Did Rubus fly to the tower? an osprey eating a fish in Central Park? and other news in Bird World

27 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

Well, we have all worried about Rubus and it seems that there might be some good news coming. I sure hope so! There is, currently, a lot of confusion about whether or not Rubus was flying around the tower with Xavier and Diamond yesterday. We wait for positive confirmation with high hopes.

It has been warm on the Canadian Prairies but it appears that we will now be sliding from +5 C to -10 C. It can be a bit of a roller coaster here sometimes but, a blue sky and sunshine are always welcome and that is what it is like this morning.

Little Red has mastered balancing himself on the feeder and eating so he is well and appears to be in good health as the winter begins to set in.

I love the Sparrows. While they generally eat the Black Oil Seed and Millet, they also seem to be liking the Butter Bark. It will certainly give them a lot of energy. You can make your own. There are recipes on the Internet using primarily peanut butter and cornmeal. If you have a good one, send it to me! Please.

I think Sparrows are beautiful. Just look at the range of colours out of a very simple paint box for them.

In the Mailbox:

Do you a follow the Tweed Valley fledgling, Glen, Blue 708? Well you might have gotten a real lump in your throat when everyone was worried that he was grounded on top of a building in Portugal. But great news has been posted and sent to me by ‘G’. This is fantastic news. Here are those two tweets:

We have seen those sat pads going haywire in areas where there are a lot of hydro or cell towers or both. But it is possible, looking at the map above, that Glen took off over the Atlantic where there would be no transmissions and then – wow – he lands in Morocco and the signal returns. ‘G’ reports that after flying over the Atlantic for 36 hours, Glen then rested for 12 hours in Khnifiss Bio-reserve and is now fishing in the same area. Thank you ‘G’ and what a relief this is to have everything fully confirmed. Glen is a strong bird, my goodness. Wishing a long and productive life for this fledgling!

Oh I get the most marvellous mail and today, ‘M’ sent me a link to something very special. Imagine an Osprey catching a fish in the pond in Central Park in the middle of New York City. Yes, you read that correctly! It is a rare sight indeed!!!!!!


There is more news from Bernard in Brittany!

I am certain that everyone was so excited to hear the news about Willow being spotted in Brittany in mid-September. That news comes on the heels of another Scottish bird being spotted in the same region which Bernard reported. Here is the information on it that Brian Etheridge sent to Bernard. Some of you might be quite interested in this osprey sighting. Osprey, blue/white 527 at Anse of Combrit, Brittany 29 on 3 September 2022. “This bird was ringed on 25 June 2022 as a chick in a nest of three young near Errogie, Scottish Highlands, 57. 46’12″N, 004.23’19″W by myself, Adam Ritchie and Ian Perks. The British Trust for Ornithology metal ring number is 1489674. This is the first sighting of this bird since fledging in July.”

Well, 527 has been spotted again! Mary Cheadle’s tells me that Blue/White 527 was one of many Ospreys photographed and counted by Jean-marie Depart in Senegal on 16 November. Now that should put a smile on our faces! I am very hopeful that Willow LW5 will be sighted if she is in Jean-marie’s territory!!!!!!

527 as photographed by JMD on 16 September 2022, above.


Atlantic puffins” by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

‘N’ sent me a lovely announcement from Audubon. The focus is on Puffins. I had no idea that warming seas could cause the fish to grow larger causing starvation in the Puffins, did you? Here is a brief extract from that mailing by Audubon:

We monitor nesting on remote islands in the Gulf of Maine and this year they have great news! Despite a steep decline in 2021, seabirds like Atlantic Puffins finished this past summer on a remarkably higher note with twice as many chicks surviving and fledging compared to last year. Thanks to generous support from you and your fellow bird lovers, Audubon is able to closely monitor delicate habitats like this one and carefully tend to the birds that very much depend on us to survive.
 
The puffins’ precarious journey for survival is just one of countless examples in which the climate crisis harms and threatens our beloved birds. Last year, warming waters gave rise to increased butterfish counts, a food source too large for small Atlantic Puffin chicks to swallow, tragically leading to starvation. The climate crisis is also making storms more frequent, much stronger, and increasingly unpredictable. 

Australian Nests:

This was posted under the streaming cam by Cilla Kinross. Please keep reading as the news gets better throughout the afternoon.

“Our small search party scoured the campus today for Rubus without luck. The only place that adults gave warning calls was in Girinyalanha (when Indigo was in the box), so there is still a chance that he is there, but just hard to find. I’ll send another call out to staff to keep an eye out for him. However, at this stage, I’m not that hopeful. I have received a lot of criticism about why Rubus was not put back in the box (including hate mail, which I could do without, thank you). On reflection, Rubus probably should have come into care when he was found on the ground, not put in a tree (and certainly not put back in the box). But I was reassured by Victor Hurley’s assessment that it was unlikely that he had trichomoniasis (canker) and we often have birds still with a bit of fluff, that fly poorly for a couple of days before they come good. He was flying and his parents were feeding him, so I was not too worried. I take responsibility for that decision, even though I was not able to be present at the time (for personal reasons). If found, he will taken into care for veterinary assessment and rehabilation if necessary. I will let you know if and when that happens.”

Later there was some more positive news: “NEWS 27th November 2022 1300 h While our small search party was looking in the woods below the tower, a falcon flew out towards the tower. As I couldn’t see Indigo in the box any more, I assumed the bird we saw flying was Indigo BUT Indigo was in the box (at the back), so it was a different falcon. On tower cam, at that time, this same bird was seen to harrass Xavier into leaving the microwave, so I believe it was Rubus. This is typical juvenile behaviour, not something Diamond would do. She would land on the roof. Hopefully, we will soon see all four falcons on the roof together, so we can be sure.

This would be grand. I am so hoping that the mystery falcon is Rubus and all is well.

Breakfast came in the form of a Quail for Indigo who carried it to the scrape box and ate it, leaving leftovers in the corner just like she has been taught by Diamond and Xavier. Approximately 0613.

Diamond came and raided the pantry! There will be a lesson in this for Indigo!

Now let us go back to where this mystery of Rubus begins. At 084155, the tower cam shows two falcons flying. Indigo was in the scrape box at the time. Is there a third flacon sitting on that appendage sticking out on the right near the top? I hope so!

Diamond had been in the scrape and flew out – top image. Then Indigo came into the scrape – bottom image.

It is a tad confusing and perhaps misleading. If there had been three clear falcon profiles around the tower while Indigo was in the scrape box, then yes, we would know. On one occasion a flying bird thought to be a falcon was, indeed, a Swallow. Cilla has said that she will go out and investigate before she heads home. What she needs is to see 4 falcons on top of the tower. Proof. Fingers crossed — and toes.

Cilla has posted a video of the event at the tower. She says she is not wanting to get our hopes up but here is the footage.

There is some indication that the juvenile that was in the scrape box for so long on the 26th in Australia was Rubus but nothing is confirmed.


Breakfast came to Port Lincoln about 090609. Mum was on the nest with the fish and Zoe was elsewhere. Zoe flew in and took that fish and had her fill.

Here comes Zoe wanting that fish!

In Port Lincoln, it looks like Mum has landed another big flat fish at 1309. There she is eating it on the ropes while Dad sits stoically and Zoe is in the nest screaming for fish. I hope that Mum eats her fill. She will always share with her daughter, always, unless she is absolutely starving and sometimes, as we have seen this season, even then.

Well, it is hard to tell what happened with that fish. The camera was fixed in a particular location and if there was a fish transfer to Zoe, we could not see it. In the background you could hear Zoe fish calling so maybe Mum didn’t land on the nest?? Zoe is definitely not going to starve. This fledgling eats more fish than I could imagine. And still wants more!

Dad delivered his second fish of the day at 2043. Zoe in the nest and took it but Mum flew over. I wonder if she still wants to feed her daughter and have a bedtime snack?


No 16. Red List Bird. Pochard

The Pochards are a stunning duck that arrives in the United Kingdom from Scandinavia to over winter in the slower moving rivers and estuaries. There is now, also, a small group of Pochards that stay in the United Kingdom year round. They populate the newly created reservoirs and gravel pits. the Pochard feeds on seeds, roots and other plant material as well as small invertebrates by diving and also tabling.

There are declines in Northern Europe and this will decidedly impact the number coming to the United Kingdom in the fall. One of the major threats to the Pochard are the predatory mink that have invaded their breeding areas. The draining of lowland marshes and fish ponds for agriculture is causing a massive decline in the numbers. The major cause is climate change and there is also a growing number of mink – predators – in their breeding grounds in the north. That could account for a great loss of these gorgeous waterfowl. Other threats include egg collecting, fishing, disease such as Avian Flu, human disturbance, and illegal hunting!

Red-crested Pochard” by Andrej Chudy is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Let us have a look at this duck more closely in his breeding plumage. He has intense red eyes with a fiery rusty-copper head, a distinctive black breast, a dark taupe on the wings and back, a black rump and grey at the tip of the tail. The under area is white. In this image the bill appears to be red. You would recognise them immediately. The legs and feet are a blue grey for both genders.

Now just look at the female. How beautiful she is with her two little goslings. The eye is the deepest brown-black – not red -with a softer auburn head. The body is white mingled with the same soft auburn from the head.

mare i fill 06, xibecs – madre e hijo, patos colorados – mom and son, red-crested pochard” by ferran pestaña is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

In his text for Red Sixty Seven, Mike Dilger states, ” I will concede that of all our threatened bird species, the more glamorous and charismatic species, such as the Puffin and Cuckoo, will undoubtedly grab the headlines. But, I’d argue, a winter without spotting a Pochard would be even worse than Christmas without a turkey.” (12)


Thank you so much for joining me today. Take care all. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their videos, posts and streaming cams which make up my streaming cams: ‘G’ and Conservation without Borders, ‘M’, Quoteny, MC, Bernard, and Jean-marie Dupard, OpenVerse, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Port Lincoln Osprey.

Indigo fed on top of tower…and other Early Friday news in Bird World

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!

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/16/country-diary-the-nuthatch-takes-a-toxin-that-can-paralyse-our-hearts

Australian Nests:

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

White – tailed eagle” by gcalsa is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

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.

White-tailed eagle” by Ignacio Ferre is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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.

Harriet and M15 weather Nicole together…and other news in Bird World

10 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope that this finds you well. The kittens are very active this morning. The Starlings have discovered the Butter Bark! And the Blue Jays are eating peanuts and what better entertainment for the kittens than watching birds safely behind glass!

Lewis is a charmer.

Oops. Turn your head! Missy is sideways smelling the orchids and moved quickly to see the Blue Jays.

They are adorable and are tied at the hip to one another. It doesn’t matter what they are doing, they must be together – eating, sleeping, and being a poopinator.

Late Wednesday, Nicole was upgraded to a Hurricane. As she went over Florida last night, Nicole was again down graded to a Tropical Storm. These are the latest images.

I will be posting my blog when it is approximately 1000 Thursday the 10th of November. This system will not be moving out of the region of Samson and Gabby’s next until much, much later in the day. Harriet and M15 got a right soaking. Continue to send your good wishes to all in this region.

_________________________________________________________________

The real news of the day is ‘waiting’. Waiting for fledging in Australia and waiting for Hurricane Nicole to pass in Florida. Yes, Nicole is now upgraded to a hurricane from the previous tropical storm. Winds and rain are increasing across the state of Florida.

Before I go any further, we all love Harriet and M15. They are weathering Hurricane Nicole together – in the nest! Talk about love and devotion. They have rebuilt after Hurricane Ian and they are staying together Wednesday night as Nicole approaches. Send them all the love you have! These two are amazing.

It is starting – the winds are swaying the nest. Harriet and M15 are both still in the nest together. Oh, my heart just goes out to them. They need that nest to hold. It will not be long until Harriet is laying eggs.

Early Thursday morning. Together and wet. Oh, did I tell you? Harriet is 28 years old!

In the News:

I am so happy. The wildlife rehabbers who cared for the Pitkin County Osplet did not have staff to deal with messages after the osplet came into care. Pitkin County gave me their name and I wrote to them a couple of days ago and now they have posted the information for the public. This is really important. I want each of you to remember because pre-fledge osplets really do well in care! They survive and they have a second chance at life. The image of the beautiful osplet below is the evidence.

Birds of Prey in Colorado has two waiting for release in the spring. Let us all debunk this urban myth.

Last June, the female at the Pitkin Open Spaces and Trails pulled her two osplets off the nest accidentially. One died, this one went into care and is waiting to be released in the spring.

I have been slowly gathering up evidence of successful treatments for pre-fledge Ospreys or any Osprey that has been taken into care. If you are aware of any ospreys in care or that were in care and released, would you please contact me with any details that you know. It will really help make my case to Port Lincoln that there is good evidence – hard evidence not anecdotal – that pre-fledge ospreys do well in care. By poking a hole right in the middle of the rumour that has spread and established itself as fact, it is possible that ospreys like Middle can survive. For Little and Middle, let’s work to change this to: Pre-fledge Ospreys do as well in care as do Post-fledge Ospreys!

Let’s take another look at Coots. Do you have Coots in the ponds or wetlands where you live? Sometimes called the ‘black duck’, the author of this article fell in love with them when he was a wee child.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/09/birdwatch-coots-gadwall

Why is Bird Flu so important and, what happens if it mutates causing another pandemic?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/nov/09/bird-flu-mutation-h5n1-virus-strains-pandemic

The Melbourne Four, those precious babies, made the news!

3 Red List Bird:

Roseate Terns” by MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

The Roseate Tern is the most rare of all the sea birds that breed in the UK. There has been a lot of interest in the migration of the Roseate Terns from the UK and from Ireland. Satellite trackers have discovered that they migrate to the West African coast and spend their winter in the Gulf of Guinea. Those Roseate Terns from North America also have an impressive migration. They travel to the eastern part of Brazil. These journeys are more than 15,000 km return made across the open seas.

They are such beautiful sea birds. They are called Roseate because of the pink tint to their gorgeous plumage. Their beak is slender they have a long forked tail, a white cap with grey wings and white under belly. Their legs are longer than other Terns. This means that they can walk through higher and thicker undergrowth and this is where they make their nests so they are not in competition with other terns.

The Roseate Tern is globally threatened. One of the greatest challenges these beautiful birds face is the human disturbance of their nesting sites and the collecting of their eggs. Climate change, flooding, and frequent storms are also major contributing factors in the decline of the species.

The following contains information on the threats to these amazing sea birds.

Roseate Tern

http://roseatetern.org/threats.html

Australian Birds:

The camera turned and all of the Melbourne Four were still home! Gosh, if you didn’t know it, at a glance, these look like fine full grown Peregrines.

Hot in Melbourne. Some are looking for shade!

It is raining in Melbourne and ‘A’ tells me that it is not a good day to fledge now and won’t be for a few days more. Hopefully the Melbourne Four will stay put!

According to my eagle-eyed and ears friend ‘A’, the Melbourne Four were on the ledge when Mum brought a prey item in at 181203. They ran down to the other end where the 4th eyas was.

A small fish came on the Port Lincoln Opsrey barge. Mum took control and then gave it over to Big. I think Mum was hoping for the tail but Big took it, too.

Big is as big as Mum now. Look at those legs. Here the pair of them are prey calling Dad who is on his way with breakfast.

Big is not going without food. Dad brought in the small fish this morning and then, seeing Dad over on the ropes, Mum decided she best get out there and bring in the afternoon meal. Big might have thought she would get the whole thing to herself but Mum had other ideas and started out feeding her girl. She managed to get some bites. Big will take the fish and would take all fish if left to her own now.

Dad will bring in another fish. There were three delivered on Thursday in Port Lincoln. Those times were 09:33, 15:01, 19:22.

If the weather is good, Big will be banded, measured, and named sometime between the 12-14th. That is a few days away. I hope to find an announcement with the specific day for you.

Lots of Starlings and other prey coming into the scrape. Both Indigo and Rubus are excellent self-feeders. It is wonderful to see. Indigo continues to look out at the world beyond and poor Rubus, he still has so much flu that it will be a bit of a wait. Don’t worry Rubus, Mum and Dad will feed you – they won’t forget!

Indigo is adorable.

It is just after midnight on Thursday and this is the recap of Thursday up until late afternoon at Orange: RECAP 6 02 26 D w/grebe, Rubus takes; 08 45 13 X w/juv starl, leaves; 10:17:16 X w ER, Indigo takes; 10:24:23 D in, feeds Rubus; 14:50:29 X w/prey, Indigo takes.

At one point, Indigo was running around the scrape flapping her wings and chasing Rubus. Remember. Indigo does not have the room that the Melbourne Four have to run off some of the energy and to really get the wings and legs going.

Rubus had no idea what on earth was going on with Indigo. There was a piece of prey stuck between her talons. Was that the cause of all the restlessness? or is it that Indigo will be fledging soon?

Indigo was able to get the piece of prey out from her talons and she settled. Look at Rubus watching everything that she is doing. He will miss her when she flies. If she does what the others have done, she will fly down to the trees where she sees the parents. They will also lure her with prey items and begin teaching her how to hunt. They will do this for 4-6 weeks until Indigo leaves their territory. Now that I say that we must not forget that Izzi did not leave home until Diamond would no longer let him in the scrape many, many months after she should have left.

Indigo will not fly back to the scrape box. She is not strong enough to undertake that steep upward flight yet but, she will get those muscles really going once she is down chasing after Diamond and Xavier.

Rubus will either love having the prey all to himself or miss Indigo or both.

In other news:

Continue to send your best and most positive wishes to the nests in Florida. Ron and Rita’s human designed nest on the grounds of the Miami Zoo is really beginning to rock and sway. You can see the movement of the palm trees caught in the image below. There are so many, many nests in Florida and it is the wintering grounds for some of the birds from the north.

Gabby and Samson’s nest near Jacksonville is really blowing and rocking. It is in one of the areas that is expecting the highest winds.

The record snow and wind has caused power outages at Big Bear Valley. The cameras for Jackie and Shadow are offline at the moment. We will wait and see if they are up tomorrow. Thursday. The camera is up over the valley but the nest camera remains offline. The storm has passed. Yippee.

Thank you so very much for joining me today. Please take care of yourselves. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures ‘A’ and ‘H’ for their eyes and ears on Collins Street, National Hurricane Centre, SWFlorida Bald Eagles and D Pritchett, Pitkin County Open Spaces and Trails, ABC News, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, WRDC, and NEFlorida-AEF.

Puffin…Puffin…and other tales from Bird World

9 November 2022

Good Morning!

I hope that everyone is well.

Oh, it is the gloomiest of days. Wet and cold. The snow was forecast to turn to rain. And it did. The garden birds do not like the damp. They do sooooo much better if it is a dry snow.

Is it possible to lure any of the European Starlings into the lilacs to feed? There are 57 of them roosting in the back trees. The owner of the bird seed shop mentioned that maybe there is still enough food out in the fields for them. I paused and then realised that their big feeding frenzy began in January. Perhaps she is right.

Mr Crow and Junior were very happy when a new bag of peanuts arrived. Did I mention they sort through the peanuts for the heaviest ones? No sense carrying off a shell with nothing in it! So smart. So gorgeous.

The hanging light makes Junior’s feathers look more intense.

Even with their favourite suet they are not budging. The squirrels are happy, the Blue Jays have come for peanuts and corn, and the Crow has been in for peanuts and to yell at me because the water is frozen in the bird bath! He gets right on top of the conservatory glass roof and caws as loud as he can – like he used to do when the cats were in the garden. Speaking of cats, it seems once the weather turned bad their owners are keeping them inside. Of course, it does appear that all of the Hedwigs have met their demise because of the cats according to the neighbour. I am certain that he is right. I have not seen the rabbits since the summer and it is unlike them – all three of them – to be away for so long. With everything at Port Lincoln, I have convinced myself not to think about it.

Day 2. The UK Red List: The Puffin.

Puffin with his catch.” by ohefin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Their name means ‘Little Brother of the North’ and they are, by far, one of the most beloved sea birds around the world. Did you know that they can dive up to 60 m in depth? This really helps when they are feeding their young 24 times a day! Yes, seriously, 24 times a day. Think twice an hour if you take 12 hours off to sleep. Do Puffins sleep? But, there is a problem. Changing sea temperatures and pressures from yes, you guessed it – those big trawling fishing boats – is causing a food shortage for the Puffins. As Beccy Speight says in her article on the Puffins in Into the Red, “If the food shortages don’t get them, pollution events and ground predators (Rats, Mink, Cats) will. If we want our Puffins to be more than jolly pencil case illustrations, then sustainable fishing, protection of feeding grounds, considerate placing of offshore wind farms, a reduction in marine pollution and preventing ground predators from reaching nesting colonies are what’s needed” (90).

Saltee Puffins” by JohnFinn is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

How cute and yet, how tragic that these beautiful sea birds are so vulnerable. Here are a couple of articles discussing the challenges that the Puffins face and it is not just in the UK.

This is an article from an academic press discussing the Puffin chicks dying of starvation.

https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2656.13442

Many of the issues facing Puffins can be mitigated. Two serious ones that need immediate attention are over fishing (because if we have the will we can do something about this) and nest predation. It is not too late to help in these areas.

Do you remember this poem about Puffins? Here it is with sound!

In what seems like another life now, I wrote about the work of Montana ceramic artist, Julia Galloway. Ms Galloway made a series of porcelain ginger jars. Each had a motif of an endangered species on it from the New England area of the US. One of those was the Atlantic Puffin. She notes, “The Atlantic Puffin has been listed as globally endangered due to climate change, pollution, overhunting, invasive predators, and gill nets, among other factors. Climate change has caused sea temperatures to rise, and this causes a decrease in the puffin’s abundance of prey and habitat.” Of course a lack of sufficient prey causes all manner of problems with breeding and the sufficient raising of offspring. What I did not know is that motorists are asked to check under their cars during the mating season and young puffins take shelter under the vehicles because they become disoriented by the lights. Galloway does acknowledge some of the efforts in the NE US including hunting bans and conservation efforts to cut back invasive plant species that are harming the Puffin’s nesting area. Decoys have also been placed on good nesting islands to lure these quite social birds to other areas to establish new colonies.

Like so many others, Galloway believes that art and literature might be the most effective means of encouraging people to stop, look at the natural world, and then, get mad and do something to help make our planet a better more biodiverse place for the wildlife.

In the Mailbox:

I have been sent quite a few links to videos on YouTube the past couple of days. I will spread them out. Today, ‘A’ sent me a compilation of events from Middle’s life at the Port Lincoln nest. She warned me to get a tissue and suggested that I turn off the music – which I did. You can also save it and watch later!

Australian Nests:

The scrape box located on the old water tower on the grounds of Charles Sturt University in Orange was full of prey this morning. It looked like the remains of a Starling plus two other birds. At one point, there was even a live bird in that box! Seriously. Apparently Xavier delivered it. Thankfully, Indigo lunged at the poor little thing and it took the opportunity to fly out the window.

Dad brought an early fish to the nest on the barge at Port Lincoln. Mom gave Big bites and took some good sized ones for herself, too.

Mum had a spa moment. I am so glad she is taking some time for herself. It has been a difficult season for this family.

I want you to have the link to the Friends of Osprey website. It is here that you can track our favourite South Australian male Osprey, Ervie! Here is the link and here is a good photo of Ervie with his tracker and some of his latest tracking.

Handsome Ervie.

Is it possible that Ervie is one of the best known Ospreys in the world? It sure seems so!

Is Dad safe from the eyases on the perch?

Off he goes!

Eagle Nests:

Note: Tropical Storm Nicole is set to make landfall in Florida. From the map below you can see that the nest of Samson and Gabby in the NE area near Jacksonville is going to get hit hard as this storm increases in intensity. SW Florida the home of Harriet and M15 will get a lot of rain and, of course all of the other nests such as Super Beaks in central Florida will be impacted (Superbeaks is a private nest). It could get really bad. Please send all our feathered families your most positive wishes as they ride out this storm system.

Samson and Gabby continue to work on their nest near Jacksonville, Florida. What a gorgeous couple! You can tell by their size and also their white head. Gabby is always slightly ruffled while Samson’s is normally slicked down as if he had been to the stylist before arriving on camera.

The winds and some precipitation have started at Samson and Gabby’s nest this morning. It will intensify as Tropical Storm Nicole gets closer. The nest is rocking although you cannot tell it from the still image and the rain has begun.

Thunder was perched over on the cliffs near the West End nest she shares with her mate, Akecheta.

It was raining at the nest site where the couple raised The Three Amigos last breeding season – Kana’kini, Sky, and Ahote -on Tuesday.

This morning it is simply beautiful there. Oh, it would be so nice to see the Three Amigos again. If you need a ‘Three Amigo Fix’ check out the highlights that play often on the West End Bald Eagle nest.

This still does not give you any impression of the wind and the freezing rain pelting down on the nest of Shadow and Jackie in Big Bear Valley, California.

This was the scene at Big Bear last night. The camera seems to be offline now. You still cannot get good sense of the snow coming down.

The Decorah North Eagles are around the nest. Gosh do they ever blend in with the fall look of the Iowa landscape.

Louis and Anna have been working on their nest in the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. There have also been some intruders coming around the nest! If only they would find the vacant E-2 nest. There is another couple Alex and Andria on the E-3 nest. It also has a camera and great sound system.

Ron and Rita have been working on their next in the Miami Zoo and – were having a meal there the last time I checked. It is safe to say that if you go to an eagle streaming cam and rewind you might be able to see the raptors there at some point during the day.

Migration News:

Waba has been feeding on the Sudanese side of the Nile River while Bonus has been feeding in Turkey. Neither have made any effort to leave their area to go further south into the center of Africa. There must be enough food and they must feel safe. We will check back in with them in a few days but, they might have found their winter homes. No news from Karl II or Kaia as is expected. Send good positive wishes for the four members of this family.

Thank you so very much for being with me today. It is so nice to have you with us! Take care everyone. We hope to see you soon.

Special thanks to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures: earth.org, There Once Was a Puffin YT, Julia Galloway, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Friends of Osprey, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, NOAA, NEFL-AEF, IWS and Explore.org, FOBBV, Raptor Research Project and Explore.org, KNF Bald Eagle E1 Nest, WRDC, and Looduskalender Forum.

Port Lincoln’s Middle Bob is getting some confidence…and other tales in Bird World

22 October 2022

Oh, good morning to everyone,

I hope that you are already having a wonderful weekend by the time you read this update on our feathered friends. Things are really beginning to look up at Port Lincoln. I am cautiously optimistic that Big is moving out of her aggressive stage.

My friend “S’ and I were talking about books – holding books, feeling the paper, turning the pages – a few weeks ago. She is encouraging her graduate students at university to read real books, to go to the library, to feel the pages. Of course, she was talking to a ‘member of the choir’, so to speak, when we had our chat. I love books, good quality books with beautiful images. Today, it wasn’t a book that arrived in the post but Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Living Bird magazine that arrived. The cover featured a beautiful goshawk. Inside was a treasure trove of information for every species lover. There was a lot of information on migration, loss of biodiversity and what this means alongside reports on projects aimed at mitigating loss. The core of every article is how each of us can help mitigate the issues- sparking action to bend the curve.

As researchers and citizen scientists discovered with the great bird counts, the number of songbirds increased dramatically when ordinary people, just like you and me, began putting out bird feeders. Today, one of the most pressing issues is biodiversity. It is the word of the moment. One of the articles in this edition of Living Bird, ‘The Most Distinct Birds are at Greatest Risk of Going Extinct’ goes straight to the heart of the loss of entire species. On that list of Red Species, to my surprise, was the House Sparrow and the European Starling. The lead researcher, Emma Hughes from the University of Sheffield, said that birds with unusually long or short beaks, long or short legs were more likely to go extinct than others. Climate change and habitat loss is at the heart of the loss of these others such as the Red-headed Vulture, Giant Ibis, Seychelles Scops-Owl, the White-headed Duck, the Bee Hummingbird to name only a few on her list. They are going extinct because of their weirdness and the particular ecosystems that support them are being lost. For Hughes, the only way to stop the extinction is to increase efforts at biodiversity (21). This is precisely what they are trying to do with two species that depend on one another for survival – the White-barked Pine and the Clark’s Nutcracker. As the author of the article in Living Bird states, ‘Some pairings are so iconic that one is not complete without the other: Macaroni and cheese, Abbott and Costello. Peanut Butter and Jelly. In the northern Rockies and Sierra Nevadas, that duo is the white bark pine and Clark’s Nutcracker.’ (28)

To read the latest addition of Living Bird magazine, go to this URL: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/living-bird-latest-issue

There is a lovely video of the work being done on the Clark’s Nutcracker in this latest edition. Be sure to check it out.

I used the term ‘Red List’. Do you know what this means? It is the full name is the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. It just so happens that there are two wonderful and exquisitely produced books on these threatened birds. They are Red Sixty Seven and the most recent edition, Into the Red, by Kit Jewitt. Both editions are collaborations between authors and artists whose goals are to call attention to at-risk-birds as well as to raise funds to support conservation work to halt their extinction. The books were published by the British Trust for Ornithology. Go to bto.org for more information, to view some pages and read about the artists, and to purchase. The purchase will go directly to helping. I urge against buying through on line book sellers as the prices on their sites are way too high or they say not in stock.

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It is nearly 2300 on the Canadian prairies. There are no stars out tonight but there is one brave little Osprey in Port Lincoln, Australia who needs a round of applause. That ospreys name is Middle.

At 111232 a whole large live fish landed on the nest. Middle is being overly cautious not trying to grab any bites. Letting Big get those precious first bites and get her crop a little full. Meanwhile, Middle is pecking away at the tail of the fish. This is very interesting. You have probably seen, as I have, siblings eating from the tail while the breaking sibling is fed up at Mum’s beak. It is a good strategy once Middle figures out how to unzip that tail. By 112218 Middle is up by Big and is doing the snatch and grab. Sometimes Middle pulls back – he is very cautious. Mum gets to eat some fish. In fact, she is feeding the ospreys a little slower than usual. Big moves away from the fish feeding a couple of times. The first is at 112506. Big has been eating for 13 minutes and is getting full. Mum begins to feed Middle. At 112951 Big moves away. Middle remains cautious and then, at 114139, Middle pecks Big before he moves up to begin getting fish. So to summarize, even thought Middle is afraid and displays this as we watch, he is hungry and he is getting braver in order to get fed. Eating is essential to his survival. Middle is doing well. He will end the feeding with a nice crop.

I also noticed that Big is not as grumpy as yesterday despite there being 5 hours between fish deliveries. Perhaps she is slowing down, hitting that plateau. That would really bring peace to this nest.

By the time the 1637 Zebra fish arrives on the barge, Middle is feeling much better, more confident, and Big is being nicer. That feeding went well and even at 1817 when Mum and the two ospreys saw Dad and were feverishly calling for another fish, Middle (and Big) had enormous crops from the day’s takings. I have spent much time watching this nest as opposed to the two falcon scrapes because the fate of Middle was not quite clear. I will have said it twice today, at least, but, it appears that Port Lincoln has turned a corner.

Look carefully at the bottom image. That is Middle, full to the brim. Just sit and smile. Cry. Life appears to be good at Port Lincoln. Still, send all your best and warmest wishes to this family for continued supplies of fish.

It is getting more difficult to tell the female Peregrine Falcons from the males. You must look closely. Diamond just about fooled me yesterday. They lose weight. All of the females lose approximately 30% of their body mass during incubation and raising their chicks. Diamond now has the look of a male with his tight little striped pants.

The same is true for Melbourne where the camera is now positioned so we can see the happenings at the far end. Mum seems to be enjoying it. She has a nice perch above the chicks so that she can watch them but not have any one or all of the Melbourne Four rumbling around underneath her all night. Like human parents, she can get some sleep now!!!!! Thank you to ‘H’ who watched and clocked the feedings at 367 Collins Street yesterday. Much appreciated. There were 5 of them. At 0650 a large unprepared prey arrived on the ledge. The erases were fed for 22 minutes. Leftovers came at 1153 and that was an extremely short feeding of 4 minutes. At 1358 D arrives with a big prey item and feeds the eyases and then Mum arrives and takes over. That lasted 16 minutes. The final two feedings at 1657 and 1836, were large prey items fed for 24 and 18 minutes, respectively. Four active growing eyases can eat a large unprepared bird in such a short time!

This is just a short catch up. Everything is absolutely fine at the two scrapes in Australia – at the 367 Collins Street location and at Orange. I am cautiously delighted about the happenings at Port Lincoln and extremely proud of Middle Bob who is getting ever so clever. Middle Bob is a ‘survivor’.

Thank you so much for joining me. I hope that you are all well. I am back to normal. it was the flu shot that caused me to feel like I had been hit by a big truck. It is cloudy this morning but it appears to be a reasonable day to go and check on ducks. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Stuart Falcon scrape, and ‘H’ and ‘A’ and 367 Collins Street by Mirvac.