When is a fledge a normal fledge? or a forced one? Can you tell the difference?

What is the difference between a fledge? a normal run of the mill fledge? and a ‘Forced Fledge’? And how do we as individuals react to one or the other?

So first off, let’s begin with Kindness, the Bald Eagle juvenile who branched a couple of days ago. Kindness flew off the nest this morning at 10:01 am.

No one was there, Kindness flew off on her own. She was 86 days old setting a new record for the nest.

Here is the video, enjoy:

Later, Mama Liberty lured Kindness back to the nest with food! It was 12:30 pm. That is the way it is normally done. It is the same with Ospreys as it is with Bald Eagles and other raptors.

I wanted to get the opinion of an expert on Ospreys about Malin’s fledge. There has been a lot of disagreement over whether or not Malin just flew off normally like Kindness or if his flight was a ‘Forced Fledge’. So I went to a UK expert – someone that I trust that has decades of experience. I sent them the long footage of Mom alerting and then Malin flying off.

The longer version has the adult alerting for about ten minutes longer. This is the shorter version and you can still see mom, Marsha, alerting but imagine it ten minutes longer.

The expert asked me what the question was and I answered: Does it appear that the nestling fledged normally? or was it frightened by an intruder and flew?

The following questions and answers were exchanged:

  • Expert: Was that its first fledge? Answer: Yes
  • Expert: How long did it stay away? Answer: It Never Returned. Gone 2 days.
  • Answer from expert: Forced Fledge
  • Expert: Anyone looking for it? Answer: Person in charge said it was normal and Ospreys do not return to their nest after fledging.

The expert said that the average number of days that an Osprey fledgling spends on the nest after fledging is 36.

Here are two examples. The first is a normal fledge. The second is a forced fledged (different from Malin’s but close enough) but, the chicks returned to the nest.

https://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/blog/emyr-evans/2013/08/25/clarach-and-cerist-fledge

https://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/blog/emyr-evans/2015/07/21/three-fledge-one-morning

It is important to know the difference so that you are educated on what is and is not a normal fledge. As someone watching streaming cams then you will understand and respond appropriately. You will not be upset when it is a normal fledge and the bird returns and does more flying continuing to return and be fed by the parents. But you will also recognize an emergency, like Malin. In that instance, the minute he was forced off the nest there should have been a search party spread out on the property. They would need one expert to deal with Malin if found but ordinary people who care for birds could have spread out and looked in every direction from the nest for up to 300 metres. Do not get me wrong. People did look but it was at least 2 to 2.5 hours after the fact and it was getting dark. As I understand it, no one looked Friday. One person, a wildlife rehabber, returned to search today.

The reason that it is important to look immediately when it is an accidental or forced fledge like Malin’s is that the birds are vulnerable to predators. They will normally land on the ground. Additionally, they could require immediate veterinary assistance. This is the other reason that there should always be an emergency number easily found on a streaming cam or wildlife centre that will be answered! I am talking about a 24/7 emergency number. Alternatively, a moderator on a chat with a list of emergency helpers works fine as well. But you need to reach the boots that can get on the ground!

So educate yourself so you know what is what in the world of fledging. It could save the life of a precious bird.

Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations to Liberty and Freedom for the successful fledgling of Kindness and to all the folks at Glacier Gardens. Thank you for the boots on the ground looking for Malin. I have been told two chicks were found – one dead and one alive. I will let you know as soon as I hear the identification.

Thank you to the Glacier Gardens Park and the Collins Marsh Nature Centre for their streaming cam where I take my screen shots and videos.

4 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you so very much Mary Ann for all this information that we all need to know! Looking forward to hearing from you when you find out more !

    1. It really helped that Kindness fledged today. It was a perfect comparison. The ones of the Dyfi nest are close but not exactly like Malin. Hopefully, all of us will know when to go into action and when not to!

  2. Salliane says:

    Excellent and well thought out newsletter.
    I am sad about this entire “thing”. A lot could have been done after Malin was scared off the nest but unfortunately the wrong people were in charge.
    I tried to post on their Facebook so the local residents could step out to either look or report back any sightings. According to their naturalist there is no one to contact it will take him a couple hours before returning back to the Center. I am extremely disappointment beyond words.

    1. Thank you Salliane. I am sad as well. People who have a responsibility to take care of the wildlife need to take care but also be educated and open-minded to learn what is what. I have so many good people who have worked with Ospreys for 50-60 years that I can turn to and ask questions that I am grateful from here to that Sturgeon Moon tonight for each of them. And it is wonderful working with intelligent women who can ‘see’ what is going on. I hope that we find Malin – that is my dream.

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