I needed to check my glasses

It took me a few minutes to comprehend what I was looking at. For several weeks now the osplets on the Port Lincoln Barge nest have been looking more like dinosaurs than fish eagles. But, this morning with the rain, their plumage looked much different. There was a strange white over the water so my first response was – the camera has a problem. Then the water was blue and the chicks were having their meal and well——.

Here they are lined up for the 12:36:06 delivery. Gosh, they had to have been hungry despite all those feedings yesterday. The weather must have hampered Dad’s fishing.

Still, there was no fighting. The chicks are all lined up as normal with Tiny Little right up at Mum’s beak! Oh, this kid really does love its fish.

So let us remember what we know about osplets plumage. When they hatch, they are covered with a very light greyish coat of down. You can see this in the image below.

It is 21 September. That was 22 days ago. Little Bob is 5 days old; the other two are 7 days old. Note the prominent dark eye line and the light soft down. Gosh they were so little! The hatchlings will keep this light coat of down from hatch until they are 10-12 days old, according to Alan Poole.

Oh, just look at Little Bob. So cute with that great big crop. He is the one closest to the viewer.

It is 5 days later. A darker charcoal coloured woolier down replaces that soft light grey down.

This is a huge period of change in terms of plumage. As the dark wooly down comes so do the feathers. The feathers show up first on the head and back and then on the body, later on the wings and tail. The feathers on the head and neck are a coppery-gold colour. This phase is called the Reptilian phase because they look more like their ancestors of 65 million years ago than the juvenile ospreys they are becoming.

You can see those coppery-gold feathers in the image below. The osplets are also growing at a fantastic rate.

The image below of Little Bob was taken three days ago. He was definitely in the Clown Foot stage! You can also see the dark grey wooly down as well as a few of the copper feathers on the back of his neck.

The image below was taken yesterday. You can see that the juvenile plumage is really starting to come in. It appears as little round tufts growing out of the blood quills.

In the image below, Little Bob is eating the prize fish tail. He is in his usual spot near the beak of Mum!

The image below was taken just a few minutes ago. I realize that feathers, like hair and paint, can appear darker when wet so use your imagination. It is as if a huge amount of juvenile plumage came in since last evening. Those feathers are really pushing out of those quills!

That is Little Bob at the very back. He is facing to the left and looking down slightly. He still has that spot and the white on the cere with the white swipe under his eye. Right now I can still find him but I might not be able to tomorrow.

In a blink. We will begin to notice considerable changes in their size along with the continued growth of feathers. The very last feathers to emerge will be the primaries and secondaries also known as the flight feathers. Only when all of their feathers have emerged from the blood quills will the osplets be ready to fly. We will know that when they really begin to exercise those wings and attempt hovering.

To give you an idea of the ‘look’ of the plumage and the size of the feathers I have included an image of Tiny Little, the third hatch of the Foulshaw Moss Osprey nest in Cumbria. This was taken on 24 August just before she migrated. Blue 463. Look at the length of her tail and the beautiful symmetry of her feathers. This is how the trio on the Port Lincoln nest will look by the time they are 50-60 days old.

As a reminder, Little Bob hatched on 16 September so he is now 26 days old. They have a long way to go but their plumage and their size are going to change right before our eyes. We really do not need to get our glasses adjusted! It is them, not us.

Beautiful Tiny Little Blue 463 survived and became the dominant bird on the nest. She is on her way to Africa. We hope to see her again.

I couldn’t wait to show you those miraculous changes in the plumage of the three. It really is miraculous. Thank you so much for joining me. I hope to see you soon. Take care.

Thank you to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project and the Cumbria Wildlife Trust Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots.

Wednesday edition of ‘As the Nest Turns’

Gosh, what a day it has been with the hatch of the first known albino Osprey chick at the Urdaibai Biosphere Park in Spain. Let us hope that despite the challenges that being an albino faces in the wild, that this little one thrives!

Little Albino Osprey. First known. Born in Urdaibai, Spain. 2 June 2021

And surprise. I often just check in on nests that are thought to be vacant after the juveniles fledge and lo and behold, look what is on one of the branches of Legacy’s natal tree – an Osprey! It isn’t Legacy our beautiful ebony plumed juvenile Bald Eagle but hey, it is a bird and a nice surprise!

Well, hello. Did Legacy give you permission to use her nest?

It has been raining in Wales and that means it is wet on the nest of Mrs G and Aran. Since there are no chicks to brood, the pair more than likely come to the nest to retrieve their fish, eat them on the perch or off camera, and perch and roost in nearby trees. They need to still protect that valuable nest of theirs for next year’s season and we already know that there are two year old juveniles sniffing around.

Another damp day at the nest of Mrs G and Aran

The Glaslyn Wildlife Centre has received so many questions that instead of trying to answer each one individually or go on FB with postings, they wrote a detailed blog titled, ‘The Not So Perfect Storm’. I was impressed with the range of subjects they covered and the detailed sound information provided. The topics ranged from Why Did Mrs G Stop feeding the chicks? to What will happen to the Glaslyn pair now? to describing how Aran and Z2, Aeron, who occupies the PC nest with Blue 014, worked together to drive a male osprey away that had intruded at both nests. Wow! Cooperative territorial patrols. I like that. If you would like to read this very informative document, please go to:

https://www.glaslynwildlife.co.uk/2021/06/the-not-so-perfect-storm/?fbclid=IwAR2XsSXG68wolURyB6DYXI5KLe_7yPJIJuOm2Zmx3iMGe66RHknNzBUdbgY

Idris is know for his whoppers and here is another one!
Telyn feeding the two osplets that huge fish Idris brought to them.

I posted this image so you could see the change the plumage of these two little ones. Bobby Bach is 9 days old and still retains his light grey natal down and hair on its head. Bob, the oldest, is changing plumage and as their Twitter feed said, “now resembles ancient theropod lineage of the Cretaceous period, 66 million years ago”. Bob’s hair on its head is ‘thinning’. He is getting coppery coloured feathers around its head and neck. The body plumage will be getting quite dark.

Osplet on the right still has natal down while osplet on the left is moving into Reptilian Phase.

That is the stage that Big Bob is currently at. He is the eldest chick on the Loch of the Lowes Osprey Nest and he is beginning his Reptilian Phase.

Big Bob at the Loch of the Lowes Nest in his full reptilian phase!

Then the little ones will begin to be covered with their beautiful feathers. Have a look at the pair at The Landings Osprey Nest on Skidaway Island. Aren’t they gorgeous? They have retained some of that peach on their heads or necks and look at those gorgeous dark white tipped feathers on their wings and back. Stunning. The eldest at the Landings nest is started to self-feed a tiny bit.

The Landings Osprey Nest on Skidaway Island. aka Savannah Ospreys. Gorgeous feathers and starting to think about self feeding.

In the image of the Two Bobs at the Rutland Nest today, they are just leaving the reptilian phase and starting to get their gorgeous juvenile plumage. Look at them and look at the ones above at The Landing. In a couple of days the Rutland chicks will look like them! They change so quickly.

Maya is feeding the Two Bobs

It has been raining off and on in Ithaca, New York. Big Red’s Ks have wet feathers. It is a good way to see the changing plumage from K1, the eldest, to K3, the youngest.

In the image below, K3 is causing everyone to hold their breath as it looks down from the light tower ledge. Look at the beautiful dark feathers with their peach on the other two siblings. K3 is just getting its juvenile plumage on its wings. Both of the older siblings still have some down that will be covered soon.

The Ks are curious

Here they are standing up. Note the beautiful peach on the one on the left. If I could get the middle K to turn around you would see they have some peach, too. They look like they are wearing medieval costumes complete with pantaloons, vest, and morning coat. Quite dignified. Big Red is a very dark Red -tail Hawk with Arthur’s plumage being quite light in comparison. Big Red has a magnificent dark apron.

Don’t you just love their feathery costumes?

In terms of plumage that beautiful apron or low necklace of Big Red’s is a stunner. Also note her head, neck, and shoulders.

Here she is from the back. The Ks will not get their red tail til after their first year moult.

My friend in Maine spotted the bleeding from K1’s ear over a week ago and was worried. This is today and there is still some blood there. The ears are not protected until they get their feathers. Big Red works on them to clean them. One of the reasons for the greenery – especially the pine – which is a natural insecticide – is to keep away the insects that could lay eggs in the hawklets ears. In avian studies, they have observed no ill effects to the bird.

Here is a link to a very good and not so long article about parasites in birds including their ears:

Tiny Tot has been on and off the Achieva Credit Union Osprey nest in St Petersburg on and off today. He had a nice fish delivery early this morning and is probably hoping for another!

I want to memorize the way this juvenile looks but it will be little help to me if I try to track him down as an adult. Perhaps he will return and take over his natal nest in 4 years time! or maybe he will be a little precocious like the 2 year old juvenile male at Poole Harbour and we might see him scraping with Jack in a couple of years.

Here comes Tiny, the extraordinary, our Super Hero! He will do a perfect landing on the perch pole.

And there it is. Bingo. On the top. No fumbling around.

All those feathers have grown in for our incredible flyer.

And there he is ready to take on any intruders that might want to come to this nest and take his fish today.

There are, as we have all been noticing, other birds that intrude on the territory of others. Then there are people. There were people close to one of the osprey nests in Wales and more recently, the staff put up a camera at the Bucovina Golden Eagle nest in Bulgaria. Golden Eagles are very rare. The couple has one chick on the nest. The camera spooked the male and he left the nest for several days. This meant that the female wound up being a single mom like Spilve and Milda. She had to hunt, feed, brood, and protect the nest. Thankfully, the male returned to the nest yesterday, 1 June. It is a good lesson to everyone. The slightest disturbance can have catastrophic implications for the birds. Some are more sensitive than others to human presence.

You can see the chick below and this video shows the joyful return of the Dad to the nest after many days.

I will close with a beautiful image of the Dad Stork and the three storklets earlier today. The villagers in Mlade Buky Czechoslovakia are feeding then after the mother was electrocuted on power lines. Such generous caring people. Look at the crop on that one standing! They are doing very well, don’t you think?

Thank you so much for joining me today. Please stay safe and take care.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Mlady Buky, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Bucovina Bulgaria, Dyfi Osprey Project and Montgomeryshire Trust, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife Trust, LRWT, Achieva Osprey, NE Florida Eagle Cam and the AEF, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Loch of the Lowes, and Association Wild Bucovina.