Late Thursday and early Friday in Bird World 22-23 July 2021

The Royal Albatross ‘Cam Princess’ for 2021, Taiki, was banded on Taiaroa Head, New Zealand on 22 July. Taiki is Maori and means ‘protector of the land and sea’. She now has a permanent metal band with a unique number to her and a white plastic band with the number 60 on it on the other leg. The white designates the chicks that were born this year. All 34 of them will get a white band. When they return to land, after being at sea from 4-6 years, they will receive the adult colour bands. For example, Taiki’s mother is Lime-Green-Lime (LGL). Can you imagine being at sea and only returning to walk on the ground after being away for all that time?

Here is an image of Ranger Sharyn putting on the bands.

And here is the video that the Cornell Labs did of the entire banding session.

It is unclear how many fish came up to the Collins Marsh Osprey Nest today. ‘S’ noted one medium fish. I did check in on the nest and caught the chick standing. That is very good. It is getting its juvenile feathers and it is beginning to get strength in its legs to walk and stand up. Excellent.

One of the most beautiful times of day at the White-Bellied Sea Eagle nest in the Old Ironbark Tree in Sydney is early morning. The forest is waking up. You can hear all the birds singing including the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, the Noisy Miners, and the Currawongs. We are just getting a trade off on incubation duty (I believe) when I checked the nest. We should be on hatch alert in a couple of days!

It is so calm and peaceful in the forest. No one is allowed inside this restricted area other than the Rangers and specific staff of the Discovery Centre.

Here is another hand off around 13:30 this afternoon.

The adult plumage is this beautiful slate blue grey with a white head and underbelly. The juveniles are the most gorgeous rusty-espresso.

I want to give you the link to the Sea Eagle camera so that you can start watching. It is very exciting. The little ones are fuzzy white when they hatch. So cute.

It is 4:59 and Tiny Little has already flown off the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest.

Just looking at that nest reminds me how grateful everyone was when Tiny Tot stayed around the Achieva Osprey nest for so long. In fact, for four months we got to enjoy seeing that wee one grow up. We saw her change from the beaten, pecked, and starved little one to a ferocious independent fledgling. What a gift we were given! We never know how long we are given with these ‘special survivors’ so we have to savour every minute. Tiny Little will, no doubt, return to the nest when there is a fish drop unless the parents begin to feed the fledglings off nest.

Ah, and before I stopped writing it seemed like a good time just to check on that Foulshaw Moss Nest again and guess what? Tiny Little is there with another sibling waiting for the breakfish drop!

Tiny Little, 463 on the left and 462 on the right.

And they both got their wish!

Some good news was posted today. Seventy eggs of the Black Foot Albatross from Midway Island were transported to Guadalope Island, Mexico. I mentioned this in an earlier blog last week. It has now been confirmed that all 70 of the eggs hatched and all 70 of the chicks have fledged. You can’t get any better than 100%.

One of my friends and readers lives on the Hawaiian Islands. She mentioned the colony of Albatross Hawaii they have. That reminded me to introduce you to a very special person who founded the Kauai Albatross Network.

Her name is Hob Osterlun. In this short clip, she is doing a one person play on her life as a nurse for nurses and doctors and she talks about how the albatross changed her life.

That short video, Kapuna Life, mentions Hob’s book, Holi Moli. I recall the first time I read it. I devoured the pages reading from late in the evening to the wee hours of the morning.

So many of you reading my blog have been moved by ‘the birds’. Whether it was during the pandemic or before, a two legged creature with feathers – that fly or not (we can’t forget about the Kakapo) – touched you in a way that is probably hard to describe. For Hob Osterlund, having that Laysan Albatross touch her foot was extremely powerful.

Here is a beautiful video about Hawaii and the Albatross. It is an hour long. Watch pieces of it or the whole thing when you have time. These are such beautiful birds. Hob never gets tired of talking about them!

It is a scorcher in southern Manitoba and Winnipeg today. Yesterday my daughter and her sons got to see an Osprey dive for its fish at Lake Winnipeg. She saw the nest using binoculars with its two chicks, too. We have a number of Osprey platforms placed by Manitoba Hydro around Victoria Beach, Grand Beach, Grand Marais and on the way to our Iceland city, Gimli. How lucky they were!

Thank you for joining me. Stay safe everyone! Stay cool. Remember to leave water out for the birds.

Thank you to the following whose streaming cams I use to get my screen shots: Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest, Collins Marsh Reservoir Osprey Cam, Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC, Sydney Sea Eagles, Australian Bird Life, and the Discovery Centre.

Tuesday 20 July in Bird World

It has been a very strange day. We had a tiny bit of rain during the middle of the night on Monday with lots of thunder and lightning. It was not enough rain to help anything. South of where I live in a town called Morris, Manitoba, the river is practically bone dry. Dead fish is all you see and dirt. Old timers are starting to talk about the days of the Dust Bowl. I think about all the birds that depend on the water and the fish. A follower wrote to me and asked me if I knew anything about the ospreys at a nest in Wisconsin – the Collin Marsh Osprey Nest. It is not a nest that I follow but I did check. Just as ‘S’ had noted, the only chick on the nest looks a bit thin. As it turns out there were originally three relatively healthy chicks. Now there is only one. They are not sure what killed two of them. I am hoping that the Neustadter Nature Centre will be doing a post-mortem. It could well be the heat. A bander in Wisconsin said that they had found many dead chicks in the nests. That is very very sad. In England, many of the nature areas that were closed during the pandemic were taken over by the wildlife only to open and have humans scare birds off their nests and chase animals out of the area along with purposefully setting fires. What in the world is wrong with humans? Sorry. It just seems that you go two steps forward and three backward sometimes. Very frustrating.

As you know, I really admire Ferris Akel. He has a regular tour of the Montezuma Park area, Wildlife Drive, Sapsucker Lake, and the Cornell Campus every Saturday. Ferris has someone editing his videos and they are simply excellent. Today, he posted the Red Tail Hawk highlights from his tour on 16 July. It’s OK to say, ‘Oh, my, aren’t they cute!” Have a look:

The Royal Cam princess, Taiki, on Taiaroa Head, New Zealand was weighted today. Las week she weighed 8.2 kg. Today, her mum, Lime-Green-Lime came in to feed Taiki right before weighing. Taiki is 177 days old and today she weighted 8.8 kg or 19.4 lbs. No worries about any supplemental feeds! Taiki’s mother has been in to feed her every day for the past six days. That means that she is foraging very close to Taiaroa Head which is in the very south of New Zealand near Dunedin.

Every year the New Zealand Department of Conservation bands the chicks born on Taiaroa Head. This year the bands will be white. Last year they were green. The banding is very important. It allows the rangers and all other interested parties to identify the birds when they return as juveniles, when they select mates, and when they return to breed. That banding will take place between 11-4pm NZST.

Many of you will have heard the term ‘translocation’ in relationship to the Ospreys in the United Kingdom and many of the projects of Roy Dennis and his Wildlife Foundation. There is news of a different translocation project, an extremely complicated one. To save the Black-footed Albatross on Midway because of rising sea waters, eggs are being transported 6000 km from Midway to Guadalupe Island in Mexico. The researchers say it was their only option. The waters are rising fast and soon Midway will flood.

“Black-footed Albatross” by tombenson76 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“Black-footed albatross chick. Photo credit: Eric VanderWerf” by USFWS Pacific is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

They hope that the Laysan Albatross foster parents will accept the chicks and eggs and that those chicks will fledge and return to Mexico to breed – not Midway Atoll. So far 93% of the hand-reared albatross, in other projects, have fledged. Let us hope that this project has such a high success rate! Here is an article on this incredible project:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/06/they-were-destined-drown-how-scientists-found-these-seabirds-new-island-home?fbclid=IwAR0ZtdwlPW1PElHy6uW5c1zW-Ojt4JC825Ccgor8f_imnjxVgs1COq5NolY

Of course, rising waters and seas heating up and fish dying are not the only threats to the albatross. Another is the level of plastic garbage in our oceans. It is estimated that by 2050 if humans do not curtail their use of and dumping of plastic, there will be more of it in the oceans than there is water.

“Black footed albatross chick with plastics. Photo credit: Dan Clark/USFWS” by USFWS Pacific is marked with CC PDM 1.0

Black-footed Albatross is exclusive to the North Pacific Ocean living and breeding at the Midway Atoll which is part of the state of Hawaii. Some nest off of Japan. They breed around the age of five years. Like other albatross, they forage off of what they can find on the surface of the ocean such as squid, fish, and crustaceans. They have been known to eat refuse and carrion. When they intake the water, you can see in the image above, that they also ingest plastic floating in the ocean. It is not, of course, just the plastic that you can see but the chemicals that keep the plastics soft that are appearing in the eggs of the birds. Those chemicals are known as phthalates. These are found in the yolk of the eggs of the birds. An ongoing study on gull eggs may reveal the damage that will be done to the chicks. I will keep you posted.

Did you know that at the turn of the century it was fashionable to have an entire dead bird decorating your hat? Etta Lemon campaigned against the use of feathers of any kind in the fashion industry.

Many of the species that I write about were made or almost made extinct because of this practice – the Albatross and the Osprey – are only two.

It is 4:30 in the morning at the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest. Tiny Little is waking up. You can see the silhouettes of the other two siblings and the parents on the tree in the distance.

After missing out, at 13:30, Tiny Little figured out what he had to do to eat. When White YW comes into the nest with a fish, you claim the fish as yours! And TL did that. Yeah for Tiny Little!!!!!! This is a good lesson to learn. In the world of Osprey you need to be a little assertive even if you would rather not.

Thanks, Dad! So glad no one else is here!

Tiny Little has the fish between his talons and he is going to eat it. Dad took the head off so he doesn’t have to deal with those annoying bones like the ones around the eyes.

It is now 16:34 on the Foulshaw Moss Nest. Tiny Little is standing on the big stick and 464 is eating a fish. Will there be any left for Tiny Little? or will Tiny Little take off flying?

Thanks so much for joining me this morning. It is raining again where I live. The sky is light grey, the trees and plants are green and it is wonderful! It is 18 degrees, a much more normal summer temperature for us. They even say we have a chance of rain tomorrow. This will not fill up the Morris River but it might help the grass, the trees and the flowers the nectar eaters need. Take care all. Stay safe. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest, and the Cornell Bird and NZ DOC Royal Cam Albatross.

The credit for the featured image is: “Black footed albatross chick with plastics. Photo credit: Dan Clark/USFWS” by USFWS Pacific is marked with CC PDM 1.0

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.

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.

Monday Nest Spotlight

The female Royal Cam Chick of 2021 now has a name. It is Taiki. There were 1016 votes cast and 31% voted for Taiki! That was 494 votes. Coming in second was Ururaki.

Every year there is a theme and this year, the theme was the Maori concept of guardianship of the seas, the land, and the sky. Taiki (tee-ak-ee) means to protect, preserve, and care. It is a beautiful name and fits the concept perfectly. Sure fits this gorgeous little princess. If you are wondering, only Royal cam chicks get Maori names in addition to their colour bands and numbers.

There is Taiki a few minutes after the official name ceremony. Isn’t she just a cutie, as soft as a cloud?

11 May 2021

Remember, you can watch the comings and goings of the Royal Albatross and the Royal Cam Chick on this link:

There is also a fun game of guessing the chick’s weight each week. Today, her dad, Lime Green Black came in an hour or so before her weight check. Could have been a spoiler! To join in, you need to join the Royal Albatross FB page.

LGK flies in to feed his now named daughter, Taiki, a squid shake and then back to the sea.
11 May 2021

I learned something today – don’t think I had ever thought about it but I am going to pass it along to you. For those of you who are not familiar with Iris, the oldest living osprey in the world, whose summer home is in Missoula, Montana, then I will give you the capsule history.

Iris is unringed but it is believed that she could be 28 years old. I have heard ages from 23-28. She has, on average, raised approximately 30-40 osprey to fledge in her lifetime. Her last responsible mate, Stanley, did not return from migration in 2017. Her current mate, Louis, has two nests – his primary one is with Starr at the baseball park. It is often called ‘moonlighting’. Iris has only successfully fledged one chick, in 2018, with Louis. He doesn’t feed her and she has to do everything alone. It is impossible! This year she returned to her nest and worked hard at getting it spic and span. She laid her first egg on May 6 and the second one this morning at 6:41 (May 10). Iris has not incubated the other egg very much. She might not incubate this one either. What I learned is this: it is hormonal. Iris will lay the eggs even if they are not fertile. She has to go through the process. — Which means, hopefully, they are not fertile and I can simply relax. Iris will not tend them and will enjoy her fish from the river and have a nice summer!——— Did everyone else know this???? Like my grandmother’s chickens every day.

Iris looked around to show her mate the egg but, of course, no mate. So she showed us!

6:41 am 10 May 2021. Iris lays her second egg.

Isn’t she gorgeous? She went out during the day and caught herself a whopper of a fish – typical Iris style!

10 May 2021

Big Red is drying out. She fed the Ks a lot before all of the rain set in and then brooded them – keeping them warm and dry – until they could be fed today. I won’t bore you with the amount of feedings those little ones have had but the pantry has been restocked. You will get very good identifying prey items if you watch a hawk nest. Unlike Iris an Osprey, who only eats fish unless she is absolutely starving, hawks are opportunistic and eat what is front of them that they can catch.

Look at that smile! Oh, her feathers are all floofed. Big Red looks like she has been down to the stylist.

The freshest item on the menu seems to be the chipmunk that Arthur brought in a short time ago.

Sadly, it appears that some goslings and a baby heron will turn into hawk.

The little ones are in need of a good scrub/preening. If there is no more rain overnight, they should be nice and fluffy tomorrow.

There is K3 standing up. He is ready for dinner! Those little ones are so spunky and this one is no exception.

Thank you for joining me today. I hope that you like the name of the Royal Cam chick. It is quite beautiful. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the Cornell Bird Lab, the NZ DOC, and the Montana Opsrey Project for their streaming cams. That is where I grab my screen shots.