As the Nest Turns – Monday late edition

My regular readers will know and might be scratching their heads about all the Osprey posts. Like 400,000 others, I rejoiced when Louis helped Aila feed the three chicks on the Loch Arkaig Osprey Nest. It renewed my faith in Ospreys after having had a rough season with a couple of other nests. Mary Cheadle posted this image taken from the streaming cam last year of Louis helping with the three little ones. That is JJ7 Captain being fed alone so he is not bothered by the two older and bigger siblings. I mean how brilliant is that! It was 3 June 2020. What a beautiful family photo. They all fledged. Sadly, Aila did not return from her winter migration this year. Louis has a new mate off camera on another nest. I hope he is helping with the little ones too. This family gave me hope – hope that not every third chick died of siblicide. And then there was Port Lincoln and Tiny Tot – but Tiny Tot’s survival has really moved me. So, I haven’t stopped my love for Ospreys – it has grown!

Osprey dads vary in their dedication and care of their family just like human dads. Some help with incubation and feeding the wee ones while others bring in lots of fish and do territorial protection. And then there are some who don’t have another nest but still do not bring in any fish and their children starve to death. Then there are the moonlighters like Louis in Missoula, Montana who has two nests but he only takes care of one. A reader asked me if I had heard of or watched the Cowlitz Nest in Washington State. I don’t. I know about it. It is the nest of Electra and Wadsworth. At present there are two chicks. Wadsworth helped incubate the eggs and everyone thought he might have changed his ways but no fish deliveries til this morning – when people feared the little ones would die. After Tiny Tot and then Glaslyn, I am afraid that I do not need the drama. I hope that Wadsworth continues to provide for his family – that is HIS job. Electra’s is to keep the chicks warm and dry and to feed them.

We now know that Ospreys in need will accept fish that they did not catch. The laws in Europe and the UK permit feeding tables. In 2012, Rutland provided one for one of their nests. I heard of an instance in Canada but it is not clear to me what the circumstances were or even when the event took place. I understand the Ospreys did not accept the fish. Mrs G and Aran readily accepted the fish from the staff and volunteers at Glaslyn. They are alive today because of the insights and generosity of these fine caring people. So what about the situation with Electra? On the surface it appears that intervention cannot take place unless the situation has been caused by humans – according to US wildlife laws written more than 50 years ago. But that cannot strictly be the case. This February E17 and E18 were removed from their natal nest by CROW, a wildlife rehabilitation clinic in Fort Myers, Florida, because the eaglets had conjunctivitis. This is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball. Humans tend to call it pink eye. The eaglets remained in the care of CROW for five days. To the people that had the backbone to get the care those eaglets needed – bravo! Just how they got around that archaic law of non-interference is unknown to me but they did and I am glad. I put out a call to help Legacy if, in fact, the bout of Avian Pox she had worsened. Thankfully, it was not necessary. But I sure did ruffle a lot of feathers – and they weren’t on birds! At this point in the history of the planet, the unseasonal weather, the lack of prey, the loss of habitat and the resulting woes of the wildlife rests right on the shoulders of us, humans. But if the community were to get permission to supplement the feeding of Electra and her chicks, I would highly recommend that they contact the Glaslyn Center in Wales. It is the fine details that matter. You don’t want Electra to bolt and not return! Still, I hope that Wadsworth shapes up and takes responsibility for his family.

This morning the intruder was back on the Achieva Osprey Nest. Today, it successfully got Tiny Tot off the nest. Jack flew in and dispensed with the intruder and stayed doing guard duty on the perch pole til late in the afternoon.

At 3:58:58 Tiny Tot returned to the nest very hungry! Here is his approach and landing – gosh he is a good pilot!

Here comes Tiny lining up with the runway.

Landing gear down.

Wing tips going down. Perfect.

Now that he is safely home and there is no intruder, Tiny Tot is rather impatient and would really like some lunch!

Looks like sibling 2 has a similar idea. Oh, dear.

Tiny Tot isn’t the only one waiting for dinner rather impatiently. Big and Little from Duke Farms have been sitting on the nest or the branches around the nest hoping for a food drop. You might recall that the pair of them fludged and the parents were able, after a few days, to get them back to the nest. The parents come with prey but sometimes the youngsters timing is wrong. Big got the last drop. Little has to be really hungry. The amount of time they are hanging around the nest tells me two things. The parents are not doing prey drops elsewhere and the juveniles haven’t had much luck hunting on their own. Fingers crossed for them today.

The storks that are being fed by the villagers of Mlade Buky in Czechoslavkia are really growing. Here is their delivery of little fish today.

And here is them with their dad a little later. What a wonderful caring community. It looks like these three are going to survive thanks to their help. Let us hope the storks bless this village!

The kindness of the Glaslyn community is helping Mrs G and Aran gather their strength. They continue to provide fish for the pair and will do us until such time Aran is healed and can fish.

Laddie has joined NC0 on the nest. NC0 has just had a bath and her hair has that wind swept pandemic look! Laddie looks at her adoringly! Meanwhile Little Bob is thinking it is time for some fish. Laddie is thinking intruders! He will stay on the nest for awhile helping keep NC0 and the two Bobs safe.

When it is all quiet Laddie brings in a nice fish. Little Bob eats his fill and doesn’t want anymore. NC0 offers to both of them several times before tucking in herself.

There were several other feedings throughout the day. This is the last one as the sun is setting. Take a glimpse of Little Bob. He is beginning to get that reptilian look.

Big Red and the Ks are definitely enjoying the sun. Look at those feathers coming in and it looks like Arthur made another squirrel delivery!

Soon these Ks are going to be running up and down that ledge jumping and flapping and causing everyone to have a small heart attack.

Mom is back on the barge at Port Lincoln and Solly with her satellite tracker is north of Eba Anchorage, past Kiffin Island and Perlubie. Gosh, it is sure good to know that she is alive and surviving. She is 284 days old today. Thanks for the satellite tracking!

It is a beautiful day in Canada. Happy Memorial Day to my friends in the US and Happy Bank Holiday to those in the UK. Thank you for joining me.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Lab RTH, Duke Farms, Mlade Buky Streaming Cam, Scottish Woodland Trust and Loch of the Lowes, Scottish Wildlife Trust and People Postcode Lottery, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, and the Port Lincoln Osprey FB Page for the information on Solly.

Late night Thursday edition of ‘As the Nest Turns’

The White-tail Eagle nest in the Matsula National Park in Estonia – one of the oldest known breeding territories in the country, has been fledging eaglets since the nineteenth century, if not before. Archives go back to 1870 with modern records from 1996-2020 indicating that no less than 29 eaglets fledged from the nest that Eve and Eerik currently call their own. So what has happened this year?

For two days now, Eve and Eerik have been mourning the loss of their two babies, EE1 and EE2. Long before the little ones stopped breathing, the couple knew. A parent was always there with them witnessing their last breath. It is a scene that many of us have observed at other nests this year. I remember too clearly the Captiva Bald Eagle Nest in Florida – on Santibel Island – when Hope and Peace both died of secondary rodenticide poisoning. Joe, the father was devastated, and I have often wondered if it wasn’t the death of his two eaglets that made him vulnerable and, eventually, evicted from the nest by Martin. Several years ago, stories of the injuries to Juliet at the NE Florida Bald Eagle nest and then the death of his eaglet, made Romeo abandon the Bald Eagle Nest in Jacksonville where his son, Samson, has now fledged his third-eaglet, Legacy (the two previous were Romy and Jules last year). Birds have memories and emotions, they mourn the dead, and understand. Laura Culley would challenge anyone who begged to differ, “And why wouldn’t they?” she was ask.

Eve and Eerik completely covered the babies, each spending time at the nest. Imagine that you have two seemingly healthy children and within a day they are both dead and you don’t know what happened. I use the term ‘seemingly healthy’, as the two eaglets were somewhat lethargic for several days before they died. It was extremely hot – one of those blasts of extreme heat that my friend ‘T’ from Strasbourg warned me about. I thought it was the heat that caused them to be less hungry and alert.

The experts in Estonia have mentioned that a sizeable number of large birds have been found dead along the coastline. Below is a Google Map showing that coast line and the area of Matsula.

Google Map showing the area of Matsalu and its proximity to the coast line of Estonia.

The eagles eat carrion (dead animals). Is it possible that a disease was transmitted to the nest? Was it Avian Flu? or was the cause rodenticide? It will be good to have the speculation stopped and have factual evidence – then the wildlife authorities can begin to figure out how to make sure this doesn’t happen again (if they can). The bodies of the babies will be removed on the 14th of May for an autopsy if the eagles allow them to take them. Meanwhile, Eerik is at the nest looking down at his baby, EE1, now covered by straw.

Wildlife employees in Estonia have just released this statement: “If we manage to collect the dead chicks (hope the parents let us do that), the tests will be done in Estonian University of Life Sciences or sent abroad if needed. We’ve talked with Dr. Madis Leivits about it. We’ll post the findings on the forum, if we get new information. The camera will stay online and I really hope that next year we can follow this nest again.” Thank you ‘T’ for sending this to me!

It is hard to transition from what is happening in Estonia to the rest of Bird World. I hope that the issues at this beautiful nest in Estonia are resolved and that Eve and Eerik return to raise another family next year.

When the anxiety and tensions on one nest get too high and I need a break, I head to a nest that appears stable – at that moment. As we all know, everything can change in an instant. One of those ‘safe’ nests is the Manton Bay Osprey nest at Rutland, home of Maya and Blue 33 (11). Just look at those Two Bobs! Blue 33 (11) has been busy bringing in fish today. It was a whopper at 11:47. Maya is busy filling the two up before the rains come. Look at how strong their necks are! Oh, I love this Osprey nest and those baby blues of the little ones. They will turn an amber or yellow-orange shortly and when they are adults, their eyes will be a piercing bright yellow like their dad and mum. Oh, those little dinosaurs are adorable.

Birds are often better at telling what the weather will be than our local forecaster. Maya fed the babies as much as they could hold before the skies opened in the late afternoon. Look at how she is hunkered down so the Bobs are warm and dry. Their down is of no protection to them.

By 18:22 it is dry enough that Maya can safely stop her brooding and feed those spunky osplets! There is not any nonsense. Maya and Blue 33 (11) are amazing parents who keep those kiddos full. The Bobs know that there is plenty of fish – no food insecurities here. How refreshing. I could watch these two little ones all day. You can see how they stand erect for Maya and how their crops are just beginning to get full.

There is no shortage of pigeons for the three male eyases of Annie and Grinnell. The parents had a banquet for them after the banding yesterday. If you look carefully you can see the red band on the right leg of the chick at bottom left. Each eyas has two bands – an aluminum one and a coloured one.

One of the questions that someone asked yesterday during the Q & A was about the ‘ps’ all over the walls. The answer was this: if something happened to Annie and Grinnell a pair of falcons checking out this box would know that the territory was a good one, full of prey, because of all the ps. Isn’t that interesting? One of the other questions was about parasites. Peregrine falcons evolved to lay their eggs and raise their eyases in a scrape box. This helps avoid mites and parasites that happen on stick nests.

Big Red and Arthur’s little ones are also full of spunk and vinegar! K3 got its head caught under the wing of one of the sibs and it stood up like a big prize fighter giving that sib the what for. Look at that crop! That little one is really telling that other one. It is not the first time this little one has been ready to take one of the older ones on. This nest is going to get really interesting.

Samson brought Legacy a nice fish. Legacy started squealing and mantling before he was even in sight – that was 4:50:28 if you are watching the streaming cam. There she is mantling and Samson is just arriving.

I love Samson’s skinny legs! It looks like he is wearing tights. He is getting out of there quick – saving those talons for sure!

Legacy will not stop mantling the fish til Samson is not a threat.

Legacy is really learning how to keep her fish for herself. Great lessons by Samson and Gabby.

Legacy made quick work of that fish!

Oh, Legacy, you are gorgeous. We are so lucky you returned to the nest and have stayed around longer so we can enjoy seeing you learn and grow more confident.

I have done a quick run through of the other nests and everything seems to be going smoothly. There will be hatch watch for some of the Osprey nests in the UK this weekend. Iris has two eggs in the nest but she appears to not be taking their presence seriously. She left at 13:55 and at 20:25 she had not returned. I am glad to see that Iris is taking care of herself. No doubt she is enjoying the nice day and has caught herself several good fish.

Tiny Tot, who is no longer tiny, has been eating a lot of fish today. #2 sibling got the first fish of the morning. Tiny Tot showed the remarkable patience she has gained. She waited knowing full well that Diane would let #2 work on the fish for so long and then she would take it and they would enjoy the rest of it together. That has repeated itself throughout the day.

And can you see them with all the things in the nest? The two at the Dahlgren Osprey Nest are doing well. The first hatch has really taken off in terms of size. I bet everyone is sitting around saying that ‘it’ is going to be a ‘big girl’. Time will tell. It is too late for the third egg to hatch and it will be absorbed into the nest. No worries. Harriet keeps the two chicks warm and well fed. Jack is an excellent provider. Two nice healthy chicks is great!

Tomorrow I want to check on some of the Red-tail hawk nests in New York City – yes, right in the heart of the city. In fact, it was one of these nests that keened my interest on urban hawks – the one on the ledge of New York City University. There should also be some news on the retrieval attempt of EE1 and EE2 for their post-mortems. Right now, Eerik is on the left hand branch of the nest tree in Estonia. He has moved the bodies of the babies and him and Eve have eaten off the prey in the nest. They need to consume it so that intruders do not come. So fingers crossed!

Thank you for joining me. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: The Eagle Club of Estonia, the Dahlgren Osprey Cam, Cornell Bird Lab, UC Falcon Cam, NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam, LRWT Rutland Osprey Project, Achieva Credit Union, and the Montana Osprey Project.

Wednesday up and downs in Bird World

Wednesday started off with the sudden death of EE2 at the White-tail Eagle Nest in Estonia. The little one was up, bright and cheery at 4:04 and then gone. There has been a lot of speculation. A heat wave went through the area with temperatures doing from 1 to 26 degrees C in a day. Those dramatic changes can put stress on wildlife. Eve and Eerik had plenty of food and the eaglets were, as far as I could tell, growing and filling up the egg cup. Yes, there could have been a toxin and for sure, everyone has been watching EE1 closely. It could also have been a tragic accident of some sort. We won’t know because the body of the little one will not be taken – so I am going to stop speculating myself and hope that EE1 thrives and fledges. EE1 was fed five times between 13:22 and 19:14 and appears healthy.

The three eyases of Annie And Grinnell were banded today. The chick on the left has been banded. The one whose wings are back and looks totally frightened is just getting ready to be banded. It looks a little frightened.

The eyases receive two bands. One is metal and has a 9 digit aluminum band. There is a second coloured band with four digits that is unique to Peregrine Falcons in the SF Bay region. No gloves are used in the banding process so that the banders can handle the birds safely. Banding helps with studies in survival and movement. It does not hurt the birds.

The three are all males.

The banding was an on line event with two people from the centre answering questions as they discussed the process. You can see the whole procedure here and listen to the questions being answered:

Can you tell which of the two ospreys on the nest is Tiny Tot?

Oh, my, that bird has grown! Someone looking over my shoulder said, ‘The one with the beard!’ Well, if those feathers were smoothed down, it sure would be hard to pick Tiny out because Tiny isn’t Tiny anymore. Tiny Tot needs to grow some more feathers for flight. Look at sibling #2 at the back. See the length of the wing tip feathers? And the next layer? It would be really good if Tiny got all that feather growth before setting out on its own. Hopefully Tiny will hang around the nest, as #2 has done, to get some more flight training and to let the parents, Jack and Diane, feed it.

Sibling #2 is on the perch post eating a fish and Tiny Tot has just acquired the 3:47 pm fish delivery. No doubt s/he is going to be really full! Look at the size of that fish!

Big Red and Arthur’s little ones are doing fine. K3 really is a corker. Poor thing. I watched it yesterday when it got behind siblings 1 and 2 and wasn’t getting any bites. Oh, that little one – not scared at all – pecked at that big sib. I was rolling with laughter. It was like a comedy routine. Early this morning, for the first feeding, K3 was up front. It takes a few days to figure out the strategy but those little ones have spunk and drive. No one needs to worry about getting fed on Big Red’s nest!

This nest has a lot of different food items for the Ks. Believe it or not, at this age, they are already imprinting those birds and mammals so that when they are older, they will know that it is OK to eat them. The eyases have to pack a lot of knowledge into a few short months.

Big Red goes off for a break. It is a nice warm day. Arthur delivers a grey squirrel and then returns with a Starling! Everything is fine on the nest of the Ks.

I did a quick check on the little osplets on the Savannah nest. They had nice crops – both of them – around 13:30 – left over from the earlier feeding.

The second sibling is getting a nice feed from mom. That is nice to see. There remains some rivalry that can be unpleasant at times.

The image below was taken yesterday, 11 May. It is Iris and for those of you who do not know, Iris got her name from the specks in her right eye. You can see them clearly below. So, even without any band, everyone knows that this is Iris!

Iris did not incubate the eggs in the nest last night nor did she spend the night on the perch. In fact, she left her nest in good time to go and get herself a good fish dinner and did not return until this morning.

Iris had a nice fish breakfast before heading over to the nest nearby.

Iris returned to the nest at 6:42. She had been away at least twelve hours. Iris is taking care of herself.

As the graduate student at the UC Falcon Cam said today when asked if Annie and Grinnell would remember the banding every year. He said, “Birds have memories.” There is no doubt in my mind that Iris is chained to her hormones during the breeding season. She migrates to Montana and begins working on her nest. She lays eggs regardless or not of mating. She has some urge to incubate them BUT no doubt, over the past four or five years she remembers what has happened. Perhaps she remembers and isn’t caring so much this year? I cannot answer that. Perhaps she knows that both of those eggs are not fertile. ——- I just want to continue to enjoy seeing her. She is an amazing Osprey.

Legacy at the NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam in Jacksonville was waiting for a food drop this morning.

Isn’t ‘he’ gorgeous? He, you ask. The reasoning is in part because of the ‘flat’ head but more important the mandible – the yellow portion of the beak/mouth does not extend to 90% of the back of the eye. I hope that makes sense. Instead, the bright yellow area below stops almost level with the front of the eye. Take your finger to see – and then notice how much longer it would be if it extended to the back of the eye. Are you a boy, Legacy? Of course, there is never 100% certainty unless a DNA test is taken or you see Legacy lay an egg but, it is a good indicator.

Samson came in with a fish delivery at 2:11:32 and he got out of Legacy’s way fast!

Wow. By 2:31 – twenty minutes later – there is hardly anything left of that fish! Good work, Legacy. You are a pro at self-feeding.

I want to close with a look at a power couple in the Osprey world: Maya and Blue 33 (11). Blue 33 (11) has brought a fish to Maya so she can feed the two Bobs.

There was mention about Blue 33 (11) and this nest at Mantou Bay at Rutland. Tiger Mozone said something very ensightful: “Blue 33 (11) not only wanted the nest but Maya, too.” Right on. As Tiger pointed out, Maya had first been paired with 32 (05) who was shot. Then she was with 5R (04) but he didn’t return in 2014. In 2014, Maya paired with 28 (10) who Tiger calls Wonky Wing – Blue 33 (11) made short shift of him evicting him from the nest. Maya and Blue 33 (11) did not breed that year but they started in 2015 and have since had twenty-one chicks!!!!!!!! Blue 33 (11) knew a good female as well as a good nest.

Look at those healthy Bobs. I cannot think of a better way to end the day than seeing these two strong future ospreys.

Thank you for joining me today. It is nice to have you here with me.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: LRWT, NEFlorida Eagle cam and the AEF, Montana Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab, Skidaway Audubon, Achieva Credit Union, UC Falcons, and the Eagle Club of Estonia.

Babies, Branching, and Bittersweet

It is all too quick. One minute they are little chicks bonking and bopping like the three Ks of Big Red and Arthur and then they are branching and fledging. It is all bittersweet.

Arthur has already begun to line prey up around the egg cup at the Fernow Light Tower nest in Ithaca, New York. Look at the crop on K1. I never get tired of watching these little eyasses grow. Arthur and Big Red are such devoted parents.

6 March 2021

Adorable. Simply adorable.

Oh, look at those little cutie pies. The Ks. 6 May 2021

Annie and Grinnell’s eyasses are a little older than the Ks. Their pin feathers are really growing in and they now spend their time preening, sleeping, or eating!

Look, you can see their little tail feathers starting to grow! People say the feather growth makes the eyasses itchy. How would a human know what it feels like to grow feathers? Birds are the only living thing on the planet that has them.

They are starting to get to the clown foot stage, too. Oh, they love that pigeon Grinnell is feeding them.

It is raining in Estonia and Eve is very careful not to get the little ones wet. Until they have their contour feathers they are not protected. Thermal down will help them against the cold but for now, they have to rely on mom to keep them both warm and dry.

I included the image below for two reasons. The first is the distinctive white tail feathers of the White-tailed eagles. Aren’t they gorgeous? And the second reason is to have a look at the feathers. Each of Eve’s feathers has a central shaft with tiny barbules that lock together like Velcro. They lay flat and make the bird waterproof. Feathers grow out of skin follicles.

White-tail eagles are the largest apex raptors in Europe. They also have the largest average wing span of any eagle in the world. Their wings span averages 2.4 metres or 8 feet. Did you know that they are on the coat of arms of Germany? They are Germany’s national bird just like the Bald Eagle is the national bird of the United States.

Today, both Kisatchie at the Kistachie National Forest Bald Eagle nest and one of the pair of the Bald Eaglets at Duke Farms branched. Kisatchie had no one to cheer him on but the eaglet that branched below got a high five from its sibling for a job well done. It won’t be long til the sib is jumping up on that branch, too!

We are still on hatch watch with Maya and Blue 33 (11) at Rutland Mantou Bay. Tomorrow the first egg laid will be 38 days old (May 7).

And, of course, the bittersweet. In a month or so, E17 and E18 along with Legacy will leave us to make their own way out into the world. And sooner than I want, Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot will fledge.

Legacy is waiting for Samson to bring her the evening meal. It is nearly 7:30 and he normally visits the nest around 5:30 with a food drop.

Legacy is not starving. Remember, Gabby and Samson are trying to teach her about what life will be like outside of the nest. Food is not always plentiful and eagles do not eat every day in the wild. Legacy had a squirrel yesterday and a big hunk of fish the day before. It is nearly 8:30 p, in the image below and it seems Legacy might have to wait and hope for breakfast.

Meanwhile, Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot is having some nice fish. Diane seems to really enjoy feeding Tiny. Often they are on the nest together as #2 sibling flies around and lands on the perch pole. There has been no sighting of #1 sibling. She fledged, returned to the nest once and is MIA. Normally, the raptors depend on their parents for food from 4-6 weeks after fledged (an average overall – some stay longer). They eat at the nest and strengthen their flying muscles. Sometimes the parents feed them ‘off nest’. It is not clear what is happening with #1 sibling and because she is not banded, we will never know.

I am clearly going to miss Legacy and Tiny Tot when the fledge. Unless there is some very distinctive marker – like the dots in Iris’s left eye or the tear in the wing of WBSE 24, unringed birds are simply not that recognizable, one from the other.

And the last news of the day, Iris, the oldest living Osprey in the world laid her first egg of the 2021 season at her Hellgate Nest in Missoula, Montana today at 18:04:31. I would like to hope that if nature intends it, Iris would get to be a mother again. Her last successful hatch with Louis was in 2018. As you know, I wish this day had not come but it has and now we wait to see how the season will twist and turn.

There is a new director for the Cornell Bird Laboratory, Dr Ian Owens. In an interview that came out in the latest edition of Living Bird, Dr Owens remembers the bird that changed his life. He was fifteen and the bird was an Eurasian Marsh-Harrier. Dr Owens will take charge in July.

Like Dr Owens, there are many of you reading this that will recall the first time that a bird influenced your life. Mine was over four and a half years ago when I met Sharpie’s female mate. I haven’t seen her for awhile but Sharpie stopped by today. I rejoice in seeing him – whether it is for a few minutes or an hour. They certainly changed my life and I will be forever grateful. It is just like the joy that all of the birds give us each day.

So take care everyone and remember – March 8 is Bird Count Day. I will remind you tomorrow with the link so you can submit your count. It helps everyone understand the perils of migration. Thank you for joining me!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I get my screen shots: NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Achieva Credit Union, The Eagle Club of Estonia, UC Falcon Cam, Duke Farms, Cornell Bird Lab RTH, Cornell Bird Lab and the Montana Osprey Project, and LRWT Rutland.

Oh, baby…it’s Tuesday in Bird World

Little K2 made its appearance in the world sometime before 6am but no one is precisely sure when. It was raining in Ithaca and there was no way that Big Red was going to let those two babies of hers get wet!

Pause for a second and look at the crop on K1 in the image below. Remember. Big Red will not let one of her babies go hungry. I am so glad she has Arthur. He is five years old and a dynamo when it comes to hunting. She made a wise choice in that young man when Ezra was killed. Arthur is an energetic and passionate provider in a land of plenty (so far).

If you want to watch Big Red and Arthur raise the Ks and if you also want to join the regular chat once it is started, here is the place to go. There are two cameras. – And lucky for us, we have cameras on Big Red. Hers is one of only two Red Tail Hawk streaming cams in the world that I know. It is an extremely active nest where the eyasses change quickly.

Samson brought Legacy a huge piece of fish yesterday. It was so big that both he and Gabby got to eat some. This morning Legacy is on the nest hoping for another prey drop while Gabby surveys the windy skies. It is 31 degrees C in Jacksonville and the water could be choppy.

How much do the stormy hot days play into the ability of the Bald Eagles to catch fish? is it worse on the weekend with boats and more people in the water? Were all members of the family hungry? Some of these questions can be answered but, not all of them. We will never know if Legacy was lost from her nest for three days but we might imagine she could have been. Were the parents feeding her off the nest? We don’t know. Was she getting her own food? We don’t know. What we do know is that she needs much more time on the nest to learn to self-feed and she needs to imprint her environment so she can find her way easily to the nest if she does a fly about or gets chased by little birds. The crows have been about the nest. Legacy is only 12 weeks old and has much to learn to survive in the wild!

I do not even know what to say. Everyone knows that I get antsy if an Osprey nest has three eggs on it but can you imagine trying to feed five? Well, the bonded pair at the Osprey nest in East Hampton, New York has FIVE eggs on it as of this morning!

If you want to watch the activity on this nest and the little tub boats that go up and down the water way, here you go:

Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot the Raptor is doing amazing. The peace on the nest now that #1 sibling has fledged is palpable. #2 loves to fly around the nest and Tiny is happy to watch. This morning everyone ate and got bombarded by the local Blue Jay.

Tiny is doing so well. For me, this is nothing short of a miracle. Everyone believed he would not survive. But thrive is what this wonderful fish eagle is doing. It is simply joyful. He is laying flat on the nest watching the Blue Jay pester sibling #2.

Little birds can be just annoying to the bigger raptors but they can also be very dangerous. Often they cause the eagles and Ospreys to fludge – leave the nest early without intent. They may chase them away from the nest and the territory of their parents before the juveniles are able to imprint how to get back to their nest. Everyone is wondering what happened to #1 after she fledged and that could be your answer. The Blue Jays have been pests now for a couple of weeks. They might have a nest nearby. Normally the natal nest will be the centre of the ospreys life after fledge for at least a month or six weeks. The father will continue to bring food to the nest as the young ones increase their flying and landing skills. It is also possible that some of the fledglings are fed ‘off’ nest.

If you are interested in a well written, easy to understand book on Ospreys, I highly recommend Ospreys: The Revival of a Global Raptor by Alan F. Poole. Poole is an expert on Ospreys and this is a particularly engaging book for everyone.

I thought I would check in on Big Red and the two Ks before I closed – and there she is feeding them again! Raptors grow quickly. They condense a lot of change in a short time frame. These two will probably triple their body weight in the first eight days! Laura Culley once told me that human babies would need to gain 15 lbs a day to grow as fast as the hawks. Wow. The two little ones in the image below will always have crops – never fear. There will be no anxious moments. This nest is a pleasure to observe!

Everything is going as expected in Bird World this morning except for an Osprey nest in Wales where it has snowed. I will report on that later today or tomorrow. I am also watching the plight of the Osprey couple at Lyn Brenig in Northern Wales whose platform was destroyed by vandals. Wales Water is hoping the pair will relocate and lay their second egg – which is due today – on another close nest structure they erected for them. Thank you so much for joining me!

Thank you to Cornell Bird Lab and the RTH cam, Achieva Credit Union, and Marders Osprey Cam. I grab my screen shots from their streaming footage.

You can always count on Arthur

Big Red, the grand dame of the Red Tail Hawks, whose nest is on the Fernow Light Stand on the Cornell Campus at Ithaca, New York lost her long time mate, Ezra, in March 2017. She had many suitors who were put through the rigours to find out if they were good providers and devoted so that their chicks would grow and thrive. Big Red chose Arthur. All of the humans thought that Big Red had ‘lost her mind’ in selecting such a young male to be her companion.

Big Red hatched somewhere near Brooktondale, New York, in 2003. She received her leg band on 7 October 2003 in Brooktondale. I have yet to find out the name of the bander. In 2017, Big Red was fourteen years old. Arthur, who had been born in an adjacent territory and who was known by some as ‘Wink’, was born in 2016. When he arrived checking on the Fernow Nest, he was only a year old and did not have his red tail feathers. He caught Big Red’s attention and by the fall they had totally bonded and were fixing up the nest for the coming breeding season in 2018. Big Red could not have chosen a better mate!

In the image below, Arthur has delivered prey to the nest so that Big Red can go and eat and he can take over the incubation duties of their three eggs. This was last evening.

13 April 2021

While Ezra was known as the squirrelinator, Arthur is known for capturing more chipmunks. Hence, he is often called the chippyinator. However, Arthur is like a jet plane when it comes to hunting. Rumour has it that he has flown onto someone’s porch to get a squirrel! So maybe Arthur is both squirrelinator and chippyinator!

In the image below, Arthur is delivering a Robin to Big Red as she incubates the eggs in one of Ithaca’s snowstorms. It was the day she laid her third egg of the 2021 season.

1 April 2021

The images below are from last year. The Js have hatched. How can you tell? Look at all the prey around the nest. Arthur will bring in so much that Big Red can line the nest bowl with fur! I am serious. No one on this nest is going hungry.

6 May 2020

Arthur has found a nest of goslings and thought Big Red might like one for dinner.

6 May 2020

Unlike other raptors, hawks will only eat road kill if there is a food shortage. On occasion, Arthur has brought in live prey to the nest. Some believe this is a teaching lesson for the nestlings.

Of course, people that watch hawk nests have a strange habit of trying to identify prey or making up names such as ‘Dunkin’ Chipmunks’ or ‘Chocolate Chippie Cookies with a Squirrel Glaze’. All kidding aside, researchers watch what prey is brought into the nest and the amounts. A typical Red-Tail hawk diet consists of 68% mammal, 17.5% other birds, 7% reptiles/amphibians/snakes and 3.2% invertebrates. Those amounts come from research by Johnsgard in 1990 but those observing the Cornell nest say that they still apply, for the most part. In 2020 with the pandemic, there was a proliferation of chipmunks. It is believed that the lack of cars killing chipmunks on the road helped with this along with just not having people around.

In April of 2018, Ferris Akel caught Arthur eating a skunk:

The same researchers have tested prey for its caloric/protein/fat/cholestrol components. Did you know that 3.6 ounces of raw pigeon has 294 calories compared to the same amount of squirrel which has only 120 calories?

From the prey delivery reports, it was established that nearly .7 more prey was delivered in 2020 compared to 2016, 2018 and 2019. That is an enormous difference. None of it was wasted, everything was eaten. The factor that changed – the pandemic. Arthur was able to freely hunt all over the campus. There were hardly any people or cars to contend with. The more food the healthier the chicks are. Even feather growth can indicate when a bird was hungry. Also, the longer the eyasses stay on the nest the better their survival rates in the wild.

Big Red laid three eggs for the 2021 season. The first was on 26 March followed by 29 March and 1 April. Red-tail hawks generally incubate their eggs for 28-35 days. Big Red’s incubation periods have ranged from 38 to 41 days. Still, by the 28th of April all eyes will be on that nest! The Ks are coming. Yippeee.

Why do I mention all of this? There is no doubt that Arthur is a devoted mate. When it is time to fix up the nest, work on the nest bowl, incubate the eggs, provide prey for Big Red and then for her and the eyasses, Arthur is right there! You know the other ones that I wish were like Arthur if you read my blog. I will leave it at that. Can you hear me growling at them?

You can watch the life streaming of this nest here:

In other news, the three chicks on the Achieva Osprey nest are waiting for food. Yesterday Diane, the female, delivered many fish and Tiny Tot finally got a good feed very late in the day. As I write this it is 3pm and no food has come to the nest. The mother is not calling for food and the male touched down for only a few minutes around noon. There is something wrong at this nest today. It is extremely hot there, over 30 near the nest. Hopefully if it is the heat food will come in. Tiny was well fed but he needs to eat less more often still. The fish also provides the hydration. I wish the wildlife laws allowed for the care in these situations.

Louis is still waiting for Aila to arrive at the Loch Arkaig nest and Iris continues to bring in twigs and branches for her nest at Hellsgate. One of the members of the FB group had a really good take on Iris. Instead of bemoaning the fact that she will not be able to raise chicks if Louis repeats his behaviour, we should be happy that she can enjoy her summer vacation without the burden of care for little ones and the toll it takes on one’s body. What a positive way of looking at this. Maybe I should be thanking you Louis for just being Louis. Iris has fledged at least 30-40 chicks or more – she does deserve a break to stay healthy.

You can watch Iris at the Hellsgate Osprey Nest cam:

And you can watch Louis wait for the arrival of Aila here:

Thank you so much for joining me today. I wish the news was better on the Achieva Nest. We can hope that it is only the heat. Still the little one needs to eat more often. Take care and keep watching the nests!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: Woodland Trust and People Play Lottery, Cornell Bird Lab – Hellsgate Osprey and Red-Tail Hawk, Ferris Akel, and Achieva Credit Union.