The loneliest scrape…and other tales from Bird World on a late Thursday

20 October 2022

It is 16 degrees C. The sky on the Canadian Prairies is mostly cloudy. While the Blue Jays and Crows remain and the squirrels continue their feverish collection of nuts for their winter cache, it appears that most of the Dark-Eyed Juncos have departed. Oh, I will miss them flitting about with that touch of white on their tails as they move. There are still some Canada Geese in the City feeding on the grass and, tomorrow, I hope to get out to count geese and ducks. It didn’t work for today but, tomorrow should prove to be another light-jacket day. How grand!

In the Mailbox:

‘H’ asks: Do falcons hunt at night?

The answer is yes! This may be particularly true for urban falcons. Most observers of falcon streaming cams were first introduced to the night hunting with Alden, the new mate of Annie at the U-California Berkeley Campanile scrape box. It was thought that Alden used the light of the city to help him hunt for prey. It was also noted that the smaller birds that the falcons feed on are active in the dark and it would make it easier for Alden with the challenge of one of his legs. Sean Peterson also believes that it is safer for Alden to hunt at night, away from the eyes of other large predators (save for owls). This breeding season we have seen M22 bring prey in before dawn at the 367 Collins Street scrape.

From the Bookshelf:

I took Helen Armitage’s Lady of the Loch with me to several appointments this morning to read while I was waiting. I am going to go back and put a highly recommended star by this small packed volume. If you want to learn about nesting behaviour, this is an excellent read. If you want to learn about some of the myths about Ospreys that were debunked by Lady, it is a good read. At the time, scientists believed that Osprey females could only lay a total of 20 eggs! Lady laid more than 58!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Making Waves:

The floofs from the 367 Collins Street scrape have moved!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With the smallest one capable of stomping (‘A’s word and a sound she loves to hear) up and down the gutter, the Melbourne Four have packed up their bags and headed to the scrape at the other end of the ledge. This scrape is protected from rain and from the sun. They will no longer wonder if they are being roasted. Of course, we will have to rely on sounds and it would seem from yesterday that feedings also took place at that end of the building’s ledge. In the past there was great reluctance to move the camera during the breeding season. This is why, I believe, that Mirvac will be installing a second camera so that we can enjoy the eyases wherever they are until they fledge.

Of course, that does not help us observe them now but the policy has been very clear. The falcons will not be disturbed in order to change the camera for public viewing. That would go against all of the State wildlife laws.

So, at present, let us hope that those little fluff balls run back and forth to get their legs strong!

At 0606 you could hear kew-kew-kew coming from the ledge. The eyases were obviously enjoying their breakfast.

Nest News:

Deb Steyck made a video of Harriet and M15 working on their nest yesterday. Enjoy!

‘H’ caught the pair of Bald Eagles on the Mispillion Harbour Osprey nest again! This time they are removing a nice big stick. Replenishing their own nest for breeding season? I had no idea until ‘H’ told me that some of the Bald Eagles stay in Delaware, on the coast, for the winter. I know that we have one couple in our City and a single male downtown that stay year round. It has to do with food availability not necessarily weather.

Thanks ‘H’.

It was good to see that Middle had some of the late fish. I was extremely impressed when Big moved away from eating and Mum waited, watched, and then physically moved the fish over to Middle and fed him. This meant that Middle did not have to walk up to the fish and have Big turn around and beak him again. Middle had already been subjected to many attacks yesterday. I wonder what today will hold for our osprey nest on a barge in the marina at Port Lincoln?

Yesterday, it was very interesting watching Rubus and Indigo at the scrape in the water tower at Orange. I don’t know if it is just me or if it is the timing of the Starling deliveries, but these two eyases seem to much prefer Crimson Rosella’s, Rainbow Lorikeets, and ducklings compared to Starlings — like their mother, Diamond.

Diamond was up and out of the scrape at 060657. The day is waking up at Orange. Rise and Shine Rubus! Serenade us with your very loud voice.

Rubus and Indiigo had a leftover breakfast at 070557. Then…

Xavier arrives with a King Parrot at 074247. Rubus and Indigo are delighted!

Look at Rubus. Isn’t Dad going to feed us this morning? Xavier is a wonderful feeder. Maybe later, little Rubus.

Big is known to usually wake up in a good mood at Port Lincoln. That mood seems to change later. I am hoping that the whooper of a fish that came in at 064931 will just keep Big happy. Maybe Dad will find another one. he ate the head – Dad has to be as hungry as Mum at times. Keep them coming!

It is almost impossible to see who is eating until around 0717 when you can see Middle gets bites. I cannot tell you who got the most of that fish with confidence. I hope that Mum was able to feed them rather equally with some for herself.

Mum is beautiful and so are the two osplets. Just look. Little angels. Oh, I hope it stays that way from now on. Middle is closest to us. The black line on the top of its head is smaller. What a beautiful beard, Middle.

Middle looks like it has a crop forming. You can certainly see Big’s crop! Oh, I hope this nest has a good day today.

Oh, wish for fish for Port Lincoln!

Thanks for joining me today. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their videos, their posts and their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Deb Steyck and SWFlorida Eagles, ‘H’ and Mispillion Harbour Osprey Cam, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Port Lincoln Ospreys, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

Big shuts Middle out of fish…and other breakfast news from Australia

20 October 2022

Yesterday was a good day. All four of the Blue Jays were seen along with all four of the Crow family. The two Chickadees came flitting through. Four grey squirrels and one red one. Loads of Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. I know I have mentioned all of them recently but there is something so reassuring to see them – alive. Urban environments present particular challenges for our feathered friends and, it is like knowing that your whole family is fed, warm, and tucked in for the night. It feels good just like watching the little falcons eat. Something very rewarding.

Making News:

SE 30 was seen in a residential area around the Discovery Centre. What a beautiful sea eagle.

Jackie and Shadow have been working on the nest in the Big Bear Valley. Shadow has a new hair style to show off for this breeding season!

It is that time of year that lead begins to make news – and never in a good way. Read the post by one of my favourite Wildlife Rehab Clinics in the US, A Place Called Hope. It takes one lead pellet or one lead sinker to damage or kill an eagle. When there are alternatives, this is unacceptable. If lead paint is outlawed because it can harm humans, then lead hunting and fishing equipment that causes death to our raptors needs to be outlawed as well.

I wish that I could tell you that all is well at Port Lincoln. A whole fish arrived at 090824. Middle did get some bites but Big ate the majority of that fish making Middle have to do the snatch and grab. At 124709 another fish arrived on the nest. Big is going to eat all of it. She has beaked Middle so that he is afraid to come up to the table. Middle was tucked in tight. Listening and watching. At 13:10:58 Middle slithers up to Mum. Is there any fish left? No. Mum just ate the fish tail.

There will, of course, be other fish. But there is still a problem. We had high hopes that Big would calm down and everything would be civil on the Port Lincoln Nest on Monday. Big did get most of the fish but she was not chasing Middle away from the table.

Both eating on Monday.

By Wednesday everything had changed significantly. If Big continues to eat the way she is, Mum is not getting enough food and Middle will continue to be intimidated and afraid to go and eat.

Big will stop eating to intimidate Middle.

Middle really needs to have a good meal.

There were other fish but beyond the 0909, Big did not allow Middle much. Those fish came in at 1247, 1651, 1931, and 1952.

If Middle moves a speck, Big raises its head. This is not a good situation. Middle neeeds to eat today, Thursday in Australia.

At Melbourne, the problem was the heat. The eyases were very hot. Some made it to the other end of the ledge to enjoy the shade. Mum and Dad had turns acting as umbrellas to block the sun.

Both parents dug in their talons and tried to help the Melbourne Four.

Thankfully the shade came! What a difference a couple of hours makes.

Lots of prey came for the Melbourne Four. It looks like Mum took charge of all the 5 feedings. Thanks to ‘H’ and ‘A’ for the time stamps and information. At the 0552 feeding, the eyases ate for 9 minutes; at 0749 it was 21 minutes, at 1627 for 32-33 minutes, at 1734 for 12 minutes, and a bedtime snack came in at 1859 and the kids ate for 5 minutes.

Indigo and Rubus had five feeds yesterday, too. Those came at 072721, 100848, 105425, 144754, and the last one before light’s out was at 181056. The prey thought to be a Red Waddle bird at 100848 was positively identified as a Noisy Miner later.

Have a close look at little Rubus. He is starting to get pin feathers.

Diamond is making sure that Indigo uses her neck muscles, too!

Diamond is fascinated by the camera!

Migration News:

The news coming for Karl II and his family of Black Storks from the Estonian Karula National Forest appears to be all good. Little Waba flew 298 km and is now in Turkey. S/he did that in one day!

This is an image from where Waba’s tracker indicated s/he is feeding. Just lovely.

There was no new transmission from Kaia. She continues to be in Chad in a dry area it is believed.

Bonus is still in Romania feeding in the ditches east of Latinu.

Karl II really got to flying. he covered 373 km in one day and is now feeding along on the eastern side of the Nile River near Asswan.

Great News.

Two things I try to avoid when bringing you news about our feathered family are politics and religion. Sometimes, politics cannot be avoided because our wildlife are wrapped up in particular views and policies that belong to the different parties in the various governments around the world.

There is a quiet movement behind the scenes to see what can be done to change the intervention laws in South Australia in the memory of Little Bob. What we have learned is that David Speirs -often seen with the ospreys, Janet Forster (Port Lincoln Osprey founder), and who is now President of Friends of Ospreys- was the Minister of the Environment for the State of South Australia and, as you can tell, extremely supportive of the Ospreys. The Liberals lost the last election and the Labour Party is in power. David Speirs (Ervie is named after the village in Scotland where Speirs was born) is now the leader of the Opposition.

Every day something new is discovered. Current regulations and policies are being examined to see how to move forward. The last thing anyone wants to do is to damage the fine work that Port Lincoln and Friends of Osprey have already done. It takes time for change but, no one is forgetting Little Bob least of all Port Lincoln who support intervention but cannot within the current policies and guidelines or they would lose their licenses and everything they have gained in terms of being able to provide for the Ospreys. All of this is good. Little Bob is not forgotten.

Thank you so much for being with me today. Please take care. See you later today with the breakfast news. Send positive wishes to Port Lincoln, please.

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Sydney Sea Eagle Cam FB, Friends of Big Bear Valley, A Place Called Hope, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Looduskalender.

Wednesday in Bird World

12 October 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope that all of you had a good start to the week. It is cooler on the Canadian Prairies today with really cloudy skies and reports of possible showers starting at noon. The animals have really been busy in the garden gathering nuts and eating. I wonder if we will have another cold snap? The European Starlings have come to the tree in the back lane but, for some reason they have not come to the garden. Is it because I have no Butter Bark or Meal Worms out for them? I plan to go and get some later today. We will see if that is what they are looking for.

Of the four nests in Australia, the real concern is at Port Lincoln and I will be monitoring that nest closely.

The gold star for the week goes to the male at Melbourne who really kept the nest together when Mum was away for over 3 hours and the hot sun was beating down on the youngsters.

To tell the difference between Dad (below) and Mum, look at the breast area. Dad has hardly any lateral barring – with a full crop, his chest area looks like fluffy Victorian handmade lace. Isn’t he adorable? I have come to love this tiercel so much. He has really saved the lives of these four eyases, now known affectionately in my house as The Melbourne Four.

Making News:

The causeway to Captiva and Sanibel Islands is now restored and vehicles are going in to restore communication systems, power, etc. This is incredible news. Who would have imagined this would be completed in October! (Not sure what was done or if private vehicles can travel but the causeway is functioning). Connie and Clive have been seen and photographed and Lena has been heard. Everyone is just waiting to get the cameras back up and running.

There are lots of boots on the ground checking for SE30. She was found on the ground being harassed by Currawongs and Magpies yesterday. She flew and seemed to be fine and was seen near the River Roost with a parent. That should put a smile on all our faces!

The text and images come from the Eagle Cam FB page.

I have seen no further reports on SE29 who was found in a residential area and taken by WIRES to a vet where it was receiving fluids and pain killers.

Sharon Dunne (aka Lady Hawk) has completed her tribute video to Lillibet, the Royal Cam Albatross chick, daughter of OGK and YRK, for 2022. As always, get the tissues out. OGK was last seen the middle of May on camera. It has saddened everyone to think that this fabulous mate and father has perished. We will wait to see if he returns for breeding season in October 2023. He was injured in 2020 and was away from the nest for 40 days. What a joy it was when he returned. Miss Pippa Atawhai was so happy. They had a very close bond.

Sadly, the Albatross continue to be killed at an alarming rate by the long-line fishing trawlers. As anyone knows reading my blog, there are quite a number of easy fixes to stop these endangered seabirds from being slaughtered. They include setting the lines at night – how easy is that?

Nest News:

The Melbourne Four continue to be well fed. At least three persons noted that there were 9 separate feedings yesterday. They were a mixture of stashed prey (as at breakfast) followed by fresh kills when there was not enough meat on the pantry item. Raptors eat everything unlike us humans who are said to waste 40% of all food we purchase. All of those pigeons are turning into beautiful falcons! Mum had her lunch time break (from 11:19:45-13:01:37). Thanks ‘H’.

Nine feedings. If they can keep the intruders away from their penthouse scrape and maintain their territory in the non-breeding season, we will have years of watching this incredible couple raise their families. The male has really stepped up and has actively engaged with the eyases and from his protective mode the other day has a strong bond with the little ones.

Port Lincoln Ospreys keeps a running timestamp of happenings on the barge. Its listing yesterday pretty much sums up what is happening. The nest has gone off the rails. Little Bob had a few bites of prey yesterday. It is so hungry that it is trying to take food off Middle’s beak. Big Bob is unrelenting in her (it has to be a female) rampage. The osplets are 25, 24, and 21 days today. In general, nests like this ‘settle’ at 28 days just like they start on day ‘8’. We have a week to go. Even then, nothing is guaranteed. The oldest sibling on this nest has pushed its younger off the nest at 65 days and killed it. It is going to be a long week.

Mum was up having a snack and she tried to reach down and give Little Bob a bite of fish while Big was asleep. The time is 01:27:54. Little Bob is awake but Big Bob moves. Oh, if Little Bob would just slide up and open its beak, he would get a good feeding.

Middle Bob did eat some fish along with Mum. Sadly, Little Bob never woke up. Both Middle and Little will be hungry but Little really needs to have a good feed.

You can see Middle Bob’s crop. I just wanted to shake Little and get it awake so it could it. That feeding would have made all the difference. Mum has fish leftover for morning but will there be enough for Little to eat or only Big?

At the scrape box of Xavier and Diamond in Orange, Australia there were six feedings starting at 07:46:35 and ending at 18:48:40. Rubus is getting some bigger bites. Both of the eyases, Indigo and Rubus, are adorable.

Little Rubus had a nice big crop before bed!

From the Bookshelf:

Do you love Hen Harriers as much as I do? Those beautiful owl-faced low flying raptors that can be seen over the heather? There is a new book out by Ian Carter that looks very promising, The Hen Harrier’s Year. Here is the review:

https://raptorpersecutionuk.org/2022/10/12/book-review-the-hen-harriers-year-by-ian-carter-dan-powell/

So many factors play into a successful nest – lots of prey, healthy parents, no intruders…the list can be fairly long including Avian Flu. Despite all that has happened at Melbourne, that Peregrine Falcon nest is doing really well right now. That lovely tiercel is delivering fresh prey to Mum, the chicks are growing, and Dad has been able to help shield them from the sun during Mum’s noon day absences. Rubus is doing better at Orange. That wee one had a nice crop before bed last night. SE29 is in care and SE30 is being closely monitored. Thank you to all the boots on the ground near the Discovery Centre. The problem nest is Port Lincoln and this will not dissipate soon. We can only hope that Little gets one decent meal today.

Thank you for being with me. Take care everyone. I will be sending out breakfast news at the nests in the early evening. See you then!

Thank you to the following for their posts, their video tributes, and their streaming cams that make up my screen captures: Sharon Dunne (aka Lady Hawk), Port Lincoln Ospreys, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, Sea Eagles FB, Raptor Persecution UK, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.