It has been a wonderful day in Bird World. It is a good time to reflect on how much joy the birds bring into our lives, how much they teach us as we observe them and, as always, what else we can do to enrich their lives like they have ours. I cannot even begin to imagine what my life would have been like. First was the feeding of the songbirds in our garden and then there was the arrival of Sharpie’s mate. All of that was followed by watching Red-tailed Hawks in New York City and in Ithaca on the streaming cams. Years later the pandemic hits. Two years ago we had barely returned from a trip to Quebec City to celebrate my retirement and the first discussions of a deadly virus were swirling about. It was not long until we learned about the cases in PRC and, of course, all of that is now history. The first hawks that I watched in New York City are no longer with us (secondary rodenticide poisoning) but Big Red is still going strong up in Ithaca. She gave so many a reason to get up in the morning and, at the same time, reasons for us staying up all night as well – worrying. The birds taught – and continue to teach – me many things including empathy and patience.
Today, the Hilton Head Eagles, Harriet and Mitch, had their second hatch. The nest was discovered in October and the Hilton Head Trust held a contest for names for the couple while also setting up a streaming cam. Harriet is named after Harriet Tubman, nurse and spy for the Union army, and Mitch is for Civil War General, Ormsby Mitchel. Tubman actually led 700 slaves to their freedom, 100 of them to Mitchelville, a community established by the General for formerly enslaved persons. Thus, the names have a connection to one another and also to the community where the nest is located.
They are just adorable – littl eaglets with their soft grey natal down and spiky hair. Look how strong they are in the image below. It is so reassuring when they hatch and are strong and ready to go! Have a look:
I have been watching M15 and Harriet and the hatch of E19 most of the day. If you missed it, I updated my earlier blog identifying M15 as the adult on the nest when E19 hatched. That hatch was at 12:43:04. Harriet saw her baby for the first time at 14:46. The couple have each had turns feeding their first hatch of the 2021-22 season.
Look how wide E19 is opening its mouth. Harriet is pleased.
M15 stands guard over his nest with mate Harriet, E19, and yet-to-hatch eaglet, E20.
All of these eaglets will spend 75-85 days in the nest, depending on where they hatched. Here are the three standard divisions of the eaglet’s development. The first stage, 35-40 days, is called ‘structural growth.’ This is when the eaglets rapidly gain weight. They seem to be eating all the time. They are building bones and muscles as well as their tissue, toes, claws, etc. The second stage is related to the eaglet’s future ability to fly. The eaglets are born with natal down. Next is thermal down, then their juvenile feathers come in, and over the course from fledge to the time they are five years old, they will go through stages of feather development resulting, finally, in an adult with a beautiful white head, gorgeous brown body and yellow legs and feet. The thermal down will begin coming in around day 10. Juvenile flight feathers begin growing between 24-27 days. You will notice the eaglets doing wingercizes which help them develop the muscles in their wings. Right now these eaglets do not have much control over their heads and beaks. They will, as their neurological coordination increases, begin to stand on their feet instead of scooting around on their tarsi. They will learn to tear food, holding the prey down with their feet and pulling with their beak. Instead of being clumsy unfocused bobble-heads, they will turn into beautifully focused chocolate feathered raptors.
Within the last hour, another GHOW strike has happened at the SWFlorida Eagle Nest. These attacks are occurring much more frequently. Several nests including one Osprey one at Hog Island employed lights and clothed dolls to thwart the GHOW attacks. Thank you for that information, ‘L’. Maybe it is time to consider lights for Harriet and M15.
The Kakapo Recovery posted the cartoon of their infamous bachelors about two weeks ago.
Well, the staff no longer have to wait for breeding season to begin on Whenua Hou Island. The Kakapo kicked it up into high gear starting on 24 December. Oh, let there be many baby Kakapo!
Over at Port Lincoln everyone is eating well. Bazza found a fish before day break on the floor of the barge, then Bazza received another fish. Did I say I think Bazza will never leave home? Ervie has been over on the ropes eating a fish that it appears he caught and when he couldn’t eat another bite, Falky took over. Wow. Sibling sharing. How nice!
Ervie is at the top and Falky is eating the rest of the fish Ervie caught on the ropes near the bottom of the image.
Diamond slept on the Cilla Rocks last night. It is comforting to see her sitting on the ledge of the scrape at first light.
As I approach the end of the day, the sun is waking up on the deserts of Africa. The little birds are flitting about the bore hole in Namibia getting drinks. What a beautiful view. So peaceful. So warm compared to the cold snowy weather of Manitoba!
Good Night everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this evening. Stay well, stay safe. See you soon.
Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Hilton Head Eagle Cam, SWFlorida and D Pritchett Eagle Cam, Port Lincoln Osprey, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Nambia Cam, and Kakapo Recovery FB Page.