Late Wednesday in Bird World

11 May 2022

It is really sad when a ‘bird Mum’ seems to consistently favour one healthy chick over another especially when the eldest has already killed the third hatch. Today, at the UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey nest, this preference for the dominant one over a healthy chick crying for food was so evident despite Middle making every effort to get around to the beak to eat even after being intimidated. Yes, Middle held back for his own survival. But it is ever so sad. He is a big healthy osplet! A fish came in at 18:24. Big did the dominance stance and Middle pulled back. By the time Middle got around on the rim to Mum’s beak, she had already given Big part of the tail. Big ate the entire fish! At 18:37 Mum find a few little scraps on a bone and gives it to Middle. At 18:38 Middle takes the bone to self feed trying to find any meat no matter how dry to eat. Middle has not had much food today but he has had some. Yesterday he ate well so we are still good.

Middle will be a survivor if he does not fall off or get shoved from the nest – he reminds me so much of Tiny Tot Tumbles at Achieva last year. She dug around in the nest eating very old, very dry leather hard pieces of fish. They kept her alive. She was self-feeding proficiently before the two older siblings. TTT became the dominant bird on the nest and if any of those three chicks were to survive their first year, my money would be on her. In fact, this winter Tiny Tot Tumbles was photographed at least once on the Achieva nest so she is still alive. That is wonderful and it will be the same for Middle. I just wish these osplets were banded.

It is worth noting that Big already had a ‘big’ crop before the last feeding of the day ever took place! There she is in the middle of the nest standing proudly with all the commotion going on around her. Middle is trying to get to the fish.

Sadly, all Big has to do is raise her head and walk towards Middle and he cowers. This behaviour was noted to have changed over the weekend by ‘R’. Prior to Friday, Middle had been getting up to the fish faster and, therefore, getting more food. The assumption is that food was scarce over the weekend when there was a big storm and the camera kept cutting in and out. It is also believed that Big took this out on Middle.

Middle is watching Big and trying to move up to get some food. If Mum would just turn herself 45 degrees both chicks could eat. It is very frustrating.

Mum found a few bites for Middle. Just think. Big ate an entire fish and Middle got a few bites.

Middle is continuing to chew on the fish bone to try and find some food.

Is there enough food coming on the nest for Mum and the two chicks? There was yesterday and with Big having a crop before she ate this entire last fish today, I would say yes. Certainly 50% of the fish could have gone to Big with 25% each to Mum and Middle and everyone would have been fine. It is not a case of everyone starving. It is sad.

This female is not the only one that has favoured one chick over another. I am certain that you can think of several instances if you have been watching streaming bird cams for awhile. One thing I have noticed – at least in Bald Eagles – is that the Dad will often step in and feed the ‘left out’ sibling. I know it sounds crazy but some of those males that are now Dads would have had big sisters who demanded and took everything. Do the males remember?

The two eyases at the CalFalcons scrape do not have the problems Middle has at UFlorida. Alden caught a pigeon today and I am absolutely certain Annie was delighted. Everyone can fill up and there will be leftovers in the pantry.

Precious.

Look at those two. Talk about a different atmosphere in a nest! I will take a falcon any day.

Bursting little crops. These two will cuddle up under Annie and sleep well.

Cal Falcons put this feeding into a short video clip.

So happy to see the promotion of the Peregrine Falcons and their chicks on The Campanile. Anything that will bring awareness to the raptors so that we can help make their lives a little better is welcome – and one way is to educate people.

It is so far, so good at the Manton Bay nest. Both chicks have eaten and it appears that the third chick is hatching. It will be a relief for Mum to be only brooding instead of brooding and incubating. I really hope that chick is doing just fine in the morning – the one that was exposed. It looks good so fingers crossed.

Ferris Akel has a pair of Red-tail Hawks near to where he lives and today he has discovered that Betty and Barney have three chicks!

Two Habours 1 is doing just fine. She looks out on that gorgeous cobalt coloured water that surrounds her nest in the Channel Islands.

The winds are really gusting at the West End nest of Thunder and Akecheta not far from Chase and Cholyn’s nest at Two Harbours. Let us all hope that the eaglets do not want to stand up and get near that ledge. Hunker down.

There are big storms about and it is very, very gusty at the MN-DNR nest of Nancy and E1 Harriet, too.

Harriet has brought in a really nice fish. You can see it in the image above. She is trying to stand in the violent wind gusts and feed Harriet. Sweet. These two are doing well under the circumstances.

We have another storm coming that is predicted to drop 40 mm of rain in a short period of time tomorrow. I wonder if this same system will hit the MN-DNR nest?

Those same winds are blowing at the Osprey platform at the Arboretum on the grounds of the University of Minnesota. The couple have one egg so far. Last year they fledged one chick.

Here is the link to their streaming cam:

The prey that is brought to the urban nests versus those in rural areas can be very different. In New York City, the Red-tail Hawks seem to live on pigeons and rats. Today a rat was delivered to the Presidio Red-tail Hawk nest in San Francisco. It makes me nervous. I am very much against the use of rodenticide and when the rodents are slow and easy catches they are often poisoned. The hawks thus die of secondary poisoning. It is tragic and unnecessary!

Fingers Crossed!

All White-bellied Sea Eagle fans should be checking in on the nest around the beginning to mid-June. Lady and Dad have been making nestorations and mating.

Of course, we will also be gearing up for the CBD Peregrine Falcons in Melbourne (late August or September for the cam to return), Xavier and Diamond at their scrape in Orange, and of course, the Ospreys at Port Lincoln. It is mid-May now. Time is passing.

Thank you for joining me this evening. Hopefully we will wake up to three healthy chicks at the Manton Bay platform tomorrow and several more fish for UFlorida-Gainesville! Tomorrow is pip watch for Richmond and Rosie. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Sea Eagles@BirdLife Australia Discovery Centre, Cal Falcons, Presidio RTH, Ferris Akel, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Osprey Cam, Explore.org, UFlorida-Gainesville Ospreys, MN-DNR, and LRWT Manton Bay.

Late Sunday in Bird World

02.27.2022

The Captiva trio are in food coma after their second big feed for the day. It is 16:56 nest time. Little Bob got his tiny but chubby bottom up to that table just like our dear Ervie. This little one loves to eat that fish! Little and Middle Bobs fell asleep at the table. Big Bob had left earlier and passed out on the other side of the nest.

That fish delivery came at 16:00:35. This time Andy ate the head so he had some nourishment, too.

One of my friends, ‘B’ suggested that it is the recreational vehicles at the weekend causing fishing difficulty for Andy. ‘B’ commented that it was the same issue at the Redding nest last season. Tomorrow is Monday. I hope Andy’s fishing returns to 3 or 4 fish. The adults need to eat as well too. It is like the oxygen instructions in a plane. The responsible party needs to put theirs on first and then take care of the others. Same for eating with Ospreys.

We will not worry about these three until tomorrow. Thanks Andy and Lena!

Window to Wildlife, the group affiliated with the cam and the chat, posted a short video of Little Bob hatching today.

I am just so impressed with the tenderness of some of the males. At the Dale Hollow nest today, Obey was clearing out some of the pantry items to see what he needs to bring in. All the while he was feeding River who was brooding the twins and keeping their pipping egg 3 nice and warm.

At the same time, River and Obey do another tandem feeding for the twins this afternoon.

I am so glad that I found this nest! They are an incredible family that is working so well together. Experience can do that!

The Port Lincoln Osprey nest is really lonely this morning in Australia. The pigeons are still doing clean up. I wish I could import them to clean up around my bird feeders! They look very thorough.

This is the latest tracking for Ervie posted yesterday on the Port Lincoln Osprey Project’s FB page. While he really did explore Port Boston to the right of the airport, Ervie continues to return to the area of the green pin to roost at night. The barge is the point right above the ‘t’ in Port at the bottom of the tracking image.

The juveniles, Jasper and NE27 on the Northeast Florida Bald Eagle nest are doing well. Here is a great image of NE27 standing tall this afternoon. Remember that this beautiful Bald Eagle will get a name based on the votes that the American Eagle Foundation receives of the five finalists. Jasper got her name because she was born when the named storm, Jasper, hit the area.

Message me through comments if you would like the information on voting.

The juveniles at the SWFlorida Bald Eagle nest in Fort Myers are several weeks older than those at NEFlorida. Harriet and M15’s E19 and E20 are really good at self feeding and they stand on the edge of nest rim and look about. Next stage is branching!

Big Red and Arthur have been working on their nest on the light stand. It looks so forlorn today with some snow and ice remaining.

I have not heard about a pip at the nest of Jackie and Shadow at Big Bear. When the pipping begins, the parent will hear the cheeping of the chick and can feel it moving about. You should notice the one on incubation duties looking down and listening.

I always hate to close with bad news. This are the two most recent postings for the Hilton Head eaglets. You will note that HH3 and HH4 are in critical condition. There is also information about the spread of avian flu and the deaths of other eagles. Anyone feeding birds needs to be vigilant in cleaning the feeders. If you were to find dead birds at the feeders and it is not the result of a cat or raptor, you might want to contact your local wildlife rehabber for advice. Do not handle the dead birds with your bare hands. You might want to do a major clean up as the lab results can take several days. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Our thoughts go out to all of the bird families that have been impacted by this lethal disease. It is sobering to consider that an entire generation of eaglets (and other birds) could be wiped out.

I note that rodenticide poisoning also causes nestlings to literally fall out of the nest. One of my favourite wildlife rehabbers, A Place Called Hope, has admitted a Barred Owlet who fell out of the nest and is suffering from this poison. This is entirely avoidable. Everyone reading my blog knows rodenticide. Work hard to educate people so these beautiful raptors do not have to suffer.

Are you a falcon lover? The Peregrine Falcons are getting busy in Utica, New York. I am looking to find their streaming cam link and will post it tomorrow for everyone.

Thank you so much for joining me today as I did a hop, skip, and a jump checking on some of our nests. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB pages where I took my screen captures: Bald Eagles 101 FB, Dale Hollow Lake Bald Eagles, Captiva Ospreys and Window on the World, NEFlorida Bald Eagles and the AEF, SWFlorida Bald Eagles and D Pritchett, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Labs RTH camera, and Friends of Big Bear Valley.

Saturday in Bird World

Good Afternoon Everyone. It looks pretty quiet out in Bird World this morning.

The two eaglets of Rita and Ron’s, R1 and R2, continue to sleep and eat without any observable ill effects from the rat dinner that they had yesterday. Fingers crossed. They are such beautiful and healthy little ones, curious about the world beyond the nest. Hopefully we can all go ‘whew’ after this fright is over – let’s celebrate on Monday.

They are very mobile, scooting around on the nest, balancing themselves with their wings.

This is Ron feeding the little ones. He isn’t as good as Rita but he tries.

There is an active pip watch at the Bald Eagle nest of Pa Berry and Missy in Georgia. B15 is doing well. Right now it also looks like Mt Berry could be in line for some of that winter weather making its way across parts of the United States. I really hope they get little or nothing. It isn’t nice to have a hatch when the snow and ice are coming down.

Pa Berry was on the nest with Missy on alert this morning.

B15 seems to have a good appetite.

Chatters are working on names for the little eaglet at the Kistachie National Forest (KNF) Bald Eagle Nest. The deadline for submissions is 30 January. Late this morning Louis flew in with a Coot to add to the 4 or 5 fish already on the nest.

The area is experiencing high winds today and are under a high wind advisory. It is also very cool in the forest at 8 degrees C.

This little one is the cutest little roly-poly I have seen in a long time. Anna has the feeding down and the baby is happy to have those nice bites of fish!

It is hard to imagine that E19 and E20 were this small a few weeks ago! Now they are at the big clown feet stage and their feathering is coming in nicely. I wonder if Harriet left this fish to see if anyone would try and nibble?

While other parts of the US are being hit with tsunami warnings, record levels of snow and ice, Florida is having a heat warning and should be getting some rain from that system.

Here is a lovely little video of E19 and E20 having their fish breakfast!

Finally, the pip watch for Gabby and Samson will be coming at the end of the week! I am so excited.

There have been intruders and both Gabby and Samson have been watching and listening carefully this afternoon.

How gorgeous!

An alert.

Time for some territorial defense.

All is well. Whew.

This nest is an active site for intruders. Gabby and Samson have to always be vigilant.

The two little eaglets are getting their feathers at the Hilton Head Island Trust Bald Eagle nest in South Carolina. There is no roll back. All I can say is that they appear to be eating well, growing at the right pace, and Mitch seems to have food on the nest for Harriet to feed the wee ones.

If you are in the line of the storms, tsunamis, and heat warning areas of the US or elsewhere, please take care. I will continue to monitor the WRDC nest of Ron and Rita with the hope that the rat did not get sluggy because of rodenticide poisoning. Ervie is on the barge and I will also check in with him and everyone else at the PLO later today. Thank you so much for joining me.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Berry College Bald Eagles, SWFlorida and D Pritchett, KNF Bald Eagle Cam, NEFlorida and the AEF, WRDC, and Hilton Head Island Trust.

Considering Electra

I have been thinking about Electra all day…and have spent several blogs trying to gain some insight into her behaviour on the Cowlitz PUD nest since her last chick died of heat stroke. She has spent more time at the nest today than yesterday when it was deathly hot. She food calls when she sees Wattsworth. She stands like a sentry. She spent the night at the nest.

I have been given examples of raptor behaviour when the eggs have been broken and the female continues in incubation mode because of her hormones. Many of you have also seen other raptors incubating eggs for long periods of time when they are unviable. That is one behaviour. But, I am going to go out on a limb and say that the behaviour displayed by Electra is different.

There are no eggs to hatch. How does an Osprey mourn? While I believe that Electra ‘understood’ the death of the first by siblicide, she returned to find her second chick had died – a chick with a crop and seemingly healthy. This just took me back to the situation on Captiva Bald Eagle Nest on Santibel Island this early spring.

Some of you will remember that traumatic event. Joe had brought a rat to the nest and had fed baby Hope and Peace. Peace died almost before anyone could realize how ill she was. Hope grew and only died when one of her blood feathers broke and she bled out. It was the rodenticide, the rat poison that did not allow her blood to coagulate. The father, Joe stood over the body of Peace in the Captiva Bald Eagle Nest in Santibel, Florida. Joe stayed with his baby until the corpses of both Peace and Hope were removed for autopsy. In the end, Joe was so traumatized by the events on the nest that his role as dominant male was usurped.

Joe is not the only male that has shown a response to trauma. Another good example is Romeo on the NE Florida Nest. When Juliette was injured by an intruding female and did not return, Romeo tried to take care of the nest. When he went to get food for the eaglet the intruder returned and took the chick. Romeo left and never returned to his nest.

What I am saying is that I do not think that we can always put behaviours of the birds down to ‘hormones’ or instincts. What Electra is doing is different than incubating and she is not brooding the chicks. She is standing over them, like Joe at Captiva.

We will never get into the mystery of precisely how Joe or Electra are feeling. My thoughts on this behaviour are simply my own observations based on deaths at other nests. I do not know how Electra has responded to the death of her chicks in the past and if this current behaviour is any different.

Other females have lost Osprey chicks and left the nest completely not to return. Landa did not, as I recall, return to the Urdaibai Biosphere Park in Spain after her last two chicks died of hypothermia this year. Others like Mrs G moved her dead chicks to the edge of the nest and she now spends time eating fish and being on the nest with Aran. Mrs G and Aran also accepted the community fish and those were brought to the nest. At other times an only chick dies and the mother has to continue to care for other little ones.

The response to tragedy is not always uniform and predicted.

Tiny Tot has had to deal with an intruder today. Jack owes Tiny lots of fish! There is also concern as Tropical Storm moves from the Caribbean to Florida early nest week. It should be dissipated enough to only cause 34 mph winds. I will keep you posted.

I want to close with leaving you something beautiful to watch. You might never have seen it before. It is a sight not seen in Poole Harbour, England for 200 years. Imagine. 200 Years. It is an Osprey doing a sky dance. This is two year old male 022 trying to impress CJ7. They will not raise a family until next year but 022 is extremely earnest in his desire to bond with CJ7 at the Poole Harbour Nest!

Thank you for joining me today. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the COWLITZ PUD for their streaming cam where I grabbed my screen shots of Electra and the chicks.

The Black Kites of Taiwan

Every day the stories of raptors being injured or killed because of lead in fishing and hunting equipment or rat poisons lands on my desk. Each wildlife rehabilitation clinic in Canada and the United States has story after story of very ill or dying raptors, hundreds at each clinic. Imagine. The United States Department of Fish and Wildlife Services keeps records of the reported deaths. That is, however, just the tip of the so-called iceberg. Raptors in urban centres, such as New York City disappear – one day they are taking care of eyases and the next day they are gone. Carcasses are found on the roofs of buildings, on the streets where someone picks them up and places them in the garbage, or in light wells. The problem of rodenticide or lead poisoning is not limited to North America. It is a global problem that is often extremely complex.

“rural taiwan 1” by magilla 03 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In Taiwan, the Black Kites were disappearing. Due the efforts of academics and students from Taiwan’s Pingtung University of Science and Technology, conservation groups such as the Keelung Wild Bird Society, as well as individuals such as Shen Chen-Chung, the population of Black Kites on this densely populated island are now returning.

““城市獵人: 麻鷹(黑鳶) Urban Hunter: Black Kite (Milvus migrans)” / 自然 Nature / SML.20130509.7D.41656” by See-ming Lee (SML) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Black kites are medium-sized raptors but with a wingspan of a Western Osprey, 150 cm or 5 feet. Adults weigh on average 550 grams or 1.2 pounds. They are 47 to 60 cm long (or 18.5 to 24 inches). These dark coloured birds have lighter plumage on their head and neck. Their flight feathers are black with some cross bars while the body is rather striated. They have a yellow cere and gape; their bill is totally black. Their legs are yellow with black talons. The females are, as in other raptors, larger than the males. Like Red Tail Hawks, the Black Kite lives to soar, rising high on the thermals in the air.

In the image below you can see the gape and the cere that are yellow above the black beak.

“Black Kite {Milvus migrans}” by – Ariful H Bhuiyan – is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Black kites breed once a year. The average clutch is two to three eggs but as few as one and as many as five eggs have been seen. Incubation of eggs to hatching is twenty-eight to thirty-two days. Days to fledging is approximately forty-two to fifty-six.

Black Kites are opportunistic feeders. In Taiwan, they eat a lot of grasshoppers, lizards, and snakes as well as rats, chickens, and carrion. They are scavengers and often take food from people eating at restaurants or having picnics. They are very susceptible to pesticides and it was pesticides that were killing them.

In order to combat the problem of the Black Kite deaths and to try and rebuild the populations of these much admired raptors, citizen birding groups worked with the Raptor Research Group of Taiwan. They set up a FB group to generate observations of poisonings of the Black Kite. They collated those results. One of the things that they discovered is that most of the Black Kite deaths took place near farms were rice and adzuki beans were grown as well as airports. The dead birds were collected for testing. The birds tested positive for Carbofuran poisoning. Carbofuran is one of the most toxic pesticides used to kill insects in potato, soybean, and corn crops. It is sprayed on the fields to kill insects which, in turn, were eaten by the Black Kites. The birds also had residues of SGAR brodifacoum and SGARs bromodialone and flocoumafen in their bodies. Each of these is an anti-coagulant meaning that the blood will not clot. The poisons are put out to kill rats but the rats do not die instantly. They begin to have internal bleeding that makes them sluggish. As a result, they are easy prey for the raptors who suffer a very painful secondary death.

Because of the efforts of the students, academics, and citizen birders, the Taiwanese government ended the use of Carbofuran in 2015. There are still rodenticides available to local farmers but their potency has been quite diluted, only 3%. The government has also set about to educate farmers on the deaths of birds due to pesticides as well as new farming techniques leading to the growth and sales of environmentally friendly adzuki beans. As a result, the number of Black Kite nests are growing from less than 300 to 709 in 2020.

At the same time that the government was educating the farmers, a film, Fly, Kite, Fly was released in 2015 detailing the two decades that Shen Chen-Chung spent documenting the Black Kite and its demise and return. Every effort, it is hoped, will improve the lives of the beloved birds.

The film documents the two decades that Shen Chen-chung documented the Black Kite in Taiwan. it was released in Canada in 2016.

The image below shows a female Black Kite feeding her two chicks. The nest is in a hillside cemetery in Taiwan. The eldest chick hatched on 3 March with the youngest believed to have hatched on 6 March. The chicks were not even two weeks old when a fire ravished the cemetery below their nest. The cameras were burned and no one knew the fate of the two chicks in the nest. There was nothing for anyone to do but wait to see if the chicks survived and, if so, to see if the parents would return to the nest to care for them. When the fire cooled, late the following day, the chicks were discovered alive. And both of their parents were feeding them! Because they survived the fire, the chicks were named Pudding and Brulee after the popular French flaming dessert, Creme Brulee. The mother is Blanche because she brought many white flowers to the nest and the male is Brownie for the colour of their plumage.

The nest is covered with some ash making it appear white and powdery.

Black kite female, Blanca, feeds her two chicks, Cream and Brulee. 30 March 2021.

If you would like to watch this nest, here is the link:

The efforts of these groups and individuals are to be applauded and copied. It is time that North American banned the use of lead in both hunting and fishing equipment and rodenticides. Taiwan has shown that it can be done.

Thank you so much for joining me today in Bird World. I hope that you will take a look at this family of beautiful Black Kites.

Thank you to Black Kite Nest Cam Live in Taiwan. That is where I took my scaps. Information on the citizen efforts comes from several articles in The Taiwan Times.

Fun with Bonnie and Clyde

Great Horned Owls (GHOW) are found all across North America – literally, they exist everywhere from the hot swampy areas of Florida to the deserts of the Southwest to the prairies and mountains of Canada. There is currently no concern for them in terms of declining populations. Just because there is no decline does not mean that the owls should not be monitored. Monitoring means that researchers can see when a decline does happen and they can ask why.

The setting sun on Bonnie.

In the 1970s many bird populations were wiped out due to the use of DDT. DDT was a pesticide and it was banned in 1972 after Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962 exposing the issues. It took a decade for change to happen but it did happen.

So the question then is, why in 2014 were birds dying in Michigan with levels of DDT poison so high in their brains that no one could believe the readings? Songbirds such as Robins, European Starlings, and bluebirds were dropping dead in people’s yards. DDT was not only found in the brains of the dead birds in enormous concentrations but it was also found in the worms that the birds ate. A professor at the University of Michigan looking into the phenomena found that the concentrations ranged from 155 to 1043 parts per million with the average being 552. The threshold for death is 30 parts per million. DDT persists in the soil and in the rivers. It thins the eggs of birds so that they break and cannot be incubated. It makes the birds sick and it is not a quick death but a slow painful one. The authorities in Michigan found that the Velsicol Chemical Corporation was responsible. Under their old name, Michigan Chemical, they manufactured pesticides. It is the area around their old plant where the soil, in 2014, was still saturated with the poison.

Today, the raptors – not the seed eating birds – have issues with various types of designer poisons for mice and rats. They are commonly called Rodenticides. In the United States, the name of one of the biggest companies manufacturing this poison is deConn. And, like when we want a tissue for a runny nose, many will ask for a ‘Kleenex’. Owls eat a lot of mice and rats. In fact, they are the absolute best and cheapest way to rid an area of these rodents. Someone could start a company, ‘Hire an Owl’.

And speaking of owls and mice, I have some great shots of Bonnie and Clyde for you tonight. And I have the answer to two questions sent to me by e-mail. I will incorporate those in the text. Thank you to those who wrote and asked – always happy to answer if I can or to help find the answer.

First of all, owls are noctural but like all other raptors they actually do a lot of hunting right at dusk and dawn. Owls do not see colour very well because nature provided them with sensitive dark-light rod cells instead of ones for differentiating colour. During the day, Clyde will sleep just like Bonnie, if she can. Clyde will not bring food to Bonnie during the bright light of day. But you might expect him to come, if prey is plentiful, right after dusk. Let us hope that none of the mice or rats that Clyde brings Bonnie have eaten any pesticides.

Dusk was at 6:39 pm in Newton, Kansas where the Bald Eagle Nest that Bonnie and Clyde are using is located. Between 6:55 and 8:04 pm, Bonnie made three trips off the nest. The first was at 6:55. She raises her head. Did she hear Clyde? She leaves the nest and returns at 7:03. That was eight minutes. She might have needed a bathroom break and she might have had something to eat.

At 7:21, we can see Clyde’s eyes. Clyde lands on a branch. Bonnie hears him.

Bonnie gets up. Clyde has brought her a mouse!

They do a quick exchange.

And Bonnie is back on the nest. It took a whole two minutes.

Bonnie takes another very short break from 7:57 to 8:04. Just like the first time she left this evening, the camera is fixed on the next so we cannot see what happens outside the frame. The temperature has really warmed up from the frigid minus degrees. It is 29 degrees F. The hunting might be a lot better because the mice will not be hunkered down with the cold. They will also be out looking for food while Clyde is looking for them!

Those beautiful big owl eyes are the reason that Clyde will be his busiest hunting within two hours of dusk and two hours of dawn. It is quite possible then that all three of Bonnie’s departures after dusk had to do with food deliveries and bathroom breaks together.

It is dawn, 6:27 am at the nest and Clyde has brought in his last mouse for the night. He arrives on his ‘regular’ branch. You should be able to see the mouse hanging out of his beak.

The pair have this all worked out. Bonnie and Clyde do some hoots and she flies up to the upper branch on the left.

Bonnie then flies up to grab the mouse from Clyde and within a blink that mouse becomes owl and she is back on her nest in two minutes. This couple is extremely efficient!

Besides hunting, Clyde’s other duty is to protect the territory of the nest and Bonnie. He will not be far away!

__________________________________________________________________

Just a couple of quick observations for today and then something special at the end.

The little eaglets on the Southwest Florida nest at Fort Myers, E17 and E18 are itchy. E18 was preening 17 and then they both wake up in the night and start preening. You will see that their flight feathers are just starting to come in. (Note: The dark object is a piece of an armoured fish). Here are a few images of these two itchy characters:

E17 is preening E18
Flight and pin feathers make eagles itchy.

Over at the other eagle nest in NE Florida at St Augustine, little NE24 is getting its pin feathers, too. Sometimes these are called ‘blood’ feathers because they are filled with blood while they are growing. Some of you might remember that Hope, the oldest eaglet on Connie and Joe’s nest at Captiva, Florida died because she broke a blood feather and bled out. That was because of the rodenticide in the prey she had been fed. So blood feathers. Our new words for the day!

I am absolutely in love with this little eaglet. Maybe because it is all alone on that big nest without any siblings. But, at the same time, that is such a plus. There is no anxiety watching this nest. Gabby and Samson do a fine job taking care of this little one. And its eyes cleared up all on its own.

The soft glow of dusk is filtering through the trees in the swamp. NE24 has a nice crop before bed. You can see that the feathers are changing colour from white to grey. You can also see the pin feathers just starting to come in. Poor thing. It will not only have to deal with all those mosquitoes but now these things coming in!

Now for something just a little special. Most Bald Eagles do not start breeding until they are much older than five years even though they can at four to five years. In a nest in Minnesota supervised by the Department of Natural Resources, a four year old Bald Eagle male (called a sub adult) is going to get to see his first egg for the very first time. His beak is still a brown or amber colour instead of the bright yellow and he still retains some of the brown feathers mixed with the white on his head. It is thirteen minutes long – and no, he is not dirty. He is just a youngster. His eyes have not gotten light yet either. Enjoy!

Thank you again for joining with me to learn about the birds we all love so much. It is my pleasure to share them with you. Tomorrow we best check in on some Royal Albatross and what their satellite trackers are showing and we will also try and find Solly ——- and, of course, see what Bonnie and Clyde are up to. The weather patterns are shifting again and I am sad to say that the Bald Eagle Nest in New Jersey is once again covered with snow. This mom with three eggs under her never seems to catch a break.

Thank you to the streaming cams of Derek the Farmer, Duke Farms, SWFL Eagle Cam and D Pritchett Real Estate, NEFL Eagle Cam, and to Lady Hawk for making that great video of our young eagle dad.

So excited, had to share

Today is my wedding anniversary and we had a lovely breakfast – croissants with lovely marmalade – and my husband bought me two books and I can’t tell you how excited I am. One is Raising Ducks and the other is Wilding. The Return of Nature to a British Farm. Can he read my mind? Ducks! I wonder if the city would give me a permit? I was threatening to dig up our 10 x 10 lower deck for a little pond for ducks the other day. Oh, how to breed, care, and keep healthy ducks. Yes.

Oh, I miss Daisy the Duck!

But three other things also caught my attention just have I had posted my earlier blog. The first is an update on E17 and E18, Harriet and M15s kiddos. They still have their eye infection and they still are eating CROW out of house and home. Gosh, those eaglets love being fed by tongs! But what I noticed was a feisty attitude in the images and I had to share them with you.

In the top image, E17 and E18 look like little angels. They are getting pin feathers (oh itchy), losing their egg tooth, and they are grey with little tails starting to grow. Precious.

Image courtesy of CROW FB

Ah, this is more like it. E18 with its beak open ready to start the bopping game! These two look like they could climb out of their fresh white towel nest at any moment! But look, I think they are also enclosed in an aquarium. Smart.

Oh, I love to see the cheekiness. It means they are getting better. Just like us when we are sick and fighting an infection.

Image courtesy of CROW FB

Here they are on January 31. Look at the difference in their colouring from then and until today and those eyes are so much better. They are not out of the woods on that infection. I had hoped to hear they might be returning to their nest in Fort Myers tomorrow but, no. Poor darlings.

Image courtesy of CROW FB

Some of you will be very familiar with my rant against rat poison. Several years ago I had the most gentle cat, Duncan. She would go outside and sit with me while I drank my morning coffee on her leash. The minute Duncan smelled the coffee she would sit, back straight, right at the end of the kitchen counter waiting to go outside. She was an angel of a cat. She never tried to get away. One day Duncan caught a mouse in our house. At the time, the mice were very bad in our neighborhood despite there being feral cats still out and about. Duncan died because of the rat poison. It does terrible things to cats. I was devastated.

Duncan had been one of three kittens born to a feral cat that my neighbour, Bert, took care of in his old school van. He fed all of the feral cats and any time one of them was to have kittens, Bert would take it into the van, feed it, and then find homes for the little ones. I took Duncan when she was not ready to leave her mother because the other two would not allow her to nurse. She was raised on a bottle and well, she was just the sweetest cat! To lose her was terrible but it also made me realize how the new designer pesticides and rodenticides could cause many more to lose their pets. We have sense filled in every hole with copper mesh so that the mice cannot get in the house. There is also the hawk that visits our garden. I hope he enjoys them. BUT, I don’t want this tiny Sharp-Shinned Hawk to die either.

Since the death of Hope and Peace at the Captiva BE nest, there has been a concerted effort across the state of Florida to ban these anticoagulant killers. I don’t live in Florida but I belong to the group to raise awareness. Below is an image of an owl that was in care because of poisoning and an image of the d-Con boxes of this poison.

So why am I so happy? d-Con has announced that it is pulling this highly effective anti-coagulant poison from the shelves! This is an even more effective killer than the one that Duncan died from. The cats don’t even hate to eat the poisoned mouse, they just have to bite through the skin. Well, my hats are off to d-Con.

Now spread the word. If you know of anyone that has used this, is using it, or has some in their cupboard, ask them to find out where in their community they can safely take the box to have it disposed of. Do not put these boxes in the garbage. It may take you a bit of time during the pandemic to even find the place to turn these poisons in for destruction.

Images courtesy of EarthJustice.org

I can promise you that no one wants to get me started talking about wind turbines. As I continue to say, I will be the first one on my block to stand up for the environment but I have a problem with wind turbines. The older ones are real killers of birds. As my son reminded me, cats are the number 1 killer and that is actually a sore spot with me, too. But today, let’s just focus back on the wind turbines. To power our homes, shops, factories, and cars, I am all for alternative sources of energy. In the case of wind turbines, I am concerned about the lack of regulation and where big companies are proposing to position these contemporary wind mills. More and more birds are being killed. It is a fact. One solution is to paint one of the blades black. But, here today, is news of another way to stop Bald Eagles from being cut to shreds.

The smart camera systems stops the wind turbine before the birds get killed. The URL is below so so that you can read the article that has me smiling by copying and pasting. For some reason it will not embed properly.

https://interestingengineering.com/smart-camera-system-saves-eagles-from-wind-turbine-deaths

What a grand day. There are good people working hard to protect the world’s wildlife. And everyone can help in their own little way. I am attaching the poster that we made for our campaign to get rid of rat poison. Feel free to share it on Social Media. And also remember to check your own cabinets and tell your friends and family. Good old human interaction often works best!

Thank you for checking in with me today. I have some ‘bird’ stories that will warm your hard coming up this week. Take care and please stay safe.

Daisy, more than a duck

After the Ravens had eaten or taken her eggs, Daisy was confused. She ate bits of shell, cleaned up some of the down, looked like she was digging a hole to the bottom of the tree trying to find her eggs, and then filled the nest cup and flew away. Everyone thought that was the last anyone would see of our little Daisy. But, no. She returned to the nest at 20:19, just after sunset. She stayed until 22:46:22. She has not returned.

Daisy is more than a Pacific Black Duck. She is more than a little duck that happened upon a huge nest in the forest and decided to lay her eggs there. Daisy is more than the little duck that thwarted and confused the big White-Bellied Sea Eagles.

Daisy laid her eggs at the beginning of January. Before that there had been tremendous sadness and angst. Just about six weeks earlier, the people who watched the two little eaglets, WBSE 25 and 26, said goodbye to ’26’. Shortly after 26 was born, it appeared that the tiny little fluff ball had a problem with its right leg. No one ever believed that 26 would be able to stand, or walk, or feed itself, or fly, or land on a branch, or fledge. But 26 did it all, in great pain, with feet whose coverings had been torn off in places. Six days after 26 fledged, she returned to the natal nest. Her parents cared for her and she rested and ate. Being in the forest had been traumatizing. One day, unexpectedly, 26 flew out of the nest over to the camera tree where she was harassed by the Pied Currawong. A Magpie even came to help 26 fend them off but, in the end, they chased 26 out of the forest. A storm was coming that night and the next day 26 was discovered on the balcony of a condo 22 stories up in Homebush Bay. She was about a kilometre from the nest. Everyone was so pleased when the wildlife rehabbers, WIRES, were called to evaluate her condition. They were the group that helped the koalas during the fires the year before. We all believed that 26 would get the veterinary care that we had hoped would come. Unfortunately, the leg was broken and it had healed poorly. 26 was in great agony and she was euthanized. It broke everyone’s heart.

The photo below is one of the last images of 26. The Magpie has come to help 26 keep the Pied Currawong away.

Sun pours over WBSE 26 in the last image of her in the forest.

I don’t think that we had even gotten over the numbness of 26’s death when one of our dear friends was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was this lovely woman who kept us laughing and brought sunshine into our lives. Phyllis was shattered with the death of 26.

Not long after a little duck came into all of our lives. It could not have been a more perfect time. Daisy offered a much needed diversion for Phyllis and all of us. Many felt that Daisy was ‘an angel’. Phyllis took over the ‘Duck’ chat on the ‘Duck camera’ and answered all of our questions. She was on ‘chat’ first thing in the morning to greet everyone and answer questions, and late at night. Tonight, Phyllis is gutted as so many others are. Daisy represented not just a diversion for Phyllis but also something more. There was an innocence about the little duck having her nest on the big sea eagle’s. In a way she washed away the ugliness of the pandemic and gave everyone something to look forward to: Daisy and her eggs had lived another day. We began to make up stories about how we would assist Daisy and the ducklings to the ground, how they might be escorted through the forest to safety at the river. And our dear friend, gr8lakes even thought that Daisy might want some toys for her babies. There was a lot of fun and a whole bunch of joking. That little duck brought such joy.

Phyllis wrote a poem for Daisy:

Our dear Daisy Duck , ever so sweet

Picking out her lovely penthouse suite

Maybe not the best idea she ever had

Because lurking nearby were Lady and Dad

Patiently we waited for ducklings to appear

But Nature brought us all to tears

Daisy I’m sure will have another clutch

I hope she knows we loved her ever so much

For some, the death of 26 was just the beginning of a long line of sadness. The two lovely eaglets born at the Captiva Bald Eagle nest died. A necropsy is being performed but the cause is most likely to be rodenticide. It was, of course, entirely preventable. This rat poison that kills more than rats and eagles kills family pets and other animals. It should be banned. There are other actually more effective ways to get rid of rodents including bringing in hawks and owls. The eaglets were called Hope and Peace. Peace had a piece of fishing line wrapped around her that had a hook. It must have been inside one of the fish that the parents brought in to feed their babies. That line was seen on camera, reported, and the wildlife rehabbers had permission to go to the eaglet and remove it. But, just about that same time, little Peace began to fail. And she died. Eleven days later, Hope, who was a big strapping eaglet flapping her wings one morning, died that afternoon from a broken blood feather. The blood did not coagulate because something Hope had eaten had rodenticide in its system. The father, Joe, removed the body of Peace after a few days of mourning. When Hope died, the mother, Connie, stood over her body poking her to see if there was any life at all. The parents stayed on the nest looking down at their child in complete disbelief and confusion. The wildlife rehabbers removed the body of Hope to find out what had happened. There is now a major campaign to ban rodenticide and to update some archaic wildlife laws that call for a 24 hour wait time to get help for wildlife in danger. That law was written in the 1940s. If passed, the campaigners would like it to be called Hope’s Law.

The image below shoes Hope with her mother looking out over their territory. Hope was getting her juvenile brown colouring. This picture was taken the day before she died.

Hope looks up to her mother, Connie.
Hope spreading her wings and jumping around.

Hope was jumping around and testing her wings only a few hours before she bled to death.

Ever wonder if birds mourn? Many of you know about Ravens and Crows but Bald Eagles do, too.

Connie stands over the body of Hope as Joe looks out to their territory.

As this was happening in Florida, two other eaglets in Texas died of what also appears to be rodenticide poisoning. And just today, one of the most famous Bald Eagle couples, Harriet and M15, in Fort Myers, Florida, had their two eaglets removed by CROW (the wildlife rehabbers) because of their crusted eyes. Swabs have been taken and the eyes have been cleaned. E 17 and E18 were also given antibiotics and fed. They will remain in the care of CROW until the test results return. In the meantime all attention will go towards getting them back with their distraught parents as soon as possible.

E17 ad E18 have eye problems
Harriet and M15 wonder where their eaglets have gone.

Wild life rehabbers understand that the parents will accept their babies up to eleven days. Then it is very tricky. This year we watched Diamond and Xavier a pair of mated Peregrine Falcons look for their Izzi after he had hit a window in early flying lessons and was taken into care. The Australian researcher returned Izzi to the scrape box after his being away for five days for him to fledge again. Xavier and Diamond were joyous and accepted him immediately.

Izzy still brings joy to everyone who watch him. Photo courtesy of Cilla Kinross.

Three people that I know warned me that I had to have a really thick skin if I wanted to get involved with my beloved Red Tail Hawks. Later, when another friend was too upset when one of the juvenile red tails from Ithaca died because she flew into a window on one of the Cornell campus buildings, I told her, “Don’t get said, get mad. And do something about it”. That death of a gorgeous healthy female was entirely preventable. The building is near to the road and the place where the juveniles learn to fly that J1 broke her neck. It is time that all public buildings and corporate skyscrapers are required to have special glass to prevent bird strike. Mandate it on all new builds and get the owners of the other buildings to come into the programme with incentives.

J1 looking up at her mother, Big Red, on Day 1
J1 in the front and J3 with his dark eyes look as J2 accidentally fledges from the light box.

Daisy gave everyone hope. 2020 was a difficult year for the entire world and we closed it with the anticipation that life in 2021 might be better for everyone. There are vaccines for the pandemic that might work but closer to home, people put their faith in a little duck and some baby eaglets. All of the birds have taught us a lot but one thing we all know that life is not to be taken for granted. Hold on to it, every minute because it can slip away as quickly as you can snap your finger.

24 hours full of birth and death emotion

First, before you get anxious, Daisy the Duck managed through the high temperature of Sydney yesterday. She left the nest at 15:11:10 to forage and returned twenty minutes before sun down at 19:45. It is currently day 14 of her brooding and it is 5:43 Monday the 25th of January in Sydney. All is well in the nest. The sea eagles did not make an appearance in the evening and Daisy did not go out foraging before dawn this morning. It is due to be another hot day on the nest.

Daisy just before dawn, 25 January 2021.

I have said often that the lives of our feathered friends hang on a thread. Anything can happen at any time. Sadly, much of the time the root cause has something to do with humans and our lack of respect for the environment. Rat poison – rodenticide – contains chemicals that cause the mice and rats to bleed internally. But before they did their movements slow down. Raptors (falcons, hawks, eagles) often catch the dying animals. While it is not always lethal for the larger birds such as adult Bald Eagles, it is for the smaller hawks and falcons and their babies. Toxins in the water flushed out from industrial plants is another or the heating of the oceans causes toxic red algae. Window strike breaks their necks. Tossing any food waste onto the highways causes the birds to come and not watching, they get hit by vehicles. The mesh bags that hold oranges and other fruits along with not cutting the ties on face masks tangles up the birds as does the mesh that people and farms use to cover the trees and bushes in their orchards. And of course the glue strips that catch the birds and cause them such devastating pain trying to free their little legs. I could go on. The list would be endless. The most prominent way is through the loss of habitat.

In a short period of time, in the world of our beautiful birds, there has been intense pain and great happiness.

At Captiva Island, there was such joy when Peace and Hope were each born, within six hours of one another, on 14 December 2020.

Hope and Peace being fed fish on Christmas Day by their dad, Joe.

Fishing line was discovered in the nest with a hook on it. The American Eagle Federation got permission from the US Wildlife Service to have it removed. On or about the same day, the parents brought a rat into the nest to feed the eaglets. No one knows precisely what happened but it was observed that Peace no longer wanted to eat and was becoming dehydrated. Peace passed away. Hope continued to thrive until a couple of days ago when people started noticing that ‘something was wrong’. They didn’t know what. Many noticed tremors in her leg. Others watched as it appeared she could not cough up a pellet. (Raptors cannot process all of the food that they eat. What they can’t is formed into a pellet that is coughed up). Some saw blood on her wing and leg. She coughed and choked all day, January 23. Many think her heart gave out last night. Connie, her mother, flew to the nest as she was taking her last breaths. One of the saddest things is that prior to Hope and Peace, Joe and Connie had fledged nineteen juvenile Bald Eagles in the twelve years they have been together. In fact, people exclaimed how physically strong these two were. Hope crawled out of the nest and up to the end where the parents bring in food when she was only two days old. They were both growing and getting strong. Peace died on 13 January. A few days, Joe took her body from the nest. Many are hoping that a necroscopy can be done on Hope to determine the cause of her death.

January 20, 2021. Hope with Connie on the nest overlooking their territory.

In the image above, three days ago, you can see how Hope was getting her beautiful dark brown juvenile feathers.

Apologies. Hope is moving. 23 January 2021.

In the morning fog, the same day of her death, Hope stands talls and is jumping up and down on the nest flapping her wings.

Today, Connie is standing over the body of her daughter, Hope, shading it. From all available evidence, birds grieve just like humans when they lose a child.

Connie with the body of Hope.

There is frustration and anger and the debates continue as to whether or not intervention in the lives of these majestic birds should take place. Some argue that we are fortunate to be able to view their lives but that we should not intervene to help them unless it is clearly something a human has caused. Others state the opposite. While we are now privileged to watch the comings and goings of the birds, it is our duty to protect them so that they thrive. Unfortunately, nothing will bring back to the vibrant eaglets, Peace and Hope.

January 23 was also the day that Harriet and M15’s two eaglets hatched at Fort Myers, Florida.

E17 and E18 hatched just an hour and a half apart. What were two wet limp bodies have turned into fuzzy little bonking babies this morning!

E17 and E 18

Notice the white at the top end of their beak. That is the ‘egg tooth’. The egg tooth is a small white protuberance that helps the birds chip away at the shell so that they can hatch. By hitting on the shell, the egg tooth makes the first pip! The egg tooth disappears in a few weeks.

Bonking of bobbing into one another after hatch is a rather normal experience. The little birds cannot focus their eyes well, their heads are bigger and awkward til they get some strength in their necks, and because they know that food comes from their beak and the parent’s, you will often see them bonking back and forth. This should end after a few days but in some nests it persists as a means of establishing dominance. In some cases it can lead to siblicide, the killing of the other sibling.

And on 23 January in New Zealand, the Royal Cam Albatross chick belonging to LGL, Lime Green Lime, and LGK, Lime Green Black, hatched. New Zealand gives the albatross born at Tairoa coloured bands for identification. This couple were chosen to be the stars of the camera this year. The baby Albatross will receive a Maori name right before it fledges and we should know in a couple of weeks if it is a male or a female.

DOC Ranger Julia and LGK as he sees his baby for the first time.

I can always be found praising the New Zealand Department of Conservation. They protect their birds. Once the rangers noticed the ‘pip’ of the Royal Albatross egg of LGK and LGL, it was removed and a dummy egg was placed under the parent to continue incubating. The ‘real egg’ was placed in an incubator. The reason for this is fly strike, the infestation of fly larvae during the period that the chick is trying to hatch. This can lead to their death. Royal Albatross are a highly endangered species because of climate change and long haul fishing. The New Zealand government is taking a very proactive role in trying to keep their birds healthy and also in promoting the use of varies methods to protect bycatch, whether it is our gentle albatrosses or sea turtles.

This is a great video to introduce you to the topic of bycatch and how important it is to get international agreements in place to protect the ocean’s animals.

There is much you can do to help birds from cutting the lines to your masks and putting them in the trash, to educating people on feeding birds at feeders and ponds, to lobbying international agencies demanding the end to bycatch. If you go back through my posts you will find several dedicated to ways that you can help birds no matter what your financial status.

Daisy on her nest just after dawn breaks, 24 January 2021.

I will have a full report on Daisy’s day in about nine hours. The weather will be hot again in the Sydney Olympic Park and we hope that means that no sea eagles will come to see if they can catch Daisy!

Thank you for joining in the daily life of our favourite little Black Pacific Duck, Daisy.

And thank you to Pritchett for the camera views of Harriet and M15, Captiva Eagle Cam and the AEF for the camera views of Joe and Connie, to Cornell Bird Cams and the NZ Department of Conservation for their camera views of LGL and LGK, and to Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the camera views of Daisy.