An evening with Big Red, Arthur and the Ks

If you hear the name Ferris Akel, you might recognize the individual that gives a regular Saturday afternoon virtual birding tour of the area around Montezuma National Park, Wildlife Drive, Sapsucker Lake, and the Cornell Campus at Ithaca. Ferris also surprises us with ‘pop up’ tours of the Cornell Campus at other times so that he can see what is going on with Big Red and her family and share it with us. Tonight, we got a special tour and were able to see all four members of the Big Red family.

For those of you unaware, Big Red is a Red-tail Hawk. Red tail hawks are easily identified by their bright orange-red tail feathers once they are adults. The females are larger by approximately 30% than the males. This is called reverse sex size diamorphism. Red tail hawks have amazing eye sight. They will scan for food while they are soaring or are know to sit quietly on a perch for long periods of time watching for their prey. They will immediately fly to get it. Unlike the Peregrine Falcons who take their prey in the air, Red tail hawks normally fly down and get their prey on the ground. They do not normally eat carrion (dead animals) unless they are really starving. Their wing span is 1.2-1.5 metres for both males and females or 3.9 feet to 4.9 feet.

Big Red is a huge celebrity within the birding community. Big Red is now 18+ years old. She was banded near Ithaca, at Brooktondale, on 20 October 2003. Her current mate, Arthur, hatched in a territory next to the Cornell Campus in 2016. He has been Big Red’s mate since her mate, Ezra, died in March 2017. Arthur was first spotted visiting the nest in April of 2017. Big Red and Arthur were an ‘item’ by the fall. Their nest is on one of the light boxes across Tower Road from the Fernow Building. This year they hatched three chicks, the Ks. Two of the three fledged – this is the only time that Big Red did not have all of her chicks that hatched fledge. K2 sustained an injury to her right cheek and beak in the nest and had to be euthanized. She would never have been able to live in the wild nor would she have been able to have any quality of life in captivity. The two surviving chicks, K1 and K3, have already proven themselves to be excellent flyers and it looks like K1 has already had some successful hunts.

K3 on the nest. 21 June 2021. She was taken into care the following day.

Big Red was named after the territory she dominates, the Cornell Campus. She is also a large Red-tail Hawk with a lot of the beautiful rusty brown colour and bring orange-red tail feathers. In the image below she is beginning to become ‘Big Blond’ as she is moulting.

She is the matriarch. It is estimated that she has probably hatched chicks for fifteen years. Ezra was probably her first mate. If she hatched three chicks per year, that means that she has fledged 44. That is an incredible record! Sadly none of the chicks were banded so there is no knowledge of their whereabouts or status. A small number are known to have died after fledging. One was injured and is an ambassador bird for Cornell, E3.

Big Red is noted for her very dark plumage and that amazing red feathered apron.

Ferris first spotted one of the Ks on a light tower.

Big Red was spotted on the Water Cooling Plant.

You can see that her feathers look a little ruffled, untidy. This is the moulting.

Those piercing dark eyes just make you melt.

Can you spot the hawk? Seriously I believe that Ferris Akel has ‘hawk eyes’!

Oh, look it is Arthur! He is Big Red’s mate and is one of the most amazing hunters I have ever seen. He is also moulting!

This is K1 looking out. She is a really good flier and is also believed to have already made a couple of ‘prey kills’. Yesterday she had a little chipmunk and was doing a war cry when K3 came around hoping to get some of it. Normally if the bird is war crying they are the ones that caught the prey and will not share! Even if it is their cute little brother.

At first Ferris and the gang were not sure but once we saw the stripes on the tail, we knew it was K1. K3 has a muddy tail almost verging on red – a first for all of Big Red’s chicks.

K1 is gorgeous and very dark. These images are soft not because Ferris could not focus but because of the heat shimmer off the buildings.

And here is cutie pie, K3. All those little third hatches just soften my heart.

Oh, you wanted your sister to share her chippie and she told you to go and catch your own! Poor little thing.

And that was a wrap. Ferris persisted in finding all of the Ks and trying to get some good images of them despite the heat shimmer and the fact that it was getting dark.

Good night Big Red, good night Arthur, good night K1 and K3.

Big Red and Arthur are moving the Ks around the buildings on the Cornell Campus. They can now be found around the Water cooling buildings, Bartels, and across the ravine. It will not be long til they have them out by the buildings with the cows and the open fields. It is part of their training – enlarging their territory bit by bit. How do they do thus? Food is a great motivator and the adults will carry prey to different areas of the campus and the Ks will follow! It is that easy.

If you see the hawks coughing and shaking their heads and necks and something gets ‘thrown’ out of their mouth, this is called a ‘cast’. It is the bits and bobs of the prey that cannot be digested that is sort of compressed into a small pellet. The raptors cannot digest this and so they throw it up. This is properly called ‘casting a pellet’. This is with the exception of the owls that have a gizzard for digesting these parts of the prey.

It is now getting towards the last week of July. The Ks will be with us for a bit longer. I remember last year. Once J2 and J3 had been catching their own prey around the barns they began soaring. It was not long after that that J3 went poof and was gone with the winds to be followed by J2 the following day.

The last bit of news this morning is that Tiny Little and siblings were fed by White YW (dad) this morning. 462 was first followed by Tiny Little.

It is now around tea time, late afternoon, and Tiny Little has been like a ducking food crying in the nest for a bit.

Thanks so much for joining me. It was a great evening with Big Red and the Ks. They are progressing so well towards their own independence. Sadly, they do not get bands and we will not know where they go or what they do. Lucky for us Tiny Little is Blue 463! Take care all.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Ferris Akel’s Livestream and Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest.

Saturday Night with the Ks and other nest news

I want to thank Ferris Akel for his Saturday Bird Tours. Ferris begins near his home, travels to Montezuma, goes down Wildlife Drive, winds up at Sapsucker Lake and then hits the Cornell Campus. Ferris begins around noon NY time and is often still sharing the birds with everyone after 7pm. You can hop in and out of the tour at your will and you can even join the chat. It is free. If you subscribe and click on the bell you will get notifications when Ferris is streaming live. So, thank you, Ferris Akel. I would not have the screen shots of the Ks from Saturday evening without you!

Big Red on one of the light stands watching over K1 and K3 on the Fernow Light Tower

K1 and K3 are really different chicks from the Js last year. K1 and K3 like being around their natal nest. The Js were flying around the buildings over between Bradfield and Rice and playing on the lawns. Yesterday, K1 amused himself watching the soccer match below their light stand nest on the athletic field.

K3 loves watching the people moving on the sports field.

We know this is K3, how? From the back K3 has a really muddy tail with no clear defined dark lines and a thin, rather ratty white terminal band. K1, on the other hand, has a wide white terminal band and distinct dark lines on her tail feathers.

K3 amused himself for a very long time watching the people below him.

Meanwhile, K1 was on the railing above K3 watching the people and the soccer match. She did not appear as mesmerized as K1 was. Wonder what K1 is thinking? would he like to play with the ball? Certainly the Js had their own kind of soccer game last year with the pinecones lying around the fence.

All of a sudden, K1 sees something and she flies off the light stand, across Tower Road, over the Rice Building and beyond – and then returns to the nest! Wonder what she saw that attracted her attention? She didn’t stop anywhere, just took a great flight.

K1 is a very large hawklet and she is a very strong flyer. She is able to establish her target and return to the thin railing on the nest without any effort at all. She is very different than J1 last year who appeared hesitant to fly.

K3 pays K1 no mind. He is still watching the soccer match! Isn’t he just such a sweet little cutie pie? Last year J3 won my heart. This year K3 has stolen it completely!

After spending a little bit of time on the nest, K1 decides to fly to the Oak Trees near the driveway between the Fernow and Rice Buildings. Ferris was able to find her rather easily because of the Robins alerting in the area.

While K1 is over in the Oak trees, Big Red lands on the nest. Big Red has found the chippie that the Ks left. She starts eating it trying to lure both of the Ks to the nest. K1 can see her from the trees.

I find this interesting. In past years, Big Red has almost insisted that the chicks, once they have fledged, eat ‘off’ the nest. But this year, she seems to be completely content having them self-feed or she feeds them right in the nest cup.

K3 held back and let mama eat for awhile before moving up so she would feed him some of the chippie.

Meanwhile, Arthur is over on another light stand protecting the territory, Big Red, and the Ks from intruders. This has been a terrible year for intruders and tragedies at other nests. I hope none of that comes to the Cornell campus.

After feeding K3, Big Red returns to her favourite light tower so that Arthur can eat. She is on sentry duty now.

As the evening comes to a close, both of the Ks are on the nest tower for the night. What a lovely unremarkable day – thank goodness. Bird World can do without any drama for a day!

The little chick on the Cowlitz PUD nest had a fish this morning. Thank goodness. It must have arrived around 8:45 nest time (there is no clock that I can find on their streaming cam). It will be 40 degrees C in the area and no doubt hotter on the nest. This little one needs all the hydration it can get – so does Electra. It was a nice sized fish but they are going to need many more today. Most of you know that it is difficult to fish when it is so hot. The fish go to the bottom where it is cooler. Fingers crossed for Wattsworth and Electra – who should also be out fishing today.

The image below reminds me so much of Tiny Tot when his siblings were so large and he was running around the nest trying to find food to eat. No doubt this chick is way behind in its development. It needs to grow and develop quickly before migration!

It was so nice to see Lady Hawk on the chat of the Golden Eagles in Bucovina this morning. She has done an amazing series of videos on this little fellow. And this eaglet now has a name – it is Zenit! In the late afternoon the Dad brought in a small bird for Zenit. So happy that the dad is feeling much more comfortable coming to the nest with prey. The mother had been but had no prey.

Over on the Foulshaw Moss Nest in Cumbria, you can see that great Big has a ‘great big’ crop! Blue 35 is busy feeding Tiny Little Bob and hopefully he will have a huge crop, too! Always wonderful when Tiny Little gets a good meal.

Thank you for joining me today to check in on the Ks. Everything is fine. Stay safe, take care. For those of you in the high heat warning areas, drink lots of fluids and try to stay cool. When I was a little girl, we did not have air conditioning. Instead, my mother would spray my sheets with water and turn the fan on. Oh, it is gloriously cool! Try it.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest, Bucovina Golden Eagle Cam, Cowlitz PUD, and Ferris Akel YouTube Live Stream.

A Fun Day with the Ks

As Ferris Akel said this evening – some people think that once Big Red’s kids fledge that is it but, of course, it isn’t. The fun just begins once they fledge. Today, we were treated to K1 and K3 figuring their way out of predicaments and then watching Big Red try to lure them back to the nest with prey. We got a look inside a world that at one time, we might not have even noticed.

K1 left the nest at 13:38 and flew to the Oak trees across Tower Road. Half an hour later, K3 fledged. He wanted to be with his big sister not alone on the nest for another day while she was out having fun.

K3’s fledge had many of us holding our breath. K3 flew towards the Oak tree in front of the Fernow Building where K1 was but, he made a turn, almost hit Bradfield but, instead, clung to the building and fell down. Until K3 was spotted by boots on the ground – and believe me it felt like it took forever to get someone there – we had no idea if the last hatch of Big Red’s 2021 season was dead or alive. Thankfully K3 was fine – probably a little more tired and anxious but no physical injuries. How lucky!

K1 spent much time in the Oak Tree and then decided to do a little tour of the area. Maybe that wasn’t such a smart idea. She wound up hanging on to a thin window ledge on Bradfield – as if she were a moth.

We know it is K1 because of the wide white terminal band and the distinctive six dark bands on her tail. K3 has a ‘muddy’ tail.

She looks rather elegant holding on to the ledge with her talons but it must have been physically tiring. She managed to pull herself up eventually but the ledge was not wide and she was scrambling.

Still, she was able to manoeuvre so that she could fly back to her favourite tree – the Oak tree that she fledged to – her security blanket tree.

Meanwhile, Big Red is over on the light stand taking it all in. She has a perfect line of sight to both K1 and K3. They probably had no idea their mother was ‘watching them like a hawk’.

K3 is somewhere in the Oak Tree. Earlier he had landed on one of the Bradfield ledges and all he wanted to do was get to his big sister, K1 in the Oak Tree. And he did, eventually, get to the tree but she was high above him and his laddering abilities found him going down, even falling down, instead of going up.

Gosh that little K3 is soooooo cute.

K3 wound up on top of the sculpture in front of the Fernow Building.

He flew back into the Oak tree trying to get to his big sister – again!

Big Red decides that it is time to try and lure these kids back to the nest on the Fernow light tower for the night. She has prey and everyone knows that food is a great motivator.

First, Big Red took the prey to the nest. She is hoping that one or both of the Ks will fly over to the nest for a nice meal with mama.

When that didn’t work, Big Red decides to take the prey over near the Ks. Seriously, how could they resist a nice fresh chippie snack?

There she goes. No one ever has to worry that Big Red’s kids will go hungry. They won’t!

Big Red lands on a corner of Bradfield.

Indeed, Big Red flies to various spots around the Fernow lawn trying to entice the two hawklets to come out and eat. She even flies back to the nest to see if they will follow her. Then she returns to the buildings around the treed area of Fernow.

She flew to the top of the Rice Building. Rice is a popular prey drop for Big Red and Arthur and all of this little exercise tonight is a teaching. Big Red is showing them places that will become food drops.

Still no takers. Is it possible these Ks are not hungry?! She flies around some more with the prey in her talons.

Before she gives up, Big Red decides to take the chippie to the tree close to K1. Surely K1 will come for dinner!

Big Red waited. And she waited. In the image above you can see the chippie in Big Red’s talons.

But, after awhile, when it appeared that no one was going to come down and take the chippie, Big Red decides to eat it. Another good lesson – eat the chippie when you have it, don’t wait. Someone else might eat it!

While all of this was going on, Arthur was protecting the territory from one of the light stands while being harassed by a Robin.

As the full moon comes up and lights the night sky, K1 tries to get to the light stand with the nest. She winds up on the wrong one.

K3 remains in the Oak tree where he will have to perch for the night.

Big Red returns to Bradfield where she has a clear sight line to both of her children.

Arthur later flies to Bradfield.

It is a beautiful night. There is a full moon and everyone is settled where they are – like it or not – for the night. One can only imagine that little K3 would love to be in the nest cup sleeping comfortably instead of standing in a tree with all kinds of noises he is not used to. That little one has had a lot to take in today since it fledged!

Good Night Big Red, Good Night Arthur, Good Night K1 and K3. Sweet Hawk Dreams.

Thank you so much for joining me. It is such a joy to watch this family.

Thank you Ferris Akel for your live streaming of the Red tail hawks this evening on the Cornell Campus. That is where I grabbed my screen shots.

Tense Day in Bird World

It has been one of those days. Two things happened that were expected. One was a good expectation that almost turned into a tragedy – and sadly, the other one was the siblicide of one of the chicks on the Cowlitz Osprey Nest in Longview, Washington.

K3 fledged from the Fernow Light Tower at 13:42. K3 is 49 days old and is a tiny little hawklet standing at just a little less than 30 cm (12 inches) tall. The flight was dramatic. K1 had been visiting the nest. Indeed, the K1 had spent the night on the nest with her little brother, K3. They were sooooo cute.

K1 is a great big hawklet – a big female and a cute tiny little male. K1 flew over to the Oak Tree where she had fledged yesterday at 13:38. I don’t think K3 wanted to be left out of the action that his big sis had described. If you missed it, here is that fledge:

K3 flew around the Oak tree where K1 was, did a turn, and tried to grab onto Bradfield and missed. But he was not injured and has spent the afternoon exploring the ledges and being dive bombed by Robins.

Here is an image of K3 after fledging taken from the nest cam:

K3 has even had a rest. Meanwhile K1 flew back to the nest where a chippie was dropped off for a tea time snack.

After all the stress I thought that I should just follow it up with a check on Tiny Little Bob on the Foulshaw Moss Nest. There are three chicks on that nest and Great Big Bob is a bully. It was not certain that Tiny Little Bob would survive but it seems like he will. Fingers continue to be crossed. The older and bigger that Tiny Little gets the more chance he has.

When I turned on the nest cam the chicks were looking around and you just knew something was happening. They were looking around everywhere. Mom landed on the nest followed by White YW, Dad, with a Flounder!

Here is that video clip of the arrival of that fish:

Tiny Little was not comfortable eating first as you can see and then Tiny Little Bob realized that Great Big Bob wasn’t pushing for food so Tiny Little went for it. He ate for about 4 or 5 minutes without stopping. You could tell he kept wanting Blue 35 to hurry up before Great Big got hungry!

Great Big and Middle let Tiny Little go first.

Seeing Tiny Little eat made me feel really good but, of course, I am still uneasy about the size difference between Great Big and Tiny Little. I needed one of those feel good moments and that sent me checking on Richmond and Rosie. Richmond and Rosie are the equivalent of going over to check on the Royal Cam chick in New Zealand. You just know before you look that everything will be alright.

Richmond and Rosie had three boys this year. Gosh, there are a lot of male ospreys being born! I also wanted to see what names were selected for the trio. There they are on the natal nest on the historic Whirley Crane on the Richmond Shipping Yards. The third chick is on the other side of Rosie.

The Golden Gate Osprey FB – the SF Bay Ospreys – posted the image below with pictures of the boys, their ring numbers, and their names. Over 700 people voted. That is pretty amazing. Now look at the beautiful necklaces on those boys! Don’t let anyone tell you that only female ospreys have necklaces. 022 on the Poole Harbour nest has one of the best necklaces I have ever seen! And look here at Sage.

Richmond and Rosie always make me feel good. They are a stable couple with a male who provides well for his mate and children. There is never the issues of sibling rivalry and siblicide as we have seen on the Cowlitz Nest. It is refreshing and calming.

Jack brought Tiny Tot a fish at tea time so everything is all right with the world on the Achieva Osprey Nest. Oh, Tiny has grown into such a beautiful bird and a great protector of the realm. Who ever would have believed this in March? A whole lot of love went out to this third hatch – so many people wanted 3 to survive and well…just look!

There is Tiny mantling really big and tight! S/he wants that fish. Thanks, Jack!

Thanks for joining me today. Looks like it could be a stormy evening on the Canadian prairies. Take care everyone. Be safe!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my video clips and screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, SF Bay Ospreys and Golden Gate Audubon, and the Cornell Bird Lab and RTH.

K1 fledges and K2 is rescued

This morning on the Red tail hawk nest on the Fernow Light Box in Ithaca, New York, the first hatch of 2021, K1, fledged. It was one of the best leaps of faith I have seen in a long time. That happened at 8:27:31.

No sooner than K1 had fledged than the team from the Cornell Bird Lab went up in a bucket truck to rescue K2. Indeed, the fledging of K1 was perfect as the staff had decided that K2’s health was not improving and they needed to take her into care.

Here is the official video of that rescue:

Watch the reaction of K3 at the end! This went so smoothly. No falthy fledge from K3. Thank you everyone!

K3 just teased everyone. We are told that Big Red and Arthur’s kids fledge before noon or after 4pm. They like their afternoon siesta and K3 was no exception. He taunted the camera operator into thinking he was going to go and then would lay down and have a rest!

There was a lot of scratching about on the ledge above and K3 was listening and watching everything.

Despite settling down rather comfortably in that egg cup – seriously K3 rubbed its breast just like Big Red does when she is incubating or brooding – K3 knew someone was about.

Guess who it was? K1. K1 flew back to the nest to join K3. Fabulous effort.

They had diamonds sparkling all around them. You can just imagine K1 telling K3 how much fun it is to fly and showing him the landing spot he is going to take in the morning.

One of the most fun things that the fledglings do is play soccer with the pinecones. It really helps them with strengthening their grip – who said you had to go to a gym!!! Talon strengthening for prey. Amazing.

Hopefully tomorrow K1 and K3 will be out having fun over on the Fernow Lawn across the street and flying to the top of Rice to get prey drops from Big Red and Arthur.

Thank you for popping in. I knew you would enjoy seeing K2 getting rescued. The poor little thing. She was just too sick to put up any fight. Let us all send warm wishes for a quick recovery.

Thank you to the Cornell Bird Lab for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots.

Big Red, Arthur, and the Ks

It’s Monday. What in the world can happen in Bird World on a Monday? So I was thinking yesterday as I was watching Big Red and the Ks that an update on their progress would be good today. However, I woke up to a request in my neighborhood newsletter for support in stopping our public utility company, Manitoba Hydro, from clear cutting 12-15 ft around their poles at a local park. The reason was clear: there is an active hawk nest in the trees with little ones on their way to fledging. So everyone got busy in the ‘bird’ community in my city and for now, the clear-cutting is on pause. It is the Sandra Crowson Park in East Fort Garry. If you read this and you live in Winnipeg – or elsewhere – send Manitoba Hydro and the Mayor’s Office a note! According to one of the long standing birders in our community, this was also done in Windsor Park in our City. Another woman noted that local arborists are known to cut down trees and put the nests, eggs, and birds into the chipper. I have not seen that but if it happens it is all against the 1918 Migratory Bird Act that is signed by Canada, the US, and Mexico. If you know of such actions, let me know. They can do their trimming after the birds leave – there is still time. Note that I use the word ‘trimming’. Clear cutting that much of an area around hydro poles would mean destroying unnecessarily trees – when our City is promoting the planting of 1 million trees this summer. I wonder if they take off the ones they cut from the ones planted. I doubt it. ——— So for now the hawks and their nest are safe.

So what is going on with Big Red and the Ks? And what do the Ks do when mom is not on the nest. Big Red spends an inordinate amount of time incubating eggs and then staying on the nest when the chicks are smaller. Now that they are being encouraged to self-feed and as we approach fledge she is spending less time on the nest during the day. Here she is taking a break today on the light tower. She is never far away from the nest and, indeed, with their ‘hawk’ vision, the Ks can often see her from the nest.

Let’s have a look.

Sometimes the Ks are little mother hawks and they preen one another just like Big Red preens them. Did you know that birds spend approximately 70% of their time conditioning their feathers? Why do birds preen? Well, the little one poking around the head and ear of its sibling is looking for dirt and parasites. You see they cannot readily see their own head to do this. They also preen to align their feathers, they repair feathers by rehooking the barb hooks on the feathers and applying oil to condition and waterproof their feathers.

In birds, the uropygial gland (preen gland) is located at the base of the tail. The oil from the uropygial or preen gland reinforces or conditions the surface of their feathers. The oils change composition during the year – just like the oil you put in your car is different from summer to winter. The oil that the hawks spread on their feathers when they are preening contains vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Redtail hawk adults do an incomplete moult annually. They do not do this all at once. It would be too much stress on their system. In fact, Big Red turns into a blond during the moulting period.

They practice their self feeding but it is still so nice to have Mom break up the prey and feed the little ones.

The Ks are entering their running, jumping, and flapping period. Look at those gorgeous legs. This is one beautiful bird with all that peach and red. I hope she is a glorious dark red like Big Red.

Sometimes Big Red and Arthur get up on the higher rails and the little ones can see them. Now look at the little baby standing up, K3. Talk about peach on the chest and a gorgeous red feathered apron. This one might look like Big Red for sure! We still need some feathers to cover up those ears and this one will also be getting some head feathers. The ear feathers generally come in first.

When these three fledge in a few weeks time, their wing and tail feathers will be the longest they will ever be – longer than Big Red and Arthur. When they first moult, they will return to normal size. The longer length helps them to fly easier. The juveniles will have their first moult in the spring of 2022 and continue moulting to the early fall replacing P1-7.

This diagram will show you those primary wing feather locations:

Besides working on their feathers, they also spend a lot of time looking around at their environment. I wonder what they think of all the PS they have splattered on those boxes? Or are they just admiring their art work?

Sometimes they will spot Big Red if she flies to the top of the light box where the nest is located.

They also spend a lot of time watching people and cars on the Cornell University Campus. Remember – they are on a nest about 20 metres off the ground. They have a really good view.

Sometimes they see their mom arriving. They must think she is so beautiful. But no food this time Ks. Mom is returning from having some time alone. Dad will be out hunting.

Oh, mom. Don’t jump on me, jump on K1 please!

K1 hatched on the 2nd of May. 46 days is average for Big Red’s eyases but some wait till 48 and last year it was longer. So…for K1 today is 36 days. That means 10-14 days to fledge. These little ones need to grow more feathers in their wings and tails and we will see some changes in Big Red’s behaviour as fledging approaches. One good sign is when she no longer spends the night in the nest with the Ks.

Thank you so much for joining me today. If you hear of tree clear cutting near you and bird nests, please get in touch with everyone you can think of who is responsible. All birds but house sparrows, pigeons, and Starlings are protected under the 1918 North American Migratory Bird Treaty. Take care!

Thank you to the Cornell Bird Lab and their streaming cam on the Cornell campus at Ithaca. That is where I grabbed my screenshots.

As the Nest Turns – late Thursday and early Friday edition

The Cowlitz PUD Osprey nest can be really frustrating. Or maybe it is just Wattsworth that causes my blood pressure to go up. He brought in a couple of appetizers on Thursday, 3 June. Electra promptly fed the babies who were sitting up straight and polite wanting their lunch. The fish is between Electra’s feet – it really is small.

So Electra took it upon herself to leave the two wee ones on the nest and off she went to fill the pantry – and she did! Electra had a really good feed on that fish. She was hungry and she fed the little ones, too.

As the sun sets, everyone has had several fish meals. Electra corrals the two little ones under her so she can keep them warm over night.

And, guess what? Wattsworth comes in Friday morning with another tiny tiny fish for Electra and the kids.

And speaking of fish, Jack must be really happy to have Tiny Tot defending the natal nest. Jack flew in at 5:30:17 with a nice fish for Tiny Tot.

3 June 2021. Jack delivers a much earned fish to Tiny Tot.

Tiny Tot immediately grabbed that fish out of dad’s talons and began mantling it. While it didn’t look like there were any intruders or older siblings about who would challenge Tiny Tot for his evening meal, Tiny wasn’t taking any chances.

It was a nice size fish and Tiny ate for quite awhile.

There is a real preciousness in these moments looking at Tiny Tot – so beautiful a juvenile – perched. The golden glow of the setting sun shows off the beautiful plumage.

As the sun went down, Tiny Tot was up on the perch protecting the nest. Sleep tight, Tiny. Have fish dreams!

And early Friday morning, Tiny Tot is defending the nest again against the adult intruder! Poor Tiny.

There was a nice chippie on the nest of Big Red and Arthur. Big Red kept fiddling with it hoping that the Ks would come round to wanting their last meal of the evening. It was 19:00.

They had eaten earlier and had nice crops. Just look how full those Ks are! Those peachy chests make them look like they have swallowed beach balls. Big Red has the chippie ready for a feeding thinking they might want some more but, no. None of them are lining up to be fed with their beaks open. I wonder if Big Red would like a late chippy snack?

“Would you like some of this nice chippie, sweetie?”

Big Red did not have any takers. That had eaten a lot of rabbit earlier and it looks like they just want to sleep. It will be a chipmunk breakfast unless Big Red decides to have a meal after the Ks are asleep – and she probably won’t. She is hardwired to feed those babies of hers.

It’s Friday on the Cornell nest. Big Red is sunning herself on the light stand and it looks like K1 is self-feeding. Wow. Leaving some open prey on the nest has finally enticed this one to dig in there. Good for you, Big Red. We are now moving into two to two and a half weeks til fledge.

Laddie brought in one of those teaser fish – smaller than a Wattsworth Appetizer – to NC0.

She did the best she could with the little fish she had. NC0 your babies are growing and doing great. You’ve grown into being a very good mom. Look at the head of the one grabbing that piece of fish. All of the down on its head is gone. It looks like it got black oil on its head. Reptilian phase is coming!

Your word for the day: nictitating membrane. The word comes from the Latin word nictare meaning to blink. It is a translucent third eyelid. It comes up from the bottom to the top and has been described as acting like a windshield wiper. It cleans the eye and helps produce tears. You can see NC0’s nicitating membrane in the image below.

It looks like it is going to be a nice day in Scotland for NC0, Laddie, and the Bobs. The sun is just coming up. Laddie must be out fishing.

Blue NC0 is having a rest with the Bobs.

It’s Friday tea time on the Loch of the Lowes Nest and all is well. Laddie has just brought in a brown trout and NC0 is already feeding the Bobs.

Blue 33 (11) was right off the mark. He hauled in one of his whoppers first thing for Maya and the Two Bobs. This along with the big piece of fish left from the evening prior should be a great start to the day for this family whose nest is at Rutland Manton Bay.

Look at all those feathers

Idris was also up early and had a nice fish for Telyn and their two Bobs. At one point it was hard to tell what was happening but it looked like Idris was feeding Telyn. I am told he does this. What a sweetheart!

Idris comes in with a fish for Telyn.

For sure he did feed the two Bobs some fish.

Idris is feeding the Bobs.

And as the sun is rising over the Urdaibai Biosphere just 38 minutes outside of Bilbao, Spain, our little albino Osprey is waking up. Zuri is still alive. This is such a rare event – the first known for certain instance in the wild – that everyone will be learning something from this little one. There are rumours going around that the wee one is blind and cannot hear. But, we wait. Clearly its eyes are very sensitive to the light and, yes, if he lives to fledge it will have heavy challenges to overcome because of its plumage. Still, a miracle would not hurt us and this would be a cute one.

The rain has really been pitching down in Spain. Around 13:00 on Friday, a fish came into the nest for Landra. That wee albino one was up there with the other two osplets wanting some fish! In the first image it is facing the opposite way but it moves to get in line with the other two siblings thirty seconds later. Again, a miracle in Spain might be what we all need as some pandemic lockdowns are eased and others as Portugal begins another lockdown. Go little Zuri – eat, grow, teach us.

On Friday there is some thinking that the three have an eye infection. I will keep you posted. That is not clear from the image below taken today. Some of you might recall the eaglets in the Southwest Florida nest, E17 and E18 having conjunctivitis. Fingers crossed. Send warm wishes.

Oops. Turn around! Wait…who is doing the feeding?
It rained so hard for so long. The little ones are really hungry.

We still have heat warnings on the Canadian Prairies – the sky is blue and the sun is bright. The leaves are getting even more thick and now all the birds that come to my garden are hidden by the vines that grow everywhere or the thick lilic bushes. One thing I will really miss is that lovely lilac scent that enveloped us earlier in the week. The heat has really killed the flowers. Still, it was grand to have them when we did!

Thank you for joining me. Stay safe, stay cool! See you soon. I will be checking on the little one in Urdaibai and Tiny Tot throughout the day.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Cowlitz PUD, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Achieva Credit Union, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Loch of the Lowes. LRWT and Rutland Ospreys, and the Dyfi Osprey Project.

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.

Tiny Tot scraps again – and other nest news, late Tuesday edition

So far Tiny Tot, the youngest juvenile on the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida, has not had any fish but he has battled an adult intruder and later this afternoon, there was another juvenile on the nest. Tiny Tot did not like that. It definitely wasn’t sibling #2 but it could have been sibling #1 – now that would be a surprise with her gone for so long after fledging. If it was sibling #1 she might have been shocked by her little brother. Tiny didn’t cower in the corner like she might remember – nope. He went full frontal attack mode. Being really hungry helps and it is 31 degrees in St Petersburg and it is hard to fight if you are thirsty and hungry.

At 5:00:18 the other juvenile lands on the nest.

Tiny appears not recognize the bird that landed. Tiny goes into attack mode.

Then, Jack flies in with a fish at 5:47:51 which should have been for Tiny Tot since sibling #2 took the previous fish. That seems to be Tiny’s thinking, too.

The other bird holds its head down in submission.

Jack flies in and delivers a fish at 5:47:51.

The minute Jack lands on the nest there is a scramble for that fish. The stranger juvenile (or sibling #1) gets its talons in it first. Tiny Tot is hungry and he has been battling an adult intruder all morning, he wants that fish.

Tiny opens his wings and covers up the other bird that has the fish and they begin this kind of 360 dance around the nest.

Tiny forces the other bird lower onto the nest. Tiny looks like he is biting the other bird but he actually has his beak in the fish. They will do a series of tug of wars.

Then Tiny pins the other bird down. He goes for its head!

Tiny Tot is doing everything he can to get that fish. He is surely not afraid and if this is sibling #1, I don’t think she ever would have thought Tiny Tot would come after her with this level of aggression. Remember. Tiny Tot is hot, tired, fed up, and most of all hungry!

Tiny is standing over the other bird trying to get the fish. The stranger juvenile is flat down on the nest covering that food.

More tugging at the fish.

Tiny Tot must have learned a lot with that adult Osprey fighting him. Here Tiny Tot is climbing onto the back of the other bird who remains flat down on the nest. You might recall that the adult intruder did that to Tiny the first time they had a confrontation. Today, Tiny Tot sent that adult packing. He has confidence and that confidence is growing.

He continues grabbing at the bird and/or the fish.

Tiny lets up and the other bird moves to the rim of the nest.

Tiny Tot is on its back!

After two minutes of fighting – yes, that is all this was – Tiny Tot is tired. He grabs at the other bird and it flies off the nest.

The other bird has the fish and flies around to land on the perch to eat it. Gosh, I wonder if this is sibling #1. Despite Tiny Tot not getting the fish, he has demonstrated that he can defend himself. He is growing more confident every day – something that will help him trying to survive off the nest.

If it was sibling #1 that is good – it means that it has survived and that would be simply grand.

I am still hoping Tiny Tot will get a fish as a reward for all his effort today! And if he doesn’t, I sure wouldn’t want to be another bird on that nest tomorrow when Jack delivers the morning fish drop.

Big Red and Arthur’s Ks are growing. K1 is getting interested in pecking at the prey that is now being left on the nest. Of course, that is the purpose. Get the Ks to start self feeding!

Aren’t they cute? Even K3 is getting its feathers but those ears are still not covered!

Laddie made several deliveries today. In fact, every time I stopped to check in on the Loch of the Lowes nest the Bobs were almost always eating. Here they are under NC0 waiting for a delivery.

Laddies brings in some perch and some trout today. I doubt if the Bobs care – they just want to eat. Big Bob is on the left – see the peach. Little Bob is on the right. They are both growing fast with all this eating.

After that feeding, Little Bob had a nice big crop. He’s looking up to say hi to everyone and show them.

Laddie has perfect timing. He arrives with a fish for NC0 right at dusk so she can have full babies sleeping soundly all night. Fantastic.

And every day they get better at eating and her at feeding.

Everyone’s tummies are full – the Two Bobs and NC0. Sleep well everyone!

Idris brings in a huge flounder to the Dyfi Nest in Wales. Telyn is delighted! Idris is one of those great fishers but he also likes to feed his Bobs, too. Great guy!

I wonder if the Two Bobs are going to wake up for their fish?

Ah, Little Bob did. Feed me, Dad!

Telyn decides that she is going to take charge of this feeding. Little Bob moves away from asking Idris over to Mom!

Later on, Idris catches a whale of a Flounder. He is eating his portion on the perch. Telyn is fish calling. I think she likes flounder! Idris promptly acknowledges and heads to the nest with the fish.

Here he comes flounder in tow.

Idris loves any chance to check on his babies. He is quite the dad.

Ah, they are both awake and up there. The oldest is starting to get that pink sheen on its head and neck meaning feathers are coming in. Little Bob still has his soft grey down.

Tummies are all full and there is lots of flounder left for tomorrow. Telyn looks down lovingly at her babies as they fall asleep.

Dylan was busy delivering fish, too, to Seren and the Little Bob. Right at dusk, just like he should, he shows up with a nice perch for the last meal of the day. That little one on the Clywedog Nest is going to be pampered and spoiled. It looks like the other two eggs are duds – and that is just fine. Best one healthy chick.

Dylan stays awhile so he can see his little chick.

That little one is growing fast. Look at it standing up so straight reading for some of that lovely Perch. Good Night Llyn Clywedog!

Other nest news: Wek-Wek fledged so all three of Annie and Grinnell’s chicks have fledged now. Fauci came in to be fed by Annie today, too. Nice. At the Cowlitz Nest of Electra and Wadsworth, it seems that Wadsworth delivered at least two fish. Maybe I will start watching that nest after all! This would surely be a nice turn around. Everything on all the other nests seems to be just fine. The two on the Savannah Osprey Nest at The Landings on Skidaway Island are beautiful and growing like crazy. The Pittsburg Hayes eaglets are jumping up and down and really wanting to take off. And, I haven’t mentioned them lately but the three eaglets at The Trio Love Nest of Starr, Valor I and II are now leaping high in the air. How lovely.

Thanks for joining me. Stay cool. Stay safe.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Loch of the Lowes, Dyfi Osprey Project, Clywedog and Carnyx Wild, and the Cornell Lab RTH.

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.