The WBSE are both in the 11th week after hatching. With the average of 75-80 days after hatch for fledgling, WBSE 27 and 28 are ready. Their feathers have developed, they have grown, and you can see them getting excited with all the wing flapping and catching air enabling them to rise above the nest.
What are they watching so intently from the nest? Is it a Pied Currawong?
Of course, the Pied Currawong are right there. The Pied Currawong is closely related to the Butcherbirds or the Magpies in Austrlia. They are a medium sized passerine. They have a large black beak with yellow eyes.
Here is a short video of the calls/songs the Pied Currawong make:
The Currawong become more of a menace around fledging time. Their attacks increase in number and they could injure the chicks, knock them off the branches, or chase them out of the forest before they can imprint the route back to the nest in their mind’s GPS system.
Lady was on the nest honking and flapping her wings at the Currawong so the eaglets could finish their lunch. At other times, the eaglets have to learn to defend themselves or hunker down really low in the nest. Because the WBSE are at the top of the ‘food chain’, they will always be followed and attacked by the smaller birds. What do the smaller birds want? They want the WBSE to pack up and leave!
Lady is honking really loud, warning the intruder to leave.
Lady was in the nest much earlier feeding both of her eaglets. Many of you have probably noticed that despite the fact that the nestlings are fully capable of self-feeding, she seems to enjoy feeding them.
The eaglets know to stay alert for intruders while flapping their wings and jumping to stretch their legs.
They honk at the Currawong just like the adults.
The Pied Currawong are very brave. Indeed, their attacks on the almost-fledglings is relentless. Ironically, I don’t believe the WBSE eat Currawong. Sometimes I think that they should rethink that!
Both of the nestlings have branched. They are standing on the parent branch looking around. Soon they will fledge.
It has been a wonderful season for Lady and Dad at their nest. Both of their eggs hatched and both of the nestlings thrived under their care. Both are healthy and fit and we hope that they both fledge successfully, returning to the nest or other areas so Lady and Dad can continue to feed them while they learn to fly better.
We wish them a long and successful life. It has been a remarkable year.
Lady and Dad are ‘honking’ their duet in June. It is a really special way to end another good day!
Thank you for joining me this evening. Take care everyone. See you soon.
Thank you to the Sea Eagle Cam @ Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre for their streaming cam where I took these screen and video captures.
At 8:56:34, Dad brought in a massive fish (despite having eaten his fair share) to the Port Lincoln Osprey Nest.
The image below shows the size of the fish a little better despite much of it hidden under mom. Imagine that the top part is up at her beak where she is feeding one of the chicks to get an idea. Little Bob is in the middle. You can see the white lace on his cere and the black circle on top of his head.
Dad returned at 9:11:33 to see if Mum was finished feeding the chicks. She wasn’t and she did not let him take the fish.
The trio lined up again. Big Bob, who had eaten first, is full and is moving away from the feeding line. She is letting the two younger siblings have their share.
Middle and Little are right in there. Their feathers are growing so quickly. Look along the edge of Little Bob’s wing. They are beginning to look like fringe.
Oh, goodness. Dad is rather anxious this morning. He returns a second time at 9: 28:20.
Mum is still feeding Middle and Little Bob. Oh, and look. Big Bob is waking up again. Is he ready for another round of fish?
You can see that there is still lots of fish left. The chicks have now been eating for 34 minutes and it looks like half the fish is left. Dad is really having a close look. Mum does not give the fish to him, again. She seems to have decided that he is not going to rush her today.
Ah, Big Bob is back up at the end of the line wanting some more. This is such a polite nest. Big Bob does not push his way to the front of the line, she waits.
By 9:29, Mum decides to move the fish around to the other side. Maybe she thought Dad was going to take it. She continues to feed the chicks and herself.
Despite the fact that the chicks have moved so that they can pass out in their respective food comas, Mum continues to feed Little Bob.
Little Bob is ‘stuffed’ and has turned away from any more bites of fish. Mom is doing a good job eating that nice fish near the tail. She needs to eat, too! Dad seems to have nodded off waiting! In the end, I do not think Dad even got a nibble of the tail. We have to remember that he did have a big chunk before he brought the fish to the nest.
The trio and Mum finished off that extra large fish in 47 minutes. Amazing.
Dad brings another fish to the nest at 13:29:38. Everyone is fed and it is not even the middle of the afternoon. This is a good example of how the feedings change. When the three were wee, they needed more feedings with less fish at each one. Now they will eat much more fish but, there will be less feedings. They are really, really growing. Little Bob is 24 days old today while Middle and Big are 26 days old.
Xavier watches from the ledge of the scrape box as Diamond feeds their wee babe. So far there appears to be no pip or crack on a second egg. It is unclear if there is even a pip.
It is the middle of the afternoon and Xavier is again resting on the ledge. He was seen limping and he is probably resting that leg. Instead of Starlings and Parrots, Xavier has been bringing in pigeon which is a much larger prey item. He might have strained his leg when he was hunting.
I also wonder if he can hear the second chick? or if he just wants to be there with Diamond in the scrape? or wants to brood the chick and incubate the eggs?
The waiting must be frustrating for these two. Big Bob (or Only Bob) is poking its head out from under Diamond to the right of the egg. Cute.
At the nest of the White-Bellied Sea Eagles in Sydney’s Olympic Park forest, a Pied Currawong will not leave WBSE 27 and 28 alone. It has been harassing them on and off all day. It is the Pied Currawongs who are intent on chasing the little sea eagle fledglings out of the forest. Normally, eagles fledge and return to the nest for the parents to feed them while they strengthen their flying skills. Many will return to the nest for feedings for up to a month. If they are rushed away, the ‘map’ or return to the nest might not be imprinted in their memory.
27 and 28 are smart. They can hunker down duckling style and watch but the Currawong cannot harm them. These birds can knock them off if they were standing on a branch or injure them if they were standing up.
These two will be branching so soon and then fledging. They can walk and stand and both are self-feeding. We are entering the 11th week. From hatch to fledge for the Australian White-Bellied Sea Eagles is 80-88 days. The median is 83.1.
Here is a video of WBSE 28 stealing the prey from 27. Fantastic!
At the 367 Collins Street Peregrine Falcon scrape, Mum has left the scrape box and is off for a break and to retrieve prey for the eyases. Look at how much room they take up today!
They look like a large white Persian cat if you squint.
Time for your mid-afternoon pigeon everyone!
Dad had it prepared and ready for Mum to bring and feed the youngsters.
The oldest two are getting more hawk like in their appearance.
Except for the Pied Currawong’s harassment, all of the nestlings are doing very well. It is, indeed, a pleasure to be able to watch them grow from hatch to fledge. How fortunate we are!
Thank you for joining me. Take care everyone. See you soon.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: the Port Lincoln Osprey Project, 365 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam at Orange and Cilla Kinross, and Sea Eagle Cam @ Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre.
In a 2014 article in The Smithsonian Magazine, Rachel Neuwer asks why there is a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo in a Renaissance image of the Virgin and child, Madonna della Vittoria. Rebecca Mead examines the image by Andrea Mantegna, painted in 1496. You can see the painting of the Madonna and child with saints in the article below (sorry, it has a copyright so I can’t show it). The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is above the Virgin’s part in her hair a little to the left.
Each writer considers how the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo made its way from AustralAsia all the way to Italy focusing on the initial discovery of the bird in the painting by Heather Dalton, a British historian living in Australia.
The Mantegna is not, however, the first time that a parrot is included in a picture. Parrots show up in the murals of Pompeii, the Italian city buried by ash when Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE. They are also the subject of floor mosaics in the region. Indeed, exotic birds (not just parrots) appear as subjects in many mosaics and frescoes in the Roman domus.
Alexander the Great’s army went as far as parts of India before stopping on their eastern expansion of his empire. Their presence on what is today the Indian subcontinent heavily influenced the art of the Gandharan region. In turn, Alexander acquired a parrot from the Punjab in 327 BCE. If parrots were in Italy 1700 years before the Mantegna, one might begin to ask what is all the fuss? The Barber Institute of Fine Art in Birmingham, England hosted an exhibition solely on parrots in art in 2007. They were exotic, they were status symbols, and it appears that they were present in the art of the Italian Peninsula for some 2400 years to today. Of course, they were not all Sulphur-headed Cockatoos and that could well be the reason for the continuing discussion about the Mantegna. Other species of parrots came from the southeastern coast of Africa and from the region of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos originate in Australia and the islands of Indonesia and it was surely the trade through the islands of Indonesia that spirited the bird all the way to the port of Venice along with black peppercorns and other spices.
Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos are extraordinarily beautiful and are the largest of the white parrots. I have never seen them in the wild. Indeed, it was not until I watched the White-Bellied Sea Eagle streaming cam in the Sydney Olympic Park that I heard them before I saw them. It sounded like someone being murdered in the forest! Seriously. One of the moderators answered the question, “What is that?” Later, these lovelies were seen climbing all over the old Ironbark Tree.
Sulphur-crested cockatoos are nut, root, and fruit eaters and live for up to eighty years. They make their nests in tree hollows where the female lays one to three eggs. Those eggs are incubated for thirty days. The little ones remain in the nest being fed by the parents for a period of approximately sixty-five days after hatch. The breeding season for these parrots is August to January in the Southern Hemisphere.
Why am I talking about these parrots today? It is because of the White-Bellied Sea Eagles (WBSE), Lady and Dad. The two eggs that Lady has been incubating will be hatching in approximately two weeks. There is a live streaming cam that is on day and night, 24/7 year round except for maintenance. If you like birds of Australia, you can often see them coming and going around the Sea Eagles nest. The birds are either curious as to what is going on in the nest or they would like the Sea Eagles to leave! The streaming cam in the Sydney Olympic Park is the only one in the world that observes the second largest eagles in Australia.
It is in the middle of the night. This is the WBSE nest in the Ironbark Tree in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park.
The Rainbow Lorikeets are curious. They come as a group climbing all over the branches of the tree. They are easy to spot!
Every once in awhile the Galahs come to the Ironbark Tree. I think they are adorable. One of the WBSE chatters from Australia said that if anyone visits Australia and someone calls them a ‘Galah’, it is an insult meaning the person is not very smart. I have no idea how the Galah got that reputation except that I have seen several in the talons of Peregrine falcons in Australia.
The Noisy Miners are definitely heard before they are seen. They are a constant in the forest around the WBSE Nest.
The Pied Currawong flits around the WBSE nest all the time. I do not like them! Once the nestlings have fledged the Currawongs gather and try to chase them out of the forest. They did this on the first try with WBSE 25 last year and during the re-fledging of WBSE 26.
Then there is the smallest owl in Australia, the BooBook. Isn’t it cute? This owl, like all others, flies silently and it can see very well in the dark. It comes in the night hitting the WBSE has they roost for the night. They fly low over the nestlings trying to hit them and make them leave. One attack injured Lady’s eye last year. Despite their size they are to be taken very seriously. The BooBook often has a nest in the forest the same time as the WBSE so it is very protective and wants the eagles gone for fear they will eat its young.
Here is a compilation video of Lady and Dad after the first egg was laid through the 23rd of June. It shows the actual labour of the second egg and a changing of the incubation shift from Lady to Dad.
Here is the link to watch the WBSE in the Sydney Olympic Park:
Be sure to check out the time difference. One of the most beautiful moments of the day is when the adults do a duet at sunrise. It is an amazing way to start the day. It wakes up the forest but it is also a continuous bonding method between the birds. The nestlings will join in with their parents when they are older. It will warm your heart. Here3 is a video clip I made after Lady laid the first egg. She leaves the nest and joins Dad on the branch for the singing.
Thank you for joining me today. It is now three days since Tiny Tot was at the nest. We are all having Tiny withdrawal. Take care everyone.
Thank you to the WBSE Streaming Cam, BirdLife Australia, and the Discovery Centre and Twitch TV where I took my screen shots and video clips.
I got caught off guard this afternoon with Legacy not returning to her nest. The very last official sighting of her at 10:30 pm EDT was at 9:53:51 when she flew from the natal tree.
Prior to that she had an early morning conversation with that fabulous mother of hers, Gabby.
Most of us believed that Legacy would be at the natal tree longer. After all, E17 and E18 hatched on 23 January 2021 before Legacy did on 8 February. Both E17 and E18 fledged but, continue to be seen at their natal tree – flying in and out and playing in the pond together. There was never a thought that she would – well, we just weren’t prepared to not see her again. Let us hope that everyone wakes up tomorrow morning and squeals because she is sitting in the middle of the natal nest eating a fish! That would be a perfect start to the day.
There was a ‘possible’ sighting of Legacy doing a fly by caught on the tree camera but it cannot be confirmed. The time was 8:41:16.
At 11:09:45 Samson brings a fish lunch to the nest for Legacy. You can see him flying in from a distance. Others thought they heard the parents calling Legacy a few hours earlier.
To be clear, the eagle parents do not physically take their young out and give them instructions on how to hunt and fish – like Big Red and Arthur, the Red-tail Hawks at Cornell, do with their fledglings. But the juvenile eagles ‘watch’ their parents unless they are completely out of the territory. Fledglings often find other groups of juveniles and search for carrion going up and down the coast and pond, like a scavenger. They have to learn how to use their talons and beaks and all of that takes time. That said, while they are honing their skills, the parents will supplement the prey of their fledglings – if they are in the territory, if they come to where they deliver the prey, etc. Clearly Samson is trying to get Legacy to the nest to give her food if she needs it.
If any of you watched the White-Bellied Sea Eagles (WBSE), they also used food to try and lure WBSE 26 back to the nest. She had fledged but because of her injured leg (early after hatch), she had a difficult time. She often got herself into some ‘pickles’ landing on weak branches or being harassed by smaller birds. When 26 did return to the nest, the parents provided food for her until she was chased from the territory by the Pied Currawongs and wound up on the balcony of a 22nd floor condo the following day after a storm.
The images below were captured between 5pm and 7pm on 28 April. They are of Harriet and M15’s magnificent twins, E17 and E18 who are always together.
They were up in the branches of the tree around 9:30 am on the 28th of April surveying the landscape.
And here they are being fed only thirteen days old. Their dark thermal down is just starting to grow.
Time passes so quickly! And our friends in Bird World grow up, fledge, leave the nest, and we hope live happy lives with lots of of prey and successful clutches. The sad reality is that only about 1 in 3 are alive at the end of their second year and, if they are not banded, we will never know how their destiny unfolded.
I want to spend a little more time with E17 and E18 before they leave the parental territory for good – and I will continue to check in just in case Legacy returns for one last glimpse of that amazing eagle.
The trio at the Pittsburgh Hays Bald Eagle nest are growing by leaps and bounds. They are already fond of looking over the edge of their nest at that big world beyond.
Talk about growing fast – those two on the Osprey nest on Skidaway Island seem to change daily. The aggression of the eldest seems to have slowed (or maybe I have just tuned in at a different time). Here they are having their supper. Look at the plumage. My goodness. They were just fuzzy little ones a couple of days ago.
Big Red, the Red Tail Hawk on the Cornell Campus nest, is restless. She is up and down continually looking at her eggs. Is there a pip? Maybe when the cam operator comes back on in the morning there will be a close up of those three eggs and we can see if anything is happening. Oh, my! It is eggciting.
Big Red woke up to rain on the morning of the 29th. It is a soggy day for hatch if it comes!
Big Red has an amazing mate in Arthur. Arthur has helped rebuild their nest after the Js, he has incubated the eggs, delivered take away, and will be ready to take on stealth hunting so their eyasses grow strong. I wish I could say the same for Louis at the Hellgate Osprey nest in Missoula, Montana.
Louis arrived, as usual, empty handed for a lunch time ‘quickie’. Indeed, he brought in a fish for Iris two days ago. It felt wonderful. Louis has been rather attentive since a banded Osprey landed on Iris’s nest yesterday. He has been coming around more, mating more.
Iris’s nest is in Louis’s territory along with his nest with Starr. Would this banded bird try to displace Louis? It is an interesting thought. So far Iris has laid no eggs. Oh, it could be a blessing.
The saga of ‘Louis and How the Nest Turns’ continues.
Louis arrived at 12:26:12. He flew off at 12:27:22.
Checking in at the UC Berkeley Peregrine Falcon nest, Annie and the trio are fast asleep. There was a very minor earthquake in the San Francisco area this morning and Annie woke up from her nap the minute she noticed. This evening, as you can see, everything is fine. Eyasses are growing leaps and bounds!
The Decorah North Bald Eagles are the pride of Iowa. Their nest is in an idyllic setting. There should be lots of prey and not a lot of glass for these little ones to strike when they fledge. Peaceful.
Spring is just arriving and the animals are waking up from hibernation. This means that there is a lot of prey for these growing youngsters of Mr North and Mrs DNF (Decorah North Female) welcomed their first hatch, DN13, on 25 March. DN 14 hatched on 27 March.
Sometimes silly ‘crop’ poses are just too hard to resist!
The eaglets are just over a month old. This great close up, below, shows how their plumage is changing.
It is a frosty morning in Estonia. Eve looks tired and the sun is just rising. This is the oldest known breeding area for the White-tailed Eagle in Estonia. It is in the Matsalu National Park. In this nest alone, from 1996 to 2020, 29 eaglets have fledged. Isn’t that amazing?
I worry when I don’t see food on a nest especially if the little one is more than a day old and is hungry. I worry when the weather is frosty like it is here in the early morning. Will the sun warm up the earth and send the critters out from their burrows so that Eerik can catch them for Eve and the baby?
It is not long til Eerik arrives on the nest. I am hoping that he will be giving Eve a break but it sure would have been nice if he had come in with prey. Eerik is also acting like there is an intruder around. Fingers crossed.
It is time for me to call it a night. In a few hours the sun will be rising on the UK’s raptor nests. It is time to check in on them. Tomorrow also could be a big news day. There could be a hatch at the Red tail Hawk nest in Ithaca and all eyes are on Big Sur and the egg of Redwood Queen and Phoenix. The condors are critically endangered and every healthy birth and fledge is something to really celebrate.
I am also happy to report that I do not go to bed worrying whether Tiny Tot will have some flakes of fish to eat or will be starving. Tiny Tot is really growing and the mood on the Achieva Osprey nest is quite positive. It seems that Tiny Tot got some fish from every delivery on the 29th. He had quite the crop.
Tiny Tot is still eating at 8:26. Oh, that little one sure loves its fish. And the great feedings of the last several days are really showing in terms of feather and muscle development. Even though sibling 1 fledged today, it will be awhile for Tiny Tot. His tail needs to get longer as do his wing feathers. He is beginning to raise and flap them. Lookin’ good little one. Oh, the worry you gave to all of us. Must have aged us ten years!
Thank you for checking in on Bird World. There is always something going on. Let us hope that it all stays positive.
Thank you to the following for the streaming cams. It is from those cameras that I grab my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Lab, Eagle Club of Estonia, Cornell Lab and Skidaway Audubon, Pittsburg Hays Eagle Cam, UC Falcon Cam, Raptor Resource Project and Explore.org, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, and Cornell Lab and Montana Osprey Project.
Daisy had no more than returned from her dabbling at 16:18:07 and settled in for a wee bit of a rest when the ravens sounded an alarm at 17:55:58. Daisy stretched her neck to listen.
In the image below, Daisy is alerted by the sound of the ravens approaching. Remember that the ravens often follow the White-Bellied sea eagles into the forest.
Daisy stretches her neck. The distance from the river roost of the sea eagles is only about 1.2 kilometres to the nest in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park.
The sea eagles fly really fast and there is no time for Daisy to cover up her nest. She hurries off to the left of the nest tree tree. Daisy is just a blur in the image below.
You may remember that it has been raining and that the sea eagles have come to the nest sometimes tearing off the down. Lady made a mess the other day and Daisy took her time and moved all of the eiderdown back onto her nest. But this evening she did not have time to cover the eggs and it is cool in the forest, only around 21.8 degrees C.
You might also remember that wet down. Look how fluffy it is now. The temperature from Daisy’s body and the wind as well as the rain stopping have fluffed up the down again so it now has its insulating values back. This is so good!
The sea eagles are still mystified about the little nest holding seven eggs right in the centre of their big nest. Dad arrives and looks. He can see the eggs instantly but no Daisy! He stands and stares at them. What are these eggs doing in my nest? I sometimes giggle because it reminds me of a story that I my mother and grandmother read to me when I was little and, in turn, I read it to my children: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Do you know that children’s story?
WBSE Dad moves cautiously towards the eggs.
Dad leans down to take a closer look. The only eggs that he has ever know are those of his eaglets that Lady lays. But these are not Lady’s eggs! but they are in my nest!
Again, ever so slowly he moves towards Daisy’s nest just staring into that beautiful nest cup.
And then he sticks his beak in! Oh, no. Is he going to try and roll out an egg to eat it like he did before?
In the same amount of time that Dad took to closely inspect those big white eggs, he raises his head and looks off the nest. Does he know that the owner of the eggs is watching him? does Dad think they are a threat? does Dad associate Daisy with these eggs, a little innocent Pacific Black Duck?
And then he looks down again. Each time Dad looks into the nest cup he rolls the eggs for Daisy! Thank you, Dad sea eagle.
The Dad raises his head and looks off in the other direction. You will remember that Daisy flew around the nest quacking the last time both sea eagles visited the nest. She was very frightened but also, as much as she was scared, she knew she needed to get back to her single focus, incubating her eggs.
The behaviour of the sea eagles towards the little duck’s nest is of great interest to anyone wanting to learn about bird behaviour. No one that I know of has had a close look at the interaction between the largest birds in Australia and a tiny little duck that doesn’t belong in the forest.
Dad simply is stumped. He stands for the longest time staring at the eggs. Then he rolls them one more time and turns around and gets back on a branch of the nest tree.
Dad stands on what is called the parent branch looking around. When Dad and Lady raise their little eaglets in this nest, this is the branch that they roost on to protect the little ones. It is also the first branch that the eaglets attempt to walk and fly to as they get ready for their fledge.
Is Dad looking for Daisy? is he looking for a bigger bird? He flies off the parent branch and back towards his roost on the Parramatta River at 18:06. His visit lasted four minutes. Doesn’t seem like he is too concerned, does it?
Daisy might have taken the opportunity to go and forage some more. She does not return to her eggs until 19:27, an hour and nineteen minutes after Dad has flown out of the forest.
Still she is ever so cautious. In fact, Dad could be lurking off camera hoping to catch her. She stops and looks this way and that.
The rain started between the time Dad left and Daisy returned. Her beautiful fluffy down is all wet again! Let’s hope that her eggs did not cool down too quickly. That would be just so sad for our brave little duck.
And then she stops and listens. Dad was on the nest remember for four minutes and Daisy takes four minutes to make certain that he is no longer a threat.
Daisy slowly lowers herself onto her wet nest to warm her eggs. Remember that eggs need to be held at 37.5 degrees to hatch.
The sun has set and the light on the soggy nest has changed. Daisy knows that the sea eagles will not be back again tonight. Except for BooBook Owl, Daisy can rest. And we know Boo is just curious about Daisy. He is not going to hurt her.
Indeed, I often wonder what the other animals in the forest are thinking when they see the sea eagles coming and going and Daisy returning to her eggs time after time. Daisy is afraid of them but not enough to keep her from brooding. Her hormones and instincts and her entire self are tied to the hatching of the eggs now. She is ‘hard wired’ for incubation.
Thank goodness. Daisy had a very quiet night. It is now just before dawn. Because the sea eagles could have spent the night at the river roost, Daisy is being very careful to listen for the vocalizations of the other birds. She can tell which ones mean the eagles are coming. Daisy has learned much about the forest.
It’s after 7:30 and the sea eagles have not shown up today. It is rainy. The area around where Daisy has her egg cup is soaked with water.
Daisy has a visitor. Can you see the little grey and white bird with the black mask and yellow beak peeking down to see Daisy? Look carefully in the top right corner. They are grey with a black head, an orange or yellow beak and yellow feet. There are white tips on the tail feathers.
It is a Noisy Miner. These birds are loud and create all kinds of havoc in the forest. They like to chase other birds away. They eat insects but are also opportunist especially in cities. They are called ‘honeyeaters’.
The Noisy Miner is a nuisance to Daisy because it can be so loud but it is not such a threat that I am aware of, certainly not like the Ravens and the Currawongs. I am not even sure the sea eagles are a threat anymore. It is really that they keep Daisy off the nest and away from her incubating duties and her eggs are exposed and could get too cool to hatch.
The golden glow of the morning is moving across the nest.
It is going to be a cool day for Daisy and her eggs. The morning temperature is 19.4 degrees C. It is not supposed to get higher than 20 C with rain again for today. It sure is a change from when it was 40 degrees C a few days ago. Then we were worried about the eggs getting too hot. Today we worry about exposure and cold.
Everyone send Daisy your positive energy. Our brave little duck sitting on the big sea eagle nest needs all of it. Daisy is grateful to all her friends who check in to see how she is doing. From around the world – from Canada and the United States, Mexico, Brazil to Australia, Singapore, Australia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Poland, Denmark, Germany, and France – each of you has joined to wish Daisy good luck. Thank you!
An update on Daisy’s Day in about nine hours. Please check back.
Thank you also to the Sea Eagle cam, BirdLife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the camera that provides the feed for me to take my scaps.
Daisy has been on the nest quietly but alertly brooding her eggs. She took a very early morning break from 4:13:44 to 5:16:34. Possibly a bathroom break for a duck or a chance to grab a quick breakfast and cool off in the water before one of the hottest days on the nest. It is 14:06:40 and our cute little duck is panting quickly in order to regulate her temperature despite the fact that there is now shade on the nest.
Someone asked me about the ducklings. Is it safe for them to hatch and jump from a nest in a tree 75 feet high? Yes, it is perfectly safe. The ducklings are not harmed because the down on their body absorbs the impact. In fact, I am told that they actually bounce. It is hard to imagine! Last year a pair of Canada Geese laid their eggs in an Osprey nest in Minnesota. The goslings were recorded leaping down to the ground to everyone’s amazement. Some geese are known to build their nests on cliffs 150 feet high to be away from predators. No harm has come to the goslings when they have left from those nests.
Here is a video of a Wood Duck whose nest was in a very high tree. It is only 1.33 minutes long. Have a look. This is what Daisy’s ducklings will do. She will leap down to the forest floor and they will jump! Enjoy.
Of course, there are many fears for Daisy. Remember, she is effectively a single mother in an environment that is unusual. Her ducklings will hatch and immediately start peeping. This will draw attention to the nest. It is only twenty-four hours after hatch that they take their ‘leap of faith’ jumping off of the big nest on the Ironbark Tree. But first, before they can do that, they have to survive any predators and somehow make their way through all those twigs to the rim without getting their little paddles caught up in them. And then there are the predators on the ground. I have often wondered why WBSE Dad has not damaged any more eggs. Is he just dropping by to check, waiting for them to hatch? Him and Lady are well known for bringing in the Silver Gull chicks to the nest for their eaglets. And then there is Mr. Raven and all the Pied Currawongs and last, but never least, the foxes. I am told that they have been removed from the park. I hope so. That would be one less thing for Daisy to worry about. But for now, we will just simply rejoice in every hassle free day that Daisy has. We are now half way in the incubation period to hatch watch: February 6-10.
It is now late afternoon in the forest. The sun is back shining on Daisy’s head and the nest cup. It is so hot that there are no sounds of any birds. Everyone is trying to keep cool.
Daisy begins to tuck the down in around her nest along with pulling leaves closer to her nest. Then she sees a shadow of a bird cross the nest and she stops! She waits and listens. Five minutes later she resumes her preparations for concealing her nest and heading to the water to eat and cool off. She flies off the nest to the left, to the closest water source, at 15:11:10.
It was so hot yesterday and it is even hotter today. If Daisy follows her pattern of late, she will return to the nest between 19:45:00 and 20:00. And if the Sea Eagles are being typical, if they are coming in to check it will be around 17:00 and Daisy will be gone!
It is noon on Daisy’s nest in the Sydney Olympic Park forest. She has started to pant as the sun shines directly on her. Like other birds, panting is a way for Daisy to regulate her temperature; she does not sweat like humans. It is, as summer days go, hot. The weather at Homebush Bay indicates that it is 34.1 degrees C. I wonder if it is actually hotter on the nest?? It is normally understood that heat rises. And, as you can see from the image below, Daisy is in direct sunlight right now. Some parts of Australia are bracing themselves for very hot weather in a few days, up to 39 degrees C.
Many have thought that Daisy would need to take more breaks during the day as the heat builds. However, since it is 12:30 and she remains, I am thinking that she will follow her regular pattern of going off in the afternoon to forage. She has now gathered up more down to cover up the eggs from predators.
At 13:18 Daisy begins to take the down of the nest cup and fold it over inwards. Sometimes she just does this and then will turn and do her cute tail wiggle. Occasionally, she does this when she is rolling her eggs but, most often, it is a sign that she is thinking about leaving to eat. Remember, Daisy does, if all things go serenely, have a pattern of leaving the nest between 1300 and 1400 to forage. Yesterday it was 14:02. And yesterday, she returned at 16:49 but noticed both WBSE on the camera tree and aborted her landing on the nest. So, on average, if voluntarily, it appears that she takes about a two and a half to a three hour break.
In the images below, Daisy begins to tuck the down in around the egg cup. Once the down is folded onto the top of the eggs, she then goes about placing leaves and plant material, and small twigs to further disguise the location. It took her eight minutes to get everything right so that she can leave. She departed at 13:26.
All birds have predators and Daisy is particularly vulnerable as she is an outsider to the forest. Her presence and her seven eggs have caught the attention of some, like the Raven and Pied Currawong, that would eat her eggs. Like Daisy’s plumage that serves as camouflage, the manner in which she has concealed her nest is meant to distract any potential threats. She has used the leaves and plant material on top. They blend in perfectly, there is absolutely nothing that would call attention. Daisy is also very discreet and alert in her comings and goings from the nest. Every move is slow and calculated unless she is frightened off by the approaching sea eagles or if she notices their arrival in another tree. Then she leaves quickly!
This is day 11 of Daisy’s brooding or incubation. Even though the eggs were laid on different days, Daisy did not start hard incubation until the last egg was in the nest. Imagine that one minute there are eggs, and within a few minutes the nest will be brimming full of peeping and clacking ducklings. This is precisely what will happen. This is known as synchronized hatching. The number of incubation days to hatching varies but is normally 28-30.
Daisy’s little ducklings – should the nest survive and they make it through the forest to the water – will be covered with fuzzy yellow down. They will have a characteristic dark chocolate brown-black line running from their bill through their eye. There are some white patches on their wings. They will be ever so cute!
Daisy’s ducklings are precocial at hatch. This means that they do not need Daisy to feed them. Daisy’s role will be to lead them to the water where they can forage themselves. Daisy will also help them to learn about predators and she will keep them warm in the evening. In a couple of months their new plumage will be that of an adult Black Pacific Duck, like Daisy.
They are known as ‘dabbling or puddle ducks’. They feed by tipping rather than diving to the bottom of the shallow water. They often forage at the edge of the river and lake like they are doing in the images below. They do not, however, hunt for food on land.
It is due to be another hot day in the forest tomorrow. The prediction is that it will be 37 degrees Celsius. This might turn out quite well for Daisy as the White Bellied Sea Eagles could be at Goat Island enjoying the cooler weather near the water. It is 16:42 and Daisy has not returned to her nest. She will be enjoying the cool waters of the canal and the river and, since it is so hot, might decide til near dusk when it is safe for her to return to her nest. The sea eagles are normally roosting then.
An uneventful day is a good day for Daisy the Duck.
Thanks for dropping by to check on the little duck who is occupying the large sea eagle’s nest in Sydney Olympic Park forest. Stay safe everyone. See you tomorrow!
I am grateful for the Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery centre for the cameras they support. This is where I get my scaps.
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.
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.
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!
There are Ravens and Currawong that would destroy her nest and eat her eggs quickly.
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.
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
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!
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.
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?
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.
Thank you to Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Centre for providing the camera for my scaps.
I was reminded yesterday that Daisy the Black Pacific Duck is not normally an inhabitant of the forest. She lives down by the water and would, at most other times, make her nest on the ground. She would shape grasses and other plant material into the egg cup or bowl. It is only once she has started hard incubation, that Daisy, like other ducks, will pluck the down from her breast and line the nest. She will continue to add plant material and down to the nest as needed, often replacing what others pull out and destroy.
This year, Daisy didn’t make her nest on the ground. Instead, her and her mate selected a very old nest in an Ironbark Tree in mid-December. That nest belongs to the White Bellied Sea Eagles whose territory is around the Parramatta River and the Sydney Olympic Park forest.
Daisy would have had many intruders if her nest were on the ground. But she would have been familiar with them and they with her. Because she is brooding her eggs in the forest, she is a curiosity. The birds and animals that live there do not know about ducks. They do know that it is the sea eagles that raise their young in this particular nest. Of the curious, one of the first was the the Pied Currawong who, unable to eat the exposed duck egg, threw a little mini-tantrum pulling out much down from the rim of the nest and tossing it over the rim of the sea eagle nest. Others who have come to the nest to check out Daisy have been the BooBook Owl, possums, Ravens, and Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos.
Today, the Rainbow Lorikeets returned. They are the most colourful parrots in the forest! They are ever so curious about the duck in the sea eagle nest! Oh, not just six or seven, but dozens of them! And Daisy was not sure she liked them getting close to her and her precious eggs. Rainbow Lorikeets are a medium sized parrot that are plentiful along the east coast and southern part of Australia. Unlike Daisy who has a bill, they have a beak. They are nectar feeders and are no threat to Daisy. But she doesn’t know that! And like any mother, she will protect her nest and her young as best she can.
At first, it was only three (one out of the picture frame). They were a little cheeky and one of them, totally curious as to why a bird they had never seen should be in the eagles nest, crept over close to Daisy. Daisy turned around in her nest and away from the pleasant morning she had been having and ruffled her feathers and readied to defend herself against birds that she had never seen also. She did not know if they were looking for insects in the nest or if they would harm her.
One of the rangers that researches the nest of the WBSE said that the Rainbow Lorikeet were there to give Daisy the Duck a lecture about not making a nest in a nest owned by sea eagles. But, alas, it is too late if that is what they are doing. Daisy is now on day 7 of incubation duties. She is devoted to her duties!
After all of the commotion – and it really was a boisterous affair – with the Rainbow Lorikeets everywhere, Daisy settled into a little bit of nest renovation. Remember the Curra and Dad the Sea Eagle had moved down off of the nest. Look at how far Daisy can stretch her neck. I had no idea looking at her that her neck could get so long. She also used her bill to help gather up some down and plant material that had scattered.
A bill of a beak? Ducks have bills. They are very lightweight. The exterior coating over the interior spongy bone is made out of the same material as our fingernails, keratin. And just like our fingernails, the keratin covering is always growing, healing over dents and scratches, but also maintaining its shape after much use. Ducks do not have to go to a nail salon for a trim!
After nest renovations, Daisy takes some time to do some preening. Daisy’s feathers are very important to her. She is a ‘diving duck’. That means that she submerges under the water to find food. For ducks like Daisy, it is essential that their feathers be in prime condition. Many types of birds spend up to seventy percent of their time preening, conditioning their feathers. Daisy’s beautiful feathers have grown very tightly. The feathers are stiff and are quite strong compared to the down. In fact, people used to use the feathers as quills to use with ink for writing. Daisy’s feathers grow close together and overlap one another. Look closely and you can see this. They make many layers that are weather resistant and protect our duck.
It is nearly 11am in the world of Daisy. Dad the Sea Eagle did not show up at dawn to try and catch the intruder using his nest. Daisy has decided to try and rest a bit. She is still very alert.
Will Daisy take time in the heat of the Australian summer to go and forage? Will she voluntarily leave covering her nest? Will Dad come at dusk? We wait.
Daisy returned to her nest at 17:50 after spending most of the day away. If you are following the sage of this little Pacific Black Duck, you will know that yesterday, ‘Dad’ the White Bellied Sea Eagle owner of the nest arrived at dawn and stayed for some six hours before departing. During that time he did mess up a little of the down but, for the majority of the time, he stood sentry duty. Dad would, of course, really like to catch the bird that has violated his territory! Because Daisy had to leave so quickly, she was unable to cover her nest. A couple of hours after Dad departed, a Pied Currawong arrived at the nest and tried to eat an egg. Unable to do so, that bird threw a bit of a fit tearing the down from around Daisy’s carefully created nest and throwing it over the rim of the sea eagle nest. It was warm in Sydney yesterday and the sun shone on the nest for extended periods. Someone also told me that because of the way the sea eagle nests are constructed they hold the heat much better than ordinary nests. Let us hope so and also that the sun’s heat did not do any damage. Daisy is brooding seven eggs. They should be ready to hatch in about three weeks.
After all of the hassles yesterday, it was nice when Dad Sea Eagle did not show up at dawn! As a result, despite the wild gusts of wind exceeding 26 km an hour on the nest, Daisy was able to relax and nap.
Daisy has had a quiet day on the nest so far. It is day six of her brooding. She has lost approximately half her weight laying her eggs and I understand that she has pulled half her down out to line the nest. Raising little ones takes its toll on mothers. Some bulk themselves up before laying their eggs. Again, I was told recently that the birds use up a lot of their calcium stores for the egg shells.
This reminds me about bird seed at your feeders for winter. You should be feeding the birds the black oil sunflower seeds. It helps give them fat to burn during the winter. It wouldn’t hurt to get a bird seed with added calcium and put it in your feeders several months prior to breeding in your area. This will help the female build up her calcium stores and help with the thickness of the eggs. That protects them from being broken easily. Some people crush the shells of the eggs they have eaten. But know that if you want to do that you need to wash the shells thoroughly to get rid of any bacteria from the chickens who laid them. Then you place them in a shallow pan and bake them at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes. You could save up a bunch and bake them the next time you used your oven.
Daisy started moving plant material and leaves toward her nest around 1pm. She left the nest at 13:22 to go and forage near the Parramatta River that runs through Hornbush Bay, Australia. It is unclear whether or not she will return in a couple of hours or if she will wait as dusk begins to arrive. The last time she left volunatarily to forage at mid-afternoon, she returned and twenty minutes later, Dad Sea Eagle showed up and she has to fly away and wait until dusk to return.
One thing that is worrisome is that there are ravens about today. They love eggs and are very smart. Daisy did a good job of covering her nest today. Hopefully they will not find it!
I also want to thank the individual who wrote to tell me about a nest in Poland. A Mallard laid its eggs in an eagle nest. They successfully hatched! Isn’t that wonderful? I wonder if it was an unoccupied nest? The individual told me that the Mallard did not have any of the hassles that our Daisy is having trying to brood her eggs. The story from Poland gave me hope!
QUICK UPDATE: Daisy returned to her nest at 15:51 without incident. She was cautious, listening for anyone who might be around or who might have followed her. A very wise woman said today that all of the creatures in the forest would be curious about Daisy because she normally doesn’t live there. She lives on the water. Of course. Let’s just hope that curiosity is all that is going on!