18 November 2022
Good Morning Everyone,
I hope this newsletter finds all of you well. It is the end of the week. In a fortnight I will be on the island of Grenada in the West Indies visiting my son and looking for birds. He doesn’t know it but I have plotted the spots on the island and I am hoping that we can see at least 25% of the birds on the island – that would be about 40 new species. There are Ospreys right by his office and I am told hummingbirds and hawks in his garden. Can’t wait. With the pandemic, it has been far too long since I have seen him. There are many birds that I do not know or some that have similar names such as the Coot but the one in the Caribbean has a white shield on its head along with its white beak. There are any number of shore birds. So excited. I have a copy of the small book, Birds of the Eastern Caribbean on my desk to help me get acquainted.
In the Mailbox:
An absolutely timely and great question from ‘H’: “Funny you mentioned about the three Stepdads for Peregrine families. I was just thinking about that yesterday. I had wondered if you had ever known any other species where that had occurred. Have you known of any cases where another male had taken over responsibilities of hunting/incubating/parenting duties at the nests of Ospreys or Eagles, for example? (Not including where a chick had intentionally been placed on a different nest) Is this just a Peregrine Falcon thing?”
A bit of background for those not familiar. It is hard to imagine Diamond without Xavier. I recounted in my last blog how Xavier came and helped Diamond with her eyases when Bula disappeared. He was named Xavier because he was a saviour to our dear Diamond and her clutch. The eyases would not have survived having just hatched without Xavier bringing food to Diamond. We all know that Alden stepped in for Grinnell at the University of California at Berkeley scrape belonging to Annie. And we have recently witnessed Male2022 help raise Male2017’s eyases at the ledge scrape of 367 Collins Street in Melbourne. There are a number of instances coming out of the UK where a step dad or extended family members have helped raise clutches including fledglings. But, to get back to the question at hand.
Ospreys go absolutely crazy at the thought the eggs that are in the nest might belong to another male. I posted a couple of video examples a few months back of an osprey kicking the eggs out of the nest that he believed belonged to another male. I have never seen a male Osprey raise another male’s osplets. I have also never seen an eagle of any species take over the role of the male and raise another’s eaglets.
There are, as you seem to have indicated, many instances whereby the fostering of eggs and/or chicks has been successful but that is an entirely different situation to what you are asking. I have tried to find literature on the topic to more fully answer your question and if there is anyone reading this that knows of examples other than Peregrine Falcons becoming active step-dads, please do bring that to my attention.
After reading about ‘J’s’ budgie, Wolpe, Raj writes that they had a very similar incident with their pet birds. ” My pet budgie Daisy was best friends with Blue. Both inseparable. Loving each other always side by side. One day Daisy died. I held Daisy in my palm. Blue was so distressed and loudly screeched when Daisy died. Blue was very quiet not eating or playing.” When a new budget, Sky, came to the family, Blue was not interested. He was only in love with Daisy.” Thank you, Raj. This another beautiful example of the emotions that our feathered friends feel and express.
In the News:
Humans must steer clear of Yew trees as they are very poisonous to us but, not to our charming Nuthatches!
Zoe is a big girl. We knew that when they weighed and banded her but today, Mum purposefully left a nice fish (sans head) for Zoe to see what she would do. Well, Zoe took the fish and ate every last bite including the tail as watchers cheered her on. The fish tail was horked at 11:11.
Zoe takes pulls the fish over so she can eat it as Mum looks on. This is crucial – Mum is full and knows that Zoe needs to self feed and will be fledging soon.
“Nice talons you have, Zoe.” “All the better to scratch you with!”
At Orange, panic might have set in if you looked at the scrape and did not see any eyases in there. Indigo flew out and was on top of the tower. Look carefully and you will see Rubus sleeping in the corner – bottom left reveals his tail.
A really nice and informative interview with Cilla Kinross about the history of the scrape and the Peregrine Falcons at Orange.
Indigo left the scrape at 101439 and he returned at 121012. Diamond had been in the scrape with prey and flew out with it right when Indigo came back. Rubus was really wondering what was going on and gave some of his very loud prey cries.
After a busy morning with 4 prey deliveries in 5 hours – and one being removed – the two lads, Indigo and Rubus, settled down to a nice sleep on the ledge.
I don’t know about anyone else but, I am really pleased that Indigo is returning to the scrape box, flying off for short periods to strengthen him flying techniques, and then returning again for prey and rest. Surely this will help him to be much more successful!
‘A’ sent a link to a video of Indigo being fed on top of the water tower. Thanks, ‘A’! Great clip.
The Red List. No 8. White-tailed Eagle
At one time there were thought to be at least 1400 pairs of breeding White-tailed Eagles in the United Kingdom. By the beginning of the 20th century, the White-tailed Eagle was almost extinct. Before their recent re-introduction, the birds last bred in England and Wales in the 1830s, in Ireland in 1898 and in Scotland in 1916. The RSPB reports that the last UK birds was shot in Shetland in 1918.
Reintroduction efforts began in 1959 and 1968 in Scotland. They were not successful. Then in 1975, juvenile eagles brought to the UK from Norway were released on the Isle of Rum in the Hebrides. The first pair bred successfully a decade later and now there are 130 pairs of White-tail breeding Eagles across the west and north of Scotland.
White-tail Eagles have added much to the economy and at the Isle of Munn where there are so many, the boost to the local coffers from bird tourism was 5 million GBP. Still, humans kill these beautiful birds.
The reintroduction efforts were the hard work of Roy Dennis and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation. Continuing efforts are now overseen by the Sea Eagle Project Team – a joint effort of the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage. The biggest threats are predation by illegal killing particularly around the grouse hunting estates and secondary poisoning.
Thank you so much for being with me today. Please take care of yourselves. See you soon.
Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures: ‘A’, OpenVerse, The Guardian, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and OmarGlobal.