The Rainbow Lorikeets came to check on Miss Daisy Duck almost every day that she was incubating her eggs in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park. Yesterday was no exception. The beautiful coloured parrots showed up in droves yesterday wondering where Daisy had gone. You could almost hear them saying , ‘Where is Daisy?’ to one another.
Despite the fact that Daisy isn’t there incubating her eggs anymore, it really does put a smile on your face to see these beautiful parrots coming early in the morning to check on their friend. Daisy had not even been away from the nest for twelve hours when they arrived. I wonder if they will come and check again? They were chattering so much to one another. Maybe they thought that Daisy had covered her nest and gone out dabbling? It is possible. Will keep everyone posted if they return.
For the Rainbow Lorikeets it must have been a shock to see the gentle duck on the nest of the big sea eagles. These parrots, too, would be at the mercy of some of the bigger birds such as the Ravens and no doubt the Ravens have raided their nests as well. Thinking about the Ravens got me to wondering about the White-Bellied Sea Eagles. The behaviour of the Ravens was the same as normal, what you would expect from a Raven. They wanted Daisy out of there so they could eat her eggs! No doubt about it. They came several times when she was incubating and knew that there were eggs. They just waited when she was no longer on the nest.
But it makes me wonder. The WBSE were perplexed and curious. At first, they were upset about ‘something’ trespassing on their nest and their territory. Lady tore more duck down off the nest than Dad who has mellowed over the years. He is now 19 and I believe that Lady is about 6 or 7 years old. I expected the sea eagles to eat all of the duck eggs but they could not manage them with their bills in the same way the Ravens could with their sharp pointed beaks. But the sea eagles kept coming to check. Were they trying to catch Daisy? what were they thinking? and why were they not very aggressive? And then it occurred to me last night and you know what? I was glad that the Ravens got the eggs before the sea eagles came and killed the ducklings when they were born. If all of the eggs had hatched and we certainly know that the one was fertilized with a growing duckling inside, then imagine the peeps and peeps in the forest and Daisy trying to keep the ducklings quiet til they were 24 hours old, old enough to take that leap of faith to the forest floor and follow their mom to water. The sea eagles and the Ravens and other predators would hear those same peeps.
In a way, the Rainbow Lorikeets and Daisy, the Pacific Black Duck, had a lot in common. Kindred spirits I would like to think of them. They both enjoy eating plants, pollen, the nectar from flowers. Like the ducks, the Rainbow Loris do not hunt prey like the sea eagles and the ravens. In fact, Rainbow Lorikeets are known to be terribly territorial and are parrots that do not like other birds. I am sure that they were very curious by the gentle duck in the big sea eagle nest. Indeed, both would be a meal for the sea eagles if the eagles decided that was what they wanted. And both of their hatchlings would also warrant attention by birds of prey. I wonder if that was what drew the lorikeets back to the nest, a kind of kinship?
Daisy understood which of the birds coming to the nest were friendly and which were predators. She seems to always have welcomed the Rainbow Lorikeets!
Thank you to Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the streaming cameras where I captured these images.
No sooner than I had posted my last update on Daisy, than the little duck got busy covering her eggs and going to forage. The time was 14:41:26. It is in the normal range of when she leaves the nest. Sometimes she has not returned until dusk because she knows she will avoid the sea eagles. Now that she is getting nearer to hatch, will she stay away that long?
As she leaves she finds some down that she has missed when restoring her nest. She loosens it from the twigs and pulls it down to the floor of the nest.
This time Daisy has tucked the down and added some leaves at the side. She tried to fold the top onto itself but not getting it tight like she did during the early stages of her incubation. Let us hope that the gusts of wind do not pull the down apart leaving the eggs open to eating or destruction by the Ravens or the Currawongs.
You can compare the next image below to the one right above. Look at the fluffy light down. Looks like it has twinkly stars embedded in it.
Well the rain became heavier and made its way through the canopy of leaves.
There isn’t much difference in the image above and the one below except for the down covering Daisy’s nest. It has begun to rain just a little harder with more of the drops making their way through to the nest. Daisy’s nest looks so wet and so sad without her in it. It is 17:50. Wonder how much longer she will stay away? It is 20.3 degrees and rain is forecast through Sunday.
Daisy returned to her nest at 19:03, an hour before sunset. She was a very wet duck! The nest was soaked and the down was a solid wet glob.
Daisy settled in at the task in hand. Daisy was away from the nest for five hours. The sea eagles did not return at dusk. Whew! But, two hours later, once it is dark, BooBook Owl comes to call and scares Daisy by flying from branch to branch.
Daisy flattens herself over her eggs increasing the size of her body and extends her neck. She is in protective mode. Boo bothers her for about a minute and a half and Daisy goes back to incubating her eggs.
It is now 7:34 in the Sydney Olympic Park. The heat from Daisy’s body and the wind have dried out the down. The sea eagles did not arrive. They have been spotted at Goat Island. That does not mean that they will not return. It just meant that Daisy didn’t have to scurry from the nest before dawn. A good way to start the day, nice and relaxed.
It may look boring but a boring, quiet day without any visitors to Daisy is a good day! Let us all hope that it stays that way for her.
Yesterday, some of you noticed that Lady didn’t like the down. It looked like is was sticky. Now we know that sea eagles do eat birds so, Lady would be very familiar with feathers. But she might not know about eiderdown. This is what I was told from someone very familiar with ducks and geese, “Cling is an attribute of eiderdown and very mature goose down, also known as”sticky down”. “Cling” is found when tiny hooks develop on the individual filaments of a down cluster”. I immediately thought of Cling film that we pull over bowls and things to keep food fresh. It sticks to itself and to the bowl. Well, that is precisely what Daisy’s down did to Lady. It must cause Lady a lot of confusion. And, you know what? That is OK. I know that this is Lady’s nest where she raises her eaglets. But Daisy is not a threat to the sea eagles or their babies. Yes, she chose their nest but this might have been because she lost all of the ducklings in her first brood this season and she wanted to see if this nest might help see some of them to hatch. I know that each and every one of you are cheering our little duck forward.
One of Daisy’s fans also sent a video for all of you to watch. A Mandarin duck made her nest on the balcony of an apartment twenty-stories up from the ground. It is an amazing video showing how the people of this city came together to help the ducklings. Have a look!
Daisy wants to thank all of her friends wishing her success. People have joined her from Canada, the United States, Australia, Mexico, Poland, Croatia, China, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. Check back for updates. We are getting closer and closer to hatch!
Thank you to Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for providing the camera for the screen captures.
I have to admit that the time difference between the Canadian Prairies and Sydney, Australia often means that I am awake at 1:30 am waiting for Daisy to return to the nest from foraging. Last night it caught up with me and I turned out the light. Daisy is being smart. She waited til the sun was beginning to lower itself before returning to the Ironbark Tree. It was 17:07.
Daisy approaches her nest cautiously. Remember, she has, at the last minute, looked up and glanced the White Bellied Sea Eagles sitting stone cold still on the camera tree and had to leave quickly. I am impressed with her approach. She lands on the old creaking tree, stopping and looking, and slowly proceeding to her nest. Someone might think she is just a curious visitor. But we know better! So far this little Black Pacific Duck has outwitted the sea eagles!
The sun lowering on the horizon leaves a beautiful filtered light on our beautiful little duck. For those of you who have been following along every day on Daisy adventures, you will notice that she is really cleaning up the down that was tossed about and getting it back on the nest.
The Homebush Bay weather says it is now 21.9 degrees C at 5am. It is expected to climb to 33 degrees C at the height of the day. Oh, Daisy, it is going to get pretty toasty on that nest!
In an article for the Smithsonian Magazine, Brian Handwerk says in ‘Defying Stereotypes, Ducklings Are as Clever as They Are Cute’ that “a duckling’s ability to imprint confers a remarkable ability for abstract thought, often associated only with primates and other animals considered highly intelligent. Ducks even outperform supposedly “smarter” animal species in certain aspects of abstract reasoning. Just hours after birth, those yellow fuzzballs understand concepts like “same” and “different,” remember them, and apply them to never-before-seen objects with no social cues or training” (14 July 2016). In being able to distinguish likeness and difference, the ducklings are demonstrating that they are not ‘bird-brained’ but, rather, they have a high level of abstract thought.
I was so glad to see someone writing something positive about ducks. It isn’t that I have found negative statements about ducks but, rather, it is the absence, the invisibility of ducks in recent popular books on birds. For example, in Jennifer Ackerman’s, The Genius of Birds, there is not one mention of a duck! Magpies, yes. House Sparrows, yes. Even one little mallard, no. I would like to think, from observing Daisy, that ducks are as capable of complex behaviour as every other bird discussed in the book. I think that you might agree with me. She has, thus far, outwitted the boss of the forest, the largest seabird in Australia, the White Bellied Sea Eagle. Let us hope that this pattern continues!
I begin to look at my bookshelves and realize that I have been focused entirely on Red Tail Hawks and falcons. There must be as many beautiful books on ducks. Surely people have adopted ducks, made ponds for them and feed them in the same way that people in the English countryside have swans or wildlife rehabbers have Red Tail Hawks. Perhaps you know of some books on ducks that I should read. Lists are always appreciated. When I looked on line, there are pages and pages of children’s stories about ducks and geese. There are some about making duck decoys and how to line them up so that ducks can be shot. Sorry, I don’t wish to shoot them. I would like them to live happily in a pond or at the edge of the water like our Dabbling Duck, Daisy.
It is 5:57 and the forest is beginning to wake up. Daisy hears ravens cawing in the distance. Ravens normally follow the sea eagles in the forest. She stretches her neck to listen intently and then relaxes again.
There are enormous demands and dangers for Daisy while she is nesting. She has pulled off the down on her breast to line the nest. This also creates a bare spot which is the ‘brood patch’. The heat from Daisy’s body goes directly to the eggs. Periodically during the day and night, she will rotate the eggs. Daisy has, as mentioned before, lost a lot of her body weight creating the eggs and lining the nest. She also is not able to go and forage as frequently as she would when she is not nesting. We know that she goes out to replenish herself but that is on average about three hours a day. Otherwise, she is alert and on the nest tending to her eggs. Daisy is not like larger waterfowl, like geese and ducks. She does not have a fat reserve to draw on when she is incubating. So besides the danger of her own health, there are also other animals in the forest that are predators. We have met many of them in the days that Daisy has been incubating – Ravens, the White Bellied Sea Eagles, the Pied Currawong, and perhaps BooBook Owl, Magpies, and possums. Sadly, a lot of wild ducks have an even bigger danger created by humans – the loss of their habitat.
There is no need to create any drama around Daisy. Right now she has out mustered all of the other birds and animals in the forest. As I said yesterday, an uneventful day is a good day for Daisy – just like it is for us!
The sun paints a rose-gold hue over the nest as it rises over the forest.
Our little duck uses this quiet time to do some aerating of the nest and some preening.
The only visitors so far have been the Rainbow Lorikeets and they have spent their time on the bowl of the big nest.
Daisy heard them but she could not see them at first. They were climbing around on the bottom of the big sea eagle nest. When she realized that they were the beautiful rainbow coloured parrots and that they would not bother her or her eggs, she relaxed.
I have this thought that always comes to mind when I see the Rainbow Lorikeets climbing over the nest tree. They are not frightened and that must mean that the White Bellied Sea Eagles are not close! That is a very good thing. The Lorikeets are still climbing around on the nest. They have been there for more than an hour. Daisy can relax and enjoy a nice morning.
I am so happy that you have joined me today to find out what has been happening in the world of little Daisy. I will bring updates as I try to do everyday in about six hours. Stay tuned to find out if your favourite Black Pacific Duck had any more adventures today!
Thanks to WBSE Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Center for the cameras so I can take my screen shots.
Late yesterday afternoon Daisy arrived back at the nest right before 17:00. In a split second, she saw the two WBSE on the camera tree and was able, quickly, to abort her landing. They scared Daisy. She stayed away only returning at 19:43 as the sun was beginning to set on the old Ironbark forest.
And if that wasn’t enough of a fright, in the wee hours of the night she was literally scared off by sounds coming from the nest. Daisy was so frightened she quickly flew off after listening for a few minutes. And that scared off the Ringtail Possum that was climbing up the nest peeking in at Daisy sleeping in the sea eagle nest. It seems they both scared one another.
Common Ringtail Possums are small. They are about the size of a medium domestic cat. They are grey with some white behind the eyes with a white tip on their tail. They use this tail almost like a fourth leg wrapping it around branches to help them climb. They are forest dwellers and are very familiar with the sea eagles that raise young on this nest. Many people think they have their nest at the very bottom of the sea eagle nest. Like BooBook Owl and the more threatening Common Bushtail Possum, they hunt at night. They are vegetarians feeding on plants, fruit, and flora. The little Ringtail possum is the only species of possum in Australia where the male is actually involved in caring for the young possums. They are, again, not as much a danger to Daisy as the Common Ringtail Possum.
The possum that Daisy should be very fearful of is the Bushtail.
Brushtail possums are the most widespread marsupial in Australia. (They are also in New Zealand). They are brown and have really bushy tails with a underneath furless patch that helps them to climb trees and hang on to the branches. They hunt at night and eat leaves, flowers, fruits, insects, small animals, and eggs. They are not related to the Opossum of the Americas and they are not the benign fruit eater portrayed by many books. They pose a real problem to Daisy as they are, as noted earlier, keen egg eaters. These possums are known to have eaten parrots, keas, robins, as well as larger kiwis. Researchers believe the decline of the North Island Kokako (endemic to New Zealand) to almost extinction was caused by the Brushtail Possum. The Kokako is a large grey-blue song bird. It has a black mask and long legs. New Zealanders are working hard to restore the populations of these lovely forest birds.
It is now past dawn in Sydney, Australia. No sign of the White-Bellied Sea Eagles. Daisy is setting serenely on her nest. You will notice that she has been bringing in some of the down that was scattered. The nest is quite fluffy now!
There is absolutely no telling what comings and goings will happen today. It is Day 10 of brooding!
Dawn casts a beautiful rose-gold over all the forest.
And just about the time Daisy settled into a quiet early morning, she heard something land on the camera tree. It is 7:18:48. Too late to get off the nest or cover the eggs, she decided the right thing to do was to freeze flat.
Whatever it was, it was, its shadow indicated that it was a large bird but not as large as a sea eagle. Spotters said it was white so it is likely not then the Raven who continues to come, hoping to find Daisy gone and eggs for dinner. The bird left in about ten minutes but Daisy stayed frozen like she is in the photo above. Gradually, she began to relax.
The first threat of the morning has come and gone after the excitement of the possum who came during the early night.
Stay tuned. An updated post will come in about six hours. Stay safe. Thanks for dropping in to check on Daisy.
Thank you to Sea Eagle Cam, BirdLife and the Discovery Center for the cameras from which I took 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.