23-24 April 2022
Everyone who watches streaming bird cams gets anxious at one time or another. The lives of our feathered friends are so fragile. There are so many factors that can trigger a significant change in their lives. Today I watched as Dad at the Denton Homes nest stood in bewilderment as his third chick was dying on the nest. He had just delivered a fish. I remember that same look of helplessness on the faces of the two White-tail eaglets in Estonia last year when their two chicks died of Avian Flu (confirmed by the Vet College there after retrieval of the bodies and the nest contents). They tried feeding them and they would not eat. I understand that the two adults left that nest and have not returned to it. Did they also die of Avian flu? or does their behaviour align itself with other raptors who have lost their chicks due to rodenticide, monofilament, etc. and choose not to use the nest again?
One of my readers, ‘B’ sent me an article from The New York Times on Avian Flu. Thank you! I am very grateful to ‘B’ for sending this to me. I have been so preoccupied that I have not had a chance to read the news as closely as I should.
This is a very good article on the Avian Flu. Please read it carefully. Dr Schuler, like the Cornell Bird Lab when I wrote them, is not suggesting people take down their bird feeders. She says, “So it doesn’t seem like that (bird feeders and songbirds) is a major source of potential transmissions”. Please read carefully.
Grieving is well documented in Corvids. In his book, The Emotional Lives of Animals, Marc Bekoff cites the case of a Magpie, a member of the Corvid group, being killed and lying on the side of the road. He addressed a mourning ritual whereby four Magpies stood over the deceased and gave it a gentle peck while two flew to get grass. Once they had covered the body the four stood vigil for a period of time and then flew away. The covering ritual has been observed by so many of us when an eaglet dies. We saw this with Connie and Joe at Captiva, at the White-tail eagle nest in Estonia, and in a variety of other nests.
The parents at the Denton Homes nest appear to be in a state of shock and mourning. Saturday morning when the three chicks died, the Dad was bewildered. Later, Mum came and incubated the trio before their bodies were moved to the rim of the nest. Tonight, one of the adults is standing vigil over their bodies. It is both moving and sad.
The wee chicks look like they are sleeping.
The Mum has come to the nest. It is a wet dreary day to keep her babies warm. She must feel confused and helpless. Yesterday there were three vibrant nestlings and they were dad when Dad brought in prey.
Late in the day the parent stood vigil over the nestlings and the nest.
Avian Flu is killing many wild birds throughout the United States and Canada. Nestlings are particularly vulnerable since they are tiny and the flu kills them quickly (the only blessing). It is hoped that the parents do not suffer and survive it.
Another, ‘W’ sent me an article on the impact of the wind turbines on birds. It comes from the Audubon Magazine. Thank you ‘WW’.
I have checked on the UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey nest. That miracle fish did arrive at 18:32:45. Little Bit did what he could do to try and get even one bite. The fish was finished at 19:11:16. It has now been more than 72 hours since Little Bit had more than 5 bites of food. He was brutally attacked by Big and I do mean brutally.
In the image below the fish has just come to the nest. Big has already attacked Little Bit for walking up and trying to get a bite. Big frantically waves his wings going back and forth from Little Bit to Middle. Middle is trying to stay away and is scurrying around the nest to get some fish from the other side.
Big is pulling the skin and has plucked a part of Little Bit. He is shaking it frantically back and forth, up and down.
The abuse has been extreme with some plucking, pulling and twisting of the loose skin on the wee one’s body. I do not need to say anymore. This is the last fish on this nest today. Little Bit is already starving. By morning the two older will be famished. I am desperately sad and feeling helpless about what is happening on this nest. It began so beautifully. I am at the point where I wish for Little Bit’s suffering to end. That would be kind.
Little Bit was alive when a fish came on the nest around 10:15 Sunday morning. He tried to get some fish. It is now raining. I believe he died at 11:39. This poor little one. All Little Bit wanted was some fish, not a lot – just a little. He had walked up to the mother fish crying when the other two finished eating but no fish. He walked as far as he could and laid his little head down. No more pain, no more suffering. Brave Little Bit.
UPDATE: LITTLE BIT MOVED ITS HEAD BUT IT IS WEAK.
It is best never to cheer or wish for three birds on nests. It is inevitably difficult and many perish starving to death while at the same time enduring beaking just because they are there.
Moving to a happier nest. It is late Saturday at the nest of Big Red and Arthur, L2 is just about here!
You can see that the shell is now just on half of L2. Big Red is doing her rolling trick to try and ease the shell off without harming her baby.
How cute! Two little fluffy ‘snowbirds’ in the morning. L3 is pecking away!
Big Red likes to do everything. This is the 5th season for her and Arthur and she has not taken a real break during hatching!!!!! Arthur has been busy filling up the pantry adding chippies and squirrels.
Little sleepy head. So cute.
At the Captiva nest, Little or MiniO has still not returned. Jack has brought in a big fish and Middle or Little is enjoying it. There is much discussion on the chat because Andy has not brought in another fish and Lena has not eaten. When the chicks fledge the male is responsible – for millions of years of imprinting and doing – for the chicks to be fed. He is providing for the fledged chick on the nest. Lena has finished her job of raising and feeding the chicks. She will begin to go fishing for herself. There is no word about Little or MiniO. We do not know if Andy is providing fish to her elsewhere.
It has been a morning – full of sadness and, at the same time, blessed relief for Little Bit. Sadness about the H5N1 racing through some of the waterfowl and raptors and happiness at the successful hatch of L2 and the pip of L3. I will be checking on the rest of the nests late today. Surely there will be lots of good news! I understand that Spirit is now the size of a Canada Goose! Keep that imagine in your mind as you watch a short pick me up video. My friend ‘R’ sent me a short clip of Canada Geese, waterfalls and spring to cheer me up this morning. As I look out on the snow, I am so grateful. Thank you ‘R’. I want to share it with you! [Note: It is the waterfalls, not the movie and not the ad.]. Time to feed the garden animals!
Take care everyone. See you soon.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Denton Homes Bald Eagles, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Captiva Ospreys and Window for Wldlife, and UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey.