Gorgeous day for birding

It is a gorgeous day today. 24 degrees C. We still, for at least today, have summer weather. This meant seeing new and old friends today at the park. There were at least 12 male Wood Ducks, as many females, a host of female and a few male Mallards, and, of course, Canada Geese.

This adult male Wood Duck with its distinctive red eye and green helmet thought that I might have some seed for him to eat. He did not seem to want to take ‘sorry’ as a proper answer.

The duck below is all wet from diving around in the park stream.

Their plumage is absolutely outrageously gorgeous.

There were a few adult female Wood Ducks but not nearly as many as the males at Kildonan Park today. Because there are issues with identification between the juveniles and those in eclipse, I have come upon a bit of a foolproof method for me. The duck below is an adult female Wood Duck. She lacks the red iris and eye ring of the adult male; she does have a yellow eye ring and a distinctive white eye patch. Her bill is dark. I do not want the iridescent green on the top of the head to fool me. This bird is lacking in the 2 pale lines from the throat extending around the neck and onto the cheek. To see those, look at the images of the adult male.

There were a number of Mallards, both male and female.

All of the animals were having a wonderful morning around the duck pond. There were many who brought specialty bird seed just for them. Others, like this little Red Squirrel, were finding acorns and seeds in the grass.

As I was sorting through these images to show to you, there were several knocks on the front door. Several times I went out and no one was there. There are times that sounds carry but, then the knocking got louder and louder. This time I caught the visitor! My house is covered with cedar shakes. It looks more like a cottage in a forest but there is someone who loves those cedar shakes. When I opened the door he flew to the apple tree.

Unfortunately the automatic focus set its mind on the leaves and not on the woodpecker! And she was not certain that he wanted his picture taken or not.

I say ‘she’ because that gorgeous read crest would extended all the way down to the bak if this were the male. But, it is not, it is a female.

You can see that its body is mostly covered in black feathers with a flaming red crest. There is a white throat and its beak is a long dagger shape sadly hidden by the leaves. This particular Pileated Woodpecker lives around my garden year round (and the neighbour hood). She will make her nest in the cavity of a dead or dying tree lining it with wood chips. When she is knocking on my cedar shakes she is looking for ants, wood-boring beetles, and insect larvae. She also likes berries and nuts and I have seen her on the large suet cylinder as well as the telephone pole drilling away. The woodpeckers particularly like the bug and nut suet if you are trying to attract them.

I am particularly concerned for both this Pileated Woodpecker and the male and female Downy that live around my garden. My city has sprayed orange dots on two of the 119 year old Maple Trees in front of my house on the boulevard. If they are to cut them down, is one or both the home and nest of the woodpeckers?

The Grey Slated Juncos are still here today along with a few White Throated Sparrows and Song Sparrows.

It is easy to tell the White-throated Sparrow because of that distinctive white patch under the beak forming the throat – hence, the name. There are also two black bands and three white on the crown along with two very distinctive yellow patches above the eye. The White-throated Sparrows come to Manitoba to breed during the summer. By the end of the month, all of them will be gone to their winter homes.

The Song Sparrow comes to Manitoba also for summer breeding. Soon they will also be away on their journey south. For now, a few are in the garden scratching around the grass and leaves for insects and bug larvae. They are beautiful with that plumage of rust and grey with streaks of white.

It has been a lovely day. I have it on good authority that all of the nestling falcons are fine as are the osplets at Port Lincoln. Yesterday, they once again had 7 feedings! Speaking of feedings, the list of what Mum and Dad have brought in for the Collins Four is anything other than 99% pigeon. This year they have averaged 7.4 prey items per day with 3 being the lowest number of deliveries and 11 being the highest. They have had pigeon, New Holland Honeyeater, Rainbow Lorikeets, Quail, Silver-eyed Gulls, Sparrows, Spotted Pardalotes, Starlings, Wattlebirds, and a White plumed honeyeater. This is quite the surprise. Normally the urban falcons exist primarily on pigeon. I wonder if the people in Melbourne are no longer feeding the pigeons so that the falcons have to look to other species? In Orange, the diet is varied with lots of parrots and Starlings.

A late delivery yesterday was a green parrot. I do not specifically recognize the ‘type’ but will try to find out.

The only streaming cam I have not checked on today is the one for the White-bellied Sea Eagles. Indeed, WBSE 27 was jumping all over the tree and it or both might have fledged. I will alert you if this is the case.

Thank you for joining me. I hope you enjoyed the ducks! Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the Collins Street Falcon Cam by Mirvac where I took my screen shot of the delivery of the green parrot.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving from my garden to yours

It is 17 degrees C, clear blue skies, and the birds are chirping their heads off. After two days of grey damp rain, everyone is happy to celebrate and we are all thankful for the wonderful weather.

Thanks to the birds or squirrels there are sunflowers popping up around the planters. The Vermillionaires are for the hummingbirds, and the Cosmos for the bees and butterflies. The thicket in the back of the garden is a favourite place for hiding or cooling off.

I am thankful to each of those that live in or visit our garden every day. There are three different Blue Jays, one Red Squirrel (Little Red), three Grey Squirrels (Baby, Scraggly, and Monk), Mr and Mrs Wood Pecker (he is missing from the images today), Mr Chickadee, and Hedwig, the garden rabbit.

The joy they bring is immense. The Blue Jays have been demonstrating the many ways to clear the kernels off their corn cobs before Scraggly takes the entire cob. Everyone else has also had special seed or suet over the weekend to thank them.

It seemed that half of our City was at the local park today enjoying the beautiful weather and having picnics instead of big elaborate dinners. You could hear laughter all around the pond. Sadly, there was one female Mallard that has a broken wing. I am waiting for someone to bring me the proper pole with netting and we will be out to attempt a rescue to Wildlife Haven.

Of things to be thankful for today, is not only the joy that all of the birds have given me but also for those that dedicate their lives to trying to mend them and get them out in the wild again. Wildlife Haven is certainly one of those!

The trip had been to check on the little Wood Ducks. The one below is an adult female in her summer/fall plumage. Note her striking white eye patch and the yellow line around her eye. She does not, however, have the red iris of the male. She has white streaking on her breast. You can see the blue secondaries.

Indeed, it is very difficult to ID the Wood Ducks at this time of year because there are so many variations occurring.

We know this to be a male because of the red Iris. There is stunning secondaries. In this instance, they look iridescent green at this angle. This is a first year male in his winter plumage.

I was looking for the adult male. The last time I checked he was almost finished his moult and it would be so nice to see him in his magnificent plumage before they leave the pond for their winter homes. He is sleeping up on the bank of Duck Island on the left. You can get a glimpse of how gorgeous he is. Indeed, most of the wood ducks were having a nap. Perhaps they do not like all the people walking about, laughing, having fun.

From my garden to yours, I hope that like us you have family, friends, and critters who delight you and for whom you can say ‘thank you’ every day! Wildlife is wonderful.

Thanks for joining me today. Wish us good luck in getting that female Mallard out of the pond! Take care everyone. See you soon.

Late Friday in Bird World

It is 10:16 in Australia as I begin this short newsletter.

The osplets on the Port Lincoln barge had a small fish between them around 06:15. They have had nothing since and Big Bob is getting a bit restless. Sadly, he has been pecking Little Bob’s neck and Little Bob is going to have to learn to use his backside to protect himself when this happens. So far the beaking has not been too bad but, as all of you know – this Osprey nest makes me nervous. I will not be able to relax until Little Bob is a little older. It seems that Big Bob is trying to establish nest domination. Tiger Mozone wondered on the chat about DNA causing excessive aggressiveness in the chicks. Certainly this nest has a history of that type of behaviour. I also wonder about toxins in the water that enter the fish and stay in the tissue of the Ospreys.

Mom was hopeful around 09:45 and the chicks were in line to eat. Their crops have dropped from the small fish three and a half hours earlier.

The chicks are being fed more fish and for a longer period. What was six minutes a week ago has stretched into 45 minutes at the table. And these chicks will be fine today if a big fish does not come on the nest for a few more hours. The issue is Big Bob who seems to want to press his authority by fighting with the other two. Middle Bob is the clever one (so far) and seems to be able to stay out of the way but Little Bob still needs to learn how to protect itself.

The two older chicks are moving straight into the rapid growth period where they need lots of fish. Little Bob is following as quickly as he can. You can see that he is moving into the reptile phase himself. The dark feathers are coming in and he is losing the down on his head. Big Bob is awfully dark and a bit scary looking! He is the one holding his head the highest and looking towards you.

It is nearing noon, nest time. Dad has come to the nest without a fish. Is there a predator in the area? I actually thought that this nest was relatively free from predators unlike those in Europe and the US that have to deal with Goshawks, Great Horned Owls, etc. Or has Dad arrived to get the meal order from mom?

I couldn’t help myself. I had to check. Dad must have been taking the fish order at 11:25 because he delivered a fish to the nest around 12:25. Thank goodness. Big Bob behaved himself and everyone is getting to eat.

Look at who has his little mouth open wide!

Little Bob ate first. You can see from the crops. Middle and Big will eat next and by the time they finish, Little Bob will be hungry again. I hope that fish is big enough!

The big news over in New Zealand is that Tiaki has fledged on 25 September. She was 244 days old. Both her and Plateau Chick left the headland but, it has not been completely determined when that was. By the sat-pak it seems that Tiaki might have fledged at night but sometimes that sat-pak GPS requires adjustment. We all wish her a wonderful safe life, full of fish, and a return to us in five years time.

You can follow her satellite GPS. I will put the link below the fledging video.

Cornell Bird Lab caught the moment:

Here is the link so that you can check on Tiaki. Her satellite tracker should continue working for a year until her first moult. You can follow her dad, LGK also. His tracker should be good til he moults – another couple of months. There are only six chicks remaining to fledge.

https://my.wildlifecomputers.com/data/map/?id=6008d9ba31af59139976bcfe

The migration continues in Manitoba with everyone is excited. There are dawn breakfasts and evening dinners celebrating the arrival and departure of the Canada Geese – and, of course, the swans and all the other ducks and birds. Today marked the return of the Dark Eyed Junco to Winnipeg. Oh, people are so happy to see these adorable little birds. There are several sub-species of Junco and the one that visits Manitoba in the summer to breed is called the Slate-coloured Junco.

The Juncos love my red outdoor carpet. Tomorrow or the next day there will be 50 or more hopping about on it and jumping in and out of the dill. They love it if we ‘intentionally’ spill some seeds on the carpet. They are better than a vacuum clearing them up if we do. They do not feed at the feeders but are also seen on the ground for invertebrates. Isn’t this a real cutie? It was definitely not shy. The image was shot through a triple pane of glass so as not to disturb the bird. It seemed to not notice me.

Today, Mr Blue Jay had two other Blue Jay male visitors that wanted to help him eat his cob of dried corn.

By the time dusk arrives, the Jays and the squirrels – both red and grey – had made a real mess of the seeds. I think one of the squirrels wanted some of that corn but the Blue Jays were not having it. They would eat 3 or 4 kernels and then take some away in their beak. It was fascinating watching them through the windows.

Little Red decided it was easier to get up in the lilac bushes and balance himself on the bird feeder and eat his dinner there. Contending with three male Blue Jays was not something he wanted to do. So he kept quiet and ate and ate. He also doesn’t get on with the Grey Squirrels. He has picked a good place to eat in peace and quiet.

Awwww. Look at those tiny little nails.

It was a good day. All of the garden wildlife save for the rabbit were accounted for. There were also several new species of sparrow in the lilac bushes eating seeds. There were Chipping sparrows as well as Clay Coloured Sparrows today.

Hatch watch is coming soon for the 367 Collins Street Peregrine Falcons. WBSE 27 and 28 are doing well. 28 actually managed to get a prey delivery today. Here is a short video showing 28 mantling the prey and then wanting to share it with his big sib. They have their beautiful juvenile plumage and are so adorable.

I also checked in on the Bald Eagles who are working on their nests. Will put in a report some time this weekend. I know that many of you are anxious for Samson and Gabby, Harriet and M15, as well as Jackie and Shadow to get those nests built and those eggs laid! And while the last of the Albatross are fledgling, it will not be that long til the other adults return to Taiaroa Head to make their nests and lay their eggs for the 2022 season. Sometimes time feels like it melts in front of our eyes.

Thank you for joining me. I have promised myself that I am not going to worry about the Port Lincoln Ospreys tonight. The crazy thing is that I wish the winds would pick up. Dad seems to be able to fish better when that is the case. Yes, I know. That is a crazy idea. Take care all of you. Stay safe. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC, and Wildlife Computers.