Toxic wastelands threaten Bird World

In the course of a few hours today, a friend living in Pennsylvania sent me the news and a video from Twitter showing the nuclear waste being pumped into a holding area in Sarasota, Florida. Moments later, the Cornell Bird Lab e-mailed the latest edition of Birdlife Magazine with its story of the threats to African vultures from farmers using anti-inflammatory pain killers, dielofenae, on their cattle to stop pain and increase milk yields. Another reader sent me an article on the red algae along the coast of Texas and Florida that causes damage to the nervous and digestive systems of marine life and the birds that eat the fish. All of this information arrived on my desk just moments after one of the chatters on the Achieva Osprey streaming cam in St Petersburg brought up the fact that the male Ospreys in the area, there are reported to be thirty Osprey nests, have to compete with lots of motor boats in order to feed their families.

I sat staring at the screen remembering that eons ago, my father fished with a motorboat in Lake Texhoma. It was a time when no one considered their environmental actions. What I remember were not only the 31.7 kg or seventy pound catfish my father regularly caught but also that beautiful iridescence floating on the water around the boat. As a child I did not understand that the fuel and the oil my father mixed with it was poisoning the fish that we would eat – and neither did he. We know better today.

Humans are capable of cleaning up much of the mess that we have made to the planet. When I was a graduate student, my advisor, Dr Klaus Klostermaier, informed me the reason that there were no insects in Germany was because the massive pollution had killed them all. The industrial area around Dusseldorf cleaned up the river system. It took some time but it was accomplished I think, also, of the groundbreaking work that Rachel Carson did on the impact of DDT and her book, Silent Spring. Today, we still feel the impact of DDT, despite it being banned now for nearly fifty years. That poison still remains in the soil and the plants. Bald Eagles in certain parts of the world still have thin egg shells because of it. Regardless of how long it takes and how defeatist some feel about our ability to survive a sixth extinction, I believe, like Greta Thunberg that we have an obligation – each of us as individuals – to try and make a difference. It doesn’t have to be some great international effort. The women saving the General Adjutant in Assam began at home and so can the rest of us.

In Winnipeg, members of the Manitoba Birding FB group are considering how to best address the issue of feeding bread to the ducks and geese at the ponds in our two big parks – St Vital and Assiniboine. Bread is not good for any bird. Yes, it fills them up and they seemingly love it but it is empty calories. It would be like us eating junk food all day long every day, losing our taste for good nutritious food. I know, first hand, that parents do not necessarily know that bread is bad for the birds. This was something that I did with my parents. For many, taking their children for a walk at the park and bringing a loaf of bread is almost free entertainment for an afternoon. We delight at the geese scurrying across the water of the pond to grab the bread. It makes people feel good. However, the bread is not only bad for the bird’s health, it also deteriorates in the water causing algae growth which leads to the death of the pond and the plants that the geese and ducks need. No one wants to take away the fun that people have feeding the ducks and geese. It is hoped that through education people will choose to find food that is healthy for both the birds and their ponds. My plan is to write our City Parks and Recreation Department asking that their staff put up posters on the buildings near the ponds or have permanent signs made at significant sites around the ponds. There should then be a convenient place for individuals to purchase appropriate food at a reasonable price. An option would be to license a vendor to sell food at the ponds. It’s a beginning!

Please feel free to grab this poster and spread it through social media and if you are a teacher perhaps include this in a science lesson. And for those of you who find yourself with a glut of lettuce in your garden, those ducks and geese will sure love it. Chop it up before heading out.

For those of you that do not live in Winnipeg, it is very possible that you have this very same issue. Check it out and see what you can do. It is one way to help the local birds.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate the messages and all of the information that you send to me. Next week I will be addressing the issues of dumping toxic and nuclear substances into the ponds, lakes, rivers, and oceans. For now, I just want to smile. Someone on the Achieva Osprey chat said that they had never seen a chick like Tiny Tot/Lionheart/Braveheart/Tumbles/3 survive such testing conditions in any Osprey nest. Diane really filled him up this afternoon and even though the fish brought in around 6pm was not enough to feed it, the little one still had a crop and its little bottom is getting some flesh on it. So I want to close with an image of Tiny Tot’s large crop and another of Tiger and Lily, the two owlets living in a nest stolen from a Bald Eagle near Newton, Kansas. My how they have grown! Some days we just have to not allow the massive environmental issues to cloud the joy and the love we get from the birds. My friend, Phyllis, would say put it in a container and leave it there for a few hours – it isn’t going away!

It is a strange angle. Tiny Tot is preening but that big grey beach ball where you would think his head would be is his crop. He is on the far left. Oh, how I love this little bird – like so many of you. His determination to live, to not give up, to figure an angle around to get fed is impressive. It is day to day. He is getting a cute little tail and well, we hope for several fish in a row, large ones, tomorrow.

Tiny Tot ate and ate. Thank goodness. He will have enough to keep him til tomorrow. 3 April 2021

Tiger and Lily are being left alone more and more by their mother, Bonnie. Butt, no worries, she is just on another branch on the tree. Look at how big they are and how well they blend into the environment.

Thank you to everyone who wrote and sent me links to information today. I really appreciate it. Anyone reading this loves birds and we are all in this together. The streaming cams give us a glimpse into their lives that we would never have otherwise. We share their joys and their sorrows. Take care everyone. Stay safe!

Thanks also to the Achieva Credit Union and to Farmer Derek for their streaming cams. That is where I took my screen shots.

Tuesday updates in Bird World

I am going to start off saying that Jack, the male at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida wins the Dead Beat Dad of the week award – for the third week running. Jack, do you have another family? or maybe two? Seriously. It is nearly 5pm in St Petersburg and your family have not had one single fish today. It is 28 degrees in the sun for them and they depend on the fish for water. Tiny Tot depends on the regular delivery of fish for its life. So maybe if I scream at you at the beginning, you will surprise me and show up with three or four fish! I sure hope so.

Jack, your family is waiting!

In contrast to the situation at the Achieva Osprey Nest is the Bald Eagle nest with three eaglets in Pittsburg. There both mom and dad are involved in the feeding of the young ensuring that the bonking and food competition is kept to a minimum. Well, as I have said before – birds are like humans. The kids can’t pick their parents or the parent’s territory but two parents working together certainly helps the survival of the children!

Look at those three beautiful babies at the Pittsburg Hays nest. Aren’t they adorable. All lined up waiting for mom and dad to feed them together.

Storms came through my part of Canada last night but they also swept across the United States. It was a gale force wind on the nest of the Great Horned Owls on the farm near Newton, Kansas. Tiger and Lily, the two owlets of Bonnie and Clyde were cuddled up with mom holding on in the strong winds.

More Osprey are arriving in the United Kingdom. Idris (male) arrived home on 29 March to his mate Blue 33 otherwise known as Telyn at the Dyfi Nest in Wales. Telyn is a great fisher. This morning she caught a whopper!

Telyn caught this huge fish to welcome home her mate, Idris, at the Dyfi Nest in Wales. 30 March 2021.

Blue 5F, Seren, came in on 29 March to join her mate Dylan at the Clywedog Osprey Nest. Unringed female joined White YA at Kielder 1A arriving on 30 March while male Blue WG 6 came home on 29 March at the Kielder Forest 6 nest. And the last one, female Blue KC joined her mate at Threave Castle on 30 March.

A great morning image of Mrs G and Aran at the Glaslyn Nest. Aran might be wondering if Mrs G is going to bring him breakfast like Telyn might be doing for Idris. Did I say that Osprey males drive me nuts?

Our dear little Legacy is simply not so little anymore. The eaglet of Samson and Gabby at the NE Florida Eagle Nest in Jacksonville has grown benefitting from being the only child in the nest. She sometimes looks like she has been working out at the gym!

Legacy benefited from great parents, Samson and Gabby, from a nest that had sufficient prey for everyone. Here is Samson delivering a fish for Legacy. Legacy has been self-feeding for some time now.

Legacy decided to see if she could fly like her dad!

Laddie LM12 and Blue NC0 have been bringing in nesting materials between gaps in the storms that have been plaguing Scotland around Loch of the Lowes. They have also been having to fend off intruders from their nest. Everyone wants the best nest in the neighbourhood – and no doubt this one so close to the loch is prime real estate.

And last for today the White Bellied Sea Eagles whose nest is in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park have been coming in over the last few days. They have been bringing sticks and making some nestorations. Still a couple of months before thoughts of eaglets come to mind on that nest.

Take care everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today. I do wish someone would set up a food table next to the osprey nest in St Petersburg. They did this at Rutland for one of the nests when a partner was MIA and it worked. But maybe Jack will be moved to action. Every time I say something bad about him he shows up with fish. I remain cautiously hopeful.

Thank you to the following streaming cams: Achieva Credit Union Osprey Cam, Pittsburg Hays Osprey Cam, Derek the Farmer, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, NEFL Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Bywyd Gwylit Glaslyn Wildlife, and Cors Dyfi Wildlife Reserve.

Bobbleheads and more Bobbleheads

The Bald Eagle nest at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey had three eggs. There is something really interesting and ‘cute’ going on at this nest. The oldest chick was born on 26 February and the little one was born on 2 March. If the third egg is going to hatch we should be watching for pips today or tomorrow. This experienced gorgeous mom is going to have her hands full! And quite a few other mothers as there appears to be a glut of Bald Eagle nests with three eggs in them this year.

When the parent is not around the oldest one sends a message of dominance by bonking the little one. This drives me nuts because I am always afraid that one of them will be injured. These little guys are, however, remarkable in their resilience.

4 March 2021 Bonking @Duke Farms Eagle Cam
Look at me! I am the boss! @Duke Farms Eagle Cam

However, when the mother is feeding and the big one stands in front, the little one has already figured out how to stretch its neck to get food from mom.

Let’s see how far I can stretch over my big sib. @Duke Farms Eagle Cam
Ha, ha. I did it. Mom saw me. @Duke Farms Eagle Cam

This is going to be interesting. At one time it actually gave the older sib a bit of a peck on the neck to get it to move so it could have a bite of fish! This little one is really smart. Those images were taken on 4 March 2021.

On 5 March, Mom has both lined up. There is not going to be any nonsense. Aren’t they precious?

One bite for you and another one for your sib. @Duke Farms Eagle Cam

At the Harrison Bay Bald Eagle nest in Tennessee, Athena and Eliot have welcomed HB 17 and HB 18 on 4 March. Looks like we have another set of twins. There is one more egg to hatch on the HB nest. The streaming cam didn’t focus in on the little ones but you can sure make out that there are two wiggling underneath their mom.

If you want to keep abreast of these little ones, here is the link to the Harrison Bay Cam:

And the new dad at the Kisatchie National Forest nest (NNF) is one super provider. On 4 March, it looked like there were parts of at least eight fish on that nest. Mom and baby continue to improve their feeding and eating rituals. It looks like they are going to have to eat much more or the parents will be building the nest rails out of those fish with dad stacking them up more and more.

Food Security @KNF Streaming Cam
Ah, that’s right. I turn this way and you bite that way! We got this. @KNF Streaming Cam

Here is the link to the KNF nest in case you want to see these new parents continue to learn and their only little eaglet grow. Look closely. There is a cute little tail forming – that white line of feathers on its tiny little end. If you would like to try and name this little eaglet, please send your name suggestions before March 7 to: nameKNFeagle@gmail.com

This week has been absolutely crazy with Ospreys laying eggs, Bald Eagles laying eggs, Ospreys flying home to the UK to their nests, and with the arrival of spring the first Canada Geese and Bald Eagles arriving in Manitoba. It is impossible to keep track of each and everyone!

You might, however, be wondering about that Great Horned Owl that took over the Bald Eagle nest near Newton, Kansas. This morning Bonnie appears to be sitting higher on her nest, is much more alert, and is doing tiny little chirpy hoots. This gular fluttering could be a way to regulate her temperature since it is a little getting warmer. Gular fluttering is a vibration of the bird’s throat tissues. But it is only 53 degrees F. Could it also mean that there might be some hatching?

Oh, I want to surprise everyone including Clyde. @Derek the Farmer

The link to catch all the action of Bonnie and Clyde, the Great Horned Owls that stole a Bald Eagle Nest is here:

Have a fabulous Friday everyone. Thanks for joining our check in on ‘the birds and their babies’.

Thanks to the following streaming cams listed under the captured shots.