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.

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.

Not one but Two Owlets

This is a quick update on the Bald Eagle nest near Newton, Kansas taken over by a pair of Great Horned Owls. The owls have occupied the nest since 1 February when it was thought they were desperate to find a place to lay their eggs. Because of the pair ‘stealing’ the nest out from under a young mated pair of Bald Eagles, they were given the names Bonnie and Clyde. It has been unclear how many eggs that Bonnie had in the egg cup. It could only be confirmed that there was one and that little eaglet hatched on the 7th of March. Today, it is believed that there are now two eaglets in the nest. For a split second when Bonnie was feeding, there was a glimpse of what appears to be two pink beaks.

Bonnie took a break and this is the best image I could get showing the ‘most’ of a downy eaglet body. The rails of the Bald Eagle nest are high and there is hay or straw lining the bowl so it is almost impossible to get a good look.

Earlier I was able to get some images of Bonnie feeding her little ones. She bites off tiny pieces of mice to feed to the bobble heads.

Tomorrow we should be able to see more but you can see the fluffy head or heads tucked in right under Bonnie’s head.

Clyde is going to be very busy if he is supplying mice for three now besides himself. More images will follow over the nest few days. Congratulations Bonnie and Clyde!

Thanks to Derek the Farmer for the streaming cam where I captured the images.

Sunday Babies

It is Sunday, 7 March 2021. The sun, peeking over the horizon announcing a new day reminds us that it has been twenty-four hours since Bonnie did not eat the mouse that Clyde brought her (5:20 am 6 March). Instead, Bonnie flew to the branch where Clyde was, picked up the mouse, and dropped it into the egg cup. Very unusual behaviour for someone who normally eats that mouse right away! Everyone wondered about a pip or a hatch. This morning at 6:31 am Clyde flew in. Bonnie stayed on the nest and Clyde brought the mouse to her. There was a bit of a conversation between the two. Bonnie is definitely behaving differently and it is possible that some of her movements might have been feeding actions – biting off small pieces of mouse and feeding. All we know for certain is that the usual routine in that nest has changed over the past twenty-four hours.

Sun is rising and Clyde is on the branch with a mouse. 7 March 2021. @Derek the Farmer
Clyde carefully carries the mouse to Bonnie. 7 March 2021. @ Derek the Farmer
Hi Sweetie. Here’s your morning mouse. 7 March 2021 @ Derek the Farmer
Clyde and Bonnie having a chat. Isn’t he cute?! 7 March 2021 @Derek the Farmer
7 March 2021 Clyde flying off. @Derek the Farmer

And just as a reminder, the eagle’s nest is about 1.8 metres (about six feet) across. Look at the size of Bonnie and Clyde. And then look at how well they blend into their environment. Nature’s camouflage is magnificent! Talk about getting lost in the crowd. These owls do that very well. The Great horned Owl will be even more fierce protecting this nest. As I wrote in another blog several weeks ago, you don’t mess with a GHOW! They may look cuddly and sweet but I don’t think anyone should get between them and their owlet.

To give you an idea, the Bald Eagle nest in Fort Myers, Florida of Harriet and M15 is constantly having GHOW attacks. Last night the GHOW knocked M15 off his branch (again). Remember, GHOWs are silent when they fly. They can sneak up on Bald Eagles who will not hear them coming. Lady Hawk caught the attack and the reaction in this video:

And since we are here with Harriet and M15, best have a look at E17 and E18. If you haven’t been following them you will not believe how much they have grown. I will post a picture of the twins at the clinic when they were getting their eyes treated and another one today. Hold on for a big surprise.

The first image is 4 February, just a little over a month ago. E17 is in the time out corner because it has been very aggressive towards little E18 especially around meals times.

4 February 2021. E17 and E18 are at CROW for treatment of conjunctivitis. @CROW FB

If you are going to ask yourself how these two grew so fast, the image right below is 24 February. E17 is at the front and E18 is at the back. They have eaten so much food that their crops look like huge bellies! It could be a crop pop. Oh, and look at how big those feet are. Even so, there are still some dandelion bits remaining.

The image below is 7 March 2021 – thirteen days after the image above. You will see that the twins are getting their juvenile feathers. E18 is at the top looking out of the nest and E17 is flat out asleep on the nest. These two are forty-two days old today. Fledge watch for Bald Eagles is ten to twelve weeks. Oh, my. They are half way grown!

7 March 2021. SWFL Bald Eagle Nest. @SWFL and D. Pritchett

It’s after 2pm on 7 March and E17 and E18 are hungry. E18 is at the top and E17 nearer the bottom. E18 has become the master? mistress? of the snatch and grab. E18 is perfectly positioned watching Harriet rip off the pieces of meat and she goes in for the grab. It is amazing how those second hatches figure ways out to get around the more dominant sibling.

The snatch and grab. 7 March 2021. @SWFL and D Pritchett

This is N24 on 7 March 2021, below. Typically, he or she is close to ‘the egg’. N24 incubates the egg, rolls the egg and is typically just a ‘good little mom’. There is every indication that N24 is in the last phases of the Avian Pox and healing well without any issues to the beak.

N24 and eggie. 7 March 2021 @NEFL and AEF Cams

And another picture with Samson this morning. N24 is twenty-seven days old today. Wow. And losing all of its baby down.

N24 with Samson. 7 March 2017. @NFL and AEF Eagle Cam

Hey Mom! Look. I can fly!!!!!!!! Look at how big those wings are. They are so heavy that in the picture above the wings are relaxed.

Look I can fly! 7 March 2021 @NEFL and AEF Eagle Cam

The two little eaglets at Duke Farm are doing well and mom seems to have any bonking issues under control. Meanwhile dad is working overtime to get fish stacked in that nest! They are so cute. Little bobbles.

Lined up for lunch. 7 March 2021 @Duke Farms

The little one at the Kisatchie National Forest (KNF) Bald Eagle nest is growing fast. Both the eaglet and mom have really worked out any issues with feeding. And with all that fish that dad is bringing in there are bound to be insects. The couple are now bringing in pine boughs to counter that – pine oil, anything pine, helps with bugs and mosquitoes!

Little one waiting for a name. 7 March 2021. KNF Bald Eagle Nest @KNF Bald Eagle Nest

It’s a beautiful day in Central Louisiana. The sun is filtering down through the trees on to the nest. The little one is resting with its mom. So cute.

Warm early spring afternoon at the KNF Bald Eagle Nest. 7 March 2021. @KNF Bald Eagle Nest

Today is the last day to send in a potential name for this little eaglet. A committee will narrow the submitted names down to three for public voting between March 11 and 16. The public’s choice will be announced on March 17, St Patrick’s Day. If you want to submit a name, today is your last chance. Send the name to: nameKNFeagle@gmail.com

Have a great end of the week everyone. Thanks for stopping in to check on the babies!

Great Horned Owl who stole Bald Eagle nest: A Pip or a Hatch????????

Bonnie and Clyde stole a Bald Eagle nest on a farm near Newton, Kansas on 1 February 2021. The couple must have been desperate to find a place to lay their first egg of the season.

The tallest tree in the centre is where the young Bald Eagles made their nest. It was stolen by a pair of Great Horned Owls on 1 February 2021 desperate to find a place for Bonnie to lay her egg/s.

When the Bald Eagles suspected ‘someone’ had been at their nest, they spent the night there – something unusual during off season. One of the Great Horned Owls knocked one of the eagles off the nest. On another day there was a confrontation on the nest when Bonnie defended her egg.

Her and Clyde have kept the nest safe with Clyde bringing in mice for Bonnie around sunset until right before sunrise.

On each of those occasions, Bonnie would take the mouse and quickly eat it. She would ‘hoot’ her thanks to Clyde before he flew away.

At 5:20 am on the 6th of March, however, the action at the nest was different. Clyde brought a mouse to their regular branch. This time Bonnie did not eat the mouse immediately but she took it and deposited it in the egg cup. Observers believe that the first – and maybe it is the only egg – hatched recently. Bonnie had been restless on 5 March sitting higher up in the nest and doing jugular fluttering. Many thought this was to regulate her temperate but it is observed that she is not doing that today and it is actually warmer. Was she encouraging her owlet to hatch?

The following sequence of images show Clyde arriving on the branch, Bonnie responding to him, going up to the branch to retrieve the mouse, and Bonnie returning to the nest to place the mouse in the egg cup.

Bonnie has been very secretive. We do not know if there is more than one egg and we do not know precisely when the first egg hatched. We only know from Bonnie’s changed behaviour that there is something in the nest that requires food or will require food.

I found a short video of a Great Horned Owl feeding her young owlets:

You might want to watch these happy changes at the nest. The link to Farmer Derek’s streaming cams is here:

Enjoy! Have a great weekend!

Thanks to Farmer Derek for providing two streaming cameras showing the action at the Bald Eagle Nest hijacked by Bonnie and Clyde, a pair of Great Horned Owls.

Bonnie is not giving up any secrets. The nest bowl is deep! Sun is setting. It is 6 March 2021.

Bobbleheads and more Bobbleheads

The Bald Eagle nest at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey had three eggs. There is something really interesting and ‘cute’ going on at this nest. The oldest chick was born on 26 February and the little one was born on 2 March. If the third egg is going to hatch we should be watching for pips today or tomorrow. This experienced gorgeous mom is going to have her hands full! And quite a few other mothers as there appears to be a glut of Bald Eagle nests with three eggs in them this year.

When the parent is not around the oldest one sends a message of dominance by bonking the little one. This drives me nuts because I am always afraid that one of them will be injured. These little guys are, however, remarkable in their resilience.

4 March 2021 Bonking @Duke Farms Eagle Cam
Look at me! I am the boss! @Duke Farms Eagle Cam

However, when the mother is feeding and the big one stands in front, the little one has already figured out how to stretch its neck to get food from mom.

Let’s see how far I can stretch over my big sib. @Duke Farms Eagle Cam
Ha, ha. I did it. Mom saw me. @Duke Farms Eagle Cam

This is going to be interesting. At one time it actually gave the older sib a bit of a peck on the neck to get it to move so it could have a bite of fish! This little one is really smart. Those images were taken on 4 March 2021.

On 5 March, Mom has both lined up. There is not going to be any nonsense. Aren’t they precious?

One bite for you and another one for your sib. @Duke Farms Eagle Cam

At the Harrison Bay Bald Eagle nest in Tennessee, Athena and Eliot have welcomed HB 17 and HB 18 on 4 March. Looks like we have another set of twins. There is one more egg to hatch on the HB nest. The streaming cam didn’t focus in on the little ones but you can sure make out that there are two wiggling underneath their mom.

If you want to keep abreast of these little ones, here is the link to the Harrison Bay Cam:

And the new dad at the Kisatchie National Forest nest (NNF) is one super provider. On 4 March, it looked like there were parts of at least eight fish on that nest. Mom and baby continue to improve their feeding and eating rituals. It looks like they are going to have to eat much more or the parents will be building the nest rails out of those fish with dad stacking them up more and more.

Food Security @KNF Streaming Cam
Ah, that’s right. I turn this way and you bite that way! We got this. @KNF Streaming Cam

Here is the link to the KNF nest in case you want to see these new parents continue to learn and their only little eaglet grow. Look closely. There is a cute little tail forming – that white line of feathers on its tiny little end. If you would like to try and name this little eaglet, please send your name suggestions before March 7 to: nameKNFeagle@gmail.com

This week has been absolutely crazy with Ospreys laying eggs, Bald Eagles laying eggs, Ospreys flying home to the UK to their nests, and with the arrival of spring the first Canada Geese and Bald Eagles arriving in Manitoba. It is impossible to keep track of each and everyone!

You might, however, be wondering about that Great Horned Owl that took over the Bald Eagle nest near Newton, Kansas. This morning Bonnie appears to be sitting higher on her nest, is much more alert, and is doing tiny little chirpy hoots. This gular fluttering could be a way to regulate her temperature since it is a little getting warmer. Gular fluttering is a vibration of the bird’s throat tissues. But it is only 53 degrees F. Could it also mean that there might be some hatching?

Oh, I want to surprise everyone including Clyde. @Derek the Farmer

The link to catch all the action of Bonnie and Clyde, the Great Horned Owls that stole a Bald Eagle Nest is here:

Have a fabulous Friday everyone. Thanks for joining our check in on ‘the birds and their babies’.

Thanks to the following streaming cams listed under the captured shots.

As the sun goes down

Typically I check on ‘the babies’ many times a day. This evening there is a soft glow coming across the eagle nest onto Gabby and little NE24. The Japanese have a name for this particular light that shimmers down through the trees causing everything to appear slightly golden. It is komorebi and it is magical. It looks like the universe is laying a soft warm blanket around Gabby and NE24.

Just look into Gabby’s eyes gazing down on NE24. Pure love.

It is just turning 6pm. The setting sun is softly lighting the Spanish moss hanging down from the old tree, too. And up in that deep nest where Samson was born is Gabby and Samson’s little one, NE24. NE24 is nine days old today.

It is a Slash Pine tree. Sometimes these trees are called Swamp Pines because they grow in the watery swamps of Florida.

Samson’s parents, Romeo and Juliet, brought the very first twig for this nest for the 2008 breeding season. They placed twig after twig in that spectacular ‘V’ about eighty feet off the ground. And every year they added more. It is now estimated that the amount of sticks and leaf debris, moss, etc. making up the nest would weigh more than a metric tonne. For ten breeding seasons Romeo and Juliet successfully fledged every eaglet they reared in that nest, nineteen in all. There was plenty of food and little sibling rivalry.

No one knows anything about Gabrielle. She appeared one day, a female looking for a mate and Samson liked her out of all the others. We know that Samson was born on this very nest on 23 December 2013. He fledged on the 22nd of April 2014. Samson returned four years later and bonded with Gabrielle. Their first breeding season was 2019-20. The administrators for the NEFL Eagle cam named the eaglets Romy and Jules after Samson’s parents. Both fledged successfully.

The same soft glow of the day’s end falls over Bonnie, the GHO in the Eagle’s nest. Bonnie must be anticipating that her mate, Clyde, will come in with some treats for her. It has now been sometime since she had a meal because of the frigid temperatures. The temperature may stay in the range around 6 degrees F so there might be hope that those mice Bonnie loves will be running about tonight so Clyde can catch one for her.

As the sun set, Clyde was ready to wake up and go hunting. It wasn’t long until he brought Bonnie her first mouse of the evening.

I wish that my hearing and my eyesight were as good as Bonnie and Clyde’s. It is said that a Great Horned Owl has such good hearing that if a mouse steps on a twig they can hear it even if they are 23 metres away (75 feet). And, from observing Bonnie, we know that she really can turn her head for a complete 360 degree view. But, even though she is called a Great ‘Horned’ Owl, she doesn’t have any horns! How silly. But she does have those soft feathery tufts coming off of her incredible ears that resemble horns. Bonnie’s feathers are not hard like other raptors; they are very soft. The ends of Clyde’s feathers are round which allows him to fly virtually undetected – like a Stealth bomber – just not as fast. Bonnie hears him; she sits up in anticipation as he nears the nest (below).

Clyde flies into the nest with the mouse.
Bonnie quickly took the mouse.
After dinner they had a wee bit of a conversation.

We are so fortunate to be able to see the exchanges with these owls – what a rare treat! And aren’t they cute together?

Updates on all the gang will come later tonight. Have a fantastic day everyone.

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Thank you to NEFL Eagle cam and Derek the Farmer for their streaming cameras where I took my screen shots.