Joy in Bird World – Legacy is home! (updated with video)

This morning at 10:41:31 Legacy, the fledgling of Samson and Gabby at the NE Florida Bald Eagle cam came home to her natal nest. Joy rang out through the community.

Legacy is calling out to her parents who, on any other day, would have been waiting for her at the nest tree! She is tired and hungry. What a relief! Samson is going to be over joyed to bring Legacy a fish!!!!!!! Legacy is calling and calling. She is ready for a snack. I hope Gabby and Samson are nearby soon.

Deb Steyck put together a video of the return. Here is the link:

It is 2:48pm EDT on the Northeast Florida Bald Eagle nest in Jacksonville. Legacy continues to call for her parents. Oh, how I wish I knew bird calls better! There are lots of songbirds but a few unusual calls and Legacy seems to have settled in to wait for the arrival of a parent. I was so afraid that she was going to leave. Hopefully – for all of us – she is tired and hungry and will stick to that nest til Samson or Gabby appears. Oh, what a relief to have our girl home!

As we celebrate the great joy and relief it is to see Legacy, in north Wales today people are wondering what is happening to the care and kindness for wildlife. The Lyn Brenig Osprey Nest was destroyed by an individual or individuals arriving in a boat in the dark. The mated pair from last year did not return and the community was so excited when a new couple came to the platform and laid an egg. Now that egg and nest are completely destroyed. The Ospreys that were there are, hopefully, not traumatized and will relocate to a nearby nest in which a dummy egg has been placed to entice them. How sad for everyone. The person or persons responsible would have know the area well. Indeed, they might even live on the lake and for reasons of their own decided to rid the lake of these wonderful birds that Wales is trying so hard to reintroduce. The North Wales Police are out in force to find the persons responsible for this destruction.

And the continued well being of Tiny turned ‘Biggie’ Tot continues on the Achieva Osprey Nest. The first fish delivery was at 11:23:06 and it looks like Biggie Tot got the majority of it. This is nothing short of a miracle. This little one survived three days without food several times – and in total – 12 full days without food. Tiny is now growing and putting on weight. So good to see. Tiny is truly a survivor.

The other news on the Achieva Osprey Nest is the fledge of sibling #2. It was a magnificent take off with a crash landing right on Tiny Biggie Tot.

There she goes! It is 6:57:10.

Oops. The return was at 7:04:43. I don’t think Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot was impressed.

Take care everyone. I will be checking in on the nests later today. Thank you for joining me.

Thank you to the Achieva Credit Union and the NE Florida and the AEF streaming cams where I grabbed my screen shots. Thank you also to the North Wales Wildlife Trusts for the images of the destroyed nest at Lyn Brenig. Truly a tragedy for the community.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 April 2021

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

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

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

What a beauty!

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

Is it Legacy? 29 April 2021

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

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

29 April 2021

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

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

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

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

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

A rather soggy Big Red. 29 April 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Feed me, feed me! 29 April 2021

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

Eve feeding her first hatch. 29 April 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dire situations unfolding in Latvia and Florida today

There are two situations unfolding as I write this in Bird World. The first is at the White Tail Eagle Nest in Latvia. The nest is in Durbe Municipality. The White Tail Eagle couple have three eggs on the nest. The male disappeared on 27 March. It is believed that he might have been killed by a rival male wanting to claim the female and the nest but, all that is known for certain is that the male has not brought food to the nest for four days and is presumed dead. The female has not left incubating her eggs. She will have to leave at some point or she will starve to death. Will she accept the intruding male? Will he care for her? and the eggs? Or is there a rival couple trying to take over the entire nest?

As many have noticed, the female is getting weaker and the intruder is able to get closer to the nest. You can see it at the top left just flying in to land and the female on the nest calling to it. Soon she will be too weak to protect herself and the nest. This reminds me of the situation with Klints last year where the father also disappeared. It was later in the year and Klints was almost ready to fledge but his mother would not leave him and, as a result, she could only find small mice for his food and he starved. Unfortunately, it takes two adults working full time to raise a family on one of these nests. And it is also reminiscent of the NE Florida Nest when Juliet was injured and presumed killed by a female intruder when her eggs were about to hatch. Romeo tried to take care but could not do all the jobs of both the male and the female. The intruding female took the hatched chick when he had to go and hunt for food for it and him. Romeo left the nest despondent and never returned.

You can watch as this event unfolds here:

At the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida, the male brought in two very small fish yesterday and another small one this morning. The three chicks are at a critical point. The two biggest require more food daily to thrive. The little one requires food just to live. The next couple of days are critical. It is now believed that he has another family that he is also providing for. The female on that nest is Diane and she has not had much to eat. The third chick, the very small one, Tiny Tot, has not had food for 2.5 days now going on three. It is 28 degrees C and he is dehydrating. Storms are moving into the area. Sadly, this is a scenario that has played out many times in the Osprey world. I am thinking of Iris, the oldest known living female Osprey, at 28 whose mate, Louis, had another family and her nest suffered. Even with two parents, it is often difficult to maintain the level of food for four – the three little ones and the mother. The smallest in the Port Lincoln Osprey nest in Australia died at eighteen days of age from siblicide. He was called Tapps. It was not a case of the father having two nests that I am aware of but, rather, issues getting fish or the father simply not going out fishing.

If you feel so inclined, you can watch the Achieva Osprey nest here:

We need some good news to balance all this out.

So briefly, the female, Bella, at the NCTC Bald Eagle Nest noticed that one of her small chicks, E5 had ingested fishing line. She acted quickly and pulled it out!

E5 ingests the fishing line. 30 March 2021
Bella is removing the fishing line. 30 March 2021

This is a great Bald Eagle nest to watch. These are very attentive parents and there is lots of prey. Below is the link:

I would like to leave today on another positive note. Big Red and Arthur. What can I say? This couple is dynamite when it comes to raising Red Tail Hawks. Arthur has been trained well and rises to the occasion every time. When the eggs hatch and the Ks are with us, Arthur will have that nest lined with prey – like a fur lined bed.

Arthur is on incubation duty right now!

Here is the link to the streaming cam set up on the Cornell University campus to watch Big Red and Arthur. Once the eggs hatch there will be a live chat as well.

There is lots of news on Osprey arrivals in the UK and I will bring those to you this evening with an update on the two nests I am watching – the White Tailed Eagle nest in Latvia and the Osprey nest in St. Petersburg.

Thank you for joining me today. I wish all of the news was joyful but, sadly Mother Nature is not a warm fuzzy mother. She can be very cruel.

Thank you to the following streaming cams: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Labs, NCTC, and LDF tiesraide.

Fingers Crossed! The Old Warrior may have his forever home

In the fall of 2020, a Bald Eagle was severely injured. His beak was quite damaged and one of his legs was broken. He continued to survive in the wild until he was found starving to death and unable to move in a ditch. He was taken to A Place Called Hope, a rehab clinic in Killingworth, Connecticut. The staff did not hold out much hope for him but they cleaned him up and fed him. He wanted to live! They tested him for lead poisoning and you might recall that it was 49.8 – extremely high. Still the staff felt that if he wanted to live so badly they wanted to give him a chance. They began Chelation Therapy. Chelation Therapy involves infusing his system with a synthetic substance known as EDTA. The heavy metals stick to the EDTA and are excreted from the body.

The image below shows the Old Warrior right when he arrived at A Place Called Hope.

This is an image of him cleaned up.

The Chelation Therapy worked and the lead levels in the body of this beautiful eagle dropped from 49.8 to 10.

He is such a peaceful bird, not a threat to the staff. He was allowed to walk around the clinic when it was being cleaned.

By March the 4th, the Old Warrior was ready to go outside in the Aviary. It was here that the staff would watch him and determine the nest phase for this determined Bald Eagle.

In their observations, he could fly and land where he wanted but he had difficulty breathing. Despite the injury to his beak he had a terrific appetite.

Today it was determined that the Old Warrior was not releasable into the wild. Here is in the aviary at A Place Called Hope. A Place Called Hope have applied to the USFWS for a permit to keep him forever. While the goal is always to have the birds live free in the wild, it was determined with all of his physical problems that this would not be in the raptor’s best interests. Let us hope that he lives a good and long life. He looks so gorgeous after his bath in the images below.

All over wildlife rehabbers and raptor lovers are calling for an end to the use of lead in both hunting and fishing equipment. Perhaps this eagle can be the poster child for that movement.

Thank you for joining me and checking in on this amazing raptor. The Old Warrior is a symbol of persistence and endurance. Let us all be as strong as he is!

Thank you to APCH for their continued care. Their facility is not for profit and is run by donations. If you feel so inclined, please donate. The cost of a single Chelation Therapy session is nearly $600 US. You can Google them. Thank you to APCH for the images from their FB Page. I have reposted them.

Catching up with Legacy

I have been spending so much time checking on the arrival of Ospreys both here and in the United Kingdom, that some of my favourite eaglets and chicks on nests have grown – seemingly overnight – to be ‘super size’. I am feeling a little guilty for neglecting them for the past few days as they have brought such joy to my life and, I hope, yours.

Legacy hatched on 8 February. Do you remember when she was just a ball of fluff? In the image below she is a wee one with soft grey down and only a few pinfeathers starting to come through. She is getting ready for a ‘ps’. It is remarkable how all of the nestlings know to send their bathroom out and off of the nest. Her little head is touching the bottom of the nest bowl and she is balancing herself on the tips of her wings in order to elevate her little bottom. No one taught her, not one of her parents showed her how to do this. Oh, if it had been so easy potty training humans!

Today it was grey and rainy with a bit of wind. There has been heavy rain and tornado watches in the area for several days now. The birds are a bit wet. Here is Legacy getting ready to do a ‘ps’ today. She is 42 days old. And she kept testing the edge of the nest with her feet when she backed up. I feared she was going to fall off!

Legacy is now mantling food when the parents bring it to the nest and she is self-feeding. In the image below you can see the parents looking on while Legacy mantles the food – she spreads her wings far to each side and lowers her body of the food in a stance that doesn’t allow others to get to the prey. This is a good lesson for Legacy. She will need this to survive in the wild.

Legacy is learning to hold the prey down with her feet and talons so that it is secure and she can tear off bites with her sharp beak.

Legacy overcame Avian Pox and now she spends a lot of time doing wing exercises and hopping about the nest. Eggie and Pinecone were her good buddies. Her dad, Samson, buried Eggie in the nest last week when Legacy was self-feeding. Then he covered it with some Spanish Moss probably hoping that Legacy would not dig it out. Pinecone is still around! Legacy learned some valuable lessons with ‘Eggie’. She learned how to brood, how to aerate the nest, and roll the egg as well as incubating it. She is going to be a great mom.

Legacy poses with her beautiful mother, Gabrielle. The little one has the most incredible deep black with a hint of brown-red in her plumage. And that little bit of a tail in the first image is now growing nicely. She will need to have a long tail to help her fledge. Isn’t she stunning? Gabby and Samson make beautiful babies!

And here Legacy is kissy-kissy with mom.

It has been such a pleasure to watch this little one grow up. Legacy overcame some early eye irritation issues, then the Avian Pox, and has grown into this beautiful girl. OK. I will always believe Legacy is going to be a big girl like Gabby. Can’t say why, just one of those feelings. I hope we find out one day.

Samson and Gabrielle have done an amazing job teaching her and getting her ready for the day she will leave the nest and be on her own. Fledging is 10-14 weeks. It is hard to believe that we are halfway there!

I will leave you with an image of another nest. It is pip watch at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Bald Eagle nest. This is the nest with the young 4 year old father. Hoping for the best!

And the bouquet today goes to Clyde, the Great Horned Owl and mate of Bonnie. It has been cold and raining in Kansas and still in the last hour – just one hour – has brought in four prey items for Bonnie, Tiger, and Lily. The rabbit and the garter snake are in the pantry but Bonnie is trying to keep the wee ones dry – and it is not easy – so they are having mice and vole for snacks. It looks like it is a prey rich area for the couple and their owlets.

Bonnie and Clyde are wet but the little ones are dry. Clyde brought in four prey items. He is giving Bonnie a mouse in this delivery.

The beef goes once again to Jack at the Achieva Osprey Nest. Tiny Tot got some tiny bites of food in the last of three deliveries. The two eldest have shut him out of eating. Diane the mom has fished herself today when food did not come in. It is a stressful nest to watch.

Thank you so much for joining me today as we caught up with Legacy. And thank you to the NEFL Eagle Cam and the AEF for their streaming cam where I grabbed these images.

Migration. Spring is coming!

A very wise person told me not to watch the calendar. The birds know when spring is coming and when the ground will warm and the icy waters of Manitoba will melt. My friend’s name was Hector Gray. The village of Graysville, Manitoba where I had my pottery was named after his family. The Grays – Hector, Wilma, and their son, George – were my best friends and always there when George Toews rang for me to come and pick up meddling lambs. George carried the orphans downstairs to the cellar for me and my kids fed them with bottles of milk from our cow until they could safely go in the barn. Spring lambs! The low flying honking geese abounded. They landed on the farmer’s fields looking for leftover grain from the harvest in the fall. ‘Back then’ the geese arrived after 1 April. Today, however, is 4 March and sightings and photographs of the first arrivals from their winter migration brought joy for many in the Manitoba Birding community yesterday.

In the southwestern corner of our province, Gary Bajus caught sight of these Canada geese on a farmer’s field and posted the images for all to enjoy on the Manitoba Birding & Wildlife Photography FB page. Thanks Gary!

3 March 2021 Southwestern Manitoba @ Gary Bajus
3 March 2021. Southwestern Manitoba. @ Gary Bajus

And in Winnipeg, photographer, Andrew Standfield, took the images of this Bald Eagle in Charleswood and posted them on the Manitoba Birding and Wildlife Photography FB Page. I am posting these here because the local group is seeking information about the band. Can you help identify this majestic raptor?

3 March 2021. Charleswood, Winnipeg, MB. @Andrew Standfield
3 March 2021. Charleswood, Winnipeg, MB. @Andrew Standfield
3 March 2021. Charleswood, Winnipeg, MB. @Andrew Standfield

In Manitoba, the adult Bald Eagles tend to return to Lake Winnipeg congregating around Hecla Island. Soon the Ospreys will be arriving, too. A public utility, Manitoba Hydro, built nesting poles for the Ospreys after many had been electrocuted on the hydro poles in an area south of Gimli. This is a great ‘birding’ area of Manitoba.

Just twenty kilometres north of Winnipeg (at the bottom of the map), near Selkirk, is Oak Hammock Marsh. The Wetlands of this Nature Center are renowned for the diversity of the species that visitors can see. Besides the other wildlife, there are over 300 species of birds alone. And like all of us, the first arrival of a Canada Goose signals spring! And that goose arrived today, 4 March, at 1:05 pm.

First Canada Goose arrived at Oak Hammock Marsh, 4 March 1:05 pm. Image from Oak Hammock Marsh’s Streaming Cam.

The Manitoba Bison herd at Fort Whyte Alive on McCreary Road in Winnipeg is always there – rain, snow, sleet, and sunshine. The wetlands area of this beautiful nature area are also home to hundreds of species of birds and the lake is awaiting the arrival of the geese and ducks. What you want to bet one arrives today or tomorrow!

Bison herd at Fort White Alive

Oh, and spring means that the geese and ducks will be coming back to the park near to where I live. The Dark-Eyed Juncos will be back picking the threads out of my carpet while the Grackles will be hoping to have a successful clutch with no interference from the local Crow family. Of course, Sharpie will be keeping an eye on all of the garden activity.

Dark-eyed Junco

Take care everyone. Spring must be here! It will be +9 degrees Celsius in Winnipeg on 6 March 2021 – or that is what the weather news is promising.

Gosh, lots of nest happenings!

Today is a check in with our favourite birds. I am working on a developmental chart so that you can check and see how the various birds are growing and if they are meeting their milestone goals. That will be ready for tomorrow, hopefully. We haven’t checked in with our favourite ‘babies’ for a couple of days and there has been lots of activity.

Our first stop is in Fort Myers at the SWFL Eagle Nest with Harriet, M15, E17 and E18. Just yesterday E17, the one that picks on her little brother, was sound asleep in a food coma. E18 decided it would be a good time just to sit on her! You can tell the difference between the two because E17, two hours older, currently has many black feathers on its back.

These two just get funnier and funnier. They have been working on cleaning up the nest, looking over the edge at the world around them, and flapping those wings. When they stretch, like E17 is doing now you can see how long their legs are. Meanwhile, after they have eaten themselves silly, they often look like they are turning into snow people…round blobs with very large jelly bellies.

E18 decides that E17 is a good sofa.

The parents have been introducing the little ones to various types of prey. The eaglets will imprint the animals into their memory and know, when they are older, what to hunt. The other day there was a virtual smorgasbord of three fish, a rabbit, a squirrel, and a cattle egret. The kids have eaten til their crops were so big they simply fell over in a food coma. E18 is at the top of the screen. Have a look. Looks like he has swallowed a small ball. E18 really liked the Cattle Egret. I guess eaglets get tired of eating the same old thing, too.

M15 feeds E18 rabbit and Cattle Egret, Harriet feeds E17 fish

At the same time there has been some very concerning activity. A Great Horned Owl (GHOW) knocked M15 off a branch and into the nest the other evening. It is a wonder he was not severely injured. The owl has gotten braver and almost took Harriet out of the nest – like literally pulling her out. The owl knows that there are little ones for its dinner in that nest. The advantage the owl has is that it flies silent, like a Stealth bomber and it is nocturnal. There is concern because E17 and E18 are too big to fit under Harriet anymore. They often sleep at various places on that big nest. They would be easy pickings for that owl. I know I sound like a broken record but GHOWs are powerful opponents. There is nothing cute about them when it comes to survival.

The image below is from an established Bald Eagle nest near Newton, Kansas. A Great Horned Owl is taking it over to lay her eggs. The owl and eagle confront one another. The Bald Eagle leaves. To date, there have been no other altercations that I aware. The Bald Eagles might have found somewhere else to lay their eggs this season. The GHOW’s eggs will hatch if all goes well and the little owls will fledge at the end of April.

The image below shows the Bald Eagle decided to leave and wait to fight another day. Better safe than severely injured.

And speaking of injuries. Look at this fellow. His lead levels just continue to improve. And when they are cleaning the clinic, A Place Called Hope, he gets the run of the place to walk around. The rehabbers say he loves being ‘the big cheese’ and gets to look at all of the other patients in their cages. When the weather gets better, he will be able to go to the outside aviary. My goodness, he sure looks fabulous!

Sure are lots of changes and goings on in the bird world. Down in New Zealand, the Royal Albatross Chick of 2021 was left alone by its mother, LGL (Lime Green Lime) for the first time over the weekend. This is normal and is called ‘post guard’. The parents begin to leave them alone for periods of time preparing for when the chick will only see their parents when they return to feed them. Happily, the little chick’s dad, LGK (Lime Green Black) flew in about three hours after the mother had left. So that first solitary time wasn’t so bad except for one of the red banded non-breeding juveniles that wanted to give it a hard time and scare it. In actual fact, the older ones are just curious but they can get a little rough. This causes the little ones do get frightened. Imagine the first time you are left alone ever and some big Albatross comes over and starts pulling at your head! It had to be frightening.

Red Banded Non-Breeding Albatross giving the Royal Cam Chick the ‘going over’.

In the image below, the Royal cam chick puts its head down in submission. This is the second visit from the Red-banded non-breeder and the little one wants to protect itself.

Royal Cam Chick is afraid of the Red-Banded Non-Breeder and puts head down.

This little boy (OK, they haven’t announced that but because of its size and rapid growth everyone believes it is a boy) entertained itself with stretches and playing with nest material when it was fully alone. Over the course of the next months, it will build play nests all around its natal nest for something to do.

Solly, the Port Lincoln female Eastern Osprey, with the satellite tracker had been heading north. We have been watching her break records for moving so far away from her natal nest. Now at 154 and 155 days she appears to be heading south. Perhaps she has finished her adventure for now and is going home to her barge nest in Port Lincoln.

She had gone north of Eba Anchorage and now she has doubled back. Streaky Bay is on the way to Port Lincoln!

And one last check in for the day, little E24 over in North East Florida Eagle nest with parents Samson and Gabby. What a cutie! Talk about milestones – this little one seems like it is going to beat all of them. So precious. Pin feathers are coming and his eyes are nice and clear.

Gabby still incubates that egg and you might be wondering about it. The folks at the American Eagle Foundation determined that the second egg never began cracking. Half of E24s shell did slip over the small end and because of the yolk oozing out and an illusion where the crack was it looked like the other eaglet had been cracking around the middle to get out. They are saying that never happened. The second egg was not viable and it was all just an optical illusion.

E24 will not mind growing up an only eaglet. His parents take such good care of him and they challenge him every day with something new to learn.

To make sure that he clears the nest with his ‘ps’, NE24 tucks his head way down low and his tail high up. Incredible! Just watch out parents if you are in the line of fire.

So right now, everything is alright on the two Florida eagle nests, SWFL and NEFL. The Great Horned Owl still occupies the Bald Eagle nest in Kansas. The Eagle Warrior continues to improve. The Royal Albatross chick is growing by leaps and bounds and is in ‘post guard’ stage. Meanwhile Solly has decided, for some reason, to maybe head back home or to go back to Streaky Bay. She seemed to like that place a lot. We last saw her there a week ago or a little more hanging out with the pelicans. And NE24 remains adorable.

Thanks for checking in. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thanks to the AEF and the streaming cams at SWFL and D. Pritchett, AEF and the streaming cam at NEFL, A Place Called Hope for the image of the Warrior, Derek the Farmer for the streaming cam with the GHOW, Port Lincoln Ospreys for the tracking information on Solly and the Cornell Cams and the NZ DOC for the Royal Cam Albatross.

Let’s make their future better

I have watched Harriet and M15 and E17 and 18 very closely since those kiddos came back from CROW with their eyes all healed. What I have observed is that M15, the dad, seems to intuitively know when E18 wants to eat but won’t because of E17. Yesterday, M15 filled E17 up and then he turned to E18, on the other side of the nest, and started feeding him. The little fella was full to the brim. And, for whatever reason, Harriet has turned a lot of the feeding duties over to M15 lately. She is a great mom but M15 you get my gold star of the week!

M15 feeding E18, 10 February 2021. SWFL Eagle cam with D. Pritchett.

Today has been a very sad day due to some avoidable deaths in the Bald Eagle family. I so needed a laugh and there it was. Lady Hawk (Sharon Dunne) does a lot of videos from the footage at the eagle and albatross cams. This time she did a bit of a funny one. We all like to cheer for the underdog. So here it is, one and a half minutes of slap stick comedy at the expense of E17. She does deserve it, at times. One and a half minutes. Just so you know who you are looking at, E18, the little underdog is on the left. His older sib that causes all the mischief, E17, is on the right.

Make sure you get that red line back to the beginning. You might want to put it on full screen. Enjoy.

Now, let us quickly move over to that nest up at St. Augustine, Florida – the NEFL one with Samson and Gabby. The little one there, E24 is enjoying some nice fresh fish brought in by dad.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that I don’t think the second egg will make it. And, you know what? Maybe that is OK. We have one healthy eaglet on this nest that would be much older. I think you can imagine what that might be like. E18 was born within hours of E17. This one would be many days younger. Sometimes Mother Nature takes care of things.

And this little one is a fluffy little butterball. Round and healthy, clean eyes. And look, there is a wee bit of white on that rear end where we will see a tail emerge. And those tiny little wings. Precious.

A friend told me once that the second egg is the ‘insurance egg’ if something happens to the first. In their lifetime, Bald Eagles will hope to be able to replace themselves in the numbers. That is how treacherous it is out there for them.

Gabby feeding E24 fresh fish. 10 August 2021. NEFL Eagle cam.

There has been quite a bit of sadness in the last few days in the Bald Eagle world. It is difficult enough for the eagles to survive hatch. You are witnessing that. We have seen so many loses. But beginning with hatch, just the slightest thing can cause a left egg shell to go and slip itself over the second egg. That eaglet might not be strong enough to get out of two shells! Then there is surviving intruders, avian flu and pink eye and well, a drought that brings no food, floods, or even bad parenting. Living to be two years old is extremely difficult never mind making it to adulthood for a Bald Eagle, a bird that is extremely protected by laws, is a real feat. And anything I say about these beautiful eagles is as easily applied to our hawks and falcons.

Several beautiful eagles were taken into care in the past three or four days. Each one was suffering with high levels of lead poisoning. One eagle was actually shot by someone! Yes, shot. Others ate carion and ingested the lead shot. We have made the world of the birds toxic! Some have died or had to be euthanized. Today, I am bringing you the story of two. One older eagle and one beautiful juvenile and some ideas on how you might help.

The Wildlife Service of the State of Virginia provided the following description. It is good and will answer a lot of your questions: “Lead is a soft, pliable heavy metal and fragments easily. Historically, lead ammunition has been frequently used in big game hunting, including deer, elk, and moose hunting. Even when a lead core bullet passes all the way through its intended target, as much as a third or more of the bullet’s total weight will be broken away and remain inside the animal. A normal practice for hunters is to remove the internal organs of the shot deer or other game animal, and simply leave the “gut pile” in the fields after removing the body of the animal. Nearly all of the gut piles contain tiny shards of the lead ammunition”.

There is something that you can do to help. Talk to people or write to someone with influence to make it illegal for lead to be used in anything that has to do with hunting and fishing. There are viable alternatives that do not poison the wildlife or the water. And they are available. So if you want to do something and you have a few minutes one day, write to your political representatives. You can use the same letter, just change the name. In the US make sure you write to the people in the US Fish and Wildlife Services, the Department of the Interior, your congressperson and your Senator. In Canada, write to your MLA and your MP. You don’t even need a stamp. Do it on line.

If you know a hunter, find out if they will consider taking measures to bring the gut pile home to dispose of it properly.

The Migratory Bird Act protects all eggs, nests, birds, feathers of all birds except house sparrows, starlings, and pigeons. They should then be protected by our human inventions such as lead weights and lead shot. If you know of someone that hunts or fishes, maybe you could also talk about how lead impacts wildlife – and give them a packet of heavy rubber weights or stainless steel shot in exchange for some of their old gear. The lead shot and weights would then be taken to the same depot that would receive other harmful items such as paint.

Notice how the injured beak has healed so that the eagle can hunt.

CT Environmental Conservation Officer Michael Curran found the male eagle in the image above hardly able to move. He recognized it because a local reporter had photographed the Bald Eagle in October with a severe beak injury and posted the image in the local paper. No one knew if this beautiful adult would survive. Most thought it would not. Well it did. Curran discovered the male eagle a couple of days ago starving, with swollen feet in the cold, and covered in mites. The eagle could barely stand for more than a few minutes. That eagle was lucky. Someone found it who cared. Curran knew where to take the eagle and that was to ‘A Place Called Hope’ where it was given round the clock care. At the end of 24 hours this bird still had the will to live so a routine lead toxicity test. The level was found to be 48.9. While no level of lead poisoning is safe, this is a horrifically high level. The wildlife rehabbers at A Place of Hope have started this wonderful, strong-willed ‘I want to live bird’ on chelation therapy. They have not seen an eagle survive with this high of toxicity but this bird is a fighter and they said they will be there to fight with him.

And then there is this beautiful juvenile.

The beautiful juvenile eagle above is Decorah Eagle, D35. She was found dead on 29 January on the banks of the Iowa River just south of Iowa City. An examination on site revealed that she was well fed, had excellent feather condition, and there was no damage to her feet and talons. D35 had a transmitter and it was working. No one could understand why such a healthy eagle would be dead. SOAR (Saving our Avian Resources) did a full necropsy including x-rays. She died of acute lead poisoning. There were high levels of lead in her blood system, #6 lead shot in her stomach, and her stomach acids had worked on other lead shot causing it to break down and be even more toxic. There were also high levels of lead in her liver and fat reserves. She didn’t have a chance. It would have been an awful death.

These are only two of the eagles that have been impacted in the last few days. There are more. I could create pages. One beautiful juvenile bird that was healthy in every other way died and one older one who lived through a massive beak injury is now fighting for its life. You don’t hear as much about these levels of toxicity and deaths in the spring and summer because they happen during the fall and winter’s hunting season more often than not.

And if lead toxicity isn’t enough – something created entirely by humans – then there are balloons. You can also help with this. Spread the word. I am attaching an image that has been circulating on social media to make the point:

Every type of bird from Pelicans to Eagles, tiny little song birds to great big hawks get tangled in balloons. One slogan that is also going around shows a bird’s legs all wrapped in the string of a balloon. It said, “Balloons don’t go to heaven, they tangle bird’s feet”. Fireworks might be fun but they terrify wildlife as well as domestic pets. Balloons are beautiful and we used to let them go full of wishes and hopes. No one knew the damage they would cause. We now know. So we can stop the practice and find another way of celebrating.

I want to close on a high note. These little ones are healthy and strong. We want to protect the future of their parents and them so that one day we can watch E17 feed her babies, see E18 bring in the fish for his kids, and E24 set up their nest. How wonderful that would be.

Samson has lots of fresh fish on deck and E24 loves a nice big feed before bed.

Dinner time at the NEFL nest.

There is a lot of fresh fish on the SWFL nest, too. Dad just brought in that small catfish. Earlier there had been two more fish and a squirrel. Lots of food, thanks M15! Harriet fed them well and they are in their own corners, Harriet in the middle to stop any nonsense.

And I want to leave you with an image of E17 and E18 and Harriet. Look how big they are! Great view over their territory. Gosh, aren’t they lucky. Twenty gold stars for the Pritchett family who maintain the cameras and the nest their dad started. Amazing.

Thank you for joining me today. Remember, ask about those lead weights. I don’t know the regulations in Europe and South American or in China where so many reading my blog live but check. I intend to write Cabela’s and Canadian Tire today to see what lead products they stock and find out who to ask about stopping the practice. Maybe one of the owners of these companies will want to be a hero for our wildlife. You never know.

See you tomorrow. Stay bundled up. Be safe.

Thank you to NEFL Eagle cam and SWFL Eagle cam and the Pritchett family for their streaming cameras where I get my screen shots. Thank you to Lady Hawk for her great video and to SOAR and A Place called Hope for the images today.