Thank you, Obey!

21 March 2022

Note: I have not included any graphic images of the early afternoon events. If you have watched this nest you will understand the ways in which Big has attacked Middle – leaning over it, pecking and pulling at its head. The day began and ended well.

It has not been a good afternoon for the Middle chick at the Dale Hollow Bald Eagle nest. DH15. It ate well at the 06:43:46 feeding and again at 08:34.30. While it is true that Bald Eagles do not have to eat every day, Middle is a chick on the nest and should be getting regular feedings in order to develop properly and have good feathering. Stress causes what is known as ‘stress lines in feathers’. What Bald Eagles want are healthy strong chicks with excellent feathering.

Big was set off when River only brought in a fish head at 12:54:06. Middle did not get any of the fish head but was attacked on two separate occasions with Big maintaining an intimidating posture. Indeed, even after Big ate it went after Middle. That was 13:12:30.

River came in and fed scrapes and an old fish tail to Big at 14:25:11.

HD15 Middle has been prey crying.

At 16:51 a small headless fish is brought to the nest by Obey. River arrives shortly after at 16:53:07. Big attacks Middle at 16:53:59 Middle does not get any fish.

At 17:21:06 Middle sits up. Big looks at him. At 17:21:07 Big attacks Middle for just getting up. It is very clear that Big now perceives that there is only enough fish for it. Middle has had enough fish. She is however continuing to intimidate Middle so that he will not eat. Will more fish arrive today? A huge fish to calm Big? We wait.

At 18:27 the chicks appear to hear ‘something’. They become alert. Big still has quite a crop. Middle has no crop. At 18:30 Obey arrives on the nest with a large headless fish —— just like Bald Eagle dads do. They eat the head and bring the body to the Mum and the chicks.

Big begins to eat. Middle is keeping its head down. He is hungry but also very scared.

Middle is trying out strategies. It wants to go between River’s legs like it did in the morning where it can eat and be protected.

Middle winds up, however, going on the left side of River where she feeds him. He is protected from Big!

Middle gets fed well.

Big gets some more bites.

Middle moves and River steps on its back.

This scares Middle. He does not appear hurt but he moves away.

Slowly he returns to eat.

Big is full and Middle continues to be fed by River.

Big is too full and lays down to sleep. 18:58.

Middle gets the last bites. That big fish was completely consumed.

It is really good for Middle when fish, large enough for both, come on the nest. Remember the size of the eaglets. More larger fish will be needed on this nest, not fewer. Middle is learning some devices to protect itself and eat – eating between River’s legs and going to the opposite side where Big is. Let us all send warm wishes and positive thoughts to this nest so that the fish – big ones – continue on this nest. It looks like they need four large fish a day to keep the nest stable. We still have to take this nest a meal at a time and enjoy the good times. At some point Middle will, hopefully, be large enough that Big leaves it alone.

Thank you for joining me. It was a good beginning of the day at Dale Hollow and a good ending. Take care Everyone.

Thank you to the Dale Hollow streaming cam where I took my screen captures.

The Continuing Saga of Dad and the Duck or ‘As the Nest Turns’

Just to bring those of you up to speed in case you haven’t read my earlier blog. In early December, a pair of Pacific Black Ducks investigated the nest of a pair of White-Bellied Sea Eagles (WBSE) in an old Ironwood Tree in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park in Sydney, Australia. On 14 December, a nest cup was excavated in the centre of the sea eagle nest by the ducks. (Note: This is off-season for the sea eagles.). Six days later, ‘Dad’, the male partner of ‘Lady’, to whom the nest belongs, came to the nest for one of his periodic territory checks. The female aptly named ‘Daisy’ by Phyllis Robbins of the WBSE chat group laid her first egg in the nest cup on 5 January 2021.

Female Black Pacific Duck

On the morning of 11 January, Daisy arrives at the nest just after dawn. Before she could lay her egg, vocalizations from other birds in the forest alert her that the sea eagle is about. Indeed, Daisy might have been listening for the male sea eagle because he had come to the nest the previous day. That day she quickly covered the eggs and flew off the nest but stayed in proximity. Dad stayed for about half an hour before leaving and within a few minutes, Daisy returned to lay her sixth egg without interruption. This morning, however, Daisy had not laid her egg when the large sea bird appeared. She stood on the rim of the nest and quacked as Dad flew to the camera tree. She left so abruptly that she did not have time to cover her eggs but, it seems that Dad did not notice her physical presence on the nest or her quacking.

Dad surveyed his territory remaining on the tree that supports the camera for the live stream for about an hour. He might have thought that the bird laying the eggs would return without noticing him and he would find out who this mysterious bird is.

White-Bellied Sea Eagle Male known as ‘Dad’ scanning his territory for intruders.

After about an hour and a half, Dad flew to the nest tree to see first hand what was happening. He had noticed the eggs the previous day by rummaging around in the leaves. He even tried to pick one up with his bill but to no avail.

Three of the six Black Pacific Duck Eggs

Today the eggs were clearly visible. Look carefully. Daisy has started removing down from her breast to line the nest. This physiological process is called zugunruhe.

Under normal circumstances, Daisy would arrive at dawn to lay her egg. She would do this every day until she finished laying all of the eggs for her clutch. This can vary between 8-13 eggs. After laying her egg, Daisy often remains on the nest for a period of about an hour before departing for the river to forage for the rest of the day. Once all of the eggs are laid, Daisy will begin full incubation, being relieved periodically by her mate. After twenty-eight days, the ducklings will hatch. Then, the following day (after 24 hours), they will take a giant leap of faith and jump off the rim of the nest, a distance of approximately fourteen metres, to the forest floor. Here they will follow their mother to the Parramatta River where they will immediately begin foraging for themselves.

Dad inspecting the Black Pacific Duck’s eggs

Today, Dad began to curiously inspect the nest with the eggs. For what seemed like an eternity, he would look at the eggs and then look around the immediate environment of the tree. It was actually like he was confused. At one point he tried to pick up one of the eggs but he couldn’t do it. It isn’t that they are heavy; the shape is just awkward for him to handle with his beak. He did not try to move the eggs with his giant talons nor did he attempt to break them. He did toss some of the down around. At one point, it even looked like he might start brooding the eggs. It was a very strange exchange because Dad’s hormones are not thinking about breeding or brooding. He is in the midst of moulting.

Dad trying to move one of the eggs

The entire morning was very suspenseful. Currawongs and Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos were screeching in the background and at one point, it was thought that Daisy even did a fly by.

And then the oddest thing happened. Very delicately, Dad covered up the eggs at 9:01 am.

Dad covered up the duck eggs so that no one could see them

If that wasn’t peculiar enough, Dad went up to one of the ‘parent branches’ on the nest tree and stood vigil. More than once, Dad flapped his wings to keep the Currawongs away! Take altogether, these three actions scream out that his intuition is to protect the eggs.

Dad standing guard over the nest

Dad stayed for more than an hour before departing. At the time of this writing, he has returned once again to the nest tree where he is keeping watch over his territory.

Stay tuned!