Big Red and Arthur have their territory on the Cornell Campus in Ithaca, New York. Big Red hatched in Brooktondale, New York in the spring of 2003. She was banded in Brooktondale as a fledgling Red-tail Hawk on 10 October 2003. It is not precisely know how many mates Big Red has had since she was old enough to lay eggs and hatch chicks. She was observed on the Cornell campus with her mate Ezra prior for two years prior to 2012 when the cameras were placed on the light stands on the campus. When they began to number the chicks, they began with C because of those two years. Ezra and Big Red raised eyases until the spring of 2017 when Ezra was killed defending their territory. Big Red had no chicks in 2017 but she did have a mysterious young visitor to the nest in April 2017. It was Arthur! And Arthur did not even have his red tail yet! After considering several potential mates, Big Red – to the dismay of many human animals – choose a youngster. Arthur has proved himself to be an invaluable mate. He is a fantastic hunter and takes part in all aspects of the breeding season including nestorations, incubation, prey deliveries, and teaching the youngsters how to fly and hunt.
Somewhere in my files I have precisely the number of chicks that hatched. It is likely that she has laid and hatched 54 eggs since she could first breed. It was a large number and everyone of them fledged except for one and that was last year. K2 had an issue with her beak and she was taken into care. The situation was thought dire and she was euthanized.
This is the first year that Big Red has laid four eggs. It seems to be a trend amongst hawk and falcon populations this year. Cornell has already alerted everyone that this is unknown territory and they do not know what to expect.
Red-tail hawks are the most wide-spread hawk in North America. They are medium sized and are distinguished by their beautiful red tail when they are a year old. They normally live in wide open spaces and you can see them sitting on top of poles hunting. Indeed, Big Red and Arthur often spend time on the poles along Highway 366 near Cornell. You might commonly hear that Big Red is sitting on the 366 pole. That is what it means. There are fields across the highway still in Big Red and Arthur’s territory where they hunt and where they teach the eyases to hunt.
You can watch the hatching of the chicks and the daily lives of Big Red, Arthur, and the Ls here:
When the chicks hatch they will be covered with white soft feathers with a black beak and the cutest fat little pink legs and feet.
The image below is K1 hatched and K2 pipping.
There are several video clips of highlights from 2021. Here is one of those that will give you an idea of what to expect this year.
It is going to be an exciting season on the Cornell Campus particularly if all four eggs hatch. Boy, Arthur start stacking up the chipmunks and the squirrels!
Thank you so much for joining me. I am eggcited! Take care everyone. See you soon.
Thank you to the Cornell Bird Lab for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.
It has been a very sad morning in Bird World with the death of what appears to be, now, the oldest chick on the Captiva Osprey nest in Florida. Lori Covert the landowner has contacted CROW, that wonderful wildlife rehabber on Santibel. Permission was given to remove the body of the osplet for testing. CROW arrived and removed Big beginning at 15:21:15-15:21:26. You can see how quick they were to come once they had the OK and how they did not disturb the nest.
Big was 27 days old. He or she would have been 28 days tomorrow.
They do not want to cause any undue stress or frighten the other two on Did Big choke on a pellet? He had been gagging several times this morning. Casting pellets is a natural part of a raptor’s life. What cannot be processed in the crop is compacted into something not unlike a small charcoal pellet. The birds then regurgitate these. Researchers like the pellets because they can study what the birds have been eating. But a pellet or the H5N1 highly pathogenic Avian Flu is on speculation. It appears that Big died after moving up to eat but couldn’t. That was approximately 08:33. I sincerely hope that this is not a case of H5N1 and look forward to the announcement. The other two osplets both ate at 15:40.
Little Bob (Mini on chat) and Middle Bob appear to be fine. They are interested and can eat and that is a great sign!
It used to not unsettle me when an adult or a chick died. Perhaps it is just everything that has happened for so many years catching up with me but I was particularly upset at the loss at Captiva this morning. Thankfully the garden critters were robustly going after the two new seed cylinders that were put out yesterday. Dyson could not decide where to settle. He wanted the oil seeds that had fallen out of a bag on the snow but he also wanted to eat off the cylinder and he was intrigued by the peanuts in the square tray feeder.
Despite his altercation with the cat, Dyson remains pleasantly plump after the harsh winter and the back half of his tail is growing back. Horrah!
The Blue Jay family – OK. One member of the Blue Jay family has returned from their migration today. I could not get the camera quick enough for a photo but I hope to attract it with a cob of corn on the deck. i wonder if it is Junior? Mr? or Mrs? And where do they go?
It was a good day for a walk in the woods. Our temperature is a balmy +2 C. The snow is definitely melting and there is an open water area now at the Fort Whyte Nature Centre. There were three Canada Geese there today!
There were a number of Black-capped chickadees at the feeder and when I arrived the little Downy Woodpecker with the broken beak was just flying away. Too quick for me to catch him but for those of you who asked, it is still alive and eating well out of the cylinder feeder! That is certainly good news.
What I needed was a walk in the woods where it was absolutely quiet. The snow is now wet enough that it did not crunch. All you could hear on occasion was the songs of the birds.
Walking in nature is good therapy.
I am happy to report that all of the eaglets on the Dale Hollow nest have eaten. Little Bit was sure enjoying a fish that had been brought to the nest.
The middle on moved up and got some food, too, after Little Bit. You can see the huge difference in size now between all three chicks. Big just looks enormous!
This was Little Bit sleeping before the feeding over on the rim of the nest. It looks bigger stretched out and was clenching its talons and letting go and clenching them again. Was it catching a fish in its eaglet dreams?
Sweet baby sleeping in the shade. For those of you that do not know, the black dot behind the eye and corner of the beak is the ear. It will get covered with feathers. You might also notice that Little Bit is getting some of its darker thermal down and losing its baby fluff. Looks like a few little feathers poking about perhaps.
I just checked and Little Bit was fed at 16:20. So all is well at Dale Hollow as evening approaches.
Big Red gave Arthur some incubation time today. That is fantastic. She doesn’t allow him much but it is nice to see him so alert taking his turn with their first egg.
Arthur is very handsome.
I don’t think you could find a more gorgeous female Red tail Hawk than Big Red anywhere! She is so stunning with her really dark morph.
Big Red took a dinner break at 17:29 nest time.
Do not worry. This egg is fine. We learned that due to Milda leaving her eggs in almost freezing weather for 5-6 hours. They both hatched. Everything is good. Big Red has been having chicks for 17 years. She is an expert. I certainly am not. LOL. Remember. I wanted to give Rosie and Richmond sticks!
There was a very sweet posting by the SF Ospreys today on their FB page:
I really wanted to dump a lot of sticks for these two down in the parking lot! As many of you know, I look for ways to make the lives of our birds better. Part of that has to do with the elimination of lead in all fishing and hunting equipment. The other has to do with rat and mice poison. Well, look what a Place Called Hope just posted!
At the West End Bald eagle nest, Akecheta brought in a Cormorant to the nest. This came after there was something that looked like an Armadillo. Both were road kill. Thunder decided to feed the three eaglets the fresh fish! The West End nest is doing well.
Shadow and Jackie at the Big Bear Valley Bald Eagle nest are also doing just fine. The little one is growing like a very bad weed.
I checked on Kincaid, too, at the Kistachie National Forest nest in Louisiana. He is wing flapping and showing his preference for some prey and not others but I do not believe that he has branched yet.
That is it for me today. I am still recovering from the loss of Big. Looking forward to the test results. If it was a pellet then we should know that very fast. If it was something else, we will have to wait for test results that can take days.
From all the critters in the garden, thank you for joining us today. Take care everyone. See you soon!
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and/or their FB pages where I took my screen captures: A Place called Hope, Captiva Ospreys and Window on Wildlife, Friends of Big Bear Valley, West End Eagles and the Institute for Wildlife Studies, KNF Bald Eagles, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Dale Hollow Lake Eagles, and SF Bay Ospreys.
I had a lovely note form ‘M’ asking about other peregrine falcon cams. Thank you for your letter, ‘M’.
Each one of us feels a little ’empty’ when the eyases fledge. Without trackers, we have no idea what happens to them. We just wish them well and I know that everyone is working hard to make their environment better. The only birds on the nest who have fledged and not left permanently are the PLO Lads – Ervie, Bazza, and Falky. It is winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the birds have migrated to warmer climates. I will, however, be checking on nests in Asia to see if there are any for you to watch.
This is not an exhaustive listing but it is a beginning and I will be adding to it for all of you as the camera streams return. We have streaming cams on the falcons in Winnipeg as part of the Manitoba Peregrine Falcon Recovery. I will post those at the beginning of the summer. Most of our birds are in southern Texas or Mexico right now.
So here goes – and if you have a favourite falcon or hawk cam, let me know!
One of my favourites are the Peregrine Falcons in Melbourne. They are known as the CBD or 367 Collins Street Falcons. The cam is currently not live. Will come back on line September 2022
Cornell Red-tail Hawks (Big Red and Arthur), Ithaca, New York. The construction work at Bradfield has caused a power outage on the Athletic Fields. Those building works are winding down and this camera should be live shortly. Big Red and Arthur will be very busy once late February and March roll around. There are only two Red-tail hawk streaming cams in the world and this is the best. Big Red is 19 this year. Arthur is 5 or 6 years old. They are a fantastic couple that normally fledge three eyases a year. There are birders on the ground that keep track of the fledglings so you get to see the parents do team training in hunting, etc. Highly Recommended.
Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam in Orange, Australia. Yurruga has fledged. Look for egg laying in the fall of 2022. This is the scrape box of Diamond and Xavier. They are a well established couple. For the past two years three eggs laid but only one fledgling each year which is fine. It is a nice comparison with the Melbourne falcons who fledge 3 consistently. Orange is more rural and, of course, Melbourne is urban. The camera is left on and the falcons come and go regularly.
The Campanile Falcons on UC-Berkeley. This is the scrape box and cams for the Peregrine Falcon Couple, Annie and Grinnell. Grinnell was injured by a male interloper on 29 October. He was in care, as a result, and has been returned to his territory. The male interloper is still at The Campanile. It is unclear which of the males Annie will choose. Nesting activity late March, 2022. Annie and Grinnell are incredible parents who traditionally fledge three adorable babies.
The following are falcon cams that I have watched ‘on and off’ and that have come highly recommended to me from viewers:
Great Spirit Bluff, Minnesota
Anacapa Island, California. There are current a large number of Pelicans to watch.
I will definitely be posting more including a couple of streaming cams from the UK. All of that action will begin when spring arrives. I also want to post some sites in Asia which I will do over the weekend. There will also be the Northern Hemisphere Ospreys, White-tailed Eagles, Golden Eagles, as well as the returning storks to Latvia and Estonia.
For now, things are really pretty quiet except for the Port Lincoln Ospreys, Diamond and Xavier coming in and out of the scrape box in Orange, and the Bald Eagles laying eggs in the US. There are two nests that you might wish to consider and if you have never watched a Royal Albatross nest then you definitely need to check out the Royal Cam Family in New Zealand who are incubating an egg laid on 9 November. They are very experienced and adorable parents, OGK (Orange Green Black) and YRK (Yellow Red Black). They are already grandparents. I often suggest this site to individuals who have a difficult time watching any nest if there is sibling rivalry. The Albatross lay one egg every two years. Parents rotate all of the duties. Last year the Royal Cam chick, Tiaki, had a sat-pak attached to her. We are currently watching her fish off the coast of Chile.
It is a bit wet in NZ this morning. This is YRK’s 6th day on the nest. OGK will be flying in soon and they will switch. Should something happen, the NZ DOC rangers are there to step in and intervene. No one goes hungry, injuries are taken care of, etc. It is a great site and in the process you will bear witness to a country that really protects its wildlife!
There are way too many Bald Eagle streaming cams to list them all. For now, I am only going to recommend one. These are experienced parents Harriet and M15 at the SWFlorida Bald Eagle nest on the property of the Pritchett Family. Their eggs are due to hatch soon – December 25-28. Once Gabby lays her egg in NE Florida I will post that information. For now, you can have fun watching Harriet and M15 change places. The only un-fun thing is the GHOW that attacks the eagles regularly.
There is no word on Yurruga. Cilla says she will look for a few more days. Just so you know the building that Yurruga was last seen on is a gabled (triangle) pointed roof, a bit steep. It is a single story building with clay tiles. Yurruga is not there – not alive, not dead. He was there on Thursday – seen twice during a big storm. I would expect to hear this fledgling screaming for food. Falcons are loud! Is it at a distance from the tower? is Yurruga injured? is Yurruga somewhere else? There are no answers I am afraid. If I hear anything you will be the first to know. Now, it is time for me to go and take care of all my feeders. The gang will be here soon!
Thank you so much for joining me. Take care everyone. See you soon.
We were so concerned about the big storm that went through Wisconsin and the Collins Marsh Osprey Nest that nothing else mattered in the wee hours of the night the other day. In our mind’s eye, we could see that wee chick flying off that 120 ft retired fire watchtower.
Well, over in New Jersey, the mother on the Barnegat Light Osprey Nest did get blow off! The Conserve Wildlife Foundation wrote:
“On the evening of July 29, 2021 a line of severe storms moved across New Jersey. Many of these storms held the potential to produce damaging winds, hail and possible tornados. One such storm went straight for Barnegat Light, where our osprey cam is located. Watch as the wind shifts from east to west and the adult female was blown from the nest. Luckily she and her nestlings all survived unharmed, but there are many osprey who were right in the path of what looked to be a tornado, which hit High Bar Bar — just to the north of the osprey cam nest. Hopefully that the damage is not too severe to both people and ospreys.”
Here is that video of Daisy, the mother on the perch, and her two chicks on the nest.
The male, Duke, went missing in the storm. He showed up around 4pm today delivering a fish on that nest. Yippee.
Daisy and the chicks are sleeping well tonight. The family is back together again!
Fledge is over but the chicks are still actively coming to the nest for fish drops. Here is the link to that camera.
I will add a note. There were originally three chicks on this nest. The vast age and size difference meant that the third hatch became a victim of siblicide.
The Montana Osprey Project is having a fundraiser and it is really neat. Dr Ericke Green collects the twigs that fall off Iris’s nest at Hellgate, Montana. I know that almost everyone knows who ‘Iris’ is but, in case you do not, she is the oldest Osprey in the world. She has her nest in Missoula, Montana. She has spent the days since arrival and until recently adding twigs. Well, some of the twigs she adds fall off. Those that Dr Green picks up are sent to Richard and Sharon Leigh Miles in South Carolina who turn those twigs that Iris touched into pens. They cost $45 and that includes postage. I understand they sell out quickly if you are interested please go to the Montana Osprey Project FB Page. Scroll through their threads and you will find the information.
I was so excited to find this fundraiser. Can’t wait til my pen arrives!
WBSE 28 is working steady to get out of that shell! This was the progress around 10 am Saturday nest time. This sweet babe should be joining its ‘snowman’ looking sibling 27 late Saturday in the Sydney Olympic Ironbark Nest.
My first introduction to the White-Bellied Sea Eagle was last year. I am a ‘hawk and falcon’ person – smaller raptors – more than the eagles. I came across the WBSE streaming cam purely by accident. I have learned a lot about eagle behaviour over the past year.
This cute little bundle of fur is destined to be one of the largest eagles in the world. Look at its cute little wings. One of the worst things about eagle nests is the sibling rivalry – although I can say that this also happens on Osprey nests and to a much lesser extend the smaller raptors. Last year the sibling rivalry only lasted a few days. It seemed that WBSE 25 sensed that ’26’ was injured and I have said many times helped the little sibling. That said, one of the old timers told me that the second egg is the ‘insurance’ egg – there only if the first chick does not survive. When I heard that I shook my head. There can be siblicide on this nest. It is the only White-Bellied Sea Eagle Nest with a live stream that I am aware of.
I am including the link to the camera. If you are concerned about what appears to siblicide happening on this nest, this year, I urge you to stop watching especially if you have younger children. I will provide simple updates on the nest without graphic content. Hopefully there will be plenty of fish brought in at all the right times so that nothing triggers food insecurity behaviour. That said, siblicide has occurred on nests where food is plentiful.
Here is the link to Cam 4 for the Sydney Sea Eagles:
Ferris made it to the Cornell Campus tonight. He was able to spot Arthur fairly quickly but the Ks and Big Red were in hiding. He will probably return to the campus tomorrow on his regular Saturday tour. I know he will be stopping to see about the Roseate Spoonbill. Like all of us, it is a joy to see a bird outside of its territory but it is also a worry and as Ferris said, he would like this bird to get back to where it belongs.
Here is Arthur on the ‘throne’:
The chick on the Collins Marsh Osprey Nest in Wisconsin was left alone as dark was coming. It had been fed reasonably well today with fish caught by Mom and brought in and at least one delivery by Dad.
I went back and checked again and Mom was on the nest with the babe. Whew!
The last check in for today is at the Loch of the Lowes where NC0, the female, landed a whopper and brought it to the nest. That fish was so large it would feed both fledglings and mom. There might have been some leftover for Laddie! NC0 is really turning into a super mom. She doesn’t sit around and wait for Laddie. Once the chicks were old enough, she joined in the fishing for the family!
It’s late Friday evening on the Canadian Prairies. My blog on Saturday will be in the late afternoon or early evening. I want to do a lot of nest checks.
Thank you so much for joining me. It is nice to hear from you – always – and it is so wonderful to know that there are so many people who care for our birds. Take care. Stay safe.
Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Friends of the Loch of the Lowes, Barnegat Osprey Light Cam and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Collins Marsh Nature Centre Osprey Cam, the Ferris Akel Live Stream and the Sea Eagle, Birdlife Australia, and Discovery Centre Sydney for the WBSE captures.
If you hear the name Ferris Akel, you might recognize the individual that gives a regular Saturday afternoon virtual birding tour of the area around Montezuma National Park, Wildlife Drive, Sapsucker Lake, and the Cornell Campus at Ithaca. Ferris also surprises us with ‘pop up’ tours of the Cornell Campus at other times so that he can see what is going on with Big Red and her family and share it with us. Tonight, we got a special tour and were able to see all four members of the Big Red family.
For those of you unaware, Big Red is a Red-tail Hawk. Red tail hawks are easily identified by their bright orange-red tail feathers once they are adults. The females are larger by approximately 30% than the males. This is called reverse sex size diamorphism. Red tail hawks have amazing eye sight. They will scan for food while they are soaring or are know to sit quietly on a perch for long periods of time watching for their prey. They will immediately fly to get it. Unlike the Peregrine Falcons who take their prey in the air, Red tail hawks normally fly down and get their prey on the ground. They do not normally eat carrion (dead animals) unless they are really starving. Their wing span is 1.2-1.5 metres for both males and females or 3.9 feet to 4.9 feet.
Big Red is a huge celebrity within the birding community. Big Red is now 18+ years old. She was banded near Ithaca, at Brooktondale, on 20 October 2003. Her current mate, Arthur, hatched in a territory next to the Cornell Campus in 2016. He has been Big Red’s mate since her mate, Ezra, died in March 2017. Arthur was first spotted visiting the nest in April of 2017. Big Red and Arthur were an ‘item’ by the fall. Their nest is on one of the light boxes across Tower Road from the Fernow Building. This year they hatched three chicks, the Ks. Two of the three fledged – this is the only time that Big Red did not have all of her chicks that hatched fledge. K2 sustained an injury to her right cheek and beak in the nest and had to be euthanized. She would never have been able to live in the wild nor would she have been able to have any quality of life in captivity. The two surviving chicks, K1 and K3, have already proven themselves to be excellent flyers and it looks like K1 has already had some successful hunts.
Big Red was named after the territory she dominates, the Cornell Campus. She is also a large Red-tail Hawk with a lot of the beautiful rusty brown colour and bring orange-red tail feathers. In the image below she is beginning to become ‘Big Blond’ as she is moulting.
She is the matriarch. It is estimated that she has probably hatched chicks for fifteen years. Ezra was probably her first mate. If she hatched three chicks per year, that means that she has fledged 44. That is an incredible record! Sadly none of the chicks were banded so there is no knowledge of their whereabouts or status. A small number are known to have died after fledging. One was injured and is an ambassador bird for Cornell, E3.
Big Red is noted for her very dark plumage and that amazing red feathered apron.
Ferris first spotted one of the Ks on a light tower.
Big Red was spotted on the Water Cooling Plant.
You can see that her feathers look a little ruffled, untidy. This is the moulting.
Those piercing dark eyes just make you melt.
Can you spot the hawk? Seriously I believe that Ferris Akel has ‘hawk eyes’!
Oh, look it is Arthur! He is Big Red’s mate and is one of the most amazing hunters I have ever seen. He is also moulting!
This is K1 looking out. She is a really good flier and is also believed to have already made a couple of ‘prey kills’. Yesterday she had a little chipmunk and was doing a war cry when K3 came around hoping to get some of it. Normally if the bird is war crying they are the ones that caught the prey and will not share! Even if it is their cute little brother.
At first Ferris and the gang were not sure but once we saw the stripes on the tail, we knew it was K1. K3 has a muddy tail almost verging on red – a first for all of Big Red’s chicks.
K1 is gorgeous and very dark. These images are soft not because Ferris could not focus but because of the heat shimmer off the buildings.
And here is cutie pie, K3. All those little third hatches just soften my heart.
Oh, you wanted your sister to share her chippie and she told you to go and catch your own! Poor little thing.
And that was a wrap. Ferris persisted in finding all of the Ks and trying to get some good images of them despite the heat shimmer and the fact that it was getting dark.
Good night Big Red, good night Arthur, good night K1 and K3.
Big Red and Arthur are moving the Ks around the buildings on the Cornell Campus. They can now be found around the Water cooling buildings, Bartels, and across the ravine. It will not be long til they have them out by the buildings with the cows and the open fields. It is part of their training – enlarging their territory bit by bit. How do they do thus? Food is a great motivator and the adults will carry prey to different areas of the campus and the Ks will follow! It is that easy.
If you see the hawks coughing and shaking their heads and necks and something gets ‘thrown’ out of their mouth, this is called a ‘cast’. It is the bits and bobs of the prey that cannot be digested that is sort of compressed into a small pellet. The raptors cannot digest this and so they throw it up. This is properly called ‘casting a pellet’. This is with the exception of the owls that have a gizzard for digesting these parts of the prey.
It is now getting towards the last week of July. The Ks will be with us for a bit longer. I remember last year. Once J2 and J3 had been catching their own prey around the barns they began soaring. It was not long after that that J3 went poof and was gone with the winds to be followed by J2 the following day.
The last bit of news this morning is that Tiny Little and siblings were fed by White YW (dad) this morning. 462 was first followed by Tiny Little.
It is now around tea time, late afternoon, and Tiny Little has been like a ducking food crying in the nest for a bit.
Thanks so much for joining me. It was a great evening with Big Red and the Ks. They are progressing so well towards their own independence. Sadly, they do not get bands and we will not know where they go or what they do. Lucky for us Tiny Little is Blue 463! Take care all.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Ferris Akel’s Livestream and Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest.
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.
Adorable. Simply adorable.
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.
Congratulations to Annie and Grinnell on the third hatch at the University of California Peregrine Falcon nest in the Campanile. What a glorious site to hatch! Looks like the time was about 6:00:09.
Three and a half hours later, soft and fluffy like its two older sibs. One more hatch to go for Annie and Grinnell! Oh, aren’t they cute!!!
Congratulations to the entire team at Rutland and Urdaibai Ospreys in Northern Spain. The first egg for the translocated Ospreys was laid this morning. The male is Roy – after Roy Dennis and his boundless energy and commitment to the project. The female is Landa. This is just fantastic news in trying to get more Ospreys breeding in different parts of Europe.
Some are thinking that there could be a hatch at The Landings, Savannah Osprey Nest on Skidaway Island happening. Here is a close up of 1 and 2 and that third egg taken at 16:38 today. Am I missing something? Is there a pip?
Congratulations to Clywedog’s Dylan and Blue 5 F Seren on the arrival of the second egg! Oh, that nest is soggy.
There has been a visitor to the Loch Arkaig nest when Louis was there. Females generally have darker necklaces than the males. Look at Louis’s for a comparison. If this is a potential mate, she is quite beautiful. Still, we are all remaining hopeful for Aila to return despite rumours that there were some sounds of ‘rumpy pumping’ on the microphone out of view of the camera.
As we continue to track the condition of Tiny Tot at the Achieva Osprey nest, there have been two fish deliveries today, so far. The first came at 7:13:11. Tiny Tot got a little – and I do mean a little – food. The rain has been coming down and the babies were soaked around 8:57.
The second fish delivery came at 12:35:37. Tiny Tot was able to steal some bites from Diane feeding 1 and was eating with 1 until 2 came up. Again, Tiny Tot had some bites but he simply has not had enough food.
As I have argued in an earlier blog, Tiny Tot’s getting a good meal – at this moment in time – will not impact the survival of 1 and 2. Tiny Tot is not a threat to them like he might have been at 2 or 3 days old. That was when the elimination of a competitor would enhance the survival of the older two. The big sibs are nearly ready to fledge. Tiny Tot having some good meals will be good for the entire family whose DNA will be added to the natural world. Remember, 1 and 2 also share DNA with Tiny and the parents. The survival of the three promotes the DNA of Jack and Diane and the survival enhances their place in the natural selection process. It makes their success in raising three healthy ospreys to fledge – glowing! Tiny Tot is too old and it simply does not make sense to deprive him of food at this stage!
People on the streaming cam chat have gotten upset at one another and emotional. In their article on ‘Avian Siblicide’, D. Mock et al do discuss the fact that some birds are ‘selfish’. The observation by some chatters that 2 will keep Tiny Tot away from food even when its crop is more than full is directly related to that behaviour of monopolization. Mock et al argue that being selfish is a trait that can be passed thru DNA and that it should not be the guiding principle of natural selection (445). Those who have been alarmed by 2 have used terms that, indeed, indicate an action that is selfish – ‘2 is being a piggy.’ The adjective is, according to Mock et al, appropriate for the actions of 2. We all hope that the three will be healthy and fledge – it is clear that all persons care. It is clear, at this junction, that the nest and the family would benefit from the survival of Tiny Tot. Hopefully, everyone can join together and wish all the best without being defensive or argumentative. Birds, like people, are not immune to being selfish and monopolizing resources. In the end, though, it sure helps if they share.
Over in Kansas, Bonnie looks adoringly at the two little Great Horned Owls her and Clyde raised on the stolen Bald Eagle Nest. They are branching and nearing fledge watch. What a magical nest to watch with two parents who worked really hard for the success of their owlets!
White-bellied sea eagles, Lady and Dad, have been spending more and more time at their nest in the old Ironwood Tree in Sydney Olympic Park. You might remember that Daisy, the Pacific Black Duck, commandeered the space to lay her eggs only to have the ravens eat them all! Very disappointing. Lady and Dad are now doing some nestorations and are filling in that hole a little. Everyone is excited for June to come. You can almost hear them say, ‘Look at the mess that Little Duck made!’
It is nearing dinner time and Big Red is incubating the eggs. Arthur will be around shortly so that she can have dinner and a break before night duty. She looks really comfy on that nest on the light well on the grounds of Cornell University. What a beauty at 18. The grand dame of Red Tail Hawks!
Thank you so much for joining me today. It is still cold on the Canadian prairies and the snow is not melting in my garden. The normal cast of characters was joined by Fox Sparrows in droves this morning. Their song is incredibly lovely. What a joy! Take care. Stay safe. See you soon.
Thank you to the following streaming cams where I obtained my screen shots: Farmer Derek, Cornwall Bird Lab and Savannah Osprey, Woodland Trust, Post Code Lottery, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Achieva Credit Union, Clywedog, Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Center, and Cornell Bird Lab and Red Tail Hawks.
My day started off really well with the arrival of the much anticipated first egg of Big Red and Arthur at the Fernow light tower in Ithaca, NY. It was really windy this morning reminding us of the terrible weather this gorgeous eighteen year old Red Tail Hawk endures annually.
Arthur arrives at 14:47 and gets to see their first egg. He had to climb over Big Red to do it though!
Arthur looked at the egg for a bit and was promptly off to find some prey for Big Red.
Big Red does most of the incubating. Every year – this is now their fourth – she seems to allow him to incubate a little more. He is a great provider and she is never hungry.
Arthur has brought Big Red a vole for her dinner as the lights go out in Ithaca. You can see it at the front right of the egg cup. How sweet. But wait, it could be a chippie. What do you think with those ears? Arthur is a champ at catching chippies and if you watch this nest you will become an expert at identifying dead prey. Even if you don’t want to. I promise.
Last year I would stay awake in the night or get up to make sure Big Red was OK. There was more than one night when she was encased in snow and ice. Laura Culley used to say to me, ‘Don’t worry. Big Red has this all under control.’ And, of course, Laura was always right. But it didn’t matter – hundreds of us still worried. She looks so contented and happy. It is the middle of the night and it is quiet. The buses that drive down the road in front of the nest aren’t running and there are few, if any, people about.
Look for another egg on the 28th! Big Red can lay three eggs by the 30th. One every other day. This couple have no trouble raising three eyases. If you wanted a perfect hawk family with a territory with lots of prey, their eyases have both.
Nancy and Harry at the MN DNR nest have a chick. The hatch began with a pip at 6:27pm on the 25th. We got a little peek at their new addition today! It is a little cutie and Harry already has food up on the nest for his first. Congratulations Nancy and Harry!
Ah, two older birds – Big Red and Nancy – both choose much younger mates. I hope Harry is as good a provider as Arthur is. So far he has been amazing.
Isn’t Nancy beautiful?
They aren’t eggs or chicks but the Osprey began arriving in the UK so fast today, the very last day of World Osprey Week, that people had trouble filling in their charts. Here are some of the arrivals at the monitored nests if you are keeping track.
Blue 33 or Telyn (female) arrived at the Dyfi Osprey nest in Wales at 17:28 on the 26th. Telyn will now wait for her mate Idris to arrive! This couple is one of the most popular in Wales.
Blue 35 and White YW both landed on the Foulshaw Moss nest today. What fantastic timing.
And instead of Louis or Alia, snow arrived at Loch Arkaig in Scotland.
Everything is starting to get exciting. Laddie and his new lady NC0 of the Loch Lowes Osprey Nest were caught mating on the nest. Let’s hope they have a good bond.
Sadly, the fish arrivals at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St. Petersburg did not materialize in the quantity for Tiny Tot to get a food feeding. He tried hard even walking along the nest rail to get fed, begging all the time. The older ones fed for two hours but Tiny only got 7 bites. There was hope for a late fish arrival but it did not materialize. If you read my blog regularly, you will know that I have suffered over this Osprey nest. And that is directly related to wanting to know ‘the why’ of the behaviour. Jack and Diane have raised three before to fledge. Is it the heat? the winds? a lack of fish? Studies have shown that the smallest can be excluded by the bigger chicks even if there is enough food. I would argue that when there was enough, this nest was civil. But a bad storm, then high temperatures (fish go to the bottom normally then), and winds caused an erratic delivery. That set about a perception of a lack of fish for all. For two days, the 23rd and 24th there was plenty and all was well. The past two have seen insufficient food even for Harriet. It is all about survival. And nature, contrary to what many believe, is not cute nor is it nice. That all birds would have parents like Big Red and Arthur and a territory for prey like Big Red and Arthur – well, that would be wonderful.
Thank you for joining me today. I would love to say hello to each of you individually. Thank you for your letters and your comments. I am so glad that you are finding joy in the birds. It is magical, isn’t it? We get a glimpse into a world that we would not have otherwise.
I want to thank the following sponsors of streaming cams: Cornell Bird Lab, MN DNR, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Dyfi in Wales.
I want to start with this old battle scared Bald Eagle now known as ‘The Warrior’. Perseverance would be a great name, too! This amazing eagle will not give up.
Last fall, in late September or early October, he was seriously injured. His leg was broken and his beak was badly compromised but, he was flying and no one treated him because he was not ‘down’. His leg healed (kinda) and you can see the state of his beak. On 10 February, CT Environmental Conservation Officer Michael Curran, found the Bald Eagle in a ditch unable to move. Lucky for this old fella’, he was taken to A Place Called Hope in Killingworth, CT, USA. He should have been dead. The staff cleaned him up, fed him, and the next day he was still alive and showing all signs of wanting to live. His lead levels were found to be 48.9 – highly toxic. And so a long series of Chelation Therapy began. In this process, EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)—is injected into the bloodstream (usually through an IV) to remove heavy metals such as lead from the bird’s body.
On 17 February, his lead levels had dropped from 49.8 to 12.5. And on 2 March, they were down to 10.1.
Believe in miracles? I have said it many times but the survival of these beautiful raptors depends entirely on someone willing to take a chance and spend the money! One session of Chelation Therapy costs almost $600 US. The easiest way to fix this is to simply ban the use of lead in hunting and fishing equipment. It is that easy. Every day I read about more and more birds dying from lead toxicity.
On 4 March, the old eagle was doing so well that he was able to go outside in the exterior aviary for the first time since he arrived at the clinic.
And here he is today 15 March 2021 flying around the aviary.
The clinic says that he has difficulty breathing because of the beak injury, especially if he exerts himself. He can fly and has no problems making his target for landing. He can be wobbly when standing. This old fellow who has probably been hungry a lot of his life is very much enjoying the food! I don’t blame him – nice cut up meat in a dish with no rodenticides or lead. Couldn’t be better than that.
If you are anxiously awaiting the Loch Arkaig streaming cam to start, wait no longer, it is now running. We are all awaiting the arrival of Louis and Aila. In 2020, Louis arrived on 5 April with Aila returning on 6 April. In 2019, they both arrived on 4 April.
And the nest that I am waiting for – because Red Tail Hawks and Peregrine Falcons are my true loves – is in Ithaca, New York. The nest is on a light stand on the Cornell University Campus and it belongs to Big Red who is eighteen this year and her mate Arthur who will be five. Arthur has been working non-stop early in the morning to get the nest just right for his mate. I am thinking we will see eggs in that nest in about a week! Yahoo. I promise to make you a fan of RTH’s before they fledge in late July or early August.
And speaking of Red Tail Hawks, it looks like Pale Male – who is thirty-one years old – is actively preparing for this season with his current mate, Octavia. Their nest is at 927 Fifth Avenue on Central Park – the penthouse on the park! D. Bruce Yolton did a short video of Pale Male:
Bruce keeps an active list of all the happenings at the fourteen Red Tail Hawk nests in New York City. (A few are not listed). You can check it out by Googling ‘Urban Hawks’.
If you have not seen the amazing story of Pale Male, all his mates, and the furor that came to involve actress Mary Tyler Moore – the battle to save the nest- then you must watch this film. You simply have to!
Here are the Monday beef and bouquets in Bird World: The male Osprey, Jack, at the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida gets my ‘beef’ for today. It is hot, nearly 30 degrees C and your three kids and your mate are hungry and dehydrating. It is 15:27 – get yourself in gear and bring them a fish and don’t eat the head this time! The Dead Beat Dad Award for this week goes to you, Jack.
The bouquet goes to Louis in the Kistachie National Forest Eagle Nest. This first time Bald eagle dad simply can’t stop fishing. One day there were eighteen on the nest! Stacked! The eaglet and Anna thought they were going to have to sleep on them. Wonder if we could get some of those fish couriered over to St Pete’s for those cute little Osplets? So Louis, first time father, congratulations – you win the bouquet for the week.
Anna is feeding the soon to be named little one on the nest inside the Kisatchie Forest. This little eaglet is so full – almost all day – that it spends much of its time in a food coma. The other day its crop was so big it had a hard time moving. No one is going hungry on this nest! Anna picked a good reliable mate.
The stack of eighteen fish from the weekend is finally dwindling.
Thank you for joining me in Bird World. Take care, stay safe!
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams: Kisatchie National Forest, Achieva Credit Union (St Petersburg, 4th Street), Loch Arkaig Ospreys, and Cornell Labs. Thank you to A Place Called Hope for their dedication to raptors, their belief in the Old Warrior, and for the photos from their FB Page.
There have certainly been a number of nest hijacks this season as well as a number of unwelcome intruders. The threats by the Great Horned Owls continue across the United States on well established Bald Eagle nests. Ravens have been attacking the Bald Eagle at the Channel Islands nest and, of course, we are more than aware of the danger the GHOW in Fort Myers is posing to the nest of M15 and Harriet. At the Pittsburg Hays Bald Eagle nest, on the night of 23-24 February, a GHOW launched an attack on the nest. It was the first ever recorded in that nest’s history. Daisy the Duck was not a threat to the White-Bellied Sea Eagles when she borrowed their nest to lay her eggs but the GHOW sure was to the Bald Eagles near Newton, Kansas who backed off and surrendered the nest to the GHOW. It is, of course, not just the ‘top of the food chain’ raptors that are being bothered, injured, or killed, it is also the smaller raptors such as the Red-Tailed Hawks.
For the past few days, Big Red and Arthur, the resident Red-tail Hawks who ‘own’ the territory within the Cornell Campus at Ithaca, have been renovating their nest on the light stand at the Cornell stadium. The pair have been together since the death of Big Red’s long term mate, Ezra, in 2017. Ezra was killed defending Big Red. It was shortly after Ezra’s death in March, that a very young Red Tail Hawk arrived on the nest. He didn’t even have his red tail! By the fall, when Arthur had shed his juvenile plumage, Big Red had decided that he was the one. She had put several potential mates through what could only be called an exercise to see if they were worthy of her and her territory and also to see if they would be good defenders and providers for her and the eyases. Arthur won the contest. The pair successfully raised eyases in 2018 (when Arthur was two), 2019, and in 2020, the Js. This year will be the Ks.
It is now less than a month til the first egg will be laid and the two are working hard to get what is left of the nest after the fledging of the Js. They began when there was still snow on the nest a few days ago.
‘Look at the mess those kids made when they kept trying to fledge from between the light boxes! Arthurrrrrrrr. There is a lot of work to do. You had better get busy.’
These two hawks are the funniest birds I have ever seen. Big Red is VERY loud and gives Arthur distinct instructions about everything. It is quite clear who wears the pantaloons in this nest. Year after year, they have sent observers into hysterical states of laughter, this eighteen year old RTH and her five year old mate.
The pair made several visits calculating the amount of nesting material that they are going to need to get the platform readied. Arthur brings in massive amounts of twigs building up the front and the sides of the nest over the following days as the snow melts.
And then, on the morning of 25 February at 6:56 a group of European Starlings come to check out the nest! Are they thinking that this might be a really good place for them to raise their young? Oh, I don’t think so.
Twenty-three minutes later, Arthur arrives at the nest with a piece of greenery. While raptors will use evergreen to keep away insects, laying a piece of pine in the nest bowl is a signal to all other birds that this nest is occupied.
After placing the pine needles in the nest bowl, Arthur looks around. ‘Where are they!? I hope they are watching!’.
Arthur decides to work on the nest bowl rubbing his chest against the twigs and nesting material to make an indent for Big Red’s eggs.
And before he leaves he takes a very good look around. Arthur knows that Big Red might like a nice squirrel for dinner but she would also love to eat any European Starling that tries to mess with HER nest.
I want to leave you with a smile on your face. It’s the end of February and we can all use one.
Big Red and Arthur do many things to teach their eyases. Sometimes it is about nest building and at other times it is imprinting the different prey items in their mind so they know what they should and should not eat in the future. And, sometimes, Arthur plays tricks. Have a laugh. The video is three minutes long:
Aren’t those little eyases just the cutest?!
Thanks for checking in with me and the birds. Updates tomorrow on the progress of the new mom at the KNF nest and some recent happenings in the Bald Eagle nest – first eggs happening everywhere including Canada. It is going to be busy in a month!
Thank you to the Cornell Ornithology Lab for its streaming cam on the nest of Big Red and Arthur.