Tears of the Albatross

As we prepare for the 2021 Royal Albatross to fledge off Taiaroa Head, New Zealand, it is a good time to think about these beautiful sea birds.

Last year I came across this document, The Tears of the Albatross. It gives you the history, the mythology, and the environmental challenges that the Albatross face. It is an excellent read and I want to include it again. You will learn so much about these magnificent sea birds.

Also highly recommended is the website of the ‘Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.’ This is more up to date information on what the ACAP is doing to protect the birds.

https://www.acap.aq/?fbclid=IwAR1CzLWh-w3-Zcr8ka0KBllcN8HWlaAKuMxeu7EmIbFRMvko8v3uFE7G_wo

As far as I know Tiaki is still with us. The remaining chicks of which there are 26 at last count could fledge anytime.

This was the view of the camera installed by Cornell Bird Lab and the NZ DOC so that we could watch Tiaki as she grew from a hatchling to a fledgling. It seems Tiaki is off around the bend or down the hill! It would be so nice if we could see her fledge! Come home Taiki! We want to say goodbye.

It is a quiet day in Bird World. The female at Port Lincoln doesn’t seem to have a pip in the first egg yet although it could be anytime. The Bald Eagles in the US are bringing in stick and twigs and refurbishing the nests from last year. There is no confirmation of Iris one way or another. Aran was seen at 13:47 tucking into a nice fish and at 17:00 in the Glaslyn Valley so he is still with us. The Peregrine falcons continue to incubate eggs. We are just about at the half way mark to fledge.

Thank you so much for being with me today. Take care, stay safe. I hope you enjoy The Tears of the Albatross.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my images: Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC.

Credit for the feature image: “Albatross” by AdeRussell is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

As the Nest Turns 10 August

Ranger Sharyn Broni of the NZ DOC confirms there had to be adjustments made to the data coming in about Tiaki. She is on the headland -probably down the hill – and has not left!

Tiaki is 230 days old today. She is definitely in the range for fledging. Let us all hope she comes back up the hill so that we can see her take off on this amazing adventure – her life.

The Juvenile Green Heron was still south of my city on a small river fishing this morning. I am hoping that he might still be there this evening. While Blue Herons are common in my province, a Green Heron is a very rare bird. It has created much excitement in the birding community here. A friend sent me an image from early this morning. Isn’t this a lovely bird?

Ever wondered about those beautiful lochs in Scotland where the Osprey live? My bucket list includes a trip to Loch Arkaig – the home of Louis and Aila and now Louis and Dorcha. Louis and Aila sealed my love for Ospreys when they took such good care of little JJ7, The Captain, last year. Someone posted a link to a video and it is grand. I want to share it with you. It is a quick trip around Loch Arkaig — the scenery is beautiful.

Today has been the day of sharing. My friend ‘N’ sent me the link to an article about parrots. I wish I knew more about these lovely birds other than seeing them as food for our raptors in Australia! Have a read! (I do hope you can open it!).

In other bird news. The wait is on for the first hatch at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge. This will be followed by the Orange and Melbourne peregrine falcons towards the end of the month. The sea eagles are doing well. Jean-Marie Dupart who works at Nature et Oiseaux Senegal posted the images of the first two Ospreys to reach the shores of Senegal this year. If you want to have a look at some stunning avian images, check out Jean-Marie’s FB page! You do not have to be a friend to enjoy the variety of wildlife in Senegal. It appears that Aran has finally departed the Glaslyn Valley and started his migration. There has been no positive sighting of Iris and we await confirmation that she is still in Missoula or has left for her winter home.

We are being blessed with beautiful weather. In years past, there was always a frost in Manitoba in August but not this year. All of the flowers are still blooming. Indeed, my Hibiscus which has out performed any of the others has lots of new buds. One of them opened this morning. So happy to wake up and see that beauty in the middle of September.

Take care everyone. Have a great Friday. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cam where I took my screen shot: Cornell Bird Lab and the NZ DOC. Thank you to ‘N’ and ‘B’ who sent me the article and the photo. I really appreciate these.

Bird World 9 September 2021

WBSE 27 and 28, the two little sea eaglets in the old Ironbark Nest in Sydney’s Olympic Park, had an early morning breakfast of bird.

Ah, just guess who was the first one up at the breakfast table? If you said, 28 you are absolutely right.

The little bird filled up their empty tummies but it wasn’t big enough -like a grand fish -to fill their crops, too. After breakfast the pair did some wing flapping, standing, and attempts at walking. They still need their wing tips to help with their balance.

Look at the tail that is growing on WBSE27! 27 is the one flapping its wings below.

Well, the Australian Magpie was not giving the White-bellied Sea Eagles a break today. For a couple of hours after feeding the eaglets, Lady defended the nest ducking and honking as the Magpie swooped down trying to hit her.

In the image below, Lady is honking at the Magpie.

Here is a good image of the bird as it goes to land on a branch of the nest tree. This bird is cheeky – they must taste terrible or Lady could have that Magpie for lunch! I would not blame her.

In this image you can see the Magpie caught in flight right above Lady’s head.

Here the Magpie is flying around Lady. It is right over her head.

Dad came to help Lady. All of the big raptors – at the top of the food chain – attract all the small birds and owls. It is surprising how much physical damage these small feathered creatures can do. Last year, BooBook Owl injured Lady’s eye. They can, of course, knock the eaglets out of the nest.

Tiaki looks out to the world that awaits her. Her name means protector of the land and the seas. I hope that they also protect her.

As Albies fly around her in the strong winds, Tiaki raises her wings. She will be off on her big adventure soon.

The chicks are all hovering in the strong winds. In a blink they will be gone. I think I put down 12 September on the guessing game but it could just be any time. Quarry Chick fledged 3 days ago.

Tiaki received her GPS tracker today. Ranger Sharyn Bronte said, “A wider study of the entire Northern Royal Albatross is being conducted this year. And in a first for a Royalcam chick Tiaki as received a tracker. Trackers have deployed on northern royals on the Chathams where 99% of the world population of this species breeds.We are extremely lucky to have 20g devices are available to track LGK, LGL and Tiaki. Although LGL’s device failed it has provided valuable data. Devices are extremely light compared to the weight of the bird and attached to back feathers. These feathers molt within a year and the device will fall off. The device is solar powered and will remotely send data until molting.”

If you read my column regularly, you will know that I am a big supporter of GPS trackers. I also support Darvic bands. Much new information on the migrations, winter and summer breeding grounds – and yes, deaths, are revealed amongst other things. Studying birds or watching them in their nests is never for the faint of heart. Their lives are full of challenges, most placed on them by humans.

Last year, a lovely Polish woman wrote to me to tell me she didn’t know how I could be so calm when ‘bad things’ happened to the birds. Those were not her exact words but that is what she meant. I was not the least bit offended. The truth is I feel for each and every one of them. That caring is inside a bigger box that is now labelled ‘ avian activist’. I want to help stop those things that cause the birds injury or death when it can be avoided. Rodenticides, sticky paper traps, lead shot, lead bullets, lead in fishing equipment, fishing line, fishing nets, windows, garbage dumped on the roads, habitat loss, wild fires caused by arson, electrocution, bread fed to the birds —— and simple neglect or oversight. Like having emergency contact numbers for the streaming cams where there is no 24/7 chat with knowledgable moderators.

I am working on a way to remember Malin, the Osprey nestling at the Collins Marsh Nature Centre, whose life was needlessly cut short. The Malin Code. Osprey streaming cams that follow The Malin Code would have either 24/7 moderators who can access emergency help immediately or emergency numbers at the top of the historical information on the nests. Individuals who are in charge of parks or areas with nests would be trained to recognize the physical signs (11 of them) from food begging to alerting and the 8 vocalizations. It is the least requirement. The other is that they pay attention to what is happening on the nest. They need to know the difference between a juvenile and an adult. Etc. Whew. Yes, I get worked up. If you can think of anything else that these organizations should be doing, let me know. Don’t be shy! At the end of the year, the streaming cam that best implemented The Malin Code would get a donation, big enough to motivate them to do what is right for the birds.

OK. On to what is happening in some of the scrape boxes:

Diamond and Xavier spent some time in the scrape box together today. There was a bit of a conversation between Diamond and Xavier. I need to learn to speak falcon.

There is a real soft spot in my heart for the little male Peregrine Falcon in Melbourne. Maybe it is the ledge where he comes scurrying in to take his turn incubating the eggs or when he brings prey to the eyases.

He is the cutest thing and makes the biggest messes plucking pigeons right in the nest with the eyases. But, last year, I noticed that those three girls really knew what to do with a feathered bird. They were not shy. By the time they fledged, they were professional pigeon pluckers. Can you say that fast 10x?

What a cutie! Our stealth raptor.

Have you ever wondered about the black faces of the Peregrine Falcons? Did you know that the size and intensity of the black varies by region? Have a read.

Cody and the lads down in Kisatchie National Forest have done a great job with the camera for the Bald Eagle Nest of Anna and Louis. Cody says that the sound is going to be fantastic.

Isn’t that a gorgeous sunset over Lake Kincaid? Such a lovely spot for a Bald Eagle nest —- and, of course, there is the lake that is stocked with some really nice fish. Couldn’t get much better. Everyone is just waiting for the Eagles to return.

Speaking of Bald Eagles returning, both Samson and Gabby are at home in Jacksonville and Harriet and M15 are in Fort Myers. All that reminds me I have to check and see what is happening at Captiva.

I want to leave you with an image of Tiny Little. She is one of the fledgling Ospreys in my long time study of third hatch survivors. She has a Darvic ring-Blue 463. Here she is as a wee one.

Blue 35 is feeding Tiny Little by herself. Look at ‘big nasty sister’ in the middle. It really is thanks to excellent parenting that Tiny survived – and became the dominant bird. Gosh, I wish she had a tracker. Is she at Poole Harbour? has she made it to Brittany? will she go to The Gambia? or Senegal? or Southern Spain? My ‘wish list’ includes getting someone to look for her if I can’t be there myself during the winter of 2022.

That’s it for me tonight. Tomorrow I am off in search of a Green Heron. Take care everyone. Stay safe. Be kind. Remember: Life is for living.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: 367 Collins Street Falcons, Sea Eagles @ Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, The Kisatchie National Forest Bald Eagle Cam, The Falcon Cam Project Charles Sturt University at Orange and Cilla Kinross, Cornell Bird Lab and NZ Doc Royal Albatross Cam and FB Page and The Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest.

Late Friday and Saturday in Bird World, 28 August

It is late Friday night on the Canadian Prairies. The much needed rain has paused and the weather news says it will start again soon. The rosemary and thyme growing in the garden boxes are thriving as are the Vermillionaires, planted specifically for the hummers. Perhaps they will find them as they return to their winter grounds.

This is the first year that there have not been hummers in early July around the flowers.

The tracking information for Pikne and Udu is in. These are the two fledglings of Karl and Kaia. Sadly, Tuul passed.

26 August tracking map shows Pikne flew only 11.5 km from her last stop. The Forum postings says, “S/he is still between the villages Mykhailivka, Khvoshchivka and Stavychany, Khmelnytskyi Oblast in Ukraine.” Do not let this short distance worry you. She has found a nice place to rest and feed for a day or two.

It looks like a beautiful area for Black Storks to pause in their long journey.

“File:Khmelnytskyi, Khmel’nyts’ka oblast, Ukraine – panoramio (59).jpg” by durik1980 is licensed under CC BY 3.0

The report for Udu on 26 August indicates that he is also taking a bit of a break. He flew only 6.19 km. He is eating and gaining strength from all the flying near a wildlife park in Niezgoda, Poland.

There is also a big water area for Udu similar to where Pikne is eating and resting.

This is the latest map for Udu:

The only surviving Black Storkling, Julge which means brave one), seen recently on Jan and Janika’s nest has begun his migration. This is remarkable – five days after fledging. He travelled 224 km and appears to be flying the same direction as Udu, Karl II’s male fledgling. Well done Julge. You have survived the horrors of the forest and the Raccoon Dogs that killed your siblings and you are flying. Stay safe!

One of the chatters for the Latvian Forum has been to the feeder to check on it and on Grafs and Grafiene’s storklets. The heron that we see often in the photographs remains at the feeder. Live carp could still be seen in the pond. While there, two black storklings came flying over him and into the forest. Sadly, in the excitement, he lost the card from his camera so there are no pictures. But the good news is that the feeder still has fish and that the two storklings of Grafs are together and alive. The third is believed to have followed Grafs off the nest and is feeding in a different area. This is all fantastic news.

There appears to be no activity on the Foulshaw Moss Nest in Cumbria. Polly Turner caught White YW looking for our Tiny Little but no Tiny Little. She is believed to have begun her first migration. White YW and Blue 35 raised three lively chicks. Dad stayed on until Tiny Little had the call of the winds to leave and made sure she was fed well. This is a great nest and we look forward to the return of White YW and Blue 35 next spring and to Tiny Little, Blue 463 (remember that number), when she returns in two years.

That nest looks so lonely and empty without Tiny Little there screaming her head off! The visual clue for an Osprey fledgling wanting food is that yelling that Tiny Little to White YW every time she saw him —- in case he forgot that she was hungry!

Diamond is still holding that egg! She had everyone excited yesterday but no, no egg yet.

Mrs G and Aran are still in Wales. The lovely couple sitting close to one another on the perch looking over the beautiful valley that is their territory and fighting off any intruders.

Mrs G, the oldest Osprey in the United Kingdom. Lovely. We hope they both return safe and well to raise a lovely clutch next year.

The camera operator gave a tour of the other side of the nest. Have a wee peek.

The nest has everything! A river with fish!

What a magnificent valley, so serene.

Maya is still at the Rutland Water Manton Bay nest with Blue 33. She was caught on camera for a couple of brief seconds today. So like Mrs G, Maya is still hanging back from starting her migration.

I have received word that WBSE 28 ate well and had a crop at one of the feedings yesterday. Here is a video that the Sea Eagle Cam posted to reassure everyone.

At Taiaroa Head, the Royal Cam Princess for 2021, Taiki, is getting really good at hovering. She is busy as a bee these days wandering around and visiting with her neighbours. If you want to see more of this little fluff ball, now is the time to watch her. It is near the beginning of September and fledge is usually the middle of the month. Perhaps she is precocious and will fly off earlier!

Can’t you just hear her saying wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!! She is destined to spend the next 5 or 6 years of her life flying over the seas of the Southern Ocean in search of food. Remember – every chance you get lobby to stop long-line fishing without bird protections. They are easy fixes and every fishing trawler can use these covered hooks and sparkly lines without much cost. They can bait the hooks and lower them at night at no cost with no harm to the sea birds.

About the time Tiaki flies off, Gabby will be arriving at the Bald Eagle nest to meet her handsome Samson near Jacksonville. Doesn’t time go by so quickly?

Every day I learn something new. In researching nature centres and the rights of animals I have come across some interesting information. I thought I would share it with you in the form of a very short little game. Meant for fun!

  1. Approximately how many birds were killed in 1886 to provide feathers for women’s hats in the US? a) 10 million; b) 15 million; c) 2 million; d) 7 million; or e) 5 million.
  2. Which of the following, mixed with Xylene and fuel oil, was sprayed in the Patuxent River in 1945? a) chlorine; b) Agent Orange; c) DDT; d) 2.4 D; or e) MPCA.
  3. Which of the following began in elite hunting circles? a) environmentalism; or b) conservation
  4. Which of the following was first concerned with air and water pollution? a) environmentalism; or b) conservation
  5. Who is the individual credited with lobbying to protect the Bald Eagle from hunters in the early 20th century?
  6. Can private citizens in the US sue over alleged violations of the US Endangered Species Act on behalf of a tree, an Osprey, spotted owls, red squirrels, etc? a) Yes or b) No
  7. Jackie and Shadow are Bald Eagles who have their nest at Big Bear, California. What chemical, not outlawed for nearly 50 years, continues to cause their egg shells to be thin?
  8. In 2021, deep sea explorers discovered something horrific off the coast of Catalina in California. It was a dumping ground for barrels of what pesticide?
  9. What is the biggest killer of songbirds in Canada?
  10. I am a nestling raptor. I am flapping both of my wings up and down in unison with my head held low. What am I doing?
  11. I am a nestling raptor. I am pancaked in the nest cup, keeping my head as low as I can. Am I happy that food is arriving on the nest? Afraid of a predator? or signalling that my mum is flying to the nest?
  12. How many deer hunting licenses were sold through the Department of Natural Resources in Wisconsin (or on line) in 2020? a) 226,718; b) 873,001; c) 174,569; d) 820,299; or e) 547,223

Thank you so much for joining me. It is cool and the day promises more rain on the Canadian prairies – and that is a good thing. After the heat of the summer, so many are telling me the crisp air of fall is their favourite time of year.

Several are working behind the scenes to get the information over what happened to Malin and what the outcome might have been — remember that video by Scotty Watson rescuing the juvenile Osprey on its initial flight — to the responsible authorities of Collins Marsh. This may take time but it is done so that Malin’s tragedy is not only remembered but also used to educate those who have Ospreys in their care.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: The Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn, Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC, and The Falcon Cam at Charles Sturt University in Orange and Cilla Kinross. I would also like to thank the Forum with the tracking for Karl II and his family.

Here are the answers to the fun quiz. Maybe we should do another just about the birds we love one day!

  1. The answer is 5 million, E. Birds of every species was used in millinery not just in the United States but also in Europe. It was one of the reasons that our beloved Ospreys became extinct. Some women decorated their hats with not only feathers but the stuffed remains of entire birds with their beaks, feet, and glass eyes!
  2. The Patuxent River was sprayed with DDT mixed with Xylene and fuel oil, C. When individuals returned from World War II having used DDT in various ways, it was accepted that it was harmless. Almost immediately, when DDT began to be used as an insecticide, problems were noted but this was not before vast areas of rivers were sprayed with DDT to lessen the mosquito population. The result was dead fish floating to the surface within days.
  3. Conservation is linked to the elite hunting and fishing clubs, B. Conservationists believe/d sport hunting was a worthwhile pursuit and they sought to protect entire species so that they could be hunted!
  4. Environmentalism is focused on a global connection and a global vulnerability of all life on the planet. Their early work was on air and water pollution and how they relate to every species. They promoted the interconnectedness of every living thing. When one thrives, we all thrive.
  5. Rosalie Edge took on the Audubon Society and hunters and lobbied to get the Bald Eagle protected. She eventually purchases Hawk Mountain and puts an end to sport hunting there.
  6. The answer is ‘yes’. The Endangered Species Act was signed into law after an argument before the US Supreme Court on giving legal representation to natural objects. The argument was first presented in a law review article titled, “Should Trees Have Standing?’. Supreme Court Justice William O Douglas wrote the preface. The first case was The Sierra Club versus Disney Corporation. The Sierra Club lost but, various legal arguments have been held to uphold the rights of owls, Florida Key deer, etc.
  7. The residual DDT in the ground and Big Bear Lake continues to wreck havoc on the shells of many birds including Shadow and Jackie at Big Bear. See Pesticides Documentation Bulletin, Volume 2, Issues 21-24.
  8. Deep sea divers have discovered leaking barrels of DDT at 3000 feet below sea level off the coast of Los Angeles near Catalina as reported in the LA Times, 26 April 2021, by Rosanna Xia. https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2021-04-26/ddt-waste-barrels-off-la-coast-shock-california-scientists
  9. Cats. Some areas are now requiring that domestic cats be licensed and kept strictly inside. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/cats-the-no-1-killer-of-birds-in-canada-1.3130437
  10. Mantling to protect my prey item.
  11. Keeping still so a predator near the nest will not see me.
  12. 820,299. The sales of hunting licenses during the first year of the pandemic were up 3.5% in Wisconsin. https://www.uppermichiganssource.com/2020/12/01/wisconsin-dnr-releases-deer-hunt-harvest-totals-license-sales-information/

Checking in on Australia

It is raining in parts of Australia. Orange got 50 mm and there are floods about while there was 37 mm out at the Campus where the scrape box of Peregrine Falcon couple, Xavier and Diamond, have their scrape box.

Diamond has spent time on the ledge and going back to the scrape box looking like she is concentrating on that first egg. What do you think? Maybe today?

Sadly, the poor weather might be impacting Dad’s ability to bring in prey to the two babies in the Ironbark Tree. Until now, there has been little to no demonstrations of dominance but yesterday the prey diminished and WBSE 27 started telling the little one who is boss. It is unclear if WBSE 28 had any of the morning fish. WBSE 27 is 26 days old today and WBSE 28 is 24 days old. Oh, I hope this stops. There is enough for everyone! Most people say that the parents will not step in. And, as you know, if I hear survival of the fittest one more time I might scream loud enough for someone to hear me in Australia! All you have to do is to think about Tiny Tot on the Achieva Nest or Tiny Little — those tortured little ones turned out to be a force to be reckoned with. I wish Tiny Tot had a tag and a satellite transmitter. I sure would like to see what she is doing in a couple of years. If there are two Ospreys that will survive it is those two. And they started out like WBSE 28. Of course, only worse for Tiny Tot.

Mom was looking particularly beautiful over in the Port Lincoln Osprey Nest. The colour of the water contrasted with the nest lining — well, it is gorgeous.

The female at Collins Street in Melbourne certainly looks like she is going to lay her second egg today. She is getting full in the bottom just like Diamond. She is certainly plunked down in that scrape box with that stern look she can give. It must be quite uncomfortable laying eggs!

I don’t do a lot of reporting on the Albatross despite the fact that not only am I fond of them but I really want our oceans to be cleaned up and the fish stocks renewed so that all of the sea birds are promised some kind of a decent life. Sharon Dunne does a great job running the FB group as well as keeping us abreast of everything ‘Tiaki’, the Royal cam chick of the 2021 year.

Ms Pippa Atawhai was just the cutest little albatross chick and her parents were incredible. She was the 2020 Royal Cam Chick. Her nest was close to the visitor’s centre. Tiaki’s nest is down close to other nests. Some are less than 3 metres away. This has led to a lot of ‘drama’ between the chicks! Seriously. I thought it was only the juveniles that caused mischief. Oh, no. These gals can seriously get with the squabbling.

The Cornell Bird Lab caught that on camera today. Have a look:

It reminds me of my garden. Before I seriously started watching birds and their behaviour, it seemed they all got along and lived in some kind of sing song happy land. Oh, geez. There is even a hierarchy in our garden! Incredible. Have you noticed this behaviour at your feeders? Is this why we say ‘Pecking Order’?

This was a quick check in. I am restless – not knowing for sure if Malin is alive or dead or nothing can be determined. But I want to leave you with an uplifting story and a lesson. Yesterday I reported on the Osprey that had been hanging upside down in a tree for two days because of being entangled in fishing line. The beautiful bird had pulled all of its muscles from being upside down. The bird, at 45 feet, was ten feet more than the climber could reach so he used an extension net and a pole saw to cut the line and catch the bird in one swoop. On the ground the bird was detangled from the line. A stainless steel treble hook – for catching 3 fish at once – had gone through the talons of this baby. Today, this young one is healing. The lesson is ——- clean up after you go fishing. Join in groups to clear the shores of rivers and lakes of fishing debris that gets caught in them. Help our water birds!

I took these screen shots from A Place Called Hope’s FB page. They have a wonderful video on their site of this rescue and I urge you to search FB, find their home page, and watch it. It is very moving. What wonderful people these people are – there is not a situation too challenging and if a bird can be saved, A Place Called Hope will give it that chance.

Thank you for joining me today. I am certain that Collins Street will have another egg tomorrow and well, Diamond might have one as well. Take care everyone. Stay safe.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams: Sea Eagle Cam, Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Centre, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, Cornell Bird Lab, The Falcon Project with Cilla Kinross and Charles Sturt University, the Port Lincoln Osprey Project, and A Place Called Hope FB page.

Friday Morning in Bird World

Have you ever started looking for something and found something else, equally as interesting? As it happens, yesterday I was looking for a short film about a Japanese man living in Hokkaido with his falcon. What was found was a new film released on 1 June 2021.

The documentary is the story of the only African American falconer, Rodney Stotts. Stotts says falconering for him is all about second chances – for people and for the birds. Have a look at the trailer for The Falconer:

Yesterday there seemed to be no news in Bird World and then there was. Do you follow the Welsh Osprey Nests? If you do, you will recognize the name Aran immediately because he is currently Mrs G’s mate. Aran injured his wing (primary flight feathers) at the end of May or beginning of June. He had been battling crows around the nest and then the storm came. No one knows how he got his injury. No one saw. But he was unable to provide fish for the nest while Mrs G was hatching the chicks. The volunteers and people of Glaslyn set up a fish table for Aran and Mrs G. They lost their chicks and both have been rebuilding their strength.

Yesterday, Aran was in a ferocious battle with a blue ringed bird a distance enough from the nest that it caught the attention of Elfyn Lewis of the Glaslyn FB group who posted the following image that made the rounds of several groups so I am reposting it here. Aran is the bird on the bottom. The white is the injury he sustained earlier. Are there birds attempting to usurp Aran from the Glaslyn nest? Always it would seem.

@ Elfyn Lewis

Other news comes out of Hawaii. The State of Hawaii bans the release of ‘Albatross Killing helium balloons’. It seems they are not banning the balloons but the intentional release of them. Here is that announcement through the AP:

https://apnews.com/article/hawaii-environment-and-nature-government-and-politics-fb9c1cd959ffaad608f08610be548428

What child does not love a balloon? and how many young women did I see lined up at a shop with balloons in hand for a party the other day? The question is how to dispose of them properly — and it isn’t sending them off in the air with wishes attached! Release the air, put them safely in a scrapbook, etc. Or eliminate balloons from festivities altogether. It is not only the helium balloons that injure the birds, it is also the normal ones that blow away in the wind. It is a good way to educate your children about the many challenges the birds face and that balloons and strings can kill them.

Speaking of Albatross, the Royal Cam chick, Taiki, is now 165 days old (nest time). On 5 July she weighed 8.3 kg or 18.3 lbs. She will be stabilizing her weight so that she can fledge in mid-September. Her dad, Lime-Green-Black (LGK) has now travelled over 42,000 km or 26,000 miles in total since he received his satellite tracker in February to feed his precious chick. (The mother is alive but her tracker stopped working).

It is still two months until Taiki fledges in mid-September. She is just getting her beautiful black wings, she is building play nests, and the parents are flying in to feed her. It is all very interesting and it is such a calm nest to watch. The Rangers weigh all of the chicks on Tuesday morning and that is fascinating to watch also. Humiliating for such a beautiful girl to be stuffed in a laundry basket but – it is necessary. Supplementary feedings are given should any of the chicks require it. NZ really takes good care of their birds! As North American streaming cams wind down for the breeding season, why not have a look at some of the amazing birds in the Southern hemisphere?

Taiki stretches her wings and flaps them to help them get strong.

Here is the link to the Royal Cam chick on Taiaroa Head New Zealand:

Lady and Dad will be on hatch watch in about two weeks time. This is the only White Bellied Sea Eagle Cam in the world. These beautiful birds are the second largest group of eagles in Australia. The nest is in an old Ironbark Tree in Sydney’s Olympic Park. It is not always an easy nest to watch because their can be sibling rivalry but the sea eagle chicks are so cute and the juvenile plumage is simply gorgeous.

If you are a lover of Ospreys, there is still plenty of action in the UK nests where the nestlings have fledged or are getting ready to fledge. They will be around for another five weeks or so until they leave for their migration to Africa.

In Australia, the Osprey couple on the barge in Port Lincoln have just finished lining their nest with soft materials and the streaming cam is now live. These are the parents of Solly and DEW. Solly is the female Osprey with the satellite tracker. This is also not an easy nest to watch because of siblicide.

There are two falcon cams in Australia. One is on year round and the other, the CBD Peregrine Falcons in Melbourne, will start once the falcons are back in the scrape box. Here is the link to Xavier and Diamond’s scrape box on top of the water tower on the campus of Charles Stuart University. No one knows what will happen this year. The couples’ 9 month old son, Izzi, still continues to come to the scrape box and might even believe it is his own home. In the UK, chicks from an earlier hatch have helped the parents raise their new brood. In Australia, we watch and wait!

In Eastern Europe, there has been some concern over the amount of prey being brought in to the little Golden Eaglet in Buconovia, Romania. Lady Hawk was able to capture the delivery of a hare by the father and a really good feeding yesterday. That is excellent news! When the camera was first installed he was afraid of it and he is becoming more comfortable day by day.

That’s it for Friday. The Achieva Osprey Nest has not return visit from Tiny Tot and Electra is at the nest less and less. The Canadian chicks in Alberta seem to be doing fine as is Kindness up in the Glacier Gardens Bald Eagle Nest. Fingers crossed for continuing good health to all the birds.

Thank you for joining me today in Bird World. Have a wonderful Friday. Take care, stay safe.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project and the Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC Albatross Cam.

Need a relaxing bird nest to watch?

After the trauma of the Cowlitz and Osyoos Osprey Nests, it is time sometimes good to pull back – to breathe – and watch a bird nest where there is absolutely no drama. Right now, these nests can be hard to find. The juvenile Bald Eagles in almost every nest in the United States have fledged. The Osprey chicks in certain areas of the US have already fledged. The Osprey chicks in the United Kingdom are preparing to fledge. In Australia, Lady and Dad have two eggs on their White-Bellied Sea Eagle Nest while Mom and Dad at Port Lincoln are thinking about eggs (or were the last time I checked). Xavier and Diamond have yet to kick Izzi out of the scrape box at Charles Sturt University in Orange and nothing as yet is happening with those two cute Peregrine Falcons on the CBD in Melbourne. So I am going to recommend two quite different nests for you to try. The chicks are nothing short of adorable. I have mentioned both of these nests at one time or another but they both need to be mentioned again.

Kindness is nothing short of cute. She just has her nice charcoal thermal down and she is just beginning to take steps. It doesn’t get much better than the Bald Eagle Nest up at the Glacier Gardens in Juneau, Alaska, this time of year. Her dad sometimes gets six big fish up to the nest in a day!

Kindness is 41 days old today. As per the average fledge age in Alaska, she is not even half way there. Look – she still has cute little dandelions on her head! 89 days to fledge in Alaska. So, please check her out.

Kindness is having her evening meal. Look at that crop and dad is still feeding her! (I think it is dad). She is going to be a big healthy girl.

Here is the link to watch Kindness:

The second nest is always calm. It is the Royal Albatross Cam on Taiaroa Head, New Zealand. Join the FB group administered by Sharon Dunne otherwise known fondly by so many of you as Lady Hawk, guess the chick’s weight every Monday, meet some nice people, and learn about the challenges these beautiful sea birds have.

This year’s royal cam chick’s name is Taiki. She is the daughter of Lime Green Lime (LGL) and Lime Green Black (LGK). She is old enough to be left alone on her nest while her parents fly out to sea to forage for food for her. And don’t worry. It isn’t like sitting around wondering if Wattsworth will ever show up with a fish or will Jack bring one to Tiny Tot – if something happens the NZ Department of Conservation Rangers will jump into action. Any chick that does not get fed and is under weight gets supplementary feedings of squid. If they get hot, they have their own sprinkler system! NZ knows that wildlife is at risk because of climate change. No one needs to ask for permissions that take days or weeks to come to help a bird.

Taiki is 157 days old. Her name means protector and carer. She weighed 8kg at the last weigh in. That is 17.64 lbs. The weight of the chicks is stabilizing now. Instead of gaining they will level off. Taiki will fledge in mid-September. So you have quite awhile to watch her build play nests, flap her wings, and change from a chick into a beautiful looking fledgling. Her black wings are coming through nicely.

Here is one of the feedings a few weeks ago. More of Taiki’s black wing feathers are visible now.

You can watch the Royal cam chick, her parents flying in to feed her, the rangers doing the weight checks using a laundry baskets, and Taiki visiting with adults and the chick close by. Remember to also check out the Royal Cam FB group.

Here is Taiki just waking up in New Zealand today. She will stretch her legs and wings as she looks out over the beautiful landscape.

Here is the link to the camera:

Thank you for joining me. I hope that you will check in on these two nests once in awhile. They can bring a lot of comfort when other nests get stressful.

Thank you to the Glacier Gardens Bald Eagle Cam and to the Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC for their streaming cams. That is where I took my screen shots.

The Northern Royal Albatross

We are quickly approaching World Albatross Day. That will take place on the 19th of June in New Zealand – it will be the 18th of June in North America.

Just thinking about the albatrosses had me checking on the Royal Cam Princess of 2021, Taiki. She is so sweet. She has been amusing herself and passing the time pulling up the grass around her nest. She seems to like to keep it very tidy.

When Taiki woke up it was a rather rainy and drizzly day.

Rain does not bother the albatross. Except when they are on land breeding, incubating, or feeding their chicks, they are over the ocean. They can go for years without setting foot on land.

Taiki might have been wondering if she was going to have any visitors today and she did. Both of her parents came in to give her really nice feedings.

Lime-Green-Lime, aka Mom came in with a really nice feeding for a very hungry gal today right around lunch time. LGL has been coming in to feed the little princess almost every day. She visited yesterday also. How lucky can a little chick be?

And then another visitor came. It is Lime Green Black, Taiki’s dad. I think – but I could be wrong – that it has been 4 or 5 days since he was in to feed his little chick. Taiki was really excited to see him. Normally LGK spends some time with his chick but today he didn’t. He fed his little one and took off. He missed his mate, LGL, by about ten minutes. While it would have been grand to have seen them together, those skies look like more rain might be coming. LGK knows when he needs to leave! I am told it all depends on the winds!

Taiki seemed pretty happy and settled onto her nest after those two big feedings. I don’t think Northern Albatross chicks have food comas like Ospreys do but I bet she is feeling like taking it easy for awhile. You can see how soft her white down is – she reminds me of cotton candy floss.

Taiki and her parents are Northern Royal Albatross. They are very large seabirds weighing between 6 and 9 kg. From the image of Lime Green Lime you can see that the adult body is white with dark upper wings. They have pink legs and bill. The males are larger than the females. They are considered ‘endangered’.

You can just see Taiki’s black wing feathers coming in under the soft baby down. All of that down will have to be off before Taiki can fledge which normally takes place in September.

The Northern Royal Albatross mates for life. They only breed in New Zealand on the Chatham Islands as well as a tiny colony on Taiaroa Head. That is where Taiki’s nest is. When she is ready to find a mate, she will return to Taiaroa Head. That could be anywhere from four to six years after she fledges. During that time she will never be on land. Sometimes when these juveniles return they have very wonky legs because they are not used to walking.

The Northern Royal albatross feeds in the Southern Ocean, off the Patagonian Shelf near Argentina, and over the continental shelf and divide near Chile when they are not breeding or feeding chicks. Lime Green Lime did have a tracker and it showed that she stayed near Taiaroa Head venturing north.

Sharon Dunne posted the map showing the satellite GPS positioning of both Lime Green Lime (LGL) and Lime Greek Black (LGK) when they were out foraging for Taiki on 17 February 2021 on the Royal Albatross FB Page. The blue is LGK and the red is LGL.

Taiaroa Head is at the bottom. You can see where the lines converge. LGL or Mom no longer has her tracker but LGK does. The parents have travelled tens of thousands of kilometres to catch the squid lunch their little one loves so much!

It is really nice to have such regular feedings for these albatross chicks. The NZ Department of Conservation weighs the chicks and provides supplementary feedings for those that require it. Sometimes parents are late coming in to feed their little ones. Sometimes a parent might not return. It is really hard on one parent to provide enough food. I have always felt that the NZ Government is enlightened in its concern and care for the wildlife.

Thank you so very much for joining me today. Stay safe, stay well!

Thank you to the Cornell Bird Cam and the NZ DOC for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots and to the Royal Albatross FB page where I found the tracking map of Taiki’s parents.

World Ocean Day 8 June 2021

I am so proud to be a Canadian because it was, at the urging of Canada, that the United Nations declared 8 June as World Ocean Day. It is a time to increase not only our awareness of the environment but also to educate us so that we can take action to protect the valuable resource that is our oceans.

Why are oceans important to all life on earth?

Chart created by the National Ocean Service of the US Government

Scientists believe that if we do not curtail our use of plastics then by 2050 there will be more plastic than water in our oceans. Think about that for a moment.

Already artists are taking action to educate people. In the Philippines, a 70 foot whale was found on the beach dead – full of plastic. Starving to death and unable to eat. Greenpeace Philippines sponsored an art project, Washed Up, so that the people on their island nation would understand the importance of not using plastic. Here is a really good video and article about that sculpture and its impact.

Much of the plastic flows through the rivers that empty into the oceans. As a result, each of us needs to think about what we can do to help.

When I think of the ocean, I always think of the albatross – these largest of sea birds, gentle giants if you will. Here is the beautiful Taiki, the Royal Albatross Cam Chick of 2021, daughter of Lime Green Black and Lime Green Lime at her nest on Taiaroa Head, New Zealand.

Did you know that an albatross is, on average, killed every 5 minutes by the large fleet industrial fishing factories? That single fact inspired ceramic artist and professor, Julia Galloway, to create a series of Endangered Species Jars. Galloway left the funerary urns empty in the hope that people would turn the tragedy facing us environmentally around in a positive way.

Galloway’s first installation on endangered species focused on the area of New England. Isn’t this a beautiful piece of porcelain? It is the Endangered Loggerhead Turtle jar. Many of the same issues that impact the sea turtles are also responsible for the killing of the albatross.

As consumers, you can demand sustainable seafood – real sustainable sea food- when you do your shopping. Recycle all the plastic that you have and try and find ways not to use plastic – laundry detergent in paper strips, dryer balls, shopping bags – only to name a few. Switch to stainless steel, a completely recycled product. Educating children about the importance of the ocean to all life is paramount as they are the future – and set a good example as an adult for them in terms of your use of plastic and your actions as a consumer. It is believed that if everyone cut their purchases by 15% this would have a major impact on the environment. Maybe try to not buy anything new for a specific period of time – why not?

Support the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. Here is a link to their website:

https://www.acap.aq/

One of the biggest threats to the Albatross is that of being bycatch in industrial fishing. Here is a great document to help you understand what bycatch is and how easy and inexpensive it is for these large factories on our seas to eliminate it.

https://www.acap.aq/bycatch-mitigation/bycatch-mitigation-fact-sheets/1711-introduction-seabird-bycatch-mitigation-measures/file

That is a lot to take in but I do hope that you learned something. I hope that you enjoyed seeing how artists are trying to use their work to educate us. Perhaps their messages will resonate with more people than the politicians. So many times I just turn them off. Someone needs to help us understand how important it is to change our habits – stop buying things – save that money! So tomorrow on World Ocean Day stop and think about what you can do – every action counts no matter how small – to help the oceans and, in turn, all life on earth.

Thank you for joining me today. Stay safe and well!

Thank you to the Cornell Bird Lab and the NZ DOC for their streaming cam. That is where I took the screen shot of Taiki. The featured image is Lunan Bay on the coast of Scotland facing the North Sea. I would also like to thank Julia Galloway for allowing me to use the image of her porcelain jar.

Tiny does a flying tour, Big Red goes after mites, and Taiki gets a feeding

What do you do when you are anxious? Do you twist your hair? pick at your fingernails? doodle? I tend to clean house. You can always tell if there is something worrying me by the state of the floors. My mother was the “cleaniest” person I have ever met. You could eat off of any part of the floor, walls, any part of the bathroom – it was spotless and sanitary! I recall when I gave pottery lessons in rural Manitoba that one of the students, the most lovely woman who was moving to Williams Lake, BC, gave me a book as a parting gift. I can see the cover – it was yellow – and inside it had a lot of funny sayings another potter had jotted down over the years. One stuck out, “You can certainly eat off my floor, there are the Cheerios over there, the grapes over there…” etc. you get the drift. My floors are not that bad but they certainly would not stand the scrutiny of my mother all the time!

So today I have been avoiding thinking about the Glaslyn Osprey Nest of Mrs G and Aran in Wales. Instead of the floors, I have actually picked lilacs and my house smells like I am living outside in the middle of the bushes. It is hard to put Glaslyn out of one’s head. Mrs G has not eaten since Thursday – or perhaps Wednesday night. Thursday she had a fish tail under her that she fed to Bob 1 and 2. 3 wasn’t there yet. The weather turned, the Crows attacked, and here we are today. Aran has lost primary feathers and is not able to fish. He has been flying around the nest keeping Osprey intruders at bay. Mrs G has not removed the body of Bob 1 who died yesterday of starvation. It is truly a sad situation and unless fish jumped out of the sky, I simply cannot see the little ones surviving. Indeed, the one with the biggest chance could be the youngest. On top of this, Bob 3 at the Loch of the Lowes Nest is quite small compared to Bob 1 and 2 and Nessie is inexperienced. —— I do like a Walt Disney ending but, gosh, it is the real world and it just shows how much weather and climatic changes impact these fish eagles.

My mood is always made lighter by several other nests. So let us have a look at them. With Tiny Tot back on the nest, he has been quite the character today. I think Diane has a ‘soft spot’ for Tiny. After 2 had his fish this morning, Diane brought Tiny a whopper. He was still eating it an hour later. Then tonight, as I write this, the two of them are just finishing up another fish together. Earlier, Tiny had rushed 2 to try and steal a fish that hit the nest around 4pm. Tiny sure gave it a go and I am proud of him even if he didn’t succeed. What he decided to do was to do a fly around the nest and gosh, I figured out how to record it. So easy! Now I can share it with you. Thirty-three seconds of Tiny Tot flying. He has now done this several times. It will strengthen his wings but he won’t get lost! This kiddo is one smart cookie. After Tiny Tot leaves the nest, it will be a nano second or two til he comes around on the right. He will look like a small bird, he will turn to the left before the trees and head back. Beautiful take off and landing.

Tiny Tot does a 33 second fly around the nest and back. 24 May 2021

Tiny is simply one gorgeous, creative, persistent, patient, and alert fledgling. He will always have a place in my heart. He ranks up there with WBSE 26 for tenacity!

I also spent some time watching Big Red. Gosh, she just looks so adoringly at the Ks, just like she does every clutch, every year. She simply glows being a ‘bird mom’. The Ks are starting to stand and become mobile. Today two were interested in small bits of prey on the nest and each and everyone of them did not want their ears cleaned! The ears are on the sides of their head but they are not covered with feathers yet. Because of that, Big Red has to make sure that they are clean – just like my mother’s house – so that their hearing is not impaired. None of the Ks appreciates it when she does this! Take a good long look at them. We are three and a half weeks away from fledge!

Here is the oldest one, K1, standing. My how clean those pantaloons are.

Wonder if I can eat this???????? That little dimple, by the way, behind the eye is the ear.

Big Red is telling K2 to just hold still, it will only take a minute! K3 is waiting its turn.

Taiki, the Royal Albatross chick on Taiaroa Head, New Zealand is nothing short of adorable. Her names means ‘protector and carer of the land, the sky, and the sea’. She looks like a big fluffy cotton ball. All that fluff will begin to come off to reveal the huge wings she will need to stay flying over the ocean for five or six years before returning to land. Yes, you read that right. Once Taiki fledges, she will not return here to her natal nesting area – until she is five or six years old. She will return as a juvenile in December then and begin looking for a mate! That can also take a few years.

Today, Taiki is 121 days old. She is halfway to the average fledge of 240 days. In August Taiki will begin to hover and really put those wings through their paces. For now she does her exercises while she waits for a parent to fly in and feed her.

Here is a great little video, 14 minutes, of the parent arriving – I believe it is her dad, Lime Green Black – to give her a feeding of squid.

Oh, I hope you have enjoyed having a little glimpse at three amazing species of birds – the Ospreys, the Red Tail Hawks, and the Southern Royal Albatross. Each are at a different stage in their development. Thank you so much for joining me. I would like to be able to promise you that there will be good news from the UK Osprey nests tomorrow but, I can’t. The winds are whipping around and no one knows how long it will take Aran to heal so that he can fish.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots and videos: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, and Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC.