Joburg’s Spotted Eagle Owlets

The family that owns the property and runs the streaming cam for the Joburg Spotted Eagle Owl box loves Harry Potter. They named the male to honour the central character of the books and films, Harry Potter! No surprises there. The female is Heroine. They hatched two owlets, Gryffindor and Huff and one adopted owlet, a week older than theirs, Slytherin.

The family has built many owl boxes over the years, some with sides and some without. They also indicate that the owls do not require boxes at all.

Hermoine. 15 October 2021

African Spotted Eagle Owls are incredibly beautiful. While they are part of the larger species of ‘Eagle’ Owls, they are actually small, growing to only 45 cm (or 18 inches) in length. They weight 454 grams to 907 grams (or 1 -2 lbs). That said, its wingspan reaches up to 1 metre (3.2 feet) and like all owls, it is silent when it hunts. The feathers are a brownish-grey and, normally, marked with white spots and blotches. Looks like a Donegal tweed to me. Just lovely. The eyes are yellow and are quite large. The Spotted Eagle Owl has ear tufts similar to the Great Horned Owl.

Adult African Spotted Eagle Owl. Wikimedia Commons.

This image is of a juvenile. What a cutie. For those who watched the Great Horned Owl use the Bald Eagle nest on Farmer Derek’s property last year, you will remember how fluffy and cute those little owlets were. But look at that sharp beak. These owls are serious predators. Do not underestimate them ever.

Juvenile African Spotted Eagle Owl. Wikimedia Commons.

A similar owl box in Africa showing the female with chicks in the box. She is feeding them.

A Spotted Eagle Owl in flight, hunting. Look at that wing span. Wow.

At 19:25:31, Gryffindor, the only remaining owl in the box fludged and joined his sibling Huff on the platform below the owl box.

Look at those beautiful eyes and little talons and beak. Gryffindor looks like a stuffed toy sitting, just looking around.

Huff is down on the platform and Gryffindor is very curious about what he is doing.

That curiosity got the best of him and off he went, over the edge of the box to join his sibling. It will not be long til they are on the ground wandering around the family’s car port waiting for Hermoine to bring food.

Oh, owls are so cute! But deadly.

For those of you that watched Bonnie and Clyde last year take over the Bald Eagle nest on Farmer Derek’s property, Farmer Derek has that streaming cam on. The GHOW have been seen! Will they begin working on the nest soon and raise owlets again? Stay tuned. Here is the link to that streaming cam:

It has been a horrible last 24 hours for the birds in Manitoba. We are still under a snow advisory and some birds got caught here that should be well on their way south. One of those was some European Starlings. I had 5 or 6 in the garden yesterday as the snow began to come down at noon. They left a few hours later after eating. Larger numbers were spotted south of me.

European Starling 11 November 2021

It is just miserable out there today. Dyson, the squirrel who eats like he has a vacuum inside him —- or like Ervie aka Little Bob at Port Lincoln – decided laying in the one feeder tray was a good way to get as much food while preventing anyone else from eating. He quickly ran away when he saw me coming!

The goal was to get all of the wet seed out, clean and refill the feeders – a bit. The snow caused the seed to just clump and clog up the feeders. Thankfully, the birds will just kick it aside but it was so wet that most of the seed had frozen and would not go down the hopper. For now, though, everyone is taken care of and there are still no new snowflakes. Fingers crossed.

We had 11 degree C temperatures and then it plummeted and then more snow in 24 hours than we have had for years.

I will be checking on the Port Lincoln Ospreys and Yarruga later today, once they wake up and start moving. If you missed it, WBSE 27 is doing well and will be released shortly back into an area around the Newington Armory. I will also check for updates on Grinnell.

Take care everyone. Stay safe. Do not go outside if it is slippery and icy. Whatever you think you need to do can wait! No one wants to fall. Thank you for stopping by.

Thank you to EcoSolutions Joburg Owls streaming cam where I took my screen shots.

Friday in Bird World

There is an update on WBSE 27 but, first, some background for those that do not know what happened. White-Bellied Sea Eaglet 27 had a forced fledge. The Pied Currawong were attacking 27 who was alone in the nest after WBSE 28’s fludge. 27 flew to the camera tree and then was, more or less, escorted out of the forest by the Currawong. A few days later, 27 was spotted. It was on some pavement. When it flew up, the Currawong began to attack its head. 27 fell to the ground. Thankfully help was at hand! WBSE 27 was taken into care and checked. Luckily there was nothing broken. The latest news is promising. I do really hope they will keep 27 til it is a very strong flyer. Maybe we will also find out if 27 is a male or a female.

This is the latest update this morning from Judy Harrington: “SE27 is doing well, gaining in strength and is feeding by itself. It has moved to a larger raptor cage to allow it exercise and recover. The treating vets have advised that SE27 will be in care for a few weeks while it recovers and will be released back into the wild as soon as it’s well enough. Healing takes time so please be patient. Updates will follow when possible.”

Oh, it is so good to hear that 27 is improving.

Photo taken by Cathy Cook.

There is a lot of discussion and concern for Grinnell, the mate of Annie, at the Campanile on the grounds of UC-Berkeley in San Francisco. An undergraduate student wrote a great article on the falcon family for The Bay News. I was excited when I read it because it mentions Holly Parsons, who runs the FB group for Xavier and Diamond on the Charles Sturt Campus, and the Manitoba Peregrine Recovery Project in the city where I live and the City’s 19 year old female falcon, Princess. The article is really informative. What a good writer this undergraduate is. Have a read:

I was hoping to have an image of the Spotted Eagle Owlet in Joburg back in the nest but it isn’t there.

In fact, the Mum has just noticed that one of the babies is out of the nest box. You can see its fluffy head under the Mum’s left leg. Poor little thing. It must be scared and hungry. I understood that someone was to place it back in the nest box. Hopefully this will happen soon.

Xavier flew in with a Starling to the Peregrine Falcon scrape on the campus of Charles Sturt University in Orange. Yurruga had been waiting and watching!

Yurruga spends a lot of time looking at the world outside the scrape. She is 28 days old today.

Here comes Xavier with a freshly caught Starling. Yurruga is so excited!

Dad can hardly get the bird into the scrape.

Yurruga is tugging and pulling.

Xavier looks like he really wants Diamond to fly in and feed Yurruga.

Yurruga reaches up and bites Dad’s beak. Look at how big ‘she’ is! Notice also that the down is coming off from around Yurruga’s eyes. She will look like she is wearing goggles tomorrow. Yurruga is right on track in the transitioning from the down to her juvenile feathers.

Xavier cannot prepare the Starling with Yurruga wanting to eat ‘now’.

He opens up the bird and feeds Yurruga some of the nice meat.

Then he flies out of the scrape with the remainder of the bird. He will either put it in storage for later or eat it himself or give it to Diamond. Clearly Yurruga is very healthy and doing quite well. It is nice to see Xavier feeding the little one. Maybe Diamond needs to rest her leg. No doubt Yurruga will have a couple more feedings today. Fingers crossed. She needs all the lunch she can hold.

At the Port Lincoln Osprey barge, Dad brought in a fish tail. Little Bob got it and Big Bob tried to take it. No real tussle and it looked like Little Bob was able to keep it. Just look at the strong mantling (putting wings over prey to protect it from being stolen). These three are going to be a handful to band on Monday!

Despite the mantling, the chicks definitely were remaining civil. This was not a real tussle for food.

Good practice for the future. Dad is so cute. He acts like he isn’t paying attention but he is. These parents are watching everything the three of them do. Everything is about being able to survive in the real world. They have done an amazing job.

Friday has started out pretty good. I hope it continues that way. Diamond is healing but still a bruise on her foot. 27 is improving and so is Grinnell. Yarruga is growing like a bad weed and soon will be bigger than Xavier. There are still four falcons at 367 Collins Street and it is hoped that someone will put the owl back in the box – again.

Thank you for joining me. Take care everyone and have a great day.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, EcoSolutions JoBurg Owl Cam, and the Sea Eagles FB Page for the image of 27.

Who Stole Mr Blue Jay’s Corn?

It started out as a grey, damp, raining on and off again day in my neighbourhood and then…the sun came out, the sky turned blue, and the garden was a flurry of activity. As it happened, it also helped us solve a mystery: Who was stealing Mr Blue Jay’s corn cob?

Mr Blue Jay has been suspicious, too. Today he more or less stood guard while his partner ate her fill.

They had no more than begun their morning breakfast and the corn cob disappeared! So who is taking it? The largest of the grey squirrels was not around and even if Little Red’s ego would make him think he could shift that cob, he couldn’t. So who is it? For several days now we have not been able to catch the culprit but, today we did!

Look who has the corn! It is the smallest of the Grey Squirrels. It worked really hard to get that big cob full of kernels off the lower deck and around to the other side of the garden.

The cob has fallen in a little hole and the squirrel is able to dig its nails in and lift it.

Oops. It is falling down again.

He stopped to eat some of those prize kernels and then he began nibbling them off and burying them in the grass.

We left him to it and went and checked on the ducks at the local pond. When we returned the corn cob was gone and he was madly filling his cheeks with the nuts from the deck.

Just watching him I laughed and said that he was like a vacuum cleaner – and there you have it. That is how the smallest Grey Squirrel came to be re-named Dyson on 28 October 2021.

The duck pond was relatively quiet. Normally you cannot hear yourself think for the honking of the geese. The parks department has turned off the fountains and there were people raking leaves from the edge of the pond into a truck.

There were a few Mallards remaining along with 10 Wood Ducks. Apparently, 10 is a high number for Wood Ducks to still be at this location. Thankfully, I could prove to Cornell’s eBird Submit that there were 10 just through the photos!

It was cold walking around the pond and hopefully these remaining waterfowl will decide to move on to more warmer climates shortly.

Besides about 40 Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, there were a few Mallards. There was, however, one special little duck swimming around with all the regulars – a visitor. She was a female Ring-necked Duck. They are sometimes called a Ringbill.

Ring-necked Ducks breed across Canada during the summer and in a few northern US states. They live in freshwater marshes or near shallow ponds and lakes. You can apparently see thousand upon thousand of these ducks near Rice Lake in Minnesota during the fall migration.

They are dapper divers. This means they are quickly in and out, diving in shallow water to feed on aquatic plants, tubers, and invertebrates. They also eat worms, leeches, midges, and flies, etc.

There is a very distinctive grey head. The forehead slopes down and in a few of the images you can see the peaked rear crown. Because she has been diving, it is not as prominent as it might be when dry. The female has a white ring around its eye. The back is a gorgeous dark brown with a paler brown underpart. You can see the distinctive ring on the bill. That is not, however, what gives the duck its name. The males have a light chestnut coloured ring around their necks….something that is very hard to see I am told.

The colouring on this duck is simply gorgeous.

She really stood out

Sadly, there is another injured duck. This time it is a male Mallard in eclipse plumage. We will try to retrieve it tomorrow to take it to the rehabilitation clinic and that, for me, is always problematic. These two were inseparable all the time I was at the pond. Ducks do not form life long bonds but the bonding is seasonal. Still, it ‘feels’ bad to break the pair-bond but still necessary if this duck is to survive. It appears that it has a broken wing just like the female Mallard a couple of weeks ago.

Hopefully some food will lure this young man out of the centre of the pond tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Before I leave, I also want to introduce you to another streaming cam. Last year there was a lot of excitement when the two Great Horned Owls named Bonnie and Clyde stole the Bald Eagle’s nest on the grounds of Farmer Derek. We all watched in awe has Clyde hunted and Bonnie fed the two owlets. Well, I have another owl box for you to watch. This one is in Joburg, South Africa. It is the home of a Spotted Eagle Owl. On 13 October two eggs hatched. Today they are 15 days old. What makes this nest box interesting is that there was an orphan owlet placed in the box on the 22nd of October. It is 5 days older than the resident pair. No one knew if the female would accept the orphan – but she did. She is raising it as her own!

Just look at how adorable they are waiting for Mum to return with a meal.

There she is feeding all of them.

I think you might really enjoy seeing these three owlets grow up.

It turned out to be a great day for the birds. It is a relief to finally find out who is taking Mr Blue Jay’s corn cob. We are going to have to figure out a way to thwart Dyson. And then there is the injured Mallard to deal with – tomorrow.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope everyone is well and enjoying the birds. Next week they will be ringing the three osplets at Port Lincoln and in two weeks the Collins Four will be fledging. After that it will only be a week until Yarruga is ready to fly. Take care!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: EcoSolutions Joburg Owl Cam.