Falcons and Football…and more in Bird World for Tuesday

22 November 2022

Good Morning to Everyone!

It has warmed up on the Canadian Prairies – and because of that the heating is not on as much and it is damp and cold. Believe me, we always grumble about the weather. It is to be 0 degrees C today! It will cause things to melt a bit and get all slushy – there is nothing worse than chills to the bone. It will be a good day to go to the pond and see if there are any of those Wood Ducks still hanging about. Images (sadly I do not have permission to share them – yet) have been coming in that are showing 50 or 60 Bald Eagles just south of our City in the trees alongside the Snowy Owls. It is quite incredible.

In the Mail:

There are times when we just need something to put a smile on our face. When I lived in Norman Oklahoma and went to the University of Oklahoma, it was impossible not to be an OU Sooners Football Fan. I can still smell the damp leaves in the fall covering the sidewalks on the way to the stadium. When ‘B’ found out about this, he sent me the most fabulous image. As we all remember – too well – there was a time in 2020 and 2021 when large gatherings of people were forbidden due to Covid. One of those was, of course, the popular football games in the US. So, the University of California at Berkeley, put up cardboard cut outs of viewers. Guess who got the prime seat? Look!

That is fabulous. Our own Grinnell. Alden is wonderful but there was just something about Grinnell that made him ever so special. It is hard to lose them.

Thank you ‘B’.

The other day Annie and Alden attended all the celebrations for the latest football game at Berkeley when the Cal Golden Bears beat the Stanford Cardinals 27-20. Our adorable Peregrine Falcon couple went up to the ledge, spent some time there recuperating (was it 3 hours?). ‘H’ sent me a link to the video of them sitting and leaving together that she made for us to enjoy. Thank you ‘H’.

Making News:

There is news coming in about the streaming cams and nests on Captiva Island -the Bald Eagle nest of Connie and Clive and the Osprey nest of Andy and Lena.

The Dfyi Osprey Project in Wales is reporting that there are two beautiful Red Kites on the Dyfi Osprey nest of Idris and Telyn. Aren’t they ever so beautiful? Just look at that plumage. I don’t know about you but I am simply mystified at how beautiful these raptors are – the falcons, the kites, the kestrels, the Merlins, and the Harriers. You can take the same colours and shake them up and each one is slightly different than the other. I have to admit that the Red Kites are quite stunning with those icy blue heads and amber eyes, bright chrome-yellow cere and short hooked beaks with its black tip. The terracotta or rusty sort of Corten Steel colour of the tails (reminiscent of the Red-tail Hawk) set against the dark chocolate trimmed with white is outstanding.

You can check on all the birds that use this nest by going to dyfiospreyproject.com

There is no rest for Dr Peter Sharpe of the Institute for Wildlife Studies. Those who watched the Channel Island’s Bald Eagle nests will remember Dr Sharpe climbing up to rescue Lancer at Two Harbours, getting a chick of the cliff at the West End, and going in and taking Victor to the Ojai Raptor Centre last season. He is now busy working on the cameras. Here is the announcement from the IWS.

Everyone is getting ready for the Bald Eagle breeding season. Speaking of that, Samson and Gabby were caught mating on the nest today just like Harriet and M15 were a week or so ago. Eggs should be coming shortly. Will there be holiday eaglets?

Philippe Josse reports that progress is certainly being made on the Notre Dame Eagles nest – the natal nest of dearest Little Bit ND17. Please join the FB group Notre Dame Eagles for up to date information on this family.

Terry Carman is keeping track of the Bald Eagle eggs on the streaming cam. Here is the latest report — and all bets are on Harriet and M15 having their first egg today at SWFlorida! If you are looking to track Bald Eagle laying, please head over to this great FB group. There you will always have the latest information.

Checking on the Australian Nests:

Zoe is 66 days old today. She could fledge at any time. She is doing some good hovering and has nailed stealing the fish when Dad brings it to the nest! And you know what? She is gorgeous. When the wind whips her crest up it accents those focused piercing eyes and that very sharp hooked black beak. The dark black eye line just makes her that more gorgeous.

The winds are at 26 kph right now. Gusty for our girl. I hope she does not get swept up when she is practising her hovering. Zoe is getting better each day at that hover but, still. We saw what wind gusts can do with Rufus. I prefer that they take off on their own!

In Orange, Xavier and Diamond seem to be having prey drops with Indigo. She is really doing well!

Look carefully over at the trees!

Yesterday Shines found Rubus on the ground next to the road and put the little fella back up in the Waddle Tree.

I have to admit that I am a wee bit worried about Rubus and that is only because there have been no reports of any feedings. That is not to say they have no occurred. Diamond and Xavier are cracker parents and I think they are decidedly trying to lure Rubus back up to the scrape. It is possible that he does not feel confident to fly. Has anyone seen Rubus flying since he fledged/fledged?

Some more photos of Rubus higher in the Wattle Tree.

Every once in awhile one of the parents goes up to the scrape. I think they are really trying to lure Rubus back into the box.

Xavier is keeping an eye over everything happening with his two fledglings from the ledge of the box.

At 1540 Indigo comes up to the scrape box prey calling, very loudly, and Xavier immediately takes off. Indigo stays in the scrape looking for prey amongst the feathers. Will Xavier return with something from the storage vault?

Indigo spent the night in the scrape box last evening.

I urge you to check out the wonderful website that has gone up at Orange. Cilla Kinross and her great team have put together cracker content and you can get up to date information on our falcon family there with their photographs.

That link is: falcon cam.csu.edu.au

No 12 The Red List: The Merlin

Merlin Falcon” by minds-eye is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Oh, it is hard to imagine that this lovely little raptor is on the vulnerable list in the UK. But, if it is happening there, it is possible that there are declining population numbers elsewhere. Ruth Tingay, writing in Red Sixty Seven, describes the birds as feisty and dashing with their “rapid fire kek, kek, kek, kek, kek” that demands everyone’s attention. Tingay first saw Merlins in the wilds of the Hebrides, those remote islands off the west coast of Scotland. She then saw them again in an urban setting in Idaho and said she was shocked because she always associated them with great open spaces.

Look at the colour of the plumage! They are smaller than a Peregrine Falcon measuring at most 30 cm or 12 inches in length or the Red Kits who grow to approximately twice their size. The male Merlin has dark steel blue grey upper wings, tail and top of the head. The underwing – the primaries and the secondaries are the same dark grey barred with a lighter grey. There is a fine white eye line, magnificent rusty-orange with dark chocolate barring on the underneath, on the legs and the upper part of the wing. The deepest dark 70% cocoa eyes, a white beard and throat. The beak has a black tip fading into that grey blue and a yellow cere. The legs are chrome-yellow with deep black talons.

Merlins are described as “our smallest falcon, male smaller than the female, not much bigger than a Blackbird.” They live on the moors and open fields where they breed but travel to the south and the coasts of the UK for their wintering grounds. Here is their map.

Seriously adorable but, in the sky and hunting, they are formidable for the smaller birds.

Falcon” by Terry Kearney is marked with CC0 1.0.

The Merlin was a popular hawk of Mary Queen of Scots and became known as the Queen’s Falcon or Lady’s Hawks. Royalty and women of the aristocracy would use them to hunt Sky Larks. They are a fierce hunter capturing their prey from the air, high up meaning that they have to have a very calculated effort. They normally hunt small to medium sized birds bit have been known to take pigeons, ducks, and even plover.

Sadly, they are quickly losing their habitat, pesticides and secondary poisoning, and of course the shooting by the keepers of the estates where Red Grouse hunting takes place. Other causes of death are collision and cat predation. There are many other threats. Corvids, such as Crows and Jays, will eat the eggs and the nestlings if they find them and, indeed, Merlins do not build their own nest but reuse the nests of others including Crows. Larger Raptors such as Peregrine Falcons, Great Horned Owls, and even Goshawks are a threat but all others tend to steer clear of this small falcon because of its aggressiveness.

Climate change will impact this small spirited hawk. Audubon has set up a programme to try and predict the changes to its breeding habitat. As you can see they will be pushed further north to where it is cooler. With the polar ice melting and the seas warming, I wonder how long it will be cooler in the north?

Some new books have arrived and I will be anxious to tell you about them as I work my way through. For now I am trying to scout out all the birding sites on the island of Grenada in the West Indies so that I can – hopefully – send you some images of birds that are either old friends or new ones. My son will probably never invite me again! He gets another location or two each day – . I was told tonight to bring my gum boots and lots of mosquito repellent. So for dear ‘L’ who was worried that the newsletter might stop while I am away, ‘no’ it will not. You are all going on my birding adventure with me!

Thank you so much for being here today. It is so nice to have you with us. Please take care of yourself – and I will see you soon!

Thank you to the following for their letters, their posts, their videos, and their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘B’ so grateful for that image of Grinnell, ‘H’ for her great videos, Captiva Island Eagles and Ospreys FB, Dyfi Osprey Project FB, IWS, Notre Dame Eagles, Bald Eagles Live Nest Cams and News, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, the Falcon Cam Blog, Open Verse, and Audubon.org.

Indigo flies out and in…plus more news in Bird World for Thursday Nov 17

17 November 2022

Oh, good morning to all of you. Thank you so very much for being with me today. I am so very, very happy to be with you! Thank you for all of the wonderful stories that you have sent. I will be working my way through them slowly. Much appreciated. We woke up to more snow. Everything is beautiful and white!

The kidlets, Missy and Lewis, had their first vet visit. I am a glowing proud parent. They were soooooo well behaved. They are not litter mates and the adoption person told us that they might not get along with one another. I have not had more than one kitten since I was a child and did not know what to expect.

I remember one stray that someone left at our gate. when I was a child. Oh, I loved that cat. To me the drab brown tabby was the most beautiful cat in the world. My grandmother was very diplomatic and said, ‘He sure is sweet’. I begged to keep this one particular cat. My dad agreed since it was a ‘boy’. Well, he apparently didn’t check very good…a few weeks later we had a pack of kittens. That tabby lived for more than 10 years. She was incredibly sweet. It is very different, having kittens outside with their mother and kittens in the house – in a conservatory, with very large plant pots and tall vines with flowers, or trees…yes, trees.

But, back to the topic at hand. Lewis and Missy are the best of mates. They do everything together including eating out of the same dish at the same time, drinking out of the same dish at the same time, having to have their paws touch when they are sleeping or sleeping in the same tent. Always together. So off they went in the same pet carrier, not separate, together. Not a single peep. At the vet they were so content. Proud Mum here!

I got a tip from the technician at the vet. One of the biggest culprits for cats will be their teeth. I hope if you have cats and dogs are brushing their teeth or giving them things to facilitate good gum health and clean teeth. If you have tried brushing their teeth and it didn’t work, get a nice flavoured tooth paste. Lewis and Missy like the chicken. Take clean nylon stockings or panty hose. Cut a square. Wrap it around your finger, put a dab of the toothpaste on it and away you go. Be sure to do the back ones and those sharp canines in the front. You can get them used to what you are going to do by rubbing on the outside of their cheek for a couple of days. Small toothbrushes or those prickly things you put on your finger did not – at least not for these two. Panty hose do! And I swore I would never wear the darn things again after I retired. So glad there is some use for them!

Missy is the ‘alpha’ You might recall she had Lewis well aware that she is the boss immediately. The vet saw it too! Indeed, the vet smiled and said, “Always the female!” Anyone watching a raptor on a streaming cam knows this. I said nothing. The odd thing is Lewis is so solid and looks ‘so tough’ and Missey appears to be ‘so fragile’. So funny. Missy is half Maine Coon – but both, at the end of the day, are literally ‘alley cats’. Found new borns taken to the shelter from different parts of my city. We are so lucky to have in our lives.

Missey likes to get inside plant pots – with or without soil. This is the tiny artificial tree that has been put up. The soft felted birds have had to be removed. LOL.

Looking so innocent! “We didn’t do it!”

Today’s action was still at the scrape box of Diamond and Xavier. Those parents are really making sure that both Rubus and Indigo are well fed. What a fantastic couple they are. The moderator put some history in the chat today and for those of you that do not know – we now have at least three male peregrine falcons that we know of that have started out as step-fathers.

The last sighting of Diamond’s mate, Bull, was on 30 September 2016. Their erases hatched on the 4th and 5th of October. The first sighting of Xavier in the scrape box at Orange was on the 7th of October. He brought prey to Diamond and the babies on the 8th of October. The rest is history as it is with Alden at UC-Berkeley and M2022 at 367 Collins Street.

Aren’t they adorable? Every day Rubus looses more and more dandelions.

Everyone has been wanting to know when Indigo would fly again. He certainly has been eating well and enjoying being back home. Today, right before 14:38 Indigo got a little frantic, running around the scrape just like he did the day before he fledged. At 143802, Indigo flew out of the scrape box. He returned 35 seconds later! I caught it on video for you.

​RECAP of feedings at Orange: 05:29:41 X/quail; 05 32 39 X/St.Quail Indigo Grabs; 06:05 38 X/juv star; 8 39 04 D/prey 8 47 58 D takes leftover quail; 15 41 31 D/pigeon; 18 32 52 X/red-browed Finch; 19 06 55 D/Live Star

‘H’ sent this link to me. It is a split screen video that Cilla Kinross made of a feeding. Disregard the word ‘kestrels’. It is definitely Rubus and Indigo. Thanks, ‘H’. Delightful.

Indigo and Rubus both in the scrape as the IR lights are turning off.

The wind was really blowing and there were lots of white caps at Port Lincoln. It made everyone wonder whether or not there would be any fish today but – alas, it turned out good.

At Port Lincoln, Zoe can surely scream for the fish! I have jokingly said that I hope she lives a long and healthy life with many osplets screaming their heads off to her…their poor Dad. Just imagine.

There have been at least 2 fish deliveries today. Mum was on the ropes eating a fish around 1400. Zoe took absolutely no notice. She was not hungry. Isn’t that grand? No one on this nest hungry. The fish are ever so unstable. But – we will take it. Today is a good day. Mum ate her bit and flew to the nest at 141408 and fed her large daughter.

Zoe doesn’t even seem to know or care if Mum is over on the ropes eating a fish. Normally she would be screaming her head off. Not today. It is a good fish day.

When the feeding was over, Zoe had an enormous crop.

All of the family together. Mum has a very nice crop from the earlier feedings.

Lots of food at Port Lincoln. These are the late time stamps from Gtr Kitarr:  19:16 headless fish by Dad, Mum off w the fish, back at 19:29 to feed Zoe. 20:24 Zoe wing flapping & 20:24:14 standing on one leg. 21:10 headless fish by Dad, Mum feeds Zoe in the dark.

Making News:

The investigation of the theft of four precious Albatross eggs continues.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/130488815/was-a-boat-used-to-steal-four-rare-albatross-eggs-in-daring-heist

How many of us love Iris? The oldest Osprey in the world whose nest is on the lot of Riverside Health Care Center in Missoula, Montana. A request has come in from lovers of Iris. Here it is:

Here is a very short report on the current status of Sea Eaglets 29 and 30. I also want to mention that my contact tells me that the sea eaglets are at different clinics. The specific names are not being mentioned as is the case with other popular birds to keep the phone lines open for injured wildlife.

The Red List 8. The Yellow Wagtail

Yellow wagtail” by hedera.baltica is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

There are many birds that I do not know. This bird is one of the first to be spotted when it returns from its winter migration in Africa to the fields in the UK. In Africa, they feed on the insects that the elephants kick up from under their feet so if you ever get to go to Africa on a safari and see a herd of elephants look for these dramatic sulphur yellow birds with their grey heads. In the UK, they follow the farm tractors kicking up the soil to reveal their next meal. They need a good supply of insects and spiders to survive. Besides fields, manure heaps and wet lands are good places for them to forage.

Yellow Wagtails raise two clutches a year if there is suitable nesting spaces and food. Their nests are low on the ground adjacent to wet lands, salt marshes, hay meadows, and some fields of vegetable crops.

Yellow wagtail” by hedera.baltica is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Changes to agriculture and crops grown put the Yellow Wagtail under threat. The RSPB has made some recommendations to farmers in the UK which would help stabilise and grow the numbers of these beautiful birds. This includes returning to having some manure heaps for them to forage through. They are beautiful songbirds. Let us hope that those who can do something to encourage their population growth will keep this in mind when they are planning their crops and how they do their farming in the upcoming years before it is too late.

We are waiting for both Zoe and Rubus to fledge. Rubus is not quite ready but is getting more and more interested as Zoe spends time in the scrape and now, that she has flown in and out again. Zoe is doing a lot of wingers. I am a bit old fashioned. The longer they stay on the nest or at the scrape and the stronger they are when they fledge, the more chance they will have of success. Weak tired birds do not do well in the field.

Thank you so very much for being with me today. Send your best wishes to our beautiful sea eaglets as they recover. Take care of yourselves, too. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Thank you to the following for their posts, their videos, and their streaming cams which make up my screen captures: OpenVerse, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Sea Eagles FB, Montana Ospreys at Hellgate, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Royal Albatross FB.