New Year’s Day in Bird World, late edition

New Year’s Day started off wonderfully with the uniting of Annie and Grinnell. Cal Falcons posted a note that the interloper that had injured Grinnell and sent him into rehabilitation on 29 October has not been seen in the past two weeks. It appears that our little Grinnell watched, got stronger, and got rid of him! That is a good thing. Grinnell is far too experienced a mate and knows how to take good care of the eyases – that is invaluable to Annie. I only wish Daisy had a mate half so invested in the eggs and nestlings!

10,600 people have watched Annie and Grinnell ring in the New Year together! Look closely at the image. Notice just how much bigger Annie is than Grinnell. That is reverse sex-size dimorphism – in raptors, the female is normally 30% larger than the male.

These little falcons like to live on the highest buildings so they can have a great view if anyone larger than them should want to arrive at their scrape box. Thousands of years ago they lived on the highest cliffs (some still do in certain geographical regions) but, like other birds they have adapted as humans take over their space. They have adapted to our skyscrapers like this perfect building on the University of California at Berkeley, The Campanile.

Oh, what a beautiful sight first thing in the morning. So happy. This is just such a relief.

The White-Bellied Sea Eagles were up on the branch together to sing the morning duet. They had a rough night of it. They were chased and harassed by the Pied Currawong first. The Curra are the birds that injured WBSE 27 – gathering in a group to fly and hit its head. The Curra are also the birds that chase the eagle fledglings out of the forest before they have learned from Lady and Dad how to fish and survive. I really do not like them and their numbers have grown in the forest over the past few years. They are more than a nuisance. They can be deadly.

As soon as the Curra were in bed, it was not long until BooBook Owl and its mate started their silent attacks. They spent five full hours harassing the WBSE. They are also dangerous. One injured Lady’s eye last year and she could have been blinded.

Here is a video of the attacks with the eagles falling off the branch.

To my knowledge, the WBSE do not eat the hatchlings of either the Curra or the Owls. These little birds just want the big Apex raptors out of the forest and they will do everything they can to accomplish this.

The pair sang The Duet and promptly left the forest. I wonder if there is another nest location for them? The old nest of Dad’s collapsed but there could be other suitable sites.

I made this video clip a few months ago in mid-September. I love the beauty of Lady and Dad singing their song to wake up the forest. Scroll your mouse or tracker over the left hand corner and then click on the arrow to play.

I have never liked this nest because of the Currawongs and now Boo and his family are older and bolder. It is not good for the eaglets who hatch or for Daisy. My eyes in that area tell me that the Ravens have also been coming to the nest to check for eggs every couple of days. So sad. If Daisy does return, I have no hope for her eggs hatching. I just do not want her to get injured if a large number of Ravens would come at the same time.

This morning on the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge Bazza was on the nest when the fish arrived at 08:09. Falky flew over from his perch hoping to get it but Bazza was the clear winner and kicked Falky off the nest! You will remember that yesterday Bazza flew in and took the fish right when Dad brought it in. Bazza is going to be called Bold Bazza for sure. He is getting street smart for sure – all good survival skills.

Here comes Dad with the fish. Bazza can see him and he is prey calling louder and louder.

Bazza is starting to mantle the fish (on the left side of the nest). Mantling is when a raptor spreads their wings over the food item so that others cannot get to it. It is almost like hiding it. Falky is on the right edge of the nest. Ervie is up on the perch and Mum is on the ropes.

What interested me was not Bazza getting the fish or Falky trying to take it but, Ervie’s behaviour. Ervie did not move off the perch. He did not care. He was not hungry. This tells me that Ervie had already been out fishing for his morning breakfast. He will continue to get more and more independent.

E19 was being a bit of a stinker today. His attacks on E20 were frequent and sometimes brutal.

So what do Harriet and M15 do when this happens? Well, often, they will ‘sit’ on the chicks but, at other times, they will do a tandem feeding. That is precisely what happened today. M15 stepped in to help Harriet with the cantankerous two.

Just lovely. Both eating at once. They will learn, over time, that everyone gets fed. No one goes hungry in Harriet and M15’s house.

Ferris Akel held his tour today. Viewers were treated to the sightings of five Snowy Owls at the Finger Lakes Airport.

Snowy Owls are moving south from their home in the Arctic to find food. They mostly eat rabbits, grouse, mice, weasels and small waterfowl and marine birds. Open fields, golf courses, or small airports like this one are perfect for them to find food.

Not far away were what seemed like a thousand Sandhill Cranes. Some were feeding in the fields, some were in the marsh, and some were flying from the fields to the marsh. There seemed to be Sandhill Cranes everywhere!

The adults have grey bodies with a distinctive crimson red cap. Their long legs and necks immediately tell us that these are ‘wading’ birds. They stand 90-122 cm tall or 36-48 inches. They have long pointed beaks for finding food in the muddy waters of wetlands. They also have a ‘bustle’ or tufted tail. You can see those tufts on the cranes in the image below.

The Sandhill Cranes migrate during the winter leaving their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic and Northern Canada in large groups. They will gather in the thousands in staging areas.

With their long beaks they probe in the waters feeding on plant tubers, roots, seeds, and small invertebrates. In the image below you can see how their long legs and neck really assist them in finding food.

Oh, these cranes are so gorgeous. Sandhill cranes have been the subject of Japanese art for centuries. They are a traditional symbol of immortality because it is believed that the cranes live for a thousand years.

The panel below is called Cranes in a Winter Landscape. This is clearly a good wish for longevity.

The screen below is part of a series of two six-panelled screens done in the 1700s. Typically the backgrounds would have been painted gold. Both the old twisted pine and the crane signal immortality or wishes for a long life. These would have typically folded and divided rooms.

Thank you so much for joining me. Stay warm, stay safe. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures and video clips: SWFlorida Bald Eagle cam and D Pritchett, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, UC-Berkeley Falcon Cam, and Ferris Akel.

The Daisy Chronicles, Day 18

At 03:43 in the morning I was waiting for Daisy to return home, like a parent waiting for their teenager to the first time they borrow the family car. My math wasn’t good at all. So, let’s go back and get this right. Daisy laid 8 eggs. She began hard incubation (perhaps on Day 7) but for sure on Day 8. That is 11 days. The duck eggs require 26-30 days of incubation. So, as of today, we have 15-19 days left.

Daisy is, of course, starting to drive me a little bonkers. She was so careful with the timing of her foraging trips until a couple of days ago. During that time, Daisy left the nest after sunset and took her morning break before sunrise. That guaranteed that she would miss the Ravens and the Sea Eagles. They are diurnal – daytime hunting birds. Now, she is gambling. She left for her break last evening at 15:30 – two and a half hours before sunset. She was simply lucky that those Ravens did not fly by and see her gone.

Daisy returned at 19:11:56. The beautiful glow of the setting sun makes Daisy and the nest look ‘rose gold’.

Isn’t she gorgeous?

This morning, sunrise was at 05:40. Daisy did not leave to go foraging until 05:43:21.

Daisy put considerable effort into concealing her eggs underneath that thick layer of down.

She walked around the nest several times tucking and poking.

Certain that everything was to her liking, Daisy flew off for breakfast.

You can just see her flying out of the right hand side, middle ground.

Seconds after Daisy left, the camera went offline. The wind is blowing at only 10 km/h and the current temperature is 21 degrees C. It will go up to 29 C today in the Sydney Olympic Forest. The time is 07:23. I hope our darling Daisy has returned or will return soon. The Ravens do tend to come in the morning.

Daisy is home! Whew!

The Rainbow Lorikeets have flown in to say good morning. They are so colourful and what a nice voice they have.

It looked like there were 7 or 8 visitors. Several seem to be curious about the Ringtail Possums hole on the right side of the nest below the top of it. There is a Lorikeet close to the entrance.

They come in a ‘migraine’ (that is what a group of Rainbow Lorikeets is called) and leave together just as quickly moving on to other areas in the forest.

Daisy looks really comfortable in that fluffy down nest.

Daisy removes some down.

It is 09:10 on the nest and for the moment, everything is fine! That is a good thing.

But at 09:31:11, Daisy raised her head from a sound sleep. Her head shot up! She is alert. Is there a predator around?

Whatever it is, is now gone and Daisy is back in her relaxed mode.

So, as of now, everything in Daisy’s world is calm. It is often very tense watching Daisy – that is because we know that anything could happen at any moment. Right now thought – everything is fine. Daisy is safe and so are her eggs. Can hour at a time.

Other Bird World News: Ferris Akel’s Tour located a large group of Sandhill Cranes and Red-breasted Mergansers. The images are quite ‘soft’ but I think you can see the beauty in the birds. The cranes flew and went to an area of water after feeding on the fields.

There were also Red-Breasted Mergansers. I have never seen them. I checked my Waterfowl book and they say that the Red-headed Mergansers will often completely jump out of the water when they are diving. At other times they slip straight under the water without even making a splash. They are known as the ‘wolves of the water’ – they ‘cruise the water’ in packs in an effort to catch fish. There are two males below and a female. The males have the dark head, red bill, and the lovely white collar. The females have warm brown heads and grey bodies with a red bill. They are found in various locations in North American and Asia but they really like the coastal waters and lakes. Known for their elaborate courtship rituals, unlike other ducks, they do not mature until they are two years old.

It has warmed up. It is only -5 C on the Canadian Prairies but it is a wet cold that goes all the way to your bones. Daisy is now 24 degrees C going up to 29 C this afternoon for our little duck. She will be happy for that evening swim. No storms and no rain forecast. Yippeeee.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I will continue to monitor Daisy throughout the day and report any issues if they happen. If it is quiet you can expect to hear from me tomorrow. Take care. Stay safe!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Ferris Akel Tour and Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Forest.

Checking on the Aussie Birds

Everyone is still waiting for any sign of a pip or a hatch with Xavier and Diamond’s eggs at their scrape box on the water tower on Charles Sturt University at Orange. It is now mid-afternoon on the 7th of October. Diamond has been restless but she sure is not revealing anything to anyone!

Meanwhile the week-old chicks at 367 Collins Street are growing by leaps and bounds. It was really hot today and Mum was a great ‘Mumbrella’ to keep the heat off their pink skin underneath all that white fluffy down. Mom was panting, too.

Those four are really getting stronger too. Each of them can easily sit with their neck held relatively still. It is so much easier for the parents to feed them.

This is Mom feeding.

The baby or the 4th hatch is doing great too. There it is on the right. Their eyes are open wide. Such cuties. Just notice how much of the scrape box they take up today. We will compare this with them next week. It should be interesting.

This is Dad feeding. If you have trouble recognizing them, one of the best ways is to look behind the legs and between the tail. Mum has lots of long dirty feathers from brooding the chicks. Dad doesn’t. Dad has more yellow on the eyes and is, of course, much smaller. But the feathers behind the legs are a giveaway that it is Mum.

The Port Lincoln Osprey Cam was offline for a good part of the early morning. I do not know when the three osplets were fed but each had large crops when the stream returned. I think they must have had a really good feed.

If you are wondering how Little Bob is doing, well that ‘ps’ of his in the image below says it all.

Everyone is waiting for a fish, snoozing in the sunshine of a beautiful Australian afternoon. It is 17 degrees C and the winds are blowing at 16 kph.

The Sydney Sea Eagles are incredibly beautiful. We are getting near and nearer to branching. This nest has been full of wonderful surprises this year, just like the Port Lincoln Osprey Nest.

Lady Hawk did a 5 minute video of some of the cuteness that these two WBSE have gotten into. Have a look:

I took a drive on a very hot day to check out the number of Pelicans and Cormorants still around and to see the geese come into the fields. They begin around 15:00 and continue to dusk.

Manitoba has one-third of North America’s American White Pelicans during the summer season. There are often 100 or more on our Red River near the dam at Lockport Heritage Park. Today, there were only four Pelicans and two Cormorants. There were, however, quite a few Greater Yellow Legs. The birds were back lit and more than a football field away so the images are not as good as I had hoped.

This is a non-breeding immature Greater Yellowlegs.

The Double-crested Cormorant had just landed on the water and was drying off its wings. There were fish jumping and everyone will eat well today, if they already haven’t.

There are always lots of Ring-billed Gulls.

I have one last thing to share with you. Sandhill Cranes. I missed seeing the hundreds of them when they landed south of Winnipeg about a month ago as they began their migration. On Saturday, during Ferris Akel’s tour, he filmed a number of Sandhill Cranes at Montezuma. They are such beautiful birds. He has posted that edited video. Here is the link:

Thank you so much for joining me. I had hoped to have hatch news for you but we wait, just like Xavier does. Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: The Port Lincoln Osprey Project, The Falcon Cam at Charles Sturt University at Orange and Cilla Kinross, Sea Eagles @ Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, and 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac.