Encounters with a GHOW

As many of you know, there are problems for the Bald Eagles with the Great Horned Owls wanting to take over their nests. We saw Bonnie and Clyde be successful in stealing a young eagle couple’s nest in Newton, Kansas located on the grounds of Farmer Derek. Those two have visited the nest as recently as 2 days ago. Great Horned Owls have taken over the Savannah Osprey Nest and laid eggs so no more Ospreys there, sadly.

Those are two instances on streaming cam where the owls have been successful. It has to be more common in the wild. I imagine that you could also provide me with several more examples. We know that a GHOW has been systematically attacking M15 and Harriet on their nest in Fort Myers, Florida. Just a few minutes ago a GHOW flew and knocked the female adult eagle off the US Steel Eagle nest at the Mon Valley Works–Irvin Plant in West Mifflin, PA.

The camera operator for the USS Bald Eagle nests is panning around the area. It is not a search and they said that the panning does not imply a search is needed. They are simply looking to see where the GHOW might be. These are the time stamps for the events this evening according to the camera moderator: “18:52:20 GHO swipes USS female(?) off her roost, 18:55:42 USS male(?) reacts to nearby swipe, 18:58:07 USS male relocates, chatter from both follows through 19:01”. The eagles cannot be heard on the streaming cam. Previously you could hear them so they are probably roosting at a distance and are safe and sound.

This is a daylight view of the nest. It is a gorgeous area.

Here is a link to the USS Bald Eagle cam:

The situation in PA at the USS Bald Eagle nest is unclear. It is my understanding that neither eagle has been seen on the streaming cam this morning. Everyone is hoping that they will show up so that worries can be put aside.

I was reminded, by someone using a three letter code for the Great Horned owls, to provide you with a listing of the proper four letter Alpha codes for all birds. Great Horned Owls are GHOW. The listing provided by the Carolina Bird Club also discusses the origin of the codes. Have a look:

https://www.carolinabirdclub.org/bandcodes.html

Liberty (f) and Guardian (m) were on the nest doing renovations and checking out the nest cup at Redding today. This couple raised triplets last year: Honor, Glory, and Rebel. We should be looking for eggs to be laid mid-February. Wouldn’t Valentine’s Day be nice?

Here is a history of the nest from last year’s breeding season by Judy B on the Hancock Wildlife Forum:

“A new camera was installed at the Turtle Bay nest for the 2021 nesting season (big thanks to Terri/Eaglewoman and the Friends of the Redding Eagles!) – and happily the eagles chose to use that nest! They laid three eggs in mid-February, and the three eaglets hatched March 21, 22 and 24. They were named Honor, Glory and Rebel by a poll of viewers. All three fledged successfully, if a bit non-traditionally. It was very hot in late May/early June as the eaglets turned 10 weeks old, frequently going above 100F/38C. Oldest eaglet Honor (who had never branched) had a very intentional fledge on June 3rd (74 days old). The following day, youngest eaglet Rebel left the nest as well, possibly slipping while trying to branch (the angle of the cam made it hard to be sure); Rebel was 72 days old. Happily local observers found both of them on the ground with an adult perched above; they landed near the river, and were able to have a drink of water. Middle eaglet Glory apparently liked having the nest all to his/her self, staying there another two weeks before fledging on June 18 (88 days old). All three fledglings were seen together perched beside the river on June 22, and all were seen through July 5. Both adults and two fledglings were seen in the area July 18, and one fledgling was around a few days later (it might be Honor who left first, but not sure). A happy year in spite of the challenges of the very hot weather.”

Why did I bring up the Redding nest? Because on 7 November 2021 a GHOW comes to the Redding nest! The video below uses slo-motion, graphics, and a narrative to highlight the encounter between Liberty and Guardian and the GHOW. The video is very insightful into the behaviour of Bald Eagles in alert and attack mode – if they are experienced:

Here is the link to the Redding Eagles streaming cam:

As breeding season continues, we might see more GHOW invasions. While GHOWs look soft and cuddly and through children’s stories we learn they are ‘wise’ – often portrayed as teachers – they are formidable adversaries. Liberty and Guardian are older and more experienced than the young Bald Eagle couple in Newton, Kansas that gave up their nest easily to the owls. Better to be safe than injured or dead.

Harriet and M15 have been the constant targets of GHOW attacks. Just go to YouTube and search for GHOW attacks M15 and you will find pages of videos going back years to the more recent occurrences. Here is one good example just 8 days ago:

On different occasions, M15 has been hit and has fallen down into the nest with Harriet and either eggs or nestlings. If you are a regular watcher of this great eagle couple, you will have seen M15 with injuries on his head because of the stealth attacks during the night.

In other Bird World News:

The first egg was laid at the Venice Golf and Country Club Osprey Nest (VGCCO) yesterday at 08:45. I know that some of you really enjoy this watching this nest in California.

Here is the link to this nest:

Still waiting at Achieva:

Two Osprey cams in New York say it is way too early to be thinking about eggs! Are either of these on your list to watch? Oyster Bay and PSEG?

After the fright the other day, everything appears to be relaxed and back to normal at the KNF nest. I am hoping we get the list of three possible names for this adorable eaglet today!

The eaglets on the WRDC are nice and full. Their thermal down has come in nicely. R1 still has some dandelions on its head. Soon we will begin to see thee contour and flight feathers on R1 and R2.

There are still cute fuzzy nestlings at NE Florida! They are doing great, too.

And just look at the change in Harriet and M15’s ‘babies’! Wow. I love seeing the plumage develop from that light soft down still on NE26 and 27 to the juvenile plumage that is really coming on E19 and E20.

No checks on Ervie. PLO is offline. Warm thoughts going out to the USS Bald Eagles. I am sure this is not the first time they have had to deal with this owl or another. Still, there is always cause for concern. That was a particularly ‘hard hit’ yesterday. Waiting for the final 3 names so voting can take place for the name of the little eaglet at KNF.

Thank you for joining me today. Please take care of yourselves. Stay safe.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: USS Steel Bald Eagles and Pix Cams, Redding California Eagles, SWFlorida Bald Eagles and D Pritchett, Achieva Credit Union, VGGCO, Oyster Bay Ospreys, PSEG Ospreys, NEFlorida Bald Eagles and the AEF, KNF Bald Eagles, Savannah Great Horn Owl Cam, and the WRDC.

6 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann! The GHOW’s are very dangerous. I always pray for M 15 and Harriett and their eaglets every season. I wish they would build their own nests and leave the eagles nests alone. Thanks for all the updates .
    Congratulations to the VGCCO ospreys on their first egg this season.
    Prayers for the U S STEEL nest . The parents were there it said today. I’m so thankful for that 🙏
    I am ready to watch the Reddings and all the others when they start this season.
    I think the Dale Hollow eagles River and Obey have egg/s already too.
    Have a great afternoon Mary Ann and take care ! I’ll be looking forward to the new update newsletter.
    Linda

    1. There are so many! Thank you for the note re the US Steel eagles. When I checked this morning they had not seen them yet. That is good news. They used to say the GHOWs and the eagles lived happily with one another but it does seem that has changed. It is so difficult when they kick them off the branches. Thank you and you are always welcome. So many nests with so much going.

  2. Mary Ann, thanks for the heads up on the continuing GHOW threat to so many of the eagles. Alas! I guess humans are to blame (as usual) for this change, as we’ve destroyed so many of their habitats. They never had to compete so fiercely in the past for nesting spots! It doesn’t bode well.

    Thanks also for the Redding nest update! (Gary’s videos are always great – educational and entertaining – and humorous. And very serious when need be.) I’m excited about the egg watch for Liberty and Guardian. The earliest she’s ever laid her first egg was February 5th, so it could be soon! She’s certainly spending a lot of time on the nest these days. (Oh, and live chat starts tomorrow evening.)

    Thanks again for all your reports, Mary Ann. I always look forward to reading your blog posts!

    1. It really is become much more of a threat – those GHOWs and alas, you probably hit the nail on the head. Habitat loss. Thankfully Ospreys only like the tops of dead tress. Perhaps they will have to construct more of those Papasan chairs like the one at WRDC for eagles and owls. Our City is terrible for taking over habitat and farming land. I really wonder what they are thinking when you drive for miles and see cheap stucco houses (but not cheap in price) and no trees, no birds, nothing. I was impressed with Gary’s video. Very impressed and I plan to post more of them. Very informative. We are just starting the snow that is going to go down into the States. We are in a blizzard warning with 90 kph (55 miles ph) with more snow. Ugh. It should taper off in the morning. Can’t wait for spring!

      1. Your weather sounds dreadful. Do take care! And yes – counting the days to spring. 🌞

      2. We are, too…I can’t wait for spring to arrive! It is snowing now and the winds are picking up. We are all set if anything like electricity should go out. Fingers crossed it doesn’t! and Ervie is eating a fish. The PLO camera came on. Yeah.

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