Tuesday updates in Bird World

I am going to start off saying that Jack, the male at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida wins the Dead Beat Dad of the week award – for the third week running. Jack, do you have another family? or maybe two? Seriously. It is nearly 5pm in St Petersburg and your family have not had one single fish today. It is 28 degrees in the sun for them and they depend on the fish for water. Tiny Tot depends on the regular delivery of fish for its life. So maybe if I scream at you at the beginning, you will surprise me and show up with three or four fish! I sure hope so.

Jack, your family is waiting!

In contrast to the situation at the Achieva Osprey Nest is the Bald Eagle nest with three eaglets in Pittsburg. There both mom and dad are involved in the feeding of the young ensuring that the bonking and food competition is kept to a minimum. Well, as I have said before – birds are like humans. The kids can’t pick their parents or the parent’s territory but two parents working together certainly helps the survival of the children!

Look at those three beautiful babies at the Pittsburg Hays nest. Aren’t they adorable. All lined up waiting for mom and dad to feed them together.

Storms came through my part of Canada last night but they also swept across the United States. It was a gale force wind on the nest of the Great Horned Owls on the farm near Newton, Kansas. Tiger and Lily, the two owlets of Bonnie and Clyde were cuddled up with mom holding on in the strong winds.

More Osprey are arriving in the United Kingdom. Idris (male) arrived home on 29 March to his mate Blue 33 otherwise known as Telyn at the Dyfi Nest in Wales. Telyn is a great fisher. This morning she caught a whopper!

Telyn caught this huge fish to welcome home her mate, Idris, at the Dyfi Nest in Wales. 30 March 2021.

Blue 5F, Seren, came in on 29 March to join her mate Dylan at the Clywedog Osprey Nest. Unringed female joined White YA at Kielder 1A arriving on 30 March while male Blue WG 6 came home on 29 March at the Kielder Forest 6 nest. And the last one, female Blue KC joined her mate at Threave Castle on 30 March.

A great morning image of Mrs G and Aran at the Glaslyn Nest. Aran might be wondering if Mrs G is going to bring him breakfast like Telyn might be doing for Idris. Did I say that Osprey males drive me nuts?

Our dear little Legacy is simply not so little anymore. The eaglet of Samson and Gabby at the NE Florida Eagle Nest in Jacksonville has grown benefitting from being the only child in the nest. She sometimes looks like she has been working out at the gym!

Legacy benefited from great parents, Samson and Gabby, from a nest that had sufficient prey for everyone. Here is Samson delivering a fish for Legacy. Legacy has been self-feeding for some time now.

Legacy decided to see if she could fly like her dad!

Laddie LM12 and Blue NC0 have been bringing in nesting materials between gaps in the storms that have been plaguing Scotland around Loch of the Lowes. They have also been having to fend off intruders from their nest. Everyone wants the best nest in the neighbourhood – and no doubt this one so close to the loch is prime real estate.

And last for today the White Bellied Sea Eagles whose nest is in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park have been coming in over the last few days. They have been bringing sticks and making some nestorations. Still a couple of months before thoughts of eaglets come to mind on that nest.

Take care everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today. I do wish someone would set up a food table next to the osprey nest in St Petersburg. They did this at Rutland for one of the nests when a partner was MIA and it worked. But maybe Jack will be moved to action. Every time I say something bad about him he shows up with fish. I remain cautiously hopeful.

Thank you to the following streaming cams: Achieva Credit Union Osprey Cam, Pittsburg Hays Osprey Cam, Derek the Farmer, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, NEFL Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Bywyd Gwylit Glaslyn Wildlife, and Cors Dyfi Wildlife Reserve.

Waiting

Everyone seems to be waiting for something today. Those that follow the nest of Big Red and Arthur, the Red Tail Hawks in Ithaca, NY, are waiting for the second egg to arrive. Meanwhile, Big Red has been restless all day – on and off the nest. It has been like a revolving door, slightly surprising knowing her inclination to not share too much incubation time with Arthur. The skies just opened and Arthur is on deck keeping that precious egg dry and warm! The rain is pouring over the lens of the camera making Arthur look like a smudge. He is anything but a smudge today. Between 7am and noon, he was on the nest incubating five times – 5! I stopped counting after that.

Isn’t he gorgeous? Five years old and a great provider and dad.

Early this morning, around 8:30 the winds were whipping and Big Red got tossed. Last year this happened and an eyas went flying with her. Let’s hope that she is OK.

It takes some time for new parents – birds and humans – to understand how to take care of their little ones. When the two very young parents had their eaglet hatch on the Kisatchie National Forest nest, I thought for certain that eaglet was going to die. It couldn’t seem to stop bobbling, Mom tried desperately to feed it, and Dad kept stacking up the fish. At one time there were 18! If I remember correctly it was on the third day that the little one and mom figured out the proper angles so the little one could grab the fish. Now, that is all history. Kistachie is a huge, very spoiled only child of two very devoted parents, Anna and Louis. Kisatchie will never go hungry. It is always ‘please take another bite!’ from Anna. Kistachie has had mega food comas. They figured it out and all are thriving down in Central Louisiana on the shores of Kincaid Lake.

At the MN DNR nest, Nancy is waiting for the four year old dad, Harry, to figure out precisely what he is supposed to do. People watching the nest are waiting and worrying. Harry is amazing at security. He needs to learn that he has to bring fish to the nest and he will, after watching Nancy, figure out how to feed that little bobble head. Meanwhile, Nancy has, at times, lost a bit of patience,. And, on top of all of this, the second egg is pipping so, Nancy is waiting for another mouth to feed.

Only one osprey has arrived at a monitored nest today in the United Kingdom. That was White YA at Kielder 1A nest in the Kielder Forest. Everyone is watching the ones with trackers and waiting for more arrivals as April approaches.

It’s 4pm in St Petersburg, Florida and Diane is waiting for Jack to bring in a whopper of a fish for those three growing osplets. The trio had a fish at 8:50:13 and it looked like all ate and were ‘nice’ to one another. Let us hope that the next fish is really big and stability on this nest continues.

Another nest waiting for food deliveries is the Great Horned Owls who stole the Bald Eagle Nest on a farm near Newton, Kansas. It seems that snake has been on the menu today but the owlets are getting supersized quickly and Bonnie is hoping Clyde will come through with something larger! She waits.

I want to thank Elena for writing to me today thanking me for my post about ‘The Sadness and Hope in Latvia’. Spilve struggled to feed her beautiful almost ready to fledge Golden Eaglet after her mate went missing and was presumed to have died. To protect her eaglet she had to remain close to the nest but that meant little food. It broke the hearts of so many when beautiful Klints starved. Each of us struggles to understand.

And I want to thank you for joining me today. There is not a lot to report. We seem to be in a holding pattern today and maybe that is a good thing. I will post any updates on hatches, new eggs, and arrivals late today.

Thank you to the MN DNR, Achieva Credit Union, KNF, Kielder Forest, Farmer Derek, and the Cornell Bird Lab for their streaming cameras where I took my scaps.

Oh, the owlets are soooooo cute!

Two Great Horned Owls took over a Bald Eagle nest on a farm and ranch near Newton, Kansas owned by the Klingenberg family. That was on 1 February. The owls were given the names of Bonnie and Clyde because of the gangsters that robbed banks in the US. Bonnie and Clyde endured the coldest weather the region had known, snow, and rain to hatch the two eggs. The oldest was born on 7 March and is named Tiger. The youngest was born on 9 March and is called Lily. The daughters of Farmer Derek named the owlets. Clyde has proven himself to be a terrific provider and between the two, the owlets are growing bigger and bigger daily.

It is getting much more difficult for Bonnie to keep the eldest under her. And the chicks were both pretty active today with Tiger getting out from under Bonnie and up on the nest to flap its wings. Yes, you read that right – it is up flapping its wings. Hard to believe. They are now 17 and 15 days old.

Here are some pictures from today. I thought you would really enjoy seeing the change in the plumage and see their eyes. Tiger looks like a little old man. (The colour from the streaming cam is very saturated at times).

This is the best look that I have had of Lily. Normally Tiger is rooting around and trying to eat everything. What a little cutie. Bonnie looks down at them with that wonderful motherly love.

At one time they were under Bonnie’s tail keeping warm. When they came out you could really see that beautiful plumage developing on Tiger’s wings and the back of its head. Soon that fluffy white down will be gone.

Here is Tiger out of the nest cup completely and facing the opposite direction from Bonnie. It is standing up well and flapping its wings. Notice the bright orange pads. And look at the back of Tiger’s head. In Canada we have nice warm mohair hats for winter and this looks like a lovely pattern for one of those.

These Great Horned Owls are bringing so much joy to so many and, in the process, people are starting to learn about owls. The streaming cams are great sites to observe what we would normally not be able to see in nature.

Have a fabulous day everyone! Thank you to Farmer Derek for the streaming cam. That is where these scaps were taken.

Catching up with Legacy

I have been spending so much time checking on the arrival of Ospreys both here and in the United Kingdom, that some of my favourite eaglets and chicks on nests have grown – seemingly overnight – to be ‘super size’. I am feeling a little guilty for neglecting them for the past few days as they have brought such joy to my life and, I hope, yours.

Legacy hatched on 8 February. Do you remember when she was just a ball of fluff? In the image below she is a wee one with soft grey down and only a few pinfeathers starting to come through. She is getting ready for a ‘ps’. It is remarkable how all of the nestlings know to send their bathroom out and off of the nest. Her little head is touching the bottom of the nest bowl and she is balancing herself on the tips of her wings in order to elevate her little bottom. No one taught her, not one of her parents showed her how to do this. Oh, if it had been so easy potty training humans!

Today it was grey and rainy with a bit of wind. There has been heavy rain and tornado watches in the area for several days now. The birds are a bit wet. Here is Legacy getting ready to do a ‘ps’ today. She is 42 days old. And she kept testing the edge of the nest with her feet when she backed up. I feared she was going to fall off!

Legacy is now mantling food when the parents bring it to the nest and she is self-feeding. In the image below you can see the parents looking on while Legacy mantles the food – she spreads her wings far to each side and lowers her body of the food in a stance that doesn’t allow others to get to the prey. This is a good lesson for Legacy. She will need this to survive in the wild.

Legacy is learning to hold the prey down with her feet and talons so that it is secure and she can tear off bites with her sharp beak.

Legacy overcame Avian Pox and now she spends a lot of time doing wing exercises and hopping about the nest. Eggie and Pinecone were her good buddies. Her dad, Samson, buried Eggie in the nest last week when Legacy was self-feeding. Then he covered it with some Spanish Moss probably hoping that Legacy would not dig it out. Pinecone is still around! Legacy learned some valuable lessons with ‘Eggie’. She learned how to brood, how to aerate the nest, and roll the egg as well as incubating it. She is going to be a great mom.

Legacy poses with her beautiful mother, Gabrielle. The little one has the most incredible deep black with a hint of brown-red in her plumage. And that little bit of a tail in the first image is now growing nicely. She will need to have a long tail to help her fledge. Isn’t she stunning? Gabby and Samson make beautiful babies!

And here Legacy is kissy-kissy with mom.

It has been such a pleasure to watch this little one grow up. Legacy overcame some early eye irritation issues, then the Avian Pox, and has grown into this beautiful girl. OK. I will always believe Legacy is going to be a big girl like Gabby. Can’t say why, just one of those feelings. I hope we find out one day.

Samson and Gabrielle have done an amazing job teaching her and getting her ready for the day she will leave the nest and be on her own. Fledging is 10-14 weeks. It is hard to believe that we are halfway there!

I will leave you with an image of another nest. It is pip watch at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Bald Eagle nest. This is the nest with the young 4 year old father. Hoping for the best!

And the bouquet today goes to Clyde, the Great Horned Owl and mate of Bonnie. It has been cold and raining in Kansas and still in the last hour – just one hour – has brought in four prey items for Bonnie, Tiger, and Lily. The rabbit and the garter snake are in the pantry but Bonnie is trying to keep the wee ones dry – and it is not easy – so they are having mice and vole for snacks. It looks like it is a prey rich area for the couple and their owlets.

Bonnie and Clyde are wet but the little ones are dry. Clyde brought in four prey items. He is giving Bonnie a mouse in this delivery.

The beef goes once again to Jack at the Achieva Osprey Nest. Tiny Tot got some tiny bites of food in the last of three deliveries. The two eldest have shut him out of eating. Diane the mom has fished herself today when food did not come in. It is a stressful nest to watch.

Thank you so much for joining me today as we caught up with Legacy. And thank you to the NEFL Eagle Cam and the AEF for their streaming cam where I grabbed these images.

The Owlets have names

Just a very quick announcement. The two Great Horned Owls, Bonnie and Clyde, who stole the Bald Eagle nest on the farm near Newton, Kansas had two eggs hatch. The oldest hatched on 7 March and the youngest 9 March. Already they have pin feathers and the oldest horked an entire mouse last night! The farmer that set up the streaming cam for the Bald Eagles and whose family has welcomed the owls has two daughters. Those daughters got to pick the names for the owlets. The oldest is Tiger and the little one is Lily! What wonderful names.

You can just see the proud mama, Bonnie, and one of the little ones sticking its head up.

Lovely names and it is so nice to see the entire family involved. We have all learned so much since the owls took over the nest on 1 February. Thank you Farmer Derek and your family.

Stormz

When I woke up this morning, this was the weather forecast that caught my attention. I sat and stared. Yes, the Achieva Osprey Nest in St. Petersburg, the SWFL Eagle Nest in Fort Myers, and the NEFL Eagle Nest in Jacksonville were all in the ‘possible threat’ of a Severe Threat region. What precisely does that mean? If it’s bad it is going to be really bad but, it might not be nothing at all?

At the Osprey nest in St. Pete’s, it was already starting to get a little gusty. Still, Jack came in with a really nice fish around 9:09 and all had a good breakfast – all of them were fed equal – and there was no issues of the eldest trying to be dominant. Great planning, Jack! It was, however, not long until the local weather report had warnings of rip tides (dangerous currents) and by 10:30 the nest platform was swaying pretty good. The local weather said 48 kph or 30 mph winds. It is hard to understand what that means to the nest structure and the Ospreys. I have presumed that the structure was built to withstand a hurricane but that might not be true at all. But what kind of a gust does it take to blow an Osprey or a little one off the nest? My mind quickly went back to the wind gusts that sent the Red Tail Hawk at Ithaca, New York, Big Red, flying off the nest bowl taking one of the eyases with her last year in the spring. That was really scary to watch. They both clamoured back onto the nest. Still, I sat and hoped that Tiny Tot would hold on good and tight. How much does the little thing weigh?

The image below does not capture the swaying of the nest. The rains had not started but, the gusts were strong. See how the little ones are all tucked in. It reminds me of ‘the duck and cover’ exercises when I was in grade school. If a nuclear bomb exploded, we were told to get under our desks and cover our heads – we would be safe. Don’t even get me started about that. However, those three little Ospreys are doing a great job of tucking in. They would have gotten an A from my first grade teacher, Mrs McReynolds.

In a couple of hours there was a break in the weather and the little ones were able to relax. You are looking at Tiny Tot on the left and the eldest on the right. Both are getting juvenile plumage – all the fluffy down is now gone. They have a grey matte down covering and the beautiful copper coloured feathers are coming on their heads. They have a white stripe from their heads down their backs. The dark lines from the back of their eyes to their neck are becoming prominent. They sure resemble dinosaurs when they are all tangled up together! Their crops have dropped so both are ready for a good meal. Let’s hope Jack has some success fishing. I am going to imagine that fishing could be difficult with the rain, winds, and rip tides.

Within an hour, the weather changed again. The winds picked up giving Diane a brand new hair do and the little ones are holding on under her wings. Good thing. The skies open and heavy rain comes down soaking everyone and the nest.

It has been a difficult week for food on this nest. The high temperatures, reaching as much as 30 degrees C, have meant that the fishing was only good in the early mornings and around sun down. Despite the rain and the rip tides today, Jack did manage to bring in another fish -quite small – after the weather had settled for a bit, around 7:26pm.

The oldest dominated the feeding and treated both number 2 and Tiny Tot (some call him Tumbleweed) rather aggressively. The kids are wet and cold and miserable – and I imagine Diane is, too. These are experienced parents who have fledged three off a nest. They know what they are doing but they cannot control the weather – the storms or the high heat. Let’s just hope that tomorrow is a cool calm day with a couple of big fish on the nest!

The issues with the eldest on the Achieva Osprey Nest happen over and over again on Osprey and Bald Eagle nests around the world (as well as with other species). And the situation -the sibling rivalry -can turn on a dime. For the past few days there have been concerns about the aggressive behaviour of the eldest to the youngest at the Duke Farm nest in Hillsborough, New Jersey. The actions of the eldest got so bad that a message was posted by Duke Farms acknowledging that the behaviour being displayed was abnormally aggressive – ‘abnormally.’ The farm had obviously received e-mails and phone calls wanting an intervention to happen. Duke Farms had to remind watchers that the birds are protected and that their staff are not allowed within 305 metres or 1000 feet of the nest.

I have great sympathy for anyone watching the bashing that is given to the smaller ones. My whole body has gone rigid seeing a little one in submission unable to get any food – their heads pecked and their necks twisted by the eldest – when all they want is a few morsels of fish. And like many of you, I have watched these little ones perish, frustrated that no one took them off the nest and fed them so they got strong and could go back.

This morning the rain was coming down really hard. There was no food on the nest. The fish from yesterday was gone and the mother had picked every piece of meat off of the black feathered bird brought into the nest. At 12:59 the male flew to the nest and looked at the empty pantry. At 14:57:21 he returns with a trout from the stocked pond on the farm. Yes, like the nest for the SW Florida eagles on the Pritchett Farm, this one also has a fully stocked pond for the eagles.

Nest watchers were anticipating that the behaviour of the eldest was going to be very bad once prey arrived since there had been no food for twenty-four hours. That is, however, simply not what happened. The youngest stepped up to the front of the nest bowl and ate – and I mean ate! Not nibble – gorged on large chunks of fresh fish. It had so much confidence that it actually stole a bite of fish out of the eldest’s beak. This little one is smart. If it gets a chance it keeps its head down and then gets fed. Yesterday everything worked in its favour, too. The eldest ate first – as usual. Mom fed it from the black feathered bird picking anything off that she could find til it was full. Then she moved over to the fish. At first the little one was hesitant but, sensing that the eldest was not going to attack, it took a few bites and then climbed around and went up where its mother could more easily feed it. She filled that little eaglet with fresh fish. So, again, the little one is smart – in fact, they have to be to survive. And that is what all of this is about – survival.

Samson and Gabby watched the skies from the branches for a long time. If you look off in the distance the report for Jacksonville showed the worst of the storm coming in late, around 11pm nest time. Still the dark skies must have worried these experienced parents. It is always good to remember that the birds can sense the changes in the weather coming as good as any satellite system.

Gabby is sleeping close to Legacy. It is nearly 11pm. You can hear the winds on the camera’s microphone but the local weather says it is clear. Excellent news.

The weather forecast for these three nests calls for slightly cooler temperatures with sun or partly cloudy skies for Friday the 19th. Let us hope that lots of fish are on the menu! I should also add, since some of you might be wondering – the nest in Fort Myers is also fine. No weather issues!

Thank you so much for joining me today. Before I go, let’s close with a scap of Bonnie the Great Horned Owl. She is all fluffed up. What amazing plumage! She, once again, survived the snow and rain in Kansas. Her little ones still have their eyes closed but they were restless and one stuck its head up. They are doing fine. Clyde is a fantastic provider and the mice were coming to the nest despite the inclement weather!

Thank you to the Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg, Florida; Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey; Derek the Farmer, and the AEF and NEFL Eagle Cam for their streaming cameras. That is where I took my scraps.

Feeding Time

Sometimes parents feed the little ones and sometimes it is those lovely folks at the rehab clinics. Here is a screen shot of a video at a wildlife rehab clinic. It shows the sweetest little GHOW eating its dinner and the staff being ever so careful for it not to inprint on humans by using a GHOW puppet and tongs. The face of the person is covered as well.

A quick scan around the nests showed that everyone managed to go to sleep with a ‘crop.’ Raptors have crops. The only raptors that do not have a crop are owls. They have this really wide esophagus that helps them to swallow prey whole – think a whole mouse going down all at once! For all other raptors, the crop is properly called an ingluvies. It is a pouch below the esophagus that holds food before it goes into the stomach proper. Scientists are just beginning to understand how important the crop is for bird health. It doesn’t just store the food and moisten it but the crop plays a significant role in regulating the immune system of the birds. After the bird has softened all the food in the crop that can be digested, the bird will do a ‘crop drop’ when their gizzard is empty. Anything in the crop that could not be digested such as fur, feathers, teeth, claws, bones, etc. will be compressed into a pellet called a ‘casting.’ You might have even taken apart pellets in your science classes. They are a good way to study the prey in the area of the birds. When birds are ready to ‘cast’ a pellet, they often do not feel like eating. You might even see them in the process of casting out the pellet as they often appear to be slightly choking, especially when they are young. And you will have seen parents feeding little ones fur and feathers. Those actually help clean the crop.

One of the most challenging things for a first time Bald Eagle mother is feeding her new born bobble head. The eaglet is not strong enough to hold its head steady so it is constantly moving for the first couple of days. Add that to the fact that the eagle has a lateral visual field means that they can see from the side but not directly in front of them. So the mothers have to learn to tilt their head and their beak so that the little one can grab the prey.

The first time mother, Anna, on the Kisatchie Eagle Nest in Central Louisiana took a few days to figure this out. My goodness when she did, the feedings were remarkable. Louis, her mate, wins all the prizes for having a full pantry for Bald Eagles. One day there were eighteen fish. The little one – who just received its official name on St. Patrick’s Day -Kisatchie – is always full. Its crop was so heavy today that the eaglet simply fell over. It is a good problem to have. Many nests struggle from a lack of prey. In fact, many on the chat this morning were wishing some of this food could be sent over to the Duke Farms Bald Eagle Nest, including me.

In the space of an hour and a half, Louis filled up the pantry some more, just in case!

The little one’s mother persuaded it to have a few more bites. Its crop is so heavy it is sagging. Look carefully if you have never seen a ‘crop’.

The oldest eaglet at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey has secured its dominant role on the nest. Today this worked to the advantage of the littlest who is very intimidated. The older one was fed the last bits of ‘something’. It had long dark feathers. I first thought of a crow but then a heron because of the legs. It is hard to determine a prey just from a pile of bones! The little one cowered and was looking the other way. The older was getting quite full and the mother determined that not another piece of meat could be found. So she moved over to a nice fish. By then the oldest was slowly going into a food coma. At first the little one stretched its neck – it was behind the big one. It did the quick snatch. Then when it realized the older one wasn’t interested, it made its way to a position where it could be fed easier. Oh, it had a nice full crop of fish! Lovely. You might have said it to yourself or even out loud if you have watched these smaller ones struggle that you can go to sleep now that they are fed. It certainly is reassuring to see that large crop. There could be a prey issue at this nest. Let us hope not!

The Osplets at the Achivea Osprey Cam in St Petersburg, Florida had a couple of decent meals today. One was around 9:30 and this fish came in around 7pm. It could well be too hot for fishing during the day. I am reminded that fish go deeper when it is really hot.

I worry about Tiny Tot. And that is because I have seen too many Osprey nests with three where the little one doesn’t ‘make it’. My chest even gets a little tight. Diane is, however, a remarkable Osprey mother. Everyone gets fed. That means that no single Osplet gets to eat til its crop is full and sagging at the expense of the others. Yesterday it was very hot and a fish didn’t come in til really late. Each lined up politely. They did the same thing today. Tiny Tot is the closest in the image and he let Diane know he was there and hungry! If you look carefully you can see his wide open mouth. Mum did not ignore him. Ideally the little ones are fed less food but more frequently but, sometimes the deliveries just do not work out for that kind of feeding schedule.

Clyde, the mate of Bonnie, are the pair of Great Horned Owls that stole the Bald Eagle nest in Kansas. They have two little owlets whose eyes are still closed. Clyde delivers the prey directly to Bonnie on the nest. It is usually a mouse or a vole. One evening he brought Bonnie a hawk! Bonnie lays the prey aside. When she feeds the owlets, she tears pieces off with her razor sharp teeth and feeds them. Within a couple of weeks, the owlets will have grown enough to swallow prey whole. They do not have crops. Their gizzard deals with grinding all the food and they will also cast a pellet of what cannot be digested. They will also be able to regulate their heat. Any day now their eyes should be open!


They were all full last night and some are waiting this morning depending where they are. Wonder if those owls will have their eyes open today?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone who celebrates. Thank you for joining me. Together we can all start learning how to say Kisatchie!

Thank you to the Achieve Credit Union in St Petersburg, Farmer Derek, Duke Farms, Kisatchie National Forestry Service for their streaming cams. That is where I took my scaps.

Bonnie and Clyde’s Owlets

A pair of Great Horned Owls (GHOW) moved into a Bald Eagle nest on farmland near Newton, Kansas on 1 February 2021. The farmer that owns the land named them Bonnie and Clyde after the notorious bank robbers who were killed in an ambush in Louisiana on 23 May 1934.

Great Horned Owls (GHOW) are notorious for using the nests of other birds instead of building their own. They normally lay their eggs in January and February using unoccupied nests of other raptors or squirrels. They also use hollow trees and cliff ledges. Bonnie and Clyde visited the nest of the eagles to check it out. Perhaps they thought it was an abandoned nest – at first. The eagles either saw the owls or had some reason to check their nest. That evening, 31 January, the Bald Eagles spent the night on their nest. One of the GHOWs flew through the nest knocking one of the Bald Eagles off. The following day there was a single confrontation. Neither bird was injured. The Bald Eagles are a young couple and they will have found another spot for their nest.

Bonnie incubated her egg/s keeping it a big secret on how many there were. At 5:20 on 6 March Bonnie took a mouse from her mate, Clyde, but she did not eat it – instead she put it in the nest cup! For sure there was an owlet. A couple of days later it was believed the second had hatched. So far it has been difficult to see the little owlets.

If you look carefully at the image above, you will notice that the owlet’s eyes are closed. The oldest one is believed to be eight days old; it hatched on 7 March and the youngest hatched on 9 March. Normally their eyes open between 7-9 days. And believe it or not, in six to nine weeks these fluffy balls could fledge! Clyde is going to need to do a lot of hunting!

Owls have extraordinary vision. Because they cannot turn their eyes in their sockets, owls turn their heads 270 degrees without moving any other parts of their body. It is almost like having eyes in the back of your head!

Looking at the following two images. Bonnie does not move her shoulders at all, just her head.

Look at Bonnie’s eyes. Her top eyelid is much larger than the bottom. The only birds that have this are other nightjars -Nighthawks and Whippoorwills.

We think of owls as being only nocturnal but they can see perfectly well during the daytime. They actually close their eyes to a small slit. It makes them look like they are sleeping when, in fact, they are only blocking the bright light. When hunting they can see perfect below them because of the area where their vision cells (the rods and cones) are grouped, the fovea. When hunting at night, the owls are silent because of their soft rounded feathers. They also see extremely well at night but their exceptional hearing also helps them.

Owls are great mousers. Bonnie and Clyde will keep Farmer Derek’s rodent population down. Owls are a much better solution than rodenticide.

Thank you for checking in with me today. I hope everyone is well and safe. Thank you to Farmer Derek for his streaming cam. That is where I got my scaps.