Happy Saturday in Bird World

It might be hot and windy but Jack has delivered one big fish and another piece onto the Achieva Osprey nest this morning. Thank you, Jack! All is well on that nest! Tiny Tot still had his crop from yesterdays big feed when a big fish arrived at 7:16:50. Despite the fact that he was right there when that whopper landed, Diane pulled the fish around to feed the bigger ones first. She knows what she is doing. Feeding them first kept peace on the nest and she knew there would be enough left for her and Tiny.

Tiny Tot remained in his position when the fish arrived while the older sibs ate their breakfast. Without calling attention to himself, he pivots so that he can eat when they are finished. Very smart.

Tiny Tot is a survivor. He is clever and he keeps his eye on everything that is going on in the nest. Today, there have been no attacks on him. Did the arrival of all that fish yesterday help calm the food competition on the nest?

Tiny eats! At 9:20:03 Tiny Tot looks like he has swallowed a beach ball! Look at that crop. I just think this is the silliest pose I have ever seen in a bird. Tiny is preening his tail.

In the image below you can also get an idea of how much bigger the older sibling is than Tiny. Look at the difference in their wings. Tiny is getting his juvenile feathering on his back and wings. For sure, a total of about 7 full days without food (if you add it all up) stunted his growth. Let’s hope that these good feedings help him get bigger quicker.

Jack is working on more gold stars today. Everyone is looking up as the second food item arrives at 11:10:22. It is hard to tell but it looks like a piece of fish not a whole fish. Once again our little trooper is jolly on the spot.

This time Diane did not move the fish. She kept it by Tiny Tot and started feeding him immediately. The older ones were watching the traffic together.

At some point the older siblings came over to get a few bites. There was no bonking. Tiny had eaten a lot and he quietly turned to the rim of the nest. When they left, he turned back to mom to eat some more. Diane also ate some very good bites but before she finished the last bit, she stretched her neck to Tiny who, at first, refused any more food. In the end, he did eat a little more at 11:46:44 after mom insisting. Here he is full, Diane tidying up the tail, and a very happy nest on a hot, very windy day in St Pete’s.

In other Osprey news, Mrs G has laid her first egg of the 2021 season! Mrs G is the oldest Osprey in the United Kingdom and is the mate of the unringed male known as Aran at the Glaslyn nest in Wales. Congratulations!

And poor Dylan. The weather in the United Kingdom has been strange. It snowed on the Clywedog nest in Wales on the afternoon of 10 April. Here is that beautiful Dylan posing for us.

The mystery at the Loch Arkaig nest continues. Everyone believed that Louis had arrived the other day but it looks like it was a male intruder who is still hanging around the nest. As far as anyone knows, Louis and Aila have not returned. (I erroneously reported Louis had arrived as did everyone else!) The weather and the winds continue to be an issue and this very popular Osprey couple could be waiting it out. Meanwhile, the nice looking male looks like he owns the place.

I really wish Louis and Aila had trackers so we knew they are alright and just progressing slowly. In the satellite image below, we can see Rutland 4K (13) making his way through France on his return trip from Africa. In this 250 kilometre or 155 mile section, Rutland 4K (13) reached heights of 650 metres or 2132 feet above sea level.

These advanced backpack transmitters are amazing. They can tell you where the raptor went for their migration and if they are near to any dangerous issues such as Avian Pox along the coast of Senegal in 2021. They tell us their travel speed, the height, where they are enroute during migration. Researchers can then match this data with wind thermals. We are learning so much!

This is the most recent tracking data on Solly, the female osprey from the Port Lincoln Osprey nest. Solly is 203 days old today and she spent the night up at Eba Anchorage. Ever since she left her natal nest on the barge at Port Lincoln, Solly has been traveling north but she has continually returned, if she went much beyond Perlubie, to either Streaky Bay or Eba Anchorage. Solly has already provided the researchers in Australia with a dirth of material. We know where she spends the night, where she goes to fish, how she responds to crowds on a beach and how far away from her natal nest she went – which changed our understanding of the distance juveniles travel when they leave home.

Switching over to the United States again, it is a beautiful sunny day in Ithaca, New York and our favourite male Red-tail Hawk has been on incubation duty. In fact it is 23 degrees C and no snow in sight! Arthur, you really are a cutie. Look at that gorgeous red tail. Big Red seems to be trusting you more with nest duties.

The little eaglets born on the Minnesota DNR nest are growing. The eldest stretches its neck and watches Nancy, the female, eat the fish tail. Look at that little crop. This nest is doing really well. Everyone has learned how to feed or eat and the supply of food seems just right.

It is a good day just to pop in and check on those Great Horn Owlets, Tiger and Lily. Here is Tiger this morning standing next to Bonnie. How is that for growth? The time passed so quickly from the day the pair of owls decided to take over this Bald Eagle nest for their owlets. That was 1 February. The owlets were born on 7 and 9 March and are now 33 and 31 days old. We will see them climbing all over the nest and upon the branches soon. In a little over two weeks, around 47 days old, the owlets should be trying to fly. That should be around 24-26th of April. They will stay around the nest, improving their flying and hunting skills before dispersing to their own territory.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope that your Saturday is as beautiful as it is here on the Canadian prairie – gorgeous blue sky and no wind. Looking forward to 14 Celsius about the time for my walk. Take care everyone. Enjoy your weekend.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I get my screen shots: Farmer Derek, the MN DNR, Cornell Bird Lab Red-Tail Hawk Cam at Ithaca, Achieva Osprey, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, Woodland Trust, Lyn Clywedog and Cyfoeth Natural Resources

The race to save the African vulture

In the latest edition of BirdLife Magazine out of Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab, there is a compelling article on the race in Africa to save the African Vulture. It was very moving to read it so soon after discovering the women of the Hargila Army in Assam and their literal saving of the General Adjutant, a stork that also consumes carrion and helps keep disease at bay. The article stresses that vultures are the most endangered raptors in the world. While you might not be familiar with the African Vulture or the General Adjutant, you probably are aware of the California condor. Vultures exist in almost every country. They are crucial part of the food chain and play an important role in the environment. This is why conservation biologists around the world are screaming out for change to save them!

In Africa alone, seven of the ten vulture species are endangered. Many of the issues that threaten the vultures also impact other species. However, in India and parts of Africa, the vulture population dropped by as much as 99%. The author of the article noted that this is ‘apocalyptic’. We are familiar with causes such as habitat loss, electrocution from hydro poles, collisions with buildings and vehicles, the lead used in fishing and hunting equipment, scarcity of food, as well as egg collecting. There are several other threats to the vultures in Africa. One of them is rock climbing and disturbing the nests. Another is the trade in vulture body parts which are used for good luck charms in Africa. The head is believed to bring good luck in business while other parts are used as talismans. The birds are directly poisoned. The last is the impact of the veterinary use of NSAIDs. What is NSAID poisoning? Have you ever heard of it? I certainly knew about its use because I cannot drink milk or eat meat unless it is organic but, I was not aware of its impact on bird populations such as vultures. It is wonderful to learn something new each day! Although I prefer if it is something happier.

The image below shows the many animals and birds that compete for the small amount of food available in Africa.

“Environment of the Hyena Jackal Vulture Group” by Ryan Somma is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NSAIDs are cheap pharmaceuticals given to cattle to relieve them of their pain and to increase their milk production. They are anti-sterodial. It has long been recognized that the industrial dairies in the US keep the cattle in small pens, standing all day on concrete that causes excruciating pain. These cows are also given treatments to increase their milk production. The life of the cow that never gets to explore and eat grass is traumatic and their longevity is significantly reduced.

The efforts in Africa to eliminate the use of veterinary grade NSAIDs as well as captive-breeding programmes are showing promise. Fencing and satellite tracking is gaining ground. Biologists say that it is time to think ‘bigger’. At the same time, the growth in traditional beliefs is spreading in Africa, alongside the use of more modern pesticides. The author states, however, ‘That for all the bad news, conservationists have taken heart from the fact that the decline in African vultures has been slower than the extraordinary rapid collapse that occurred in Asia’.

“African safari, Aug 2014 – 042” by Ed Yourdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Elsewhere in Bird World, life is good on this Sunday the 4th of April. Rising early to watch and hopefully see Tiny Tot (aka Lionheart, Braveheart, Tumbles, 3) have breakfast, the chatters on the Achieva Osprey site probably had their mouths open. A headless fish arrived at 7:22:22. There was some confusion on the nest as Jack stayed with the fish and Diane left for a break. Tiny had already positioned himself and Dad began to feed him. Jack is not the best at feeding the chicks – he is known for touching beaks with no fish – but this morning Tiny got bites. Neither 1 nor 2 seemed interested. They were very busy preening. Eventually 1 joined and Dad fed 1 a bite then Tiny a bite. Mom returns and Dad leaves at 8:01:17. Diane continues feeding Tiny. Tiny awoke with a crop from yesterday but he ate this morning til he could not eat anymore. At 8:12:07 he stopped. There was not a kerfuffle with the older siblings.

Tiny being fed at 7:59 am while older siblings preen. 4 April 2021

Look carefully at Tiny above (far left chick). His little tail is growing and his plumage is changing. A few more days of good feedings and he might be out of the ‘woods’ in terms of his survival.

Diane with her three growing osplets. 4 April 2021

In the image above, Tiny is in the back. You can see his crop. He is standing confidentially next to 2. What a joyous moment on this nest.

The two bald eaglets of Nancy and Harry at the Minnesota DNR nest are growing. Everything is fine on that nest. Harry has learned to feed them and he is a good provider. Nancy is a fantastic mom. Look at those cute little bobbleheads enjoying the warm sun with their mother.

Kisatchie is growing and growing. First time parents Anna and Louis have done really well. The nest is coated with pine to keep away the insects. Kisatchie is healthy and well fed. His plumage is changing every day as he rids himself of his natal down.

I am afraid to say little owlets anymore. Look at Tiger (left) and Lily (right). They are keeping both Bonnie and Clyde busy hunting, day and night it seems. They look like they are wearing beautiful mohair coats with hoods. In my neighbourhood, yesterday, we were reminded about how formidable a raptor these Great Horned Owls are when one of the ones living nearby tried to take off with one of the neighbour’s cats that had gotten out in the back lane. Remember. Great Horned Owls can carry three times their own weight!

And last but never least, my all time favourite bird mother, Big Red sitting on her three eggs in the Red Tail Hawk nest on the Cornell University Campus. Isn’t it lovely? She actually gets to enjoy some sunshine today!

Thank you so much for joining me today. Keep your eyes on what is happening in the Tampa area. There is rumour that 480 million gallons of radioactive water is threatening to push down a retaining wall. If so, this will be catastrophic not only for the people of the area but for the wildlife – including many Ospreys and Bald Eagles that we so dearly treasure.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I grabbed my screen shots: the Kisatchie National Forest and the USFWS, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Cornell Bird Lab Red Tail Hawk Cam at Ithaca, Farmer Derek, and the Achieva Credit Union in St. Petersburg.

Credit for feature image: “In search of the Maltese Falcon #13 – White Backed Vulture, Malta Falconry Centre” by foxypar4 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Dire situations unfolding in Latvia and Florida today

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

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

You can watch as this event unfolds here:

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

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

We need some good news to balance all this out.

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

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

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

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

Arthur is on incubation duty right now!

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

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

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

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

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.

It’s a wonderful day in Bird World

It is always such a joy to wake up and see Big Red incubating an egg. There is something about the annual rhythm that is very reassuring. She was there all night but, at 6:36 Big Red turned incubation duty over to Arthur. Over the years Big Red has given Arthur a little more responsibility each year. This morning he was on the egg from 6:36-8:56 and again from 10:56-11:13. I wonder if she will allow him to feed and brood the eyases more, too???

Handsome Arthur with his light plumage and deep dark eyes.

Over the years Arthur has gotten more confident.

Big Red’s plumage colouring is darker than Arthur’s. Here you can see both of their beautiful tails – those red tails that define them as Red-Tail Hawks. Notice the way the wings fold and make a ‘V’. This is known as the scapular V and often individuals identify untagged birds through the patterning of the scapular V.

We are finally getting a glimpse at the MN DNR of that little one that started hatching at 6:27 on the 25th. Oh, the woes of trying to feed a little bobble head! Oh, a little bobble, so cute. In a couple of days this little one will know precisely what to do o grab that fish that its dad brought in!

Last year on 27 March, Osprey spotters in the UK had charted 52 sightings. This year there have been more than 100. The Welsh, the Scots, and the British love their Ospreys and they are so organized with web sites and keeping up on every arrival at monitored – and many unmonitored – nests. This is the type of interactive chart they have:

If you are keeping track, to date the latest arrival on a monitored nest is Blue 7A (14) at Esthwaite Water in the Lake District. This is Ozzy and his mate is unringed Olive, yet to arrive.

The most wonderful thing is to wake up and have breakfast with Big Red – as so many of her followers do. She is one of the most known and loved Red Tail Hawks in the world. But this morning I looked at the weather on my phone. I have all of the main nest sites that I watch listed. It was 23 degrees in St Petersburg, Florida when I woke up. I have been trying to get to the ‘why’ of the fish deliveries at this Osprey nest and thus, the nest competition leaving Tiny Tot behind. The graph that I have charted shows that when the temperatures in St. Pete’s are in the 27-30 range or there is a storm or it is windy (such as 30 kph), Jack does not bring fish to the nest. It just seems logical. Yet many Bald Eagles are very successful fishing in those conditions. So to test this, I wondered about this morning when it was 23 and no 29 like it was yesterday. In fact, last night I decided that I would not check on the Osprey nest with Tiny Tot until Tuesday. My heart had simply ached for the past two days and I didn’t think I could watch another one starve to death on a nest. But 23 degrees. Would this nest turn around yet again? It is clear from Tiny Tot’s actions that it wants to live. How this little one got its energy yesterday, I don’t know. But it tried being fed by walking around the rim of the nest. Sadly there were only 7 bites of fish left when it came its turn. This morning, a fish was brought in at 7:30. Tiny Tot persisted walking again up on the rim of the nest to where the mother was feeding. At 7:59 he was eating. Another fish was brought in at 9:48. Tiny Tot left with a big crop. Tiny Tot is smart and he has figured a work around to the two big siblings. The issue is the amount of food. As long as the fish are big enough and delivered close enough together Tiny has a chance.

You will have noticed that I continue to call Tiny Tot a ‘he’. You mostly hear the word used in falconry, the old medieval term tercel (UK) or tiercel (US). It refers to the belief that only 1 in 3 eggs is a male – the third. It also refers to the fact that male raptors are one-third smaller than the females. That is the reverse sex-size dimorphism.

You cannot tell the sex of a bird, for certain, without doing DNA testing or seeing them laying an egg like Big Red yesterday. Many experts have been fooled trying to use clues such as the size of the feet or the length of certain parts of their bodies. So, there is nothing saying that Tiny Tot is a small male. I don’t know!

Here is Tiny started to move to the rim to get fed, away from the big ones.

Bingo. There is fish left and Tiny gets a good feeding. The two others are satisfied and leaving him alone.

This is Tiny in front after having some of the second fish. Look at his crop. Just puts a big smile on my face.

I just want to close with a few quick images. Maybe some of these are your favourites. The first is Mrs G, the oldest Osprey in Wales eating a fish up on a tree branch. She is at the Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn nest in Wales and she is waiting for her mate, Aran, to arrive from his winter migration.

Everything is absolutely fine at the GHOW nest near Newton, Kansas. Those owlets are growing like bad weeds. I wish I could crochet! Wouldn’t a white mohair beret with those colours and patterns look fantastic?

Kisatchie at the Kisatchie National Forest nest on the shores of Lake Kincaid has really grown. As an only eaglet, s/he has grown big and been spoiled by first time parents, Anna and Louis.

And I will close where I began – with Big Red – my best raptor mother of the year, always! Thanks for joining me today. Take care. Stay safe. Enjoy the weekend.

Thank you to the following streaming cams: KNF, Cornell Bird Lab, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, Farmer Derek, MN DNR, and Achieva Osprey.

Spring is in the air…at Ithaca

The calendar says that spring arrived in the Northern Hemisphere. It happened at 6:37 am on 20 March in Winnipeg just about the time the first song birds arrived at the feeders. At that moment the Sun moved from being south of the equator to heading north with our half of the globe tilted a little closer to the sun. It is warmer and the birds are arriving from their winter holidays. Soon my garden will be full of Dark-eyed Juncos and Grackles making nests. And, finally, by the beginning of May, the central heating can be turned off, hopefully!

The arrival of spring also means that my eyes are focused on a particular Red Tail Hawk nest in Ithaca, New York. The nest is on one of the Fernow light towers and it is home to Big Red, eighteen years old this spring, and her lively mate, Arthur, who will be five. This will be the third season that this bonded pair have raised chicks together.

The couple have been working on that nest continuously for the past three weeks and both were there doing inspections first thing this morning.

That nest could not be more ready! And Big Red spent more time than she has recently sitting on that nest cup. Could this be the day that the first egg will be laid? We held our breath.

And after approving the nest bowl, Big Red stood up. Isn’t she gorgeous? Her plumage is a deep coppery red right now – Arthur is lighter and, of course, Big Red is bigger – and she is the boss! Arthur might like to think that it is ‘his’ nest but, Big Red runs the show.

She stood and stared off into space and flew to another light stand with Arthur and had a confab. Then she returned to the nest.

Did she whisper sweet nothings to Arthur? did she tell him today was the day? or did she suggest that more bark strips were needed?

And, at the end of the day, Big Red is not on the nest. Will she return? We wait.

Big Red and Arthur do not migrate. There is enough prey in their territory on the Cornell campus to sustain them over the snow and cold of northern New York. This also allows them to keep an eye on their nest so no one takes it. Arthur had to remind a group of European Starlings this year that the nest was occupied -. And, honestly, I wouldn’t want to have a nest that close to Big Red. While the hawks don’t particularly care for starlings they will eat them in a pinch. Better find a nest on the other side of the campus!

If you missed the highlights of the 2020 year, here is the video compilation. There is never – and I do mean never – a dull moment. 2020 was the year of the Js and 2021 is the year of the Ks. And I say this without hesitating – little J3 is my favourite.

Updates from other nests:

Last evening everyone was excited. The microphone on the nest of Jackie and Shadow at Big Bear picked up peeps from the chick hatching. Sadly, the chick died trying to get out of shell. Let us all hope that their second egg is viable and hatches safely. This has been a really bad year for these two. The raven ate one of the eggs from their first clutch and the second egg broke. This is now their second try. Fingers crossed.

All of the other birds are doing well today. Everyone has eaten at least once if not more.

I will leave you with an image of Kisatchie at the Kisatchie National Forest Bald Eagle nest in Central Louisiana. Kisatchie is the first little eaglet born on this big Bald Eagle nest in the forest since 2013. She is also the first baby of Anna and Louis. These are fantastic parents. What a contented baby with its mom -Kisatchie and Anna.

Have a fantastic day. Thanks for joining me.

Thank you to Cornell Bird Labs and the KNF Eagle Cam for their streaming. This is where I get my scaps.

Monday Catchups in Bird World

I want to start with this old battle scared Bald Eagle now known as ‘The Warrior’. Perseverance would be a great name, too! This amazing eagle will not give up.

Last fall, in late September or early October, he was seriously injured. His leg was broken and his beak was badly compromised but, he was flying and no one treated him because he was not ‘down’. His leg healed (kinda) and you can see the state of his beak. On 10 February, CT Environmental Conservation Officer Michael Curran, found the Bald Eagle in a ditch unable to move. Lucky for this old fella’, he was taken to A Place Called Hope in Killingworth, CT, USA. He should have been dead. The staff cleaned him up, fed him, and the next day he was still alive and showing all signs of wanting to live. His lead levels were found to be 48.9 – highly toxic. And so a long series of Chelation Therapy began. In this process, EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)—is injected into the bloodstream (usually through an IV) to remove heavy metals such as lead from the bird’s body.

On 17 February, his lead levels had dropped from 49.8 to 12.5. And on 2 March, they were down to 10.1.

Believe in miracles? I have said it many times but the survival of these beautiful raptors depends entirely on someone willing to take a chance and spend the money! One session of Chelation Therapy costs almost $600 US. The easiest way to fix this is to simply ban the use of lead in hunting and fishing equipment. It is that easy. Every day I read about more and more birds dying from lead toxicity.

On 4 March, the old eagle was doing so well that he was able to go outside in the exterior aviary for the first time since he arrived at the clinic.

And here he is today 15 March 2021 flying around the aviary.

The clinic says that he has difficulty breathing because of the beak injury, especially if he exerts himself. He can fly and has no problems making his target for landing. He can be wobbly when standing. This old fellow who has probably been hungry a lot of his life is very much enjoying the food! I don’t blame him – nice cut up meat in a dish with no rodenticides or lead. Couldn’t be better than that.

If you are anxiously awaiting the Loch Arkaig streaming cam to start, wait no longer, it is now running. We are all awaiting the arrival of Louis and Aila. In 2020, Louis arrived on 5 April with Aila returning on 6 April. In 2019, they both arrived on 4 April.

And the nest that I am waiting for – because Red Tail Hawks and Peregrine Falcons are my true loves – is in Ithaca, New York. The nest is on a light stand on the Cornell University Campus and it belongs to Big Red who is eighteen this year and her mate Arthur who will be five. Arthur has been working non-stop early in the morning to get the nest just right for his mate. I am thinking we will see eggs in that nest in about a week! Yahoo. I promise to make you a fan of RTH’s before they fledge in late July or early August.

And speaking of Red Tail Hawks, it looks like Pale Male – who is thirty-one years old – is actively preparing for this season with his current mate, Octavia. Their nest is at 927 Fifth Avenue on Central Park – the penthouse on the park! D. Bruce Yolton did a short video of Pale Male:

Bruce keeps an active list of all the happenings at the fourteen Red Tail Hawk nests in New York City. (A few are not listed). You can check it out by Googling ‘Urban Hawks’.

If you have not seen the amazing story of Pale Male, all his mates, and the furor that came to involve actress Mary Tyler Moore – the battle to save the nest- then you must watch this film. You simply have to!

https://www.thelegendofpalemale.net/

Here are the Monday beef and bouquets in Bird World: The male Osprey, Jack, at the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida gets my ‘beef’ for today. It is hot, nearly 30 degrees C and your three kids and your mate are hungry and dehydrating. It is 15:27 – get yourself in gear and bring them a fish and don’t eat the head this time! The Dead Beat Dad Award for this week goes to you, Jack.

The bouquet goes to Louis in the Kistachie National Forest Eagle Nest. This first time Bald eagle dad simply can’t stop fishing. One day there were eighteen on the nest! Stacked! The eaglet and Anna thought they were going to have to sleep on them. Wonder if we could get some of those fish couriered over to St Pete’s for those cute little Osplets? So Louis, first time father, congratulations – you win the bouquet for the week.

Anna is feeding the soon to be named little one on the nest inside the Kisatchie Forest. This little eaglet is so full – almost all day – that it spends much of its time in a food coma. The other day its crop was so big it had a hard time moving. No one is going hungry on this nest! Anna picked a good reliable mate.

One of many meals during the day keep this little one hydrated in the hot bayou of Louisiana. @KNF Bald Eagle cam

The stack of eighteen fish from the weekend is finally dwindling.

Full tummy. Little eaglet in KNF Bald Eagle nest in food coma. @KNF Bald Eagle Nest

Thank you for joining me in Bird World. Take care, stay safe!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams: Kisatchie National Forest, Achieva Credit Union (St Petersburg, 4th Street), Loch Arkaig Ospreys, and Cornell Labs. Thank you to A Place Called Hope for their dedication to raptors, their belief in the Old Warrior, and for the photos from their FB Page.

Nestorations

So many people began watching streaming bird cams last year as the pandemic set in around the world. It is hard to believe sometimes that a year or more has passed. It feels like a blink. The ‘time’ has simply melted between our fingers. The very first streaming cam that I watched was after my encounter with the Sharp-shinned Hawk in my garden in January 2018. It was a camera focused on the ledge of a building that belonged to City University in New York and it was a pair of Red-Tail Hawks. There was tragedy on that nest with the male dying and the female having to raise the three eyases alone. Then there was a new male and three eggs last year and the female was killed by rat poison. The nest was abandoned. Besides having my own cat, Duncan, killed by rodenticide it was that death that stirred a desire to end the use of designer anti-coagulating poisons. Shortly after someone suggested that I check out the streaming cam for the Red Tail Hawks at Ithaca. And so, I began just as the resident female hawk was laying her first egg. March 2020. If you read my post regularly, you will have heard about Big Red and Arthur. Still many of you might know be aware of this amazing couple and so, I will give you a very brief introduction.

The nest on the light stand at the Cornell University campus stadium is getting readied for the 2021 season of the Big Red and Arthur show. Big Red is the eighteen year old resident Red Tail Hawk matriarch. Arthur is her five year old mate. Big Red has been raising chicks in this territory for eons. She was hatched in Brooktondale, New York in 2003 and was banded that first fall. The distance between Ithaca and Brooktondale is 7.4 miles. Her mate, before Arthur, was Ezra. Ezra was born at Judd Falls just outside of Ithaca. It is known that Ezra and Big Red raising eyases from 2012, the year that the streaming camera was installed and 2016. He was killed defending Big Red in March 2017. It is believed that Ezra and Big Red had raised eyases for several seasons before the camera was installed. Precisely how many no one knows. Arthur was born in 2016 in an adjacent territory of a family of RTHs to that of Big Red. There is camera footage of him visiting an empty light stand nest in April 2017. By the fall, just as Arthur is getting his red tail, him and Big Red become a couple. They visit the light stand nest in November. They have successfully fledged all of their eyases for three years. This season will be their fourth.

It is approximately three to four weeks til the first egg will be laid and today there were five visits to the nest to make nestorations. Arthur started bringing twigs in at 9:13 and again at 9:34.

After bringing in some more greenery and twigs, Arthur checks out the nest bowl to see if he thinks Big Red will approve.

At 16:26, Big Red arrives for her inspection.

Arthur immediately joins her to get further instructions!

Big Red does a lot of shimmies and twists and seems to approve of the work that has been done on the nest cup.

Looking adoringly at Big Red, Arthur listens intently to all of her instructions.

She has Arthur try the nest bowl so he can understand what else needs to be done. ‘Arthurrrrrrrrrr….you have to get these rails higher or those kids will fall out and land on the cars!’

Big Red departs and leaves him to it.

Arthur came back twice – at 16:46 and again at 16:58 delivering large twigs.

Arthur continues to bring in sticks and break them with his feet and with his very sharp beak. No doubt he will be back at it Saturday morning. There will be no weekends off! Big Red will be laying her eggs and incubating them through rain, snow, sleet, and hail if this season is anything like last year. And while she is doing that, Arthur will be delivering prey. So much prey, in fact, that you will not believe there could be another chipmunk left in Ithaca! Arthur knows and Big Red will remember that there is nothing nicer than having a fur lined nest, too. Helps keep those babies warm in Upstate New York!

I highly recommend this nest to all of you. It is a fabulous way to see the behaviour and the life stages of the Red Tail Hawk. After fledging, there are several people on the ground that take photos and post videos, often live, of the juveniles. Last year we saw many teaching moments when Big Red and Arthur joined together, for example, for a family hunting day. These are two fabulous hawk parents that work together so well. They are always in tune with one another and their eyases thrive because of it.

Here is the link to that streaming cam:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/red-tailed-hawks/

Thanks so very much for joining me. It is hard to curtail my excitement. This RTH family has really enriched my life and my understanding of avian behaviour.

Thank you to Cornell Labs for their streaming camera of the Red Tail Hawks at Ithaca. That is where I took my scaps.

Pretty Parents Posing

With the news of more Great Horned Owl attacks on Bald Eagle nests (post on that tomorrow), I wanted to stop and find something joyful to celebrate. Certainly the birds have brought so much joy to all of us. I hear from someone every day telling me what the streaming bird cams have meant to them and how they have begun to take an interest in the birds outside their windows. It is still difficult, in most places, to walk freely outside because of the pandemic. I really do appreciate those little notes that you send me. And I am also grateful for news of new nests. I will be bringing some news of those later this week. Birds have connected us all from the Canadian prairies where I am all the way south from me to a PhD student in Brazil, across the Atlantic and Europe to a lovely woman who cared for a raven for five months in Poland, to Australia, Europe, Asia, and back to North America. It really is hard to measure just how much being able to watch the daily activities of our feathered friends has added to our mental well being for more than a year. They have really kept a lot of us sane and grounded. I hope that the love and concern that you have for the birds now will continue to grow and enrich your life even more.

N24. NEFL Eagle nest, 24 February 2021.

It is pretty hard to beat Samson and M15 for being great dads. The pantries are filled up with every type of prey that they can find, they are both great at incubating the eggs, and are there to see their new babies hatch. Lately I have had fun watching Samson trying to get N24 under him to brood while also incubating that egg that we all know will never hatch. He has been so delicate. Sometimes N24 seems to be brooding that egg that winds up all over the nest. It is almost like it is now an ornament that no one knows precisely what to do with. Eventually it will get broken and make its way down between the branches and leaves and become part of the nest.

N24 looking out at the world, fish in the pantry and ‘that egg’. 24 February 2021.

Yesterday Samson seemed to pose for a photographer out of the frame with N24. I don’t think you could ask them to stand any better! N24 is sixteen days old today and already he has really accelerated in growth over the past week. Juvenile feathers are coming in and since he was five days old, Samson has had him crawling up to the pantry to be fed. A wonderfully strong little eaglet, N24 has been flapping its wings. I wonder how long it will be til he walks?

Look at how proud Samson is of his baby! I think this is my most favourite photograph ever of an eaglet with their parent. Even the lighting is perfect.

Samson and N24. 23 February 2021

The Great Horned Owl has been causing disruptions over at the SWFL nest with Harriet and M15. M15 was knocked off of his branch into the nest and the owl almost pulled Harriet off the nest. These disruptions have happened on a daily basis causing worry for the eaglets’ safety.

I love the image below of Harriet standing over the eaglets in that most defiant pose daring that GHOW to mess with her babies!

Harriet watching over E17 (r) and E18 (l), 24 February 2021

I became acquainted with birds as a child. When I was a little girl, my father fed ‘the red birds’ in our back garden. They were actually a family of cardinals that had a nest in our Magnolia tree. Even though they were wild they knew to trust my dad and they would come and take nuts out of his hand. It was magical to watch. My maternal grandfather had been a rancher. He was the last person anyone would have thought would own a bird but he did. It was a little blue budgie bird named Jimmie. That bird was more special than anyone including me and my grandmother. It ate off the side of his plate at lunch and it pretty much had the run of the house. One day when my grandfather was away, Jimmie flew out the front door. My grandmother and I panicked. We wondered if we could buy another one and would my grandfather notice? Of course he would have noticed! Luckily for us, we left the screen door open and Jimmie flew back into the house after being out for a couple of hours. As a child I was taken to the Natural History Museum at the University of Oklahoma to go through the drawers of eggs and stuffed birds and there was always a stop on the way home to feed the ducks. It was not, however, until a very personal encounter with a female Sharp-Shinned Hawk in my own garden in January 2018 that my interest in the welfare of birds began to grow exponentially. I was less than a foot away from her, both of us were looking intently into one another’s eyes. That moment changed my life.

And that magical moment can happen for you, too. If it hasn’t, already.

This morning a pair of Red Tail Hawks, Big Red who is 18 years old and Arthur who will be five this year, are pondering what to do about their nest in Ithaca. The three Js sure made a mess of it hopping and flapping last year. Both of them have been in and out of the nest lately and today they were there together testing the nest bowl and looking around at all the nestorations needed. The time until Big Red lays her first egg is getting closer. We should be looking for that egg around the first day of spring. Gosh, time passes quickly.

Their nest is on a stadium light box on the grounds of Cornell University. In fact, the Cornell Ornithology Labs operate a number of streaming cameras including this one. There is also a very informed chat group that is often moderated by Laura Culley. She has owned falcons and hawks for almost thirty years. She knows so much. And this nest of Big Red and Arthur’s has already changed what we know about the life cycle and behaviour of these hawks.

The link to the Red Tail Hawk streaming cam is:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/red-tailed-hawks/

Big Red and Arthur, 24 February 2021.

Cornell operates a number of its own streaming cams and partners with other agencies. One of those is the New Zealand Department of Conservation. They both support the camera for the Royal Albatross at Taiaroa Head, NZ. This is a great camera to start watching right now. The chick is unnamed and we will be finding out the gender shortly. I am betting on a boy because right now, he is so big he has to be weighted in a laundry basket and his parents can no longer brood him. He is too big to be under them. The mother, LGL, left him alone for the first time the other day (this is called pre-guard stage) and a red banded non-breeding juvenile kind of roughed the little one up a bit. The juveniles are curious. They have been at sea for five or six years and are returning to find a mate. They haven’t seen little ones before. While it tears at your heart strings when you see these little albatross all alone, around the world there are thousands of others sitting on their nest waiting for their parents to return and feed them. Eventually they will make play nests around their natal nest and begin flapping those big wings of theirs to get their strength for fledging. Weigh ins are Tuesday mornings New Zealand time. On the Canadian prairies, this is Monday 2pm to around 6pm. The link to that streaming camera is:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/royal-albatross/

Royal Cam Chick left alone for the first time in pre guard stage

In about a week to ten days, this little Royal Albatross will be nothing but a ball of fluff. They are so cute and so gentle. It is a very relaxing nest to watch. There is a FB group that brings up to date images and activities surrounding World Albatross Day which is 19 June. I will bring more information on that as it approaches. There are colouring contests for children, cake contests, and eventually, the name the chick contest later in the year. The Royal Cam chick will fledge around the middle of September.

There is joy in the Duke Farms Bald Eagle nest as the snow is finally melting. This eagle mom was encased in snow until recently. We are getting closer to hatch on this nest! There are three eggs under there. I hope there is a lot of prey and that these parents are good at tag team feeding. They are going to need all the coordination they can get!

Snow is finally disappearing. 24 February 2021.

And what a beautiful view from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nest. This is the nest of that cute little sub-adult male. The snow is disappearing there too making it easier to get prey.

I want to leave you with a big smile on your face. It just goes to show how these birds can just make our moods so much brighter. Look at these two below. That is E17 and E18. They both look like they could simply pop! Or perhaps they are thinking about trying out to be clowns with those big clown feet! How can you not love these two?

E18 closest to the front, E17 toward the back. 22 February 2021.

Take care everyone. Please feel free to let me know of your favourite nest or an experience that changed your life because of birds. I promise to respond. You can leave a comment or you can e-mail me. That e-mail is: maryannsteggles@icloud.com

Thank you to the AEF, the streaming cam at NEFL Eagle nest, SWFL and D. Pritchett Real Estate, Duke Farms, Cornell Ornithology Lab, NZ DOC, the MN DNR.

There is an eagle under there and more stories

The Nor’easter moving up through the eastern United States is having a big impact on birds that are trying to incubate their eggs for a spring hatch. At the Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey, the female was buried under snow and her mate cut away the snow to help her get out and have a break. Because of the snow that seems to be worsening, I am going to embed the youtube feed here in my blog so that you can check to see that everyone is alive and well after. This Bald Eagle is incubating three eggs that hatched over a period of time from 17 January to 23 January.

The birds of prey really amaze me. Big Red, the 19 year old Red-Tail Hawk at Ithaca was encased in ice and snow several times before being deluged last year trying to incubate and raise her eyases. Laura Cully said, in her always very wise way, “She’s got it under control, don’t worry.” Oh, those words really helped me. Bird Red is not incubating any eggs or trying to feed little one’s, of course, with Arthur’s masterly help, but their nest is getting increasingly full of snow at Ithaca. Big Red should be laying her eggs around the third week in March. Can’t wait! Here is the live feed to that nest:

If you are missing Big Red and Arthur and their little ones, here is a summary of the goings on in 2020. Oh, how I love these birds!

The summary starts with Arthur and Big Red selecting the nest and bringing in more twigs, the two of them incubating the eggs, Arthur taking care of Big Red in a snowstorm and taking his turn and then, the ‘live chipmunk’ along with a whole bunch of prey. Big Red is drenched in rain and blown off the nest. Babies hatch and grow and fledge. If you are just starting to watch bird cams, this is a grew introduction to the life cycle of the eyases.

While the Bald Eagles are getting covered with snow in the northeastern US, it is too hot for the Royal Albatross in New Zealand. The Rangers that work with the New Zealand Department of Conservation installed pipes today so that all of the parents feeding little ones or still incubating eggs are cooled off. Incredible. Hats off to New Zealand for taking such good care of its wildlife.

The camera is focused on Lime-Green-Lime (LGL) and Lime-Green-Black (LGK) and this week old chick who is this year’s Royal Cam Chick. These two are hilarious. Neither one wants to give up taking care of the baby! Parents take turns going out to sea and returning to feed the little one ‘squid shakes’ while the other one keeps it warm and feeds it. Eventually, the little one will be big and old enough to stay on its nest while both parents go out to sea. It is particularly touching the times that the two parents have together – minutes, sometimes an hour to be together, preening and doing sky calls. They truly are gentle giants.

And last, but never least, are the two little ones of Harriet and M15 from the SWFL Eagle Cam in Fort Myers. The little ones developed an eye infection. Because of the two recent deaths of eaglets at Captiva, everyone went into fast forward to get these two off the nest and to the vet. They are enjoying eating rat and quail fed by a veiled attendant with tongs so as not to imprint on humans. And they are gaining weight. But the eye infection, while improving, has not improved completely enough to send them back to their nest. They are hoping soon. Here is the link to the SWFL cam. Keep an eye out. You will see the large cherry picker bring the babies back to their eagerly awaiting parents this week, we hope.

Here is one of the first videos that CROW released. You can see how infected the eyes of the two were and at the end, you can get to see them eating from the tongs. It doesn’t take the place of the parents but these two have a ferocious appetite that has grown in the two days since this video was made.

Image of E17 and E18 courtesy of CROW.

The link is to the main cam. I believe that there are 3 or 4 different cam views.

And the last thing I want to do is to post Phyllis Robbin’s poem that she wrote for Daisy the Duck. So many people joined with us in hoping that Daisy would be able to raise her clutch to fledge. It wasn’t to be but Daisy is alive and well and is paddling in the water near to the Sydney Olympic Park.

Thank you so much for checking in today. Stay safe if you are in the eye of the snow storm pelting the northeastern US and stay cool if you are down in NZ and Australia. See you tomorrow!