Oh, so many of us are having Empty Nest Syndrome. It is that time of year. You go and check to see if there are any Osprey fledglings on the nest – and no. Poof. Gone. It suddenly sets in that those precious little fluff balls have grown up. They have fledged and are gaining their flying skills for migration. Osprey breeding season is almost over. There are a chicks few trailing behind – Collins Marsh and Chesapeake Bay to name a couple in North America. There are still chicks on the nest in Manitoba but there are no streaming cameras. The Port Lincoln couple on the barge are only ‘thinking’ about eggs. Those will come mid-August most likely. So what does one do?
One of the first things is to treasure the moments we got to spend with these bird families. It is a privilege to see them living their daily lives. There is a saying in Japanese – Ichigo ichie. It was coined by the great tea master, Sen-no Rikyu. His meaning focused on the sharing of the tea ceremony and the realization that you can repeat the ritual but you can never re-create that moment with the same person ever again. You must live it to the fullest with the deepest respect. In terms of our birds, I would like to think that we must treasure every moment that we can share with them and give them our attention. It truly is a once in a life time encounter. Tiny Little will never again receive a huge fish and fend off its sibling with that same sibling later getting a little tiddler from dad. Those were two precious moments that will never again be repeated. Indeed, I wonder if we will ever see Tiny Little again before her migration. That nest has been awfully empty today.
Some of us began to focus on the few nests that do have chicks. My attention has been on the Collins Marsh Osprey Nest in Wisconsin. It is easy to notice the very odd behaviour of the bonded pair at the Collins Marsh Osprey Nest. It truly is strange. The female disappears for 21 hours! That was when ‘S’ and I began to find other strange tidbits about this nest. The female returns on Sunday morning and Dad spends the day bringing in several fish deliveries. Then on Monday the male brings in the first fish and we don’t see him anymore. It is the female catching the fish and bringing them to the nest. So is there a pattern here? or are we just losing our minds? The female brought in two fish today in the afternoon. One was cream coloured with gold scales but the last one was pink inside and out with gold scales. Any help on IDing these would be much appreciated.
In the image below, it looks like a salmon-red colour. Needless to say the chick went to bed quite full. Every time it started chirping mum was offering fish. She has been very devoted since she returned.
A couple of hours earlier Mum brought in this fish. I could not readily identify it either. Regardless of the species, the chick is delighted with the arrival! The faces this chick makes are incredible. Very animated.
This is the approach to the nature centre that is near the Collins Marsh Reservoir and the Mud River in Wisconsin. Look at the left and you will see the ‘retired’ fire tower which is now home to the Osprey nest on the very top of the glass enclosed space that appears above the ‘red’ in the image. Snowy Owls inhabit the nest in the winter. The tower is 33.5 metres or 110 feet tall. The staff of the Osprey centre access the camera within the glass enclosed area. At one time it was thought that there was a portal from the glassed area to the nesting platform but it turns out that is not correct. There is no ‘easy’ access to the Osprey nest. Getting to the nest physically to do a wellness check on the chick, right now, would mean finding a person with particular skills and then being certain that it was safe for them.
You can see that the nest is slightly off centre and is situated on a sort of cone hat with the camera on the pole at the corner.
Looking at this got me to thinking about access. It is quite true that there are raptor nests that can never be accessed. Eagles and Ospreys love to make their nests in extremely high places away from us! That said I have known or witnessed ‘tree climbers’ in Germany whose skill set is such that no tree defies them unless the tree itself is unsafe. This is an interesting situation at Collins Marsh. The Wisconsin DNR Biologist and the Wildlife Rehabilitator continue to monitor the chick in terms of feather growth, etc. That is great news. The question then arises: if the chick displays in another week or ten days problematic feather growth, what can be done? With the access so difficult, it would seem nothing. So let’s keep our fingers and toes crossed that nothing is wrong with the feathers! It would, however, seem prudent to explore the possibility of a portal access to the nest once the Ospreys have migrated and before the Snowy Owls take over. I hope that it is never needed but, if it were, it would be a win-win for everyone. All of that said, it would require the services of a structural engineer to figure out the best way to do this. Maybe there is someone who is qualified and loves the raptors that might, at least, consider if this was possible and do it as a donation of time to the centre. That would be grand.
Tuesday morning at Collins Marsh Osprey Nest: The day began with rain and then wind.
Mum left later and returned with a small fish/ a twiddler.
Mum leaves the nest three times after this. Very different behaviour than Monday. Dad does come to the nest and delivers a piece of fish. The chick winds up with a bit of a crop.
At the moment, the chick is on the nest alone. It is windy and the temperature is currently 24 degrees C going up to a scorching 30 degrees.
Mum returns and the chick joins her in fish calling to Dad. Oh, I hope the fish arrives and mum stays to shade the baby today.
The Cornell University Red tail hawks are still putting smiles on everyone’s faces. Suzanne Horning was out yesterday evening checking on them. I remain ever so grateful that she lets me share her images with you.
K3 and those beautiful celadon eyes just strikes right at my heart. This little one has, according to the boots on the ground, turned into a magnificent flyer.
K3 sees Arthur and immediately starts calling for food. You will notice that when the chicks do not see an adult they generally do not food call but when they do see someone who might bring ‘a food delivery’ you can hear them crying several blocks away!
K1 had a nice spot on top of one of the light stands. These stands have been, in past years, great places for the chicks to eat their prey. They are nice and flat on top.
If you cannot see their tails it takes a few moments to sit and figure out which K you are looking at. In this instance, the belly band has more red than the chick in the image above.
This is such a beautiful close up of K1. Look carefully at that beak – that very sharp point for tearing the food – and then look at how clean it is. You will see the chicks cleaning their beaks on all manner of things – sticks, tree bark, grass. At the same time they are also sharpening them. Like their feathers they need this ‘tool’ of theirs clean and sharp.
Here is a great little article that goes into more depth on the reason you see birds rubbing their beaks. It is short and very informative!
Big Red is doing a kind of hawk walk while she is looking for prey. She is our gorgeous matriarch and every second seeing her reminds us how precious she is.
The Hornings did see Arthur but I don’t have an image for him. Both adults are moulting now and look a little scruffy.
Some of you have been asking about Arnold. Well, look at that picture of Arnold with his mate, Amelia. His wounds have healed enough that he now has a waterproof bootie and can spend some outdoor time with Amelia. If Arnold continues to improve – and why wouldn’t he with Amelia there cheering him on? – he could be released in a couple of weeks. That is wonderful!
A few nest checks for the UK Ospreys and wow, lucky was with me.
There is one very loud food crying fledgling on the Loch of the Lowes nest. Looks like it is LR2. He wants his breakfast ‘now’!
Telyn is on the perch of the Dyfi Nest in Wales and Ystywth is eating her breakfast. How lucky she is. LR2 is so unhappy. I wonder if his big sister, LR1, took the first fish?
One of the reasons for the big smile on my face is that when I checked the Glaslyn Nest of Aran and Mrs G someone was on the perch! And it is Mrs G. The timing could not have been better.
There she sits – the oldest Osprey in all of the United Kingdom – looking out over the territory that she shares with Aran.
Perhaps if I took one more peek at the Foulshaw Moss nest someone might be there having breakfast. Let’s see!
Well, not only is there no one on the nest but there is not an Osprey to be seen on the parent’s tree in the distance. I wonder if White YW and Blue 35 have taken everyone to the reservoir to try some fishing?
It is now 17:00 on the Foulshaw Moss nest and there are two fledglings hunkered down because of an intruder. “Hello, Tiny Little!”
Ah, maybe there isn’t much of an intruder. Wonder what Blue 464 is hiding? It is a big fish! No wonder Tiny Little is there. I will try and check back later to see if he gets some of it. The fish looks large enough for both as long as 464 doesn’t fly away with it. You can see its tail extending out to the left of the log. Hopefully 462 won’t come around!
Oh, Tiny Little is wanting that fish! She is up to her old tricks. It is a huge fish. Blue 464 will get tired of working at the mouth and walk away if Tiny Little can be patient.
Tiny Little has stepped back. She caused Blue 464 to move the fish a bit and she might be remembering that he did fly away with part of a fish the other day. Just wait, Tiny Little. There will be fish left!
But life throws birds wrenches and today, Blue 464 flew away with that huge fish! Tiny Little is yelling at White YW to go and get another one. Poor Tiny Little!
This is a good overview of what is going on at the nests today. So happy to catch Tiny Little. These moments are very precious.
Thank you so much for joining me today. It is so nice to be with fellow bird lovers. Just a reminder. If you live in a place where it is hot please, if you can, leave out bowls of water for the birds. Old ceramic serving bowls work great. The clay does not get as hot as metal containers. If you leave water for the hummers, make your own. It is 4 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar. Make sure the sugar is dissolved. You can heat it and allow it to cool before putting in the container. Do not use the red commercial hummer food. It actually kills the birds! How sad is that? A company allowed to make a product that actually kills the thing it is supposed to help! OK. It happens with humans, too. Terrible.
Thank you to Suzanne Arnold Horning for allowing me to use her images of Big Red and her family in my blog. Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen captures: Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey nest, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Loch of the Lowes, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn, Carnyx Wild and Llyn Clywedog Osprey Nest, and Collins Marsh Nature Centre. A big shout out to the Cape Wildlife Centre who is caring for Arnold. You are fantastic!