Babies, Branching, and Bittersweet

It is all too quick. One minute they are little chicks bonking and bopping like the three Ks of Big Red and Arthur and then they are branching and fledging. It is all bittersweet.

Arthur has already begun to line prey up around the egg cup at the Fernow Light Tower nest in Ithaca, New York. Look at the crop on K1. I never get tired of watching these little eyasses grow. Arthur and Big Red are such devoted parents.

6 March 2021

Adorable. Simply adorable.

Oh, look at those little cutie pies. The Ks. 6 May 2021

Annie and Grinnell’s eyasses are a little older than the Ks. Their pin feathers are really growing in and they now spend their time preening, sleeping, or eating!

Look, you can see their little tail feathers starting to grow! People say the feather growth makes the eyasses itchy. How would a human know what it feels like to grow feathers? Birds are the only living thing on the planet that has them.

They are starting to get to the clown foot stage, too. Oh, they love that pigeon Grinnell is feeding them.

It is raining in Estonia and Eve is very careful not to get the little ones wet. Until they have their contour feathers they are not protected. Thermal down will help them against the cold but for now, they have to rely on mom to keep them both warm and dry.

I included the image below for two reasons. The first is the distinctive white tail feathers of the White-tailed eagles. Aren’t they gorgeous? And the second reason is to have a look at the feathers. Each of Eve’s feathers has a central shaft with tiny barbules that lock together like Velcro. They lay flat and make the bird waterproof. Feathers grow out of skin follicles.

White-tail eagles are the largest apex raptors in Europe. They also have the largest average wing span of any eagle in the world. Their wings span averages 2.4 metres or 8 feet. Did you know that they are on the coat of arms of Germany? They are Germany’s national bird just like the Bald Eagle is the national bird of the United States.

Today, both Kisatchie at the Kistachie National Forest Bald Eagle nest and one of the pair of the Bald Eaglets at Duke Farms branched. Kisatchie had no one to cheer him on but the eaglet that branched below got a high five from its sibling for a job well done. It won’t be long til the sib is jumping up on that branch, too!

We are still on hatch watch with Maya and Blue 33 (11) at Rutland Mantou Bay. Tomorrow the first egg laid will be 38 days old (May 7).

And, of course, the bittersweet. In a month or so, E17 and E18 along with Legacy will leave us to make their own way out into the world. And sooner than I want, Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot will fledge.

Legacy is waiting for Samson to bring her the evening meal. It is nearly 7:30 and he normally visits the nest around 5:30 with a food drop.

Legacy is not starving. Remember, Gabby and Samson are trying to teach her about what life will be like outside of the nest. Food is not always plentiful and eagles do not eat every day in the wild. Legacy had a squirrel yesterday and a big hunk of fish the day before. It is nearly 8:30 p, in the image below and it seems Legacy might have to wait and hope for breakfast.

Meanwhile, Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot is having some nice fish. Diane seems to really enjoy feeding Tiny. Often they are on the nest together as #2 sibling flies around and lands on the perch pole. There has been no sighting of #1 sibling. She fledged, returned to the nest once and is MIA. Normally, the raptors depend on their parents for food from 4-6 weeks after fledged (an average overall – some stay longer). They eat at the nest and strengthen their flying muscles. Sometimes the parents feed them ‘off nest’. It is not clear what is happening with #1 sibling and because she is not banded, we will never know.

I am clearly going to miss Legacy and Tiny Tot when the fledge. Unless there is some very distinctive marker – like the dots in Iris’s left eye or the tear in the wing of WBSE 24, unringed birds are simply not that recognizable, one from the other.

And the last news of the day, Iris, the oldest living Osprey in the world laid her first egg of the 2021 season at her Hellgate Nest in Missoula, Montana today at 18:04:31. I would like to hope that if nature intends it, Iris would get to be a mother again. Her last successful hatch with Louis was in 2018. As you know, I wish this day had not come but it has and now we wait to see how the season will twist and turn.

There is a new director for the Cornell Bird Laboratory, Dr Ian Owens. In an interview that came out in the latest edition of Living Bird, Dr Owens remembers the bird that changed his life. He was fifteen and the bird was an Eurasian Marsh-Harrier. Dr Owens will take charge in July.

Like Dr Owens, there are many of you reading this that will recall the first time that a bird influenced your life. Mine was over four and a half years ago when I met Sharpie’s female mate. I haven’t seen her for awhile but Sharpie stopped by today. I rejoice in seeing him – whether it is for a few minutes or an hour. They certainly changed my life and I will be forever grateful. It is just like the joy that all of the birds give us each day.

So take care everyone and remember – March 8 is Bird Count Day. I will remind you tomorrow with the link so you can submit your count. It helps everyone understand the perils of migration. Thank you for joining me!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I get my screen shots: NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Achieva Credit Union, The Eagle Club of Estonia, UC Falcon Cam, Duke Farms, Cornell Bird Lab RTH, Cornell Bird Lab and the Montana Osprey Project, and LRWT Rutland.

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