Bitty dies, Tom brings prey…Thursday in Bird World

4 May 2022

Hello Everyone,

It has been a rough evening. As ‘J’ reminds me, there is something to celebrate in all the sadness, “DH17 is alive on the nest and would not be if it had not been for the intervention of the AEF.” Both eaglets were tethered together, and yes, we must never forget that one is alive because of your efforts. I want to bring you the latest news, and if you do not recall all the ins and outs over the past week, some are here. We will try to find some good in this tragic mess and move forward. Unless there is any other communique from the AEF, we will now work to change the law.

This is the latest communique from the AEF:

Terry Carman (founder of Bald Eagles Live Nests and Cams on FB) once said that she wore her emotions on her sleeve when it comes to the eagles. I am so glad that she does and so many of you do also. Empathy.

You will find numerous definitions for empathy is you do an online search. There are three forms of empathy. They are cognitive empathy where we try to put ourselves in someone else’s position so that we can understand what they are thinking and feeling. Then there is emotive empathy where we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. This is more than just thinking; it is feeling with them. “When we see someone being sad, for example, our mirror neurons fire and that allows us to experience the same sadness and to feel empathy. We don’t need to “think” about the other person being sad – we experience it firsthand.” The last type of empathy is empathic action. This is what the term says – action. This involves various levels of helping, including getting help or simply doing nothing if that is what the individual desires. What keeps me going – instead of screaming and saying ‘the heck with it’ is being part of such an amazing empathetic community with each of you.

As the AEF requested, we mourn today, but tomorrow, let our outrage turn to action in DH 18’s name. The law has to change. No one owns the raptors. We are stewards, and we are responsible for observing, caring for, getting help when needed and following the law. As ‘B’ said when he wrote to me, “Mary Ann — I, too, am just beyond words for the sadness of poor DH18’s fate.  This poor eaglet was doubly hurt by humans, first by the fishing line that caused the initial injury, and then by the resistance to letting 18 be helped.”

Anyone who has followed this story knows precisely what happened at Dale Hollow. Some of the comments were ” “The issue with fishing line brought to nests probably occurs at non-camera nests all the time, but we just don’t know about it.  This is nature.” That is true, but that is not an excuse when we see the problem before our eyes and know the dangers! Besides, it is legal under USFWS regulations to intervene under these circumstances. One reader notes, “Just because it happens at nests that we cannot monitor should not preclude us from helping when we are aware of the problem.” Another excuse given on chat was:  “The monofilament line on the nest does not necessarily mean that it is a man-made problem.  The line could have snapped with the hook in the fish’s mouth.  That is not the fault of the fisherman.” The reader wonders if it is then the fault of the fish! Another observation from ‘H’, “I think part of the problem with some human’s approach to helping wildlife is that many people simply do not really respect the animal’s right to life.  They apparently feel that the lives of animals in the wild are not as valuable as ours, or even of our domesticated pets.”

It is time to modernise the laws regarding intervention. The USFWS articles need to allow for accredited wildlife rehabbers to immediately attend to any nest that has monofilament or baling twine on it – to be removed or to assist in untangling the eaglets. A blanket permit so that people do not have to wait over the weekends to get the permissions. It really is that simple.

Dale Hollow posted a short statement above the official notice of the AEF.

The AEF’s comment:

Wildlife has rights. There will be other crises, but let us not step back from the work needed to ensure that a situation like the one that unfolded at Dale Hollow never happens again.

As of Wednesday, Angel is having to be everything to the little chick. She left the nest to find prey for both of them and was away for thirty minutes. She did return with lunch. She is fortunate that the weather is dry and warmer so that the little eaglet does not get too cold or wet. It really is unclear what is the matter with Tom. There are many theories. Angel needs help – that is the main thing!

These are the time stamps on Wednesday from the moderators of the chat: Mouse [TOM] Feeding1 at 7:06:00 am. At 7:36:57 Feeding2, with the leftovers. Seen on PTZ. 1:23:26 Angel returns with Prey. Set aside. 1:35:40 Tom brings prey. Angel ate half. 2:37:41 Feed3 SEE PTZ. This makes things hopeful. Tom needs to bring prey! So twice so far on Wednesday. Progress.

Arlene Beech captures the prey deliveries by both adults on Wednesday.

There have been some questions as to whether or not Angel is at a risk of being Leucistic – a risk of not getting a suitable mate. I am just beginning to explore the research papers on this topic. I have come across a good study from South America about a population of Leucistic birds, the Southern Caracaras, that have an advantage over their darker-plumaged relatives. You might want to have a read. I will continue to pursue this topic in the days ahead.

Look at Murphy’s Eaglet. My goodness s/he has really grown!

Llyn Clywedog’s KA7 is giving some grief to Dylan and Seren. Nice to see you KA7! Oh these youngsters without mates or nests…or sometimes with them but roaming around causing some mischief.

In Winnipeg, Ella and Pip now have four falcon eggs on top of the Radisson Hotel. Fantastic!

Glen’s transmitter has pinged and all is well with the Tweed Valley osprey spending its first year in Morocco. This is great news for Sasha Dench and the Flight of the Osprey team. With HPAI running rampant in The Gambia, it is a very good thing that Glen Blue 708 stayed in Morocco!

Kids – you and old – join in sending in names for the Cal Falcons!

We know that there are eagles and now a Condor is living in the wild and surviving with one leg. I always think of WBSE26 when I see a posting like this.

Big Red and Arthur. Got a good look at the eggs. Are there little cracks or pips? The back one still looks suspicious. May 4th is circled in red for Big Red and that is today. Will we get a pip?

At 1957 Big Red called Arthur. She wanted a break. He was there in a couple of seconds!

I am not clear on the fish deliveries at Achieva today. Diane brought in a fish at 1745 and Middle Bob is waiting his turn hoping some is left.

Middle got no fish. Big is an open pit. Maybe another fish will come in…the case of the big sister and the little brother.

M15 brought in two dinners for E22 today! He is still feeding this precious fledgling.

Together. Beautiful.

Beautiful Bitty.

SKHideaways caught the day in video…I hope we have many more of these! It is impossible to think of a day without hearing E22’s squeegeeing. Can we get a ringtone?

Iris is a superstar. She is not a youngster but right now she is battling several things – a flooding river so it is completely difficult to get fish and a very aggressive much younger female attacking and wanting her nest and her fish. Louis is no help. Despite the conditions with the river, Iris did manage to get another whopper. But, please keep Iris in your heart. She really doesn’t need to have to deal with all of this.

Monty is not going to let anything endanger the eggs that him and Hartley are incubating – including one from last year.

I just checked on Angel and her precious baby. She was feeding the little one. All is well. Nothing sweeter than a little round fluffy nestling…this one is a cutie pie.

Thank you so much for being with me this morning and for reaching out to help the Dale Hollow eaglets. It was a long rant on the issues at Dale Hollow and I won’t do it again. It was reassuring to see the AEF tackling the problem of the rescue at the core. Every living being matters. We are all interconnected in ways that many do not fully understand. Keep little DH18 in your heart, and continue to send good wishes to Angel. Let’s work to get the intervention law on manmade objects in a nest changed! Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their notes, comments, posts, videos, tweets, and streaming cams that helped to make up my blog this morning: ‘J’, ‘A’, ‘H’, ‘B’, AEF, DHEC, Window to Wildlife, Arlene Beech and Window to Wildlife, ResearchGate, World Bird Sanctuary, SW Florida Eagle Cam, Clywedog Osprey Group and John Williams, MB Birding and Dennis Swayze, Friends of Loch Arkaig Ospreys and Mary Cheadle, Cal Falcon Cam, Ventana Wildlife Society, Cornell RTH, Achieva Credit Union, SK Hideaways and SW Florida, Montana Osprey Project, Sk Hideaways and San Jose City Hall.


  1. Cindy Hunter says:

    Thank you again Mary Ann for your wonderful informative blog. Wishing all the best to DH 17 and for everything AEF did for DH18 and others. I am aghast to Dale Hollows response….they just can’t help themselves.

    1. I think we all ache when we see animals suffering and DH17 and DH18 were no exception. It is hard to understand how this happened but I am thankful for everyone who worked so hard to get the eaglets help. It could have been a horrible horrible ending…hopefully the AEF will be able to train moderators who are empathetic to the plight of the little ones on the nest. Thank you so much for your comment and you are so very welcome. Writing the blog is normally pleasurable for me. I have also met so many beautiful people through the blog.

  2. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for these updates photos and all the details and info.
    Thank you AEF for all you did for DH18. May he/she Rest in Peace and prayers for DH17 to thrive and fledge to a successful life.
    See you soon here Mary Ann and take care

    1. Thank you, Linda, for all your support of the birds. It is normally a pleasure to send out news. I just wish this had been better news but DH17 is alive and for that we can be thankful and the AEF are working with the folks at Dale Hollow which is also good news.

  3. micpark9 says:

    I read the article on the birds in So. America with leucistic genes you posted here. I asked yesterday about this possibly being detrimental to those who possess this genotype and phenotype in their environment and among their choices of mates. Even the birds in the study have challenges with poor eyesight and hearing, and bad feather conditioning causing flight problems at times, like escaping a predator. I realize in this community the gene works for them because it’s on the coastline. Other birds that are white like seagulls nest among the cliffs where hawks also go. The white hawks blend into the skies from below. But I’m not sure about birds in locations like Angel’s having leucism work for them. I haven’t been able to find research on the subject of leucism, so this article was nice to see, thank you. I did find this on leucism, but they didn’t cite the research that it came from: …”Birds affected by leucism tend to have weaker feathers, and tend not to be so robust and can wear out faster than normal-coloured feathers. This can result in flight issues, which can hamper a bird from escaping a predator. Most birds are accepted by their own species, but in extreme cases a potential mate can be overlooked.”

    Birds can also have eyesight and hearing problems.

    1. I am glad that you read and learned from that article! I was thinking about your question when I posted it. I believe, as you have mentioned, that Angel has issues with hunting because she is Leucistic, causing her difficulty in feeding the chick alone. She would have to have an excellent reliable mate to help her and this appears not to be the case this year. I, too, am having some eyesight issues and haven’t been on the computer as much researching this topic so I appreciate the RSPB article you posted and will read it and share it.

  4. Thank you for sharing the communique from the AEF, Mary Ann. It’s encouraging that perhaps (hopefully!) more will be done in future situations like this. You deserve much credit for helping to raise the consciousness of everyone about human caused dangers to our wildlife. (I’ve learned so much from you!) My heart is still aching for DH18 — but hopefully this tragedy will serve as a turning point.

  5. Diana says:

    I’m sure others have emailed you this link but this person has incredible photos and videos of ospreys hunting in the ocean surf as well as other birds shopping for their meals. The slow-motion captures reveal so much on how these modern-day dinosaurs hunt.

    1. Thank you for writing in Diana! I actually have Mark Smith’s book but it would be fantastic to include some of his images in the blog. Thank you for reminding me!

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