Shaded nests for eagles, prey drop for Rubus and other news in Bird World

23 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone!

I hope that you are well. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. In Canada, we have already had our harvest festival in October but, as one of the readers reminded me, it is a time to give thanks for all of those in our lives — so to all of you wherever you may be, ‘thank you for being part of this great community’. Your empathy, caring, understanding, and joy are remarkable and this year we have been so much together. And to all of our feathered friends, thank you for the joy and the tears and for reminding us that we are all in this world together, not separate.

Dyson sends greetings from all of us to all of you. She hopes that you have plenty of ‘nuts’ for your celebration while reminding all of us to share with the wildlife.

There is simply not a lot going on in Bird World. Only one thing seems to be on anyone’s mind now that Zoe has fledged. When will Rubus fly up to the scrape?  Rubus has flown. Shines reports that Rubus was on the ground and observed to fly 200 m to his perch. Indigo has been up in the scrape box and so have the adults. And he flew some more later and picked up a prey delivery (see below). Life feels good right now. All are well.

Interesting to note that Xavier was in the scrape box ‘scraping’ – is he already thinking about next year? A scrape is a shallow indentation in the gravel or sand in which the eggs are laid.

It is extremely heart warming to know that all of the staff at Charles Sturt University keep an eye out for the falcons. Rubus was found on the ridge of the Printery Roof. Here is a video showing a prey delivery for Rubus from Xavier. So, we can all relax. Xavier and Diamond are taking good care of both Indigo and Rubus and there are all kinds of caring eyes looking out for them!

Thanks ‘A’ for sending me the link to the video and this comforting news!

If you missed Zoe’s fledge, here is my short video clip. She was really working her wings earlier and her first flight took her right down to Dad’s shed. Perhaps Ervie will come and join them for a good old ‘chin wag’. Zoe is 66 days old.

Mum is in the nest and Dad is on the ropes. Zoe is still down in the shed. She will figure out how to fly back up to the nest. If I recall, this is what Bazza did last year! Please correct me if I am wrong.

There should be no worries. Zoe flew up to the nest at 1451 and booted Mum off. She is now prey-calling and I presume that one of the adults will be out to get their girl a nice fish for her accomplishment!

Zoe later flew back and forth to the perch and around the barge. It appears from all the time tables that Zoe did not get a fish after fledgling. Thanks to ‘A’, here are the major events from the observation board for Port Lincoln for the day: Fish count: Dad: 2, Mum: 0 Fish times: 08:37, 11:49 08:37 dad with headless fish, mum takes it away 08:46 mum returns, Zoe self feeds 9:00:56 Zoe eats the tail.

10:54:45 Zoe fledges from the nest and ends up in the mancave Facebook post on fledge 

11:49:45 Fish tail end by Dad. Zoe was in the mancave 11:55 Mum eats the tail. 14:51:55 Zoe returns to the nest, where mum was, who then leaves

18:40 Zoe from nest to close perch (and back and to the perch) and flying around the barge

‘H’ made a video clip that shows Zoe’s fledge and her subsequent flights which are not included in mine. Thanks so much ‘H’.

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Making News:

Dave Hancock of Hancock Wildlife is building shaded nests for the eagles to help them with the increasingly number of heat domes that are part of climate change in British Columbia. Here is an image of one of those nests with the Delta 2 Eagles.

The British Trust for Ornithology is watching with great concern as the migrant birds from parts of Europe arrive in the UK for their winter holidays.

BirdLife’s 2022 Photography Awards are in and there are some stunning images.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2022/nov/23/the-2022-birdlife-australia-photography-awards-in-pictures?CMP=share_btn_link

There are many categories and many birds that will be familiar that are in those winning shots including the Albatross, BooBook Owl, Wood Ducks, Petrels, Wrens, and Lyrebirds. Enjoy!

What you might not know is that you do not have to be Australian to enter. Maybe think about submitting some of your images next year. One section of the Birdlife website that fascinated me was the ‘tips and tricks’ to getting bird photos. Mine would never win any awards but I would love to be able to take better photos of our beautiful feathered friends. To check out on the regulations for the annual awards and to see the tips and tricks, please go to:

birdlifephotoaward.org.au

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In Senegal, Jean-marie Dupart reports that he counted 331 Ospreys in a stretch of beach measuring 143 km. That is fantastic news!

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In the United States, the Osprey breeding season starts after the Bald Eagles. Jack and Diane at the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida have been visiting their nest. I wonder if they even know where to start with all the weeds that have grown up!

I keep heading over to the West End nest of Thunder and Akecheta to see if I can catch them at the nest but, no luck today!

I didn’t find anyone at home at Fraser Point either and they are playing highlights on the Two Harbours cam.

Harriet and M15 have been on and off the nest today. Many thought that today might be the time for the first egg’s arrival but, it doesn’t appear to be the case. Perhaps tomorrow!

Gabby is looking particularly gorgeous these days. She is keeping her eyes out for any intruders near the nest she shares with Samson at Jacksonville, Florida.

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No 12. The Red List: Ring Ouzel

Alpine Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus), Karwendel mountains, Austria” by Frank.Vassen is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

In his description of this beautiful Blackbird with its white half moon torque on the male, Nick Baker says, “It’s the thinking person’s Blackbird, the connoisseur’s choice; a passerine, that keeps itself to itself and is somewhat exclusive, hiding away from the cheap (ing) twittering masses of other perching birds, other than the odd curved, Wheatear and pipit.”

Ring Ouzel male” by Rainbirder is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Baker likes the stunning black birds because they are elusive one has to “invest some kind of effort to find one makes them all the more appealing…” Baker lives in Dartmoor, where a small population of these passerines “hangs on.” He says “the situation is about as delicate as the frosted feather edges on the bird’s breast.”

This lovely print shows the adults and the wee one. Notice the silvery wing panels on both the male and the female. You can see them easily in the photograph by Rainbirder above, also. The male’s crescent moon is pure white while the female’s is ivory barred with a rust brown. Instead of a black chin, the female has vertical barring, dark chocolate on white. Once again, I think that the female is just as stunningly beautiful as the male – her head, back and tail are not the pure deeply saturated black. In fact there is more variety to her plumage. The spots on the chest of the juvenile with its brown head, back and wings remind me of the work of Denmark’s most accomplished ceramic artists, Priscilla Mouritzen.

Ring Ouzel (male left female above young right)” by Wildreturn is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The ring ouzel is a member of the thrush family. It grows to approximately 24 cm or 18 inches in length. They are smaller than Blackbirds but are often misidentified as being a Blackbird unless you see that stunning half moon panel.

They breed in the drags and gullies of the steep valleys from mid-April through to mid-July normally having two clutches. Their nests are located close to the ground in dense heather or in a crevice. It would be very rate to see them nest in a tree. They feed their young earthworms and beetles and as adults they eat insects and berries.

The threats that these birds face are quite numerous. The predation of eggs is a start because of nesting close to the ground. They are disturbed by humans, their habitat has been destroyed due to deforestation in the areas where they winter in Spain and in Africa. Climate change has had a significant impact on the bird. The authors of the book noted below, possibly the very best study of these birds, notes that the landscape of the North York Moors might become completely unsuitable for them in the future.

One of the best books on this species is this volume, The Ring Ouzel. A New from the North York Moors. The retired duo hiked, observed, and gained considerable knowledge which they have passed on to us in a delightful little book. I keep thinking how wonderful they were to find this specific place now and provide us with insights into a bird that is most elusive.

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Migration News:

I am still following two of the four fledglings from Karl II’s Black Stork family from the Karula National Forest in Estonia. Those two are Waba and the foster chick, Bonus. The only surviving strolling from the last brood of Jan and Janikka.

Bonus remains in the area of Turkey (Konya Province) where he has been for what seems like forever. It is an area that can get cold in the winter with snow and everyone is hoping that he will decide to get moving!

Waba remains in the Sudan feeding on the Nile River. He travelled 242 km in the last few days (his tracker was not transmitting for some of that time).

Both of the Black Stork juveniles seem to have found water and lots of food and it appears that each is reluctant to leave their respective locations. It is always a relief to know that they are well but, like everyone else, I hope that Bonus will get an itch to fly and that he will head south to catch up with the remainder of his family in Africa.

Thank you so very much for being with me today. We will be keeping an eye on Zoe as she perfects her flying skills along with dear Rubus and Indigo at Orange. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘A’ and ‘H’ as always – so grateful, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross and gang, Port Lincoln Ospreys, British Trust for Ornithology, ave Hancock and Hancock Wildlife, The Guardian, Achieva Ospreys with Jack and Diane, IWS, SWFlorida Bald Eagles and D Pritchett, NEFL-AEF, Openverse, and Looduskalender Forum.

Annie and Alden, a whopper for Zoe and some serious hovering…early Monday in Bird World

21 November 2022

Oh, the best of the morning to all of you! I hope this newsletter finds you well and happy and taking some time to de-stress out of doors if you need it — or watching our marvellous birds from inside your home or on the streaming cams. It is so nice to have you hear with us.

The weather continues to be wintery with no break now until spring, late spring normally here in Canada. The garden animals have been all flooded up keeping warm. Me, too! It is, however, very hard to imagine that in 40 days it will be a brand new year.

Dyson never disappoints in her ability to find and get food efficiently. She has a perfect spot on a branch where she sits and can eat right out of the bird feeder!

The Starlings really are lovely. This one flew down to check out what the Blue Jay was interested in on the deck but, normally they always stay in the lilacs or the back trees.

The Starlings and Sparrows share the Butter Bark.

In the Mailbox:

‘J’ sent a link to a blog that some of you might find interesting. It goes to the heart of our earlier discussions about birds and emotions. Thank you ‘J’!

Website of Gaby Schulemann-Maier: https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.birds-online.de%2Fwp%2Fen%2Fbirds-online-english%2F&data=05%7C01%7C%7C49ef41f33eef4818ef3508dacb2dc009%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C638045694605754558%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=v%2Fr%2BhO5flt0reUFvtxw5W3DyZoKqhMrl8uH5CodWB7E%3D&reserved=0

‘BG’ and I both agree that we neither fans of soccer or Twitter but, a World Cup of Birds – yes! Each team in the World Cup has been assigned a bird. Let’s follow and see who wins. Thanks ‘BG’ for sending me this!

Jer Thorp: “We’ve got 4 days until the World Cup. 4 days to decide the MOST important question: Which country in the tournament has the best national bird? 16 birds have already flown home. 16 are ready for glory. Welcome to the knockout stages of the #WorldCupOfBirds!!!”

Making News:

‘B’ sent me a note. Annie and Alden were on camera at The Campanile on the grounds of UC-Berkeley on Sunday. I admit to shedding a couple of little tears – tears of joy – to see them together and with such a nice crop. Looking forward to screaming eyases. Can’t wait. Thank you ‘B’. I know that everyone has been wondering about this lovely couple – Alden another one of those amazing males that stepped in and saved the season.

Emyr Evans of the Dyfi Osprey Project in Wales has permission to post all the information about Paith. Faith was the youngest of the three osplets (2 females, 1 male) of Idris and Telly at the Dyfi nest. The information that Evans has comes from early September – so awhile ago but he just received it. Faith was in Brittany, one of the northern most areas off France and due south as straight as a crow could fly from her nest in Wales. Is she on her way to Africa? or will she overwinter in France?

To get the full story and see the maps, and migration ages of the osplets from Dyfi, please go to dfyispreyproject.com

Tiger Mozone has also posted some information that indicates there are Ospreys that do over winter in this area of France. I think this is really interesting because it is always presumed that the birds go all the way to Africa. It appears not and we do know that many are now over wintering in Portugal and Spain. It may help with the decline in populations due to migration incidents and it might also speak to the changing landscape in Africa in terms of fish availability.

Congratulations goes out to Dave Anderson who has won the prestigious prize – the RSPB Species Award. Anderson is well known in the UK raptor world for his work with White-tailed Eagles and, in particular, promoting research on them by using satellite tracking. I cannot think of a more deserving person. You can read all about him and his extensive work with raptors – a life dedicated to bettering theirs – by clicking on the link in the announcement below.

Australian Nests:

Early Monday morning in Australia, Xavier went to the scrape box with a nice prey item for breakfast. Was he trying to lure Rubus and Indigo to the box?

Indigo will arrive in the box and will be seen on the top of the tower but, Rubus did not fly up to join Indigo. They have been seen in the trees and it would appear that all is well. Xavier was there with them for some time and Diamond was photographed flying around the trees keeping guards on her precious fledglings.

News has come in regarding Rubus today: “Rubus fledged yesterday at 0818 h and has been found alive and well in a pine shelterbelt a few hundred metres from the tower. He was in a tree (so can fly at least a bit). He was still in the same area this morning, but a bit closer to the tower, He was found on the ground and placed in a tree in the woodland.”

Shines found Rubus and wrapped him in a blanket and placed him on the tree branch. Thank you, Shines!

Xavier and Diamond have both been in and out of the scrape. It is entirely possible that they are trying to lure Rubus back into the box so that he can rest and they can feed him there.

In Port Lincoln, Dad flew in with a whopper for Zoe at 1015. Port Lincoln has a severe wind alert for gusts up to 34 kph. Mum and Dad are very smart. This is one way to keep Zoe on the nest – a big fish!

Mum flies in while Zoe mantles the fish.

Just look. Dad had a good feed and Mum is looking down knowing there should be some left for her, too. I wonder if Zoe will want all of this fish to herself?

Zoe is trying. She has her talons in the fish holding it down and is doing a pretty good job eating away.

That is a big fish!

Mum would really like to have some of that nice fish but Zoe isn’t quite ready to give up.

At 11:56 Mum takes control of the fish. Zoe looks like she wants Mum to feed her. She has not made much progress on it herself.

Mum had different ideas. She wants some fish, too and it looks like Zoe ate enough to have a nice crop. Mum flies away with that fish so she can enjoy it all to herself. I wonder if she will bring any of it back to Zoe?

Zoe was not happy!

Of course, the answer is ‘yes’. Mum ate her fill and returned to the next some time later to feed Zoe.

That fish was sooooooooo large that the entire family had a nice big meal. How grand. Thanks Dad!

Zoe did some serious helicoptering. She is ready to fly! It will be soon.

No 11 The Red List: Montagu’s Harrier

Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus” by Ian N. White is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Montagu’s Harrier is the most rare of any of the birds of prey in the UK. This incredible raptor was not in any nest records in the UK in 2020 nor in 2021. Their numbers began to decline in 2015. That year there were only 5 nests in the UK. It is feared that they might already be extinct, not just vulnerable.

These are magnificent raptors that fly low, like the Hen Harrier, in search of rabbits, small birds, lizards, insects, and shrews. They also soar high above the fields in the thermals and their flying and hunting has been described as ‘spectacular’.

Just look at that stunning plumage. Again, it is anything but a drab grey. How about a light blue steel grey on the wings with a light cream around the eye, a very slight dark blue grey eye line and band around the cream. How else would you describe this magnificent species?

Montagu’s Harrier – Circus pygargus (male)” by Tarique Saniis licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

They are a medium sized raptor, 43-47 cm long, that is slim with very long pointed wings like a Hen Harrier. They have a long tail. The upper body of the male is grey. The primaries are black and the secondaries have a black stripe or band across them. They are white underneath. The female is a gorgeous dark brown. The bills are hooked and black with a bright chrome-yellow cere. Their legs and feet are also chrome-yellow. Notice the striking yellow eyes.

The demise of the Montagu’s Harrier is due to the over and expanding use of pesticides, the expansion of fields into modern agriculture, the destruction of their nests which are on the ground in the fields during harvesting. In addition, their food sources have declined dramatically due to the use of pesticides! These raptors need protected areas for nesting and an end to the use of contemporary pesticides that kill the birds by secondary poisoning or by killing their food source. The Montagu’s Harrier migrates to Africa and so, in both of their respective homes, they are subject to ever expanding agricultural practices and the use of deadly poisons. Those poisons should be banned internationally. They are also quite dangerous to humans. Ask anyone who has lived around a farm in Canada who has developed asthma and breathing issues early in their life.

This is an immature. Notice that gorgeous rust brown above the yellow legs, the barred tail with the grey and espresso brown, the light grey around those chrome-yellow eyes…what a beauty.

Montagu’s Harrier immature” by Rainbirder is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

I couldn’t leave without posting an image of a mature female Montagu’s Harrier. These females are stunning in their own right. Look closely. Their plumage is anything but a drab brown. Starting with the head and around the eyes, that bright chrome-yellow cere stands out amongst that deep chocolate brown. The white around the eyes with the espresso eyeliner and eye liner inside of the dark espresso band on a camel coloured head and breast are brilliant. It took a lot of the crayons out of the box to come up with this outstanding colour palette. That camel mixes with the deep chelate again on the back, and the wings while holding its own on the breast, chest and underparts. She is gorgeous.

File:Montagu’s Harrier, juvenile, Bangalore, India (edit).jpg” by Cks3976 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Oh, thank you so much for being with me today. It is always my pleasure to carry on and on and on about the beautiful feathered friends that bring us so much joy – and most often, tranquility. Take dare of yourselves. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: ‘BG’ for the World Cup of Birds, ‘B’ for letting me know about Annie and Alden, ‘J’ for her great link in the mail re birds and emotions, Cal Faldons, Dyfi Osprey Project, Gregarious J Toonen for Ospreys Pandion Haliaetus FB and Tiger Mozone, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and Open Verse.

Hovering, Nest building…Saturday in Bird World

19 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone!

I hope that you are well. So nice to have you with us this morning. It is a blue sky cold day, -14 C, on the Canadian Prairies. The kittens are up carrying toys and watching the Crows come for their morning feeding. The Grackles have already been to the suet feeder and the little Sparrows are all puffed up keeping warm in the lilac bushes.

It is a type of soft suet that the Starlings like. They can stand back and poke at it with their long sharp beaks.

The Blue Jays that fledged from the nest across the lane are still here. One was eating peanuts while these two were in the lilacs sunning themselves.

Nest News:

Yesterday Zoe got some really good height in her hovers. Thankfully she remained on the nest and did not fledge into those strong winds as that storm did roll in.

If you missed it, here are those beautiful early morning hovers.

Later, Mum is down in the nest with Zoe taking care of her only ‘baby’. Dad was not out fishing. If you remember, Zoe ate really well on Friday so did Mum. On Saturday morning, Mum took Dad’s fish and returned with the tail portion for Zoe. That has been the only meal so far and if the weather stays, it could be it for the day. Zoe will be fine. She is not going to starve.

Indigo continues to fly out of the scrape and return. This is excellent. Most of you watch the Bald Eagle nests as well as the Ospreys and it is ‘normal’ for fledglings to return to the nest for food, to fly and strengthen their wings being fed by the parents for a period of 4-6 weeks.

Rubus continues to do his wingers and the pair enthusiastically eat all that is brought into the scrape. There are still a few dandelions on Rubus but not many.

The brothers 9 days ago.

Just look at them all covered in down with Indigo revealing some lovely back and tail feathers.

Oh, little Rubus had to get to the front and jump in the beginning to get some prey. Hard to imagine now when both of them are screaming and running all over the scrape. Diamond and Xavier have raised two healthy feisty chicks.

‘A’ reports that it was raining so hard in Melbourne yesterday that the wipers had to be on full speed. Of course, all we can think of are the fledglings from 367 Collins Street. Positive wishes out to them to be safe and fed.

As the season in Australia winds down, everyone is on egg watch at the nest of Harriet and M15 in Fort Myers, Florida. The pair have been working diligently to rebuild their nest after Hurricane Ian. Sadly, that GHOW continues to plague our beloved eagle couple. Oh, I wish their nests were further apart!!!!

Harriet and M15 continue to work on their nest together. They are amazing.

Samson and Gabby have been at their nest, too, working away. They have had a three year old Eagle visiting the nest and I began to wonder if it could be Jules or Romey.

Mum and Dad have been rebuilding the nest in St Patrick’s Park in South Bend, Indiana. You will remember that this is the home nest of Little Bit ND17. They are making good progress and now, some snow has arrived. I sure wonder where Little Bit is! Gosh, we long for them to fledge and then we grieve to see them again hoping they survived that almost insurmountable first year.

Humane Wildlife Indiana sent out a clever fundraiser. They are asking for donations for the strays in their care to have a full fledged Christmas dinner. You can purchase one for one animal or more. I wonder why more animal sanctuaries do not do this? You might mention this to your local care group. It is a marvelous idea.

Making News:

Sadly, for the wrong reasons the adorable Melbourne Four make the news.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/collins-street-falcon-chick-dies-days-after-taking-wing-20221115-p5byi1.html?fbclid=IwAR22J_pnOqqPaRA8JqL7WcplN8ddPreG3bIpfCVw8kNgpVudjgCKWoSHXgI

Oh, our beloved Canada Geese are making news in the UK.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/18/country-diary-canada-geese-are-on-the-move-with-a-melancholic-honk-but-why?CMP=share_btn_link

No 9 The Red List: The Nightingale

It is the song of the Nightingale that has attracted writers for thousands of years. Pliny the Elder described its song more than 2000 years ago when animals were denied artistic abilities. He wrote: “the sound is given out with modulations, and now is drawn out into a long note with one continuous breath, now made staccato . . .” Ellen Finkelpearl continues in her short article on Pliny and the Nightingale that he did believe, strongly, that the natural world including our feathered friends can be artistic!

https://classicalstudies.org/plinys-cultured-nightingale

If you are a lover of Shakespeare, you will know that the Nightingale shows up in more of the plays, not just when Juliet educates Romeo on the wonderful song of the Nightingale.

Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day.
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear.
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree.
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.

Here is a fantastic blog that captures the portrayal of the Nightingale in all of Shakespeare’s works.

https://blogs.bl.uk/sound-and-vision/2016/04/shakespeare-and-the-nightingale.html#:~:text=The%20morning%20after%20their%20secret,is%20not%20yet%20near%20day.

In his entry in Red Sixty Seven, writer Luke Massey says, “…We should be ashamed that in our quest to clean our landscape, in our acrimonious divorce from nature, we have forgotten this songster and let it suffer. Despite its song we have ignored it ; we have let it fall silent in our copses, our scrub and our hedgerows. We have failed it and with that we have failed nature. Will we really let this be the last song of the Nightingale?”

Its very last space in the UK is under threat.

https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/animals/2018/04/last-stronghold-of-nightingale-under-threat

There are problems with the Nightingale’s wings getting shorter due to climate change. That is mentioned in this great report for The Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/01/nightingales-at-risk-due-to-shorter-wings-caused-by-climate-crisis

Changes in farming practices, the destruction of hedgerow and copses for more modern farming are all adding to end the life of this most beloved bird who nests are on the ground. There are fewer and fewer sites for this beloved bird to raise their young safely.

As I read more and more of what we have done to halt the lives of so many birds, it is readily apparent that the world needs to return to some of the ‘old ways’ and continue policies or re-wilding if we are to save our precious wildlife.

In the Mailbox:

‘EJ’ was wondering how these transmitters work – like the one put on Zoe at Port Lincoln. She found a great article and you might be wondering how these transmitters work, too. Thank you, ‘EJ’. Here is the link. You should be able just to click on it.

Technology (ospreytrax.com)

Thank you so much for being with me today. Take care everyone. As I look at the weather report there is a severe weather alert for wind in both Orange and Port Lincoln. Maybe Zoe and Rubus – as well as Indigo – will take care today. Send best wishes to them!

Thank you to the following for their posts and their streaming cams that make up my screen captures: RSPB, The Guardian, Osprey Research, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, The Age, Lady Hawk and SWFlorida Eagles and D Pritchett, NEFL-AEF, and Notre Dame Eagle Cam.

Sex hats for Birds?…and other stories from Bird World

12 November 2022

Good Morning!

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful start to their Saturday. It is -8 degrees in Winnipeg, heavily overcast with some flakes of snow drifting down. The Blue Jays have been scurrying back and forth for peanuts since dawn.

The following quote is from an article that ‘K’ sent me and I wanted to share it with you. I do so treasure these feathered friends of ours. They have brought me so much love and joy. I cannot imagine – for a single instant – life without them. When I park my car on the street and walk to my house, I can hear them. Singing. What happiness that brings!

“All is an Ocean. All flows and connects so powerfully that if, in this life, you manage to become more gracious by even a drop, it is better for every bird, child, and animal your life touches than you will ever know.” (Dostoyevsky’s, The Brothers Karamazov)

The pictures are from the day before the snow. Mr Crow is here, Junior and one of the three siblings, a White-breasted Nuthatch came to visit, too.

This is Junior. He is the Dad of the three fledglings this year. Junior normally stays all winter. How do I know it is Junior? His feathers are a little duller but it is the thin eye line that extends further back. You can compare them. Junior is sitting on the edge of the bird bath while one of the fledglings is down getting a peanut.

Black isn’t just Black but depending on the light it is a green black or an iridescent purple blue with green as in the second image. Mr Crow is beautiful. My heart warms every day that he comes as it does for all the others.

It was the first time ever I have seen a White-breasted Nuthatch at the feeders in a long time. The last was on the 13th of October in 2019. A little over three years. According to the recent bird surveys, the Nuthatch population is on the rise in Canada and the rest of North America. We normally recognise the Nuthatch because it moves along the tree branches with its head facing downwards.

The squirrels have all been here, too. They have not cooperated for photos! Most of the time they are trying to get as many nuts off the solid seed cylinders as they can!

Making News:

Oh, we all love those shy flightless parrots who are more than vulnerable. There is new research that might help in caring for these marvellous characters. Adorable. Simply adorable.

Halfway around the world, a much anticipated California Condor release took place a week ago. The Condor is as vulnerable as the Kakapo is. These releases are always great moments, full of emotion and excitement. I missed this event and am so grateful that the release of these four birds back into the wild has been archived so that we can see it at our leisure.

In the Mailbox:

‘N’ writes: Today this was posted by one of the moderators at one of the streaming cams: “We’ve been trying to discourage anthropomorphic stuff for years, I’m afraid. It’s a losing battle. people project human emotions on the birds all the time.” You have mentioned this subject several times. Is it possible for you to repeat what you have said?

I would be happy to, ‘N’. First I would like to introduce Dr Marc Bekoff who is the international authority on animal emotions. He is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I am extremely impressed with the work that Dr Bekoff and other Cognitive Ethologists are conducting. Cognitive Ethology is the comparative, evolutionary, and ecological study of animal minds. This includes their emotions, their beliefs, their reasoning and processing, their consciousness, and self-expression. The keen interest, ‘N’ in animal cognition is not new and it is extremely important for animal welfare and protection. Bekoff sees the field as all encompassing in terms of understanding the subjective, emotional, empathic, and moral lives of animals.

In his research, Dr Bekoff has consistently said that as humans the only language we have is our own and it is the only thing we have to describe animal emotions. If we do not look at them and use the words joyful, grieving, then what words would we use to describe what we are seeing? We have nothing more than what we have. Dr Bekoff continues in his book, The Emotional Lives of Animals, by saying that he knows no researcher who, when working with their animals, “DOES NOT FREELY ANTHROPOMORPHIZE. THIS ANTHROPOMORPHIZING IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF, BY THE WAY; AS ALEXANDRA HOROWITZ AND I HAVE ARGUED…THESE SCIENTISTS ARE SIMPLY DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY. ANTHROPOMORPHIZING IS AN EVOLVED PERCEPTUAL STRATEGY…IT IS NOW LARGELY ACCEPTED AS FACT, THAT ANIMALS, SHARE THE PRIMARY EMOTIONS, THOSE INSTINCTUAL REACATIONS TO THE WORLD WE CALL FEAR, SURPRISE, SADNESS, DISGUST, AND JOY.” (10). The capital bold letters are mine.

I could continue on for pages ‘N’ but, it is upsetting when someone makes the statement that you have written. I am sorry but they are not informed by the current science. There are many who believe that animals do not feel pain or fear. It makes it easier to kill them! We know animals feel pain. I have seen eagles and other raptors grieving along with the Corvids in my own neighbourhood. I have seen Grackles celebrate the fledge of one of the chicks in my garden (they invite the extended family) and we have all heard and some have been blessed to witness the rituals associated with Crows when one of their group dies. I hope this answers your question and provides you with a beginning from someone expert in the field, Dr Bekoff, to rebuff those statements. I also urge everyone who is interested in this topic to get a copy of this amazing book. It is paperback and can be ordered through library loan as well. It will provide you with a clear foundation on this subject backed up by clear examples, not anecdotes.

In other mail, ‘K’ sent me a wonderful letter and an article, “Cherish This Ecstasy” by David James Duncan from The Sun written in July 2008. I want to share the topic of that article with you – bringing back the Peregrine Falcons from extinction. It seems so appropriate as we just watched Indigo and 2 or is it now 3 of the Melbourne Four fly and await Rubus’s triumphal departure.

Now do you know what the invention was that brought the Peregrine Falcons back from sure extinction? It was the Peregrine Mating Hat invented by one of Cornell’s Ornithologists. The ornithologist would put on the hat. He would sing Chee-up! while, at the same time, bowing Buddhist style. You have seen our falcons do this in their bonding rituals. The male falcon copulates with the hat. The scientists remove the sperm and inject it in the few females they had at the time. The hatchlings were raised in a DDT free environment – and that is how we now have Peregrine Falcons living almost everywhere.

Here is an example of the hat and the process. Turn your sound down a wee bit.

While we are talking and thinking about everything falcon, it is a good time to mention some of the really good books that are out there. They are in no particular order but each is loved and well worn and I pull them off the bookshelf often.

Falcon by Helen MacDonald. I love MacDonald’s books. That is not a secret. This little paperback volume is the social history of falcons from the gods of the Ancient Near East and Egypt to the hunting falcons of Europe and the Middle East. Everything you wanted to know about falcons and more including their use in the military. It really is a good read particularly if you want to known more about falcons than just scientific data – their entire cultural history of falcons in a wonderful narrative. My first pick always for a book on the subject of falcons (not just peregrines) other than a guidebook.

On the Wing. To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon by Alan Tennant. Ever wanted to fly? to understand how falcons migrate? This is the view from Tennant’s flying and tracking of the falcons as they migrate. Tennant narrates the voyages tracking the birds with the tiny little transmitters on their tails. I like it because the science is woven in with the narrative.

Queen of the Sky by Jackie Morris is a beautiful little book. It not only includes the stunning watercolours of Morris and gorgeous photographs of Hiss and her friend, Ffion Rees, who rescued this dying falcon from the sea and nurtured it back to health. This is a profoundly personal and moving book. There is a deep connection between Ffion Rees and Hiss that develops over time but which began the minute Rees looked into the eyes of that raptor. They looked into the souls of one another. Highly recommended for the art work alone but the story will certainly move you.

The Peregrine by JA Baker. Baker tracks a pair of peregrine falcons during their daily lives. He is transfixed by them. You get to know their habits – everything about them – through the eyes of Baker. Many consider this a ‘must have book’ for the shelf.

There are more but these would get you started – but, as I said, out of all the MacDonald is first. Since I love the paintings of Morris and the positive story of a falcon rescue and release the Morris is second.

And one last falcon bit. Dr Cilla Kinross (the researcher at Orange) went out looking for Indigo today. Xavier and Diamond saw her. I imagine they did not want her to get too close to their beautiful fledgling. The video will not win any awards but it does give you a fantastic idea of the sounds the adults can make if they are anxious about someone being near their offspring.

Before we check on any of the other nests, let’s see how Rubus is doing in the scrape alone. It would appear that some of those dandelions are shedding but there are lots to go. Rubus also appears to be only interested in the visits by parents if they have prey! My goodness Rubus is ferocious when there is prey about. Diamond has been flying up and checking on Rubus quite a bit this morning.

The beautiful golden glow of dawn falls over our dear little one, Rubus, who now looks out to the wide world of Indigo and the parents. Rubus, you will fly too but…it is going to be awhile. You need to get rid of most of that fluffy down. Flap those wings and shake, shake, shake.

Dare I say that Rubus is missing Indigo?

Rubus would love another prey delivery.

Diamond goes over to check on Rubus.

At 367 Collins Street, it is anyone’s guess as to how many of the eases are now fledglings. We know from a video clip from ‘Bathroom Guy’ that at least one has fledged. It is now believed that there are two. This morning very early there were three erases on the ledge waiting for a prey delivery – or at least hoping for a prey delivery! Did one return for breakfast? We know that the eyases can easily reach this height.

Here is a group of photos of the erases on camera this morning. Looking, listening, eating, and loafing.

Loafing has spread around the world…starting with Alden at UC-Berkeley. What an influencer he is!

It seems as if two have fledged and two remain to fledge – but, in truth, we have no idea! That is the nice thing about the scrape at Orange. You can be absolutely certain when the eyas flies for the first time!

The streaming cam remains off at Port Lincoln. This morning when it was back on there was a note that Big had two fish meals both of them brought in by Mum. Thank goodness Big is older and Mum is a good fisher. It is difficult to determine what is going on with Dad but, whatever it is could be linked to his two seizures seen on camera during the early incubation stage.

5 Red Listed Bird: The Mistle Thrush

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) captured at Borit, Gojal, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan with Canon EOS 7D Mark II

I first saw an image of this lovely bird after the ospreys had started their migration to Africa. For the life of me I cannot remember if it was the Glaslyn or the Dyfi nest in Wales but, on one of them was this stunning little bird, the Missile Thrush. The scientific name Turdus viscivorus means ‘devourer of Mistletoe’. It is a large songbird with a grey-brown head, back, and wings. Its breast is spotted with the same grey-brown on ivory. Piercing deep espresso eyes with an ever so slight eye ring. The pop of colour comes in the pinky-peach legs. One can only imagine that this combination in haute couture would land it on the Paris runways. In its behaviour, this Thrush is powerful and aggressive. It eats insects, invertebrates, and loves berries. They do love mistletoe but will also eat hawthorn or holly berries. The largest of the warblers in the UK, their son is loud and is carried for a distance from their perch high in trees. Actually, it isn’t a song but a rattle.

These lovely birds are globally threatened. Their numbers have declined dramatically, as much or more than 50%. The cause is a lack of habitat. Hedgerows where the find food and wet ditches because of the drainage of farmland has led to a lack of earthworms and other invertebrate that the Missile Thrush relies on for its food. Cow pastures and woodland have also been lost or degraded.

Research conducted by the RSPB suggests that ‘Farming measures likely to help song thrushes include sympathetic hedgerow management (with tall, thick hedges), planting new woodlands on farmland, and planting wild bird seed mixtures including leafy cover.’ In addition, the RSPB found that preventing the soil from drying out during the summer would be of great benefit to the thrushes. Hotter summers have brought more rain so perhaps, there is some hope here.

Migration News:

Bonus remains in close proximity to the area he has been in Turkey for the last little while. Waba is still in the Sudan feeding at the Nile but has moved slightly south.

It is so wonderful to have you with us. Thank you so much for being part of this marvellous international family of bird lovers. Take care of yourselves. See you soon!

Special thanks go to the following for their posts, videos, and streaming cams that make up my screen captures: Kakapo Recovery, Ventana Wildlife Society, Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, and 367 Collins Street by Mirvac.