Tuesday in Bird World

Grinnell and Annie are working hard to prepare the three boys for fledging and starting their lives outside of the scrape box. Today is 25 May and fledging should fall into 27-29 May – two days away! It is possible the youngest will be the 31st but you never know.

Grinnell has had the three lined up getting lessons and is working hard on teaching them aspects of self-feeding.

Not so sure they are listening to the instructions on plucking the pigeon!

Ever wonder what it might be like feeding your chicks when they are almost as big as you and there are three of them? Have a look.

Here is a very short clip of Kaknu taking the lunch and running away with it today:

This year has been plagued by a lack of chipmunks. Instead, the Ks seem to have been living on Starling. Something unexpected happened this morning – Arthur brought in a chipmunk. Yes, a chipmunk! Big Red had to have been delighted.

Sometimes Big Red takes a break and flies over to another of the light stands. She can keep a close eye on the Ks from here. On occasion Arthur will do a prey drop for her there and many times you will see the two of them sitting side by side looking out onto their territory.

Big Red was delighted with that chipmunk for breakfast! It looks like there is a partial chipmunk sitting on the nest. Maybe we will see more.

It is not going to be long until these Ks are running and jumping on the ledge, flapping their wings, and getting stronger to fly. Their first flight is usually from this ledge across the street to one of the trees where the parents are waiting for them.

Just look at Big Red’s eyes and face. Oh, she loves being a mother.

“Oh, don’t you want just one more bite?”

Big Red did look tired this morning. Here she is taking some ZZZZs along with the Ks. In three and a half weeks time, the Ks will fledge. It is hard to believe. They will remain with Big Red and Arthur who will teach them to hunt and give them all kinds of exercises to help them later. Big Red and Arthur will also gradually expand the area the Ks are hunting in to include the entire campus. Sometimes they even go on family hunting trips for squirrels – working cooperatively to get the prey out of the tree.

I would like to introduce you to another species of raptor. It is the Booted Eagle, the Hieraaetus Pennatus. This pair of Booted Eagles lives in a pine forest within the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park near Madrid. The elevation is 1400 metres. The Booted Eagles are the largest group of raptors living in the park. They estimate that there are approximately twenty-five pairs. The nest you are looking at has been active every year since 2002.

The female is on the left. You can see she is much darker. The male is on the right.

Just like Annie and Grinnell and Big Red and Arthur, the female is much larger than the male. This is called reverse sexual dimorphism. There are many reasons for this disparity. They are: 1) females need to be larger because they must accumulate reserves in order to produce eggs; 2) the size difference allows the two to hunt different prey and reduce the competition for food. Raptors that hunt birds are generally smaller and faster leaving the females to specialize in larger prey; 3) historically females have selected smaller mates; and 4) to protect the female during mating from being injured by large males.

In Booted Eagles, the male is smaller with darker feathers on its back, yellow ochre on the crown of its head, darker tear shape feathers on its chest which is light. The female tends to the nest and the chicks and the male is primarily responsible for hunting, delivering prey, and territorial protection. You can easily differentiate them in the image above.

There are normally two eggs that are incubated for 37-40 days. The chicks remain on the nest for around 48 days when they began branching and flying. By August, the male is the primary carer. The female has left the territory for a rest. The male will provide prey for the young to self-feed on the nest and will remain with them until mid-September teaching them to hunt and fly.

I received a letter from one of my readers asking about Kisatchie. Kisatchie is the eagle from the Kisatchie National Forest Nest in Central Louisiana. His parents are Anna and Louis (great names). You might recall that Kisatchie is the first eaglet to hatch on this nest since 2013. He brought so much joy and then he fledged and now the camera is down. This is the current information from the Forest Services personnel:

“If you have visited the eagle cam in the past 72 hours, you will have noticed the nest is empty and more recently, the eagle cam is down. This is because our Kisatchie eagle flew the nest on Saturday, May 22, around 3:30 p.m. As luck would have it, Kisatchie chose to take its first flight from a branch ABOVE the camera, so we were unable to capture Kisatchie soaring over the Kisatchie National Forest. Bummer. The eagles will now migrate north for the summer and will return late fall/early winter. Our wildlife biologists will use the summer months to make any repairs on the eagle cam, checking wiring, camera housing, and things like that. We want to be ready for the next round! Thank you for joining us on this journey of watching our first captured-on-camera eaglet hatching. Through ice storms and thunderstorms, it was an exciting 88 days (from hatching to fledging) and a great learning experience for us all.”

Everyone is wondering if anyone has seen Kisatchie or heard. I have written a letter to the Forestry Services and if I hear anything, I will let you know. Here is an image of Kisatchie on 17 May during his branching phase looking out over Lake Kincaid:

There is absolutely no news coming out of the Glaslyn Osprey Nest. As soon as there is any news about Aran and Mrs G and the Bob 2 and 3, I will let you know.

Thank you for joining me today. Take care!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: the KNF Service, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, UC Cal Falcons, and SEO Birdlife.

2 Comments

  1. I am SO delighted to have found your absolutely awesome website and daily reporting on the nests. Your writing is captivating, heartwarming and educational. I look forward to reading each post. Thank you for this incredible gift!!

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