“Biggie’ Tot and more in ‘As the Nest Turns’

One of the individuals watching the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida said that the worry over Tiny Tot caused them to age ten years. There are so many people that probably feel the same way. We ached when Tiny Tot did not have food for one, two, and even three days and cried with joy when its crop was full. We had visions of helicopters dropping fish from the sky or setting up a food table. There were times when I went to sleep and thought that I would wake up and Tiny Tot would be dead. How could this little one survive on so little in that exhausting Florida heat?

Tiny Tot is a survivor. He is clever, determined, and willing to eat scraps and chew on catfish bones if it means he lives another day. Tiny Tot watches and listens. So often he was the first to grab the fish on arrival, mantling -only to have the parent take it to feed the two older siblings and, if there was anything left, he was fed. If I heard the phrase ‘natural selection’ or ‘survival of the fittest’ one more time I was going to blow up. What appeared to be happening was the survival of the not so clever bully bird. And then something happened.

Precisely when did mum decide that her third chick was going to survive despite everything it had been through? Diane observes those three chicks of hers. She monitors the time they spend self-feeding and when she sees they have had about 1/3 to a 1/2 of the fish – depending on who is in the nest – she takes the fish and shares it with the other one. What was it that turned this nest around? We might never know. For the past 3 or 4 nights I have slept well with the knowledge that Tiny was alright.

The problem is ‘the’ name now. #3 has been called 3, Tumbles, Braveheart, Lionheart, etc. I gave it the moniker, Tiny Tot. Tiny isn’t actually ‘tiny’ anymore. If he continues to eat and grow like he is doing then by Monday he could be twice as big as he is now. So, moving forward, no more Tiny Tot for me. #3 is now Biggie Tot the Raptor.

Indeed, every time I checked on the nest today, Biggie Tot was eating exactly like he is in the image below. Every time! How is that possible? As long as nothing bizarre happens – and in Bird World anything can change in a blink – Diane and Jack will be celebrating the fledging of not two but three ospreys this year. Well done you two. Jack, you surprised me and came through with 5 or 6 fish sometimes.

Good night Biggie Tot! Sleep well on your full tummy.

29 April 2021

I kept a close watch on the NEFlorida Bald Eagle Nest of Samson and Gabrielle and their fledgling, Legacy today. I briefly stopped in to see a couple of others but my energy and focus was on Legacy.

The last official sighting of Legacy was at 9:53:51 EDT on 28 April.

Legacy and Gabby. They spent the morning together before Legacy flew off. 28 April 2021

What a beauty!

Some think that there could have been a possible flyby at 8:41:16 on the morning of 29 April. It was caught on the tree cam.

Is it Legacy? 29 April 2021

On Thursday, the 29th of April, Samson brought a fish to the nest to try and entice Legacy to come to the nest tree. That didn’t work and Samson wound up eating it. Earlier yesterday, Gabby was with Samson at 11:37:35.

Today, Samson spent the majority of the day – more than eight hours – on the branch looking and listening for Legacy.

29 April 2021

I am not an expert on Bald Eagles but I have trusted acquaintances who are and they shared their knowledge with me today as I searched for some answers. I will share with you everything that I learned as I try to make sense out of what is happening.

First, Bald Eagles do not directly teach the young to hunt prey. I am used to falcons and hawks literally taking their clutch after they have fledged and having ‘hunting parties’ with them. It was not unusual to have Big Red and Arthur showing their juveniles how to catch a squirrel by taking them out and doing just that! A fledgling eagle might make its way to the river and observe their parents catching fish just as WBSE 23 did with Lady and Dad according to one of my trusted sources. The parents and other eagles taught by example.

Secondly, what is typical for a fledgling Bald Eagle is what is happening on the nest of Harriet and M15 in Fort Myers. There E17 and E18 are becoming stronger fliers – going for a flight and then returning to the nest. The parents bring food to the nest for each of them. It is more normal for the fledgling Bald Eagles to stay at the nest for 4-6 weeks doing precisely what E17 and E18 are doing. My trusted sources, who have more than 35 years experience with Bald Eagles together, say it is definitely not typical for a Bald Eagle to fledge one day, take a couple of flights the next, and then leave – poof. I will never sugarcoat anything and neither do the individuals who advised me today. Bald Eagle fledglings are not capable of taking care of themselves in such circumstances. They are still not strong fliers and they do not have the hunting skills required. ‘It normally does not end well’ is what one of them said and that stuck in my head.

So what might have happened? To return to the example of the Sea Eagles, WBSE 26 was chased out of the parent’s territory in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park by several Pied Currawong. Perhaps Legacy got too far away to return at night. That is a possibility. Legacy might be ‘downed’ and is unable to get up and fly to the nest. That could be a huge problem depending on what other wildlife is in the area. The other possibility, as one of the experts noted, is that Legacy is a single child and it is easier for the parent to feed them off nest. So Gabby could be feeding Legacy while Samson is trying to coax her back to the nest. The other possibilities for this situation are more dire. Many fly into power lines while others get their wings caught up in branches. Fighting to get free they rip their wings. She could have tried to get carrion off the highway and gotten hit by a car. Those are just some of the many possibilities. There could be people out looking for Legacy during the daylight hours – something that we might not ever know. Still, I hope like I did for Tiny now Biggie Tot that everything turns around for the best and we see Legacy or have a positive sighting of her soon and that she is well.

It was a miserable rainy day for Big Red and Arthur at the Cornell Fernow light tower. Everyone is getting excited for a possible hatch watch. It would appear that the oldest egg is 34 days and Big Red’s statistics indicate hatches between 38 and 41 days, longer than normal for other RTHs. So I am not going to start getting excited until next week. Knowing Big Red she will surprise all of us!

A rather soggy Big Red. 29 April 2021

Lunch ‘looks’ reasonably peaceful at ‘The Landings’ Skidaway Island Osprey nest. I use the term ‘looks’ because we all know that looks can be deceiving. The eldest still asserts its dominance but, so far, the younger one is alright. Dad just brought in a fish and already both of the little ones have crops. Their plumage is really changing. It looks like the one to the top has a mask on today.

Lunch is on. 29 April 2021
Playing nice. 29 April 2021

Isn’t this just a cute little cuddle puddle? It is hard to believe that before the next academic term begins at Berkeley, these three will be flying at stealth speeds and catching prey in mid-air.

Such sweeties. Cuddled together in the shade to avoid the hot sunlight. 29 April 2021

It is clearly easier to get dirty when eating if you are white. The falcon parents have a particular call they make when they arrive with the food and it is time to eat. The little ones stand in a group and grab or the parent hangs the food above their beak. They want the chicks to stretch their necks so that they become strong. When there are no more chirping eyasses and no more wide open mouths, feeding is over. No bonking. Just nice full crops and food comas.

Feed me, feed me! 29 April 2021

The nest cup in the White-tailed Eagle nest in Estonia is very deep. It really protects the little one from the cold winds. The temperature at the nest continues to be about 1 degree C. This picture was taken after 5pm in the evening. Look at that wonderful sunshine and blue sky – what a change from the frosty morning they had. You can just see the little bobble head reaching up to get its evening meal. There is another egg in this nest and if it is viable, it should be hatching tomorrow.

Eve feeding her first hatch. 29 April 2021

Louis continues to be attentive to Iris at the Hellgate Osprey Nest – visiting and mating more often since the banded intruder showed up in Louis’s territory. So far there are no eggs in Iris’s nest!

One of several reasons cited for the female raptors being 33-50% larger than the males (dimorphism) can be seen below. The male osprey flies in and lands on the female. If the weight distribution were the opposite, the female could be crushed.

Louis landing on Iris for a mating attempt. 29 April 2021
29 April 2021. Louis and Iris mating (or not?)

I want to leave you with a bit of a smile or maybe a horrible nightmare. I simply cannot imagine Osprey chicks wandering around in all of the stuff that Jack brings to this nest. The stuffed shark and a brown teddy bear are still there along with some hats and sweaters and other toys. Harriet has to be so patient! I just want to go out there and tidy it up for her before the babies hatch at this nest near King George, Virginia. Don’t you?

The hoarde of objects that Jack brings to Harriet as gifts at the Dahlgren Osprey Nest. 29 April 2021

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care of yourselves, stay safe. I will continue to monitor the Bald Eagle nest in Jacksonville for any news of Legacy along with the Big Sur California Condor nest for hatch. Thank you to those who have taken the time to send me a note or ask a question. I am glad you are enjoying my blog. It is so nice to hear from other bird lovers!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams – that is where I grab my screen shots: Dahlgren Osprey Nest, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Achieva Credit Union, UC Falcon Cam, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Eagle Club Estonia, and Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey Project.

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