Late Thursday and early Friday in Bird World

Congratulations to Richmond and Rosie on the safe hatch of their third osplet on 5 May.

Rosie was ever so excited to tell Richmond and to introduce him to the new baby.

The two at The Landings Osprey Nest on Skidaway Island near Savannah had nice large crops at 20:24 on 6 May. Oh, these two are growing. The oldest is on the right and the youngest on the left. Its colouring is very dark and quite lovely.

Big Red was trying to give the Ks a late night feed of rabbit but they appear to still be working out precisely what to do at chow time. It won’t be long til they are clamouring for those tasty morsels.

The little ones were definitely more awake and ready for breakfast! Look how strong they get in such a short period of time.

We haven’t checked in on the Great Horned Owls, Bonnie and Clyde, and their two owlets for awhile. It was a good day to go and watch. At 20:52 Lily fledged! It was amazing.

Both Lily and Tiger are on the nest as the sun begins to set.

Tiger flies away and Lily looks up at the branch where Clyde used to land when she was wee so that Bonnie could fly up and get the prey without being off the nest too long.

Lily flies to the branch.

She turns around and looks. Maybe she sees Tiger.

And off she goes – a blur between the two branches on the left.

Lily is an even fainter blur in the bottom left corner. Congratulations Lily Rose – you are now a fledgling!

Samson brought Legacy her breakfish at 10:02:24. Dad got out of the way pretty quickly. Legacy got her talons into his legs and talons during the last delivery. Ouch. That must have hurt!

Looks like Samson is playing the surrogate sibling eating the fish.

Legacy flies down from her branch and Samson tries to get out of the way quick. Legacy needs to learn how to take fish away from other eagles to survive.

Great mantling job, Legacy!!!!!!!!

Parent keeps a watchful eye guarding the nest as Legacy eats.

There is still no hatch at the Rutland Mantou Bay Osprey nest of Maya and Blue 33 (11). It is day 38 hour 16.

Iris incubated her egg overnight and is sitting on the perch post this morning. I wonder if Louis might bring her a fish? If not she is going to have to get her own and we know the Raven is just watching and waiting for Iris to leave. Remember, most mates will bring the female food. Louis has two nests. Gosh, I wish he would help Iris.

Eve is feeding the two little ones this morning – it is the evening meal in Estonia. It is interesting that she keeps the fish fresh by placing them under the straw of the nest. It reminds me of how humans used to keep ice from thawing.

In the image below you can see Eve uncovering the fish for the babies who are just waking up.

Oh, yum. This is such a pleasant nest to watch. One of my favourites. Dependable parents who don’t allow any nonsense from the kiddos. Everyone gets fed – just like at Big Red’s nest.

Tiny Tot has done well this morning. There was a fish delivery at 8:02:42. Tiny Tot got it.

Jack flies away while Tiny Tot mantles the fish.

Eventually sibling #2 takes it away. Diane watches as #2 eats the fish. She is very observant about what goes on the nest. It looked like she was going to take it away and then Tiny Tot grabbed it back and finished it off!

It was interesting watching Diane. She let sibling #2 eat enough fish for her and then stepped in to create a diversion so Tiny could also get a meal. Fabulous mom.

At 8:42:45 Tiny Tot takes the fish and self-feeds in the shade of mom.

At 11:44:13, Jack arrives on the nest with another fish. And look who is ready for another fish meal – Diane and Tiny!

Tiny Tot is very confident and doesn’t shy away when sibling #2 gets a whiff of fish on the nest and comes to share. How wonderful!

Thank you for joining me this morning. I will send out a reminder to you this evening because tomorrow is the day to count all of the birds in your neighbourhood. Join with hundreds of thousands of people around the world doing Citizen Science to help us understand about migration.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams. That is where I get my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, NEFlorida Eagle Cam and the AEF, The Eagle Club of Estonia, LRWT Rutland Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey Project, Farmer Derek, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, and the Golden Gate Audubon Osprey Cam.

We have lift off – Big Red laid her first egg

For the past month, Arthur and Big Red have been arriving early to restore their nest on the Fernow Light Tower on the grounds of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. By yesterday, that nest was looking rather amazing. The egg cup was nicely lined with strips of bark and there were even some berries and pine needles. The question remaining in everyone’s mind was: when will Big Red lay her first egg?

Big Red and Arthur are Red Tail Hawks. The scientific names is Buteo jamaicensis. You will find these hawks across North America. Those that breed and lay their eggs where I live – in Manitoba, Canada – only reside with us during the late spring, summer, and early fall. They will migrate to warmer climates for the winter just like the Ospreys in the United Kingdom. Big Red and Arthur do not migrate. They remain in Ithaca throughout the year. They have a territory that is normally rich in prey.

Big Red is 18 years old this spring. She was tagged at Brooktondale, New York in 2003. Arthur will be five years old this spring. Birders on the ground knew him as a nestling in 2016; a chick from an adjacent territory near to the cemetery in Ithaca. He is often called the nickname he was given then, ‘Wink’. His real name is, however, Arthur. Arthur and Big Red have been a bonded pair since the death of Big Red’s long time mate, Ezra, in 2017. Big Red chose Arthur to be her mate in the fall of 2017 before he even had his red tails! Many thought that she was making a huge mistake but Big Red has proven over and over again that she knew precisely what she was doing. So far the streaming cam on her nest has helped to re-write our understanding of Red-Tail Hawk behaviour. As we go through the season, I will point out all the things that Big Red is teaching us. For today, however, let it suffice to say that an eighteen year old Red Tail Hawk can still lay eggs!

The image below is from the nest tower cam over the track at Cornell.

The nest cup – where the eggs are laid – is lined with tree park and pine. You can see this in the image below. Pine is traditionally an insecticide to keep the flies away. You will see the couple bringing in a lot of pine branches til the eyases fledge. Eyas is the singular and eyases is the plural form of falcons or hawks in the nest.

It was 21 degrees and the wind was blowing at 31 kph or 19.26 mph. All eyes were on the Fernow Tower nest. Big Red arrived at 11:46 alone.

She was acting peculiar. And we all held our breath. Might this be the day?

It is unclear precisely when Big Red laid her first egg or how long her labour was but by 12:51 everyone watching knew there was an egg!

The wind was blowing so strong that many were reminded of when Big Red was blown off her nest during the 2020 season. And we all wished that the sun would come out and it would be calm. Big Red has been through so much.

Red tail hawks typically lay a clutch of 2-3 eggs. Last year, Big Red and Arthur fledged three healthy chicks, the Js. This year it will be the Ks. If all goes to schedule, Big Red will lay an egg every other day. She can lay three eggs in four days. Traditionally she does not begin hard incubation until all eggs are in the nest.

For many, watching this nest will be the joy of their days. If you would like to join thousands watching Big Red and Arthur, here is the link to the Cornell Streaming Cam:

Big Red has already been busy rolling that egg and tweaking the egg cup. We are waiting for Arthur to arrive so she can tell him the good news!

Thank you for joining me today. My passion for these beautiful hawks will be coming through from now until August. Updates on other nests later today.

Thank you, as always, to the Cornell Bird Lab for the streaming cameras (there are two) on the Fernow Tower.

7:46, June 12. J2 fledges.

It is the day that everyone has been waiting for – the first fledge off the Fernow light tower at the Cornell Campus in Ithaca, New York. The winner of the honour was J2.

J is the designation for the year, 2020. The camera began recording the activities at the nest in 2012. Knowing that Big Red had, at least, two earlier years raising successful chicks prior to the cameras, they began with the letter C in 2012. The ‘2’ is because this hawklet was the second to hatch but was, ironically, the first egg to be laid. Which if you are good at math and understand the counting indicates that this chick is actually the oldest.

J2 has beautiful blue eyes which will eventually turn darker and a wide white terminal band. Notice how the breast (or crop area) is covered with the typical peach colour for these hawks. At fledge it also had a line of ‘dandelions’ remaining on the top of its head, like a mohawk hair-cut.

J2 sitting in a pine tree across the street from the nest but within view of his mum, Big Red. Notice the little dandelions on his head. How cute! Their talons have tendons that enable them to sleep or sit standing up without fear of falling over.

J2 set a first in the recording of fledges from the Fernow Tower nest. He fledged off the back of a light box. It was, actually, more of a fludge. He/she spent some wonderful time sitting on top of the light box balancing nicely and then slipped but recovered beautifully flying under the tower, across the street, landing by its talons on Bradfield to steady itself in a nearby Ginko tree.

For nearly twelve hours, until the camera stopped rolling, J2 kept us on the edge of our chairs. I tell you it was better than a good thriller on Netflix!

He/she flew keeping the legs tucked tight like a pro. J2 spent some time on top of the Rice Building, flew back near Bradfield and played around on the steps and railings to the entrance, flew off again to another building, and finally wound up near to where it started, back in the tree. Throughout Big Red was watching from the southeast corner at the top of Bradfield while Arthur soared whenever J2 got out of sight so that the chick could be located. Nothing gets by these two parents. Parenting is a well orchestrated sharing of duties.

Big Red on the left (17 years old) and Arthur on the right (4 years old)

When I first began watching the hawks on the ledge at NY University, I naively asked the chat group what kind of dangers hawks experienced. The Washington Square group were very patient with me describing the use of rodentcides that cause blood not to coagulate as a prime poison for the hawks in the parks of NYC. This is because their primary prey are the rats of the city. And then there are cars, buses, trucks, windows, air vents between buildings -. The list was extensive.

This morning J2 flew over a street with little traffic but still the cars and buses were moving at a clip and well, who knew that he could steer itself to the safety of a tree away from the road? He/she could have also, just as easily, flown into a window. There is a box of worry beads in the chat room and I suspect most of us were helping ourselves today. The sad truth is that 1 in 3 red-tail fledglings do not live to see their first year. I hope, for these in rural New York, that is not the case.

So tomorrow will be another nail biter as we wait to see what J1 and J3 will do. Will they both fledge at the same time? on the same day but at different times? will either of them try to go over the light box like J2 or will they find some new entry way to this next stage in their life?

Stay tuned! I am now officially a hawkaholic.