Middle out smarts Big at Dale Hollow and more Bird World News

22 March 2022

We had more snow last night – not a lot. But the humidity this morning is impacting the key pad on my computer. Has that ever happened to you? It is driving me crazy.

Oh, my goodness. Out in Bird World there are lots of storms moving through. One of them, with winds gusting to 46 mph, went through Captiva during the night. Lena held on tight and kept both of her babies safe.

By the time Andy brought the very first fish to his family things were a lot calmer.

It is still a bit windy. You can see Lena’s feathers blowing. Aren’t the feathers on Middle and Little gorgeous?

There is another storm system that is going to impact almost all of the nests we have been watching as it moves east – save for those nests in the West.

In the Kisatchie National Forest, home to the Bald Eagles Anna and Louis and their eaglet of 2022, Kincaid, they are waiting for the very severe weather shown in the top map to hit any moment. Kincaid is already finishing his breakfast.

Kincaid loves the wind and is flapping all over the nest as the storm approaches. Kincaid, wait! No branching today.

The storm has hit. Anna and Louis will be perched in nearby trees. Kincaid is hunkered down. Fantastic.

That same system is also going to impact the Dale Hollow nest where Middle DH15 needs big fish deliveries today. River stayed on the nest with the two during the night. I hope she returns with a huge fish so that the trauma DH15 endured yesterday does not happen again today. If you are wondering why it does not fight back, take a look at the difference in size. DH15 or Middle wants to survive, too.

Amanda777 posted the following video about the Dale Hollow nest yesterday.

I don’t know Amanda777 but in a comment on the video, she said, “This is a very strange nest”. Indeed, it is in so many ways. First, siblicide on a Bald Eagle nest appears to be very rare. This is supported by much academic research. To have the same Bald Eagle nest with the same parents have at least two incidents of violent siblicide is not normal. One might begin to wonder if the offspring are predisposed genetically? or is it this nest territory? the weather? intruders? available prey? gender of the siblings and birth order? the distinct type of parenting ? or the synergy of all the factors?

I asked a couple of eagle experts about the life expectancy of Bald Eagles in the wild. The general consensus is that it is about 20-24 years. Some do live longer. Many never reach their first birthday. Keeping that in mind and knowing that River and Obey are both supposed to be 24 years old also gives a different perspective. They are elderly. When siblicide happens, the biggest question is always ‘why’? Sadly it appears that the eagles are driven to breed whether they want to or not and to lay eggs, the number they do not seem to be able to control.

Obey has just landed on the nest alerting! Then River comes. It is 07:43. Oh, goodness. This is not a good start to the day!

It is nearly 010:30 and Big and Middle are still waiting for breakfast. This does not bode well unless this is an enormous fish when it comes. Fingers crossed.

At 10: 27:03 one of the parents flies in with an American Coot which it is plucking. Big is very hungry and is right up there. Middle is watching and listening but staying out of the way. Smart! Let Big go first. You will save yourself, Middle, if you do! (It is possible that this is Obey, the Dad, but I am not 100% sure. The feeding method is different).

The adult twists and turns plucking and maybe nibbling?? Middle is very attentive but no matter how hungry he is, he is looking like he knows to stay away from Big.

Well, would you look at this! Middle didn’t wait!!!!!!! He is right up there at the beak. I sure hope Big doesn’t get mad.

Big did get mad! Middle ducked and began moving along the rim away from the food. That appeared to satisfy Big who is extremely interested in the plucking.

Middle had a plan. He gets over to his normal spot on the rim and he turns and checks on Big. And then he makes his move.

Still watching Big very closely Middle moves around the rim of the nest.

He gets himself right up by Obey and he Dad starts feeding his boy some Coot. Middle really likes it.

Did I say Middle really likes Coot? He is practically under Dad’s head trying to get some more.

Middle is going to eat much more of this Coot than Big.

Can you see Middle’s crop?

At 11:00 Middle is still eating. It has been a half hour feed.

At 11:04 Obey is pulling out the stringy bloody bites and Middle wants them!

The feeding might have finished at 11:07 but Middle thinks that there could be a little more food and continues until 11:10. Both Big and Middle have gigantic crops!!!!!!! Seriously huge. Middle will be waddling around and sleeping on a cropzilla.

Middle did a PS at 11:11:13. These babies are so full. Life is good. Tears are rolling down my cheeks. Middle is getting strategic and that was a great meal.

A Bald Eagle nest with three sweet little babies that is thriving is the West End nest of Thunder and Akecheta.

The winds have really calmed down for Jackie and Shadow at Big Bear Valley. They were practically blown off the nest yesterday. Little one had a wonderful early breakfast.

A quick check at the nest of Cornell’s Red tail Hawks, Big Red and Arthur and all is calm. Arthur has come to give Big Red a break. Isn’t he cute? Yesterday, Arthur brought a snake on to the nest. It’s true. He ate it while he was incubating the eggs!

Was the snake meant as a treat for Big Red? If so, she might not ever know.

I know that many of you fell in love with Harry, that young 4 year old dad that did so well on the MN-DNR nest last year. Well, Harry was busy packing the prey in the nest yesterday. Him and Nancy had their first pip of the 2022 season! I was expecting a hatch during the night or early morning. Waiting for word. Nancy is not giving a thing away!

Two of the three eggs have hatched at Pittsburgh-Hayes. Here is a great look at one of the recent feedings.

LM12 or as he is fondly called, Laddie, has been creating the nicest nest of all it seems. I wonder if Blue NC0 will like it when she arrives?

Maya and Blue 33 (11), two of my favourite Osprey parents, have been working on their nest and getting reacquainted after their winter migration. Blue 33 returned yesterday. Maya was home at Rutland Water on March 15. Last year the couple arrived within half an hour of one another.

While Maya and Blue 33 work on their nest, the three little Bobble heads of Thunder and Akecheta are just waking up and having breakfast. It is 06:27 on Catalina Island in California.

Liberty and Guardian are also waking up in Redding, California with their first hatch wanting breakfast. This was actually egg2 and it joined us at 21:24 on March 20th. Liberty has a nice big fish in the nest already.

At the Dulles Greenaway nest of Martin and Rosa, the wee babe is wide awake and Rosa moved so we could have a peek.

Sweet and sleepy.

There is so much happening in Bird World. I hope to get someone to do a quick cleaning of my laptop today. You might not hear from me until much later. Please send your warmest wishes to all of the nests and, in particular, Dale Hollow. Middle did fantastic this morning! Joyful tears. We just need this to continue.

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Captiva Osprey and Window on Wildlife, KNF Bald Eagles, Dale Hollow Bald Eagles, Cornell RTH, Dulles-Greenway Eagles, LRWT, Woodland Trust and Loch of the Lowes, Pix Cams, MN DNR, Friends of Big Bear Valley, and CNN Weather Tracker.


  1. Linda Kontol says:

    This is all so wonderful and great news Mary Ann! Still get a little bit scared when we don’t know from one time to the next what to expect from Big at Dale Hollow. Middle is such a little sweetie and is maneuvering in the right direction!
    I’m so glad for Middle so far. 💕🙏
    Thanks you for all these updates and hope you get your laptop cleaned up.
    Hope to hear from you soon and have a good Tuesday!

    1. You are so right, Linda. It is still almost good to take it a meal at a time. The food delivery is not stable and Big is still large enough to kill Middle. But Middle Is growing. Tears poured when I saw its fat little bottom stick up to PS. Now – whichever parent this was also helped by feeding facing the rim so one could be on one side and one on the other. It meant that Middle didn’t get injured and both got fed equally. They ate an entire Coot!!!!!!!!! Unbelievable. Middle probably has a tummy ache. I just hope that Coot was a ‘safe’ coot. No Avian Flu.

  2. Lily says:

    So happy for Middle that he outsmarted Big. What a huge crop, he’s full of coot, lol. But I also know that things can change in a heartbeat in this nest. So sad for Middle that his babyhood has to be dominated by a gigantic, unpredictable, violent sibling (definitely a female) who could kill him at any moment. But Middle is a survivor, maybe this experience will turn h/s into a fierce eagle, who will be very successful in adulthood. But first h/s has to survive this.

    I had no idea Obey and River were so old. I don’t normally follow this nest. I knew Liberty and Harriet were in their twenties. It must be hard on R & O to raise chicks at their age. Maybe that’s one contributing factor to the instability of this nest. I wonder do eagle eggs develop genetic abnormalities in older eagle mothers? But then Liberty and Harriet are also elderly and they do wonderfully.

    Thank you for the update on all the beautiful nests. Love to them especially the great dads, Cheta, Shadow, Harry, Dad Berry, Guardian, M-15, Mr. P, Samson, Clive and so many others. (:

    BTW, do you watch the Golden eagle nest in Estonia? Mom is sitting on two eggs. They are Helju & Kelju. Both absolutely gorgeous.
    Lizm covers this nest.

    1. Dear Lily, Thank you for your really thoughtful letter. With the Dale Hollow nest it seems we have to take it a feeding at a time. Middle is certainly growing and that is going to be a big help and oh, so clever. I did love this morning how mesmerized Big was with the plucking. I think you are absolutely right, she is going to be a huge female. When I read how old R and O are it struck me – they are senior citizens. But you are right, so are many of the other fabulous Eagle Mums. — I want to find a reason that makes her contrary to all the other mothers. Now she shades the chicks but when poor Little Bit just had down she had to lay out in the hot sun, unprotected. So did the other two. I just find it so baffling! The dads are amazing and I am just surprised at how Cheta has matured. We keep our fingers crossed for all of them. Thank you for the link to the golden Eagle nest. I do watch the White-tailed Eagles and the Black Storks in Estonia and Latvia and checked in on the Golden in Romania but didn’t watch so much. I will definitely check them out. Thank you so much for those. And, yes, Middle is a very frightened nestling and that is horrible to be so afraid. I cannot even imagine what it was like for Middle on the nest when Big killed Little Bit. I thought at one time he would jump off the nest rather than be terrorized again. So sad. Take care. I can’t wait to see those eagles.

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