Late Friday in Bird World

12 August 2022

The most wonderful aspect of the trip to Hecla Island was not what I went for – to do a survey of the Bald Eagle nests for David Hancock – but, the two sightings of the Osprey at the Gimli Marina. Last night was simply a blessing. Those quiet wings helping the male to hover about 5 or 6 metres (or less) than 20 feet above my head. It was nice to see the pelicans and the cormorants and the swans. It is not the lack of any Bald Eagle sighting but the REASON there was not a single sighting that is worrisome.

Hecla Island is known as one of the Bald Eagle hotspots in our province. Every tourist brochure inevitably mentions the Bald Eagles. My brother-in-Law’s cabin would normally have a dozen eagles flying up and down catching fish within eye distance any day of the week from May-September.

So what happened this spring? One of those unexpected ‘Black Swan Events’ known in economics as an outlier (thanks CE for educating me on this phrase). It was the consistent heavy rain and flooding. There is still water standing and some cottages around Lake Winnipeg still have basements and yards full of water. As I noted in my blog last evening, despite there being an abundance of trees, the Bald Eagles have, according to the park rangers, historically made their nests around the edge of the lake along Black Wolf Trail which is on the causeway leading into the park. It is still flooded there. They are ‘afraid of what they will find’ when they are able to clear the area. So I was left with many questions:

  • Did the eagles abandon the traditional nests and lay a second clutch in a newly made tree nest?
  • Did the eagles abandon the area heading further north? Did they then lay a second clutch?
  • What was the real number of eagles arriving at Hecla this year?
  • Did Avian Flu play any part in any of this?

A single adult bald eagle has been recorded and a juvenile the end of June. I could not locate any tree nests other than a single old long abandoned/falling apart one. I was told the eagles had been nesting there for some 35 years. I think it is a sad situation but there should be some clarity as the birds begin their fall migration and counts are started. So while not seeing the Bald Eagles is a bit of pickle, the worrisome aspect is that those eagles – and many others – lost their opportunity to raise young this year just like other water fowl that breed in our province in the summer. That includes Pelicans, Cormorants, Geese, and ducks.

Thanks, ‘M’ for reminding me about the unringed visitor to the Dyfi Osprey nest in Wales. This is a fledgling about the same age as the three ‘Ps’ of Idris and Telyn. Where did she come from? The theories are quite interesting.

This bird is a beauty!

It is always stories like this that prompt a conversation between me and Tiger Mozone and they tend to waiver back and forth about the history of Welsh nests leading to more questions. She is unringed. So where did she come from? What you also have to realize is that Aran on the Glaslyn nest and Idris on the Dyfi nest are also unringed. This leads to the very heart of the issue. Idris and Aran are males. So was Dai Dot. Tiger believes that there is at least one other nest, a very significant nest connected with the early Ospreys – the Welsh pool- that is producing these males. He asks, ‘Otherwise where did these males come from?’

Here is the link to that story:

https://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/blog/emyr-mwt/extremely-rare-visitor-unringed-fledgling

The story coming out of Wales that I am really keen on is Tegid’s children. Tegid is Z1, 2016 son of Glesni and Monty at the Dyfi Nest. He was the third egg. Egg 1 hatched that year, Ceri. Egg 2 did not hatch. Tegid was egg 3. Tiger did not believe that Tegid would ever return. Well, he did and he took over the ON4 nest, the first osprey platform erected in Wales by the group, Friends of the Osprey. His two chicks of 2020 (his first ever clutch) have returned. They are Z5, daughter, and KC8, a male. There is really good DNA floating around those two – they are the grandchildren of Monty and Glesni.

https://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/blog/emyr-mwt/blue-z5-another-dyfi-grandchild-returns-wales?fbclid=IwAR1VVJ3WvtSmfSNM-gHrlR7VnUjglkFuhOYIgOVuho_UJSDWodDvEFTB7jE

Looking at the Dyfi Family Tree and adding these two birds to my return list, gives me the following data for my third hatch survivors/returnees for the Dyfi nest:

  • 34 chicks hatched from 2011-22
  • 29 out of the 34 chicks lived to fledge
  • 14 male chicks to 15 females fledged
  • 9 chicks have returned out of 28 eligible
  • 5 first hatches and 4 third hatches have returned. Big Note: Not a single instance of a second chick returning has been recorded.
  • Of the 9 returning, 7 were male and 2 were female.
  • Return survival rate is 32.14%

I wish that every other osprey nest kept such good records as Emyr Evans at the Dyfi Osprey Project in Wales. Rutland did until 2015. This kind of information is really enlightening. For example, the likelhood of a second hatch female fledgling returning using these stats is nil. Despite the low sample size, how accurate for the broader population of Western Ospreys is that 32% survival rate? This would mean that 68% of all ospreys will perish during their first or second year. Something to think about as we move into our discussion on migration Monday.

This is a beautiful little video of Cholyn, the matriarch of the Two Harbours Eagle Nest in the Channel Islands. Mum to Lancer this year and to Thunder who is the mate of Akecheta at the West End, Cholyn is 23 years old.

It was nice to come home and see that the little sea eaglets are as spunky as ever! and being fed like crazy. Just look at the crops on those two! Remember there are now less frequent feedings but they will eat much, much more at a single meal.

Those feathers are really coming in and the chicks are itchy – and they are preening. Lady or Dad are not far away but you will find, as has been the practice for a bit, that Lady is leaving them in the nest alone more and more.

They are also wandering out of the nest cup. Development is spot on.

We have egg 2 at the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge. Well done Mum and Dad. Right on time.

All of the Black storklets at the nest of Karl II and Kaia have fledged. They are now often off the nest flying in when an adult arrives with fish. Today it was Karl II delivering lots of fish. I wonder if Kaia has started her migration? Must check!

Karl II waited for the chicks to arrive at each of the two deliveries below.

Karl II arrives with no one on the nest…they will rush in!

‘H’ writes to say that at least one of the osplets on the Boathouse nest has fledged. The only way to observe the nest is from a distance using a different streaming cam. What a disappointment after watching Dory and Skiff raise those three this year.

I have had no confirmation that Titi has returned to the Janakkalan nest in Finland after fledging.

Victor and 16 were spotted today on the branches of the trees at the St Joseph River in South Bend.

It is always reassuring to see the fledglings and especially Little Bit 17.

I have not seen any recent updates on L3 and L4, the Red-tail fledglings of Big Red and Arthur at Cornell.

Thank you so much for joining me this evening. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams and/or posts where I took my screen captures: Notre Dame Eagles FB, Eagle Club of Estonia and Looduskalender, Finnish Osprey Foundation, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Forest, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Explore.org and the Institute for Wildlife Studies, and Dyfi Osprey Project.

2 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Hello Mary Ann and thanks for the updates! It really is a mystery about the eagles and praying they didn’t perish with that avian flu and that they moved to a safer place to nest this time ❤️🙏🦅 the photo of the Osprey is so beautiful! I wish we knew where this Osprey is from. All the good news is wonderful to hear. Have a great evening and hope to see you here again real soon.
    Linda

    1. It certainly is. I hope that they moved northward! Fingers crossed, Linda.

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