World Osprey Week Days 2 and 3

Oh, the postman delivered a copy of The Rutland Water Ospreys by Tim Mackrill. If you are really into Ospreys – their history and the reestablishment of them in the United Kingdom, I suggest you either order your own copy or ask your library to purchase one. It is an excellent history with beautiful images. There are photos of all the Ospreys and their genealogy, lovely drawings of the birds, a chronological history of the reintroduction of Osprey into the United Kingdom as well as a look at the people involved and the migration to Africa. It will keep you busy for several full days!

The history of the Osprey as a species is very long. Did you know that there are fossils showing that Osprey lived 10-15 million years ago? Storied in Natural History museums and in research facilities, there are a few claws of Osprey from the Eocene epoch which was 50 million years ago. Further evidence such as wing bones have been found and dated to the mid-Miocene epoch or 13 million years ago. Those were found in California and Florida in 1976 Stuart A. Warter. Warter was highly skeptical of the remains attributed to the Eocene era. Eggs of Osprey were found in Austria and the back limb ones in Florida from the late-Miocene era. All of that suggests that Ospreys were present in the southern US and in Europe from 10-15 million years ago. More fossils were found in Western Europe, North and Central America during the last 2 million years. Ospreys were found in the period from 9000-5000 BP in the Balkans as well as the rest of Central Europe, including Switzerland. All of a sudden no remains are found for nearly 4000 years. The Osprey show up again in the Baltic, in northeast Germany. Because of hunting, egg collection, and taxidermy and then the use of DDT, they reach near extinction again. This information has been taken from the article, ‘Archaeozoological records and distribution history of the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in Central Europe’ in The Journal of Ornithology, vol. 10, no. 1, 2006. I am also reminded that the Roman writer, Pliny, mentions that the Osprey parents have their chicks fly to the sun as a test and that Shakespeare mentioned Ospreys in his 1609 play, Coriolanus. Osprey specialists in Britain believe that he must have seen the live birds. In China, Ospreys are symbols of fidelity.

World Osprey Week is to celebrate the rebuilding of the Osprey in the United Kingdom and what better way, on this the third day of World Osprey Week to check in on the monitored nests to see who has returned. To the time of my writing this on 24 March at 2:45 pm CDT, only four Osprey have returned to the United Kingdom so far.

Laddie (unringed) or LM12 arrived at 5pm on 21 March. This will be his tenth season at the Loch of the Lowes and Laddie wasted no time in fixing up his nest and hoping that his young mate of last year, Blue NCO will return. In the image below he has come to the nest with a morning fish hoping that his mate might have arrived. He has spent the last two days doing nestorations. Look at how clean and nice that nest is! Laddie we sure hope that a wonderful young lady comes to you.

Laddie on the nest at Loch of the Lowes 24 March 2021.

Maya and Blue 33 (11) came in on March 19 within minutes of one another. Blue 33 (11) arrived at 12:29pm and Maya came in at 12:56. They got down to business renewing their bonds at 1pm and then began nestorations. Today they have had to fend off some intruders. They are at Rutland MB.

Maya and Blue 33 working on nest and defending it against an intruder. 24 March 2021

The very first osprey to arrive on a monitored nest was back on the 19th of March and that was a female at Rutlands, Blue 25 (10).

Blue 25 (10) checking in on the Mantou Nest at Rutlands. 19 March 2021.

Black 80 is said to have arrived back at Threave Castle on 23 March. No doubt waiting for its mate unringed Mrs O. However, friends of Threave Osprey have been near to the nest and have not seen an Osprey.

Had a visitor to Loch Arkaig but not the one everyone was counting on! 

If you would like to keep track of the Ospreys coming and going, you can find the chart here:

http://ukospreys.uk/arrivals.htm

That link also gives you the history, the genealogy, and more information that you could ever hope to find on one site. It is excellent. And so we wait and mourn the two Osprey migrating back from Africa that were shot on purpose over the island of Malta. What a sad sad event and one that happens to often over this small Mediterranean Island. One of the stories can be found here:

Protected Ospreys shot down by hunters in Gozo and Malta

Moving back to the United States. Oh, that Osprey male, Jack, at the Dahlgren Nest is such a hoot! His nest is simply full of all manner of things. And it is raining! Poor Harriet. Their first egg arrived at 4:33 on 23 March.

And I am honestly not sure why many male Osprey are called Jack but a check on the Achieva Osprey nest reveals that yesterday, Diane came in with a gigantic catfish and fed the trio for several hours. That feeding seems to have turned the tide in that nest for now. Jack came in with a fish at bedtime and all three went to sleep with large crops. This morning Jack brought in two fish. Peace reigns and little Tiny Tot has been well fed for 2 days. I am hoping that this will blast away any food insecurities that the two oldest have and that Jack and Diane will both bring in lots of fish.

In the image below Tiny Tot is still eating. The two older sibs are in a food coma. So all is good. Let’s hope that large fish come in regularly now and the weather stabilizes for them. It would be fantastic for this nest to fledge three again this year!

Thank you for joining me today. By the end of the week there should be some more osprey arriving in the United Kingdom – news for celebration as World Osprey Week continues. Have a great day.

Thank you to Achieva Osprey, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Rutland for their streaming cams where I got my scaps.

UC Berkley Falcons and quick Friday updates

The University of California Campus at Berkeley is ‘falcon crazy.’ They even named their basketball team the Falcons. Indeed, the feathered pair nesting on top of this beautiful building are ‘stars’. Everyone knows about them and gets excited – how grand is that?!

“The Campanile of UC-berkeley” by ChanduBandi is marked with CC0 1.0

The Campanile was designed in the Gothic Revival style and was completed in 1914. The tower, reminiscent of the Campanile di San Marco in Venice, is ninety-four metres or 308 feet hight and has four bells. It is the most recognized building on the University campus.

This is the view from the roof:

In 2016, a pair of Peregrine Falcons began to roost on the roof of the Campanile. Their scrape box is two floors up from the bells and to everyone’s amazement the bell concerts do not seem to bother the raptors. If it did, we can imagine that they would have left quickly. Most of the time it is a safe place to raise their young but they have had, like other nests, intruders checking out their prime real estate.

In 2017, the same pair returned to raise eyases. They were given the names Annie and Grinnell in honour of the founder and first director of UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Annie Grinnell. Annie is not banded and her history including how old she is remains unknown. However, Grinnell was banded in 2013 as a nestling near Martinez, California. All of their chicks are banded in the nest.

If you have read most of my blogs you will know that I am a great proponent of banding. The amount of information that can be discovered is significant. And for Birders on the Ground it is an opportunity to take part. It takes a village to chase after falcons and check their bands, photograph them, and then find the right person to contact to tell them of the sighting.

If you have never seen a nestling banded, here is your opportunity. This is a short video of Poppy, Sequoia, and Redwood being banded in the scrape box in 2020 along with a Q&A:

Annie and Grinnell made their first nest on a sand bag on the roof of the Campanile in March of 2017. Poor things! But they had nothing else. In the wild, Peregrine falcons make their nests on a the edges of cliffs with a sandy base or in gravel.

In the image below, Grinnell is incubating the eggs in the permanent scrape box. Notice that it is a simple enclosure, with a single opening at the front. Wooden rulers have been fixed to the frame of the door and the corners so researchers can check the height of the young. Simple pea gravel or small river stones line the bottom. This is the ‘nest’. No other materials will be brought in. The falcons will rub their breast into the gravel to make a hollow for the eggs.

When two of the eggs of Annie and Grinnell’s first clutch rolled off the sandbox and broke, the University decided to install a temporary scrape box. Annie and Grinnell accepted the box and fledged their first babies – two eyases- from the Campanile. They were a male named Fiat and a female named Lux. The names were derived from the University motto, Fiat lux, which means bringing knowledge to light. Fiat survived but Lux was killed by window strike.

The following year the University installed a permanent nest box for the pair hoping that they would return and lay their eggs again. In April of 2018, Annie and Grinnell had three eggs hatch. Named after three elements discovered at Berkeley the chicks were a male named Berkelium, another male named Californium, and a female named Lawrencium. All three fledged. Lawrencium is the only one of Annie and Grinnell’s chicks that has been spotted. She is nesting on the island of Alcatraz.

In 2019, the exploits of Annie and Grinnell were streamed to the world. That year two chicks hatched and were successful fledges. One was named Carson after Rachel Carson. Hers is a name that you should know. Carson is the author of the book Silent Spring that led to the banning of DDT. Cade was named after Tom Cade, an Ornithologist recognized for his efforts to both protect and reestablish Peregrine Falcon populations after they were wiped out by DDT. Cade was the founder of the Peregrine Fund. He died in 2019 at the age of 91.

In 2020, Annie and Grinnell fledged three – a female named Poppy, a male named Sequoia, and another male named Redwood.

It’s 2021 and Annie and Grinnell are incubating four eggs! The first was laid on 10 March, followed by the second on 12 March, the third on the 14th and the final egg on St. Patrick’s Day.

In the image below, Grinnell has arrived to partially incubate the first three eggs. The eggs can actually range from a cream colour to red but here you see that Annie has laid three lovely red eggs.

While it is known that falcons sometimes lay five eggs, it is rare. And this brings me to why I love falcons so much and it isn’t just their very ‘cute’ plumage. It is because of delayed incubation. Annie and Grinnell can hatch four eyases but I am not up worrying all night when one didn’t get fed or the eldest was aggressive – it would be rare for that to happen but I am aware that it does.

Grenville on hard incubation duty, 19 March 2021.

The embryos inside eggs only develop when they are warm. Peregrine falcons, Red Tail Hawks and other raptor species (other than Ospreys and various species of eagles) want their eggs to hatch at roughly the same time. That way there is not a significant difference in development. To achieve this synchronization, the early eggs are only partially incubated until all are laid. Then hard incubation begins. Annie and Grinnell will take turns incubating the eggs. After hard incubation starts the eggs will hatch in roughly 32-33 days after the last egg was laid. The eyases use their ‘egg tooth’ to help them get through the thick shell which can take from 24-48 hours. Pip watch should start about 19 April! I am so excited!

UPDATES: Speaking of pip watch, Jackie and Shadow can hear one of their little ones chirping in the shell. Big Bear Eagle fans are on hatch alert!

Maya and Blue 33 have both arrived at the Mantou Bay Nest at Rutland in the UK on 19 March. Blue 33 (11) came in at 12:29 and Maya was right behind him at 12:56.

Maya and Blue 33 (10) arrive at the nest in Rutland on 19 March 2021.

So far it appears that Blue 25 (10) is still waiting for her mate at Rutland.

The three on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida have now been fed to the relief of everyone. The storm caused Jack to bring in only a small fish last evening. Brutus, the eldest, was very aggressive towards the smaller two and they went to sleep without any fish. (Brutus is the name given to the eldest by the chat group). First fish this morning was also small and caused aggressive behaviour. However, Jack went and brought in a nice sized second fish right away and everyone ate and were congenial.

Both were fed at the Duke Farms Bald Eagle Nest in Hillsborough, New Jersey so all is well on that nest.

Solly, the Port Lincoln Osprey, is 181 days old today. She spent the night at the Streaky Bay Hospital and has been out and about looking for fish. She loves this area. I hope it keeps her safe and is her forever home.

It’s nearly 4pm on a beautiful sunny day on the Canadian prairies. Let’s hope it stays that way so that everyone can get out for a walk and check on the local wildlife in their area.

Thanks to UC Berkeley Falcons, Duke Farms, Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg, Big Bear for their steaming cams and Rutland Wildlife where I took my scaps and to Port Lincoln Ospreys and the PLO researchers for the satellite tracking for Solly.

First Osprey arrives in the UK – and the little eaglet in the Kisatchie National Forest has a name

The first Osprey to land on a nest in the United Kingdom for the 2021 breeding season is Blue 25 (10). This gorgeous female was the first to arrive last year as well but this time, she is a day earlier.

So who is Blue 25 (10)? She is the daughter of Maroon AA (06) and Argyll BTO (R). She was born in 2010 at Rutland – hence the (10) after her tag number. ‘Site Fidelity’ is when an animal or bird returns to where they were born. Normally only the males return to their natal nest area but, Blue 25 returned to Rutland in 2012. She bonded with Blue 11 (10). In 2013, they had two chicks: Blue 3K is a female and Blue 4K is a male. The male returned to Rutland on 10 July 2015. He is the first 4th generation bird to return. That is quite an accomplishment! In 2013, the pair fledged a single female Blue 5K. In 2014, they fledged Blue 8K, a male, and a female, Blue 9K. The records unfortunately stop in 2015.

It is now 2021. Both Blue 25 and Blue 11 are now eleven years old. Let’s hope that Blue 11 arrives back at the nest!

Ospreys were completely wiped out in Britain. This early extermination was caused by game wardens on large estates killing the birds, through egg collection, habitat loss, and by taxidermy – yes, the killing and the stuffing of these lovely birds. wiped out in England by persecution – through egg-collection and taxidermy – and by habitat loss.

In England, The Leicestershire and Rutland Trust introduced sixty-four 6-week-old Ospreys (introduced from Scotland) between 1996 and 2001. At Rutland, in 2019, there were twenty-five Ospreys in the area with eight couples breeding. One of those couples is Blue 25 (10) and her mate Blue 11 (10). And we know that half of that bonded pair has safely returned to Rutland from Africa.

The other pair is Maya and her mate 33. They were the celebrated parents of the 150th chick to be born in Rutland in 2019. They have claimed the nest at Manton Bay where, since 2015, they have successfully raised ten chicks.

If you would like a list of the UK Ospreys, their band numbers, dates of return, etc. up to and including 2015, please go to this Internet site:

http://ukospreys.uk/rutland-breeding.htm

That beautiful only eaglet, so spoiled by its first time parents Anna and Louis born in the nest in the Kisatchie Forest has a name! And it is a wonderful name: Kisatchie. Anna and Louis celebrate the great state of Louisiana while Kisatchie immortalizes this nest in this forest. It is the only national forest in Louisiana and consists of 800,000 acres covering seven parishes in the state. It is designated an Important Bird Area and is now covered with Loblolly and Slash Pines after reforestation efforts. The raptors living in the forest include Red-shouldered hawks, Sharp-shinned hawks, Broad-winged hawks as well as Cooper’s hawks and Bald Eagles. Other species of birds include the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Northern Bobwhite, Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-bellied and Downy woodpeckers along with the Brown-headed Nuthatch.

This young couple came last year to check out the abandoned Bald Eagle nest and returned this year to make it their natal nest. The rangers say that they are young, 5-6 years old. They had just gotten their adult plumage in the fall of 2020. At 11pm on 23 February 2021, the little one hatched. The nest is very close to the lake and Louis is an amazing fisher. The pantry is always full and Anna never wants her little one to go hungry. If you watch this nest, the youngster always has a crop and Anna is always wanting it to take just one more bite! It is too cute.

Anna says, ‘Please just one more bite!’

Once upon a time I worried that Anna would never figure out how to feed her baby and the baby wouldn’t catch on either but – well, that was pretty silly. This Bald Eagle nest is the envy of most.

As World Osprey Week quickly approaches on 22 March, I am certain that there will be more announcements coming soon of arrivals from Africa. Let us hope that each one arrives home safely.

Thank you for joining me today! And thanks to the Forestry Services at the Kisatchie National Forest for getting those cameras streaming and for handling all of the naming contests. They names are fantastic. And thank you to Rutland Wildlife Trust for the camera where I took the scap of Blue 25 (10)’s arrival!