Tides…and Fledging

I went to check on the Urdaibai Biosphere Osprey Nest last evening. When I looked there was water flooding the area. For a second, panic hit. You might recall that this Osprey Nest in Spain has already had one historic event – the hatch of the Albino chick – and one tragedy, its death. I could only imagine the water so high washing away the nest.

And then, I was taken back several years ago. We had moved from the Canadian Prairies to the coast and one of the things that was such a joy was going to the beach! Often the 8 year old neighbour boy with go with us and our son. The first day we had such a great time that I told Brandon we would pick him up the next day at the same time. When we got to the beach though, there was no water! People that live inland do not know about tides!!!!!! And guess what? That was precisely what was happening at Urdaibai. The high tide was flooding the marsh area below. The camera angle made it look like the water was going to wash that nest away – my heart sunk. So have a laugh on me – a big giggle. I was so relieved.

You can see from the sequence of the tide coming in below.

There are the two little osplets this morning of Landra and Roy’s. They are just starting to enter the Reptile phase. You can see the copper feathers coming in on their head and neck and they are becoming ‘darker’ in colour.

And here is their beautiful mom, Landa. I do not know who she is named after but Roy is named after Roy Dennis of the Roy Dennis Wildlife Trust. It was Dennis who helped translocate the ospreys from Scotland to Urdaibai to try and establish an Osprey colony here.

You can watch this Osprey family at the Urdaibai Biosphere here:

For some reason all of the streaming cams seem to be set on a ‘soft’ setting or are slightly out of focus. Last night Tiny Tot was sitting on the perch at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida. Tiny had four fish – FOUR – yesterday. He should have been about to pop! But how nice for this juvenile that has consistently kept the intruders off the nest. Look closely. See how long his feathers are getting. Tiny Tot is such a magnificent bird and to think there were days when we did not even know if he would be alive the nest morning. Just so happy for this little one.

Speaking of feathers, the bars on the tail of at least one of Big Red and Arthur’s Ks is now five. Laura Culley says they need five for fledge and it is better if there are six. Look below. You can count them.

That same K has been standing over on the fledge ledge this morning right where Big Red told her to take her first flight!

You might want to watch Big Red and the Ks. Fledge watch is really on. One of the clues is when Big Red leaves them alone at night. She left them alone last night so we are getting close! Big Red is so smart.

If the weather gets bad and Big Red believes that their flight will not be successful, her and Arthur will bring lots of prey to the nest to keep them full and happy. Wet feathers do not help! It is one reason that the Royal Albatross have to get all of that fluffy down off of their bodies before they fledge. We will be watching for that in September!

If there is nothing – like a thunderstorm -that would compromise the fledge, Big Red and Arthur are often flying around, across the street, tempting the little ones to ‘take the leap and realize their potential as birds’. Gosh, us humans can only sit back and want to flap our wings and jump and take off!

There are a couple who work at Cornell that have live streaming, Karel and Cindy Sedlacek. Once the Ks fledge, these two will find them on campus and show us what they are doing. I will post the link so you can watch all the action. It is really quite interesting to watch Big Red and Arthur teach their kiddos how to hunt. But even seeing Arthur fly like he is a Peregrine Falcon to catch a squirrel is incredible.

So what should you expect after the Red-tail Hawks fledge? During the first 3 to 6 weeks, the Ks will be learning to control their flight. They will be practising landing and taking off. Big Red and Arthur will still be feeding them. We can expect that they will be catching bugs. They have to learn to control their flight before they can catch things that run away! The first three weeks their activity levels double. They will do what is called perch to ground forays trying to catch things – that means leaving a branch where they might have been hiding and going to the ground to try and catch prey. They sometimes learn to hold things in their talons by playing ‘soccer’ with pinecones! After that they will be perfecting their hunting and flying skills. They will discover thermals and soar – and then, it will be close to the time they leave Big Red and Arthur’s territory and go out on their own.

Additionally, Big Red and Arthur move them around the Campus. First they will be across the street around the Fernow Building and Rice Tower. The adults will gradually add to the territory until such time that they are out by Holy Cow and the fields. It is all very organized!

I so wish someone would take on a research project so these kiddos could be banded. How far away do Arthur and Big Red’s chicks go from the natal nest? Do they migrate? or do they stay in the area over the winter like Big Red and Arthur? Did they survive? We know that Big Red travelled about seven miles from her nest in Brooktondale to Ithaca but Arthur, like other males, stayed closer to his natal nest. He just went about a short way – I think Arthur’s parents nest is over by the cemetery – to find Big Red and woo her. That territory of Arthur’s parents is adjacent to Big Red and Arthur’s. It is hard just to watch the juveniles soar into the sky one day and never see them again.

Thank you for joining me today! Have a giggle on me about the tides and then remember that if you are ever caught in the same situation. Join us as we wait for Big Red’s chicks to fledge. It is so exciting. At Cowliz, Electra and the chicks are still waiting for fish. Tiny Little Tot on the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest has had a good feed and it looks like most of the nests are doing just fine on a Monday.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, and Urdaibai Biosphere Park.

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