It has been a day for extreme weather. 44 degrees C in the Pacific Northwest and a snow storm on Taiaroa Head, New Zealand, home to the Northern Royal Albatross colony and their chicks. It is 38 degrees C – and ‘boiling’ my friend living at the base of the Purcell Mountains in British Columbia said. It is 24 degrees C in St Petersburg, Florida where Tiny Tot lives and 27 degrees C in Ithaca, NY where the Ks live. It is 27 degrees where I am on the Canadian prairies with the temperature climbing to 36 degrees C in a couple of days. We will fill extra bowls of water and try and find a sprinkler for the birds as well as keeping their feeders topped up.
Our local crow colony displayed some interesting behaviours in the late afternoon. First, two were on sentry duty on the telephone poles nearby. Each was making a different alarm. Then four other crows flew in and over our house. They were quickly joined by another five or six until 19 crows were in our front tree. We did not see the Great Horned Owl that lives over on the golf course coming to check if there are any nests it could raid. So we are still left wondering what was going on.
Crows defend their territory by summoning friends and relatives to help them annoy the intruder enough so it leaves in our neighbourhood. As things settled down, Mr Blue Jay flew out of the trees to come for his 5pm bath and food but, something alerted him and he decided he would wait. I don’t blame him. Those crows were really in a dither! The intruder remains a mystery.
All of this got me to thinking about Electra. Electra, if you do not know, is the mate of Wattsworth at the Cowlitz PUD Osprey Nest in Longview, Washington. Electra hatched two chicks this year. The nest is notorious for not having sufficient food and the chicks dying. This year there was one siblicide and yesterday, a chick with promise -if enough food came in- died of heat stroke. It was the first known Osprey death due to the extreme heat in the region but it is very possible that it will not be the last. Electra was out fishing since Wattsworth seems incapable. Believe me I have a lot I could say about him! But, right now I want to pull my human heart out of the equation and look at Electra’s behaviour in light of Aran’s present to Mrs G today. So, I want to rewind and I needed to go for a walk to think this through.
Electra leaves the nest to go and fish for her and the remaining chick. When she returns, that chick has died due to the extreme heat on the nest. Electra has a fish that was for her and the chick. Wattsworth arrives at the nest. Electra refuses to give Wattsworth any fish. Then Electra stays on the nest, fish in her talon. There is no need to brood a little one. It is dark and is unsafe for her to fly. Some Ospreys are known to fish in the night – certainly Louis at Loch Arkaig would fish 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to feed Aila and the three chicks last year. But Electra is going to hold tight on the nest until dawn breaks. She then leaves the nest taking the fish with her. Electra’s motherly duties are over. It is unclear what the nest actually signifies to Electra now that the chicks are dead. We know that Aran brings Mrs G a fish today as a means of bonding. Iris returns to her nest to renovate. But what, if anything, this place is to Electra right now is not known.
Electra returns to the nest with what I want to call a ‘fish tail’ later. It certainly wasn’t the big hunk of fish she had with her last night. It could be what remains of it. There is no one to feed on the nest. So why is she up there with a fish? She could eat it on a tree branch in the cool shade of the river, right? That would have been the smart thing to do to do in this heat. She is horrifically hot, panting hard to try and cool herself.
I know of two male Ospreys who like to steal the fish from their mates – you possibly know many more! But I am thinking of Louis and Iris and now Wattsworth and Electra. I am also beginning to consider the need to bond after a tragedy. We see that with Aran and Mrs G. The need for Aran to be able to provide for Mrs G and for her to accept the fish from him.
Electra is looking and calling while she is on the nest with the fish. I now believe that she was calling for Wattsworth. I also believe that she was going to give the small fish piece to him. It doesn’t matter what I think of Wattsworth. Electra needs to bond with her mate after the death of her last chick. It is precisely what is happening on the Glaslyn Nest. Aran and Mrs G are bonding, too. This is just another way to look at the behaviour of Electra. The reality is we will never really know. We all wish her well.
The big winner in the fish category today had to be Tiny Tot over on the Achieva Credit Union’s Osprey Nest. My goodness, gracious. Jack came in with a fish for Tiny Tot at 6:41:16 and it was a whopper. I wish we could have seen Tiny’s eyes – they were probably popping out! But never fear. Tiny Tot learned its lesson months ago – you sit there and eat that fish as fast as you can because someone might come along and want to steal it. And you never ever leave anything on your plate!
Tiny Tot must have thought she had won the lottery. Jack has certainly been very good to make sure that Tiny gets fed. I would like to think that he is making up for when Tiny Tot was starving to death but, that would be putting another human spin on things. Obviously, Jack likes Tiny around. She protects the nest and he isn’t in any hurry for her to move on or he would stop bringing fish. It is a sweet deal for both of them. Jack doesn’t have to worry about getting injured fighting off an intruder. He can spend his time down by the water fishing and bringing Tiny Tot a few fish each day. Tiny is getting heaps of real life experience. Personally I am glad that he is feeding Tiny Tot. If she is to be the survivor of the chicks on this nest (the average is only one out of three), then the longer she is fed and the longer she stays on this nest, the better equipped she will be if she ever leaves the nest. Tiny is a bit like Izzi, the Peregrine Falcon juvenile, of Xavier and Diamond. Izzy is still around the scrape box and she should have left for his own territory long ago. But that is another story for another day. There should be no worries about Tiny being able to fish. It is embedded in them. Jack doesn’t have to teach her. That is ingrained into her and every other Osprey and has been for 65 million years. Now she might not be as good a fisher as an osprey more experienced but she knows the moves and just has to find fish. I loved the stories of Bellie in Belle’s Journey, the way she honed her fishing skills. Tiny will do that, too.
Look at those legs and that little bottom. I think that the chicks on Cowlitz really got to me because of what Tiny Tot went through early on. But, as those who watched the Achieva nest, things turned one day. Diane brought in fish and I quit calling Jack a ‘dead beat dad’. They began to be a team and they succeeded in fledging three chicks. Amazing.
When I think of those super male Ospreys that get wall murals or the ones people talk about decades after they have passed, it is always the praise for providing for their family. Yes, people talk about Blue 33 and Idris’s fishing abilities and the whoppers – but it is always tied to them bringing those to their family and how healthy their chicks are and the pride in counting the children and the grandchildren in the family lineage.
So we go back to the survival of the fittest, perhaps. Wattsworth’s DNA is not being passed along but Monty’s, Blue 33s, and Idris’s is. And I hope Tiny Tot’s!
It was raining in the Sydney Olympic Park today. The beautiful canopy of leaves on the old Ironbark tree where the nest of Lady and Dad, the resident White-Bellied Sea Eagles, is located kept Lady from getting soaked. Lady is incubating two eggs. It is awhile until we will be on hatch alert. I will let you know when that happens so you can join the fun.
The rain finally stopped in Ithaca and the Ks were quite happy. K3 is eating again! It is nice to see the sun come out so they can dry off. It is even nicer to see the pair together on the nest safe and sound.
And, last I am showing you an image of the nest at Loch of the Lowes. I will also try and find the short videos that someone took of NC0 fishing in the loch. She is good! In this image the nest is getting a little crowded with the wingersizing of these two big osprey chicks. Safer for NC0 to get out of the way and sit on the perch, for sure! I was fascinated in the camera set up. That is why I am including this image. It is rather amazing. There is also a microphone in the nest so that you can hear the chicks when they are peeping in the egg right before hatch.
Here is NC0 fishing:
A snow storm and high winds have put out the cameras on Taiaroa Head in New Zealand where the Northern Albatross and their chicks are. They will love it. These birds like the cold. The staff of the NZ DOC (Dept of Conservation) have sprinklers to cool off the chicks. That camera should be back on line along with the weighing of the chicks. The chicks are weighed weekly, unless there is an issue and they might be weighed more. Supplemental feedings by the staff are given if the weight of the chick is not where it should be. That could come from parents not returning, being injured and delayed in their return, etc. NZ looks after their wildlife and accepts that humans have impacted it. There are not the complications with intervention like there are in the US.
Sad news coming out of Canada and the Osoyoos Osprey Nest. It appears that two of the three chicks have died to the incredible heat in the area in the same way that the chick on Cowlitz did. The other chick will require lots of fish but it is not looking very well this morning. A former student and close friend of mine now lived on the edge of the water at Osoyoos and really enjoyed seeing the Osprey family fish. They were forced to move because of the smoke from the wildfires that hits the area every summer. Prayers for all the birds. The heat wave is spreading across North America.
Thank you for joining me today. There will be a big nest catch up later today.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cam where I get my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Scottish Wildlife and Loch of the Lowes, and Sea Eagle Cam Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Centre.
Featured Image is Lady incubating her eggs in the Ironbark Tree in Sydney Olympic Park.