Daisy, more than a duck

After the Ravens had eaten or taken her eggs, Daisy was confused. She ate bits of shell, cleaned up some of the down, looked like she was digging a hole to the bottom of the tree trying to find her eggs, and then filled the nest cup and flew away. Everyone thought that was the last anyone would see of our little Daisy. But, no. She returned to the nest at 20:19, just after sunset. She stayed until 22:46:22. She has not returned.

Daisy is more than a Pacific Black Duck. She is more than a little duck that happened upon a huge nest in the forest and decided to lay her eggs there. Daisy is more than the little duck that thwarted and confused the big White-Bellied Sea Eagles.

Daisy laid her eggs at the beginning of January. Before that there had been tremendous sadness and angst. Just about six weeks earlier, the people who watched the two little eaglets, WBSE 25 and 26, said goodbye to ’26’. Shortly after 26 was born, it appeared that the tiny little fluff ball had a problem with its right leg. No one ever believed that 26 would be able to stand, or walk, or feed itself, or fly, or land on a branch, or fledge. But 26 did it all, in great pain, with feet whose coverings had been torn off in places. Six days after 26 fledged, she returned to the natal nest. Her parents cared for her and she rested and ate. Being in the forest had been traumatizing. One day, unexpectedly, 26 flew out of the nest over to the camera tree where she was harassed by the Pied Currawong. A Magpie even came to help 26 fend them off but, in the end, they chased 26 out of the forest. A storm was coming that night and the next day 26 was discovered on the balcony of a condo 22 stories up in Homebush Bay. She was about a kilometre from the nest. Everyone was so pleased when the wildlife rehabbers, WIRES, were called to evaluate her condition. They were the group that helped the koalas during the fires the year before. We all believed that 26 would get the veterinary care that we had hoped would come. Unfortunately, the leg was broken and it had healed poorly. 26 was in great agony and she was euthanized. It broke everyone’s heart.

The photo below is one of the last images of 26. The Magpie has come to help 26 keep the Pied Currawong away.

Sun pours over WBSE 26 in the last image of her in the forest.

I don’t think that we had even gotten over the numbness of 26’s death when one of our dear friends was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was this lovely woman who kept us laughing and brought sunshine into our lives. Phyllis was shattered with the death of 26.

Not long after a little duck came into all of our lives. It could not have been a more perfect time. Daisy offered a much needed diversion for Phyllis and all of us. Many felt that Daisy was ‘an angel’. Phyllis took over the ‘Duck’ chat on the ‘Duck camera’ and answered all of our questions. She was on ‘chat’ first thing in the morning to greet everyone and answer questions, and late at night. Tonight, Phyllis is gutted as so many others are. Daisy represented not just a diversion for Phyllis but also something more. There was an innocence about the little duck having her nest on the big sea eagle’s. In a way she washed away the ugliness of the pandemic and gave everyone something to look forward to: Daisy and her eggs had lived another day. We began to make up stories about how we would assist Daisy and the ducklings to the ground, how they might be escorted through the forest to safety at the river. And our dear friend, gr8lakes even thought that Daisy might want some toys for her babies. There was a lot of fun and a whole bunch of joking. That little duck brought such joy.

Phyllis wrote a poem for Daisy:

Our dear Daisy Duck , ever so sweet

Picking out her lovely penthouse suite

Maybe not the best idea she ever had

Because lurking nearby were Lady and Dad

Patiently we waited for ducklings to appear

But Nature brought us all to tears

Daisy I’m sure will have another clutch

I hope she knows we loved her ever so much

For some, the death of 26 was just the beginning of a long line of sadness. The two lovely eaglets born at the Captiva Bald Eagle nest died. A necropsy is being performed but the cause is most likely to be rodenticide. It was, of course, entirely preventable. This rat poison that kills more than rats and eagles kills family pets and other animals. It should be banned. There are other actually more effective ways to get rid of rodents including bringing in hawks and owls. The eaglets were called Hope and Peace. Peace had a piece of fishing line wrapped around her that had a hook. It must have been inside one of the fish that the parents brought in to feed their babies. That line was seen on camera, reported, and the wildlife rehabbers had permission to go to the eaglet and remove it. But, just about that same time, little Peace began to fail. And she died. Eleven days later, Hope, who was a big strapping eaglet flapping her wings one morning, died that afternoon from a broken blood feather. The blood did not coagulate because something Hope had eaten had rodenticide in its system. The father, Joe, removed the body of Peace after a few days of mourning. When Hope died, the mother, Connie, stood over her body poking her to see if there was any life at all. The parents stayed on the nest looking down at their child in complete disbelief and confusion. The wildlife rehabbers removed the body of Hope to find out what had happened. There is now a major campaign to ban rodenticide and to update some archaic wildlife laws that call for a 24 hour wait time to get help for wildlife in danger. That law was written in the 1940s. If passed, the campaigners would like it to be called Hope’s Law.

The image below shoes Hope with her mother looking out over their territory. Hope was getting her juvenile brown colouring. This picture was taken the day before she died.

Hope looks up to her mother, Connie.
Hope spreading her wings and jumping around.

Hope was jumping around and testing her wings only a few hours before she bled to death.

Ever wonder if birds mourn? Many of you know about Ravens and Crows but Bald Eagles do, too.

Connie stands over the body of Hope as Joe looks out to their territory.

As this was happening in Florida, two other eaglets in Texas died of what also appears to be rodenticide poisoning. And just today, one of the most famous Bald Eagle couples, Harriet and M15, in Fort Myers, Florida, had their two eaglets removed by CROW (the wildlife rehabbers) because of their crusted eyes. Swabs have been taken and the eyes have been cleaned. E 17 and E18 were also given antibiotics and fed. They will remain in the care of CROW until the test results return. In the meantime all attention will go towards getting them back with their distraught parents as soon as possible.

E17 ad E18 have eye problems
Harriet and M15 wonder where their eaglets have gone.

Wild life rehabbers understand that the parents will accept their babies up to eleven days. Then it is very tricky. This year we watched Diamond and Xavier a pair of mated Peregrine Falcons look for their Izzi after he had hit a window in early flying lessons and was taken into care. The Australian researcher returned Izzi to the scrape box after his being away for five days for him to fledge again. Xavier and Diamond were joyous and accepted him immediately.

Izzy still brings joy to everyone who watch him. Photo courtesy of Cilla Kinross.

Three people that I know warned me that I had to have a really thick skin if I wanted to get involved with my beloved Red Tail Hawks. Later, when another friend was too upset when one of the juvenile red tails from Ithaca died because she flew into a window on one of the Cornell campus buildings, I told her, “Don’t get said, get mad. And do something about it”. That death of a gorgeous healthy female was entirely preventable. The building is near to the road and the place where the juveniles learn to fly that J1 broke her neck. It is time that all public buildings and corporate skyscrapers are required to have special glass to prevent bird strike. Mandate it on all new builds and get the owners of the other buildings to come into the programme with incentives.

J1 looking up at her mother, Big Red, on Day 1
J1 in the front and J3 with his dark eyes look as J2 accidentally fledges from the light box.

Daisy gave everyone hope. 2020 was a difficult year for the entire world and we closed it with the anticipation that life in 2021 might be better for everyone. There are vaccines for the pandemic that might work but closer to home, people put their faith in a little duck and some baby eaglets. All of the birds have taught us a lot but one thing we all know that life is not to be taken for granted. Hold on to it, every minute because it can slip away as quickly as you can snap your finger.

Catching up with Miss Daisy

You will remember from my earlier posting today that our favourite little duck, Daisy, got home to her nest at 19:03. A couple of hours later and not having any evening contact with the mated pair of White Bellied Sea Eagles, Daisy was relaxing. And then BooBook Owl came and scared the wits out of her. She did not leave her nest but she got in defensive posture ready to protect her nest. At first Boo flew low right over Daisy on the nest. It is 20:51:40.

In the image below, Boo is nothing more than a blur as she flies directly over the centre of the big sea eagle nest. She is so close that she almost touches Daisy when she does the fly through.

The blur of BooBook Owl.

Daisy immediately gets into defensive posture. Boo circles the nest flying around the branches, going round and round. It keeps Daisy attentive and moving with the small owl. She always wants to know where the owl is. At 21:06:35 Boo lands on one of the small branches up near the top right corner of the image below. You can see the legs on the branch but not clearly. Look carefully. The left leg appears lighter than the right.

Defensive posture.
Boo moves closer down the branch to have a good look at Daisy.

BooBook Owl finally decides to sit closer to Daisy. Now you can see the eyes, the beak and the left leg along with the little owl’s body.

Boo is a nuisance to our Daisy, right now. She is also curious about this little duck in the sea eagle nest. Boo is used to bumping into the eagles in the night often injuring Lady’s eye. Boo is especially aggressive when she has her own nest of babies, November-December, and would love it if she could harass the sea eagles enough to get them to leave the forest. Fat chance on that happening!

BooBook Owl courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Boobook is the smallest owl in Australia. Owls are nocturnal so that is why Boo only pesters Daisy after dark. Boo will hunt all kinds of insects and very small mammals such as mice, small bats, and moths. Boo is about 27-36 cm tall or 10-14.5 inches, and weighs only 140-360 grams or 5 ounces to 12.6 ounces. The wings span ranges from 188-261 mm, or 7-10 inches. In comparison, remember that the White-Bellied sea eagle is the largest bird in Australia with a wing span of 2-2.3 metres, standing 80-90 cm tall and weighing 2.5 to 4 kg. Pacific Black Ducks are approximately 54-61 cm or 21 to 24 inches in length and they weigh 1025-1114 grams or 2.25 to 2.4 pounds. Daisy is bigger than Boo but the most important thing for her right now are her precious eggs and their protection. Boo could make a terrible mess and while the little owl does eat insects and bats along with mice, it might also be interested in Daisy’s eggs.

The sea eagles did not show up this morning. They were at Goat Island and it was raining and windy. Daisy’s morning was, as posted earlier, rather uneventful til she starting listening and raising her neck listening to the vocalizations from the other birds in the forest.

At 9:29 the ravens arrive. You cannot see them but Daisy heard them coming and knows they are about on the nest tree. The little duck immediately goes into a defensive posture. Notice, in the image below, how she has fanned out her tail and she has her feathers puffed up. This makes her look larger.

The Unkindness stay for approximately twenty minutes. Daisy moved as they did, just like she did when Boo was on the nest tree. She always kept her head tucked, her tail fanned, and her other feathers puffed.

As the day wore on, there were periodic showers on the nest. Daisy did some housekeeping, moving leaves closer to the nest in case she needed them for cover.

By noon, Daisy was relaxed and ready to take a wee bit of a rest. She tucks her bill in under her wing for warmth. Instead of being 40 degrees C like it was two days ago, today it is only in the low 20s with showers. What a change in temperature!

Daisy begins sweeping the leaves toward the nest and tucking the now dry down inside. She is preparing to go foraging. It is 13:58:14. This is quite a bit earlier than the last several days.

Daisy has camouflaged her nest well. In with the fluffy down are some leaves and twigs.

Leaves and twigs help hide the nest.

It is now 16:04 and Daisy has not returned to the nest. She often returns around 19:00 or 20:00 right before dusk but when she has left this early she has come back around 16:45. One day Dad had arrived and she had to abort her landing on the nest to avoid him seeing her. I wonder when she will come home today?

Thank you so much for joining Daisy and her adventures in the big sea eagles nest!

Thank you to Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for providing the cameras where I did my screen captures.

Oops. Too close for comfort!

Before I bring all of you up to date on our cute little duck, Daisy, Daisy wants to thank everyone from Canada, the US, Australia, and all the people from Poland who are concerned about her and come to check on how her day has been going. The last 20 hours have been anxious ones for Daisy.

Zanim opowiem wam wszystkim o naszej uroczej małej kaczce, Daisy, Daisy chce podziękować wszystkim z Kanady, Stanów Zjednoczonych, Australii i wszystkim ludziom z Polski, którzy się o nią martwią i przyjeżdżają sprawdzić, jak minął jej dzień. jechałem. Ostatnie 20 godzin było niespokojnych dla Daisy.

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It had been so hot on the nest, with the temperature rising to 36 C, that Daisy took another break, yesterday, at 16:14:38. It had only been four hours since she returned from her last break. The heat is very hard on Daisy. She has lost so much weight and her stores of calcium creating eggs, laying them, and now brooding. And unlike other mated pairs of birds, she has no one to bring her food to the nest or to relieve her. Daisy is all alone. There is no one to even protect her from predators except herself. And the predators are lurking about today.

Daisy sitting in the hot sun before she takes her break.
Daisy carefully covers up her nest of eggs with lots of leaves and other plant material.
Daisy using her bill to get more leaves to cover her nest.
Only a little bit of down is showing!

While Daisy is away dabbling, one of the White Bellied Sea Eagles flies in to check on the nest.

Dad sits on the branch at 20:04:58

WBSE ‘Dad’ looked out all over his territory and waited by the nest right at dusk to see if anyone was there. But no one! You don’t see anyone on the White Bellied Sea Eagle nest, do you?

Daisy was very lucky.

Daisy returned to the nest at 20:15:36. Our little duck might not be a permanent resident of the forest but she has learned how to listen and tell when the big eagles are about. She waited until she was certain that Dad would not be returning. They missed one another by eleven minutes!

Daisy carefully returns to her nest.

The sun had completely gone down by the time Daisy returned to her nest. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that ducks are not smart. So far she has used all of the powers that she has to keep her and her eggs safe. And we have also learned something. Daisy has much better night vision that the sea eagles. In the image above she is carefully returning to her nest. She does not want to drawn any attention to where her eggs are.

There are no visitors to Daisy’s nest during the night. She is awake many times preening or turning her eggs. The sun will be coming up in about half an hour.

Daisy is awake on her nest at 15:53.

It is going to be 40 degrees in Homebush Bay, Australia where the duck nest in the Ironbark Tree is located. I wonder if Daisy will go out to forage and cool down before dawn?

Daisy thinks she has heard something in the forest.

Daisy decided against going out to forage. But at 5:50 am, she raises her neck. She has heard something!

Daisy has a split second to get off her eggs before the Sea Eagle lands on the nest! In the image below you can see her flying directly off the eggs to get out of the way of danger.

Daisy flies directly off the nest and out of the tree.

Daisy had no time to cover up her eggs. The White Bellied Sea Eagle lands just as Daisy clears the big branch. It is 5:50 am.

Daisy had to leave the eggs uncovered,

The White Bellied Sea Eagle walks over to check on the nest and look around.

First of the sea eagles lands and looks around.

In a few minutes the second White Bellied Sea Eagle comes to the nest in the old Ironbark Tree. In unison, they both look down at the eggs.

For some time, the sea eagles have appeared utterly confused by what is happening in their nest. Who has laid these eggs? Where are they? Who are they?

I often wonder if they think it is a bigger bird trying to take over their territory. There is, of course, no concern that a tiny little duck would want to do that.

Utterly confused.

Both of the sea eagles look like they are talking to themselves. One of my friends thinks that this could be a very funny conversation between Dad and Lady with Dad trying to explain to Lady that he has nothing to do with these eggs.

WBSE look like they are having a confab.

Once again, the White Bellied Sea Eagles do not disturb the nest. They are curious about the intruder into their territory but they do not appear to be hostile to the eggs. It is all quite interesting.

For a few minutes both of them are on one of the branches of the big Ironbark Tree. You can barely make out one on the branch that cuts through the middle of the right hand side of the image.

Sea Eagles stay on the tree watching.

At 5:57 the sea eagles do the second of what is known as the ‘duet’. It is a morning greeting for the sun. At the same time it is also a sound they make when they are defending their territory. It is a series of honks.

Lady leaves at 6:11 but Dad stays on the branch for at least another hour. Meanwhile, Daisy eggs are exposed. It is 21.8 degrees C.

Exposed duck eggs.

Daisy returns at 7:50:11 and once again is very careful when she gets on her nest. She has no more than relaxed and she begins to hear a commotion in the forest coming towards the nest tree. She raises her head to listen carefully.

Daisy listens to see who is coming.

Daisy listens very careful. It is the Ravens. The Unkindness comes to the tree at 7:58:06. They are cawing and Daisy is afraid. She fans out her feathers to not only make herself look larger than she is but also to protect her nest. Just like raptors protect their food, mantling.

Daisy stays still. You can see one raven on the top right.

The ravens leave after about ten minutes returning in half an hour to harass Daisy again. They want her to get off her eggs so they can eat them! Daisy remains still turning in the nest so that she can always see where the ravens are.

Whew! In the period of two and a half hours, Daisy has been frightened off her nest by the WBSE and has had two visits by the Ravens. It is getting hotter and hotter for our little duck. She is going to have to come and go often today if she is to stay cool. The humidity is 98% and the temperature is climbing steadily up to 40. Right now the nest is in the shade. It is nearly 11 am and maybe Daisy will now have a quiet day. The Ravens and the WBSE should be trying to find a spot to stay cool for the day.

I have checked with a person who knows about eggs. The Ironbark Tree is a very deep and wide tree. It actually holds the heat. Daisy’s nest is right in the middle. Even though she did not get to cover her nest and despite the fact that it was only 21 or 22 degrees C then, it is thought that the down and the warmth from the WBSE nest would have kept the eggs sufficiently warm. This is Day 15 of incubation. Let us hope so! The individual that told me about the temperature said that they were worried if the eggs got too hot from being exposed to direct sunlight. We learn something every day!

Thank you for joining Daisy. She hopes to have a nice quiet albeit hot day in the Sydney Olympic Park forest. I will provide an update if anything should happen in about six or seven hours. Otherwise Daisy and I will see you tomorrow. Good night. Stay safe!

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Thank you to Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the cameras where I took my scaps.

Ravens threaten Daisy!

Daisy’s Monday morning in Australia (Sunday in North America) started out as beautifully as it ended the evening before. She had gone to forage returning at 19:45 yesterday evening. It appears to be a growing pattern, leaving in the heat of the afternoon and returning right before dusk. This pretty much ensures that she will miss the sea eagles if they come.

While she was away yesterday, the Rainbow Lorikeets came to visit Daisy, full of energetic chatter but, at the same time, wondering where she was! They are so cute. They almost look like stuffed plushies someone has placed on Daisy’s nest tree.

Where’s MY Daisy?

It is going to be hot again today for Daisy. They are predicting temperatures of 34 climbing to 39 tomorrow. Our pour little duck needs a paddle pool up there with her!

Daisy decided not to leave this morning for a bathroom break or to forage. Instead, she stayed on the nest. The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos can be heard around 7:15 but it is an Unkindness that rattles Daisy’s world at 8:04. A group of Ravens is called an Unkindness and they were certainly not nice to Daisy. In fact, they were downright threatening. They moved from the top of the tree down closer. It was impossible to get am image of them in the tree (see second image below) but their shadows could be seen and their noise was deafening. Daisy was so frightened.

Australian Raven. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Look at the image below. Notice that Daisy has spread her feathers out in a manner similar to when a raptor mantles its prey. Her tail is fanned out and the feathers on her back are raised. She is protecting her clutch of eggs from these predators. The Ravens try harder and harder to get Daisy off her nest of eggs so they can eat them!

Daisy flattens her feathers and her head against the nest.

The Unkindness bullied Daisy trying to get her off her nest for five minutes. It must have seemed like a life time. And then they were away!

Except for the heat, the rest of the day has been relatively uneventful. The birds and animals of the forest are trying to expend as little energy as they can and remain cool in the hot Australian heat.

Daisy gathers up leaves and methodically covers her clutch of eggs and flies off to forage at 13:04:44.

Daisy leaving her nest to forage.

Notice how Daisy has moved leaves over on top of her down and tucked it in tight today. She might be worried about the Ravens coming back to try and find her nest. Or maybe she thinks the sea eagles might stop in to see if anyone is incubating the eggs.

Daisy flies from the nest.

Look at the image above. You can just see Daisy flying off. It got really hot on the nest today. The afternoon is the worst. Daisy left a little earlier than usual. Eggs are incubated at 37.5 degrees. It is possible that the heat from outside and the down stuffed around could keep the eggs toasty warm until later today. I wonder if Daisy will return around 17:00 or if she will wait til almost dusk.

Update: It was a very short foray for Daisy. She was gone only until 14:32 – so under an hour and a half. When she returned it looked like she was pretending like she had just landed on the nest. Like always, she looked around and walked very slowly before going over to her nest. What I find interesting is that she does not immediately move the leaves or open the down. It is always like she is simply waiting a little more being overly careful. Daisy is so cautious. What a good little mother!

Thank you for joining us and checking in on the little duck that built her nest inside the nest tree of the big sea eagles.

Thank you to the Sea Eagle cam, Birdlife Australia, and the Discovery Centre for the cameras that provided the images.