Boxing Day in Bird World

If you live in the Commonwealth you are celebrating Boxing Day today. Centuries ago, all people working in the manors and upper-class homes were given the day off after Christmas as a holiday. Small gifts from the wealthy would go to their help and the tradespeople who worked for them during the year. The tradition might have begun during the Roman-Christian era when alms boxes were outside the churches for the poor.

We lived in a wonderful small town when I was a student in England. Boxing Day was lovely – visits from good friends, small exchanges of food items. Most prized for someone who never loved mincemeat were the tarts with the orange pastry shells made by Jane. If you liked or needed to, you could begin paying for your Christmas dinner and all the treats in January. The milkman arriving with the electric float had a small catalogue. You paid by the week. The meal with all the trimmings was delivered when Christmas came. I was most impressed with the focus on being together as a family and sharing a meal – not on presents. Typically, children received a new bike and a sock full of treats and candies. We were extraordinarily fortunate to have the most wonderful neighbours and acquaintances. I can close my eyes and return to our living room on Gorse Road – magical.

Today, I hope that you have been able to be with a friend, friends, or loving relatives – in person or virtually.

Ferris Akel is having a wonderful tour today. He was at the Finger Lakes Regional Airport where there were two, perhaps three, Snowy Owls.

There were also Bald Eagles.

There was a male and a female Hooded Merganser.

Male Hooded Merganser
Female Hooded Merganser

There were ducks and geese paddling around the partially frozen water.

The ones with the white breast are Northern Pintails.

There were so many ducks.

I wished that Daisy was there with them paddling around and eating. The image is not clear but Ferris believes that the ducks below are Black Ducks (similar but different to Daisy).

There were Canada Geese and Trumpeter Swans flying about.

Canada Geese in formation.
Trumpeter Swans

Ferris also found a very interesting goose. Is it a pale Canada Goose? or is it a hybrid? It is smaller than a typical Canada Goose. Mind you, we see various sizes here in Canada – the small geese pair up with the same size, the larger with the larger ones. Ferris believes this to be a hybrid – a Canada Goose and a Snow Goose.

There were also Sandhill Cranes.

Ferris is on his way to Ithaca – hopefully he will catch sight of Big Red and Arthur!

Meanwhile in Hilton Head South Carolina, Harriet, named after Harriet Tubman, and Mitch, named after General Mitchel, either have their first hatch or are close to it. There is no rewind function for the camera but the images are crisp and beautiful. More than 400 individuals sent in names for the pair. Great choice!

Here is the link to the camera.

There will be twins again for Harriet and M15 with both eggs pipping this morning! The Pritchard family set the time as 09:55:54 on 26 December. Tears, Get your worry beads out. It will be rough and tumble in a couple of days!

M15 has had food in the pantry for Harriet who normally will not leave their eggs at this stage – no matter how persuasive M15 can be!

I am so excited. Harriet and M15 are amazing Bald Eagle parents and the Pritchett family has provided them with everything they need – including a stocked pond – and care when required. Here is the link to the camera. You will not want to miss these two!

It is very hot on the nest. Harriet is panting to regulate her temperature. She is used to the weather in Fort Myers so no worries. The eaglets will be listening to one another and that will give them momentum to hatch.

Last breeding season I believe there was only four hours difference between E17 and E18. Remember those two? How could we forget, you are thinking.

Not a week old and they go into care with CROW for conjunctivitis. The image below is after a couple days of treatment. Lucky eaglets, Thanks CROW. Thanks Pritchett family for insisting these kiddos got the care and treatment they needed.

E17 got time out in the peach towel because he was being too aggressive to 18.


Thank you for joining me today and for going back to look at these two wonderful juvenile eagles, E17 and E18. The time between when they hatch and fledge will pass as if you only blinked your eye. I urge you to stay tuned and watch this marvellous family go about their every day lives – feeding babies and protecting one another in Fort Myers, Florida.

Thank you to the Hilton Head Eagle Cam, SWFlorida Eagle Cam and the D Pritchett family for their streaming cams and Ferris Akel for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots. I also want to thank CROW for their FB Page where I took the images of E17 and E18 in care.


  1. What a wonderful post (again!) So many nests to watch now. I wasn’t watching the nest with #17 and #18 last year so am wondering how they were able to be taken from the parents — and how they all reacted when returned to the nest. That must’ve been a tense time! Glad they were able to get treatment for the conjunctivitis!

    1. I will try and explain all of this as best I can. It is ‘very’ interesting. First, it is almost impossible to get a permit to remove eaglets from a nest and treat them if the cause is not human. Conjunctivitis is not human caused. But that did not stop CROW (the wildlife rehabbers) and the Pritchett family from getting a permit to save those two little eaglets. The people from CROW came with a cherry picker and took the two eaglets out of the nest. Harriet flew above watching. Then the eaglets were gone. Everyone wondered if the adults would accept the two back. They were gone a full week (or was it 5 days?). The cherry picker came back and put the eaglets in the nest and everyone watched and waited. Harriet flew to the nest. She was not there. She could not believe her babies were back. She was in there immediately. It was quite incredible. They could not return them without having the infection fully under control. I will see if I can find the video of it and send you. —- This is called intervention. — You will hear me nattering about it if you read my blog. While I believe in leaving trees and shrubs, etc to themselves (non-intervention), I definitely believe in care where the animals can be retrieved and treated and returned.

      1. Thanks so much for filling me in on what happened! It’s so gratifying to hear that Harriet accepted the return of her babies and picked up where she left off, mothering them. How fortunate for all concerned! I probably would’ve been a nervous wreck watching all this. Always love those happy endings.

  2. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for all the pretty photos and info for today! I’m so excited for Harriett and M15! I have a concern over the owl that bothers them, but hopefully it won’t continue to.🙏
    I remember E17 and E18 very well and about their remarkable recovery! I’m also one who believes in intervention where there are animals that need help! Best wishes to them this season with their hatchlings.🙏 ❤️❤️🦅🦅🐣🐣
    Good luck and best wishes for Harriett and Mitch in Their hatchlings also! I’m so glad we will have some nests to watch this season!
    Thanks for links to them.
    Have a great evening and take care Mary Ann!
    I also tried to comment on the newsletter last night but I couldn’t get it to go through.

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