The continuing sadness at the Dale Hollow Nest

19 March 2022

I wanted to use the word ‘madness’ in the title instead of ‘sadness’ but I do not want to be one of the sensationalizing tabloid type newspapers.

WARNING: This is not graphic in terms of the images except for two. The text information helps to understand this nest on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee better.

It is most helpful to have the data of hatch times and feeding times so that you can get a clear picture of what has happened at a nest – the good and the bad. I now have all of the fish deliveries for the Dale Hollow Nest and the precise times of the three hatches. This is extremely informative when compared with other Bald Eagle nests.

I also want to say that if you look at some of the other nest chat’s you will notice that they list the poop shot times. This is really important. I did not observe either DH15 or DH16 having any PS for a number of days. These were not continually recorded. The internal organs of the chicks, as they suffer dehydration and starvation, begin to shut down.

This nest started out somewhat promising. My observation is that the female has done an inordinate amount of hunting and fishing for prey when she would normally be on the nest brooding the chicks especially at these early days. The nest had both rain and snow.


  • DH14 (Big) – 25 February 2022 at 11:16
  • DH15 (Middle) – 25 February 2022 at 11:51
  • DH16 (Little Bit) – 28 February 2022 at 13:21

Prey Deliveries:

  • 26 February – R fish head at 07:51; O squirrel at 08:12; O catfish head at 09:54; and O catfish head at 13:59
  • 27 February – There was no prey delivery
  • 28 February – There was no prey delivery
  • 1 March – There was no prey delivery
  • 2 March – R fish at 05:52:57. All nestlings have a crop drop. DH14 has a ps.
  • 3 March – O fish at 16:35
  • 4 March – R fish at 08:52:08
  • 5 March – O fish with a minnow in mouth at 16:42:08
  • 6 March – O fish at 05:55; R fish at 09:20:30
  • 7 March – O fish at 12:23; O fish at 15:19:42
  • 8 March – There was no prey delivery
  • 9 March – R crow at 06:55; R fish at 15:33:12
  • 10 March – R fish at 09:13:30; O fish at 11:33:41; R fish at 14:42:13
  • 11 March – ? fish at 10:52; O fish at 16:49:35
  • 12 March – O fish at 12:43:27; R fish at 13:01:27. Snowed overnight. All chicks lined up and eating.
  • 13 March – O fish at 11:47:14; R squirrel at 15:31:48; O fish at 16:56:20
  • 14 March- There was no prey delivery
  • 15 March – R fish at 09:14:51; R fish at 12:51:32. Minnow in mouth of 12:51 fish fed to DH14
  • 17 March – R fish at 14:29:13; O fish at 18:16. DH14 is the only chick to eat save for a few bites to DH15
  • 18 March – R fish at 07:07:04; O fish at 12:09:33. DH 14 is the only chick to eat. DH16 endures two days (17 and 18 March) of brutal attacks from DH14. At 15:30 DH14 begins a reign of terror on both DH15 and DH16. Beaking and intimidating both. This lasts until 19:20. DH16 dies of injuries and starvation around 19:11. DH14 had a huge PS.
  • 19 March – O fish at 07:04:56; R fish at 07:24:17. DH14 is the only chick to eat despite there being part of the first fish and most of the second fish on the nest. DH15 attempts to get some fish by trying to self feed. DH14 continues its reign of terror. DH15 at one point appears to want to jump off nest.

The last feeding on the 16 March where DH15 and DH16 get bites.

On the 19th of March, today, two fish. DH14 ate all but the tail of the first and will not allow DH15 to eat.

A second large fish comes on the nest and DH14 again eats and proceeds at all times to stop DH15 from eating.

DH15 trying to self feed. This chick is starving. It kept beaking the mothers beak last night begging to be fed.

Adult returns and DH14 eats again. Middle gets no food. Again it will try to self feed.

Efforts to keep DH15 away from the food have involved intimidation and physical attack.

Adult goes out of way to feed DH14 more fish.

There is food on the nest but DH15 has not eaten except for a few bites late on the 18th of March.

In an article, also posted at DHEC, the Canadian biologist and eagle expert, Dale Hancock, says, “Sibling rivalry is where the bully takes all or most of the food until that bully is full, and only then does it sit back and let the next chick get fed.” He continues, “If lots of food is available then all three chicks will get fed and survive – but not always will all chicks survive. This is nature’s successful plan but not a plan that is easy to observe.”

I have not used the word bully for DH14. These chicks are/were trying to survive in very dire circumstances that began to unravel at the beginning of hatch. Whether or not the lack of prey and lack of brooding is a constant at this nest is unknown to me. This is my first year of observations. I do not recommend this nest in the future despite the fact that circumstances can change. The frenzied killing and intimidation over a period of nearly four hours straight yesterday leaves me very cold towards DH14 and yet it is only trying to survive on a nest that is unstable. Whether or not this was a lack of prey in the area, intruder threats or both, and lack of parental care remains unclear.

All of the information on the hatch times and the prey deliveries and times have come from the log of the Dale Hollow Eagle Club (DHEC).

Siblicide at Dale Hollow Eagle Nest

17 March 2022

UPDATE: Little Bit played possum. It raised its head at 17:54 and was again attacked by Big. It is unclear as to the status of Little Bit currently. Sadly, it will not – without a miracle – survive the night.

WARNING: I believe it is important to recognize that nature is very cruel and to understand what is happening when you are witnessing siblings kill one another. This blog is about the siblicide that is now happening at Dale Hollow Nest.

River brought a small fish onto the nest around 14:30. The only chick that went up to the table to eat was Big. I initially thought that Big had eaten the entire fish and so, was surprised when River flew off after alerting for some minutes to see a piece left.

The chicks moved from their positions when River flew off the nest. Little Bit moved to the left rim and Middle saw the piece of fish and went over. Middle is too weak and too young to eat it. It was so sad seeming it so hungry and that fish laying there on the nest.

I have actually been watching Little bit to see if it was breathing. Parents come in different sizes with different capabilities. Often young Bald Eagle mothers take some time to figure out how to feed their little ones especially the first chick ever. River is 23 years old. She is an experienced mother.

I continue to ask what is happening on this nest. From what I know, the eagles work to protect their territory above all else. Then they take care of themselves, and then the chicks on the nest.

Middle has moved to the piece of fish and is calling its Mum to please come and feed it.

Middle made a move to lay on the fish and this alerted Big. Big immediately went over to Middle and began beaking it.

When he finished with Middle he went over to Little Bit and began tossing its neck around.

Big stopped. Little Bit was doing some quiet crying. Big went over to the rim and then it turned on Middle again. What you are witnessing is a classic case of siblicide. The older sibling has prevented the two younger from eating through intimidation and physical beaking and neck twisting. It is killing its siblings. In this case these actions appear to be a direct result of lack of enough food for all three on the nest. Indeed, there is barely enough food for one.

Middle moved to the left rim of the nest and has now walked by the fish again and is looking over the nest. Middle seems to be in much better shape than Little Bit.

In the image below Middle has gotten into the shade next to Big. Little Bit is in the heat of the sun. Very shallow breathing.

At 15:47, Little Bit raises its head and cries for food.

Big noticed Little Bit and went over to beak it.

As far as I can tell, Big stopped because it realized that the smallest sibling on the Dale Hollow Lake nest was dying slowly, calling out to a Mum who will not hear it, for food.

Big sibling is hot and bothered today. As you know, at least one parent will be there to shade them especially when they are not able to regulate the temperature themselves.

Did Little Bit ever have a chance? On a different nest, perhaps.

Big Bob went over to Little Bit and then turned again on Middle Bob.

Then he turned on Little Bit.

It appears that Little Bit is barely breathing at 14:27. Big is there, hot and panting hard, to make sure that it doesn’t get up to eat again.

Little Bit had some mini-convulsions at 16:29 and 16:32.

It is 16:44. An adult has returned to the nest and Big has gone over to be fed the rest of the fish. Middle did not bother to go up. Little Bit is barely breathing.

At 16:45, Little Bit actually found the energy to flip a bit – or it was another convulsion. Big immediately went over to make sure that the wee babe did not get to the food.

Big grabbed Little by the neck and tossed it about many times.

Big left Little Bit in the middle of the nest barely breathing. Indeed, I am shocked that Little Bit is still alive. Meanwhile, Middle is at the rim of the nest in the shade terrified.

It is incredible what this wee little one endured over the past hour and a half and is still breathing every so shallow. Big is determined to be the only chick on the nest because the food that is being brought in is barely enough to keep it alive.

It is hard to believe but Little Bit is just hanging on barely breathing.

Big sitting triumphantly over Little Bit. It is 17:10. I do not think Little Bit is with us any longer. Its suffering has surely ended.

We expect all bird parents to be the same and clearly, they are not. I have come to understand that what we have seen on this nest at Dale Hollow is pretty typical for River and Obey. Siblicide has occurred here in previous years. There are gold star eagle families and there are others where circumstances are neglectful. It is likely we will never know what happened in its entirety at this nest to set Big off to try to kill its siblings. We might never know the combined circumstances for the lack of prey delivery or the lack of attention by the mother, River. All I know is that it is terribly sad to see a lovely little chick crying for food while it is dying. At the same time, it is important to call it for what it is – siblicide. This is directly related to the need to survive. Big is the dominant bird on the Dale Hollow nest. With little food arriving, its instincts went into survival gear.

I am attaching a bit of information on a study done on siblicide. I want you to also notice that the individual includes instances of parental neglect. I found this helpful in understanding just how rare or not siblicide is.

If you have made it this far, thank you for hanging in with me today. This is a difficult topic and it is even more difficult to watch live on a screen. I hope that you learned something and I also hope that none of us see the instance of siblicide again this year. Please take care. It has been a rough couple of days at this nest. I am glad that Little Bit is no longer suffering. I hope that food comes on the nest and Middle is not the next victim.

Thank you to the Dale Hollow Lake Eagles for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.

Sunday in Bird World

13 March 2022

Gracious. Andy is sure hauling in the fish. There have been 9 fish deliveries at the Captiva Osprey nest before 14:30!!!!!! Needless to say everyone has eaten well and all chicks are sporting blood feathers, tail feathers, and contour feathers. It is a good day at Captiva. Lena is even looking much refreshed.

It is busy at the West End Nest of Thunder and Akecheta. The newness of parenthood has not worn off Cheta. He is bringing in fish, brooding babies, and being security guard. The third hatch had its first taste of fish juice, saliva, and fish flake at 11:28. There it is in the image below.

Thunder and Cheta with their three babies on a beautiful California morning. This just puts a smile on my face! Beautiful.

Here is a video of the third chick getting its first meal from Thunder and one of the older siblings doing a great poop shot. Its plumbing is definitely working!

There is now going to be no time to rest. The UK Ospreys are arriving and it looks like the first one at a streaming cam is Laddie, LM12, at the Loch of the Lowes nest! So Laddie is here on 13 March. Last year he arrived on the 21st of March. He is eight days earlier than in 2021. Last year Laddie and NC0 raised two beautiful chicks to fledge. NC0 arrived on 25 March last year.

To see the Osprey you need to go to the lettering at the top. Stop at the ‘c’ in camera and looking down. Laddie is sitting in his favourite spot on the very top of the dead Silver Birch tree.

Here is the link to the Loch of the Lowes Osprey Cam:

I was expecting Blue 33 and Maya to be the first to return! That nest looks very empty. I cannot wait til they get back. They are one of my absolute favourites of the UK nests.

There is a new camera at the Loch Garten nest in Scotland. Here is the link:

Loch Garten holds a very special place in the heart of Osprey lovers in the UK. In the 1950s, a pair of Ospreys settled on the nest and began breeding. It was then the very first nest to have a breeding pair after the ospreys were made extinct in the UK. Indeed, the pair returned to the ancient Caledonian forest, part of Abernethy Forest Wildlife Reserve, near Aviemore, in 1959. It was a perfect place for Ospreys. There were lochs, rivers and estuaries full of fish. There is a little paperback that tells the story of the nest and the return of the Ospreys to the UK. It is Lady of the Loch. The Incredible Story of Britain’s Oldest Osprey by Helen Armitage.

There are high hopes for attracting a new breeding pair to the fine new nest that has been erected for them!

Loch Garten” by Lee Carson is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Talk about hoping to have a new breeding pair. The folks at Poole Harbour cannot wait for CJ7 the resident female who did not have a mate and Blue 022, a male who courted her last year, to return and raise chicks on CJ7’s nest. It this happens it will be the first time in 200 years that an Osprey chick has hatched at the site! Incredible.

Turning back to North America, everyone is on pins and needles waiting for Iris, the oldest osprey in the world, to return to her nest at Hellgate Canyon in Missoula, Montana. No one expects Iris to raise chicks. Her mate, Louis, has another nest that he cares for. I have a soft spot for Iris and feel that at 29 years old it is time she enjoyed her summer holiday. Raising chicks is a lot of work and really diminishes the health of the mother who loses approximately 30% of her weight.

Each of the three chicks at the Dale Hollow nest of River and Obey had a good feed around 11:28ish. Even Little Bit. They all stood in line and were very good as River fed them.

The wee one is doing well. The two older siblings are generally well behaved towards it – such a relief.

You can see that the snow is really melting as we see more and more of the edge of the nest. All of the babies are having a nice sleep in the warm sunshine.

I happened to look over at the Captiva nest. Andy just delivered the 10th fish of the day and it is a nice one. Little Bob is really enjoying this fish. Everyone is being civil and the kids are stuffed to their eyeballs…It is 15:48. Look at Little Bob open his mouth wide for delicious fish. Big is not paying him any mind at all. Food security is back in the mind of Big. Yippeeee. And well it should.

little Bob is still up near the table. Big looks like she has eaten so much she is going to get sick.

Little says there is room for more Mum!!!

What a beautiful image. All three chicks so full that they are passing out in food comas and Lena is getting some nice fish to herself. It just puts tears in your eyes. This nest has had a few really rocky days but today is one for the record books.

Every nest is doing really well. That is just wonderful. We can all rest easy tonight. Here is a sweet moment at the nest of Jackie and Shadow. Keep your eyes on the little one.

Thank you for joining me. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and/or FB Pages where I took my screen captures: Captiva Ospreys and Window on Wildlife, Dale Hollow Lake Bald Eagles,, Cornell Bird Lab and the Montana Osprey Project, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Loch of the Lowes, Loch Garten, Poole Harbour Ospreys, Rutland Wildlife Trust, and West End Bald Eagles.

The Dale Hollow Eagles

I am so delighted to have found this Bald Eagle nest on the Dale Hollow Lake in Kentucky. Why had I not heard of it before?

The nest is located along the shore from the Dale Hollow Marina on Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee. The resident eagles are River, the female, and Obey, the female. I asked how old they were and was told they are at least 18-20 years old, perhaps older. In other words, they are very experienced eagles just like Harriet at SWFlorida and the Dad at Duke Farms who is 23 years old.

In the 1800s, it was believed that there were 100,000 Bald Eagle nests in the United States. Those numbers declined rapidly with the destruction of the habitat as cities grew and also because of hunting. In 1940 the US Congress passed a bill to protect them. However, the introduction of DDT after World War II, those numbers went into a tail spin. By the time the impact of DDT was known, in the 1960s and 70s, there were only around 400 breeding pairs left in the US. They were placed on the endangered species list. The eagles had recovered so much that by 2007 they were removed from the list.

In Tennessee, in particular, the eagles suffered from infertility and thin egg shells due to DDT. In the 1980s and 1990s, translocation projects to reintroduce eagles from Alaska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota was undertaken. Forty-four eagles were reared and released around Dale Hollow and Iron Creek in the hope that when they were adults they would return to where they were released. That process of translocation is known as ‘hacking’. Today there are approximately 200 Bald Eagle nests in Tennessee. Of course the threat to eagles continues and their numbers are declining. One of the most serious is lead poisoning – secondary poisoning from the shot left in the innards of deer and other hunted animals which the eagles ingest in the woods. Today, there is the added threat of habitat destruction as well as avian flu.

One of those successful nests is the one of River and Obey. They laid three eggs. Two hatched yesterday within an hour of one another – twins! The other is now believed to be pipping as I write this.

Here is the first feeding of the two eaglets that hatched within an hour of one another on 25 February 2022.

Here is the first attempt at feeding the wee ones by River. Obey had brought in a lot of food.

This is a more recent feeding by River.

I really urge you to add this nest to your watching list. It is easy to overlook for the more well-known nests like Harriet and M15, Samson and Gabby, as well as Jackie and Shadow. This is the link:

This is an image from the most recent feeding of DH14 and DH15:

Fantastic family!

It has been a good day. The Captiva Eagles were enjoying a nice fish at 14:51. Those kids were once again really hungry. Big Red has been working on her nest and Ferris Akel is entering the Ithaca area in search of Big Red. There were a lot of raptors on the tour today. Our snow is melting and tomorrow I will add some before and after images. Hopefully the melting will slow down a bit! The day will be perfect if Ervie decides to show up at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge. Grinnell arrived at The Campanile this morning. He has to be one of the most handsome Peregrine Falcons I have ever seen. Good to see you looking so good Grinnell. You were busy keeping other falcons out of your territory!


Thank you so much for joining me for this close up look at the Dale Hollow eagles. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the Dale Hollow Bald Eagle and Cal Falcons streaming cams where I took my screen captures.