Bird World 15 November 2021

In the first chapter of her book, Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder, Julia Zarankin talks about the rather spartan apartment she had as a graduate student. She talked about the compromises with her husband’s collection of 300 stone elephants only to realize what happened when she discovered birds. She said: “Within a year, the barometric pressure in my apartment shifted. Stuffed-animal squeaky hooded warblers learned to coexist with tigers; bird-shaped vases stood next to the elephant-shaped salt shaker; sculpted owls flirted with the faux-malachite elephant’s plastic tusks…more frightening: a pile of bird-themed stationary of every persuasion and a shelf dedicated to field guides…Not to mention the nondescript felt bird, the two paintings of birds, and the stained glass owl..” Later she adds the parrot notebooks, bird-themed t-shirts and all the bird magazine subscriptions. How many of us see ourselves in those same words?

I was, despite all of the warnings by Zarankin, delighted to see Emry Evans’s book, Monty, in the post along with some pins. The Dyfi online shop is now open. All of the nature centres will ship overseas. Roy Dennis’s Wildlife Fund has his three books and shipping internationally is calculated at check out. Lots of good things at all the on line shops for Osprey fans.

Emyr Evans writing is exceptional as are the images in Monty. Written with a deep, abiding love and respect for a bird – 50 stories from the pen of Emyr Evans.

It is a horribly grey day on the Canadian prairies. Will it snow or will it rain? Do birds get arthritis? Would they like a heated area to warm their little feet? Those are the silly thoughts that have gone through my head today.

Dyson decided it was best to just be off the snow altogether and sit in the tray feeder filling his cute little face.

Dyson doesn’t share. He is like Ervie, the Port Lincoln super star fledgling who grabbed the first fish of the morning from dad at 6:50:24. Oh, I love this image of Ervie in front of Dad grabbing that fish with his leg just like Mum does. Ervie watched and learned. Sorry, Bazza.

Falky just loves to fly and he was much more interested in checking out the area than the first fish. He flew in just a little too late.

Falky’s landings are actually really good. Ervie did a few spins yesterday and wound up landing on Bazza – Ervie needs landing training. That is great form that Falky has on this landing. Ah, the lads will all improve. This flying thing is just new. What fun it must be to whip around the bay!

Now Bazza – it is your turn!

Diamond brought prey in for Yurruga at 07:09. Yurruga was ready!

I thought Diamond would drop the prey and leave like Xavier but she had a different idea.

Diamond who incubated the two eggs during the night decided she was also going to feed her nestling.

Look carefully. Yurruga is changing. The white down is really coming off those wings and the head. She looks like a bird, not a fluffy column with a sort of bird head. Even, the fur boa is disappearing.

You can see the pin stripes on Yurruga’s chest and her head now looks like that of a falcon. Amazing. Equally impressive is the length of Yurruga’s tail. What a gorgeous Peregrine Falcon she is going to be.

Ah, and if you are watching the dates, Izzi fludged a year ago today. Izzi is the 2020 hatch of Diamond and Xavier and quite the character.

Oh, such delight. There is no news – at least not yet today – on Grinnell. I hope he is ready to be released shortly. And no news on WBSE 27 but there was a gorgeous Galah in the nest this morning poking about.

One of the Aussie chatters always said that if someone called you a ‘galah’ it meant that you were rather ‘slow, dim witted’. Ah, terrible. They are such incredibly beautiful pink and grey cockatoos. A few minutes of a cute bird that loves to have ‘tickle tickle’.

Bazza still has plenty of time to fly today but I don’t. Thank you for joining me — and if you loved Monty, you seriously need to get to the Dyfi store and get a signed copy of Emry’s book. I promise you will not be sorry but you will need a box of tissues. Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: the Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Sea Eagles @Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, and Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

Soap Opera at the Campanile and other nest news

The soap opera playing out with the Peregrine Falcons at tThe Campanile on the grounds of UC-Berkeley made the Los Angeles Times this morning:

Annie only knows Grinnell is not there and it appears she might be taking up with the interloper that caused Grinnell’s injuries. My goodness!

The birds are stirring at Port Lincoln this morning. Before 6am there was calling from the nest. There were only 3 birds but it was Mum calling Dad with the breakfast order. No. It was the chicks calling Dad wanting their fish! They are so big. Ready to begin flying.

Just look at those three birds. I sure hope they stay in the nest and pancake when they are to be ringed today but I am worried the sound of the motor boat is going to make them bolt off the nest early. I so want to be proven wrong, for the sake of the birds, and foolish for even thinking such a thing.

Janet Forster says they will come in a boat and dingy when the boat gets back from the Sea Lion Tour. Fingers crossed. We will not be able to see this live but I am hoping either pictures or a video will be shared later. The trio were fed six times yesterday. It should have been seven but dad lost a fish and he found it and decided he would eat the entire thing!

Is this to be the day that at least one of the 367 Collins Street Four fledges? They slept on the ledge last night. Will they fly off together?

Yurruga had a lot of prey items yesterday. She sported a nice crop and is doing really well with her self-feeding. What a lovely independent eyas. In one instance, Xavier came in with a Rosella. Even with a crop Yurruga seemed to want to have some of it – they must be very tasty. Someone told me they are the equivalent to the pigeons in the city – parrots everywhere – but I have no idea if that is true. In the end, watch and see what happens. Oh, and before I forget. Diamond’s limp is still there but it is improving every day.

There is an updating on WBSE 27 by Judy Harrington. This is what she posted: “SE27 is doing well, gaining strength and is feeding by itself. It has moved to a larger raptor cage to allow it to exercise and recover.
The treating vets have advised that SE27 will be in care for a few weeks while it recovers and will be released back into the wild as soon as it’s well enough. Healing takes time so please be patient. Updates will follow when possible. BTW, we hear fish and mice have been on the menu!
It is unlikely any photos will be issued while in captivity.
There are no reported sightings of SE28.” That is good news for this beautiful sea eaglet, WBSE 27.

It is really windy down in Ft Myers, Florida. M15 has been bringing his mate, Harriet, some nice treats in the last few days. The other day it was a Cattle Egret. She was delighted. The pair continue to work on their nest. Wonder when the first egg will appear?

Harriet being blown a bit by the wind. 6 November 2021

It is stormy over in Jacksonville, Florida. Still Samson and Gabby were both on the nest in the wind and rain preparing it for this season. Oh, goodness, this couple just warms my heart! (Yes, we all have our favourites. I admit it).

The weather out in Colorado is perfect and the Bald Eagle couple on the Fort St. Vrain Bald Eagle Nest are busy working, too. Last year they raised one chick. Wonder if they will make it two this year?

There is one eagle, at this very moment, working on the nest in the Kisatchie National Forest. I do not know if it is Anna or Louis. This is their second season together. So glad to see the couple returned. Last year was the first since 2013 that an eaglet had hatched and fledged in this nest. Nice to see the young family here. That is a great image on the two cameras and the sound is excellent this year. Cody and Steve have really been working on the set up. (Thank you!)

I am afraid that I could go on checking Bald Eagle nests and we would see the same image – one or both adults working on the nest. The eagles have really come back from nearly being wiped out. I hope there are enough big trees for them for nests!

It is going to be awhile til the PLO chicks are ringed and, believe it or not, it is 14 degrees C on the Canadian Prairies. Summer weather. Well, this is what our summers used to be like: 14-17 degrees C. Now you can double that. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and so far, Dyson is leaving Mr Blue Jay’s corn cob alone. It is a great day for a walk. See you later. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: X-Cel Energy, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac, SWFlorida Eagle Cam and the Pritchett Family, NEFlorida Eagle Cam and the AEF, the KNF Bald Eagle Nest, and Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.


I know that some of you have watched birds fall out of nests including Silo Chick at Patuxent River Park last summer. Remember that feeling when you saw that little osplet fall into the water, heard the splash, and saw the others looking down? Felt helpless? Of course. Thankfully that story ended well. I have no idea how many called but the osprey was located and literally tossed back into the nest. It was an enormous relief. Others are not so lucky.

I posted a new owl box streaming cam in Joburg, South Africa just the other day. An orphaned Spotted Eagle owl was put in the box with two other owlets. The mother accepted it! Fantastic. The adopted owl is 5 days older than the other two and it got curious about the outside world today and fell out of the nest box!

What no one knew, at the time, was that the owl landed on a huge platform under the box. If it doesn’t get back into the box on its own, it will be placed back inside the box. Relief.

Yarruga was starving this morning. There were two prey deliveries at the scrape box and there was not a scrap left of either meal.

Yarruga was so excited when the second meal appeared that she could not stand still to eat. She literally ran around the scrape box as in the images below.

Xavier was certainly glad when that feeding was over! There is not a drop left for either of the adults. Yarruga was soooooo hungry after having only 2 feedings yesterday. She does love her food! And she is certainly growing. Look how big she is next to Xavier!

In fact, Yarruga should have had a nice tasty little duckling yesterday but Diamond saw it and quickly took it from Zavier and flew out of the scrape! One has to imagine that this is quite the delicacy (as opposed to the dreaded Starling!). After her injury, I am actually glad that she got it.

Port Lincoln did a nice close up of the juvenile feathering of the three osplets this morning. Just look at the variations in the depth of the white juvenile feather banding. Little bob is in the middle.

As the dominant bird, Little Bob often gets the first bite. She is full and letting the other two have their turns as she looks out to the water in the image below. Of course, I am saying ‘she’ because of her thick legs. Wait til Monday when the banders declare she is a he. How funny! Whatever gender, that bird is gorgeous and I will continue to celebrate the times that she put Big Bob in his place.

There she is below.

Victor Hurley, the main researcher for the Peregrine Falcons in Victoria has been posting information on the 367 Collins Street FB Page. The last posting was on ‘Dispersal’ because, as we know, the falcons will be fledging shortly. I imagine that there are many things in this column that would be of interest to many of you. This is what he wrote:

First Flight Normally, this is not such a serious undertaking as that from an inner city high rise ledge. Normally pre-fledgling Peregrine Falcons will scramble around across their natal cliff for quite some time before taking their first flight. Mostly this is successful and they land high on another ledge or small perch. In a city location they will land on the roof top of another building nearby. If the winds are tricky then things can go south pretty quickly. Once they have mastered their first flight then they will spend increasing time “on the wing” and following and learning from the parents how to hunt. As soon as each youngster achieves their first kill the adults (parents) will stop providing any more food and that youngster is on their own to find food. Once all young are successfully hunting then depending upon the experience and ruthlessness of the adults they will all be chased with serious determination out of the territory altogether. In some cases this may occur in December or even early the nest year. Either way the young tend not to return again to the nest ledge that we have been observing. Maybe occasionally, but then only briefly.

Plumage differencesLeading up to this first flight the adults restrict the level of food resources they bring to the nest. This explains the weight loss of the nestlings. The wings of the nestlings are still growing but they are also losing weight. This makes them lighter with larger wings which provides for a “lower wing loading” which makes their first flight easier. Neat, huh! The other point I thought I would raise here is that of the plumage differences. Peregrine Falcons as with most raptors and many other bird species have a juvenile plumage phase and an adult plumage phase. The juveniles are in essence a brownish colour with vertical splotchy stripes over a “dark milk tea” fawn base colour on the front and dark brown wing, back and head. Whereas the adults have a near black hood for the head, slatey grey wings and back with a soft cream bib and base colour overlayed with fine dark grey-black horizontal stripes. The tail and main wing flight feathers are also longer in the juveniles and they moult shorter feathers with each year as they get older.

Natal dispersal This is the ultimate question. Where and how far do Peregrines disperse to find a place of their own in which to breed. Natal dispersal is the distance (and direction for those interested) in how far fledgling Peregrine Falcons ultimately move to find and establish (read take over for the most part) their own breeding site. Amongst Peregrine Falcons in Victoria, as with most bird species the world over, the females disperse further from their fledging site to breeding site then do males. Based on observing 127 breeding adults with leg bands (placed on them as nestlings) the females dispersed on average 64km (range 6-280km) and males average 25km (rang 1.6-90km). This differing dispersal distance minimises the likelihood of siblings interbreeding. The average age at first breeding is as follows: females 2.6 years (average) and for males 3.3 years (average). Another way of presenting this same data includes presenting the direction as well as the distance males and females disperse. No bias in dispersal direction was recorded.Victoria is a relatively flat area of the planet, its highest point above sea level is Mt Bogong (1,979m) and~80% of Victoria is <200m ASL. So for a predatory species like the Peregrine Falcon that doesn’t migrate annually due to milder winters and having the highest wing loading of any Peregrine sub-species globally, in a state (Victoria) with limited high altitude cliff faces with an abundance of low lying wetlands and associated birdlife and a very diverse range of parrot species what is a cliff nesting raptor to do? A look at all (256) of the Peregrine Falcon nests ever described in Victoria provides the answer to this question. The Peregrine Falcon in Victoria has overcome these obstacles by adopting a range of novel nesting situations (by nesting in stick nests of other birds, tree hollows and of course buildings (a growing trend globally). So this leads to another interesting question. Do those birds raised in one type of nest only adopt others of the same “nest type”? or will they readily disperse to a different type? That is to say, do they become behaviourally “imprinted” on the nest type they are raised on? Again thanks to the long term banding of nestlings and resighting of adults (with telescopes) by volunteers with the Victorian Peregrine Project the natal dispersal patterns of 127 Peregrine Falcons have been identified so far showing that 30.2% have adopted a different (novel) nest type from the one they were hatched and raised in. Between the sexes dispersal patterns are similar with 26% of females and 23% of males adopting different or “novel” nests in which to breed. Combined 30.2% of Peregrines undertake novel natal dispersals to find a place to breed. So the myth of nest type imprinting has been pretty thoroughly exploded with these bird banding results.Further to this, slightly counter-intuitively, novel dispersal events (dispersing from one nest ‘type’ to another) were less dispersive with no sex bias. That is those individuals who adopted a ‘novel’ nest type did so by dispersing a shorter distance on average than those undertaking a typical natal dispersal. Presumably they are doing this in order to exploit a familiar (geographically closer) food/prey resource by adopting a novel nest type in order to remain close by to that prey resource.So back in 1991 when Peregrine Falcons were first identified breeding at 367 Collins Street, Melbourne it was one of only two or three nest sites on built structures that were known. Since then over 20 new sites have been discovered and the number continues to grow. Nest site selection is driven by its proximity to food resources as well as the security (from predators and human disturbance) and how protected the nest is from rainfall and water runoff.Surviving the first two years…The third question (although not chronologically) is what is the survivorship of young Peregrine Falcons in their first two years prior to breeding. Generally, it is accepted that there is a ~a 66% die-off of Peregrine Falcons within their first year. Given the youngest breeding is at two years post hatching I have trawled the VPP database again to investigate causes of mortality of ~240 banded Peregrine Falcons in their first two years post banding. Most banding occurred at or around 24 days post hatching. When considering the various incidents there was no sex bias. That is neither sex is more prone to any cause of death compared to the other. Rock falls, cliff collapses or storms bringing down trees or stick nests have been a surprisingly regular threat to young of this species. The constant and ever present shooting of Peregrine Falcons continues to this day. The first ever band recovery of a Peregrine Falcon in Australia was in 1958 in Victoria. Disease of course is Trichomoniasis and predators varies from Red Foxes, Brown Falcons and even Peregrine Falcons in limited circumstances. Secondary poisoning has generally been a result of pigeon control campaigns.”

This information would, in general, apply to all falcon populations. And if you read all that – it is a ‘Double Whew’ for today. I have been reminded that Victoria Hurley is doing a Q & A tomorrow. I cannot find the link to it. If I do I will send it out later.

Thank you for joining me. Everyone has been fed at least once if not twice already. Diamond is looking much better. No news on WBSE 27 yet and nothing on Grinnell. Take care!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Osprey Project and Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

How do you say ‘cute’ in Falconese

One of the last feedings for the little eyas at the scrape box in Orange, Australia was around 18:19:00 yesterday.

This little one is eight days old. It has sure grown!

I took three video clips to cover the entire time Diamond was feeding the chick. Watching the movements and the interactions instead of seeing a still image can give you a more in-depth look at the size of the bites and the sheer cuteness of the moment.

The total number of fish delivered to the Port Lincoln Osprey nest was 7 yesterday. They were delivered at 7:11:22, 8:23:54,12:47:30, 13:52:18, 14:54:09, 16:37:00, and 18:08:37. This is a capture of Dad delivering the fish at 7:11 and Mum coming to the nest from the perch as well as a capture from the 14:54 feeding:

There appeared to be an adult on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida yesterday. The marks on the crown of the bird seem to be that of the male, Jack. Today, another adult showed up at the same nest at 11:16:09.

Jack appears to be alarming.

This is the image of the adult from yesterday (right) and an image of Jack bringing Tiny Tot Tumbles a fish on the left. It seems likely that the adult visiting the nest is Jack. There is a lot of prep work to be done before Diane returns.

The White Bellied Sea Eagles 27 and 28 entered hatch watch the other day! That date range for fledging is 75-80 days from hatch. WBSE 28 was 77 days old on 16 October (yesterday) when it branched! Watch closely to see what 28 uses to make the leap.

Fledging is getting closer for these two. No doubt they will have contests to see who can get higher up on the tree!

Today is starting off as a fantastic day in Bird World. While there are little ones to feed or fledge in Australia, staff at many of the nature centres in the UK are refurbishing Osprey nests. A new pole and platform has been installed at Lyn Brenig and today the work was completed on Pont Cresor, the nest of Aeron, Z2 and Blue 014.

Thank you for joining me today. It is beautiful and sunny. All of the garden animals are having their lunch and the world is simply right with itself. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my video clips and screen captures: the Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam at Orange and Cilla Kinross, and Achieva Credit Union Osprey Nest in St. Petersburg.