really adding historical data and you can go back to 2007 to see earlier chicks and read about the big events at the scrape. Here is that link if you lost it.

https://science-health.csu.edu.au/falconcam/home

Oh, it is stormy up near Jacksonville. Samson and Gabby have been on the nest today working despite the wind and the bad weather that looks like it is moving in.

I put this image in not so you could peer at the fluffy bottom of a big Bald Eagle but, rather, for you to see the colour of the legs and feet of Gabby. Then look at their beaks. This is a bright chrome-yellow. This is a very healthy bird.

Harriet and M15 are sleeping at the nest and so far no eggs, just like at NEFL.

At the E-3 nest in the Kistachie National Forest, they have their second egg today. Congratulations Andria and Alex.

There is also news coming out of the Midway Atoll about a very rare pair of Albatross.

As we give thanks for all the birds that bring our lives joy, remember that we are the cause of much of their suffering. Please spread the word to anyone you know – or where you work – that there are solutions other than using rodenticide to get rid of mice and rats. Also teach them about secondary poisoning. It could be their dog or cat but, it is often one of our beautiful raptors.

At small islands in New Zealand, Dr Digby and his team care for the rare non-flying parrot, the Kakapo. In 2016, they hand-raised more than a dozen of these precious little birds. Today they continue to do that work when it is required. The work that Digby and his team do to restore the health of these birds and to keep them safe and try and increase their numbers is remarkable. So thankful.

No 13. The Red List. The Marsh Tit

At first I thought these were out Black capped Chickadees. The Marsh Tit is small, it is mainly shades of a soft grey-brown or taupe with a shiny black cast, a black bib, and a pale ivory underbelly. The bill, eye, and legs are black. They are not plain by any means, look closely at the plumage patterns. Simply lovely.

The woodlands of the United Kingdom – and elsewhere – are changing and that it causing a huge decline in the number of this very small song bird, the Marsh Tit. The woods are more fragmented now, separated by grazing pastures, a growing number of introduced deer. Marsh Tits, according to Mike Toms, “favour woodlands with a complex understory and require surprisingly large patches of suitable habitat in order to breed successfully.” And they’re like their woodlands to be “wet”. Climate change has meant that they are now laying their eggs at least ten days earlier than they were 50 years ago. This change has had a decided impact on available or peak food supplies for the chicks which is also contributing to a decline in population numbers. The Marsh Tit is also known to visit older gardens, copses, and parks, and has sometimes been seen on feeders.

Marsh Tit” by Vine House Farm is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

They feed mostly on insects, seeds and berries, and often cache food over winter if they find a good supply. They nest in existing tree holes, rather than excavating their own, and produce seven to nine eggs.

Their song sounds like a sneeze “pitchoot”.

Here is their range.

Thank you so much for being with me today. I hope that each of you had a wonderful day no matter where you are — or will have a great day if you are just waking up reading this. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, NEFL-AEF, SWFL Eagles and D Pritchett, KNF, Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, A Place Called Hope, Kakapo Recovery and Dr Digby Twitter, Openverse, and RSPB.

Annie and Alden, a whopper for Zoe and some serious hovering…early Monday in Bird World

21 November 2022

Oh, the best of the morning to all of you! I hope this newsletter finds you well and happy and taking some time to de-stress out of doors if you need it — or watching our marvellous birds from inside your home or on the streaming cams. It is so nice to have you hear with us.

The weather continues to be wintery with no break now until spring, late spring normally here in Canada. The garden animals have been all flooded up keeping warm. Me, too! It is, however, very hard to imagine that in 40 days it will be a brand new year.

Dyson never disappoints in her ability to find and get food efficiently. She has a perfect spot on a branch where she sits and can eat right out of the bird feeder!

The Starlings really are lovely. This one flew down to check out what the Blue Jay was interested in on the deck but, normally they always stay in the lilacs or the back trees.

The Starlings and Sparrows share the Butter Bark.

In the Mailbox:

‘J’ sent a link to a blog that some of you might find interesting. It goes to the heart of our earlier discussions about birds and emotions. Thank you ‘J’!

Website of Gaby Schulemann-Maier: https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.birds-online.de%2Fwp%2Fen%2Fbirds-online-english%2F&data=05%7C01%7C%7C49ef41f33eef4818ef3508dacb2dc009%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C638045694605754558%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=v%2Fr%2BhO5flt0reUFvtxw5W3DyZoKqhMrl8uH5CodWB7E%3D&reserved=0

‘BG’ and I both agree that we neither fans of soccer or Twitter but, a World Cup of Birds – yes! Each team in the World Cup has been assigned a bird. Let’s follow and see who wins. Thanks ‘BG’ for sending me this!

Jer Thorp: “We’ve got 4 days until the World Cup. 4 days to decide the MOST important question: Which country in the tournament has the best national bird? 16 birds have already flown home. 16 are ready for glory. Welcome to the knockout stages of the #WorldCupOfBirds!!!”

Making News:

‘B’ sent me a note. Annie and Alden were on camera at The Campanile on the grounds of UC-Berkeley on Sunday. I admit to shedding a couple of little tears – tears of joy – to see them together and with such a nice crop. Looking forward to screaming eyases. Can’t wait. Thank you ‘B’. I know that everyone has been wondering about this lovely couple – Alden another one of those amazing males that stepped in and saved the season.

Emyr Evans of the Dyfi Osprey Project in Wales has permission to post all the information about Paith. Faith was the youngest of the three osplets (2 females, 1 male) of Idris and Telly at the Dyfi nest. The information that Evans has comes from early September – so awhile ago but he just received it. Faith was in Brittany, one of the northern most areas off France and due south as straight as a crow could fly from her nest in Wales. Is she on her way to Africa? or will she overwinter in France?

To get the full story and see the maps, and migration ages of the osplets from Dyfi, please go to dfyispreyproject.com

Tiger Mozone has also posted some information that indicates there are Ospreys that do over winter in this area of France. I think this is really interesting because it is always presumed that the birds go all the way to Africa. It appears not and we do know that many are now over wintering in Portugal and Spain. It may help with the decline in populations due to migration incidents and it might also speak to the changing landscape in Africa in terms of fish availability.

Congratulations goes out to Dave Anderson who has won the prestigious prize – the RSPB Species Award. Anderson is well known in the UK raptor world for his work with White-tailed Eagles and, in particular, promoting research on them by using satellite tracking. I cannot think of a more deserving person. You can read all about him and his extensive work with raptors – a life dedicated to bettering theirs – by clicking on the link in the announcement below.

Australian Nests:

Early Monday morning in Australia, Xavier went to the scrape box with a nice prey item for breakfast. Was he trying to lure Rubus and Indigo to the box?

Indigo will arrive in the box and will be seen on the top of the tower but, Rubus did not fly up to join Indigo. They have been seen in the trees and it would appear that all is well. Xavier was there with them for some time and Diamond was photographed flying around the trees keeping guards on her precious fledglings.

News has come in regarding Rubus today: “Rubus fledged yesterday at 0818 h and has been found alive and well in a pine shelterbelt a few hundred metres from the tower. He was in a tree (so can fly at least a bit). He was still in the same area this morning, but a bit closer to the tower, He was found on the ground and placed in a tree in the woodland.”

Shines found Rubus and wrapped him in a blanket and placed him on the tree branch. Thank you, Shines!

Xavier and Diamond have both been in and out of the scrape. It is entirely possible that they are trying to lure Rubus back into the box so that he can rest and they can feed him there.

In Port Lincoln, Dad flew in with a whopper for Zoe at 1015. Port Lincoln has a severe wind alert for gusts up to 34 kph. Mum and Dad are very smart. This is one way to keep Zoe on the nest – a big fish!

Mum flies in while Zoe mantles the fish.

Just look. Dad had a good feed and Mum is looking down knowing there should be some left for her, too. I wonder if Zoe will want all of this fish to herself?

Zoe is trying. She has her talons in the fish holding it down and is doing a pretty good job eating away.

That is a big fish!

Mum would really like to have some of that nice fish but Zoe isn’t quite ready to give up.

At 11:56 Mum takes control of the fish. Zoe looks like she wants Mum to feed her. She has not made much progress on it herself.

Mum had different ideas. She wants some fish, too and it looks like Zoe ate enough to have a nice crop. Mum flies away with that fish so she can enjoy it all to herself. I wonder if she will bring any of it back to Zoe?

Zoe was not happy!

Of course, the answer is ‘yes’. Mum ate her fill and returned to the next some time later to feed Zoe.

That fish was sooooooooo large that the entire family had a nice big meal. How grand. Thanks Dad!

Zoe did some serious helicoptering. She is ready to fly! It will be soon.

No 11 The Red List: Montagu’s Harrier

Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus” by Ian N. White is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Montagu’s Harrier is the most rare of any of the birds of prey in the UK. This incredible raptor was not in any nest records in the UK in 2020 nor in 2021. Their numbers began to decline in 2015. That year there were only 5 nests in the UK. It is feared that they might already be extinct, not just vulnerable.

These are magnificent raptors that fly low, like the Hen Harrier, in search of rabbits, small birds, lizards, insects, and shrews. They also soar high above the fields in the thermals and their flying and hunting has been described as ‘spectacular’.

Just look at that stunning plumage. Again, it is anything but a drab grey. How about a light blue steel grey on the wings with a light cream around the eye, a very slight dark blue grey eye line and band around the cream. How else would you describe this magnificent species?

Montagu’s Harrier – Circus pygargus (male)” by Tarique Saniis licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

They are a medium sized raptor, 43-47 cm long, that is slim with very long pointed wings like a Hen Harrier. They have a long tail. The upper body of the male is grey. The primaries are black and the secondaries have a black stripe or band across them. They are white underneath. The female is a gorgeous dark brown. The bills are hooked and black with a bright chrome-yellow cere. Their legs and feet are also chrome-yellow. Notice the striking yellow eyes.

The demise of the Montagu’s Harrier is due to the over and expanding use of pesticides, the expansion of fields into modern agriculture, the destruction of their nests which are on the ground in the fields during harvesting. In addition, their food sources have declined dramatically due to the use of pesticides! These raptors need protected areas for nesting and an end to the use of contemporary pesticides that kill the birds by secondary poisoning or by killing their food source. The Montagu’s Harrier migrates to Africa and so, in both of their respective homes, they are subject to ever expanding agricultural practices and the use of deadly poisons. Those poisons should be banned internationally. They are also quite dangerous to humans. Ask anyone who has lived around a farm in Canada who has developed asthma and breathing issues early in their life.

This is an immature. Notice that gorgeous rust brown above the yellow legs, the barred tail with the grey and espresso brown, the light grey around those chrome-yellow eyes…what a beauty.

Montagu’s Harrier immature” by Rainbirder is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

I couldn’t leave without posting an image of a mature female Montagu’s Harrier. These females are stunning in their own right. Look closely. Their plumage is anything but a drab brown. Starting with the head and around the eyes, that bright chrome-yellow cere stands out amongst that deep chocolate brown. The white around the eyes with the espresso eyeliner and eye liner inside of the dark espresso band on a camel coloured head and breast are brilliant. It took a lot of the crayons out of the box to come up with this outstanding colour palette. That camel mixes with the deep chelate again on the back, and the wings while holding its own on the breast, chest and underparts. She is gorgeous.

File:Montagu’s Harrier, juvenile, Bangalore, India (edit).jpg” by Cks3976 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Oh, thank you so much for being with me today. It is always my pleasure to carry on and on and on about the beautiful feathered friends that bring us so much joy – and most often, tranquility. Take dare of yourselves. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘BG’ for the World Cup of Birds, ‘B’ for letting me know about Annie and Alden, ‘J’ for her great link in the mail re birds and emotions, Cal Faldons, Dyfi Osprey Project, Gregarious J Toonen for Ospreys Pandion Haliaetus FB and Tiger Mozone, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Open Verse.

2 Fledges in Ospreyland — and More and more threats to their health

Let’s start off with the fledges. Wow. They almost happened simultaneously.

Only Bob, Blue 496 at Clywedog, the son of Dylan and Seren fledged at 12:34:54 on 12 July.

And he’s off. He first flight was short but it was a fledge – he went to the camera pole. Congratulations Only Bob!

Dysynni, Blue 490, fledged from the Dyfi nest, the son of Idris and Telyn, at 12:26.

Gorgeous take off! Congratulations.

And now to the serious stuff for the day. It is wonderful to see the birds fledge but we need to take care of them afterwards.

If someone stopped you on the street and asked you to list all of the threats to the well being of our beloved Fish Hawks, what would you say? Think about this and jot down as many issues as you can. You can even use some historic examples because in parts of the world some of those could still be threats.

“Pandion haliaetus Osprey” by David A. Hofmann is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
  • Methamphetamines. The Smithsonian Magazine picked up a story running in several newspapers about a week ago. That article focused on the minute amounts of meth amphetamine that were in the water and that the fish had gotten addicted. The diet of Ospreys is fish. How might this impact the adults and their chicks?
  • Fishing Equipment. Every year adults and chicks alike get tangled in monofilament fishing line. Without doing any research to find the latest examples, there was the incident of the dead Osprey near London, Ontario about a month ago and just a week ago Fortis Alberta was called to the Red Deer Osprey Nest to remove monofilament line around the only surviving chick on that nest. I am going to guess that anyone reading this will have several examples. Then there are the hooks. And hooks attached to monofilament line.
“People fishing on the shores of Loko Waimaluhia (Hoʻomaluhia Reservoir)” by nsub1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
  • Non degradable Baling Twine. The banders who went to Warm Springs, Montana, found four chicks entangled in bailing twine. One had died. It took 20 minutes to remove the twine from another chick. The twine was so tightly wound that it had cut through the skin and had halted the chick’s circulation. As a result the chick was in pain and the leg was very swollen.
Copyright Montana Osprey Project
  • The impacts of climate change can include a long list of side effects. One of those is heavy winds that can tear down trees and nests.
  • The impacts of climate change can include a warming planet. Everyone witnessed the high temperatures that hit the Pacific Northwest (the US and Canada) recently (June 28). Heat kills Osprey chicks that cannot regulate their own temperature to survive. The heat also causes the fish to go to the bottom of the river or lake so that they are difficult to catch. This causes the birds to become dehydrated and die if there are not sufficient deliveries. You can probably name several nests where you witnessed chicks die due to the heat. Ospreys want open nests or platforms where they can see the environment around them. Because of this the nests are not shaded and the temperature on the nests can be higher than that reported. The sun bears down on the little ones and they die quickly. A good example is the Cowlitz chick. Electra went to get fish despite the fact that the chick had a crop. Temperatures were in excess of 40 degrees C. The mother was only gone from the nest for a few minutes when the chick began calling for her and died of heat stroke. Osprey chicks in British Columbia and in Alberta also suffered death from the high temperatures.
  • Decline in fish stock numbers due to pollution, high temperatures, and drought. The diet of Ospreys is 99% fish and if the fish numbers are low, the Osprey have nothing to eat.
  • Snowpack. Warming temperatures mean that there is less of a snowpack at the top of the mountains. The snowpack will melt faster causing flooding making it difficult for the Osprey males to catch fish when the chicks are hatching.
  • Mine waste and heavy metals. Eric Greene studies the toxic heavy metals in Montana from the old mining sites. He tests for these when Osprey chicks are banded. He has found 30% more arsenic in 2018 than he did when he began his study in 2006. Greene has also found very high mercury levels that result in egg mortality. The rate is up to 50%. Greene also found that the level of mercury in Osprey chicks blood is 100 times higher in the chicks than what is considered a problem for humans. Imagine. In other areas of the Clark Forks River, there is so much dioxins, furans, and PCBs that humans have been told not to eat the fish. The Osprey continue to eat the fish and feed it to their chicks. I do not know if you can open it but here is a report from Montana on the clean up and issues related to heavy metals in the Osprey:

https://hs.umt.edu/osprey/heavyMetalStudies.php

  • Soil Remediation to remove the contaminants from the rivers causes a temporary decline in fish stock.
  • Egg collecting. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, the collection of Osprey eggs was very much ‘in vogue’. This caused the numbers of Osprey to decline significantly. There remain some egg thieves today. The eggs of Osprey were considered the most beautiful and were highly prized. A man in the United Kingdom, Mark Gonshaw, was convicted of illegally acquiring eggs of endangered species including eight Osprey eggs in 2011. He had more than 700 eggs in his possession and on 22 December 2011 he was sentenced to prison. You can read about this here: https://focusingonwildlife.com/news/british-egg-collector-sentenced-to-prison-term/
  • Vandalism. A good example is the instance when one or more persons came to the Lyn Brenig Osprey Platform where there was egg/s and cut down the platform with a chainsaw.
  • Shooting. This year it is known that at least two Ospreys were shot over Malta on their return flight from Africa to their breeding grounds in the United Kingdom and Europe.
  • Other Birds of Prey or Animals. Other birds and animals often predate the eggs or take the chicks out of the nest such as the attack on the nest by a Northern Goshawk in Latvia recently. Great Horned Owls are also problematic as are Ravens who love Osprey eggs.
  • Urban Development and loss of forest habitat.
  • Power Lines. Many power companies are now creating artificial platforms so that the birds are not electrocuted on the lines.
  • Pesticides. Ospreys were the first of the large raptors to warm about DDT. Today DDT still exists in the soil of some areas and causes reproductive and thinning of the egg shells.
  • Poor Water Quality. You might recall that there was an enormous spill of toxic material into the water near the Sarasota Osprey nests. Those toxins will spread with the flow of the water.
  • Hypothermia. Hypothermia is believed to be the cause of the deaths of the surviving two osprey chicks at the Urdaibai Biosphere in Spain.
  • Human disturbance. Ospreys are much more tolerant of humans than many of the other large birds of prey. Still humans can come near the nests and frighten the birds causing them to abandon their nests with eggs or chicks.
  • Avian Flu. The impact from this is not clear. I continue to research.
  • Competition within their own species for nests and territories.
  • Competition within their own nest.

The article from The Smithsonian is here:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/meth-pollution-waterways-turning-trout-junkies-180978133/

Another article:

You have probably thought of many more ways that these beloved birds are threatened. I would love to hear from you!

I will leave you with a couple of images of Tiny Little taken around 6:15 am Monday 12 July 2021 nest time. Tiny you are not looking so Tiny! No one needs to worry about you and that is fantastic.

Tiny Little seems to really be enjoying himself up on that perch instead of being on the soggy nest this morning. Look at those wings. Tiny Little has grown like a very bad weed in my flowerbed. Unbelievable! Maybe that bander is right and he will be the second to fledge! We wait. This afternoon, Little Bob was getting some bites in between Fledgling Bob, 464 being fed.

Thank you so much for joining me. Stay safe and take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots: The Cumbria Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest, the Dyfi Osprey Project, and CarnyX Wildlife and the Clywedog Osprey Cam. I am grateful to the Montana Osprey Project FB site for the link to the recent report on threats to the Ospreys in their state and for the photo of the entangled Osprey chick which I took from their FB Page.

Fun with Bonnie and Clyde

Great Horned Owls (GHOW) are found all across North America – literally, they exist everywhere from the hot swampy areas of Florida to the deserts of the Southwest to the prairies and mountains of Canada. There is currently no concern for them in terms of declining populations. Just because there is no decline does not mean that the owls should not be monitored. Monitoring means that researchers can see when a decline does happen and they can ask why.

The setting sun on Bonnie.

In the 1970s many bird populations were wiped out due to the use of DDT. DDT was a pesticide and it was banned in 1972 after Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962 exposing the issues. It took a decade for change to happen but it did happen.

So the question then is, why in 2014 were birds dying in Michigan with levels of DDT poison so high in their brains that no one could believe the readings? Songbirds such as Robins, European Starlings, and bluebirds were dropping dead in people’s yards. DDT was not only found in the brains of the dead birds in enormous concentrations but it was also found in the worms that the birds ate. A professor at the University of Michigan looking into the phenomena found that the concentrations ranged from 155 to 1043 parts per million with the average being 552. The threshold for death is 30 parts per million. DDT persists in the soil and in the rivers. It thins the eggs of birds so that they break and cannot be incubated. It makes the birds sick and it is not a quick death but a slow painful one. The authorities in Michigan found that the Velsicol Chemical Corporation was responsible. Under their old name, Michigan Chemical, they manufactured pesticides. It is the area around their old plant where the soil, in 2014, was still saturated with the poison.

Today, the raptors – not the seed eating birds – have issues with various types of designer poisons for mice and rats. They are commonly called Rodenticides. In the United States, the name of one of the biggest companies manufacturing this poison is deConn. And, like when we want a tissue for a runny nose, many will ask for a ‘Kleenex’. Owls eat a lot of mice and rats. In fact, they are the absolute best and cheapest way to rid an area of these rodents. Someone could start a company, ‘Hire an Owl’.

And speaking of owls and mice, I have some great shots of Bonnie and Clyde for you tonight. And I have the answer to two questions sent to me by e-mail. I will incorporate those in the text. Thank you to those who wrote and asked – always happy to answer if I can or to help find the answer.

First of all, owls are noctural but like all other raptors they actually do a lot of hunting right at dusk and dawn. Owls do not see colour very well because nature provided them with sensitive dark-light rod cells instead of ones for differentiating colour. During the day, Clyde will sleep just like Bonnie, if she can. Clyde will not bring food to Bonnie during the bright light of day. But you might expect him to come, if prey is plentiful, right after dusk. Let us hope that none of the mice or rats that Clyde brings Bonnie have eaten any pesticides.

Dusk was at 6:39 pm in Newton, Kansas where the Bald Eagle Nest that Bonnie and Clyde are using is located. Between 6:55 and 8:04 pm, Bonnie made three trips off the nest. The first was at 6:55. She raises her head. Did she hear Clyde? She leaves the nest and returns at 7:03. That was eight minutes. She might have needed a bathroom break and she might have had something to eat.

At 7:21, we can see Clyde’s eyes. Clyde lands on a branch. Bonnie hears him.

Bonnie gets up. Clyde has brought her a mouse!

They do a quick exchange.

And Bonnie is back on the nest. It took a whole two minutes.

Bonnie takes another very short break from 7:57 to 8:04. Just like the first time she left this evening, the camera is fixed on the next so we cannot see what happens outside the frame. The temperature has really warmed up from the frigid minus degrees. It is 29 degrees F. The hunting might be a lot better because the mice will not be hunkered down with the cold. They will also be out looking for food while Clyde is looking for them!

Those beautiful big owl eyes are the reason that Clyde will be his busiest hunting within two hours of dusk and two hours of dawn. It is quite possible then that all three of Bonnie’s departures after dusk had to do with food deliveries and bathroom breaks together.

It is dawn, 6:27 am at the nest and Clyde has brought in his last mouse for the night. He arrives on his ‘regular’ branch. You should be able to see the mouse hanging out of his beak.

The pair have this all worked out. Bonnie and Clyde do some hoots and she flies up to the upper branch on the left.

Bonnie then flies up to grab the mouse from Clyde and within a blink that mouse becomes owl and she is back on her nest in two minutes. This couple is extremely efficient!

Besides hunting, Clyde’s other duty is to protect the territory of the nest and Bonnie. He will not be far away!

__________________________________________________________________

Just a couple of quick observations for today and then something special at the end.

The little eaglets on the Southwest Florida nest at Fort Myers, E17 and E18 are itchy. E18 was preening 17 and then they both wake up in the night and start preening. You will see that their flight feathers are just starting to come in. (Note: The dark object is a piece of an armoured fish). Here are a few images of these two itchy characters:

E17 is preening E18
Flight and pin feathers make eagles itchy.

Over at the other eagle nest in NE Florida at St Augustine, little NE24 is getting its pin feathers, too. Sometimes these are called ‘blood’ feathers because they are filled with blood while they are growing. Some of you might remember that Hope, the oldest eaglet on Connie and Joe’s nest at Captiva, Florida died because she broke a blood feather and bled out. That was because of the rodenticide in the prey she had been fed. So blood feathers. Our new words for the day!

I am absolutely in love with this little eaglet. Maybe because it is all alone on that big nest without any siblings. But, at the same time, that is such a plus. There is no anxiety watching this nest. Gabby and Samson do a fine job taking care of this little one. And its eyes cleared up all on its own.

The soft glow of dusk is filtering through the trees in the swamp. NE24 has a nice crop before bed. You can see that the feathers are changing colour from white to grey. You can also see the pin feathers just starting to come in. Poor thing. It will not only have to deal with all those mosquitoes but now these things coming in!

Now for something just a little special. Most Bald Eagles do not start breeding until they are much older than five years even though they can at four to five years. In a nest in Minnesota supervised by the Department of Natural Resources, a four year old Bald Eagle male (called a sub adult) is going to get to see his first egg for the very first time. His beak is still a brown or amber colour instead of the bright yellow and he still retains some of the brown feathers mixed with the white on his head. It is thirteen minutes long – and no, he is not dirty. He is just a youngster. His eyes have not gotten light yet either. Enjoy!

Thank you again for joining with me to learn about the birds we all love so much. It is my pleasure to share them with you. Tomorrow we best check in on some Royal Albatross and what their satellite trackers are showing and we will also try and find Solly ——- and, of course, see what Bonnie and Clyde are up to. The weather patterns are shifting again and I am sad to say that the Bald Eagle Nest in New Jersey is once again covered with snow. This mom with three eggs under her never seems to catch a break.

Thank you to the streaming cams of Derek the Farmer, Duke Farms, SWFL Eagle Cam and D Pritchett Real Estate, NEFL Eagle Cam, and to Lady Hawk for making that great video of our young eagle dad.

January 5 is National Bird Day!

Today is National Bird Day. Did you know? And, if not, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Why is there a day to celebrate birds?

National Bird Day seeks to raise awareness about birds. It is that simple. It began fourteen years ago in the United States and spread. So today, Canadians, too, are shouting out the love for our feathered friends. Everyone is joining together to find ways to enrich the lives of these, the closest living relative to the dinosaurs, better. And why should we care? Well, there are lots of reasons but let me begin with the fact that we have over fished the oceans, made the waters toxic and decreased the amount of fish that was present at the end of the nineteenth century by 80%. We have populated the world and allowed cities to sprawl, taking away the normal territory of the birds to hunt prey and survive. We spray our lawns so they are green, use toxic pesticides, construct buildings with gorgeous winds that are not strike proof (they could easily be), while driving fast and well, quite honestly, some people go out of their way to do harm. The coffee we drink, for 94% of that grown, comes from crops grown in direct sunlight. Yes, drinking coffee causes deforestation! So part of today is to examine how we can deal with these issues and offer protection and survival to our feathered friends. Did you know that 12% of the 10,000 bird species are in danger of extinction? There is a doctor from Studio City, California traveling the world to try and photograph every species of hummingbird before they are gone. Her name is Carole and she runs Hummingbird Spot, a bird cam and chat on youtube to raise awareness.

Kakapo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

So what can you do to help? You might think about bird adoption. I am particularly fond of the work that the Kakapo Recovery do to help the only remaining 208 kakapo. Have you ever heard of the kakapo?

The kakapo is also called the ‘owl parrot’. The forage around on the ground of the forests in specific areas of New Zealand. They do not fly! And they are extremely endangered. Every Christmas the Kakapo Recovery issues certificates for adoption. You get a photo of your kakapo and a plushie along with other swag. The purpose of the adoption is to help fund the Kakapo Recovery. Cost of adoption ranges from $100 to $500 NZD. The birds wear transmitters that require annual or semi-annual changing of batteries. Those transmitters allow the researchers on the islands to find the birds and check their health. Today, there are only 207 Kakapo. Their existence was compromised due to habitat destruction. Today, they are threatened by disease and intruders. Don’t want to adopt a kakapo? why not buy a great beanie that comes with a really beautiful Kakapo pin?

If you have been one of the millions enjoying watching wildlife make their nests, lay their eggs, and raise their young, you can donate to the wildlife cams that make this happy. You can donate just as much as you can afford. Cornell University runs a multitude of bird cams partnering with others around the world. They monitor the lives of Osprey, Royal Albatross, Red Tail Hawks (my favourite), along with countless other species living in manmade cliffs in Bermuda to fruit eating birds of Panama. Check them out! The bird cams are free! In 2020, during the pandemic, millions watched and discovered great empathy with these beautiful feathered creatures. They also learned many things. Did you know that the parents of the Royal Albatross chicks being incubated talk to their young before they hatch? Did you know that a damp nest can cause disease killing the young? If you have ever watched any of these birds feeding their young, you will marvel at how those big beaks can get such tiny pieces of food into the nestlings mouth! You will marvel at how they grow and you will come to imagine that humans might want to be so focused at the dining table. One of my favourite falconers, Laura Cully, thinks that every human should have to watch hawks raise their eyases before the humans commit to having children. Bird cams are wonderful but along with the joy there is also sadness. The norm is that only 1 out of 3 juvenile birds will live to see its first birthday. Those watching the camera of the pair of Red Tail Hawks, Big Red and Arthur, at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York were thrown in despair this past summer when the big beautiful female, who had recently delighted everyone with her baths in puddles, was killed when she flew into the window of a building. And those who watched the two White Bellied sea eaglets growing in the nest in Sydney Olympic Park, WBSE 25 and 26, learned what determination was. SE26 had its leg broken shortly after hatch. For over a month it could not stand. It would scoot on its ankles. But, the eaglet persevered and forced itself to walk despite the pain. It branched, learned to feet itself, and fledged. SE 26 returned to the nest six days later much to the delight of everyone who thought they would never see her again.

Last photo of WBSE 26 I took off the screen.

Many who watch the bird cams contend with their own physical issues and it was very easy to identify with SE26. Everyone hoped that when she had overcome everything to fly that she would be able to be a real sea eagle living in the wild. The day after this photograph, WBSE 26 was found on the balcony of a condo, 22 stories up. She was taken into care. It was determined that she was in a lot of pain, there was scar tissue on her feet, injuries to both from overcompensating only using the left leg, and the break had not healed properly. She was euthanized. It broke everyone’s heart. If anyone were to suggest that the life of a bird is one of fun and freedom, I would have them watch a bird cam for awhile.

What else can you do in your own area? You can donate money or items to your local wildlife rehabilitation centre. The one near Winnipeg is Wildlife Haven. Check their website for what they need. Take a drive out and see their resident Bald Eagle who was found in NW Ontario and who now is one of their ambassador birds. You can attract birds to your back garden. You can add feeders and bowls of water. They will thank you immensely. Crows and Blue Jays love grapes, dog kibble, hard-boiled eggs which are good for them. Avoid feeding birds bread. It is like Junk food to them. They love it and will fill up on it but will ultimately die of starvation. If you see plastic mesh bags or the plastic tops that hold cans, cut them and put them in the garbage. Avoid the use of balloons at all cost. Birds die from getting tangled in them. And last, three ideas. Coffee. Do you drink it? Do you know where those coffee beans come from? 94% of the world’s coffee is grown in the sun with only 6% grown in the shade. Coffee grown in the shade does not destroy the habitat of birds and animals. In Canada, you can order ‘bird safe’ coffee from birdsandbeans.ca It is not any more expensive than some of the other leading brands and if you order $45 worth, the shipping is free. It is also delicious, organic, and fair trade.

Only one of the signature blends at BirdsandBeans.

If you live in the United States, you can order directly from the Smithsonian who certifies the coffees that are grown in the shade.

And if you really want to get into the politics of wildlife, then go and read the website of the Albatross Task Force. You might never eat factory fish again! Lobby your government to make these fishing trawlers comply with standards so that there is no bycatch. What do I mean by bycatch? Sea birds are attracted to the fish used as bait and they get caught on the industrial hooks if they are not protected. A Wandering Albatross is decapitated every five minutes. The goal of the Albatross Task Force is to get every industrial trawler to use bird scaring lines, fish at night, and add weight to the long lines. These are inexpensive remedies meant to save 80% of the bycatch and protect the growing number of endangered sea birds.

Get a friend to join you! Have your children enter many of the bird contests. Join in on Bird counting days. Read about birds and nature. We need to protect the birds and their habitat so that they can help protect us.