Egg shells and pelting rain…late Saturday in Bird World

22 October 2022

Good afternoon everyone,

It is a miserable day in Port Lincoln and in Orange…I have not checked Melbourne but, it is also kinda’ miserable in Winnipeg today, too. Grey skies, bare branches on brown trees, spits of rain falling.

The view of the landscape looks dead and barren – but, we all know that, in fact, those leaves are protecting all of the pollinators and invertebrates. This is why you must Leave the Leaves! It will annoy your neighbours to no end but, you will be doing yourself, your garden, and the birds a huge favour.

Ah, I have a retraction. Books do not work for everyone. My friend, Sally Michener, a Vancouver ceramic artist, told me once that “getting old is only for the brave!” She was 83 at the time and stunningly beautiful, always in red, and still working on her ceramic sculptures. She is right. Eye sight goes. Our minds still think like the 20 somethings we once were but, sadly, not always our eyes. ‘H’ reminded me that e-Books are fantastic as you can adjust the size of the font. Of course! ‘H’ also tells me that both of David Gessner’s books on Ospreys are available as e-Books. Thanks, ‘H’.

Wow. A ‘V’ of Canada Geese just flew over my head. They were as low as the top of the telephone poles in the back lane. Incredible.

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It is pelting down rain in Port Lincoln. Mum is soaked and I wonder how miserable the kids will be with their circumstance? Dad has proven himself quite capable of catching fish in rain and wind but the waters look pretty chopping. Wishing him luck today.

The weather at Orange is rather bleak also. So bleak that Diamond was finding scraps to feed Rubus and Indigo decided she would just eat one of the egg shells being tossed around all over the scrape.

Look at Rubus in the corner flapping those little wings. Oh, this eyas melts my heart.

Indigo’s wing feathers are growing, can you see them? And if you look closely you will see the feathers on the tail coming as well. Such a beautiful healthy big sister for little Rubus.

The skies look heavy with rain – like the ones above me. But, oh, look at that green…green fields and trees. Beautiful.

The little raptors hatch so that by the time they fledge, their prey will be waking up from winter.

The first prey of the morning came in at 062814 in Melbourne. Am I seeing things? Has it stopped raining in Melbourne?

I absolutely cannot tell you what it is!

Well, Dad did not disappoint Mum at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge. he brought in a nice big fish for breakfast. I cannot tell you precisely how much fish Big got or Middle but Middle stayed by the side of Big and you could tell from his movements that he was snatching and grabbing. At one point I saw a small crop. This is all good. There was no cowering in the corner in submission to Big. Let us all send warm wishes to this nest for continued fish and both chicks eating. Here are a few images of that feeding – and bravo Dad!

It is always reassuring to see the chicks on all the nest fed first thing in the morning. The three are starting out the day absolutely fantastic. Let us hope that this continues.

Thank you so much for joining me. Everyone is good. Let us hope that all of the nests in Australia continue with many prey deliveries today. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Leave the Leaves!, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Charles Stuart Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

Port Lincoln’s Middle Bob is getting some confidence…and other tales in Bird World

22 October 2022

Oh, good morning to everyone,

I hope that you are already having a wonderful weekend by the time you read this update on our feathered friends. Things are really beginning to look up at Port Lincoln. I am cautiously optimistic that Big is moving out of her aggressive stage.

My friend “S’ and I were talking about books – holding books, feeling the paper, turning the pages – a few weeks ago. She is encouraging her graduate students at university to read real books, to go to the library, to feel the pages. Of course, she was talking to a ‘member of the choir’, so to speak, when we had our chat. I love books, good quality books with beautiful images. Today, it wasn’t a book that arrived in the post but Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Living Bird magazine that arrived. The cover featured a beautiful goshawk. Inside was a treasure trove of information for every species lover. There was a lot of information on migration, loss of biodiversity and what this means alongside reports on projects aimed at mitigating loss. The core of every article is how each of us can help mitigate the issues- sparking action to bend the curve.

As researchers and citizen scientists discovered with the great bird counts, the number of songbirds increased dramatically when ordinary people, just like you and me, began putting out bird feeders. Today, one of the most pressing issues is biodiversity. It is the word of the moment. One of the articles in this edition of Living Bird, ‘The Most Distinct Birds are at Greatest Risk of Going Extinct’ goes straight to the heart of the loss of entire species. On that list of Red Species, to my surprise, was the House Sparrow and the European Starling. The lead researcher, Emma Hughes from the University of Sheffield, said that birds with unusually long or short beaks, long or short legs were more likely to go extinct than others. Climate change and habitat loss is at the heart of the loss of these others such as the Red-headed Vulture, Giant Ibis, Seychelles Scops-Owl, the White-headed Duck, the Bee Hummingbird to name only a few on her list. They are going extinct because of their weirdness and the particular ecosystems that support them are being lost. For Hughes, the only way to stop the extinction is to increase efforts at biodiversity (21). This is precisely what they are trying to do with two species that depend on one another for survival – the White-barked Pine and the Clark’s Nutcracker. As the author of the article in Living Bird states, ‘Some pairings are so iconic that one is not complete without the other: Macaroni and cheese, Abbott and Costello. Peanut Butter and Jelly. In the northern Rockies and Sierra Nevadas, that duo is the white bark pine and Clark’s Nutcracker.’ (28)

To read the latest addition of Living Bird magazine, go to this URL: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/living-bird-latest-issue

There is a lovely video of the work being done on the Clark’s Nutcracker in this latest edition. Be sure to check it out.

I used the term ‘Red List’. Do you know what this means? It is the full name is the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. It just so happens that there are two wonderful and exquisitely produced books on these threatened birds. They are Red Sixty Seven and the most recent edition, Into the Red, by Kit Jewitt. Both editions are collaborations between authors and artists whose goals are to call attention to at-risk-birds as well as to raise funds to support conservation work to halt their extinction. The books were published by the British Trust for Ornithology. Go to bto.org for more information, to view some pages and read about the artists, and to purchase. The purchase will go directly to helping. I urge against buying through on line book sellers as the prices on their sites are way too high or they say not in stock.

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It is nearly 2300 on the Canadian prairies. There are no stars out tonight but there is one brave little Osprey in Port Lincoln, Australia who needs a round of applause. That ospreys name is Middle.

At 111232 a whole large live fish landed on the nest. Middle is being overly cautious not trying to grab any bites. Letting Big get those precious first bites and get her crop a little full. Meanwhile, Middle is pecking away at the tail of the fish. This is very interesting. You have probably seen, as I have, siblings eating from the tail while the breaking sibling is fed up at Mum’s beak. It is a good strategy once Middle figures out how to unzip that tail. By 112218 Middle is up by Big and is doing the snatch and grab. Sometimes Middle pulls back – he is very cautious. Mum gets to eat some fish. In fact, she is feeding the ospreys a little slower than usual. Big moves away from the fish feeding a couple of times. The first is at 112506. Big has been eating for 13 minutes and is getting full. Mum begins to feed Middle. At 112951 Big moves away. Middle remains cautious and then, at 114139, Middle pecks Big before he moves up to begin getting fish. So to summarize, even thought Middle is afraid and displays this as we watch, he is hungry and he is getting braver in order to get fed. Eating is essential to his survival. Middle is doing well. He will end the feeding with a nice crop.

I also noticed that Big is not as grumpy as yesterday despite there being 5 hours between fish deliveries. Perhaps she is slowing down, hitting that plateau. That would really bring peace to this nest.

By the time the 1637 Zebra fish arrives on the barge, Middle is feeling much better, more confident, and Big is being nicer. That feeding went well and even at 1817 when Mum and the two ospreys saw Dad and were feverishly calling for another fish, Middle (and Big) had enormous crops from the day’s takings. I have spent much time watching this nest as opposed to the two falcon scrapes because the fate of Middle was not quite clear. I will have said it twice today, at least, but, it appears that Port Lincoln has turned a corner.

Look carefully at the bottom image. That is Middle, full to the brim. Just sit and smile. Cry. Life appears to be good at Port Lincoln. Still, send all your best and warmest wishes to this family for continued supplies of fish.

It is getting more difficult to tell the female Peregrine Falcons from the males. You must look closely. Diamond just about fooled me yesterday. They lose weight. All of the females lose approximately 30% of their body mass during incubation and raising their chicks. Diamond now has the look of a male with his tight little striped pants.

The same is true for Melbourne where the camera is now positioned so we can see the happenings at the far end. Mum seems to be enjoying it. She has a nice perch above the chicks so that she can watch them but not have any one or all of the Melbourne Four rumbling around underneath her all night. Like human parents, she can get some sleep now!!!!! Thank you to ‘H’ who watched and clocked the feedings at 367 Collins Street yesterday. Much appreciated. There were 5 of them. At 0650 a large unprepared prey arrived on the ledge. The erases were fed for 22 minutes. Leftovers came at 1153 and that was an extremely short feeding of 4 minutes. At 1358 D arrives with a big prey item and feeds the eyases and then Mum arrives and takes over. That lasted 16 minutes. The final two feedings at 1657 and 1836, were large prey items fed for 24 and 18 minutes, respectively. Four active growing eyases can eat a large unprepared bird in such a short time!

This is just a short catch up. Everything is absolutely fine at the two scrapes in Australia – at the 367 Collins Street location and at Orange. I am cautiously delighted about the happenings at Port Lincoln and extremely proud of Middle Bob who is getting ever so clever. Middle Bob is a ‘survivor’.

Thank you so much for joining me. I hope that you are all well. I am back to normal. it was the flu shot that caused me to feel like I had been hit by a big truck. It is cloudy this morning but it appears to be a reasonable day to go and check on ducks. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Stuart Falcon scrape, and ‘H’ and ‘A’ and 367 Collins Street by Mirvac.

Late Friday in Bird World

21 October 2022

The day turned out to be a lovely 14 degrees C. I am not feeling 100% but I do not have Covid. I am thankful but, I did call off the small celebration for my BFF’s birthday just in case. I know that some of you have symptoms of long Covid and my heart goes out to you every single day. My problem seems to be a response to the flu vaccine. Nothing serious and it will go away. Please do not worry. The chair I am sitting on is perfect and there is nothing more healing that watching the birds flit from one feeder to another and the squirrels run along the top of the fence. As a friend -who is healing from surgery reminded me this morning – watching the birds outside in the feeders is joyful and healing.

Awhile ago I posted some recent research that found that hospital rooms that had windows looking out to trees had patients who were happier, required less pain medication, and went home sooner!!!!! So look outside and smile!!!!

Making News:

The news on SE30 is coming in slowly. This is the latest from our friends down in Sydney.

Last year was tragic for Nancy and Harry at the MN-DNR Bald Eagle nest. First, the dashing young Harry went missing leaving Nancy to have to not only provide security, at a time when intruders were about, but, also provide food for the two eaglets on the nest, E1 and E2. The weather was miserable. Nancy was unable to provide food for both and E1 threw E2 off the nest. E2 was euthanized. E1 went on to fledge. Nancy was, however, left alone with a beautiful nest but no mate. Well, that seems to be over.

I was thrilled to read that Bonnie Johnson consulted with Pat Burke for the name of the new male. Pat Burke has an encyclopedic memory of the Sydney Sea Eagles as well as many of the Bald Eagle nests. As a wealth of knowledge, she has graciously answered any and all eagle questions that I threw at her. She is a treasure.

Honestly I cannot think of anything scarier climbing up an Osprey nest. Can you?

The Mispillion Harbour Osprey nest on the coast of Delaware is one of the busiest nests off season. ‘H’ has made videos of the Bald Eagles coming and going, occasionally taking sticks. Today, the nest was visited by what appears to be a immature Norther Harrier. As a reminder, don’t think your favourite nest is idle, check it often!

It is often the fringe that gives the Harrier’s ID away. Their face actually looks like an owl at times and the fringe gives them the same ability to hear that an Owl has. Gorgeous birds.

It is time how to turn our attention to the Australian nests to see how they are doing for breakfast.

Dad arrived on the very wet ledge of the 367 Collins Street scrape with a pigeon at 065144. Mum flew in immediately after he landed to feed the Melbourne Four. So, despite the rain, prey is being brought up in good time – either freshly caught or from the pantry. It doesn’t matter as long as the erases get fed, right?!

Mum perched near the Melbourne Four during the night. The erases are too large to brood now and they will remain dry in the rain that Melbourne is experiencing at this end of the ledge.

I suspect something similar is happening at the scrape box of Diamond and Xavier. Dad will fly in with the breakfast and Mum will come and feed Indigo and Rubus. What do you think?

You can see some blue sky and some clouds. It appears as if it will also be a rainy day in Orange. Xavier should be bringing in prey shortly. We all worry about them when the bad weather and heavy rains come. Take care Xavier.

Every time I think of Port Lincoln, I hold my breath before I start looking at the streaming cam. Big has been in such an attack mode lately that – well, since the loss of Little, it can make one overly anxious for Middle. There is, however, no reason to believe that Middle will not fledge. If Middle is a male he might to decide to get off that nest much faster than the lads last year so that he can get away from Big!

A fish arrived early. That could be a good omen but, not always. It does get the nest off to a good start. The times was 063456. It was a nice big fish. Of course, Big had to eat first. Middle was very nervous but by 065018, Middle was trying to figure out a way to get some breakfast. In the end, he decided to just move up next to Big and eat. Middle has become very good at snatch and grab and as long as Big doesn’t tear into him – and she does sometimes when she thinks Middle is getting more food than her – Middle should’ve be able to have a reasonable feed. There is fish left.

Middle is going to be fine. Big has moved away and Mum is finding all the scrap pieces of fish she can for Middle. Now…Mum needs food! Middle has a nice crop. Smiling.

If Big could just turn her attention more to nesting, Middle might be able to enjoy a carefree life til fledge. Remember the chicks will get names and will be banded on 12-14 November.

Everyone has had food but Orange. I am certain that Xavier will come into the scrape, possibly drenched, with prey before long. Indigo is really exploring the boundaries of the scrape and looking out to the world. Rubus has now moved to exploring the corner and sleeping there – Little Brother copying Big Sister!

Thank you for being with me today. Wish for fish and prey. Take care of yourselves. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Stuart Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, ‘H’ and Mispillion Harbour Osprey Cam, Friends of the Non-Game MN-DNR Bald Eagle Nest, Cornell Bird Lab, Nature Heaven Group, and Sea Eagle Cam.

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.

What a Mum…and other news Early Thursday in Bird World

20 October 2022

Hello Everyone,

I am starting tomorrow’s blog at 2130 Wednesday evening. I have appointments early tomorrow morning and I wanted to give you an idea of how the day progressed at the three nests we are watching in Australia. When it is Thursday in Canada, it is Friday in Australia. The day names and dates can be confusing!

I have started with Port Lincoln. The two falcon scrapes are stable although anything could happen at any moment to change that. The worry remains with the barge nest. It is Thursday in Port Lincoln. Big should have calmed herself by now but, she hasn’t. The nest is very volatile. Warning that the images below are graphic. They show an intense attack on Middle. The feeding after 1500 is very interesting. Notice that Big does keep Middle from eating but, Big is full and leaves. Mum moves the fish and feeds Middle. Don’t ever think she doesn’t know what is going on!

At the Port Lincoln Osprey barge, the water was calm and such a beautiful blue compared to the choppy waves of day’s past. At 063037 a whole fish arrived. It was so early that everyone hoped that this early start meant it would be a day full of lots of fish. So far, that has not been the case. As I write this, it is after 1300 and Big is attacking Middle. I was actually fearful that Big would push Middle off the nest.

I really had to hold my breath. It was clear that Big could have pushed Middle right out of the nest.

Middle stayed in the tight ball of submission and then, a few minutes later, wanted to move away from being by Big. Big started attacking Middle again.

Mum used a stick as a diversion. Would this get Big to turn away from attacking Middle?

Well, it did for a minute.

Mum flew off. Middle slowly slithered to the other side of the nest. Even if Mum brings in a fish right now, it is doubtful that Middle will get any. Big is in key form to block her younger sibling in any way that she can. The attack was ruthless. It was meant to instill fear and to let Middle know that Big is the boss. The food is for Big. Middle might get some, maybe, but only if Big is full to the tip of its beak.

I don’t think we will see any attempt by Middle to snatch and grab ————– I want to be wrong.

Another fish came in at 1504. It was a zebra fish. Big ate and ate and ate and starts on Middle at 1551. But Mum still has some fish left. And look! She physically moves the fish over to Middle so that it can have some food. I am so impressed.

Middle is hungry and hoping that a fish will arrive. Look at the crop on Big.

The last fish of the day arrives at 1838. It was almost impossible to see how the feeding went. The camera was zoomed out and then to close but Middle ate.

Big has a crop but did Middle eat??? Yes, he moved carefully around big to get to Mum’s beak.

Middle keeps its head down and waits for big to move out of the way.

Now Middle has its head up and is facing Mum. You can see its crop. Middle will not go to bed hungry.

The only problem at the 367 Collins Street scrape is the heat and that is slowly becoming not a problem as the eyases – at least three of them – can easily run dwn the gutter to the other end of the ledge to get in the shade.

The parent is afraid that the fourth hatch is wandering too close to the ledge. Notice the attempt to pull back by the scruff of the neck. It is interesting that both parents use that method to get the chicks to stop doing what worries them – or to get them out of trouble -.

Mum leaves and the 4th hatch gets down into the gutter into the shade. I couldn’t help myself. What a cutie pie this one is. Love the nice big crop. All of the Melbourne Four are being well fed. Food is not a problem. My concern until now was the absences of Mum, the heat, and lack of shade. The four have solved that themselves by growing big and strong. They can get in the shade and simply wait for Daddy Door-Dash.

A little Buddha.

It is now very difficult to gauge the feedings at Collins Street because of the heat from the sun on the scrape. The eyases are down at the other end, in the other scrape where there is no camera, and we can hear the calling and feeding but we cannot see it now.

Rubus and Indigo have had a Starling breakfast, a feeding started by Xavier and finished by Diamond. Four and a half hours later, at 11:01:10, Darling feeds her two babies a Crimson Rosella. Oh, they loved it.

Oh, just look at how fluffy Indigo is and Rubus is getting fluffy, too. That white down will fly off their wings, their bodies, their heads revealing beautiful juvenile feathers. Underneath those feathers will be an insulating layer of grey.

More feedings arrive. The last one is a Starling at 1829 and neither Rubus or Indigo are hungry. They have crops from the earlier feedings! There are some gorgeous pictures of Diamond with Rubus before the arrival of that prey item.

Indigo would rather play on Cilla’s rocks and be in the corner wandering around that eat any more food. These two are absolutely adorable.

Peregrine Falcon scrapes are peaceful and fun to watch. The eyases are always cute in every stage of their development. in the Charles Sturt Falcon scrape, the way it is set up there is no fear for too much sun and rain on the chicks. They are protected. This close proximity to their lives allows us to begin to see the individual characteristics of each of the eyases. What a joy this can be.

Thank you for being with me for this brief look at the state of the Australian raptor nests. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams: Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

It’s not all about Raptors…

19 October 2020

Hello Everyone,

The first feeding at Port Lincoln was a good one, save for Mum. She has two big osplets that could sit and eat fish all day. It went well. Smiling. And it is warming up on the Canadian Prairies. It is 11 degrees. Tomorrow is going to be beautiful. It will be a good day to get outside!

In the Mailbox:

‘D’ writes:  You often mention some of the visitors to your garden. Today the squirrels were included again. I’m interested to read that you have greys & reds visiting. As you know, the greys in the UK are a threat to the reds, I wondered are yours a different species?

A Eurasian Red Squirrel in the Scottish Cairngorms. Photo by Dani Connor Wild.

I did not know the answer to ‘D’s question right away although I knew that Little Red looked different than the Red Squirrels in Sweden and the UK that Danni Connor photographs. First, the Grey Squirrel is native to North America. It was introduced by the aristocrats of Victorian England as an ornamental species. It is very invasive and there are currently issues with it and the native Red Squirrel in the UK. In my garden, Dyson is the matriarch of all the grey squirrels. She has been visiting for several days now along with her babies from the summer. One of the young ones prefers the shelled peanuts and will spend hours eating on the deck in the warm sunshine. Dyson will eat anything – as all of you know – but she much prefers the solid seed cylinders with the nuts and cranberries.

There are 3 species of Red Squirrel: the North America species is the one that lives in my garden in Canada. It has no ear tufts and has a single cache of winter food. Previously, Little Red used the garden shed but now he stores his nuts in the wood box. Eurasian Red Squirrels live in the UK, Europe, and parts of Asia. They have tufted ears and spread their cache to multiple sites. Gosh, I loved that question. It made me look closer at my own garden animals and it reminded me of Dani Connor Wild. I wonder what she has been up to?

Well, Dani has made a trip to Scotland to see rewilding and reintroduction measures. Wow. So today, it isn’t all about raptors…but imagine, in these Scottish Highlands, in the spring, the call of the Osprey!

Making News:

Arthur was caught on camera this morning at the Cornell Red Tail Hawk nest on the Fernow Light Tower. He delivered a single stick at 083726. It sounds like Big Red has chosen which nest to use for the 2023 breeding season. Arthur looks good!

Here he comes!

I am so fascinated at how they fly so fast, talons first and pull back their wings so they are not ripped off as they go through the metal bars.

Well, hello Arthur. It is really nice to see you!

The streaming cam at the nest of Southwest Florida Eagles Harriet and M15 is now operational again after Hurricane Ian. You can watch the nest building progress.

Australian Nests:

It is sometimes not easy watching raptor nests. We love the little gaffers and take them to our hearts. Most of the time all is well but, there are times when it isn’t and we lose one. Many of us still want to honour Little Bob in some way. We are discovering more and more about the legislation and who is responsible for permissions. When ways to help ask for intervention permissions are discovered, I will certainly let everyone know.

This was the day that the beaking began – 26 September. Little Bob was so tiny next to Big.

This is a video put together by Bart who is one of the moderators on the PLO chat that is beside the streaming cam. Difficult but best to watch to the very end.

I had so hoped that Big would settle and let peace reign on the Port Lincoln Osprey nest. That happened until it didn’t. Let’s hope that today is different.

The first fish of the day, a whole fish, arrived on the nest at 063037. This is early and very promising. So far Middle has been able to have bites without being beaked…although he is visibly cautious of Big. Middle is the furthest away from the screen.

Oh, it’s a nice big fish. Middle is so hungry and he is getting so good at the old snatch and grab. Every once in awhile, if you watch it live, you will see Middle jerk over to the right with its head and shoulders – trying to get his head out of the way if Big goes for him. But so far, so good. Big has ‘leaned over’ to try and remind Middle she’s the boss but Middle is so hungry he is doing a great job at snatch and grab. Hopefully Big will be friendly all day long but she tends to get grumpy…let’s just blow the grump out of her!

Now Mum needs some fish. That was a great feeding. Back and forth between the two. Middle finished with a really nice crop. So happy. The feeding was over at 064511. Fifteen minutes to vacuum down a big fish with its head. Gracious.

Pigeons are arriving early in Melbourne. Mum waddled down the ledge with the breakfast offering before the lights in the CBD had come on. It was 05:42:33. That pigeon was finished and Mum flew off with a couple of bones at 06:06:22. Gosh, just stare at the eyases with their thick white down and the feathers beginning to appear. Many are beginning to look like that cartoon hero The Hulk or maybe a member of the Australian Rugby team as they try to stand and use their wings for balance.

Just look. One trying desperately to stand and the other all fluffy with a nice tail. They are changing before our eyes. The thermal down will be beneath their feathers when they finish getting their plumage before fledge.

Everyone looked like they were full.

At Orange, the kids are awake. Diamond has been restless and Rubus is starving! No surprise there. It is shocking how much prey that little one can hold. And here I must admit something. I think that Rubus is one of the cutest eyases I have ever seen. He is such a character. They are waiting for breakfast to arrive.

Xavier flew to the ledge with a freshly caught unplucked Starling at 055658. The kids got a lesson in plucking. Rubus was so excited to see prey that the little gaffer was happy to have a mouth full of feathers.

Xavier was visually delighted that Diamond was not in the scrape and he got a chance to feed Rubus and Indigo.

It is 1536 on the Canadian Prairies. The sky is cloudy but it is warming up. The Juncos are busy eating Millet off the red garden carpet, their favourite. What a nice way to close the blog with the garden birds happy and all the chicks in the Australian nests fed. It is such a relief that Middle got a good feed this morning first thing.

Thank you so much for being with me. Please take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their posts and streaming cams that made up my screen captures: Dani Connor Wild, SWFlorida Eagle Nest and D Pritchett Family, Cornell Bird Lab, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Port Lincoln Ospreys.

Will Indigo hit the bullseye again and other news…Late Tuesday in Bird World

18 October 2022

Hello Everyone!

It is entirely possible that the most entertaining and educational streaming raptor cam of the year will be the Falcon Cam on the water tower at Charles Sturt University in Orange. It is the home of Xavier and Diamond, seasoned parents, and this year’s eyases, Indigo and Rubus.

How do you spell adorable? Indigo and Rubus! When Indigo was walking today, Rubus was very concentrated in watching his big sister.

Today, Indigo continued her quest to walk while, at the same time, she is practicing hitting the camera with her ps every day. The last one resulted in Dr Cilla Kinross, the lead researcher on the Peregrine Falcon Project, having to climb 170 steps inside the old water tower to clean the camera.

Watch Diamond’s reaction and then, don’t stop. Listen to how little Rubus is. Then, watch as Cilla finishes going down the ladder, Indigo has a near hit again!

Of all the streaming cams, this one with its three cameras gives you a view of the tower so you can see the peregrine falcons arrive and leave, and two views of the scrape. The closeness lets us catch the details that can be missed elsewhere including the incredible facial expressions and eye popping moments.

Indigo and Rubus have already had two feedings today. At 055209, Xavier arrives with the breakfast pigeon. That breakfast is over at 060314. At 074959, a bird with long red legs arrives. What is special about this feeding is that little Rubus is in front and gets some of the best and biggest mouthfuls yet. How splendid. He did not have to stretch his neck all the way to Sydney to eat! Cilla Kinross thinks it could have been a Red waddle bird.

Proud mama Diamond.

Indigo wants to walk and flap at the same time. She is just not quite coordinated yet!

This morning Indigo played, ‘Ring around the Rubus’.

That second prey item was very popular!

Look at that neck on Rubus!

The Melbourne Four had an even earlier breakfast. Dad arrives with the pigeon before Melbourne is even waking up. It was 055209. At 060314 Mum flies off, breakie is over. At 074959 there is another pigeon feeding! These parents are working hard to take care of the pigeon population in the CBD.

Port Lincoln was still waiting as the golden glow of the sun spread down on the nest with beautiful Mum and Big and Middle. It is the first time we will see Big stand.

Dad brought in a late fish last night but the osplets and Mum are starting to get a little peckish as 0800 gets closer. Big has pecked Middle a couple of times – late yesterday – but, in general the nest has entirely settled down. Middle is a beautiful bird. Look at the images of her/him next to Mum at the end.

We all miss Little. It is impossible not to grief that we have loved. What we need to learn is the ‘why’. But, now it is time to turn our attention to wishing well for Mum and Dad, for the nest to have a lot of fish, for these to fledge, and have productive lives building up the population of Ospreys in South Australia.

At the same time, take care of your garden birds, the birds at the park, and do whatever you can, how little or small, to make the world a better place for our feathered friends. A place where there is so much fish that all of the birds and animals depend on the oceans, the seas, the lakes, and rivers can thrive. We will talk about how you can do that later this week but, if you have good ideas or know projects, send them to me. I would be very grateful.

Middle is very smart. He tries not to make eye contact with Big yet. Instead, he moves over by Mum to look out over the water waiting for Dad’s arrival.

As Port Lincoln waits for breakfast, I will sign off. It is a sunny blue skied day in Manitoba. The temperature is 4 degrees C with the promise of a much warmer day coming on Thursday.

Thank you for being with me on our breakfast check up in Australia. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Port Lincoln Ospreys and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures.

Grieving? Surviving? A look at Bird World early Monday

17 October 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

The mailbox has been full. So many of you want to help Port Lincoln get permission to intervene should siblicide be apparent in the future, others want to know if raptors grieve, many are concerned about the hot sun on the eyases at Collins Street. What a caring community you are! It warms my heart. The outpouring of love for a small little Osplet still brings tears to my eyes. It is so very difficult to lose one. It takes days to get over it.

It was cold this morning. -5 C. We are being told that there will be a warming period with temperatures up to 13 the end of this week. I hope to go and check on the ducks that day and see how many remain in our City. The past two evenings there have been no Canada Geese flying overhead. It will be interesting to see how many are still at the nature centre.

Today, however, I have appointments this afternoon and I expect that my breakfast updates will be arriving late.

In the Mailbox:

My mailbox has been full of individuals wanting to help Port Lincoln get permission to intervene in the future should the fish deliveries run low. I would love to help Port Lincoln secure those permissions. There have also been other questions – ‘Is Big really a survivor’. My answer is below in Nest News’.

One question that is very important comes from ‘F’ who writes: ‘Will the mother know that the youngest has died because of the eldest?’

The answer to that question is ‘yes’. At times Mum even ‘sat’ on the three when they were younger to stop the beaking. Other osprey and eagle parents have tandem fed so that the youngest gets food. There are many examples of tandem feeding but Harriet and M15 come to mind immediately. I always refer back to the falconer, Laura Culley, who insists that raptors have a higher level of communication than humans – that we have lost that ability. She would answer this question with this answer, ‘And why wouldn’t the Mum know what happened?’

Animals and raptors grieve. A few good examples are when the sweet Moli chick, Ka ha Ki’i died unexpectedly in April 2021. His Mum, Laysan Alobatross, Kauai often visited his grave. When Hope and Peace died on the Captiva Bald Eagle nest due to a rat brought to the nest by their dad, Joe. The rat had eaten rodenticide poisoning. Both parents stood over the body of the second dead eaglet and mourned before it was removed for testing. Humans only believe that we are the only ones with feelings and emotions. This is not true. One of the best books on the subject of the emotional lives of animals which includes grieving is Marc Bekoff’s The Emotional Lives of Animals.

It also needs to be understood that most parents do not get the opportunity to grieve because they have other chicks to care for. In many instances, when the male has felt responsible for the deaths of the babies, such as the case with Joe at Captiva, he is mourning, leaves the area, and never returns. Connie, his mate, has taken several mates since him but has had no eaglets to fledge.

Making News:

The attacks on Chris Packham and calls for his BBC presence to end by Nature’s Alliance are not being supported by the public. Indeed, the mood of the UK population is to support nature, not harm it. Packham has been lobbying to end grouse hunting on the hunting estates. He has had his gate and car burned and has threats on his life.

Public support for Chris Packham overwhelms Countryside Alliance’s latest vindictive attack – Raptor Persecution UK

If you ever travel to Port Lincoln, they have indicated that Ervie often perches in front of the hotel on the Morton Bay Fig Tree.

Nest News:

‘A’ wrote to me about Indigo and the Starlings head wondering if anyone would mention it. Yes, it comes in the form of a video! It was one of those great moments in streaming cam history.

If Academy awards could be given out in Bird World surely the ‘Starling Head Scene’ at the Orange scrape would rate right up there with the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

Here is the video of that interaction with the Starling head.

If you are trying to watch Orange today, you will not be able to see the chicks from the side camera (the one I use) very well. Indigo made a perfect bull’s eye with a big ps. I wonder if Cilla will climb up the 170 steps to get to the scrape to clean it? I am betting she does.

Victor Hurley has announced that Mirvac is going to install a second camera at the 367 Collins Street scrape in Melbourne next year. He also indicated that the camera will be panned out to show part way down the gutter now that the eyases are becoming more mobile. There are a few of us that are hoping they might put a shade cover and rain protector – like they have at the other end of the ledge on the other scrape box – on this one if the F22 is going to continue leaving her eyases alone in the heat of the day.

‘H’ takes very detailed notes of the Collins nest. She counted 5 feedings yesterday: At 1640 for 15 Minutes; at 0852 for 11 Minutes; at 1343 for 19 Minutes; at 1657 for 27 Minutes; and the last feeding at 1920 for 21 minutes. I was astounded at how fast the Melbourne Four could eat a large pigeon yesterday. Thanks, ‘H’.

At Port Lincoln, Big decided a few times that Middle was getting too much of the fish. The beaking was not awful and you can see Middle has a crop in the image below but, the intimidation remains. I continue to hope that her angst slows. Today Big will be 30 days old.

Let us all be clear about ‘Big Bob’. Big Bob did not have to survive anything. Big Bob ate all the fish including times when Mum needed some nourishment, intimidated its siblings, even killing one of them by starvation and possible injury. Right now Middle is having to survive Big and Middle is ‘clever’. She went under mum’s bottom and between her legs to eat. Middle has -so far – survived Big. Sadly, Little did not. Big has had no hardships to face. As ‘H’ puts it, ‘How would Big do if it went up against some bird bigger than it?’ ‘H’ is right. We would then see if Big was a survivor. The use of the word is misleading – you must survive ‘something’ to be a survivor.

The weather was not good yesterday with choppy water and strong winds. Dad managed to bring in several fish – one whole and the others partially eaten. The fish he brings in must feed four. If he is to provide, he has to eat. So does Mum. Dad has no control over the wind, the waves, and the gulls that attack the Ospreys wanting their fish. We hope that he has much better fishing luck today. The nest could use some large fish to fill everyone up — and I am speaking mostly of Mum since you will notice that both Big and Middle had crops at several feedings.

With the first eggs due to laid in November for the Bald Eagles in the US, ElfRuler has posted links to all of the streaming cams for eagles. Here is the link to their blog to find those cams.

LINKS TO STREAMING CAMS | Bald Eagles (elfruler.com)

Thank you so much for being with me this morning. I hope not to be too late with the breakfast news today. Take care all. See you soon!

Thank you to all those who wrote in with questions or comments, to ‘A’ and ‘H’ who are my eyes in the middle of the night, and to the following for their posts and streaming cams that make up my screen captures: Raptor Persecution UK, ElfRuler Blog, 367 Collins Falcon Watchers, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam.

Soar High, Little Bob

15 October 2022

Little Bob,

It is nearing midnight on the Canadian Prairies, and it is just after 1500 on the 16th of October in Port Lincoln, Australia. As the tears pour down my cheeks, like the monsoon rains in Chennai in July, you are struggling to take your very last breath. It is so very, very hard to say goodbye to you.

Siblicide. We have to say the word to acknowledge that your life was taken away from you. You did not die of a disease. You died because you were physically tortured, mentally terrorized, and kept from eating by your oldest sibling. Those are the facts. What began as a perfect nest of three osplets, fell apart.

You hatched 24 days ago. Oh, how you tugged at our heart strings from the moment you popped out of that shell. I am so very grateful for the joy that you brought into my life and the lives of so many others.

Little Bob, you need to know that you did not die alone. Hundreds of people from around the world wrapped you gently in their arms, rubbed your face and your feet, surrounding you with warmth and love. You will not be forgotten little one.

Soar high.

Deepest condolences to Mum and Dad, to the Port Lincoln Osprey community, and to all those who loved this little bundle of fluff and feathers. May we all live to realize the challenges that our wildlife face every day of their lives and in memory of Little Bob work hard to make the environment better.

Thank you, Port Lincoln, for your streaming cam where I took my screen captures.

Little Bob battered…afraid to eat

15 October 2022

The dreary cool day continued on the Canadian Prairies. The garden has been very energetic all day. Notable were visits for 7 Black-capped Chickadees, some adult and juvenile Clay Sparrows, Junior and his three Jays, one Crow, all of the squirrels, and about 150 House Sparrows. Oh, yes, and about 25 Dark-eyed Juncos and 4 European Starlings.

Dark-eyed Junco
Dyson and Co dumped the covered feeder. Two of Junior’s fledglings are in the middle of it eating their corn.

All the joy in my garden doesn’t compare to the sadness and despair bracketed by hope that people have for Little Bob at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge.

At 06:38:32, Big Bob decided it was time to give Little Bob a good thrashing – for nothing more than being there – and Big anticipating that an early fish was coming in.

Little Bob got nothing of that fish. He is so afraid that he did not even raise his head.

Mum flew off and came in with a big fish. Little Bob was too scared to move. He had Middle on one side and Big on the other. Middle is doing well and when I last looked both Middle and Big had huge crops.

Everyone is hoping that another fish or two will come in quick succession and Little will get to eat. He had some fish – not tons and not enough to make a big crop but, some, 24 hours ago. Little needs a really good feed today. He needs to be able to raise his head up and not be intimidated and hurt by Big.

Breakfast was confusing at 367 Collins Street. Mum flew in with a freshly caught pigeon which she began to pluck. She changed her mind after the Melbourne Four were excited for an early feed. – Oh, she gave one or two of them a few feathers. She flew off with the bird. Then she returned with it mostly plucked. Went to feed the eyases and then changed her mind again and flew off at 07:33. I would not be surprised if Dad shows up and feeds the Four.

No real breakfast yet. Back to sleep.

I wonder if these chicks are as confused as I am. What is going on, Mum?

There was a frenzied breakfast feeding at Orange. Diamond came in with a Starling at 07:11 and Rubus was ready to go. Diamond is working to get Rubus to stretch its neck and the little one did not disappoint. At the end of the feed, both Rubus and Indigo had nice crops. Well done.

Another prey item came in at 0724. Cilla Kinross said it was definitely not Starling. Diamond stayed with the chicks and Xavier either ate his breakfast or put it in the pantry for later. All is well at Orange. No worries here. Indigo’s feathers are developing very well. Rubus continues with his loud screams..and life is good in rural Australia.

The only nest to have had breakfast by the time I finish writing this is Orange. The four chicks at Melbourne would love to have had some of that fresh pigeon. They wait. Middle and Big (of course) ate well. Little needs food. ‘A’ observed a very tiny PS from Little last evening – a sure sign that he is becoming very dehydrated. Please wish for fish. Send all your positive energy Little’s way.

Thank you for being with me. That is a wrap for me in Manitoba. Take care all. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.