Saturday 19 March 2022
I had prepared myself for having to write a tribute for the Middle Hatch, DH15, later tonight. Since the eldest sibling, DH14 killed the youngest, Little Bit or Tater Tot, DH16, Big has taken its wrath out on the Middle Chick on the nest. This morning DH15 had a few bites of fish – seriously only a couple – and was mauled many times by Big who refused to let it eat or even get near the food pantry. At the same time, River ignored Middle’s cries for food even when he was trying to pick blood off her talons. Middle even resorted to trying to eat the hay with fish juice on it to no avail. There was plenty of fish on the nest – plenty.
Middle wants to survive.
Bald Eagles need to fledge one healthy chick. If that is the case, then why do they lay more than one egg? One old timer called these ‘insurance’ eggs or a better concept for humans is the ‘heir and the spare’. If something happens to the eldest, then there is the ‘spare’. If the spare and the youngest sibling happen to survive, it is like a gold star of success for the Bald Eagle family. I am certain, at some time, you have been very impressed by a raptor family that was able to raise three fledglings.
So let us think about this ‘insurance’ chick by looking at the Captiva Osprey Nest. Imagine this scenario. It didn’t happen but it could have. Big Bob refuses to let either Middle or Little (or Little and Mini Bob) eat. In fact, Big did eat all the fish leaving Lena, Middle, and Little without for a period of nearly 72 hours. Middle and Little survived. But, for now, imagine that the two siblings perished. Then Big Bob dies mysteriously. Which he did. The Osprey nest has then been a failure. It would, thus, not have been advantageous to Andy and Lena for Big to have killed its siblings. It would have been the third nest failure in a row. Thankfully, this did not happen!
With Avian Flu running rampant along the East coast of the US, Florida, and spreading, it is not an advantage to River and Obey if Big DH14 kills DH15. They eat carrion and have even brought a Crow to the nest for food. That Corvid could easily have been carrying H5N1. So it made no sense to me today when River refused to acknowledge Middle’s cries for food. There was 2/3 of a huge fish on the nest! Big was so full he could barely walk.
Tonight, Big was fed til it passed out. And then something wonderful happened! At 17:57:52 Middle, DH15, was fed. It ate all of the remaining fish and the feeding stopped at 18:12:38. That was a really nice feeding – one that could mean the difference between life or death for Middle. Then, miracle of all miracles, Middle Bob has a crop!!!!!! The tears poured down my cheeks. I felt delirious with joy.
Here are some images from this feeding.
Big has eaten and eaten and has an enormous crop. There is fish left over. Big is going to go into a sort of food coma. Little is in total submission. It has really been pecked and tossed about by its neck today. Middle has to be terrified. He knows what happened to Little.
Little quietly goes up to the food table hoping that River will not leave and might feed it. Middle is careful not to wake Big.
And look at this! Did I say this nest needed a miracle? or did I say I was losing faith in a miracle happening? This is a miracle. I am so happy to be wrong!
Big raises his head and sees Middle eating but he is too full to do anything.
Meanwhile, Middle cannot believe how good that fish tastes. He was very dehydrated pecking at River’s beak last night trying to get some saliva feeding.
River gets into a different position but continues to feed Middle.
Big is still watching.
Little got some nice pieces of fish.
River offered Middle a big hunk of fish skin. He is trying to hork it down in the image below.
River roots around and finds a little more fish and feeds it to Middle.
Just look at that crop! I have never seen Middle have a crop this size. Amazing. Thank you, Mum.
Have we turned a corner in this saga?
The feeding and Middle moving to the rim of the nest did not, however, escape Big, DH14. He did attack him over a period of five minutes before River rounded them up so she could brood them for the night.
Middle needs to eat and get strong and have a ps. But the other issue that remains is that there is no place on this nest to avoid Big. Tonight, Big and Middle are 22 days old. Middle will grow if given food and he should be reaching the point to where Big is not a threat. Middle is underdeveloped because of a lack of food, though.
But this was a good day! And maybe, just maybe, this good day will lead to another then another and then another.
Send all of your positive wishes to Middle for lots of fish tomorrow and a day out of sight of Big.
Thank you for joining me. It is so nice to bring good news to you about this nest. For today, Middle has eaten well and is alive. One day at a time. Take care everyone. See you soon.
Thank you to the DHEC for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.