Time to go awwwwwwwww

If you have been following the saga on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida, you will know that three days ago #3, aka Tiny Tot, Lionheart, Braveheart, Tumbles, or Tater Tot, was believed to be almost dead. He had not had any food for three days, the temperatures for those days in St Petersburg had been quite hot, and Tiny Tot almost appeared to be shrinking. He had also chose to isolate himself from the rest of the family. Well, just set your speed to fast forward. Three days of good meals and full crops does wonders.

There he is standing in the back of the nest looking out to the traffic. Look at that fat little bottom and those legs. They are getting thicker too! He is also getting some juvenile plumage. My goodness what those good meals of fish have done for this little one. The regular deliveries have also stopped the food competition that has been going on in this nest. Right now everything is peaceful and we can sit back and enjoy this lovely family hoping that Tiny’s luck will continue.

And grown up plumage means that Tiny is going to be spending a lot more time preening than he has had to do! It’s a good problem for this little Osprey.

In the image below, there he is. He has sat down where he was standing above and is now busy preening every part of his body. They say feather growth is really itchy! I honestly cannot imagine how any human knows that for sure – maybe he is just busy conditioning all those new feathers.

The link to the Achieva Osprey cam is here:

And say awwww to little Kisatchie at the Kisatchie National Forest Bald Eagle Cam in Central Louisiana. An only eaglet, Kisatchie – nicknamed Kit and Kissie – is getting his dark juvenile plumage. Today, his mother, Anna brought in a small morsel of food to the nest and Kisatchie did an amazing mantling. Then he let Anna have the prey to feed him! Kisatchie is being taught good lessons for when he is on his own.

There is Anna arriving. Look how big her wings are as she carefully descends to the nest between the two trees. Incredible.

No sooner had Anna landed on the nest than Kisatchie went into mantling posture. Mantling claims ownership – ‘This is mine!’ The wings lowered around the prey and the head down really protect what is hidden underneath. Kisatchie is growing up. The little one is the first eaglet to hatch in this Loblolly Pine nest since 2013. That momentous occasion occurred at 11pm on 23 February. Kisatchie is 43 days old today – a day over six weeks. Did you know that the eaglets start branching and take their first flight when they are ten to twelve weeks old? You are growing up too fast, Kisatchie. I remember you as a bobble head and Anna trying to learn to feed you. Your dad Louis had eighteen fish stacked up one day on the nest! You are Anna and Louis’s first little one and they wanted to make sure you were never hungry.

The link to the KNF Bald Eagle nest is here:

Last year, I did not think another Royal Albatross chick could ever be as cute and funny as Atawhai but then along came this fluffy little one. The Royal Cam chick whose parents are LGL (Lime Green Lime, female) and LGK (Lime Green Black, , male) is 73 days old today. The nickname that has been given to her – until she gets her formal Maori name- is another Maori name, Kapua meaning ‘cloud’. And she is fluffy, just like a cloud.

This is one of my favourite images of this little albatross. She always looks like she is smiling and her beautiful indigo eye is staring right at you..

It’s OK. You can go awwwww now. In the image below she is getting a feeding of squid from her dad, LGK. When he flies in, LGK usually lands and then spends some time with his chick. He sits by her and they chat before he feeds her. LGK is wearing a satellite tracker. It shows that he is having good luck fishing near to Taiaroa Head. Because of that closeness, LGK flies in to feed Kapua at least every other day.

And while Kapua won’t be starting to hover or fledging until September, she is already strengthening her wings by stretching and flapping.

Kapua’s nest is on Taiaroa Head near Dunedin, New Zealand. There are a number of rangers employed to make sure that these wonderful sea birds are safe and in good health. Every Tuesday the chicks are weighed. Their weight is compared to a chart and if any chick is underweight it will get a supplemental feeding of squid from the rangers. Sometimes the parents are very late in returning from sea. Sadly, some of them do not return. But, if anything should happen to endanger the life or health of these beautiful cotton balls, the NZ Department of Conservation steps in to help them. I so admire their dedication and their understanding and mitigation of the perils these sea birds face.

Kapua is a big girl. Yes, they know she is a girl. She has been DNA tested and she will also get banded. Here she is being put into a laundry basket for weighing.

Today, Kapua is 73 days old and weights 6 kilograms or 13.2 pounds. She definitely did not need a supplemental feeding!

The link to the Royal Albatross Chick’s cam is here:

And now to say cute three times with the trio at the Pittsburg Hays Bald Eagle Nest. The screen shot of the three in the image below was taken today. They are all lined up in birth order. Beginning on the far right, the biggest one with a crop is H13 born at 4:21 am on 23 March. Eighteen hours later came H14 at 21:57 on 23 March. The smallest one on the far left, such a little cutie, is H15 born on 27 March at 5:33 am.

The Bald Eagle couple have been together since 2013. The nest is 8 km or 5 miles outside the city of Pittsburg. This is the first time that the couple have had three chicks successfully hatch since 2014. The arrival of all three has caused a lot of excitement in the area and for watchers on the streaming cam.

Just for comparison, the image below was taken six days ago. Look how much those cute little bobbleheads have grown. My goodness. They have more than doubled their size.

I don’t like the bonking or the food competition but there is something so sweet about a tiny little bundle of soft downy feathers.

Here is the link to the Pittsburg Hays Bald Eagle cam:

Thank you so much for joining me today. Take care. Stay safe. Enjoy the birds.

Tuesday morning update on Achieva Osprey nest. Only delivery was a small fish at 10:43 – my daughter caught it. It was so small I didn’t even see that fish. Tiny Tot did not get fed. Hoping that this nest will not go back and that at least 2 large fish arrive – or 1 huge one that will feed everyone.

Thank you to the streaming cams listed above. That is where I grab my screen shots.

The race to save the African vulture

In the latest edition of BirdLife Magazine out of Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab, there is a compelling article on the race in Africa to save the African Vulture. It was very moving to read it so soon after discovering the women of the Hargila Army in Assam and their literal saving of the General Adjutant, a stork that also consumes carrion and helps keep disease at bay. The article stresses that vultures are the most endangered raptors in the world. While you might not be familiar with the African Vulture or the General Adjutant, you probably are aware of the California condor. Vultures exist in almost every country. They are crucial part of the food chain and play an important role in the environment. This is why conservation biologists around the world are screaming out for change to save them!

In Africa alone, seven of the ten vulture species are endangered. Many of the issues that threaten the vultures also impact other species. However, in India and parts of Africa, the vulture population dropped by as much as 99%. The author of the article noted that this is ‘apocalyptic’. We are familiar with causes such as habitat loss, electrocution from hydro poles, collisions with buildings and vehicles, the lead used in fishing and hunting equipment, scarcity of food, as well as egg collecting. There are several other threats to the vultures in Africa. One of them is rock climbing and disturbing the nests. Another is the trade in vulture body parts which are used for good luck charms in Africa. The head is believed to bring good luck in business while other parts are used as talismans. The birds are directly poisoned. The last is the impact of the veterinary use of NSAIDs. What is NSAID poisoning? Have you ever heard of it? I certainly knew about its use because I cannot drink milk or eat meat unless it is organic but, I was not aware of its impact on bird populations such as vultures. It is wonderful to learn something new each day! Although I prefer if it is something happier.

The image below shows the many animals and birds that compete for the small amount of food available in Africa.

“Environment of the Hyena Jackal Vulture Group” by Ryan Somma is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NSAIDs are cheap pharmaceuticals given to cattle to relieve them of their pain and to increase their milk production. They are anti-sterodial. It has long been recognized that the industrial dairies in the US keep the cattle in small pens, standing all day on concrete that causes excruciating pain. These cows are also given treatments to increase their milk production. The life of the cow that never gets to explore and eat grass is traumatic and their longevity is significantly reduced.

The efforts in Africa to eliminate the use of veterinary grade NSAIDs as well as captive-breeding programmes are showing promise. Fencing and satellite tracking is gaining ground. Biologists say that it is time to think ‘bigger’. At the same time, the growth in traditional beliefs is spreading in Africa, alongside the use of more modern pesticides. The author states, however, ‘That for all the bad news, conservationists have taken heart from the fact that the decline in African vultures has been slower than the extraordinary rapid collapse that occurred in Asia’.

“African safari, Aug 2014 – 042” by Ed Yourdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Elsewhere in Bird World, life is good on this Sunday the 4th of April. Rising early to watch and hopefully see Tiny Tot (aka Lionheart, Braveheart, Tumbles, 3) have breakfast, the chatters on the Achieva Osprey site probably had their mouths open. A headless fish arrived at 7:22:22. There was some confusion on the nest as Jack stayed with the fish and Diane left for a break. Tiny had already positioned himself and Dad began to feed him. Jack is not the best at feeding the chicks – he is known for touching beaks with no fish – but this morning Tiny got bites. Neither 1 nor 2 seemed interested. They were very busy preening. Eventually 1 joined and Dad fed 1 a bite then Tiny a bite. Mom returns and Dad leaves at 8:01:17. Diane continues feeding Tiny. Tiny awoke with a crop from yesterday but he ate this morning til he could not eat anymore. At 8:12:07 he stopped. There was not a kerfuffle with the older siblings.

Tiny being fed at 7:59 am while older siblings preen. 4 April 2021

Look carefully at Tiny above (far left chick). His little tail is growing and his plumage is changing. A few more days of good feedings and he might be out of the ‘woods’ in terms of his survival.

Diane with her three growing osplets. 4 April 2021

In the image above, Tiny is in the back. You can see his crop. He is standing confidentially next to 2. What a joyous moment on this nest.

The two bald eaglets of Nancy and Harry at the Minnesota DNR nest are growing. Everything is fine on that nest. Harry has learned to feed them and he is a good provider. Nancy is a fantastic mom. Look at those cute little bobbleheads enjoying the warm sun with their mother.

Kisatchie is growing and growing. First time parents Anna and Louis have done really well. The nest is coated with pine to keep away the insects. Kisatchie is healthy and well fed. His plumage is changing every day as he rids himself of his natal down.

I am afraid to say little owlets anymore. Look at Tiger (left) and Lily (right). They are keeping both Bonnie and Clyde busy hunting, day and night it seems. They look like they are wearing beautiful mohair coats with hoods. In my neighbourhood, yesterday, we were reminded about how formidable a raptor these Great Horned Owls are when one of the ones living nearby tried to take off with one of the neighbour’s cats that had gotten out in the back lane. Remember. Great Horned Owls can carry three times their own weight!

And last but never least, my all time favourite bird mother, Big Red sitting on her three eggs in the Red Tail Hawk nest on the Cornell University Campus. Isn’t it lovely? She actually gets to enjoy some sunshine today!

Thank you so much for joining me today. Keep your eyes on what is happening in the Tampa area. There is rumour that 480 million gallons of radioactive water is threatening to push down a retaining wall. If so, this will be catastrophic not only for the people of the area but for the wildlife – including many Ospreys and Bald Eagles that we so dearly treasure.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I grabbed my screen shots: the Kisatchie National Forest and the USFWS, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Cornell Bird Lab Red Tail Hawk Cam at Ithaca, Farmer Derek, and the Achieva Credit Union in St. Petersburg.

Credit for feature image: “In search of the Maltese Falcon #13 – White Backed Vulture, Malta Falconry Centre” by foxypar4 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Eating and growing

The two little ones on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nest are quite a lively pair. First time, four year old Harry has learned to feed and Nancy has relaxed. Harry is good on the nest and food is there. The little ones are rather spunky to say the least!

Bonnie went out hunting and brought a small live garter snake back to the nest. Lily got there first and ate the entire snake – live – all by herself – as Tiger and Bonnie looked on in amazement.

Look closely at how thick Tiger’s legs are. Look down at its talons. These two owlets are really growing! Both of them are flapping their wings and wandering around the nest. Tiger is very sturdy on those sturdy limbs! Both of them are endless pits in terms of wanting food.

Li’l and Big at the Duke Farm nest are growing and growing. There have been tandem feedings and attempts at self-feeding! Doing good. Li’l can hold its own against its big sib.

It really does help to be the only eaglet in the nest with a parental territory that is full of prey. Kisatchie is always being fed and cared for by its mom, Anna. Louis continues to be an expert fisherman and Kisatchie always has a full crop. I don’t believe this eaglet would understand what hunger actually was. And you know what? That is just fine. His feathers will go strong. Eaglets that have had periods – several of hunger – have thinner spots in their feathers.

In constrast, the Redding triplets are always hungry it seems. Two of them are trying to climb out of the nest cup so that they can have some of that juicy fish. It keeps mom and dad very busy!

I will leave you with an image of my heroine, Big Red, the Red Tail Hawk incubating three eggs on a light stand on the Cornell Campus. Big Red always gets my vote for ‘Mom of the Year’. She is quite amazing! Year after year she gets soaked, gets encrusted in snow and ice, and still she raises the strongest happiest eyasses. She is much loved.

This was a short update on how some of the nests are doing. Thank you for joining me today. Stay safe everyone!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I got my screen images: Cornell Bird Lab, the Kisatchie National Forest, , the Pittsburgh Hays Eagle Cam, Friends of Redding Eagles, Farmer Derek, MN DNR Eagle Cam, and Duke Farms.

UPDATE ON THE ACHIEVA OSPREY NEST IN ST PETERSBURG. Tiny Tot was fed this morning at 9:27 after the other two. He had a small crop. It was the first time he ate in 3 full days. Tiny Tot later later had some seizures. It is unclear what damage the lack of food did to his internal organs. A huge catfish came in at 4:22. The two bigger ones ate for a couple of hours. Tiny attempted to get food and was pecked by 2. The dad, Jack, came and took the extra fish away. It is quite sad to see anything suffer so much, begging for food – literally starving to death. It is nothing short of a slow horrible death. The question is why? Is there a lack of fish? Does the father have two families? Other Osprey nests raise three healthy osplets to fledge – even small ones. A good example is Loch Arkaig in 2020.

Eating snakes, eating, and not eating

I wonder how many people have seen a Garter Snake on a Great Horned Owl Nest? I sure haven’t! But through the technology of the streaming cam hundreds watched as Bonnie, the GHOW, tried to deal with just that. Yes, Clyde brought her a snake and it still had the head on it!

At first you might have been fooled into thinking it was someone’s garden hose but, nope. Lily apparently horked a nice big chunk of it and I am pretty certain if Lily had a piece so did Bonnie and Tiger.

Look at how big that first owlet, Tiger, is! You can see the pin feathers on the wings and body starting. Bonnie is going to have a harder and harder time keeping these owlets in that nest bowl.

And I should probably stop saying ‘Little’ Kisatchie. The eaglet in the nest near Kincaid Lake in Central Louisiana, named after the Kisatchie Forest, is quite big. Anna and Louis are first time parents and they keep Kisatchie full to the brim. Today, there were lots of people walking around in the park and the nest was not loaded with fish like it normally is but, look at the crop that is coming on this eaglet! Anna insists on ‘pushing’ the food in until Kisatchie can’t take another bite! Oh, what a contented nest. If every nest could be guaranteed one healthy hatch, oh, if!

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the Achieva Osprey nest. And for anyone reading this that gets upset about sibling dominance, then please stop here.

This morning Brutus, the oldest, got all of the fish save for a few bites for Tiny Tot. It is unclear if 2 got anything. A gar came in around 6:05 and Brutus again ate all of it while both Tiny Tot and 2 took the submissive pose. They curl up and hide their heads to protect them from the pecking. The problem is literally a growing one. Brutus eats lots more and grows and then requires more food. Tiny Tot and 2 are probably in sub-par survival mode today.

Intellectually I understand dominance, ‘survival of the fittest’ and even understand siblicide but it sure doesn’t make it any easier to watch. I am not saying that is what is happening here. But with the heat and storms of last week, the eldest has been triggered to dominate all the food, not allowing the others to eat until it is full. That sometimes means they go without.

The image below shows Brutush eating the 6:05pm fish. Tiny Tot is in submission as is 2 on the other side of Brutus.

Tiny Tot has remained in submission. Brutus feels 2 moving and stops eating to go and peck its head and shake it so that it will not come up for food. Neither Tiny Tot or 2 attempt to eat anything.

Jack brought in another fish at 8:02. As might be expected, Brutus is up at the front but it is not really wanting to eat. Diane pushes flakes of fish in its mouth. It is there to intimidate the other two who not having eaten more than a few morsels all day are hungry. But they are not eating. Brutus being there is enough. Yesterday the two held their own and ate but, not today.

And Mom was hungry, too. And so..only mom and Brutus ate.

We will just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings. This nest has fooled me before.

Thank you for joining me. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the Achieva Credit Union, the Kisatchie National Forestry Department, and Farmer Derek for their streaming cams. That is where I get my scaps.

Spring is in the air…at Ithaca

The calendar says that spring arrived in the Northern Hemisphere. It happened at 6:37 am on 20 March in Winnipeg just about the time the first song birds arrived at the feeders. At that moment the Sun moved from being south of the equator to heading north with our half of the globe tilted a little closer to the sun. It is warmer and the birds are arriving from their winter holidays. Soon my garden will be full of Dark-eyed Juncos and Grackles making nests. And, finally, by the beginning of May, the central heating can be turned off, hopefully!

The arrival of spring also means that my eyes are focused on a particular Red Tail Hawk nest in Ithaca, New York. The nest is on one of the Fernow light towers and it is home to Big Red, eighteen years old this spring, and her lively mate, Arthur, who will be five. This will be the third season that this bonded pair have raised chicks together.

The couple have been working on that nest continuously for the past three weeks and both were there doing inspections first thing this morning.

That nest could not be more ready! And Big Red spent more time than she has recently sitting on that nest cup. Could this be the day that the first egg will be laid? We held our breath.

And after approving the nest bowl, Big Red stood up. Isn’t she gorgeous? Her plumage is a deep coppery red right now – Arthur is lighter and, of course, Big Red is bigger – and she is the boss! Arthur might like to think that it is ‘his’ nest but, Big Red runs the show.

She stood and stared off into space and flew to another light stand with Arthur and had a confab. Then she returned to the nest.

Did she whisper sweet nothings to Arthur? did she tell him today was the day? or did she suggest that more bark strips were needed?

And, at the end of the day, Big Red is not on the nest. Will she return? We wait.

Big Red and Arthur do not migrate. There is enough prey in their territory on the Cornell campus to sustain them over the snow and cold of northern New York. This also allows them to keep an eye on their nest so no one takes it. Arthur had to remind a group of European Starlings this year that the nest was occupied -. And, honestly, I wouldn’t want to have a nest that close to Big Red. While the hawks don’t particularly care for starlings they will eat them in a pinch. Better find a nest on the other side of the campus!

If you missed the highlights of the 2020 year, here is the video compilation. There is never – and I do mean never – a dull moment. 2020 was the year of the Js and 2021 is the year of the Ks. And I say this without hesitating – little J3 is my favourite.

Updates from other nests:

Last evening everyone was excited. The microphone on the nest of Jackie and Shadow at Big Bear picked up peeps from the chick hatching. Sadly, the chick died trying to get out of shell. Let us all hope that their second egg is viable and hatches safely. This has been a really bad year for these two. The raven ate one of the eggs from their first clutch and the second egg broke. This is now their second try. Fingers crossed.

All of the other birds are doing well today. Everyone has eaten at least once if not more.

I will leave you with an image of Kisatchie at the Kisatchie National Forest Bald Eagle nest in Central Louisiana. Kisatchie is the first little eaglet born on this big Bald Eagle nest in the forest since 2013. She is also the first baby of Anna and Louis. These are fantastic parents. What a contented baby with its mom -Kisatchie and Anna.

Have a fantastic day. Thanks for joining me.

Thank you to Cornell Bird Labs and the KNF Eagle Cam for their streaming. This is where I get my scaps.