“Biggie’ Tot and more in ‘As the Nest Turns’

One of the individuals watching the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida said that the worry over Tiny Tot caused them to age ten years. There are so many people that probably feel the same way. We ached when Tiny Tot did not have food for one, two, and even three days and cried with joy when its crop was full. We had visions of helicopters dropping fish from the sky or setting up a food table. There were times when I went to sleep and thought that I would wake up and Tiny Tot would be dead. How could this little one survive on so little in that exhausting Florida heat?

Tiny Tot is a survivor. He is clever, determined, and willing to eat scraps and chew on catfish bones if it means he lives another day. Tiny Tot watches and listens. So often he was the first to grab the fish on arrival, mantling -only to have the parent take it to feed the two older siblings and, if there was anything left, he was fed. If I heard the phrase ‘natural selection’ or ‘survival of the fittest’ one more time I was going to blow up. What appeared to be happening was the survival of the not so clever bully bird. And then something happened.

Precisely when did mum decide that her third chick was going to survive despite everything it had been through? Diane observes those three chicks of hers. She monitors the time they spend self-feeding and when she sees they have had about 1/3 to a 1/2 of the fish – depending on who is in the nest – she takes the fish and shares it with the other one. What was it that turned this nest around? We might never know. For the past 3 or 4 nights I have slept well with the knowledge that Tiny was alright.

The problem is ‘the’ name now. #3 has been called 3, Tumbles, Braveheart, Lionheart, etc. I gave it the moniker, Tiny Tot. Tiny isn’t actually ‘tiny’ anymore. If he continues to eat and grow like he is doing then by Monday he could be twice as big as he is now. So, moving forward, no more Tiny Tot for me. #3 is now Biggie Tot the Raptor.

Indeed, every time I checked on the nest today, Biggie Tot was eating exactly like he is in the image below. Every time! How is that possible? As long as nothing bizarre happens – and in Bird World anything can change in a blink – Diane and Jack will be celebrating the fledging of not two but three ospreys this year. Well done you two. Jack, you surprised me and came through with 5 or 6 fish sometimes.

Good night Biggie Tot! Sleep well on your full tummy.

29 April 2021

I kept a close watch on the NEFlorida Bald Eagle Nest of Samson and Gabrielle and their fledgling, Legacy today. I briefly stopped in to see a couple of others but my energy and focus was on Legacy.

The last official sighting of Legacy was at 9:53:51 EDT on 28 April.

Legacy and Gabby. They spent the morning together before Legacy flew off. 28 April 2021

What a beauty!

Some think that there could have been a possible flyby at 8:41:16 on the morning of 29 April. It was caught on the tree cam.

Is it Legacy? 29 April 2021

On Thursday, the 29th of April, Samson brought a fish to the nest to try and entice Legacy to come to the nest tree. That didn’t work and Samson wound up eating it. Earlier yesterday, Gabby was with Samson at 11:37:35.

Today, Samson spent the majority of the day – more than eight hours – on the branch looking and listening for Legacy.

29 April 2021

I am not an expert on Bald Eagles but I have trusted acquaintances who are and they shared their knowledge with me today as I searched for some answers. I will share with you everything that I learned as I try to make sense out of what is happening.

First, Bald Eagles do not directly teach the young to hunt prey. I am used to falcons and hawks literally taking their clutch after they have fledged and having ‘hunting parties’ with them. It was not unusual to have Big Red and Arthur showing their juveniles how to catch a squirrel by taking them out and doing just that! A fledgling eagle might make its way to the river and observe their parents catching fish just as WBSE 23 did with Lady and Dad according to one of my trusted sources. The parents and other eagles taught by example.

Secondly, what is typical for a fledgling Bald Eagle is what is happening on the nest of Harriet and M15 in Fort Myers. There E17 and E18 are becoming stronger fliers – going for a flight and then returning to the nest. The parents bring food to the nest for each of them. It is more normal for the fledgling Bald Eagles to stay at the nest for 4-6 weeks doing precisely what E17 and E18 are doing. My trusted sources, who have more than 35 years experience with Bald Eagles together, say it is definitely not typical for a Bald Eagle to fledge one day, take a couple of flights the next, and then leave – poof. I will never sugarcoat anything and neither do the individuals who advised me today. Bald Eagle fledglings are not capable of taking care of themselves in such circumstances. They are still not strong fliers and they do not have the hunting skills required. ‘It normally does not end well’ is what one of them said and that stuck in my head.

So what might have happened? To return to the example of the Sea Eagles, WBSE 26 was chased out of the parent’s territory in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park by several Pied Currawong. Perhaps Legacy got too far away to return at night. That is a possibility. Legacy might be ‘downed’ and is unable to get up and fly to the nest. That could be a huge problem depending on what other wildlife is in the area. The other possibility, as one of the experts noted, is that Legacy is a single child and it is easier for the parent to feed them off nest. So Gabby could be feeding Legacy while Samson is trying to coax her back to the nest. The other possibilities for this situation are more dire. Many fly into power lines while others get their wings caught up in branches. Fighting to get free they rip their wings. She could have tried to get carrion off the highway and gotten hit by a car. Those are just some of the many possibilities. There could be people out looking for Legacy during the daylight hours – something that we might not ever know. Still, I hope like I did for Tiny now Biggie Tot that everything turns around for the best and we see Legacy or have a positive sighting of her soon and that she is well.

It was a miserable rainy day for Big Red and Arthur at the Cornell Fernow light tower. Everyone is getting excited for a possible hatch watch. It would appear that the oldest egg is 34 days and Big Red’s statistics indicate hatches between 38 and 41 days, longer than normal for other RTHs. So I am not going to start getting excited until next week. Knowing Big Red she will surprise all of us!

A rather soggy Big Red. 29 April 2021

Lunch ‘looks’ reasonably peaceful at ‘The Landings’ Skidaway Island Osprey nest. I use the term ‘looks’ because we all know that looks can be deceiving. The eldest still asserts its dominance but, so far, the younger one is alright. Dad just brought in a fish and already both of the little ones have crops. Their plumage is really changing. It looks like the one to the top has a mask on today.

Lunch is on. 29 April 2021
Playing nice. 29 April 2021

Isn’t this just a cute little cuddle puddle? It is hard to believe that before the next academic term begins at Berkeley, these three will be flying at stealth speeds and catching prey in mid-air.

Such sweeties. Cuddled together in the shade to avoid the hot sunlight. 29 April 2021

It is clearly easier to get dirty when eating if you are white. The falcon parents have a particular call they make when they arrive with the food and it is time to eat. The little ones stand in a group and grab or the parent hangs the food above their beak. They want the chicks to stretch their necks so that they become strong. When there are no more chirping eyasses and no more wide open mouths, feeding is over. No bonking. Just nice full crops and food comas.

Feed me, feed me! 29 April 2021

The nest cup in the White-tailed Eagle nest in Estonia is very deep. It really protects the little one from the cold winds. The temperature at the nest continues to be about 1 degree C. This picture was taken after 5pm in the evening. Look at that wonderful sunshine and blue sky – what a change from the frosty morning they had. You can just see the little bobble head reaching up to get its evening meal. There is another egg in this nest and if it is viable, it should be hatching tomorrow.

Eve feeding her first hatch. 29 April 2021

Louis continues to be attentive to Iris at the Hellgate Osprey Nest – visiting and mating more often since the banded intruder showed up in Louis’s territory. So far there are no eggs in Iris’s nest!

One of several reasons cited for the female raptors being 33-50% larger than the males (dimorphism) can be seen below. The male osprey flies in and lands on the female. If the weight distribution were the opposite, the female could be crushed.

Louis landing on Iris for a mating attempt. 29 April 2021
29 April 2021. Louis and Iris mating (or not?)

I want to leave you with a bit of a smile or maybe a horrible nightmare. I simply cannot imagine Osprey chicks wandering around in all of the stuff that Jack brings to this nest. The stuffed shark and a brown teddy bear are still there along with some hats and sweaters and other toys. Harriet has to be so patient! I just want to go out there and tidy it up for her before the babies hatch at this nest near King George, Virginia. Don’t you?

The hoarde of objects that Jack brings to Harriet as gifts at the Dahlgren Osprey Nest. 29 April 2021

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care of yourselves, stay safe. I will continue to monitor the Bald Eagle nest in Jacksonville for any news of Legacy along with the Big Sur California Condor nest for hatch. Thank you to those who have taken the time to send me a note or ask a question. I am glad you are enjoying my blog. It is so nice to hear from other bird lovers!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams – that is where I grab my screen shots: Dahlgren Osprey Nest, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Achieva Credit Union, UC Falcon Cam, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Eagle Club Estonia, and Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey Project.

Friday Morning Nest Hopping

Sad news arrived on Thursday night. Millie, a young Kakapo, was found deceased. This brings the total number of Kakapo to 204.

Millie sadly died.

In Latvia, the rain has been falling hard all day Thursday. The heavy drops sounded like hail hitting the microphone of the streaming cam. Milda has to work hard to both feed her miracle chick and to keep it warm and dry. That little one has no protection against the weather! That will come when she gets some thermal down but still, she will not be protected fully from the weather until we have juvenile contour feathers.

Rain had stopped on 23 April and Milda looks at her miracle baby.

The wind was really strong on the White-Tailed Eagle nest at Durbe, Latvia Friday morning but the rain had stopped. Milda looks at her little miracle in the nest. By afternoon the winds had calmed and the songbirds sing to Milda as she calls out to Mr C.

Milda is talking to Mr C. 23 April 2021

Milda’s eaglet is so cute and so healthy. Bird World needed something wonderful and the miracle of this little chick hatching in a nest in Latvia was it! It is really endearing to watch Milda feed her last chick with her deceased mate, Raimis.

Milda feeding her chick. 22 April 2021

I wrote with tears running down my cheeks earlier because Tiny Tot had really done well with the feedings, trying to steal a piece of fish from an older sibling, and having success grabbing a large piece from Mom that Dad has just delivered. Well, why did I think that would be the end of the day? At 6:59:57 on Thursday evening Jack arrives on the nest with a really nice headless fish.

One of the older chicks wants that whole fish but Jack seems to be waiting around for Diane to arrive. Maybe he shared the head with her? Let’s hope so. She has done an amazing job today equalizing the feeding on this nest.

But wait! Diane has other ideas. She arrives with another fish at 7:02:58. Wow. Within three minutes the nest has two fish deliveries. This is how this nest should have been going all along. Keep it up!

Of course, 2 thinks she should have both fish.

Diane looks like she is comparing her catfish to the one that the older sibling has from Jack. Oh, Diane’s fish is still alive!

I could paste fifty screen shots but, instead, I will just cut to the chase. 2 has its own fish so Diane is feeding 1. But where is Tiny Tot?

At 7:14:28 Tiny Tot is between mom’s legs getting fed. Diane moves the fish to the right corner of the nest. Tiny Tot only stopped eating to do a ps at 8:09:15.

Tiny Tot is full to the brim and finally quits eating at 8:10:10. He has eaten approximately half a catfish in this last feeding. Look at the picture above. His legs are fatter and you can see his round little bottom again. Tiny Tot staggers to the middle of the nest and passes out in a food coma. Sweet dreams little one!

It was a brilliant day on this nest on Thursday. Jack and Diane seem to have gotten their act together in terms of what is needed for food. Giving the older siblings small fish or their own piece allows Diane to feed Tiny Tot. We know that he can also self-feed. Let us hope they remember this strategy and do the same tomorrow. Diane finished feeding the big ones at 8:28 and she also got some nice bites herself – well deserved.

On Friday morning, there was some catfish left from last night (a bit and the bones) and 2 deliveries on the Achieva Nest. One looked like a flounder (or a flat fish) and another was a chunk of catfish. Tiny Tot did not get any of the first flat fish that I could see but he did get some of the big chunk that came at 8:08:18. Diane fed him some and then he took a piece at 8:28:50 and was self-feeding. Diane also fed Tiny something (perhaps the piece he was self-feeding and the old piece of catfish). There is Tiny Tot standing up nicely at the rim of the nest looking at mom when he is all finished.

Grinnell is doing the late night Thursday feeding at the UC Berkeley falcon nest. Isn’t he handsome? And as of Friday morning we still have three little marshmallows.

22 April 2021. Grinnell comes in for a late feeding of his adorable eyasses.

It is a gorgeous day on Skidiway island and there are two very healthy and alert Osplets on that nest. No sign of anything happening with that third egg (yippee).

Lunch for two. 23 April 2021

Over at the NE Florida Bald Eagle nest near Jacksonville, Legacy really enjoys her fish delivery early this morning. She is a super strong beautiful ebony coloured eaglet. All eyes are on Samson and Gabby’s 2021 chick as she continues branching. Fledge is coming soon!

Gabby and Samson continue to feed Legacy well and teach her lessons about stealing food – things she did not learn with another sibling in the nest. Legacy is going to be a magnificent eagle!

Legacy enjoying her breakfish. 23 April 2021
Legacy looking out to the wide world. She will be flying soon. 23 April 2021

Tomorrow, 24 April is the expected hatch of Big Sur’s California condors, Redwood Queen and Phoenix. Oh, I hope that egg is viable. It was laid on 4 March. What a wonderful thing for these two that both survived huge fires in their lives.

Phoenix coming in to incubate the egg. Hatch watch tomorrow. 23 April 2021

And you might remember that I was looking into third hatch Ospreys – the ones like Tiny Tot that had been battered by their older siblings. My friend ‘T in Strasbourg’ had contacted someone in Wales for me. I am very interested in the ‘survival’ rate of the ‘threes’ and Z1 was identified as an osprey like Tiny Tot who returned as a juvenile as a fierce Osprey. The last sighting I could find of him was 4 April 2020. Well news came this morning in a list on the Loch Garten FB page that Z1 arrived at his nest in Snowdonia on 1 April along with his unringed female mate. Oh, I wish I could put together a list of these third hatches that survived. Z1 is the only one of his clutch to migrate and return – now three years! Fantastic. If you think of any third hatches that were bonked and battered but survived to return from their first migration, please do let me know. I would really appreciate it.

Thank you so much for joining me today. As you can tell I am really excited about the progress that Tiny Tot has made in the past few days. It looks like all of the birds heading into the weekend are doing well. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Ventana Wildlife Society, Achieva Credit Union Osprey, NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Latvian Wildlife Fund, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidiway Audubon. Thanks also to the Kakapo Recovery FB Page where I took the image of Millie.