Malin, the Strong Little Warrior

I reported earlier today that Malin, the Osprey chick on the Collins Marsh Nature Centre’s nest, had fledged. Malin flew off the nest at 3:42 pm.

We use the term ‘fludge’ when a bird accidentally falls out of the nest and flies. But what do you call it when a nestling is scared off their nest and flies?

For several minutes before Malin flew, his mother, Marsha, had been on the nest. She was watching and alerting. There was an intruder. Marsha even ducked on occasion. When Mom flew off the nest something happened to spook Malin. He had been pancaked. Malin had done this before. But this time, the intruder must have come near enough to the nest that it spooked Malin. Without thinking and scared out of his wits, Malin flew.

Here is a video clip. You can see the shadow of a bird flying at 10 o’clock – it is impossible to know who it was – at the end.

Malin was not prepared to leave the nest. He had been exercising his wings but he had never hovered. He really needed another couple of weeks to work his wings. His feathers were continuing to grow and he was catching up for his age but he was still behind. Today, Malin was 2 months old and a day – we think. He is the only one of three hatches to survive and it is not clear which hatch he was.

Mom immediately returned to the nest looking for Malin.

Collins, the dad, came in later with a nice piece of fish hoping to entice his son to the top of the tower. Collins did look over in the area of the trees and I am hoping he knew that Malin was there.

The nest is 120 feet up and I am told that flying up is much more difficult for a bird than down. Malin is not a sophisticated flier – could he make it to the top of the tower? Collins seems to think so. I hope he is right. Indeed, I hope that Malin is unharmed and makes his way home so that he can benefit from more food and more wing exercises.

This situation has heightened my call for all streaming cams to have emergency contact numbers immediately after the name of the site and before any historical or current information about the nest. That is so the numbers can be found quickly and easily. The minute this situation happened, the office at the Nature Centre was called. The message went to voice mail. At that instant a flurry of e-mails went out from the US and Canada to try and find someone who could go and look for Malin on the ground. FB Messages were sent. Luckily ‘S’ found the wildlife rehabber for the area, living 25 minutes away. By this time more than thirty minutes had passed, possibly 45. This individual listened to what had happened and got in their car and went to check on Malin. By the time they arrived it was getting dark. They reported that it was quiet around the marsh. Tomorrow this person will return and is hoping that Malin will be close by or food crying. Of course, it would be even better if Malin were sitting up on the nest or sleeping duckling style from all the activity. The three of us that named Malin are hoping that he lives up to the name he was given, ‘Mighty Little Warrior.’ Tonight we are anxious and fearful – all we can do is hope and wait. It will be a very long night.

For the past year I have been requesting that individuals responsible for streaming cams ensure that there is emergency information so that the community of birders watching these nests can contact someone – a responsible person who will provide assistance to the bird or animal – immediately. I realize that individuals do not wish to give out their private phone numbers. The park or nature centre with the streaming cam could have two dedicated cell phones only for emergency calls. Those could be provided to those in charge. Then they would not have to have their own numbers or phones used. The person at the end of that phone line would have their own list of specialists to contact for the specific emergency. It really is that simple.

The alternative is to have a 24/7 chat room with moderators who have emergency numbers. Moderators are volunteers. They do it because they love the birds. That is actually the simplest and cheapest way to handle emergencies.

The vast majority of individuals who watch the nests are bird lovers. If they see a tiny leg tangled in fishing line they want that bird to get help. If they hear a chick fall off a nest into water, they want to help. If they notice nestlings behaving strange, having tremors, refusing to eat, they want to fine someone who will listen and help. This year all of these things have happened, some many times, and it was thanks to the community birders that help came. Sometimes people did not listen to the alarms set off by fifty or more persons watching two eaglets on a nest in Florida. They were behaving poorly. One died. Then the second. The person who set off the first alarm said ‘rodenticide’ – and they were correct. Community birders are not quacks. Many have watched nests for more than a decade. They are informed and they want to help. They do not want to waste anyone’s time.

Thank you for sending your prayers and your warm wishes to Malin and to the boots on the ground who are trying to find him and care for him. Thank you for listening to my call for a solution so that help can come to the birds immediately when something happens. If you are in charge of a streaming cam or know someone who is, please talk to them about having emergency numbers or 24/7 moderators on the chat who can get in touch with the right person if something comes up. It is really important. Thank you!

Thank you to the Collins Marsh Nature Centre and the Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots and my video clip.

I plan to bring an updated report on the Black Storks in Latvia and Estonia later tomorrow. There is still someone who can pull at my heart strings even when I am so worried about Malin and that is Tiny Little! It is 6:30 on her nest in Cumbria and there she is having her breakfast fish compliments of White YW. Thank you, dad. Thank you, Tiny Little. You give me hope for Malin tonight.

4 Comments

    1. Thank you. I am so worried that he did not imprint the way home because he flew off so fast. The parents have been on the tower today with food. We pray he returns home safe or is somewhere with fish and is safe.

  1. Diana Vandiviere says:

    We’re anxiously waiting to hear news of Malin.

    1. Thank you for writing and for caring, Diana. Malin’s parents have been upon the nest with fish at least twice today hoping to lure him to the nest. There was a Bald Eagle juvenile named Legacy from the NE Florida nest. She flew off – great flyer – but for some reason, maybe a little bird chased her, she flew out too fast and did not imprint on her brain the way home to the nest. Apparently, those short flights after fledging really do that – create a map so they find their way home. Legacy was missing for six days. One day she was seen on the camera flying by fast but was at enough of a distance or angle not to recognize her own nest. The next day she landed on her own nest. She did not leave – I mean for even a little flight – for almost a month! And she was starving. She had been to other Bald Eagle nests begging. I think that this is what happened to Malin. Two wildlife rehabbers have watched the footage and agree that Malin and his mother were being swooped by an intruder. So he would have flown out quickly. From that height, he could have flown quite a distance -. We all hope that he didn’t. One of the wildlife rehabbers was to go and search again today. It is 6:44 nest time as I write to you and I have not heard anything. Very anxious for this little one.

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