The White-tail Eagle nest in the Matsula National Park in Estonia – one of the oldest known breeding territories in the country, has been fledging eaglets since the nineteenth century, if not before. Archives go back to 1870 with modern records from 1996-2020 indicating that no less than 29 eaglets fledged from the nest that Eve and Eerik currently call their own. So what has happened this year?
For two days now, Eve and Eerik have been mourning the loss of their two babies, EE1 and EE2. Long before the little ones stopped breathing, the couple knew. A parent was always there with them witnessing their last breath. It is a scene that many of us have observed at other nests this year. I remember too clearly the Captiva Bald Eagle Nest in Florida – on Santibel Island – when Hope and Peace both died of secondary rodenticide poisoning. Joe, the father was devastated, and I have often wondered if it wasn’t the death of his two eaglets that made him vulnerable and, eventually, evicted from the nest by Martin. Several years ago, stories of the injuries to Juliet at the NE Florida Bald Eagle nest and then the death of his eaglet, made Romeo abandon the Bald Eagle Nest in Jacksonville where his son, Samson, has now fledged his third-eaglet, Legacy (the two previous were Romy and Jules last year). Birds have memories and emotions, they mourn the dead, and understand. Laura Culley would challenge anyone who begged to differ, “And why wouldn’t they?” she was ask.
Eve and Eerik completely covered the babies, each spending time at the nest. Imagine that you have two seemingly healthy children and within a day they are both dead and you don’t know what happened. I use the term ‘seemingly healthy’, as the two eaglets were somewhat lethargic for several days before they died. It was extremely hot – one of those blasts of extreme heat that my friend ‘T’ from Strasbourg warned me about. I thought it was the heat that caused them to be less hungry and alert.
The experts in Estonia have mentioned that a sizeable number of large birds have been found dead along the coastline. Below is a Google Map showing that coast line and the area of Matsula.
The eagles eat carrion (dead animals). Is it possible that a disease was transmitted to the nest? Was it Avian Flu? or was the cause rodenticide? It will be good to have the speculation stopped and have factual evidence – then the wildlife authorities can begin to figure out how to make sure this doesn’t happen again (if they can). The bodies of the babies will be removed on the 14th of May for an autopsy if the eagles allow them to take them. Meanwhile, Eerik is at the nest looking down at his baby, EE1, now covered by straw.
Wildlife employees in Estonia have just released this statement: “If we manage to collect the dead chicks (hope the parents let us do that), the tests will be done in Estonian University of Life Sciences or sent abroad if needed. We’ve talked with Dr. Madis Leivits about it. We’ll post the findings on the forum, if we get new information. The camera will stay online and I really hope that next year we can follow this nest again.” Thank you ‘T’ for sending this to me!
It is hard to transition from what is happening in Estonia to the rest of Bird World. I hope that the issues at this beautiful nest in Estonia are resolved and that Eve and Eerik return to raise another family next year.
When the anxiety and tensions on one nest get too high and I need a break, I head to a nest that appears stable – at that moment. As we all know, everything can change in an instant. One of those ‘safe’ nests is the Manton Bay Osprey nest at Rutland, home of Maya and Blue 33 (11). Just look at those Two Bobs! Blue 33 (11) has been busy bringing in fish today. It was a whopper at 11:47. Maya is busy filling the two up before the rains come. Look at how strong their necks are! Oh, I love this Osprey nest and those baby blues of the little ones. They will turn an amber or yellow-orange shortly and when they are adults, their eyes will be a piercing bright yellow like their dad and mum. Oh, those little dinosaurs are adorable.
Birds are often better at telling what the weather will be than our local forecaster. Maya fed the babies as much as they could hold before the skies opened in the late afternoon. Look at how she is hunkered down so the Bobs are warm and dry. Their down is of no protection to them.
By 18:22 it is dry enough that Maya can safely stop her brooding and feed those spunky osplets! There is not any nonsense. Maya and Blue 33 (11) are amazing parents who keep those kiddos full. The Bobs know that there is plenty of fish – no food insecurities here. How refreshing. I could watch these two little ones all day. You can see how they stand erect for Maya and how their crops are just beginning to get full.
There is no shortage of pigeons for the three male eyases of Annie and Grinnell. The parents had a banquet for them after the banding yesterday. If you look carefully you can see the red band on the right leg of the chick at bottom left. Each eyas has two bands – an aluminum one and a coloured one.
One of the questions that someone asked yesterday during the Q & A was about the ‘ps’ all over the walls. The answer was this: if something happened to Annie and Grinnell a pair of falcons checking out this box would know that the territory was a good one, full of prey, because of all the ps. Isn’t that interesting? One of the other questions was about parasites. Peregrine falcons evolved to lay their eggs and raise their eyases in a scrape box. This helps avoid mites and parasites that happen on stick nests.
Big Red and Arthur’s little ones are also full of spunk and vinegar! K3 got its head caught under the wing of one of the sibs and it stood up like a big prize fighter giving that sib the what for. Look at that crop! That little one is really telling that other one. It is not the first time this little one has been ready to take one of the older ones on. This nest is going to get really interesting.
Samson brought Legacy a nice fish. Legacy started squealing and mantling before he was even in sight – that was 4:50:28 if you are watching the streaming cam. There she is mantling and Samson is just arriving.
I love Samson’s skinny legs! It looks like he is wearing tights. He is getting out of there quick – saving those talons for sure!
Legacy will not stop mantling the fish til Samson is not a threat.
Legacy is really learning how to keep her fish for herself. Great lessons by Samson and Gabby.
Legacy made quick work of that fish!
Oh, Legacy, you are gorgeous. We are so lucky you returned to the nest and have stayed around longer so we can enjoy seeing you learn and grow more confident.
I have done a quick run through of the other nests and everything seems to be going smoothly. There will be hatch watch for some of the Osprey nests in the UK this weekend. Iris has two eggs in the nest but she appears to not be taking their presence seriously. She left at 13:55 and at 20:25 she had not returned. I am glad to see that Iris is taking care of herself. No doubt she is enjoying the nice day and has caught herself several good fish.
Tiny Tot, who is no longer tiny, has been eating a lot of fish today. #2 sibling got the first fish of the morning. Tiny Tot showed the remarkable patience she has gained. She waited knowing full well that Diane would let #2 work on the fish for so long and then she would take it and they would enjoy the rest of it together. That has repeated itself throughout the day.
And can you see them with all the things in the nest? The two at the Dahlgren Osprey Nest are doing well. The first hatch has really taken off in terms of size. I bet everyone is sitting around saying that ‘it’ is going to be a ‘big girl’. Time will tell. It is too late for the third egg to hatch and it will be absorbed into the nest. No worries. Harriet keeps the two chicks warm and well fed. Jack is an excellent provider. Two nice healthy chicks is great!
Tomorrow I want to check on some of the Red-tail hawk nests in New York City – yes, right in the heart of the city. In fact, it was one of these nests that keened my interest on urban hawks – the one on the ledge of New York City University. There should also be some news on the retrieval attempt of EE1 and EE2 for their post-mortems. Right now, Eerik is on the left hand branch of the nest tree in Estonia. He has moved the bodies of the babies and him and Eve have eaten off the prey in the nest. They need to consume it so that intruders do not come. So fingers crossed!
Thank you for joining me. Take care. See you soon!
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: The Eagle Club of Estonia, the Dahlgren Osprey Cam, Cornell Bird Lab, UC Falcon Cam, NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam, LRWT Rutland Osprey Project, Achieva Credit Union, and the Montana Osprey Project.