Around 2pm, Mrs Decorah North of the Bald Eagle Nest in Decorah, Iowa, brought two hawklets onto the nest. One was plucked and eaten (it was already dead on arrival). The other one was alive. Mr North arrived within half an hour and noticed that the hawklet was alive and began brooding it.
You can see the second hawklet hunkered down behind the legs of Mrs Decorah North. It must be a little stunned.
There – it is alive, peeking out.
After she feeds DN 13 and DN 14, Mrs North leaves. The two eaglets are curious about that white ball of fur.
Mr North lands on the nest and sees what is causing the curiosity.
Mr North walks all around the fuzzy white ball in the nest cup.
He stands over the hawklet as the eaglets look on.
And then…Mr North’s instincts kick in and he broods the hawklet! He is indicating to D13 and D14 that the hawklet is NOT food.
DN 13 and DN14 are only 7 weeks old. They are not hunting or killing for food yet. Dad’s behaviour indicates that the hawklet is not a food item.
Wonder what will happen?
Mr North leaves and the hawklet is alone. It is chirping for food.
The little hawklet goes to the edge of the nest and looks out. It is chirping for food. Will Mr North return and feed it?
There is, of course, the success of the Sidney Bald Eagle nest with hawklets brought in as food with one of them being raised by parents with the eaglets. The situation was different in that the eaglets were much younger than those currently on the Decorah North nest. It is unknown how this will unfold. However, Mr North indicated the hawklet is not food and the beaks match for feeding – unlike the crowlet that got into the BE nest.
Dad has just brought in a pheasant. Will wait to see if he feeds the hawklet.
You can watch this unfolding story on YouTube. Search for Decorah North Eagle Nest. This will not let me embed the URL today for some reason.
It has been a day full of dramatic nest events: the post-mortem collection of the eaglets in Estonia, the fish that almost killed The Bobs twice, and now a hawklet in a Bald Eagle nest! Surely that is enough drama for one day.
Take care everyone. Thanks to Explore.org and the Raptor Resource Project for their streaming cam where I grabbed these screen shots.
NOTE: Update. I believe the hawklet might have died of internal injuries. The juveniles did walk on it but only when they were curious. It has been by the rim of the nest and did not cheep when the pheasant was being eaten.
There are some days in Bird World where I just need to sit and appreciate the joy and magic that these feathered creatures bring to my life. Whether it is the hundreds of birds that are eat from my feeders every day or the ones on the streaming cams hundreds or thousands of kilometres away – each and every one has brought me great joy.
It is Earth Day and I want to think about what else it is that I can do to make their lives easier. I hope that you will join me in considering every way that you can to ensure a safer planet for all of the wildlife that enrich our lives. Perhaps make a donation to a wildlife rehabilitation centre or to a streaming cam. Maybe spend some time picking up litter from a highway or cleaning up around the shore of a river. Put up a bird feeder and keep it stocked with healthy food for birds. Write a letter to someone who can help push for ridding hunting and fishing equipment of lead. Write a letter to rid the world of hazardous poisons like rodenticide and sticky paper traps. Tell a friend it is OK to have balloons but don’t release them. Take them home and cut them up good! Plant flowers for the bees and the butterflies. There is so much you can do – the list is endless. Even putting out bowls of water for birds will help them so much.
Nothing brings a smile to my face bigger than a chick with a nice big crop, tho! Look at those happy eaglets. It looks like they have swallowed balls and look at their chubby little tummies. What I wouldn’t give for Tiny Tot to look like that today.
This is the Decorah North Bald Eagle Nest in Decorah, Iowa. It is the home of Mr North and Mrs DNF. DN 13 is 27 days old (right). It hatched at 7:21 am on 25 March. DN 14 is 25 days old having hatched on 27 March (first time this one was seen on camera was at 7:21 am) (left).
The eaglets have their layer of dark charcoal grey thermal down. It is thicker than their natal down and gives them really good protection from the cold. At this stage their metabolism is developing that will help them be able to thermoregulate their temperatures. The thermal down grows out of a different follicle than the soft baby down. In fact, the thermal down just covers the baby down. You can see some of the dandelions. Eventually contour feathers will grow out of the baby down follicles.
They are adorable. The video below shows the eagles entertaining themselves in the nest with their great big crops. It is about 11 minutes long.
Legacy is such a beautiful eagle. She is exploring all of the branches of her nest tree in Jacksonville, Florida. She gets amazing height jumping up and down on the Spanish Moss lining of the nest. Soon she will fledge. It can happen any day now. She has given so many people such joy this year. We will miss her terribly.
Legacy spends a lot of time playing with the branches and pinecones in her nest – pretending they are prey items!
And it seems every time I check on the two eaglets in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Nest they have grown much more. It is hard to imagine that Legacy was once this small – and despite using the term ‘small’, the eaglets are actually quite large. The young 4 year old Bald Eagle dad, harry, has done a terrific job along with his mate, Nancy.
In San Francisco, Grinnell is busy catching pigeons for the three little ones. Hatch watch tomorrow for the fourth eyass at the UC Berkeley campus.
Jackie and Shadow have given up any hope of having a family this year at their nest at Big Bear, California. Their first hatchling in the second clutch died trying to get out of the shell. The second hatchling stopped developing. When the egg broke the other day you could see an eaglet form. The Raven took the rest of the egg away. So sad for these two devoted eagles who tried twice to raise an eagle this year. We can only hope that next year will be better.
Meanwhile, the three eaglets are really keeping the parents busy on the Pittsburg Hayes Nest.
And news from Wales is that Seren and Dylan on the Clywedog Osprey Nest have their third egg. Seren laid it at 8:45 pm.
Tiny Tot update: There were three fish today. The first arrived at the Achieva Osprey nest at 8:27. Tiny Tot did not get any of that fish. The second fish came in at 1:07:24. Tiny Tot got to eat a little of that fish – for about six minutes. Diane offered it the tail. Diane left the nest and might have caught a big fish. She brought it to the nest around 8:50. Because of the light it is really hard to tell who got what. At 8:52:20 Tiny Tot was up by Diane and the fish and sibling 1 and might have gotten a little fish. Mostly it was 2 eating as far as I could tell. There simply is not enough fish coming on this nest and for Tiny Tot to really benefit, the fish need to come in closer together. Get 2 full and then Tiny Tot has a chance to eat. All in all it was not a great day for Tiny Tot getting food. But, Tiny Tot did well yesterday. Poor thing. Today he attacked 2 twice bonking him. Of course 2 took it out on Tiny – really going after Tiny’s neck. And I don’t buy the term ‘survival’ that is tossed about. 2 is monopolizing the food when the benefit for the nest at this stage -where the older sibs should be hovering and thinking about fledging – is for all to survive and fledge. Today 1 and 2 are fifty days old. The USFWS says that Ospreys in the US normally take their first flight at around sixty days. That is ten days away. But it doesn’t mean that Tiny Tot is alone on the nest to eat all the fish. Oh, no, the older sibs will return to the nest to be fed by the parents, too!
And just a correction to the location of this Osprey Nest. It is not in Dunedin but it is in St Petersburg, my original location. Here it is on Google Maps. There are some fresh water areas and Tampa Bay for fishing. It is the Credit Union location, red $ sign, nearest the top.
Thank you for joining me today. Happy Earth Day to all of you! Stay safe and wish for an abundance of fish on the Achieva Osprey Nest – it is all we can do.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams: Clywedog Nature Reserve, Achieva Credit Union, MN DNR Bald Eagle Nest, Pittsburgh Hayes Bald Eagle Nest, Decorah North and Explore.Org, UC Falcons, Raptor Resource Project, NWFlorida Eagle Cam and the AEF, and Friends of Big Bear.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) has a new couple on their nest. Harry, the male, is still sporting some of his 4 year old Bald Eagle plumage. Nancy is the female and all we know is that she is older – precisely hold old or how many eaglets she has raised is unknown. The couple welcomed little E1 on 26 March and E2 was born on 29 March at 3:24pm.
Harry is just starting to figure out what his duties are. I had a giggle when E1 was born. Harry tried to roll the little fluff ball – and he is not the only one to do that! It will be a real delight to watch this couple raise these little ones in what should be a prey rich area.
Harry wanted to feed the little ones this morning but he is still flummoxed by the entire experience. Nancy will make sure he figures it out! Best he goes out fishing and fills the pantry.
It has been pitching down rain in Wales but Aran has arrived safely home from his winter migration, He is on the perch to the left. Mrs G, the oldest Osprey in Wales, is on the nest with a morning fish. She is one of the best fishers in the country and often hauls in whoppers to the nest. There will be cheers all day throughout Wales. It is such a relief when both mates arrive home safely from their winter vacations.
Over at the Loch of the Lowes Nest, Laddie and NC0 got right down to business at the break of dawn. Or did they? Maybe Laddie just did a landing sans fish??
Look at that gorgeous view. Just stunning with the apricot and pink over the water from the glow of the morning sun rising. What a wonderful place for a nest.
At the Great Horned Owl Nest on the farm near Newton, Kansas, Bonnie has been going out hunting. The owlets had mostly snake today. Bonnie joined up with Clyde and the image below shows her bringing in a vole. She helps orient the head so that little Lily has an easier time horking it whole. These two are growing and growing and demanding more and more food.
At the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida, both Diane and Jack brought in fish late in the day. Mom actually left the nest to go fishing when it appeared she had given up on dad. It made for a lot of confusion. with the trio. Look where Diane has that fish! Tiny Tot got right up on the rails. These are really hold your breath moments because those twigs that make up the outside of this nest are not all that secure. By getting up there though, Tiny ensured that it got food while the other two were still full from eating earlier. And it’s a good thing. It is noon on this nest on Monday, 29 march. Not a single fish has arrived all morning. Diane found some scraps in the nest and fed Tiny Tot a few. If I could strangle a bird it might be Jack!
I received the most wonderful letter from a lady in Iowa who stressed that they were the home of the ‘Decorah Eagles’. When my parents were still alive, there were many trips where we would drive through Iowa on the way to see them in Oklahoma. But, I have to admit that while I had heard of the Decorah Bald Eagles it was not a nest that I was following. This lovely woman’s letter tweaked my interest and if you don’t know the nest, it is really a wonderful one to follow. Little DN13 was born on 26 March followed by DN14 on the 27th. They are so cute and the parents are beam with pride.
Here is the link to the Decorah Explore streaming cam:
And last but never least, Big Red laid her second egg of the 2021 season this morning at 10:10am. And, if she lays three, we can look for the last one on 1 April! It is colder in Ithaca this morning at 5 degrees C or 41 F than it is here in Winnipeg where it is 8 degrees C or 46.4 degrees F. It has stopped raining and the sun is finally coming out in Ithaca.
Yesterday, Arthur did most of the incubating and he was on the nest before Big Red flew in to lay this egg. They are a great pair that often work like well designed Swiss watch.
And here is the link to the Cornell Red Tail Hawk cam with Big Red and Arthur:
As many of you know, I am one of a growing number of individuals calling for the ban of lead in fishing and hunting equipment and designer rat poisons. I am working on a story about the Black Kites in Taiwan and a man who worked to get rat poison banned in that entire country.
Thank you so much for joining me today. Stay safe!
Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my scaps: Cornell Bird Labs, Decorah Eagles and Explore, Achieva Osprey, Farmer Derek, MN DNR, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and the Bywd Gwylit Glaslyn Wildlife.
I have watched Harriet and M15 and E17 and 18 very closely since those kiddos came back from CROW with their eyes all healed. What I have observed is that M15, the dad, seems to intuitively know when E18 wants to eat but won’t because of E17. Yesterday, M15 filled E17 up and then he turned to E18, on the other side of the nest, and started feeding him. The little fella was full to the brim. And, for whatever reason, Harriet has turned a lot of the feeding duties over to M15 lately. She is a great mom but M15 you get my gold star of the week!
Today has been a very sad day due to some avoidable deaths in the Bald Eagle family. I so needed a laugh and there it was. Lady Hawk (Sharon Dunne) does a lot of videos from the footage at the eagle and albatross cams. This time she did a bit of a funny one. We all like to cheer for the underdog. So here it is, one and a half minutes of slap stick comedy at the expense of E17. She does deserve it, at times. One and a half minutes. Just so you know who you are looking at, E18, the little underdog is on the left. His older sib that causes all the mischief, E17, is on the right.
Make sure you get that red line back to the beginning. You might want to put it on full screen. Enjoy.
Now, let us quickly move over to that nest up at St. Augustine, Florida – the NEFL one with Samson and Gabby. The little one there, E24 is enjoying some nice fresh fish brought in by dad.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that I don’t think the second egg will make it. And, you know what? Maybe that is OK. We have one healthy eaglet on this nest that would be much older. I think you can imagine what that might be like. E18 was born within hours of E17. This one would be many days younger. Sometimes Mother Nature takes care of things.
And this little one is a fluffy little butterball. Round and healthy, clean eyes. And look, there is a wee bit of white on that rear end where we will see a tail emerge. And those tiny little wings. Precious.
A friend told me once that the second egg is the ‘insurance egg’ if something happens to the first. In their lifetime, Bald Eagles will hope to be able to replace themselves in the numbers. That is how treacherous it is out there for them.
There has been quite a bit of sadness in the last few days in the Bald Eagle world. It is difficult enough for the eagles to survive hatch. You are witnessing that. We have seen so many loses. But beginning with hatch, just the slightest thing can cause a left egg shell to go and slip itself over the second egg. That eaglet might not be strong enough to get out of two shells! Then there is surviving intruders, avian flu and pink eye and well, a drought that brings no food, floods, or even bad parenting. Living to be two years old is extremely difficult never mind making it to adulthood for a Bald Eagle, a bird that is extremely protected by laws, is a real feat. And anything I say about these beautiful eagles is as easily applied to our hawks and falcons.
Several beautiful eagles were taken into care in the past three or four days. Each one was suffering with high levels of lead poisoning. One eagle was actually shot by someone! Yes, shot. Others ate carion and ingested the lead shot. We have made the world of the birds toxic! Some have died or had to be euthanized. Today, I am bringing you the story of two. One older eagle and one beautiful juvenile and some ideas on how you might help.
The Wildlife Service of the State of Virginia provided the following description. It is good and will answer a lot of your questions: “Lead is a soft, pliable heavy metal and fragments easily. Historically, lead ammunition has been frequently used in big game hunting, including deer, elk, and moose hunting. Even when a lead core bullet passes all the way through its intended target, as much as a third or more of the bullet’s total weight will be broken away and remain inside the animal. A normal practice for hunters is to remove the internal organs of the shot deer or other game animal, and simply leave the “gut pile” in the fields after removing the body of the animal. Nearly all of the gut piles contain tiny shards of the lead ammunition”.
There is something that you can do to help. Talk to people or write to someone with influence to make it illegal for lead to be used in anything that has to do with hunting and fishing. There are viable alternatives that do not poison the wildlife or the water. And they are available. So if you want to do something and you have a few minutes one day, write to your political representatives. You can use the same letter, just change the name. In the US make sure you write to the people in the US Fish and Wildlife Services, the Department of the Interior, your congressperson and your Senator. In Canada, write to your MLA and your MP. You don’t even need a stamp. Do it on line.
If you know a hunter, find out if they will consider taking measures to bring the gut pile home to dispose of it properly.
The Migratory Bird Act protects all eggs, nests, birds, feathers of all birds except house sparrows, starlings, and pigeons. They should then be protected by our human inventions such as lead weights and lead shot. If you know of someone that hunts or fishes, maybe you could also talk about how lead impacts wildlife – and give them a packet of heavy rubber weights or stainless steel shot in exchange for some of their old gear. The lead shot and weights would then be taken to the same depot that would receive other harmful items such as paint.
CT Environmental Conservation Officer Michael Curran found the male eagle in the image above hardly able to move. He recognized it because a local reporter had photographed the Bald Eagle in October with a severe beak injury and posted the image in the local paper. No one knew if this beautiful adult would survive. Most thought it would not. Well it did. Curran discovered the male eagle a couple of days ago starving, with swollen feet in the cold, and covered in mites. The eagle could barely stand for more than a few minutes. That eagle was lucky. Someone found it who cared. Curran knew where to take the eagle and that was to ‘A Place Called Hope’ where it was given round the clock care. At the end of 24 hours this bird still had the will to live so a routine lead toxicity test. The level was found to be 48.9. While no level of lead poisoning is safe, this is a horrifically high level. The wildlife rehabbers at A Place of Hope have started this wonderful, strong-willed ‘I want to live bird’ on chelation therapy. They have not seen an eagle survive with this high of toxicity but this bird is a fighter and they said they will be there to fight with him.
And then there is this beautiful juvenile.
The beautiful juvenile eagle above is Decorah Eagle, D35. She was found dead on 29 January on the banks of the Iowa River just south of Iowa City. An examination on site revealed that she was well fed, had excellent feather condition, and there was no damage to her feet and talons. D35 had a transmitter and it was working. No one could understand why such a healthy eagle would be dead. SOAR (Saving our Avian Resources) did a full necropsy including x-rays. She died of acute lead poisoning. There were high levels of lead in her blood system, #6 lead shot in her stomach, and her stomach acids had worked on other lead shot causing it to break down and be even more toxic. There were also high levels of lead in her liver and fat reserves. She didn’t have a chance. It would have been an awful death.
These are only two of the eagles that have been impacted in the last few days. There are more. I could create pages. One beautiful juvenile bird that was healthy in every other way died and one older one who lived through a massive beak injury is now fighting for its life. You don’t hear as much about these levels of toxicity and deaths in the spring and summer because they happen during the fall and winter’s hunting season more often than not.
And if lead toxicity isn’t enough – something created entirely by humans – then there are balloons. You can also help with this. Spread the word. I am attaching an image that has been circulating on social media to make the point:
Every type of bird from Pelicans to Eagles, tiny little song birds to great big hawks get tangled in balloons. One slogan that is also going around shows a bird’s legs all wrapped in the string of a balloon. It said, “Balloons don’t go to heaven, they tangle bird’s feet”. Fireworks might be fun but they terrify wildlife as well as domestic pets. Balloons are beautiful and we used to let them go full of wishes and hopes. No one knew the damage they would cause. We now know. So we can stop the practice and find another way of celebrating.
I want to close on a high note. These little ones are healthy and strong. We want to protect the future of their parents and them so that one day we can watch E17 feed her babies, see E18 bring in the fish for his kids, and E24 set up their nest. How wonderful that would be.
Samson has lots of fresh fish on deck and E24 loves a nice big feed before bed.
There is a lot of fresh fish on the SWFL nest, too. Dad just brought in that small catfish. Earlier there had been two more fish and a squirrel. Lots of food, thanks M15! Harriet fed them well and they are in their own corners, Harriet in the middle to stop any nonsense.
And I want to leave you with an image of E17 and E18 and Harriet. Look how big they are! Great view over their territory. Gosh, aren’t they lucky. Twenty gold stars for the Pritchett family who maintain the cameras and the nest their dad started. Amazing.
Thank you for joining me today. Remember, ask about those lead weights. I don’t know the regulations in Europe and South American or in China where so many reading my blog live but check. I intend to write Cabela’s and Canadian Tire today to see what lead products they stock and find out who to ask about stopping the practice. Maybe one of the owners of these companies will want to be a hero for our wildlife. You never know.
See you tomorrow. Stay bundled up. Be safe.
Thank you to NEFL Eagle cam and SWFL Eagle cam and the Pritchett family for their streaming cameras where I get my screen shots. Thank you to Lady Hawk for her great video and to SOAR and A Place called Hope for the images today.