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.

What a joyful day in Bird World!

The Achieva Credit Union’s Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida has caused a lot of people to become anxious and loose sleep. It hasn’t just been me. Tiny Tot (or Tumbles) has a fan club that wants this clever little bird to succeed. It is now 7:30pm Saturday 27 March nest time. Jack has made four fish deliveries today – FOUR! The last days have had the little one, number 3, Tiny Tot or Tumbles – whatever you want to call him – begging for food and trying out ingenious ways to try and get it. Sometimes he was too late and the fish was gone but, today Tiny Tot prevailed.

The deliveries were made at 7:30, 9:48, 1:15, and 5:33. During the second delivery, Tiny Tot got under Diane, the female, just enough that he was out of range of any bonking. #2 tried to batter the little one but it stopped short – because it would have hit its mom! Brilliant move. #2 zero – Tiny Tot 1. It also put Tiny Tot in a good position for getting some nice bites. Progress continued.

In the image below, Tiny Tot is in front of Diane. He has what we call a Cropzilla – a nice pillow. The eldest is the one nearest us and it is passed out in a food coma. Tiny Tot had passed out on the tail of #2 but he is looking like he wouldn’t mind a little top up! Too funny. Mom had a nice meal, too.

Jack was a great provider today. 27 March 2021

Over at the SW Florida Eagle Nest on the Pritchett Farm, E18 branched today. E18 is one of two eaglets of Harriet and M15. Ironically, E18 was bonked so aggressively by E17 that many worried including the wildlife technicians when they both had to go into care for having Conjunctivitis. But something magical happened. The two are twins, born within a couple of hours of one another. The other day an intruder came and E18 instinctively put those huge wings you can see in the image below over E17 to protect her. Branching is one of an eaglet’s milestones and these two are doing brilliant! E17 branched yesterday but today, E18 had to go just a little higher. Remember that old rhyme: ‘Anything you can do, I can do better!’ It is all in fun but these two do move one another along in the challenges they have to get to be juveniles.

E18 branches. Look at those gorgeous wings. 27 March 2021

And good things continue to happen over at the nest of Big Red and Arthur in Ithaca, New York. Big Red laid the first egg of the 2021 season yesterday. If it hatches first, it will be K1. Last year it was the second egg that hatched first. So one never knows! Tomorrow we should be expecting the second egg to arrive. But, over the past three seasons, Big Red has often been reluctant to give her mate, Arthur, much incubation or feeding time. Well, that seems to be changing. So far, I have counted five times that Big Red has had Arthur taking over the nest. The times were 6:36-8:56, 10:56-11:13, 13:20-13:46, 14:08-15:20, and 17:38-18:33. Arthur does a fantastic job. He always checks and rolls the egg and shimmies up. So cute! Maybe this year she will let him do a little more of the feeding! Tomorrow is egg watch.

Arthur incubating their egg. 27 March 2021

Even the hand offs of duty have gotten all worked out.

Arthur out, Big Red in. 27 March 2021.

That is it for this Saturday and Bird World. It is all good! Thanks so much for joining me. I am so glad that you are enjoying these incredible birds ‘er dinosaurs. See you soon.

Thank you to Cornell Labs Bird RTH Streaming Cam, Achieva Osprey Streaming Cam, and D Pritchett and the SWFL Eagle Streaming Cam. Those cams are where I capture my images.

Arrivals

My day started off really well with the arrival of the much anticipated first egg of Big Red and Arthur at the Fernow light tower in Ithaca, NY. It was really windy this morning reminding us of the terrible weather this gorgeous eighteen year old Red Tail Hawk endures annually.

Arthur arrives at 14:47 and gets to see their first egg. He had to climb over Big Red to do it though!

Arthur looked at the egg for a bit and was promptly off to find some prey for Big Red.

Big Red does most of the incubating. Every year – this is now their fourth – she seems to allow him to incubate a little more. He is a great provider and she is never hungry.

Arthur has brought Big Red a vole for her dinner as the lights go out in Ithaca. You can see it at the front right of the egg cup. How sweet. But wait, it could be a chippie. What do you think with those ears? Arthur is a champ at catching chippies and if you watch this nest you will become an expert at identifying dead prey. Even if you don’t want to. I promise.

Last year I would stay awake in the night or get up to make sure Big Red was OK. There was more than one night when she was encased in snow and ice. Laura Culley used to say to me, ‘Don’t worry. Big Red has this all under control.’ And, of course, Laura was always right. But it didn’t matter – hundreds of us still worried. She looks so contented and happy. It is the middle of the night and it is quiet. The buses that drive down the road in front of the nest aren’t running and there are few, if any, people about.

Look for another egg on the 28th! Big Red can lay three eggs by the 30th. One every other day. This couple have no trouble raising three eyases. If you wanted a perfect hawk family with a territory with lots of prey, their eyases have both.

Nancy and Harry at the MN DNR nest have a chick. The hatch began with a pip at 6:27pm on the 25th. We got a little peek at their new addition today! It is a little cutie and Harry already has food up on the nest for his first. Congratulations Nancy and Harry!

Ah, two older birds – Big Red and Nancy – both choose much younger mates. I hope Harry is as good a provider as Arthur is. So far he has been amazing.

Isn’t Nancy beautiful?

They aren’t eggs or chicks but the Osprey began arriving in the UK so fast today, the very last day of World Osprey Week, that people had trouble filling in their charts. Here are some of the arrivals at the monitored nests if you are keeping track.

Blue 33 or Telyn (female) arrived at the Dyfi Osprey nest in Wales at 17:28 on the 26th. Telyn will now wait for her mate Idris to arrive! This couple is one of the most popular in Wales.

Blue 35 and White YW both landed on the Foulshaw Moss nest today. What fantastic timing.

White YW arrives at the nest accompanied by a crow. 26 March 2021
Blue 35 arrives. I wonder if they know each other are home?

And instead of Louis or Alia, snow arrived at Loch Arkaig in Scotland.

Everything is starting to get exciting. Laddie and his new lady NC0 of the Loch Lowes Osprey Nest were caught mating on the nest. Let’s hope they have a good bond.

Sadly, the fish arrivals at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St. Petersburg did not materialize in the quantity for Tiny Tot to get a food feeding. He tried hard even walking along the nest rail to get fed, begging all the time. The older ones fed for two hours but Tiny only got 7 bites. There was hope for a late fish arrival but it did not materialize. If you read my blog regularly, you will know that I have suffered over this Osprey nest. And that is directly related to wanting to know ‘the why’ of the behaviour. Jack and Diane have raised three before to fledge. Is it the heat? the winds? a lack of fish? Studies have shown that the smallest can be excluded by the bigger chicks even if there is enough food. I would argue that when there was enough, this nest was civil. But a bad storm, then high temperatures (fish go to the bottom normally then), and winds caused an erratic delivery. That set about a perception of a lack of fish for all. For two days, the 23rd and 24th there was plenty and all was well. The past two have seen insufficient food even for Harriet. It is all about survival. And nature, contrary to what many believe, is not cute nor is it nice. That all birds would have parents like Big Red and Arthur and a territory for prey like Big Red and Arthur – well, that would be wonderful.

Thank you for joining me today. I would love to say hello to each of you individually. Thank you for your letters and your comments. I am so glad that you are finding joy in the birds. It is magical, isn’t it? We get a glimpse into a world that we would not have otherwise.

I want to thank the following sponsors of streaming cams: Cornell Bird Lab, MN DNR, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Dyfi in Wales.

We have lift off – Big Red laid her first egg

For the past month, Arthur and Big Red have been arriving early to restore their nest on the Fernow Light Tower on the grounds of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. By yesterday, that nest was looking rather amazing. The egg cup was nicely lined with strips of bark and there were even some berries and pine needles. The question remaining in everyone’s mind was: when will Big Red lay her first egg?

Big Red and Arthur are Red Tail Hawks. The scientific names is Buteo jamaicensis. You will find these hawks across North America. Those that breed and lay their eggs where I live – in Manitoba, Canada – only reside with us during the late spring, summer, and early fall. They will migrate to warmer climates for the winter just like the Ospreys in the United Kingdom. Big Red and Arthur do not migrate. They remain in Ithaca throughout the year. They have a territory that is normally rich in prey.

Big Red is 18 years old this spring. She was tagged at Brooktondale, New York in 2003. Arthur will be five years old this spring. Birders on the ground knew him as a nestling in 2016; a chick from an adjacent territory near to the cemetery in Ithaca. He is often called the nickname he was given then, ‘Wink’. His real name is, however, Arthur. Arthur and Big Red have been a bonded pair since the death of Big Red’s long time mate, Ezra, in 2017. Big Red chose Arthur to be her mate in the fall of 2017 before he even had his red tails! Many thought that she was making a huge mistake but Big Red has proven over and over again that she knew precisely what she was doing. So far the streaming cam on her nest has helped to re-write our understanding of Red-Tail Hawk behaviour. As we go through the season, I will point out all the things that Big Red is teaching us. For today, however, let it suffice to say that an eighteen year old Red Tail Hawk can still lay eggs!

The image below is from the nest tower cam over the track at Cornell.

The nest cup – where the eggs are laid – is lined with tree park and pine. You can see this in the image below. Pine is traditionally an insecticide to keep the flies away. You will see the couple bringing in a lot of pine branches til the eyases fledge. Eyas is the singular and eyases is the plural form of falcons or hawks in the nest.

It was 21 degrees and the wind was blowing at 31 kph or 19.26 mph. All eyes were on the Fernow Tower nest. Big Red arrived at 11:46 alone.

She was acting peculiar. And we all held our breath. Might this be the day?

It is unclear precisely when Big Red laid her first egg or how long her labour was but by 12:51 everyone watching knew there was an egg!

The wind was blowing so strong that many were reminded of when Big Red was blown off her nest during the 2020 season. And we all wished that the sun would come out and it would be calm. Big Red has been through so much.

Red tail hawks typically lay a clutch of 2-3 eggs. Last year, Big Red and Arthur fledged three healthy chicks, the Js. This year it will be the Ks. If all goes to schedule, Big Red will lay an egg every other day. She can lay three eggs in four days. Traditionally she does not begin hard incubation until all eggs are in the nest.

For many, watching this nest will be the joy of their days. If you would like to join thousands watching Big Red and Arthur, here is the link to the Cornell Streaming Cam:

Big Red has already been busy rolling that egg and tweaking the egg cup. We are waiting for Arthur to arrive so she can tell him the good news!

Thank you for joining me today. My passion for these beautiful hawks will be coming through from now until August. Updates on other nests later today.

Thank you, as always, to the Cornell Bird Lab for the streaming cameras (there are two) on the Fernow Tower.