It Couldn’t get any Better in Bird World or at Dale Hollow

20 March 2022

What a busy day it was in Bird World and what a gorgeous day it was on the Canadian Prairies. The snow is melting and causing all manner of problems but the Canada Geese are flying in, the Grackles have arrived in mass, and the first White-throated Sparrow appeared at the feeders along with the usual woodpeckers, European Starlings, House Sparrows and, of course, Dyson! We had another visitor too that seems to be coming every morning around 08:00, an unusual time for a rabbit. I wonder if Hedwig’s burrow is full of water????

Hedwig is an Eastern Cottontail. They are the most prevalent of the five rabbit species in Canada. The four others are the Artic Hare, the Mountain Hare, White-tailed Jackrabbit, and the Snowshoe Hare.

Hedwig being an Easteern Cottontail is the smallest of the five. His mother left him underneath our Peony Bush. He was about a month old. He found safety with all of the birds feeding and discovered that if he hung out under the feeders, he never had to worry about food. We have tried to give him carrots and he refuses them. He often eats the bark off of our Lilac Bushes where he can easily hide. We don’t care. It doesn’t seem to damage them. Isn’t he a cutie? He has some special marks on him that we know it is the original Hedwig. Let us hope he has another good year.

There is a pip/hatch watch going on at the Pittsburg-Hayes Bald Eagle nest. This couple fledged three last year! The pip happened at 09:39 this morning.

There was a good look at the size of the pip at 19:21.

Liberty and Guardian have a pip over at the Redding California Bald Eagle Nest. That happened around 07:04. There is a race between them and Pittsburgh-Hayes to see who hatches first! They also fledged three!

This morning on the SWFlorida Nest on the Pritchett Family Farm, E19 the eldest, fledged before noon. It was caught on camera by a couple filming the event. E20 was flapping, too, and the streaming cam operator did not know who would go first. Talk about sibling competition between these two. E20 did not have a very solid branch like E19 did who used it like a trampoline jumping up and down and flapping. As a result, E20 fludged and then flew away. Both flew like the great birds they are on 20th of March. How lovely. Congratulations to M15 and Harriet and the Pritchett family for another successful year. The fledglings will hang around with mom and dad. They will perfect their flying while being provided food. This is what it is all about.

Here is E19s fledge:

The cameras are down and I do not know if anyone caught E20’s flight. What a day for them to go down.

Well, this is a great way to feed chicks if you have three! Akecheta is feeding the Middle chick while Mum Thunder feeds Little Bit and Big. I wish you could see the smile on my face. Look at the size between the two Thunder is feeding. Little Bit is four days younger than Big. There are no squabbles.

Thunder and Akecheta are – to me – a real powerhouse couple. They may have had two unsuccessful years until Akecheta matured but just look at them now.

Andy came in at 17:28 with the last fish of the day for Lena, Middle and Little. It has been some time since Big died suddenly. The nest is doing really well. There is no word on the cause of Big’s death. I do not wish to speculate but had it been a physical cause like choking on a pellet, the vets would have found that immediately when they did the necroscopy. Toxin tests take longer. In the Balkans, the tests for Avian Flu only took a few days and – all the birds on this nest are fine. I wonder if any raptors die of heat stroke or heart attack? Do you know?

This was the 4th feeding for the osplets and it was a whole Sheepshead. Middle and Little ate and ate. In the image below, just look at how beautiful they are standing with Lena, a very proud Mama. That beautiful setting son casts a lovely glow on this Osprey family at Captiva, Florida.

The eaglets of Abby and Blazer (Eagle Country) hatched on the 11th and 14th of March. Just look at them now. Wow. Gorgeous babies. Nice crops. Both appear to be self-feeding.

If River and Obey do not stop bringing fish to the nest and feeding Big and Middle, I am not ever going to be able to take a walk! All kidding aside. It has been one big fish fest at the Dale Hollow Nest today which is the miracle that we were all hoping to see happen. This should be the last of many feedings at this nest today.

This fish arrival is at 18:19:36. Here comes River!

River has not started her feeding. Just look at the crop on Big. This eaglet is going to be an enormous female. And I really do mean enormous. The size of its legs are huge. I wish we could get a good comparison between Big and Mum.

Middle is still very shy of Big. I do not blame him. Big eats the first bites but River just then decides to put her beak in the middle of the two and sees who wants the fish. It also appears that River has slowed down in the speed of her feeding.

Once Big is full, Middle begins accepting bites. Remember – the key is survival. Middle has eaten and eaten today and it is not going to do a thing to wake up Big’s wrath.

Middle eats and eats. By 18:35 his crop is so big you might think it is going to explode. River continues to push fish at him.

At 18:35:38 Middle is so full he walks away from the table! He simply cannot hold another bite. It looks like he might not be able to hold up that crop.

Middle has to try and lay down. It must be awfully uncomfortable with that massive crop.

But wait! Middle stands up.

And with a crop as big as half a baseball, Middle turns around to head back to the table to the shock of Big.

As he turns, Big reaches over to pull off the piece of straw across Middle’s crop. Middle is a little shy and doesn’t seem to know if this is a friendly or hostile gesture. I don’t blame him. The gesture is friendly.

Both kiddos eat a couple of more bites and collapse. They are certainly going to have sweet eagle dreams! And so am I!

I have focused on the Dale Hollow Lake nest with more information than the other nests because it had been so full of strife. My mailbox has been full of questions and you might be wondering about some of these.

Where is DH16? When a nestling dies, Eagles either consume the dead chick, bury it in the nest, or carry it off. River buried DH16 in the nest last night, the 19th of March.

Why such a change in this nest? There are many possible reasons and my answers are based on a large body of academic literature. 1) Threats and intruders to the territory of River and Obey have diminished and they are able to focus on hunting and feeding. 2) Fishing and hunting have greatly improved for the eagles. There could be many causes for this including the most obvious weather. 3) The reduction of the brood was accomplished. 4) Middle was able to garner enough energy to show that it was determined to live and River took notice of this and is now feeding it. 5) Some or all of the above. One reader ‘B’ suggested that maybe River and Obey had read by blog about needing to have a spare in case Big died! That is a good point with Avian Flu tearing through the region.

Whatever has happened, we have had a wonderful 36 hours and let us all hope that this continues. Things are going very well. Big has calmed right down. The fact that so many fish were brought in today and another found buried on the nest kept Big full and happy and allowed Middle to gain confidence and to eat its fill. Middle will literally grow over night. I am sure many of you have been shedding tears of joy. I sure have.

Will close with Jackie and Shadow at Big Bear Valley. Five feedings for the little eaglet today! The baby is eating longer and more fish and the feedings are slowly decreasing because of that. The naming contest closes on March 25 and several names will be drawn out of those suggested by donors. The 3rd grade class at the local school will vote. Hopefully this cutie will have a name next week!

Life in Bird World has been very good today. Very, very good.

Thank you so much for joining me. Please take care. See you soon!!!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Friends of Big Bear Valley, West End Eagles and the Institute for Wildlife Studies, Dale Hollow Eagles, Pix Cams, Redding Eagles, Eagle Country, Captiva Ospreys and Window on Wildlife.

3 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for Al these updates and it has been a great and Blessed Sunday today! Prayers are being answered for Dale Hollow. I only wish it would have been like this for little bit too!
    Have a great evening and I look forward to your newsletter soon!
    Linda

  2. Linda Kontol says:

    Mary Ann the little bunny is so cute peeping out over the snow.
    Thanks for all the photos!
    Linda

    1. Hi Linda, Thank you for your notes. The nests are doing well! We have been so happy to see Hedwig. It is unusual for him to come during the day but happy to see him out and about anytime! Take care.

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