Mother’s Day in Bird World

8 May 2022

It’s Mother’s Day and every year I send a shout out to all those great bird mothers who don’t know anything about flowers, chocolates, or going for brunch but who, as best they can, as old as some are, keep our skies filled with the sound of hawks, eagles, falcons, Sky Calls, and song. They have brought us great joy, sorrow, and have taught us so very, very much.

Each of you will have your own list. I have discovered that birds are very personal. So pause and thank your favourites!

The first bird mother I always think of is Big Red. She is not a big strong eagle or a fish hawk. No, she is a medium sized hawk that melts our hearts year after year. Big Red, the Matriarch of the Red-tail Hawks is enjoying early morning sunshine and a necklace of eyases – four of them. She surprised everyone with those four eggs. This nineteen year old probably has a lot more tricks up her talon for us.

We know she hatched in 2003 and that she was hatching chicks in 2005 but the camera did not come live until 2012. That is 7 years unaccounted for. Big Red has consistently laid three eggs and the only time since 2012 she did not fledge three was last year because of K2s beak issue. Potentially she has fledged 51 hawks. 51. Incredible.

She is always happy when there are chicks in the nest and she seems energized this year with the four.

Cholyn at the Two Harbours Bald Eagle nest in the Channel Islands gets the thumbs up this morning. At the age of 24, she is still busy raising eaglets. This year her and Chase had the soon-to-be-banded Only Child, TH1, this year. Cholyn is the mother of Thunder at the West End nest and is the grandmother to another generation of Channel Islands eagles.

Redwood Queen is 23 years and 11 months old and is currently either incubating an egg in Big Sur or brooding a chick! She survived the Dolan Fire and is famously known for her chick, Iniko Orange 1031, who also survived that fire to the surprise of many. She has hatched and fledged 6 condors and fostered and fledged 3. She is currently with 477 Phoenix. It is their second season together. Their egg failed last year. Fingers crossed for this year. Fitting that they both survived massive fires to rise again.

Mrs G, the oldest Osprey in the UK, at the age of 21-23 years is currently brooding three eggs with her mate, Aran, at the Glaslyn Nest. They had a rough patch last year so I am really hoping that this year turns out incredibly well for them.

If we count this year, she has laid 57 eggs with 46 hatched and 41 fledged.

There are lots of Ospreys. I can easily put Maya at the Rutland Manton Bay nest at the top of a list – 20 fledglings in 6 years. Is that correct? But I want to give a hat’s off to a much overlooked female at the Foulshaw Moss nest in Cumbria. Blue 35 was smart and sneaky and made sure that her third hatch —–1/8 the size of the other two older siblings at hatch – survived. She removed fish and once the older ones were asleep returned to the nest and fed Blue 463. As a result, 463 thrived and became a huge female and quite dominant on the nest. Thank you Blue 35. She was also one of the only Osprey nests to fledge three in 2021.

Peregrine Falcon Mothers. Hats off to the Mum at the Manchester New Hampshire scrape for keeping those five eyases in tip top shape. Not easy when some are extraordinarily larger than the youngest! The tiniest one is in the front. So small you can’t see it! Mum is doing a great job.

All full and sleepy.

There is one other Peregrine Falcon Mum who is now raising two eyases after losing her mate during the egg laying part of this breeding season. That falcon is Annie at the UCal-Berkeley scrape in The Campanile. She is a grandmother – they know that her daughter is on Alcatraz Island and that this is at least her second year if not more to raise chicks.

There are now too and it appears that Lynn Scofield was completely correct. The last egg is unviable. This means that egg 1 and egg 3 hatched with the potential for one chick to be Grinnell’s and the other to be possibly Alden’s. I hope so! Annie survived the death of her long term mate, Grinnell, to hatch the two chicks. Heart warming.

Why not think about your favourite ‘Bird Mums’ today? It is a great way to thank them ———— each and everyone of them ——— for the joy they bring to our lives!

Have a great Sunday everyone. There will be a nest check in later today. Thank you so much for joining me. Take care!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and/or webpages where I took my screen captures: Cornell Bird Lab RTH, Ventana Wildlife Society, Brywd Gwyllt Glaslyn, Cumbrian Wildlife Trust, Peregrine Falcon Network Manchester NH, Cal Falcons, and Explore.org.

Pip watch for Big Red and Arthur continues

20 April 2022

Big Red and Arthur have their territory on the Cornell Campus in Ithaca, New York. Big Red hatched in Brooktondale, New York in the spring of 2003. She was banded in Brooktondale as a fledgling Red-tail Hawk on 10 October 2003. It is not precisely know how many mates Big Red has had since she was old enough to lay eggs and hatch chicks. She was observed on the Cornell campus with her mate Ezra prior for two years prior to 2012 when the cameras were placed on the light stands on the campus. When they began to number the chicks, they began with C because of those two years. Ezra and Big Red raised eyases until the spring of 2017 when Ezra was killed defending their territory. Big Red had no chicks in 2017 but she did have a mysterious young visitor to the nest in April 2017. It was Arthur! And Arthur did not even have his red tail yet! After considering several potential mates, Big Red – to the dismay of many human animals – choose a youngster. Arthur has proved himself to be an invaluable mate. He is a fantastic hunter and takes part in all aspects of the breeding season including nestorations, incubation, prey deliveries, and teaching the youngsters how to fly and hunt.

Somewhere in my files I have precisely the number of chicks that hatched. It is likely that she has laid and hatched 54 eggs since she could first breed. It was a large number and everyone of them fledged except for one and that was last year. K2 had an issue with her beak and she was taken into care. The situation was thought dire and she was euthanized.

This is the first year that Big Red has laid four eggs. It seems to be a trend amongst hawk and falcon populations this year. Cornell has already alerted everyone that this is unknown territory and they do not know what to expect.

Red-tail hawks are the most wide-spread hawk in North America. They are medium sized and are distinguished by their beautiful red tail when they are a year old. They normally live in wide open spaces and you can see them sitting on top of poles hunting. Indeed, Big Red and Arthur often spend time on the poles along Highway 366 near Cornell. You might commonly hear that Big Red is sitting on the 366 pole. That is what it means. There are fields across the highway still in Big Red and Arthur’s territory where they hunt and where they teach the eyases to hunt.

You can watch the hatching of the chicks and the daily lives of Big Red, Arthur, and the Ls here:

When the chicks hatch they will be covered with white soft feathers with a black beak and the cutest fat little pink legs and feet.

The image below is K1 hatched and K2 pipping.

There are several video clips of highlights from 2021. Here is one of those that will give you an idea of what to expect this year.

It is going to be an exciting season on the Cornell Campus particularly if all four eggs hatch. Boy, Arthur start stacking up the chipmunks and the squirrels!

Thank you so much for joining me. I am eggcited! Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the Cornell Bird Lab for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.

Late Tuesday in Bird World

15 March 2022

It has been a very sad morning in Bird World with the death of what appears to be, now, the oldest chick on the Captiva Osprey nest in Florida. Lori Covert the landowner has contacted CROW, that wonderful wildlife rehabber on Santibel. Permission was given to remove the body of the osplet for testing. CROW arrived and removed Big beginning at 15:21:15-15:21:26. You can see how quick they were to come once they had the OK and how they did not disturb the nest.

Big was 27 days old. He or she would have been 28 days tomorrow.

They do not want to cause any undue stress or frighten the other two on Did Big choke on a pellet? He had been gagging several times this morning. Casting pellets is a natural part of a raptor’s life. What cannot be processed in the crop is compacted into something not unlike a small charcoal pellet. The birds then regurgitate these. Researchers like the pellets because they can study what the birds have been eating. But a pellet or the H5N1 highly pathogenic Avian Flu is on speculation. It appears that Big died after moving up to eat but couldn’t. That was approximately 08:33. I sincerely hope that this is not a case of H5N1 and look forward to the announcement. The other two osplets both ate at 15:40.

Little Bob (Mini on chat) and Middle Bob appear to be fine. They are interested and can eat and that is a great sign!

It used to not unsettle me when an adult or a chick died. Perhaps it is just everything that has happened for so many years catching up with me but I was particularly upset at the loss at Captiva this morning. Thankfully the garden critters were robustly going after the two new seed cylinders that were put out yesterday. Dyson could not decide where to settle. He wanted the oil seeds that had fallen out of a bag on the snow but he also wanted to eat off the cylinder and he was intrigued by the peanuts in the square tray feeder.

Despite his altercation with the cat, Dyson remains pleasantly plump after the harsh winter and the back half of his tail is growing back. Horrah!

The Blue Jay family – OK. One member of the Blue Jay family has returned from their migration today. I could not get the camera quick enough for a photo but I hope to attract it with a cob of corn on the deck. i wonder if it is Junior? Mr? or Mrs? And where do they go?

It was a good day for a walk in the woods. Our temperature is a balmy +2 C. The snow is definitely melting and there is an open water area now at the Fort Whyte Nature Centre. There were three Canada Geese there today!

There were a number of Black-capped chickadees at the feeder and when I arrived the little Downy Woodpecker with the broken beak was just flying away. Too quick for me to catch him but for those of you who asked, it is still alive and eating well out of the cylinder feeder! That is certainly good news.

What I needed was a walk in the woods where it was absolutely quiet. The snow is now wet enough that it did not crunch. All you could hear on occasion was the songs of the birds.

Walking in nature is good therapy.

I am happy to report that all of the eaglets on the Dale Hollow nest have eaten. Little Bit was sure enjoying a fish that had been brought to the nest.

The middle on moved up and got some food, too, after Little Bit. You can see the huge difference in size now between all three chicks. Big just looks enormous!

This was Little Bit sleeping before the feeding over on the rim of the nest. It looks bigger stretched out and was clenching its talons and letting go and clenching them again. Was it catching a fish in its eaglet dreams?

Sweet baby sleeping in the shade. For those of you that do not know, the black dot behind the eye and corner of the beak is the ear. It will get covered with feathers. You might also notice that Little Bit is getting some of its darker thermal down and losing its baby fluff. Looks like a few little feathers poking about perhaps.

I just checked and Little Bit was fed at 16:20. So all is well at Dale Hollow as evening approaches.

Big Red gave Arthur some incubation time today. That is fantastic. She doesn’t allow him much but it is nice to see him so alert taking his turn with their first egg.

Arthur is very handsome.

I don’t think you could find a more gorgeous female Red tail Hawk than Big Red anywhere! She is so stunning with her really dark morph.

Big Red took a dinner break at 17:29 nest time.

Do not worry. This egg is fine. We learned that due to Milda leaving her eggs in almost freezing weather for 5-6 hours. They both hatched. Everything is good. Big Red has been having chicks for 17 years. She is an expert. I certainly am not. LOL. Remember. I wanted to give Rosie and Richmond sticks!

There was a very sweet posting by the SF Ospreys today on their FB page:

I really wanted to dump a lot of sticks for these two down in the parking lot! As many of you know, I look for ways to make the lives of our birds better. Part of that has to do with the elimination of lead in all fishing and hunting equipment. The other has to do with rat and mice poison. Well, look what a Place Called Hope just posted!

At the West End Bald eagle nest, Akecheta brought in a Cormorant to the nest. This came after there was something that looked like an Armadillo. Both were road kill. Thunder decided to feed the three eaglets the fresh fish! The West End nest is doing well.

Shadow and Jackie at the Big Bear Valley Bald Eagle nest are also doing just fine. The little one is growing like a very bad weed.

I checked on Kincaid, too, at the Kistachie National Forest nest in Louisiana. He is wing flapping and showing his preference for some prey and not others but I do not believe that he has branched yet.

That is it for me today. I am still recovering from the loss of Big. Looking forward to the test results. If it was a pellet then we should know that very fast. If it was something else, we will have to wait for test results that can take days.

From all the critters in the garden, thank you for joining us today. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and/or their FB pages where I took my screen captures: A Place called Hope, Captiva Ospreys and Window on Wildlife, Friends of Big Bear Valley, West End Eagles and the Institute for Wildlife Studies, KNF Bald Eagles, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Dale Hollow Lake Eagles, and SF Bay Ospreys.

Monday Updates in Bird World

The snow and rain persisted in the North East longer after bringing bitter cold, rain, tornado warnings, and ice in the SE. Last night those white flakes piled up on Big Red and Arthur’s nest at Cornell University. This afternoon rain is falling in Ithaca.

There is still about 9 weeks before Big Red thinks about laying eggs. Suzanne Arnold Horning caught Big Red preening in the snow this morning. Big Red is always beautiful, no matter the weather.

The sun has come out on the WRDC nest of Ron and Rita. Hopefully this will make R1 nicer. Even Rita tried to stop his nonsense with R2 yesterday.

The behaviour of R1, more aggressive than normal during the day of the storm, was mirrored in E19 who was entirely unpleasant to E20 on Harriet and M15’s nest in Fort Myers. These two have been called the ‘the most sweet’ and ‘the most caring’ of all of Harriet and M15’s eaglets and yet, yesterday brought out the aggression.

The cameras at SWFlorida are having problems this morning. The IR remains on and they are all on different times. The camera should, at this moment, be reading 12:30. Those eaglets are fine. Hopefully today will calm E19 down.

The one nest that I have been concerned with is that at Berry College. Missy did real well during the storm yesterday. It appears that the chick attempting to hatch in the second egg has failed. As one of the chatters said this morning, ‘we are thankful for one feisty chick’. Agreed. Let Missy get some experience with this one! Fingers crossed that this little one, B15, will grow and thrive.

I checked on Missy late last night and was thrilled to see the precipitation had stopped.

What I would like to see is a pile of fish on that nest! Pa Berry, let’s go fishing.

No egg at Duke Farm but the nest continues to be restored by the pair of Bald Eagles that gave us those two magnificent fledges last year.

It is breezy and sunny at Hilton Head Island Trust Eagles Nest, home to Harriet and Mitch and their two eaglets. It certainly isn’t hot there and the forecast indicates that the temperatures will plunge on Thursday. Right now the babies are full of fish and sleeping.

Lori Covert at Captiva Bald Eagles has announced that the two eggs of Connie and Clive are either unfertilized or non-viable. No eaglets for Connie and her new mate this year, sadly.

There was a late fish delivery to Ervie on the Port Lincoln Osprey barge. I am not quite certain of the delivery time but Ervie was working on it after 20:00. At one point, Mum came over to see if she could get that fish off Ervie and he promptly booted her off the nest. Ervie!

Ervie did not finish that fish. He seems to have saved some of it for breakfast. He is sleeping on it!

Before signing off – I am late in feeding the garden birds and animals – a quick check on Anna and the little one. Louis has the pantry full – typical Louis -and this baby continues to delight. It is so strong. The Kisatchie National Forest nest is quickly rising like cream to the top in terms of my favourite Bald Eagle nests.

I know that there has been a lot of chatter about Louis being able to feed lots more chicks. Yes, he could. He could supply Berry College easily and keep Anna and babies full. That said, my preference will always be for one very healthy chick at each nest – always. Anna is a young Mum. This is only her second breeding season. Ease her into larger clutches gently! If ever.

This eaglet is the cutest! Seriously.

Thank you so much for joining me this morning. They all seemed to have survived the storms well. Such a relief. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Berry College, WRDC, SWFlorida, Hilton Head Island Trust, Port Lincoln Ospreys, KNF Bald Eagle Cam, Duke Farms, Cornell Bird Lab, and Suzanne Arnold Horning for the image of Big Red today.

Falcon and Red-Tail Hawk Cams

I had a lovely note form ‘M’ asking about other peregrine falcon cams. Thank you for your letter, ‘M’.

Each one of us feels a little ’empty’ when the eyases fledge. Without trackers, we have no idea what happens to them. We just wish them well and I know that everyone is working hard to make their environment better. The only birds on the nest who have fledged and not left permanently are the PLO Lads – Ervie, Bazza, and Falky. It is winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the birds have migrated to warmer climates. I will, however, be checking on nests in Asia to see if there are any for you to watch.

This is not an exhaustive listing but it is a beginning and I will be adding to it for all of you as the camera streams return. We have streaming cams on the falcons in Winnipeg as part of the Manitoba Peregrine Falcon Recovery. I will post those at the beginning of the summer. Most of our birds are in southern Texas or Mexico right now.

So here goes – and if you have a favourite falcon or hawk cam, let me know!

One of my favourites are the Peregrine Falcons in Melbourne. They are known as the CBD or 367 Collins Street Falcons. The cam is currently not live. Will come back on line September 2022

Cornell Red-tail Hawks (Big Red and Arthur), Ithaca, New York. The construction work at Bradfield has caused a power outage on the Athletic Fields. Those building works are winding down and this camera should be live shortly. Big Red and Arthur will be very busy once late February and March roll around. There are only two Red-tail hawk streaming cams in the world and this is the best. Big Red is 19 this year. Arthur is 5 or 6 years old. They are a fantastic couple that normally fledge three eyases a year. There are birders on the ground that keep track of the fledglings so you get to see the parents do team training in hunting, etc. Highly Recommended.

Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam in Orange, Australia. Yurruga has fledged. Look for egg laying in the fall of 2022. This is the scrape box of Diamond and Xavier. They are a well established couple. For the past two years three eggs laid but only one fledgling each year which is fine. It is a nice comparison with the Melbourne falcons who fledge 3 consistently. Orange is more rural and, of course, Melbourne is urban. The camera is left on and the falcons come and go regularly.

The Campanile Falcons on UC-Berkeley. This is the scrape box and cams for the Peregrine Falcon Couple, Annie and Grinnell. Grinnell was injured by a male interloper on 29 October. He was in care, as a result, and has been returned to his territory. The male interloper is still at The Campanile. It is unclear which of the males Annie will choose. Nesting activity late March, 2022. Annie and Grinnell are incredible parents who traditionally fledge three adorable babies.

The following are falcon cams that I have watched ‘on and off’ and that have come highly recommended to me from viewers:

Illkirch, France:

Great Spirit Bluff, Minnesota

Anacapa Island, California. There are current a large number of Pelicans to watch.

I will definitely be posting more including a couple of streaming cams from the UK. All of that action will begin when spring arrives. I also want to post some sites in Asia which I will do over the weekend. There will also be the Northern Hemisphere Ospreys, White-tailed Eagles, Golden Eagles, as well as the returning storks to Latvia and Estonia.

For now, things are really pretty quiet except for the Port Lincoln Ospreys, Diamond and Xavier coming in and out of the scrape box in Orange, and the Bald Eagles laying eggs in the US. There are two nests that you might wish to consider and if you have never watched a Royal Albatross nest then you definitely need to check out the Royal Cam Family in New Zealand who are incubating an egg laid on 9 November. They are very experienced and adorable parents, OGK (Orange Green Black) and YRK (Yellow Red Black). They are already grandparents. I often suggest this site to individuals who have a difficult time watching any nest if there is sibling rivalry. The Albatross lay one egg every two years. Parents rotate all of the duties. Last year the Royal Cam chick, Tiaki, had a sat-pak attached to her. We are currently watching her fish off the coast of Chile.

It is a bit wet in NZ this morning. This is YRK’s 6th day on the nest. OGK will be flying in soon and they will switch. Should something happen, the NZ DOC rangers are there to step in and intervene. No one goes hungry, injuries are taken care of, etc. It is a great site and in the process you will bear witness to a country that really protects its wildlife!

There are way too many Bald Eagle streaming cams to list them all. For now, I am only going to recommend one. These are experienced parents Harriet and M15 at the SWFlorida Bald Eagle nest on the property of the Pritchett Family. Their eggs are due to hatch soon – December 25-28. Once Gabby lays her egg in NE Florida I will post that information. For now, you can have fun watching Harriet and M15 change places. The only un-fun thing is the GHOW that attacks the eagles regularly.

There is no word on Yurruga. Cilla says she will look for a few more days. Just so you know the building that Yurruga was last seen on is a gabled (triangle) pointed roof, a bit steep. It is a single story building with clay tiles. Yurruga is not there – not alive, not dead. He was there on Thursday – seen twice during a big storm. I would expect to hear this fledgling screaming for food. Falcons are loud! Is it at a distance from the tower? is Yurruga injured? is Yurruga somewhere else? There are no answers I am afraid. If I hear anything you will be the first to know. Now, it is time for me to go and take care of all my feeders. The gang will be here soon!

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care everyone. See you soon.

25 November in Bird World

I hope that anyone celebrating Thanksgiving today had a wonderful meal with friends and family. All of us have so much to be grateful for – including our beloved birds – every day.

So, let’s start with the not so great news and move into the good, shall we?

Everyone has been waiting for Grinnell to step up to the plate and stay in the scrape box on The Campanile or on the ledge waiting for Annie. So far that has simply not happened. Today, however, it was the ‘new male’ that was there. Grinnell may still lack the confidence to engage with the intruder that injured him. Here is that video:

Port Lincoln has posted that the official autopsy on Solly, the 2020 fledgling of the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge and the first Osprey in Australia to have a tracker, was, indeed and very sadly and unnecessarily (my words) the victim of electrocution.

Oh, just look at her. What a beauty. Her necklace would have been the envy of everyone. She reminds me, so much, of Iris. Stunning.

Port Lincoln also posted the following information on their FB page. I am delighted to see that they are going to use the information gathered by Solly’s tracking to understand where to put protectors on the hydro poles.

Thank you to all my readers who wrote to the South Australian Minister of the Environment and Water, David Speirs. You may remember that Speirs travelled to Port Lincoln to help band the chicks there and at Thistle Island. Ervie is named after the town in Scotland where Speirs was born. Every letter and every phone call does help. It is a tragedy and one that did not need to happen!

Blackland Prairie Raptor Rescue posted the following image of a hawk caught up in fishing line. Look closely at the outward damage that line caused and imagine the pain and suffering. This was in Lucas, Texas but it could be anywhere people fish and do not care to clean up after themselves. Please spread the word to anyone you know who fishes. And if you want to do something to help, put bags in your car and pickers (those tools people use to pick up litter) along with gloves. Go for a walk along a shore and clean it up. Take the family. The birds will thank you. They really will!

And now for some really good news.

Port Lincoln has a couple of items. The first is a posting about Port Lincoln fledgling from 2019, Calypso. It seems that she has been spotted a few times with a male. Could this be pair bonding?

And lastly out of Port Lincoln, Ervie is doing more flying and getting stronger. He even flew over houses! The trio – Ervie, Bazza, and Falky – are doing great. All are flying and eating and life is good on the barge.

Ferris Akel’s tour meant a lot to lovers of Big Red today. About a week or ten days ago I posed the question on the Cornell Chatter’s FB page: Has anyone seen Big Red since 16 October? No one had. News came on the Cornell Twitter Page that Karel and Bogette had seen Big Red on 21 November at Beebee Lake. There was a lot of worry.

Everyone on Ferris’s tour were overjoyed to see her back sitting on the building where her ‘throne’ is located.

Oh, she is a beauty and is so dear to everyone. Such joy she has brought to people from around the world. Indeed, at one time, she was said to be ‘the most famous’ Red Tail Hawk. I am certain she still is! Ferris also spotted Arthur so everything is right with the world in Ithaca.

Soon the NZ DOC will select the Royal Cam family for the 2021-22 season. I wonder who they will choose?

And remember to mark your calendars. #1031 Iniko will be released back into the territory where she hatched in Big Sur on 4 December. It will be so exciting to seeRedwood Queen and Kingpin’s daughter return to the wild after surviving the Dolan Fire in 2020. This is one of those events that will warm your heart. No one believed Iniko could survive that fire. Her father, Kingpin, is believed to have perished but the wee one lived. Jubilant is the word I am looking for – everyone associated with the rescue and the release will be jubilant for a long, long time.

Take care everyone. I am thankful for each and everyone of you because you love and care for the environment where our beloved birds live and hunt and raise their families. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or their FB Pages where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Ferris Akel Tours, Blackland Prairie Raptor Rescue, and Cal Falcons.

Urban Birds

There is a superb little video of Dad delivering Mum a pigeon carcass to feed the Melbourne Four. You will notice that the chicks really come to attention when they hear the ee-chupping that signals that a food delivery and meal are eminent.

I wonder how many prey items have been delivered to this nest so far? Awww…cute little dad just melts my heart. He is such a sweetie.

The Port Lincoln Ospreys had 7 feedings yesterday, 7 different fish deliveries. They were getting off to a good start today with a delivery very early in the morning and several quickly following. This nest just amazes me this year. Everyone is doing so well. Just look at those beautiful juvenile feathers growing in and the tails! Those magical tails with their white fringe.

I have been interested in birds since I was a child – enjoying the ones in my family’s garden and feeding them as well as the regular trips to the duck pond. It was not until I was an adult and had an encounter with a female Sharp-shinned hawk that my life catapulted into a different direction. Today I have two very focused ‘bird interests’ – Osprey nests with three hatches and urban raptors.

Today I turned back to thinking about the need for large parks within cities so that there would be a diversity of wildlife. One person who covers the Central Park area of New York City has a great blog with incredible photographs and short videos. His name is Bruce Yolton and he covers all of the birds and sometimes other species that live in the urban parks of New York City. This is the address of his blog, take a look. He has recently written about a beautiful Belted Kingfisher and Great Horned Owl.

https://www.urbanhawks.com/

Indeed, the very first streaming cam I ever watched was a pair of Red-tailed Hawks raising eyases in a nest on the ledge of New York City University’s library. I learned so much about the challenges that urban wildlife faces watching their daily lives unfold, learning the history of the nest, and chatting with many of the other people watching. Then one year, the female died of rodenticide poisoning. The male tried to incubate the eggs but, as we all know, it generally takes two full time adult birds to raise a nest. It was quite sad. Eventually, I discovered Big Red up at Cornell.

Bruce is an expert on the notorious Pale Male whose nest is on Fifth Avenue across from Central Park. You might have seen the full length documentary The Legend of Pale Male and the fight for this raptor to maintain his nest at this prestigious address. Pale Male is, I believe, coming on 32 years of age. He arrived in Central Park in 1991, thirty years ago. Bruce just uploaded a video of Pale Male hunting in Tupelo Meadow for a Brown Rat.

One of the greatest causes of death to urban raptors is rodenticide. Every time I hear or see a bird of prey eating a rat or mouse I worry that they will die from secondary poisoning. As you well know, raptors kill more rodents than any poisons. So why aren’t the designer poisons banned?

It was, however, Bruce’s video of Chimney Swifts, hundreds of them, flying into the chimneys of New York City that intrigued me. I think it will you, too.

All of the birds are doing well. Really well actually. It is reassuring in a world full of anxieties.

Thank you for joining me. I will put the link to the movie about Pale Male in case you haven’t seen it. If that is the case, grab your favourite snacks and enjoy watching the lobbying for a bird to keep its nest. It is quite remarkable. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac and Port Lincoln Osprey Project.

You can find the Legend of Pale Male here. It is free and well done.

thelegendofpalemale.net

Iris and Louis defend nest

In my last post, Tiny Little Bob or Blue 463 from the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest was screaming at White YW (aka dad) for a fish. He could have flown to Wales and he would have still heard her.

What is that about the squeaky wheel always gets the oil first? Perhaps screaming daughters do, too. It is the last fish of the evening probably and Tiny Little is eating it. Blue 462, the other female on the nest, would like Tiny Little to share. Somehow I don’t think so ——- it was, after all, Blue 462 who was such a meanie to Tiny Little when she hatched. Birds have good memories.

These are the areas adjacent to Iris’s nest in Hellgate, Missoula, Montana. It is very beautiful. We always see the nest in the parking lot but just on the other side are trees, grass, and water.

Iris is the oldest living Osprey in the world. Her nest is at Hellgate in Missoula, Montana. After her mate Stanley died, she bonded with Louis. They had one chick survive, Lele, in 2018. Louis has another nest at the baseball park with Starr. They fledged two chicks this summer. When Stanley died, Louis also took over the territory that includes the two nests. Every year Iris returns, goes through the rituals of breeding, lays her eggs, and everything falls apart. People get upset. They think very little of Louis. I am of a divided mind. Right now I prefer Iris taking care of herself, eating well, and bulking up for migration than running around with a nest full of juvenile fledglings. She has done her bit for the DNA of the species. But that is just my opinion. Everyone is entitled to theirs, for sure. But the one solid thing that binds all of us together is our love for this most amazing of Ospreys.

Iris tends to spend more time at her nest before she leaves on migration. Last year she departed on 8 September. Everyone gets a little teary eyed right about now because there is no promise that Iris will return but, we live in hope that this strongest of female Ospreys graces the screens next spring. Along with that hope is that the rains come and there is plenty of food for all.

There have been a number of intruders, both male and female, this summer. Do they want to usurp Louis? take Iris for a mate? Certainly when Dunrovin’s Congo came on the scene everyone was hopeful! or are they just curious and checking out what nests are available? Perhaps all of those things. Today, Louis flew to the nest alarming and Iris flew in and joined him – showing off her big crop!

Erick Greene and his team in Montana are considering many ways in which to commemorate Iris. Stay tuned or check out the Montana Osprey FB page. If you wanted to order an Iris pen and forgot, if you will send me a note I will send you the details. They are gorgeous and made from those sticks she brought to the nest.

In the image below, Rosie, the female adult on the San Francisco Bay Osprey cam at the Richmond Yards, is bringing Poppy, one of two female hatches, a beautiful trout. Poppy is 110 days old today.

The average age for Richmond and Rosie’s female chicks to stop feeding at the nest is 105 days. The longest a female stayed was in 2018 and that was Kiskasit who was 124 days old. Lupine was last seen on Monday. She was 103 days old. Sage, the only male, was last seen on 28 July at the age of 86 days. The average for the males to stop feeding on this nest is 93 days so Sage left a little early. There is no reason to believe that Sage and Lupine have begun any type of migration. Richmond stays in the SF Bay area year round. Mom Rosie will migrate and the female adults normally leave before the fledglings. And whose to say they will migrate! If there is plenty of food and the weather is fine – well, it certainly agrees with Richmond – may be they will stay!

And, of course, just thinking about fledglings returning to the nest to be fed until they are 90-100 days old just makes me think about Malin. Susan, the wildlife rehabber that is over the area where Collins Marsh is located, was to get in touch me later today. She wrote me a long note yesterday and she is also firm in her knowledge that Malin was a forced fledge. As we have learned, normal fledges do not require our attention. The chicks return to the nest, take short flights, and are fed by the parents. Malin was not ready despite his age. He had suffered a lack of food. His forced fledge meant that he was in jeopardy and boots on the ground were needed immediately. This did not happen. As noted earlier, she found two chicks – one dead, one alive. I am hoping that ‘no news is good news’.

Suzanne Arnold Horning was on the Cornell Campus and she found the two Ks. No sightings of Big Red and Arthur but, guess what? Getting to see K1 and K3 on the 22nd of August is a bonus. Here they are hunting. That is K1 on the top. She looks so much like Big Red and has turned out to be such a fantastic hunter. Suzanne said they were not food calling – just being quiet and hunting. These two seem so much more independent this year.

Ah, the little cutie, K3 looking down and hoping to find a chippie.

What a nice treat to get to see the Ks. And, of course, theirs could be a migration dilemma. Big Red and Arthur stay in the area year round. Perhaps with the changes in weather so will the Ks. If someone could put the average date that birds leave for migration this year against last and create a global directory (surely someone does this already), tracking of changes related to climate could be measured. We have seen Poppy stay longer as are many others and now perhaps the Ks.

Thank you for joining me today. I will let you know as soon as I hear about Malin – it is heartwarming to hear from so many around the world who came to love that little nestling. If you are in line with any of the storms hitting the coast of the US, going over Hawaii, or elsewhere, take care of yourselves. Stay safe.

UPDATE: Aug 23 at 17:35:35 No2 (7182) fledged at the Estonian nest of Jan and Janika. Slept as an adult off nest.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots and video clips: Montana Osprey Project, Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest, SF Bay Ospreys and Golden Gate Audubon. I would also like to thank Suzanne Arnold Horning who allows me to download her images to share with you.

Estonian Black Storks fledge…and other news from Bird World

All you have to do is watch a songbird catching insects for her wee nestlings, coming and going all day, to clearly see the great effort this is on behalf of the adult. As the nestlings grow ever larger, those same parents have tremendous pressure to increase the amount of food and the number of deliveries. Just finding food has been a serious challenge for all the birds this year whether they are in Montana, Florida, or Latvia. The tremendous heat waves, droughts, and urban development have impacted hunting areas as well as the quantity of fish or prey available.

I recorded an evening food delivery to Grafs and Grafiene’s storklings in Latvia. This is about a minute long. I could have recorded them for much longer but I can only upload so many MBs. It is absolutely fascinating. The parent arrives, regurgitates the fish, and quickly gets out of the way! Those three are so excited– and hungry!

There have been some concerns over the availability of food. Latvia has experienced, like other countries, excessive summer heat. ‘S’ tells me that they have also been experiencing land amelioration that has caused drainage issues in the surrounding area. If you have ever watched Ferris Akel’s Live Tours of birding areas in upstate New York, you will be aware of how the drainage of land impacts the birds. One day the water and food are there and two or three days later – gone! Poof. The summer heat has exacerbated these issues. Still, this trio of Black Stork nestlings seem to be developing quite well.

If you missed it, Karl II and Kaia’s nestlings were ringed on 9 July at the nest in the Karula National Park in southern Estonia. They also had Kotkaklubi transmitters put on their legs so the researchers can follow them as they migrate. They are Pikne 716P, Tuul 716 T and Udu is 716U. Tuul is the youngest and is seen here in this short video clip flapping and jumping. That nest seems so small!

All that flapping was leading up to something — Udu 716U fledged at 6:19 and then another fledged 716T, Tuul. This leaves Pikne, 716 P to fly. The fledgling Udu has flown and returned to the nest and flown again. It is so wonderful to see them in the early morning enjoying the little bit of wind under their wings. Always exciting and bittersweet.

I promised you an update on Big Red, Arthur, and the Ks. Everyone is doing well. K1 and K3 are very strong fliers and have really extended their range within the territory of their parents on the Cornell University campus. K1 is a very successful hunter. It is unclear to me whether or not K3 has caught his own food yet but, if he hasn’t, he will soon. Big Red and Arthur seem to take turns watching the fledglings progress from a distance.

Here is K3 on top of Roberts Hall.

K1 has been hunting. Wonder what she has in those talons?

A small bird.

K1 finished her snack and is ready to find some more prey!

I love this image. You can clearly see the ‘eyebrows’ that keep the glare out of the hawk’s eyes. Then there is that amazing red streaked belly band – enough to rival that of her mother, Big Red. K1 is such a gorgeous hawk. In this image she is completely focused on the task at hand – finding another prey item.

There is proud papa, Arthur, watching his kids closely but not interffering with their learning.

K1 seemed to be all over the campus hunting. I am not so familiar with the buildings but doesn’t she look gorgeous on this one with the red clay roof tiles? Just a beauty.

The Ks are doing well. We are moving into August. They should be hunting in the fields by highway 366 shortly, if they are not already. The days will pass quickly. The pair will begin soaring and then it won’t be long til Big Red and Arthur will be empty nesters.

Thank you so much for joining me. I hope to get some images of our local water fowl to share with you tomorrow. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots and video clips: The Latvian Fund for Nature and the Eagle Club of Estonia. Thanks go to Suzanne Arnold Horning again for sharing her great images of the Red tail haws with us.

An Osprey blew off a nest! and other Bird World News

We were so concerned about the big storm that went through Wisconsin and the Collins Marsh Osprey Nest that nothing else mattered in the wee hours of the night the other day. In our mind’s eye, we could see that wee chick flying off that 120 ft retired fire watchtower.

Well, over in New Jersey, the mother on the Barnegat Light Osprey Nest did get blow off! The Conserve Wildlife Foundation wrote:

“On the evening of July 29, 2021 a line of severe storms moved across New Jersey. Many of these storms held the potential to produce damaging winds, hail and possible tornados. One such storm went straight for Barnegat Light, where our osprey cam is located. Watch as the wind shifts from east to west and the adult female was blown from the nest. Luckily she and her nestlings all survived unharmed, but there are many osprey who were right in the path of what looked to be a tornado, which hit High Bar Bar — just to the north of the osprey cam nest. Hopefully that the damage is not too severe to both people and ospreys.”

Here is that video of Daisy, the mother on the perch, and her two chicks on the nest.

The male, Duke, went missing in the storm. He showed up around 4pm today delivering a fish on that nest. Yippee.

Daisy and the chicks are sleeping well tonight. The family is back together again!

Fledge is over but the chicks are still actively coming to the nest for fish drops. Here is the link to that camera.

I will add a note. There were originally three chicks on this nest. The vast age and size difference meant that the third hatch became a victim of siblicide.

The Montana Osprey Project is having a fundraiser and it is really neat. Dr Ericke Green collects the twigs that fall off Iris’s nest at Hellgate, Montana. I know that almost everyone knows who ‘Iris’ is but, in case you do not, she is the oldest Osprey in the world. She has her nest in Missoula, Montana. She has spent the days since arrival and until recently adding twigs. Well, some of the twigs she adds fall off. Those that Dr Green picks up are sent to Richard and Sharon Leigh Miles in South Carolina who turn those twigs that Iris touched into pens. They cost $45 and that includes postage. I understand they sell out quickly if you are interested please go to the Montana Osprey Project FB Page. Scroll through their threads and you will find the information.

I was so excited to find this fundraiser. Can’t wait til my pen arrives!

WBSE 28 is working steady to get out of that shell! This was the progress around 10 am Saturday nest time. This sweet babe should be joining its ‘snowman’ looking sibling 27 late Saturday in the Sydney Olympic Ironbark Nest.

My first introduction to the White-Bellied Sea Eagle was last year. I am a ‘hawk and falcon’ person – smaller raptors – more than the eagles. I came across the WBSE streaming cam purely by accident. I have learned a lot about eagle behaviour over the past year.

This cute little bundle of fur is destined to be one of the largest eagles in the world. Look at its cute little wings. One of the worst things about eagle nests is the sibling rivalry – although I can say that this also happens on Osprey nests and to a much lesser extend the smaller raptors. Last year the sibling rivalry only lasted a few days. It seemed that WBSE 25 sensed that ’26’ was injured and I have said many times helped the little sibling. That said, one of the old timers told me that the second egg is the ‘insurance’ egg – there only if the first chick does not survive. When I heard that I shook my head. There can be siblicide on this nest. It is the only White-Bellied Sea Eagle Nest with a live stream that I am aware of.

I am including the link to the camera. If you are concerned about what appears to siblicide happening on this nest, this year, I urge you to stop watching especially if you have younger children. I will provide simple updates on the nest without graphic content. Hopefully there will be plenty of fish brought in at all the right times so that nothing triggers food insecurity behaviour. That said, siblicide has occurred on nests where food is plentiful.

Here is the link to Cam 4 for the Sydney Sea Eagles:

Ferris made it to the Cornell Campus tonight. He was able to spot Arthur fairly quickly but the Ks and Big Red were in hiding. He will probably return to the campus tomorrow on his regular Saturday tour. I know he will be stopping to see about the Roseate Spoonbill. Like all of us, it is a joy to see a bird outside of its territory but it is also a worry and as Ferris said, he would like this bird to get back to where it belongs.

Here is Arthur on the ‘throne’:

The chick on the Collins Marsh Osprey Nest in Wisconsin was left alone as dark was coming. It had been fed reasonably well today with fish caught by Mom and brought in and at least one delivery by Dad.

I went back and checked again and Mom was on the nest with the babe. Whew!

The last check in for today is at the Loch of the Lowes where NC0, the female, landed a whopper and brought it to the nest. That fish was so large it would feed both fledglings and mom. There might have been some leftover for Laddie! NC0 is really turning into a super mom. She doesn’t sit around and wait for Laddie. Once the chicks were old enough, she joined in the fishing for the family!

It’s late Friday evening on the Canadian Prairies. My blog on Saturday will be in the late afternoon or early evening. I want to do a lot of nest checks.

Thank you so much for joining me. It is nice to hear from you – always – and it is so wonderful to know that there are so many people who care for our birds. Take care. Stay safe.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Friends of the Loch of the Lowes, Barnegat Osprey Light Cam and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Collins Marsh Nature Centre Osprey Cam, the Ferris Akel Live Stream and the Sea Eagle, Birdlife Australia, and Discovery Centre Sydney for the WBSE captures.