Little Bit played possum at Dale Hollow – how will tomorrow turn out?

Thursday, 17 March 2022

I always hope to give accurate information on the nests. I believed Little Bit to have died earlier. Instead this ingenious starving little eaglet played the best possum I have ever seen! So I want to correct that and add in subsequent information.

Today, Little Bit at Dale Hollow endured more than an hour and a half of pecking from her big sibling preventing her from eating along with the middle sibling. The two have not had food since early Wednesday morning. I thought Little Bit was dead. Instead, he was playing possum and doing a grand job of it. I am shocked at what this chick endured and persevered – at the same time, I have to warn you that just because the little one survived until the next fish arrival, the terror reigning down on this nest is not over and the accurate word remains, ‘siblicide’. The deliberate killing of a brother or sister.

Before I proceed, it is believed that the oldest sibling is a female and that the youngest one is a male. Some of these images are horrific – they are even worse in video which is why I chose stills. Little Bit is still alive at 19:25 when he joins its siblings under River.

At 18:16:01, a parent arrives on the nest with a fish.

That delivery aroused the interest of Middle and Little Bit. Big immediately went to thwart them from wanting any fish.

Big rushes over walking on top of Little Bit to get to the Middle sibling.

Middle sibling has its neck down for protection and in complete submission. Big is standing on Little Bit now. It looks like River is going to reach over to feed Big.

Big settled in eating knowing that the siblings would not dare bother him eating.

Big ate his fill and there was still some meat and that lovely fish tail left. Before River flew off, Big went over to stop the two siblings from getting up to Mum to eat.

With her chick fed, River flew off the nest at 18:27. This is so odd to me. A parent seems to show up with a fish and then they leave.

Big has a ‘big’ crop. Indeed, Big is so full that she has trouble moving about the nest. This does not stop her attacks on her two siblings, however.

For a moment, Big went off to go into a food coma.

That food coma did not last long. Middle dared to raise its head and Big went back over to the two siblings. Big is a big clumsy because its crop is so full.

Big begins beaking Middle.

When Big is finished with Middle, he decides to go after Little Bit. It is a ferocious attack involved multiple pecking at the spinal cord on the back, tossing the nest and thrashing the chick about, and kicking.

I honestly do not know how Little Bit is still alive. If there is to be a miracle and this little boy survives this nest, he is going to be one tough eagle.

At 18:42, Big is not content and shakes Little Bit’s head and kicks him with her feet.

The skin of these birds must be really tough.

Big looks over and is pretty satisfied that he has ‘taken care of’ the two. Remember, to Big, this is about survival and Big is determined to be the last one standing.

No. Big is not finished. Big will not leave Little Bit alone.

At 19:03, Obey appears on the left rim of the nest.

Little raises its head and leans it on Big.

Obey goes over to where the fish tail is located.

Obey stirs up the nesting material as Big looks on. Big is leaning on Little Bit. Middle is moving up with the grass on its back thinking Dad might feed it.

At 19:09 Big goes to sleep.

The River flies up to the rim of the nest at 19:11. Middle scoots up to the Mum. He is under the grass. Little Bit raises his head and so does Big. River roots around. In my head I went Yippee…thinking of the fish tail.

River begins to feed Middle the fish tail at 19:15. Little Bit sees this. Will he get up to eat, too?

At 19:18 Little Bit is on the move. Will he make it in time to get any fish at all?

Little Bit did make it up to Mum and Middle. River turned her back. I cannot tell you how much, if any, fish Little Bit got to eat but Middle did have a tiny crop. You can see it in the image below.

Little Bit will join Middle and Big under Mum.

This entire afternoon reminds me of Tiny Tot Tumbles on the Achieva Osprey nest who was believed dead several times and wound up being the dominant bird on the nest. I do believe in strange miracles. But I also do not want Little Bit to suffer. We wait now until tomorrow.


  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thanks Mary Ann! This is so sad indeed.
    Prayers for little. 🙏
    Have good evening

    1. Yes. It continues. I do not know how Little Bit is surviving. Reminds me so much of Tiny Tot Tumbles. So heart wrenching.

  2. Celia Aliengirl says:

    Good morning Mary Ann,
    Thank you so much for all the effort you put into this nest,
    I really appreciate your development and the links you attach.
    I took the liberty of attaching your latest updates on the DaleHollowEagleCam facebook page.
    Sincerely yours, my greetings from Belgium.

    1. Dear Celia, You are very welcome and thank you so for writing to me. I wish that the circumstances were different in our meeting. I also wish we had a 360 degree view to understand what has and is happening at the Dale Hollow nest. Why is Obey not loading up the nest with fish? Did he get injured? Big continues to attack the two younger siblings this morning. I got up early to check on Little Bit. If Little Bit should survive this, he will be a formidable eagle but without some nourishment I do not see how it will. I live in hope but things look very bleak. All the very best to you in Belgium!

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