The Little Eaglet that Could and a few other stories from Bird World

21 May 2022

It has been a very, very challenging breeding season. The weather has not cooperated causing diminished prey deliveries and deaths either by starvation or siblicide/starvation. Eaglets have fallen from their cliff nests – thankfully rescued by their guardian angel, Dr Sharpe. Adults have been killed or driven from the nest by intruders with many others dying of Avian Flu. Some have died of indeterminate causes while others were injured and taken into care. Some eggs never hatched having become breakfast for the Crows. We have favourite nestlings and then, things go sideways. We become afraid to watch their lives – it really does hurt that much when they are attacked by their older siblings or ignored by their parents.

Not all chicks who are attacked by their siblings survive. We know this. Sometimes we think that they will not last another day. Then, something happens. Yesterday when its mother would not feed it, ND17 ate an entire fish that was left on the nest and ignored by the older siblings —by itself. Today, its mother fed it a few bites. Later 17 found a piece of fish hidden in the nest and horked it. There he is on the far left. Note 17’s size in relation to the two older siblings who not only have their juvenile plumage but also have tails that are growing and growing.

At 17:01, something extraordinary happens. This is ‘why’ you keep watching, ‘why’ you keep hoping because in a single moment the nest that had gone sideways can right itself. It is the most exhilarating feeling — by far a greater sense of happiness than watching a nest where everything is perfect.

Mum arrives with a fish. At 17:01 and for the next sixteen minutes, Little 17’s life takes a turn. 17 is on the right side of Mum with big sibling on the left. The other is at the other side of the nest not paying much attention. What was it that suddenly changed 17 from a submissive little eaglet to an extremely brave one? Was it eating the entire fish itself yesterday? was it the finding and horking of the fish piece? was it Mum feeding it a few bites this morning? or was it hunger and a new found confidence that drove 17 to become the ‘king’ of the snatch and grab today? We will never know but this third hatch showed us just the kind of ‘stuff’ it is made of – this is going to be a formidable eaglet if he survives. Fingers crossed.

Still images do not do the actions of this this brave little eaglet justice. Watch carefully – about half way through 17 actually grabs the fish out of the older siblings beak! Yes, I am serious.

I wonder – having seen her youngest stand up and fight for its place at the table – will Mum feed her youngest chick? Will she position the fish so that the little one can eat and not have to contend with the peckings from the older siblings? We have to wait and see. One thing is for sure – 17 has a burning desire to survive. He is not afraid to root in the nest and find pieces of dry fish if eating them means he will stay alive. He is a survivor.

In the image below you can see the enormous crop that 17 has! Fantastic.

In other news, Dr Sharpe gave Chase and Cholyn’s only eaglet a thorough examination. The eaglet was measured, weighed, and banded. She is 11D, a sister to Thunder and an auntie to Thunder and Akecheta’s triplets.

The camera came on for just a second. Look at that nice red bling! And her silver federal band.

The two osplets at the UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey nest experienced something very different today– pelting rain and hail. I was just glad it wasn’t a tornado!

After the storm passed, Mum returned to the nest. There was some fish and, despite Big standing tall and trying to unhinge Middle, Middle stayed put and kept eating.

Middle is on the left and Big with her longer tail and long, long legs is on the right.

In the image below, Big tries to scare Middle away from the food. It doesn’t really work so well anymore.

It is a beautiful evening at the Dale Hollow nest. Looking at that big stick that Warrior pulled across the nest it is almost like River said “when you leave, shut the door and put the key under the mat!” The older sibling, DH14, fludged on the 19th of May. I hope that Warrior had a smooth flight! (or is he still sitting in the top of the nest tree?)

Lady and Dad have been spending more and more time at their nest in the Sydney Olympic Forest. Today they were rearranging twigs and building up the crib rails while. They were also busy placing fresh leaves down on the nest bowl. We are getting close!

This is the link to their camera:

Those were just a few of the numerous highlights at the nests today. New hatches are being fed and with the exception of several intruders, all of the other nests seem to be doing well. It was such a relief to see ND17 well fed two days in a row. I hope that Warrior’s first flight – if he did fledge – was a perfect take off and landing. Hopefully there will be some footage of the banding of 11D today at the Two Harbours nest. Cal Falcons should be banding Annie, Grinnell’s and Alden’s chicks soon. I did watch Alden feed the chicks again. He is getting quite good this!

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care all. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Explore.org and the Institute for Wildlife Studies, ND-LEEF, DHEC, and Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre.

4 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thanks Mary Ann! This is so wonderful to hear ! I’m so happy for 17! Prayers are being answered. This baby has a desire to live and is trying hard. 🙏💕
    It’s good that all went well with the banding and the description you gave of her being the relative to Thunder is so surprising! I never realized it! Thank you Mary Ann for this great info and all the photos and updates and links to follow!
    Have a great evening and I look forward to the next newsletter!
    Linda

    1. You are always so very welcome, Linda. Yes, Chase & Cholyn are Thunder’s parents. There are quite a few siblings whose names you would probably recognize. The Channel Islands hatches tend to go to Oregon as juveniles and return to build nests as adults and raise their young. It is fantastic.

  2. B says:

    Thanks for confirming the info on 11D at Two Harbors. I could never get anything but “Highlights”, but from the chat I could gather that the real-time video had come on at least briefly and that some must have seen that Thunder’s young sibling was a sister. So glad that she survived her earlier mishap, thanks to Dr Sharpe. She’s a treasure.

    1. Dr Sharpe is really quite amazing. I am sooooo glad he is also training future eagle helpers!!!!! Hopefully The Wildlife Institute will post some of the GoPro footage or some stills. Fingers crossed.

Leave a Reply to Linda Kontol Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s