Today in Bird World

After watching the Port Lincoln Osprey Nest last year and Iris at Hellsgate in Montana, I vowed ‘never again’. The death of the third hatch, little Tapps, was simply too much. I vowed to stick with watching Big Red and Arthur at the Fernow Nest in Ithaca, New York, two or three Peregrine Falcon nests, and I would check in occasionally on the Royal Albatross at Taiaroa Head. But then something happened and the Achieva Osprey nest became a constant while I waited for Big Red and Arthur to start their nest renovations and the eggs to arrive and watched others periodically. I remember before the notion of competition set in that it was so lovely to see the three politely standing and being fed. It gave me hope. I watched the 2020 highlights of the Loch Arkaig Osprey nest and fell in love with Louis, Aila, Doddie, Vera, and of course, JJ7 – Captain. Tiny Tot reminds me, in a way, of the challenges that JJ7 could have had but, didn’t. Louis fished day and night to feed his family and he was on the nest helping Aila tandem feed. One took JJ7, the tiny little male, third born – the ‘tercel’. The other parent fed the two bigger ones. Everyone thrived! Just thinking about it puts a smile on my face.

27 June 2020 Loch Arkaig Osprey Nest
5 July 2020. Loch Arkaig Osprey Nest

It was a very good thing that Tiny Tot, the youngest on the Achieva Osprey nest had its own private feeding yesterday from 4:27-4:48. Tiny was so full that even with Diane insisting, he could not hold another bite. Today, he had only about five small morsels of fish. The two early fish deliveries were too small to fill Tiny up never mind 1 and 2. But Tiny did bide his time and got up when there was some fish left to have 2 step in and decide it was not full enough. Having waited long enough for Jack to deliver food, Diane brought in a nice sized fish to feed all at 7:22. Then Jack showed up, with a crop, and took it before she could even feed a bite to the chicks. It was dark when Jack returned the fish but, I bet he ate the nice head. Normally, I would agree he should. It is hard work fishing – they say that they have a 20% success rate. But Jack had a crop. Neither Diane or Tiny got more than a couple of bites. Of course, the question remains ‘why’. The pattern is roughly three good days and three relatively poor ones. I hope that tomorrow Jack proves me wrong.

Just as I hope Jack surprises me tomorrow, an article on Ospreys surprised me today. It wasn’t actually the article – the world needs more stories about these magnificent birds. Rather, it was the glossy weekly magazine that is known more for politics and its reviews of art, restaurants, books, and the theatre-The New Yorker. ‘The Joy of Watching the Ospreys Return.’ is by Alexander Aciman. Aciman shares his love of one particular Osprey nest that he has watched for many, many years. The article describes the incredible abilities of the Osprey including the fact that the mated pair leave separately, winter in different locations yet return to ‘their’ nest in the spring. The author is amazed by the ability of these fish eating birds to travel from the United States to Mexico, Central or South America and return to a spot no bigger than a sofa cushion, annually. There was sadness at the nest in 2020 – all three chicks died. Park rangers determined that the cause was parasites living in the nest and to avoid the same catastrophic event again, they tore down the old nest after the couple had migrated. Aciman wonders if the mated pair will return after such sadness. To date, the female has arrived and is rebuilding the nest.

In my post were two books. Population Ecology of Raptors by Ian Newton is ex-library. Published in 1979, the book covers dispersion, breeding density and everything else to do with breeding, mortality rates at the time and causes, as well as conservation ecology. It came highly recommended but with a word of caution – we have learned much because of streaming cams, tagging, and satellite transmitters and facts about raptors have changed since 1979. You might want to have a peek. Maybe your library still has a copy or can order it for you.

UC Berkeley Peregrine Falcon Nest. Hatch watch beings on 17 April!

The second book is Becoming Wild. How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace by Carl Safina. As one of the reviewers states, ‘Safina has the potential to change our relationship with the natural world.’ I like Safina for his directness. The book examines the lives of three non-human species: Sperm Whales, Scarlet Macaws, and Chimpanzees.

Safina tells us how they live, how they teach one another, and how they learn. And then he hits his readers with the question: ‘Will we let them continue to exist or will we finalize their annihilation?’ I am looking forward to writing a full review of this book for you when I have finished reading it and digested its contents. My speed reading of the Introduction and part of chapter 1 tells me this book is going to be more than interesting.

Just checking in on some of the Osprey nests in the United Kingdom today. They sure were having nasty weather for April the past couple of days with snow and gale force winds.

Laddie (LM12) and Blue NC0 have had to deal with the high winds tearing up their nest and then snow.

There was wet snow over at the Clywedog Nest in Wales. This is Dylan bringing a gift of a pinecone for Seren (Blue F5).

A soaked Dylan comes in with a beautiful pinecone as a gift for Seren. 6 April 2021

The Loch Arkaig Osprey Nest has been experiencing blizzard like conditions. Everyone is hoping that Louis and Aila will arrive anytime but the bad weather might have slowed them down. Even so, Osprey are perfectly capable of being covered in snow and incubating their eggs with no dire results.

Over at the Rutland Mantou Bay nest, Blue 33 (11) has been bringing in more nesting materials for Maya who is incubating the couples three eggs. Today, she has also had to defend her nest against another intruder. Maya is formidable and I wouldn’t want to land on her nest by mistake!

Blue 33 (11) brings in nesting materials.

I love how Blue 33 (11) loves to spend time with Maya on the nest cuddled together. He is a great catch! Maya, you are sooooooo lucky!

Thank you for joining me today and for sharing your lives with these wonderful birds. More news tomorrow on any more arrivals of UK Osprey and a look at satellite tracking and its benefits. Take care!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I obtained my screen shots: Rutland Mantou Bay Ospreys, Woodland Trust and Peoples Play Lottery, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Carnyx Wild Wales YouTube channel, and UC Berkeley Peregrine Falcon Cam.

Ospreys – the raging mad and the wonderful

My daughter asked me today if I would continue to watch the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida. She had a very good point. Tiny Tot or 3 (some call it Tumbles) was born on 5 March. Since the 12th of March, I have notes indicating that Jack, the male, needs to bring in more fish. I have notes that Tiny Tot was fed well one day and had no food for two days. That was three weeks ago. Many have invested in their own stress level height since food procurement on this nest became a visible problem – not only to streaming cam watchers but to the older osprey. The perception or the reality that there is not enough contributes to food competition and siblicide. This nest has literally been like a rollercoaster ride for everyone including Diane, the mother, who found as many morsels as she could to feed Tiny from 1:15-1:53 today. He had a bit of a crop. Continued large fish coming into the nest on a regular basis – a real effort on the part of Jack – is required.

There are ‘good’ Osprey nests to watch. Everyone has their favourite. I am going to only mention five today so if you have a favourite, let me know – and tell me why you like that nest so much! I am going to start with the first one because the female has already laid two eggs this season. That nest belongs to Maya and Blue 33 (11). This is a dad that cuddles with the female. They almost arrive together from their winter migration to Africa. They are an amazing duo. Blue 33 (11) does not have another nest with chicks to feed! He is totally devoted to Maya and their chicks and their nest is Rutland Mantou Bay.

Mary Kerr did the hearts on this image for the Loch Arkaig FB group. I want to make sure she gets the credit, not me. And one of the things Mary said was, ‘Maya really lucked out when she got him in 2014 as a mate’.

You can watch these two lovebirds on the Rutland Mantou Bay Nest at the following link:

The second nest is at Loch Arkaig, home to Louis and Aila. They are due to be back at the nest around 5 April. I will put in the highlights from their 2020 season. I like this nest because Louis works day and night to feed those babies. Last year Aila laid three eggs and they all hatched. I watched a tandem feeding when the little one, Captain, was fed by itself while the two bigger, older chicks were fed by the other parent. It was joyful and it brought my faith back in ospreys after seeing little Tapps die at Port Lincoln. Here is the video of the highlights from the 2020 nest at Loch Arkaig. The three siblings are believed to be 2 males and a female. Doddie the first born is a male, Vera the female, and Little Captain, a male is banded Blue JJ7. Enjoy it! When Louis and Aila return, I will be sure to let you know. The link to their nest is below the video.

And the link to the Loch Arkaig site for when Louis and Aila return in a few days:

All of these nests are wonderful and I have not listed them in rank order. My third nest is that of Idris and Blue 33 Telyn at the Dfyi Nest in Wales. Idris is known to be loyal, a great protector, and provider! You can access this popular couples nest here:

And I have two other nests to mention. One is in the UK and the other is in San Francisco.

I could not leave this page and not have included the nest of Mrs G and Aran. Mrs G is the oldest osprey in the United Kingdom, believed to be twenty-one years old. She is a powerhouse. This couple are at the Glaslyn Osprey Nest in Wales and here is the link:

And the last of the Osprey nests is the one in San Francisco Bay with Richmond and Rosie. Richmond is more known for his antics of bringing objects – aprons, toys, etc – to the nest but the two actually work well together. Richmond lives in San Francisco year round and Rosie migrates for the winter. Rosie is now incubating three eggs. The first was laid on 24 March, the second on 27 March, and the third on 30 March. That will keep Richmond busy bringing in fish when they hatch! Here is the link to their nest:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1gn6yIRa_cBKExVmHdg3jQ

That link provides you to a number of past videos, too.

A fish came into the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida at 5:33:51. Tiny Tot got a few bites after the two bigger ones but he still has a crop from his earlier feeding. This is much better than being sunk in all over as he had been. I live in hope that the momentum of fish – some big fish – a small one is not enough – come in and Tiny makes it.

I have written in-depth about many of the ospreys on these nests in other blogs. That information often includes their biography. When everything goes well, there is nothing more wonderful than seeing these amazing fish eagles thrive and fledge. They have a difficult life – the ones that migrate. The trip is 4000 miles one way over large bodies of water, mountains, and deserts. 50% do not make it.

Thank you for joining me today. All of the other nests that I follow seem to be doing really well today. For those of you that celebrate Easter – have a Happy Easter Weekend. Take care everyone.

Thank you so much to the following for their streaming cams. This is where I get my screen shots: the Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg, Florida; the Bywd Gwyllt Glaslyun Wildlife, Bay Osprey by Golden Gate Audubon, Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Friends of Loch Arkaig, Rutland Wildlife at the Mantou Bay Nest, Mary Kerr for her cute FB image of Maya and Blue 33 (11), the Woodland Trust and People Play Lottery, and the LRWT Rutland Osprey Project.