Bird World Happenings. 27 July 2021

Oh, so many of us are having Empty Nest Syndrome. It is that time of year. You go and check to see if there are any Osprey fledglings on the nest – and no. Poof. Gone. It suddenly sets in that those precious little fluff balls have grown up. They have fledged and are gaining their flying skills for migration. Osprey breeding season is almost over. There are a chicks few trailing behind – Collins Marsh and Chesapeake Bay to name a couple in North America. There are still chicks on the nest in Manitoba but there are no streaming cameras. The Port Lincoln couple on the barge are only ‘thinking’ about eggs. Those will come mid-August most likely. So what does one do?

One of the first things is to treasure the moments we got to spend with these bird families. It is a privilege to see them living their daily lives. There is a saying in Japanese – Ichigo ichie. It was coined by the great tea master, Sen-no Rikyu. His meaning focused on the sharing of the tea ceremony and the realization that you can repeat the ritual but you can never re-create that moment with the same person ever again. You must live it to the fullest with the deepest respect. In terms of our birds, I would like to think that we must treasure every moment that we can share with them and give them our attention. It truly is a once in a life time encounter. Tiny Little will never again receive a huge fish and fend off its sibling with that same sibling later getting a little tiddler from dad. Those were two precious moments that will never again be repeated. Indeed, I wonder if we will ever see Tiny Little again before her migration. That nest has been awfully empty today.

Some of us began to focus on the few nests that do have chicks. My attention has been on the Collins Marsh Osprey Nest in Wisconsin. It is easy to notice the very odd behaviour of the bonded pair at the Collins Marsh Osprey Nest. It truly is strange. The female disappears for 21 hours! That was when ‘S’ and I began to find other strange tidbits about this nest. The female returns on Sunday morning and Dad spends the day bringing in several fish deliveries. Then on Monday the male brings in the first fish and we don’t see him anymore. It is the female catching the fish and bringing them to the nest. So is there a pattern here? or are we just losing our minds? The female brought in two fish today in the afternoon. One was cream coloured with gold scales but the last one was pink inside and out with gold scales. Any help on IDing these would be much appreciated.

In the image below, it looks like a salmon-red colour. Needless to say the chick went to bed quite full. Every time it started chirping mum was offering fish. She has been very devoted since she returned.

Thanks S for this great screen capture.

A couple of hours earlier Mum brought in this fish. I could not readily identify it either. Regardless of the species, the chick is delighted with the arrival! The faces this chick makes are incredible. Very animated.

This is the approach to the nature centre that is near the Collins Marsh Reservoir and the Mud River in Wisconsin. Look at the left and you will see the ‘retired’ fire tower which is now home to the Osprey nest on the very top of the glass enclosed space that appears above the ‘red’ in the image. Snowy Owls inhabit the nest in the winter. The tower is 33.5 metres or 110 feet tall. The staff of the Osprey centre access the camera within the glass enclosed area. At one time it was thought that there was a portal from the glassed area to the nesting platform but it turns out that is not correct. There is no ‘easy’ access to the Osprey nest. Getting to the nest physically to do a wellness check on the chick, right now, would mean finding a person with particular skills and then being certain that it was safe for them.

courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

You can see that the nest is slightly off centre and is situated on a sort of cone hat with the camera on the pole at the corner.

Looking at this got me to thinking about access. It is quite true that there are raptor nests that can never be accessed. Eagles and Ospreys love to make their nests in extremely high places away from us! That said I have known or witnessed ‘tree climbers’ in Germany whose skill set is such that no tree defies them unless the tree itself is unsafe. This is an interesting situation at Collins Marsh. The Wisconsin DNR Biologist and the Wildlife Rehabilitator continue to monitor the chick in terms of feather growth, etc. That is great news. The question then arises: if the chick displays in another week or ten days problematic feather growth, what can be done? With the access so difficult, it would seem nothing. So let’s keep our fingers and toes crossed that nothing is wrong with the feathers! It would, however, seem prudent to explore the possibility of a portal access to the nest once the Ospreys have migrated and before the Snowy Owls take over. I hope that it is never needed but, if it were, it would be a win-win for everyone. All of that said, it would require the services of a structural engineer to figure out the best way to do this. Maybe there is someone who is qualified and loves the raptors that might, at least, consider if this was possible and do it as a donation of time to the centre. That would be grand.

Tuesday morning at Collins Marsh Osprey Nest: The day began with rain and then wind.

Mum left later and returned with a small fish/ a twiddler.

Mum leaves the nest three times after this. Very different behaviour than Monday. Dad does come to the nest and delivers a piece of fish. The chick winds up with a bit of a crop.

At the moment, the chick is on the nest alone. It is windy and the temperature is currently 24 degrees C going up to a scorching 30 degrees.

Mum returns and the chick joins her in fish calling to Dad. Oh, I hope the fish arrives and mum stays to shade the baby today.

The Cornell University Red tail hawks are still putting smiles on everyone’s faces. Suzanne Horning was out yesterday evening checking on them. I remain ever so grateful that she lets me share her images with you.

K3 and those beautiful celadon eyes just strikes right at my heart. This little one has, according to the boots on the ground, turned into a magnificent flyer.

K3 sees Arthur and immediately starts calling for food. You will notice that when the chicks do not see an adult they generally do not food call but when they do see someone who might bring ‘a food delivery’ you can hear them crying several blocks away!

K1 had a nice spot on top of one of the light stands. These stands have been, in past years, great places for the chicks to eat their prey. They are nice and flat on top.

If you cannot see their tails it takes a few moments to sit and figure out which K you are looking at. In this instance, the belly band has more red than the chick in the image above.

This is such a beautiful close up of K1. Look carefully at that beak – that very sharp point for tearing the food – and then look at how clean it is. You will see the chicks cleaning their beaks on all manner of things – sticks, tree bark, grass. At the same time they are also sharpening them. Like their feathers they need this ‘tool’ of theirs clean and sharp.

Here is a great little article that goes into more depth on the reason you see birds rubbing their beaks. It is short and very informative!

https://www.audubon.org/news/heres-why-birds-rub-their-beaks-stuff

Big Red is doing a kind of hawk walk while she is looking for prey. She is our gorgeous matriarch and every second seeing her reminds us how precious she is.

The Hornings did see Arthur but I don’t have an image for him. Both adults are moulting now and look a little scruffy.

Some of you have been asking about Arnold. Well, look at that picture of Arnold with his mate, Amelia. His wounds have healed enough that he now has a waterproof bootie and can spend some outdoor time with Amelia. If Arnold continues to improve – and why wouldn’t he with Amelia there cheering him on? – he could be released in a couple of weeks. That is wonderful!

@ Cape Wildlife Center

A few nest checks for the UK Ospreys and wow, lucky was with me.

There is one very loud food crying fledgling on the Loch of the Lowes nest. Looks like it is LR2. He wants his breakfast ‘now’!

Telyn is on the perch of the Dyfi Nest in Wales and Ystywth is eating her breakfast. How lucky she is. LR2 is so unhappy. I wonder if his big sister, LR1, took the first fish?

Ystwyth eating a fish on the Dyfi Osprey Nest in Wales. Telyn is o the perch.

One of the reasons for the big smile on my face is that when I checked the Glaslyn Nest of Aran and Mrs G someone was on the perch! And it is Mrs G. The timing could not have been better.

There she sits – the oldest Osprey in all of the United Kingdom – looking out over the territory that she shares with Aran.

Mrs G on the perch at Glaslyn.

Perhaps if I took one more peek at the Foulshaw Moss nest someone might be there having breakfast. Let’s see!

Well, not only is there no one on the nest but there is not an Osprey to be seen on the parent’s tree in the distance. I wonder if White YW and Blue 35 have taken everyone to the reservoir to try some fishing?

It is now 17:00 on the Foulshaw Moss nest and there are two fledglings hunkered down because of an intruder. “Hello, Tiny Little!”

Ah, maybe there isn’t much of an intruder. Wonder what Blue 464 is hiding? It is a big fish! No wonder Tiny Little is there. I will try and check back later to see if he gets some of it. The fish looks large enough for both as long as 464 doesn’t fly away with it. You can see its tail extending out to the left of the log. Hopefully 462 won’t come around!

Oh, Tiny Little is wanting that fish! She is up to her old tricks. It is a huge fish. Blue 464 will get tired of working at the mouth and walk away if Tiny Little can be patient.

Tiny Little has stepped back. She caused Blue 464 to move the fish a bit and she might be remembering that he did fly away with part of a fish the other day. Just wait, Tiny Little. There will be fish left!

But life throws birds wrenches and today, Blue 464 flew away with that huge fish! Tiny Little is yelling at White YW to go and get another one. Poor Tiny Little!

This is a good overview of what is going on at the nests today. So happy to catch Tiny Little. These moments are very precious.

Thank you so much for joining me today. It is so nice to be with fellow bird lovers. Just a reminder. If you live in a place where it is hot please, if you can, leave out bowls of water for the birds. Old ceramic serving bowls work great. The clay does not get as hot as metal containers. If you leave water for the hummers, make your own. It is 4 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar. Make sure the sugar is dissolved. You can heat it and allow it to cool before putting in the container. Do not use the red commercial hummer food. It actually kills the birds! How sad is that? A company allowed to make a product that actually kills the thing it is supposed to help! OK. It happens with humans, too. Terrible.

Thank you to Suzanne Arnold Horning for allowing me to use her images of Big Red and her family in my blog. Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen captures: Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey nest, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Loch of the Lowes, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn, Carnyx Wild and Llyn Clywedog Osprey Nest, and Collins Marsh Nature Centre. A big shout out to the Cape Wildlife Centre who is caring for Arnold. You are fantastic!

Wednesday in Bird World

The rain is pouring down and it is so welcome. Thunder and lighting have sent the family cat scurrying off to her ‘tent’. The smell and the sound of the rain are a delight and the greens in the garden seem to have come alive. I cannot remember when last we had downpours like this. One of my friends in Regina, Saskatchewan says it has been four years for them.

Years ago I remember standing in the street in Chennai, South India. The skies opened up on the first day of the monsoon. It was around 4pm. People were dancing and raising their arms singing and shouting. It was a beautiful experience. Rain is certainly a gift.

A good friend of mine that lives south of the East Kootenays, at the base of the Purcell Mtns, wrote to me yesterday to tell me about the drought in their area. They have been warned that the wildfires in their area of British Columbia will be worse this year and already the creek beds are drying up and people are not able to find water when they try to drill wells. How sad. I wish I could share this downpour with her.

Today I went and checked on the tiny little third hatch at the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest of White YW and Blue 35. The little one has been treated very aggressively by both of its older siblings. Today, it waited til they had eaten and then went up to get some fish. Many of you know that I cheer these little third hatches on with all the might I have – and I know that hundreds, if not thousands more, send them positive energy and love. If they survive, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Tiny Tot on the Achieva Osprey Nest is recent proof of what can happen when a third hatch is almost starved to death and survives. They become ‘street’ smart – so to speak. They refuse to take abuse. They learn how to fight. They are clever and they are not afraid to eat left over pieces of dry fish found in a nest to survive. Tiny Tot remains on the Achieva Osprey Nest and it is wonderful to see him.

Roy Dennis in his book, The Life of Ospreys, suggests sketching the plumage on the head and neck, particularly around the eye of these unringed birds. It can help in future identification. Believe me when I say that I hope that Tiny Tot takes over this nest he has so valiantly defended – and why not? I don’t even know why he should leave. There is no rule book that says he has to. And since Florida is a year round home for the Ospreys he doesn’t have to migrate – it is his instinctual choice.

Tiny Tot sleeping on the perch ready to defend his nest if any intruder comes in the morning.

But back to these little ones. Tiny Tot did survive and the wee Bob at the Foulshaw Moss, with its sore eye from the others pecking it, has learned to wait. Here he is. He has a crop from the last feed but he is going to go up and get some more. He has stayed away til the big ones were fed and have quieted down. He may only get the food left towards the tail but he will not get walloped by the others. He needs to learn to protect himself and it looks like he is figuring that out. Well done you.

Look at the size of those other siblings! Bob 3 is hardly the size of their wing.

If you know of any third hatches who have survived aggressive treatment and gone on to fledge, please do send me a note. I am collecting information on them. Of course, on my list are Tiny Tot, Z1 Tegid of the White Egg, and JJ7 Captain (who had amazing parents and did not get the treatment that Tiny or this one on Foulshaw Moss has received). It will be interesting to see their survival rate at the age of 2 moving forward. Z1 already has its own nest in Wales for the second year of breeding. His believed to be more survivable sister died shortly after fledging. Go figure. So thank you. There are so many nests and such a history I welcome any that come to your mind. Thanks so much!

Indeed, for awhile, I thought that the second Bob on the Loch of the Lowes nest was going to suffer but Laddie seems to have kept the fish coming and NC0 has grown into being a great mother. They are both doing well.

Here is Laddie flying in with a delivery.

Here is Laddie still on the nest after delivering a fish and NC0 feeding both of the Bobs. Bob 2 is still small compared to Bob One but they are both getting their beautiful curved juvenile feathers rimmed in white. Look at those cute little tails and the blood feathers coming in on their wings. This nest at the Loch of the Lowes is really a delight to watch – and such a beautiful landscape!

It has been a really nice day in Scotland and in southern England but it is raining in Wales.

Blue 5F Seren is keeping her wee Bob warm and dry.

A lonely fish waits at the Glaslyn Nest for Aran or Mrs G to come and fetch it (or an intruder).

Over in Storkland, the three White Storks in Czechoslovakia continue to grow and do well. Every morning I wake up and smile because of the kindness of this community. I wish it were everywhere!

Everyone is doing really well at the Red tail Hawk Nest of Big Red and Arthur. Arthur made a prey drop this morning. The two older siblings ate off of it and then Big Red flew in and fed little K3.

Yesterday Big Red spent a lot of time on the fledge ledge and the fledge post. She will continue to do this showing the Ks where is the best place to take that leap of faith. Big Red is an amazing mother. I honestly don’t know how she keeps it up encased in ice and snow, soaked to the bone with rain, loving each and every chick!

Thank you so very much for joining me today. It is a wonderful day because of the rain! And it warms my heart to see the tiny little one at Foulshaw Moss still alive. I hope that everyone is well. Stay safe. See you tomorrow.

Thank you so much to the following who have streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Carnyx Wildlife, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Loch of the Lowes, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife Trust, Foulshaw Moss and the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Achieva Osprey, Mlady Buky, and the Llyn Clywedog Osprey Project.

Leaving you with a lovely image of Tiny Tot. I have a collection of these noting the distinguishing markings of this beautiful Osprey. He will not be ringed so hopefully these marks and his behaviour will always help us to identify him.

Red Tail Hawks and my favourite, Big Red

As a child growing up in Oklahoma, I would sit with my dad on the back porch right before dusk. The two of us would feed the ‘Red’ Birds (Cardinals) and the Blue Jays every evening. There were several metal tins sitting on the shelves in the garage full of peanuts, broken pecans, and corn. The broken pecans came from a huge tree across our back lane. Every year my dad would harvest the pecans. Mrs Johnson owned the tree. They had a long standing arrangement. My dad would pick the pecans and she would get half and he would have the other half for picking them. Some of the pecans went to the birds while the large whole pieces were for making fudge and pralines. I don’t know where the corn originally came from. My dad would dry it in the rafters of the garage. When the kernels were absolutely hard, they would be broken off and stored in a tin. Someone that we knew grew fields of peanuts. When they were harvested, my dad would come home with three or four large burlap bags full of them in their shells. The whole garage smelled like peanuts. They too made their way into the metal containers so that we did not attract mice. In the evenings several handfuls would be taken out. If we sat real quiet the red birds would come and take the nuts and corn from my dad’s hand. The Blue Jays were not so trusting.

What I did not see -nor did I ever learn about them – were the hawks that lived in the rolling hills around Central Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma Landscape” by Kool Cats Photography over 14 Million Views is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Did you know that Red-tail Hawks have 20/2 vision? What does that actually mean? Hawks see something 20 feet away as if it were 2 feet away. That is a whole lot different than humans who aspire to 20/20 vision! No wonder people use the term ‘hawk eye’ for someone who can see something far away clearly. Lots of raptors perch on the blades of the old windmills. It gives them a great vantage point over the landscape to see their prey.

“Oklahoma Landscape” by Kool Cats Photography over 14 Million Views is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Oklahoma is described as a ‘Red Tail Hawk Paradise’ by Jim Lish in his book, Winter’s Hawk. Red-tails on the Southern Plains. What precisely does Lish mean? Lish wanted to know the density of Red-tail haws and so he counted them. He understood that if you saw a single hawk in a mile you were in ‘Hawk Paradise’. In Oklahoma, the figures ranged from 400 to 1118 per 621 miles. The highest number was in Craig County in 2013. In fact, Oklahoma has some of the highest densities of Red-tail hawks in the winter than anywhere.

The Red Tail Hawks migrate to Oklahoma in early October just as the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees. They depart to their breeding territories in March. This means that half their life is spent in Oklahoma. Important to the hawks are the grasslands and the rodent populations of the Southern Great Plains. Indeed, one of the biggest threats to their populations in Oklahoma is the fragmentation of the vast grasslands caused by a warming climate and sequential years of drought, energy exploration, shifts in the way farms are run, and rapid urbanization. Another issue may well be a declining rodent population.

“Red-tailed Hawk” by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region is marked with CC PDM 1.0

Red-tail hawks perch in trees to sleep. They are only in the nests during breeding season. The hawk below is high and has a good vantage point to hunt for rodents.

“Red Tailed Hawk” by Larry Smith2010 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

There is a point to this rather long winded story – albeit I hope that you also learned something in my rambling. When I graduated from high school, I was the only one that was not getting married in a few weeks and I was the only female heading off to university. As it happens, the University of Oklahoma in Norman is one of the best places to study raptors, the university press is one of the leading publishers on hawks, and, of course, there is the late George Sutton, one of American’s leading ornithologists right there where I was studying Fine Arts. Not only was he known for his avian research but also for his avian drawings. Oh, if I knew then what I know now! So my point is – we never know what our children’s interests really are unless we introduce them to a broad world of possibilities. Today, the language is even different. Conservation Ecologist. Cultural Ecologist. Not even on the horizon when I was a student. Oh, what a great sounding path in life now!

Which brings me to my most favourite Red-tail Hawk in the world – Big Red. She is eighteen years old. She hatched somewhere new Brooktondale, New York in 2003 and she was banded there on 20 October 2003. She is the grand dame of the Cornell University Campus where her nest is on the Fernow Light Tower. Her current mate is Arthur and the two of them are caring for three eyases, the Ks. Big Red and Arthur do not migrate. For some reason they have gotten used to the ‘normal’ climate of upstate New York at Ithaca and they spend their winters there too. You will never finding them hanging around the tall grasses of Oklahoma.

The weather has been nothing short of ‘wet’ in Ithaca. I don’t even know how Big Red could hold her wing out like that for any period of time. She has to be exhausted and yes, she is a mother to the core. She will do anything to protect her chicks.

Those babies are all piled up but they are too big to get underneath Big Red like they did ten days ago.

Big Red and the Ks caught a break today. That is when this beautiful scene happened – it is K2 hugging her mama.

I am told that we are three to three and a half weeks away from fledge watch. Red tail hawks typically fledge 40-48 days after hatch. Yesterday, 29 May, marks the day that all three Ks stood up and walked a bit. K1 has even flapped its wings a few times. They will build up their strength and start growing those feathers. I know that hawks gain a lot of weight and grow crazy fast but it is still hard to imagine these flying off the ledge so soon.

When the skies cleared, Arthur took the opportunity to bring his family a squirrel – a real treat this breeding season. Seriously, I am worried about the rodent population this season. I wonder what is happening.

Arthur is a keen hunter. Last year, due to the pandemic, the Cornell University campus in Ithaca was fairly deserted. This nest is monitored 24/7. Prey drops are counted and in 2020 Arthur brought in 72% more prey than he had delivered to the nest in 2019. That consisted of chipmunks, squirrels, and pigeons and a few other species. The presence of humans back on the campus appears to have impacted the rodent population and the amount of prey delivery. This is just my observation and I hope to clarify this with a look at the prey delivery chart this week.

Arthur delivered this squirrel in time for Big Red to fill the Ks up because both her and Arthur knew that heavy rains were returning. Indeed, some said it was quite the system moving through and that it had already destroyed some Osprey nests. It certainly is unseasonably cool. Tonight it is only 43 degrees F – freezing is 32! Ferris Akel commented yesterday on his birding tour that he had to change his HVAC system back to heating. After tonight there is only an 8% chance of rain but the winds will be picking up tomorrow. My gosh it is cold there.

Big Red loves being a mama. Here she is with her beautiful Ks trying to dry out today. That is the baby, K3, under Big Red. Did you know that, beginning in the medieval era, falconers believed that the third egg was always a male. Today, a male hawk is called a ‘tercel’. It comes from the word ‘third’. We also know that male hawks are smaller than the females. It’s that Reverse Sex-Size diamorphism again. We’ll have to have a good look at K3 around fledge time.

And here is adorable K2 posing for us. And here is your word for the day: cere. See the light yellow area above the nostrils and that sharp black beak? That is the cere. Those two black dots on each side of K2’s head, below the eyes, are actually its ears. These will be covered with feathers by the time K2 fledges. And what about their eye colour? That is very interesting. The eye colour of a juvenile is normally a range of blue-grey. Adult Red-tail Hawks have brown eyes and that brown gets darker with age. Last year, however, J3 had brown eyes! They were gorgeous and very distinctive. K2 has beautiful baby blues.

It rained during the night on Big Red and the Ks – again. But by 9:30 am they were dried out. Notice the pine in the nest? It is a natural insect repellent! It helps keeps the bugs down and we don’t want any flies laying their larvae in those precious ears.

Bird World is relatively quiet. The only breaking news I have is that Kaknu has now fledged (30 May) and was flying around with his brother, Fauci, near the Campanile Tower on the UC Berkeley Campus. When I last checked Wek-Wek was still on the runway debating whether to take off. It has to be frightening – but they are birds, the fastest flying birds in the world!

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care of yourself. Have a fabulous Monday.

Thank you to the Cornell Bird Lab for their Red-Tail Hawk streaming cam. That is where I obtained my screen shots.

Feature Image Credit: “Red-tailed Hawk #1 11-21-17” by Larry Smith2010 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

From all the little ones…

There are so many bird babies around the world today thankful for their great moms that I thought we would stop in and check on some of them – and take a look back in some cases. I apologize if I didn’t include your favourite.

Thanks Mom Bonnie and Dad Clyde for finding us a beautiful nest tree and then stealing it from those Bald Eagles.

Farmer Derek Streaming Cam. Tree on the farm near Newton, Kansas that once belonged to the Bald Eagles but captured by Bonnie and Clyde to raise their owlets, Tiger and Lily Rose.

We did well. Look at us! Lily Rose and I fly all over the farm but we love to come back to the nest for you and dad to bring us some food.

Farmer Derek Streaming Cam. 8 May 2021

You kept us really warm and full with all those mice when it was snowy and cold.

Farmer Derek. February 2021

Thanks Mom. Look at how big we are – #1 Daughter and #2 Son.

MN DNR. Parents are Nancy and Harry. Oldest sibling is a girl, youngest is a male. 9 May 2021

Thanks Mom Gabby. I inherited your and Dad Samson’s stunning beauty and also your loud squeal – not sure Dad Samson likes it when I chase him! You and Dad have taken such good care of me.

NE Florida Eagle Cam and the AEF. February 2021

Thank you for keeping me on the nest and teaching me all those lessons after I got lost!

NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF. Legacy with a huge crop. 9 May 202

Mom, it’s Mother’s Day and I really thought I would be a great mom like you are. But there are people looking at the beak line and my eye ratio and the length of my hallux and they are saying I am a boy!

NEFlorida and the AEF Bald Eagle Cam. 9 May 2021

Thanks Dad Jack for coming to help Mom Harriet feed us this morning! And thanks Dad for not bringing in anymore toys so Mom can find us to feed us.

Dalgren Osprey Nest. 9 May 2021. Jack and Harriet are the parents.

Look, Mom Anna. We did it! I grew up – your first baby ever. Thank you for keeping me safe when that other juvenile came to steal my fish the other day.

KNF Streaming Cam. First time parents are Louis and Anna. This is Kisatchie named after the national park where the ancient nest tree is located.

Boy, Dad Louis sure kept that nest full of fish. Good thing we can’t smell very well, right Mom Anna? Do you remember?

KNF Eagle Cam. 8 March 2021

Thanks Mom, Annie. You are always fair when you feed us. Look how big we are growing. And just look at our pretty pantaloons!!!!!!!!!

UC Berkeley Falcon Cam. Annie and Grinnell are the parents on this beautiful nest in the Campanile in San Francisco.

Look how much we have grown! Thanks for taking such good care of us and feeding us all that pigeon.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I hatched just in time! Can I have some fish please?

Rutland Water Ospreys. Maya is the mom and Blue 33 (11) is the dad. This is ‘Little Bob’.

Aren’t I gorgeous? Just like my mom Lime Green Lime. My mom travels thousands of kilometres to find food for me. Then she flies back to Taiaroa Head to give me my squid shake. I don’t have a name yet. People are voting and I will know soon. Stay tuned.

Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC. Royal Albatross Cam Chick of the Year, Daughter of LGL and LGK. 7 May 2021
Cornell Lab and NZ DOC. One day I am going to fly like my mom, LGL. April 2021

Yeah, the sun is out and the wind is warm and our mom, Big Red is drying out just like we are. Isn’t she the best? She takes good care of us even if it is snowing or raining and flooding everything. Big Red is the best mom ever.

Cornell Bird Lab. Big Red is the 18 year old mom and Arthur is the 5 year old dad of this years Ks. 9 May 2021

Mom Big Red. You endure any kind of weather to keep your little ones safe!

Cornell Bird Lab. April 2021.

Thanks Mom for yelling at dad to bring in more fish so we both can eat. We are growing really big. And I promise to try not and be so bad to my little brother, Mom.

Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon. The Savannah Osprey Nest. 9 May 2021

Thank you Mom for staying with me when I get scared. It is lonely in this nest sometimes. You were so great at keeping me warm when it got really cold here in Colorado. But, today, what do you think of the new hair style?

Xcel Energy Fort St. Vrain Eagle Cam. This Bald Eagle Cam is located in Colorado. This little one has done well and is just getting its dark thermal down. 9 May 2021

Thank you Mom Eve for keeping us warm and being fair with the feeding. We both get fed and we both grow the same! You and dad Eerik keep the nest stocked with food so we never are hungry.

Eagle Club of Estonia. Eve and Eerik are the parents of the two little White-tail Eaglets. 9 May 2021

Thanks Mom for not giving up on us when you were buried in snow for a month. We are going to get our satellite trackers soon and you can follow us wherever we go after we fledge! And also Mom, thanks for not letting Big get all the food!

Duke Farms Eagle Cam, Hillsborough, New Jersey. These two are really growing fast and evening out in their size.

Thank you Mama Lucy. It’s just me so far and that is OK. You are a great Mom.

Lake Murray Osprey Cam. Parents are Lucy and Ricky and this is nest number 8 for this pair since 2013. The nest platform is brand new in 2020. What a beautiful place to raise ospreys.

Lucy and Ricky have a beautiful place and a new platform in 2020 to raise their little ones. The couple arrived in the area in 2013. Since then their nests have been destroyed by storms. Hope this wonderful new Osprey platform survives.

Lake Murray NH Osprey Cam. 9 May 2021

Mama Harriet, we had to go away and get our eye infection taken care of by CROW. Mom, I am sorry I had to have time out because I was so bad to my little brother, E18. I promise we will be the best of friends in the future.

Mama Harriet, I kept my promise. E18 and I are the best of mates now that we are growing up.

You did good, Mom. We only fight over food drops now – just like we did when we were at CROW. Sorry!

Tiny Tot: “Thanks Mom Diane for bringing in all that extra fish. It was literally life and death for me. I promise to grow into a great mom. You will be proud of me.”

Achieva Credit Union Osprey Cam. 9 May 2021. #2 sibling on left, Tiny Tot on Right

Thank you for joining me today. Happy Mother’s Day to all the Bird Moms and to each of you that has inspired, raised/reared someone or something else. It takes a village!

Thank you to all the streaming cams listed under the images. That is where I captured those screen shots.

Bird Mothers of the Year

Every year we stop and think about the women who gave us life and mentored us to become independent adults. I want to stop for a moment and consider a few of the bird mothers. Last year I was able to single out one bird that seemed to give it her all and that was Big Red, the Red tailed-hawk whose nest is on the Cornell Campus. This year I have a few more to add. I am certain that you have your own list as well.

In studying the social behaviour of birds, one of the things that has astonished me is how complicated the lives of our feathered friends are and how the behaviour of humans has impacted their lives.

The birds are not listed in any particular order – I could not, for the life of me, rank them. They have struggled against the greatest odds sometime. The first bird mentioned does not have a happy ending and this is a warning about that. If you would prefer to skip this mom, then please scroll down to Big Red.

The first female on my list is Milda. Milda is a White-tailed Eagle. She worked with her long time mate, Raimis, and rebuilt their nest near Durbe, Latvia. She laid her eggs on March 12, 15, and 21. The last time that Raimis was seen was the 27th of March. Milda incubated her eggs and stayed on her nest, despite several intruders, for eight days without eating. Then on two occasions, she had to leave the nest to try and find food and was off her eggs for periods nearing five hours at a time. It is not clear how successful she was in hunting. A male WTE appeared and tried to help incubate. By some miracle two of the three eggs hatched on the 21 and 24th of April. The people of Latvia and those who adore Milda were overcome with emotion. But that joy was short lived. It was pretty clear that Milda was almost starving to death. She had completely depleted her bodily resources. The male brought a crow to the nest and the eaglets were fed and then he took it away. It was very cold and Milda had to eat. She had to leave the nest to find food. She was desperate. If she did not survive neither would her eaglets. It is like the instructions when you fly on a plane: put your own oxygen mask on first before you help your children. Did Milda know that her eaglets would freeze? was this a form of euthanasia? did Milda think the male would incubate the eaglets while she found food? In all of this, there was also an intruder. Milda’s eaglets slowly froze to death. Later that day she consumed them.

Cannibalism in eagles is a new area of study with the growing number of streaming cameras. In 2002, a group of wildlife biologists in Virginia were stunned when they observed a male eagle killing his eaglets alive and eating them. More reports of similar behaviour came in leading researchers to believe that the behaviour may be more common that believed particularly in times of food shortage.

Milda was a very devoted and dedicated single mother. The circumstances were dire. She could not help her babies if she could not feed herself and she was starving. We have watched birds mourn their dead. It is beyond my comprehension to understand how difficult all of this was for Milda. The lack of a partner and the inability of a female parent to provide enough food for their eaglet also happened at another nest in Latvia. That was the nest of Spilve whose beautiful eaglet, Klints, perished from starvation. Spilve mourned the death of her Klints. This year, she refused to use the nest that Klints’s body has become a part of. Instead, her and her new mate went to another.

I am really aware of the dedication that the Latvians have for their wildlife. What has caused a drop in prey? has it always been this difficult? and would it be possible to stock artificial ponds for these large raptors? Those are just three of my questions.

Milda feeding her two little ones their last meal. 25 April 2021

My second bird mother of the year will always be first in my heart- Big Red whose territory is on the Cornell Campus.

Big Red is even wetter. 8 May 2021

Big Red hatched near Brooktondale, New York in 2003. She was banded on 20 October 2003 in Brooktondale. She is eighteen years old. The exact history of her mates and the number of eyasses she has raised to fledge will never be known. She was known to have a nest in 2010 on the Cornell Campus and two years later cameras were installed. Her mate at the time was Ezra. Ezra was killed in 2017. It is the only year that she did not have a clutch. She bonded with her current mate, Arthur, that same year. It is entirely possible that Big Red has fledged no less than 35 eyasses. This year she has another clutch of three. Big Red is a devoted mother. By the fall she is already selecting which light tower to use as a nest and is working with Arthur then and to a greater degree in February to ready the nest for the upcoming breeding season. She has been encrusted in snow more times than I want to remember and soaked to the bones. She has been blown off the nest! Still she works and keeps those kiddos of hers full to the brim. As someone recently said, ‘No one leaves Big Red’s table hungry.’ And when her eyasses fledge she will spend days with them in family hunting expeditions so that they are as prepared as she can make them for the outside world.

Today, she was soaked to the bone and cold – even the babies are a wee bit ‘wet’. Those heavy raindrops wanted nothing more than to turn into icy slush. She fed her three little ones as quickly as she could so they would not get wet and catch a chill. Just look at the love in those eyes! Being a mom is what it is all about for Big Red.

Unlike Milda, Big Red has a devoted mate, Arthur, who is busy filling the pantry providing food for Big Red and the Ks as well as security for the territory. Arthur also gives Big Red much needed relief breaks despite the fact that she prefers to look after the little ones almost 100% of the time! Her territory is also prey plentiful.

Big Red will always be at the top of my list. She is just simply amazing.

A soaked Big Red. 7 May 2021

My third female is Diane at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida. I am including Diane in my list for one single reason. This year her three eggs hatched and she had three osplets to raise. At the time the three were born (5th and 7th of March), there was plenty of prey on the nest. However, a week later the fish deliveries became irregular causing food insecurity on the nest. It was unclear whether or not the third hatch would survive. There would be days of plenty and then hardly any fish. If the babies didn’t eat neither did Diane. Many suspected that Jack, her mate, might have another nest. Diane began to go fishing supplementing the fish that were brought onto the nest and that is why I am including her. When she was able she would leave the nest and bring in huge catfish to feed her babies and herself. She was a selfless mom. The two older siblings and in particular, the second hatch, demanded more and more food. For days in a row the third hatch had no food. Even Diane acted on several occasions like the little one would not live. Then something happened. The food became more plentiful and she paid particular attention so that the third hatch was full. I call him Tiny Tot. This year Diane will fledge three – . Tiny Tot is the only one left to fledge and his feather growth is behind. And that is OK. Tiny Tot is simply a delight.

In the image below Tiny Tot sits in the middle of the nest with its full crop and its ever growing wings. At one time no one believed #3 would survive and most thought it would be stunted but Tiny is filling out all over. Diane makes sure that sibling #2 standing on the rim of the nest at the back does not eat all of the fish that comes on the nest. I have to give her like 5 gold stars for stepping in and making sure that the food is shared between these two. No one is left out.

Tiny is really growing. Maybe he is a she? 7 May 2021

Diane is on the nest with Tiny. They are both waiting for an incoming fish.

Diane on the left and Tiny Tot on the right. Not so Tiny anymore!

Tiny Tot can self-feed. He was the first of the three to do so. To survive he found fish bones with a little flesh on them and ate it. Diane does love to feed him, tho.

Diane loves to feed Tiny Tot even tho he can do it himself. 7 May 2021

As the sun goes down, Diane and her two little ones are full. Tiny is actually full to the brim. You can see that glimmer of the sun on his big crop.

The sun sets on the St Petersburg Osprey Nest and all are full. 7 May 2021

Another bird mom that has touched my heart in a way that I cannot quite put my finger on is Eve, the mate of Eerik, whose nest is in the Matsalu National Park in Estonia. It is so cold in Estonia that the geese had to stop their northern migration. Eve is a huge White-tailed Eagle – she almost looks ‘wooly’ because her plumage is so thick to keep her warm. She is the most gentle of mothers with her two little eaglets.

Eve does not have the prey problem that Milda had in Latvia. There are plenty of fish and other birds that Eerik brings to the nest. Eve carefully conceals them and keeps them fresh in the straw around the rim of the nest-like an old fashioned ‘ice box’. What they have had to contend with are intruders and lingering cold weather to the extreme. It is especially important because the eaglets cannot thermoregulate their temperature. They depend on Eve and Eerik for everything. Many mornings Eve has woken up to be completely covered in a cold frost. I am really looking forward to these two growing up. Look at the little one put its wing around its big sib. This is such a peaceful nest. Eve keeps everything under control.

Eve feeding her two growing eaglets. 7 May 2021

There are so many bird mothers whose lives need celebrating if for nothing else than they successfully raised their clutches. It is not easy. Humans have impacted their lives in so many ways it would take an entire blog to list them but climate change and its impact on prey, loss of habitat, plastic in the oceans, toxins, etc come to the top. I cannot even begin to create a list of all of those. If I continued to include images and write ups for the mothers, the blog could easily include Harriet at the Bald Eagle Nest in SW Florida in Fort Myers. She is just an amazing mother to E17 and E18. Those kiddos are well equipped to take on the world. Then there is Anna, the first time Bald Eagle mother, who had to learn along with her eaglet how to feed her baby properly. Kisatchie has thrived and is now branching on his nest tree in the Kisatchie National Forest. On the Mississippi River, the nest of Starr and the Valors was destroyed last year by the winds. Starr had to work with Valor I and II to build a new nest for the 2021 season. They built an amazing nest and now have three growing eaglets. Or what about the female at Duke Farms who spent the entire incubation period encased in snow? Her two eaglets are now branching. Diamond, the Peregrine Falcon, in Orange, Australia still has her seven month old fledgling living in her scrape box. Her patience is amazing and her and Xavier have raised a formidable falcon! What about the Osprey females who lay eggs and raise their little ones in nests so full of toys and blankets they often cannot even find the chicks. This year, Harriet at the Dahlgren Nest, lost one of her eggs in Jack’s deliveries! They probably deserve a medal every day for their good humour. Then there are the ones, driven by their instincts and ‘Mother Nature’ that want to be mothers so badly such as Jackie at Big Bear or Iris at Hellsgate? If certificates were given out, they would all receive them – every single one of them!

Here is Iris bringing in a whopper of a breakfish for herself. Iris is the oldest living osprey in the world – the grand dame of all Ospreys. She has fledged no less than 35-40 osplets – no one really knows for sure, that is just an estimate. Since the death of her trusted mate, Stanley, Iris has returned to her nest every year during breeding season. Her current mate, Louis, has another nest and another mate and Iris is now, by default, a single mother. Her natural instincts bring her back from her 4,000 mile migration to her nest in Missoula, breeding with Louis, and because she is both provider, incubator, and security guard – like Milda and Spilve – her clutches have not been successful. Her last fledge was a single osplet in 2018. Still she is there doing her best!

And Happy Mother’s Day to Maya on the Rutland Mantou Nest whose first osprey egg of the season hatched at 15:23 today, 8 May. You can just see the little one getting out of its shell.

Thank you for joining me today to appreciate the difficult circumstances each of our bird mothers face. There is a story for each of them! They are all much loved.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: LWRT Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey, The Eagle Club of Estonia, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Latvian Fund for Wildlife, and the Achieva Credit Union.

It is official – Big Red and Arthur have a pip

On Sunday, 2 May, Big Red and Arthur, the mated couple of Red-tail Hawks on the Cornell Campus in Ithaca, New York have a pip!

The first egg was laid on 26 March. Different places have ways of counting. My way is to not count the day there was a hatch. So this makes it 37 days. If you count the day the egg was laid it is 38 days – all within Big Red’s traditional 37-41 days from laid to hatch.

Oh, this is so exciting!

Big Red is an 18 year old Red tail hawk. She was banded on the 20th of October at Brooktondale in 2003. We do not know, as yet, the name of the bander. Arthur is 5 years old. He hatched in an adjacent territory to Big Red and her long time mate, Ezra, in 2016. Ezra was killed in 2017 trying to protect Big Red. That year was the only year that she did not have a clutch.

A young juvenile came to the nest in April. He wooed Big Red, amongst other suitors, over the summer. That young juvenile did not even have his red tail when he landed on Big Red’s nest! But, out of all the suitors, Big Red will pick ‘Wink’ as he was known locally at the time. In the fall of 2017, they will begin building their nest. Wink’s was given the name Arthur in honour of the founder of the Cornell Lab, Arthur A. Allen. They have successfully fledged chicks in 2018, 2019, and 2020. They are an amazing couple!

In order to prepare yourself for what is coming, you should have a look at the 2020 highlights:

And here is the link to follow all of the action – and I do mean action.

There will be lots of prey deliveries of many kinds. The nest will be loaded. You will be able to see the teaching moments of the parent hawks. You will watch them run and jump and get their muscles strong for fledge. And in all of it, you will get to see this beautiful raptor family live out their daily lives. I cannot recommend a better nest to watch. And if you can’t keep up with all your nest watching, I promise to bombard you with news from this one because it will always be ‘my heart of hearts’.

Thank you for joining me. I will give lots of updates later as we are now on official hatch watch.

Thank you to the Cornell Bird Lab for their streaming cam. That is where I grab my screen shots.

Friday Happenings in Bird World

Congratulations to Eve and Eerik on the hatch of White-tailed Eaglet #2 at the Matsalu National Park in Estonia. It looks like this little one joined its older sib around 10:47 am on 30 April (but I stand to be corrected). At that time, there is the most gentle look into the nest cup. The eggshell is clearly visible inside the cup.

This last image (below) was taken at 16:44 during a feeding. You will notice that the eggshell has been moved over to the edge of the nest now. What a beautiful image – the gentleness of these large eagles with their enormous beaks feeding their little ones. Two little bobble heads. How sweet.

You can watch this nest here:

Just as Eve and Eerik are welcoming their little ones, Samson and Gabby continue to call out and search the skies for Legacy. The last ‘for sure’ sighting of Legacy was at 9:53:51 on the 28th. Gabby was on the nest calling loudly for Legacy this morning at dawn, the 30th, along with Samson.

There is an individual, Gretchen Butler (apologies if this is spelled incorrectly), who monitors this nest and has done so for many years. It is my understanding that there are now ‘boots on the ground’ looking for Legacy. We all hope she is found and there is nothing seriously the matter. Hearts go out to Gabby and Samson today. They must be really missing their beautiful Legacy.

At 2:04 EDT, Gabby is still there on the branch scanning the horizon hoping that her Legacy will appear. It is heart wrenching.

30 April 2021. Gabby stares off over the tree tops hoping to see her beautiful Legacy.

There were two fish deliveries at the Achieva Osprey nest this morning. The first one came at 7:48.

The second fish arrived at 10:18. Look who has a crop left from the first fish and who is right up at the dinner table ready for more – it’s ‘Biggie’ Tot. And I am not surprised. S/he is growing leaps and bounds – just look at the size of those wings now. ‘Biggie’ Tot is catching up!

It is calm on the nest and my mind and heart are finally at ease. This little one is going to make it and fledge! And because s/he learned to be a scavenger to live, I am certain s/he has more than a best chance to survive out in the wild.

Some do not even recognize #3 or Biggie Tot but there s/he is standing looking out from the nest with sibling #2 who has the most copper at the back of their head just now.

Big Red and Arthur are not giving any secrets away. The weather has switched and it is windy in Ithaca, New York and this beautiful couple are dried out from the soggy weather on Thursday.

The eggs were laid on 26 and 29 March and 1 April. Big Red averages 38-41 days between the date the egg was laid and hatch. If she were to stay consistent, the first egg would hatch in 3-6 days. However, if we took 35 days which appears to be a general average for all hawks, then today would be the day. Oh, Big Red I wish you would give us some hints! You were talking to those Ks the other day!!!

At eighteen, Big Red is in incredible shape. She is simply an amazing mother and raising hawks is so different to watching the eagles especially when the clutch fledges. Big Red will make sure they learn to hunt while they are building up flight muscles.

Arthur is five years old. He is an amazing mate for Big Red. You will be shocked when you see the amount of prey he brings to her and the eyasses. What a hunter!

You can join the fun and watch this nest here:

The solar camera has just come on the California Condor nest at Big Sur. Eyes remain on that egg of Redwood Queen and Phoenix.

It is 1 degree C in Estonia on the White-tail Eagle nest but it is 31 degrees C on the Skidaway Island Osprey nest and the two little ones are hot. They are under Mom hoping to stay cool! Can you see them?

For those of you that watched the Loch Arkaig Osprey Nest last year along with the 400,000 others, sadness now surrounds that empty nest. Last year Louis and Aila raised three osplets to fledge. Their daily lives brought hope and joy to everyone. This year Louis fixed up the nest and waited for Aila’s arrival from Africa. She has yet to return. No one knows if she is injured and being cared for in a rehab clinic or if she perished during her migration. Poems and tributes are starting to come in and this one by Sue Wallbanks appeared on The Friends of Loch Arkaig FB today. I hope that Sue does not mind my sharing it with you.

Thank you to everyone for joining me today in Bird World. Congratulations to the people of Estonia on the hatch of the second White-tailed Eaglet. I will continue to monitor and post any news of Legacy and we will watch for hatch at both Big Red and Arthur’s nest and Redwood Queen and Phoenix’s nest.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: Ventana Wildlife Society and explore.org, Cornell Bird Lab RTH Cam, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, Achieva Credit Union, NE Florida Bald Eagle Nest and the AEF, and the Eagle Club of Estonia. Thank you also to the Friends of Loch Arkaig FB group and Sue Wallbank for the tribute to Alia.

Nest hopping and Legacy update

I got caught off guard this afternoon with Legacy not returning to her nest. The very last official sighting of her at 10:30 pm EDT was at 9:53:51 when she flew from the natal tree.

Prior to that she had an early morning conversation with that fabulous mother of hers, Gabby.

Most of us believed that Legacy would be at the natal tree longer. After all, E17 and E18 hatched on 23 January 2021 before Legacy did on 8 February. Both E17 and E18 fledged but, continue to be seen at their natal tree – flying in and out and playing in the pond together. There was never a thought that she would – well, we just weren’t prepared to not see her again. Let us hope that everyone wakes up tomorrow morning and squeals because she is sitting in the middle of the natal nest eating a fish! That would be a perfect start to the day.

There was a ‘possible’ sighting of Legacy doing a fly by caught on the tree camera but it cannot be confirmed. The time was 8:41:16.

At 11:09:45 Samson brings a fish lunch to the nest for Legacy. You can see him flying in from a distance. Others thought they heard the parents calling Legacy a few hours earlier.

To be clear, the eagle parents do not physically take their young out and give them instructions on how to hunt and fish – like Big Red and Arthur, the Red-tail Hawks at Cornell, do with their fledglings. But the juvenile eagles ‘watch’ their parents unless they are completely out of the territory. Fledglings often find other groups of juveniles and search for carrion going up and down the coast and pond, like a scavenger. They have to learn how to use their talons and beaks and all of that takes time. That said, while they are honing their skills, the parents will supplement the prey of their fledglings – if they are in the territory, if they come to where they deliver the prey, etc. Clearly Samson is trying to get Legacy to the nest to give her food if she needs it.

If any of you watched the White-Bellied Sea Eagles (WBSE), they also used food to try and lure WBSE 26 back to the nest. She had fledged but because of her injured leg (early after hatch), she had a difficult time. She often got herself into some ‘pickles’ landing on weak branches or being harassed by smaller birds. When 26 did return to the nest, the parents provided food for her until she was chased from the territory by the Pied Currawongs and wound up on the balcony of a 22nd floor condo the following day after a storm.

The images below were captured between 5pm and 7pm on 28 April. They are of Harriet and M15’s magnificent twins, E17 and E18 who are always together.

28 February 2021
28 February 2021. E17 and E18 waiting for a food drop.

They were up in the branches of the tree around 9:30 am on the 28th of April surveying the landscape.

And here they are being fed only thirteen days old. Their dark thermal down is just starting to grow.

8 February 2021. SWFlorida Eagle Cam with E17 and E18.

Time passes so quickly! And our friends in Bird World grow up, fledge, leave the nest, and we hope live happy lives with lots of of prey and successful clutches. The sad reality is that only about 1 in 3 are alive at the end of their second year and, if they are not banded, we will never know how their destiny unfolded.

I want to spend a little more time with E17 and E18 before they leave the parental territory for good – and I will continue to check in just in case Legacy returns for one last glimpse of that amazing eagle.

The trio at the Pittsburgh Hays Bald Eagle nest are growing by leaps and bounds. They are already fond of looking over the edge of their nest at that big world beyond.

Talk about growing fast – those two on the Osprey nest on Skidaway Island seem to change daily. The aggression of the eldest seems to have slowed (or maybe I have just tuned in at a different time). Here they are having their supper. Look at the plumage. My goodness. They were just fuzzy little ones a couple of days ago.

Big Red, the Red Tail Hawk on the Cornell Campus nest, is restless. She is up and down continually looking at her eggs. Is there a pip? Maybe when the cam operator comes back on in the morning there will be a close up of those three eggs and we can see if anything is happening. Oh, my! It is eggciting.

Big Red woke up to rain on the morning of the 29th. It is a soggy day for hatch if it comes!

Big Red has an amazing mate in Arthur. Arthur has helped rebuild their nest after the Js, he has incubated the eggs, delivered take away, and will be ready to take on stealth hunting so their eyasses grow strong. I wish I could say the same for Louis at the Hellgate Osprey nest in Missoula, Montana.

Louis arrived, as usual, empty handed for a lunch time ‘quickie’. Indeed, he brought in a fish for Iris two days ago. It felt wonderful. Louis has been rather attentive since a banded Osprey landed on Iris’s nest yesterday. He has been coming around more, mating more.

Iris’s nest is in Louis’s territory along with his nest with Starr. Would this banded bird try to displace Louis? It is an interesting thought. So far Iris has laid no eggs. Oh, it could be a blessing.

The saga of ‘Louis and How the Nest Turns’ continues.

Louis arrived at 12:26:12. He flew off at 12:27:22.

Checking in at the UC Berkeley Peregrine Falcon nest, Annie and the trio are fast asleep. There was a very minor earthquake in the San Francisco area this morning and Annie woke up from her nap the minute she noticed. This evening, as you can see, everything is fine. Eyasses are growing leaps and bounds!

The Decorah North Bald Eagles are the pride of Iowa. Their nest is in an idyllic setting. There should be lots of prey and not a lot of glass for these little ones to strike when they fledge. Peaceful.

Spring is just arriving and the animals are waking up from hibernation. This means that there is a lot of prey for these growing youngsters of Mr North and Mrs DNF (Decorah North Female) welcomed their first hatch, DN13, on 25 March. DN 14 hatched on 27 March.

Sometimes silly ‘crop’ poses are just too hard to resist!

The eaglets are just over a month old. This great close up, below, shows how their plumage is changing.

It is a frosty morning in Estonia. Eve looks tired and the sun is just rising. This is the oldest known breeding area for the White-tailed Eagle in Estonia. It is in the Matsalu National Park. In this nest alone, from 1996 to 2020, 29 eaglets have fledged. Isn’t that amazing?

I worry when I don’t see food on a nest especially if the little one is more than a day old and is hungry. I worry when the weather is frosty like it is here in the early morning. Will the sun warm up the earth and send the critters out from their burrows so that Eerik can catch them for Eve and the baby?

It is not long til Eerik arrives on the nest. I am hoping that he will be giving Eve a break but it sure would have been nice if he had come in with prey. Eerik is also acting like there is an intruder around. Fingers crossed.

It is time for me to call it a night. In a few hours the sun will be rising on the UK’s raptor nests. It is time to check in on them. Tomorrow also could be a big news day. There could be a hatch at the Red tail Hawk nest in Ithaca and all eyes are on Big Sur and the egg of Redwood Queen and Phoenix. The condors are critically endangered and every healthy birth and fledge is something to really celebrate.

I am also happy to report that I do not go to bed worrying whether Tiny Tot will have some flakes of fish to eat or will be starving. Tiny Tot is really growing and the mood on the Achieva Osprey nest is quite positive. It seems that Tiny Tot got some fish from every delivery on the 29th. He had quite the crop.

Tiny Tot standing tall. 28 April 2021

Tiny Tot is still eating at 8:26. Oh, that little one sure loves its fish. And the great feedings of the last several days are really showing in terms of feather and muscle development. Even though sibling 1 fledged today, it will be awhile for Tiny Tot. His tail needs to get longer as do his wing feathers. He is beginning to raise and flap them. Lookin’ good little one. Oh, the worry you gave to all of us. Must have aged us ten years!

Thank you for checking in on Bird World. There is always something going on. Let us hope that it all stays positive.

Thank you to the following for the streaming cams. It is from those cameras that I grab my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Lab, Eagle Club of Estonia, Cornell Lab and Skidaway Audubon, Pittsburg Hays Eagle Cam, UC Falcon Cam, Raptor Resource Project and Explore.org, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, and Cornell Lab and Montana Osprey Project.

As the Nest Turns, 19 April 2021

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.

Annie and Grinnell are announcing that 3 has hatched. One more to go! 19 April 2021

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.

Landa is showing Roy their first egg. 19 April 2021
Gorgeous female, Landa. 19 April 2021

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?

So cute. 19 April 2021
Little sleeping Ospreys. 19 April 2021

Congratulations to Clywedog’s Dylan and Blue 5 F Seren on the arrival of the second egg! Oh, that nest is soggy.

A soggy Clwedog Nest. 19 April 2021

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.

A visitor arrives with a beautiful necklace at Loch Arkaig while Louis is on the nest. 19 April 2021

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.

Soggy babies. 19 April 2021

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.

Tiny Tot eating with 1. 19 December 2021. 2 is making its move to enter between Tiny Tot and 1.

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!

19 April 2021

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!’

Lady and Dad doing some much needed repairs to their nest.

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!

Big Red is enjoying a dry day on the nest. 19 April 2021

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.

You can always count on Arthur

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

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

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

13 April 2021

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

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

1 April 2021

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

6 May 2020

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

6 May 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can watch the life streaming of this nest here:

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

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

You can watch Iris at the Hellsgate Osprey Nest cam:

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

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

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