Tuesday, 15 March 2022
Some of the information in this posting might be a repeat for some of you. There might be something else that you learn, too!
It is often difficult to process deaths on nests. This is so true for now when we turn to the birds and other wildlife as a place of solace. Sadly, we have no control over what happens on the nests but, we can certainly mourn with the family when there are issues. Wildlife face repeated challenges day in and day out. While we cannot always make their lives better, it is up to each of us to try in any small or large way that we can.
Early this morning, around 08:39ish, the oldest osplet, Big, on the Captiva Osprey nest in Florida died. There was nothing leading up to the death that would have alerted to anyone watching the streaming cam that there was anything at all wrong with any of the chicks never mind one of them dying at the feet of its Mum while she fed the others breakfast. There were no visible tremors of any sort, no choking, nothing. The only thing that was noticed was that Big was less aggressive towards the other two chicks at meal time yesterday. There could be any number of reasons for Big to stop beaking its younger siblings. Big might have felt more food secure after Andy brought in 11 fish the day prior. Often raptors who are getting ready to pass a pellet are not that much interested in food. We could speculate forever but we will never know the answer to that question. All we know is that an apparently healthy osplet, 27 days old, died.
The owner of the property, Lori Covert, immediately sought permission from state and federal authorities to have a necropsy done on the chick to find out the cause. CROW, one of the best wildlife rehab clinics in the US, was also alerted. Permissions were quickly granted and CROW came quickly to remove the body of the chick. That took place at 15:21.
Lena immediately began alerting as she flew over the water and the property making circles around the nest. She returned immediately once the technician and the ladder were no longer present.
Both Middle and Little (Little and Mini on chat) went flat. You could tell they were afraid by their eyes but they did not move. Instead they stayed pancaked panting from the heat. Lena is hot too. It is that time of year in Florida.
Because CROW does not have the equipment to do complicated toxicology screening, Big’s body was sent to UGA College of Veterinary Medicine in Athens, Georgia.
Some causes of death such as a pellet that could not be passed or a fish hook can be established with a physical exam. Those results are pretty immediate. My understanding is that it will be a few days, perhaps the end of the week, until the results from the tests are known. They will be posted on the Captiva Osprey streaming cam site.
Some of my readers were concerned because one of the chicks appeared to be choking early this morning and they thought it was the one who died. It was Little (or Mini) that was casting the pellet at the time.
There was a Q & A session with Window on Wildlife staffer Connor this afternoon. It has been posted on YouTube so that you can watch it. Connor took questions off the chat so you might find some of this very interesting and educational.
After everyone has left the area, Andy arrives with a fish for Lena and the two surviving osplets at 15:38. If you look at the eyes of Andy and Lena they are very alert and probably none too happy with the events of the last few minutes.
Lena feeds the two remaining chicks, Middle and Little.
They will both be full. There was nothing wrong with their appetites.
Middle and Little (or Little and Mini) are hot but they are both eating well and were anxious for the arrival of a fish. That fish will provide them not only with nourishment but also their water or, hydration! There is no reason to believe from looking at the two of them or the adults that there is anything ‘wrong’ at this nest. They were hot and did sleep but that is normal on a day with high temperatures and being in the hot sun. Ospreys really like their nests to be out in the open so that they can see predators coming from 360 degrees.
To answer the question of a reader: Yes, of course, Andy and Lena and the two remaining chicks know that Big is no longer with them. The entire atmosphere of the nest has changed. They understand that he has died. They have not had any experience with adults taking a deceased chick off their nest so it is understandable that Andy and Lena have no knowledge of ladders and technicians. There is really no time for mourning. The couple have been battling predators and the two other chicks require care. The parents cannot simply take a day or two ‘off’. Andy did bring in Spanish Moss to cover Big. You might recall that happening on other nests. I believe (but will happily be corrected) that Clive and/or Connie covered up the body of one or both of the chicks, Peace and Hope, that died on the Captiva Bald Eagle nest from secondary rodenticide poisoning last breeding season. I have seen it done at other nests and on others, nothing.
Lori Covert loves the birds that live on her land on Captiva. If you get a chance and you are on chat, please send her, the chat moderators, and everyone associated with the Captiva Ospreys your condolences. They really would appreciate it.
Before I close, I want to mention something and that is ‘donations’. Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinics exist solely on donations. They receive no federal or state funding. Their benefactors range from the person who can afford to donate $5 a year to those who are able to give them more. CROW is one of the best wildlife rehab clinics. If you feel so inclined, they would appreciate any size of donation. Here is the link to their website:
Please send your most positive energy to this wonderful Osprey nest in Florida. Andy, Lena, and the two surviving chicks need all the good wishes they can get. I so hope to sit and have some tea Wednesday afternoon watching Middle and Little (Little and Mini) ferociously eating fish and hearing Lena call Andy for yet another fish.
Thank you so much for joining me today. There is lots of news in Bird World. Take care!
Thank you to the Captiva Ospreys and Window on Wildlife for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.