Tuesday edition, ‘As the Nest Turns’

Sometimes I just sit and stare at the birds. They are incredibly beautiful. The nestlings, fledglings, or soon-to-be fledglings seem to change over night.

Take Tiny Tot, for example. Three weeks ago many wondered if s/he would even live to fledge. Today, I kept pinching myself making squealing sounds like Legacy because Tiny Tot really has grown into a magnificent Osprey.

Tiny Tot has a broad brown-black band running from in front of the eye, through the eye connecting with another band and going down to the shoulder.

10 May 2021
10May 2021

Just stop for a moment and look at that piercing amber coloured eye and that perfect strongly hooked black beak.

10 May 2021

Tiny Tot’s crest is variegated with more brown than white. If the wind would blow more that crest would stand up.

10 May 2021

The plumage helps to camouflage the nestlings before the permanently leave the nest.

The image below stopped me in my tracks – Tiny Tot standing next to Diane looking out to the traffic. I noticed today, for the first time, that Tiny hesitated when food arrived preferring at that second to continue to look at the moving objects below the nest. S/he has been working its wings more and more and sadly, our dear little one that no one believed would make it, will fledge. Maybe Tiny Tot you can hang around the nest for a month getting those flight muscles strong and letting Mom Diane feed you! That would be simply grand.

Wonder if Diane was giving Tiny any advice?

10 May 2021

Both Eve and Eerik were on the nest today. Look at Even looking down at that little one. Eve’s beak is sooooo big and the eaglets so tiny and yet, Eve can take the tiniest piece of prey and place it directly so the little one can grab it with its beak.

10 May 2021

Oh, that one is full! It is that gentle look, staring at the little one – from a big wooly White-tail Eagle mom.

10 May 2021

It is going to be a nice day for Big Red and Arthur and the Ks in Ithaca, NY. There is only a slight chance of rain in the middle of the night for an hour and maybe that will disappear. Full sun tomorrow and it will be around 12 degrees C.

At least two of the Ks were awake early in the morning when Big Red got up, stretched, and took a break. You can still see the white dot, the egg tooth that helped them pound their way out of their shell, at hatch, on the end of their beak. Soon that egg tooth will disappear as the beak and the toes are two areas that really develop during the eyasses first two weeks of life.

Cute little Ks. 11 May 2021

Arthur comes in early to give Big Red her breakfast, to watch the Ks, and to check on their pantry. The chipmunk is still there for last evening.

Arthur’s early morning check in. 11 May 2021

Looks like K1 is getting a little warm from the brooding and restless, too.

11 May 2021

Big Red is ready for another break. Look at how her apron of beautiful red feathers covers those little Ks while she broods them.

11 May 2021

Being every so gentle, Big Red backs up so that she does not injure a K or two. Notice how the nest bowl is indented. This allows Big Red to straddle the chicks so that they can move about under her.

Big Red’s beautiful striped feather apron. 11 May 2021
Ever so careful getting off the nest cup. 11 May 2021

Bye Mom! What a difference 24 hours makes. Big Red can leave the Ks in the sunshine for a few minutes without fear of them getting wet or too cold.

At last some sun for the Ks. 11 May 2021

For all of those who were disappointed that Louis moved to a different nest with his new female, today there is exciting news at Loch Arkaig. A blue banded female, 152 (left side) and an unringed male are on the nest. The female is calling loudly for a fish! Wonder if they will stay? They sure would have prime real estate!

New occupants for Loch Arkaig? 11 May 2021

And while I cannot show you, I understand from folks in the area that Louis and his new mate now have at least one egg on their nest! Great news for this wonderful Osprey dad.

The two little Bobs at the Manton Bay Osprey Nest at Rutland, have fantastic parents – May and Blue 33 (11). Generally, the males fledge and return to raise their own families near to their natal nest. That is true for Blue 33 (11) who hatched at nest B at Manton Bay. He is the son of a mega-super star Osprey 03 (97) who was translocated from Scotland to Rutland to restore the Osprey population there. 03 (97) you might recall was known as Mr Rutland. Mr Rutland had three mates and hatched and fledged 32. He failed to return from his migration in 2016 when he was 18 years old. In the image below are two of his grandchildren. They definitely have amazing Osprey DNA!

Since 2015, Maya and Blue 33 (11) have raised 21 chicks to fledge with – if this third egg hatches – eleven osplets in just three seasons. Blue 33 (11) might be working to get that megastar status, too, or better his dad.

Fish dinner. 11 May 2021

Look how strong those Bobs are holding their heads up straight. My goodness the little one is hardly a day old!

The Two Bobs being fed some fish. 11 May 2021

At the beginning of the season, it was not clear whether Laddie would be able to attract and keep NC0 at his nest at Loch of the Lowes. Laddie wasn’t even sure that he wanted to share his fish with her! Well, fast forward and we will be on hatch watch starting Sunday 16 May for this pair of Scottish Ospreys.

NC0 incubating her three eggs. 11 May 2021

There has been a lot of kerfuffle over at the Glaslyn Nest the past few days. Mrs G has been trying to incubate her three eggs in the midst of intrusions by another female. Mrs G is the oldest breeding female in Wales. She has been fledging ospreys – 41 of them -since 2004! Talk about a mega-star on the Osprey breeding chart! Of those 41, her and Aran haver raised 15 fledglings to date. Mrs G is just returning to the nest after eating her fish and Aran is getting off. You can see their three eggs. I have hatch watch down for them starting this upcoming weekend, too. Oh, it is going to get busy!

Thank you for joining me today. It is a gorgeous spring day on the Canadian prairies. The leaves are just wanting to burst forth. It is still too early to put in the annual plantings as it will drop down to 1 degree C during the night this week. Fingers crossed for next week on that front. Tomorrow the two eaglets at Duke Farms will get their satellite trackers. Fantastic. Wish Tiny Tot had one. Take care all!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I capture my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, The Eagle Club of Estonia, the Cornell Bird Lab, LRWT, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust and People Postcode Lottery,

Babies, Branching, and Bittersweet

It is all too quick. One minute they are little chicks bonking and bopping like the three Ks of Big Red and Arthur and then they are branching and fledging. It is all bittersweet.

Arthur has already begun to line prey up around the egg cup at the Fernow Light Tower nest in Ithaca, New York. Look at the crop on K1. I never get tired of watching these little eyasses grow. Arthur and Big Red are such devoted parents.

6 March 2021

Adorable. Simply adorable.

Oh, look at those little cutie pies. The Ks. 6 May 2021

Annie and Grinnell’s eyasses are a little older than the Ks. Their pin feathers are really growing in and they now spend their time preening, sleeping, or eating!

Look, you can see their little tail feathers starting to grow! People say the feather growth makes the eyasses itchy. How would a human know what it feels like to grow feathers? Birds are the only living thing on the planet that has them.

They are starting to get to the clown foot stage, too. Oh, they love that pigeon Grinnell is feeding them.

It is raining in Estonia and Eve is very careful not to get the little ones wet. Until they have their contour feathers they are not protected. Thermal down will help them against the cold but for now, they have to rely on mom to keep them both warm and dry.

I included the image below for two reasons. The first is the distinctive white tail feathers of the White-tailed eagles. Aren’t they gorgeous? And the second reason is to have a look at the feathers. Each of Eve’s feathers has a central shaft with tiny barbules that lock together like Velcro. They lay flat and make the bird waterproof. Feathers grow out of skin follicles.

White-tail eagles are the largest apex raptors in Europe. They also have the largest average wing span of any eagle in the world. Their wings span averages 2.4 metres or 8 feet. Did you know that they are on the coat of arms of Germany? They are Germany’s national bird just like the Bald Eagle is the national bird of the United States.

Today, both Kisatchie at the Kistachie National Forest Bald Eagle nest and one of the pair of the Bald Eaglets at Duke Farms branched. Kisatchie had no one to cheer him on but the eaglet that branched below got a high five from its sibling for a job well done. It won’t be long til the sib is jumping up on that branch, too!

We are still on hatch watch with Maya and Blue 33 (11) at Rutland Mantou Bay. Tomorrow the first egg laid will be 38 days old (May 7).

And, of course, the bittersweet. In a month or so, E17 and E18 along with Legacy will leave us to make their own way out into the world. And sooner than I want, Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot will fledge.

Legacy is waiting for Samson to bring her the evening meal. It is nearly 7:30 and he normally visits the nest around 5:30 with a food drop.

Legacy is not starving. Remember, Gabby and Samson are trying to teach her about what life will be like outside of the nest. Food is not always plentiful and eagles do not eat every day in the wild. Legacy had a squirrel yesterday and a big hunk of fish the day before. It is nearly 8:30 p, in the image below and it seems Legacy might have to wait and hope for breakfast.

Meanwhile, Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot is having some nice fish. Diane seems to really enjoy feeding Tiny. Often they are on the nest together as #2 sibling flies around and lands on the perch pole. There has been no sighting of #1 sibling. She fledged, returned to the nest once and is MIA. Normally, the raptors depend on their parents for food from 4-6 weeks after fledged (an average overall – some stay longer). They eat at the nest and strengthen their flying muscles. Sometimes the parents feed them ‘off nest’. It is not clear what is happening with #1 sibling and because she is not banded, we will never know.

I am clearly going to miss Legacy and Tiny Tot when the fledge. Unless there is some very distinctive marker – like the dots in Iris’s left eye or the tear in the wing of WBSE 24, unringed birds are simply not that recognizable, one from the other.

And the last news of the day, Iris, the oldest living Osprey in the world laid her first egg of the 2021 season at her Hellgate Nest in Missoula, Montana today at 18:04:31. I would like to hope that if nature intends it, Iris would get to be a mother again. Her last successful hatch with Louis was in 2018. As you know, I wish this day had not come but it has and now we wait to see how the season will twist and turn.

There is a new director for the Cornell Bird Laboratory, Dr Ian Owens. In an interview that came out in the latest edition of Living Bird, Dr Owens remembers the bird that changed his life. He was fifteen and the bird was an Eurasian Marsh-Harrier. Dr Owens will take charge in July.

Like Dr Owens, there are many of you reading this that will recall the first time that a bird influenced your life. Mine was over four and a half years ago when I met Sharpie’s female mate. I haven’t seen her for awhile but Sharpie stopped by today. I rejoice in seeing him – whether it is for a few minutes or an hour. They certainly changed my life and I will be forever grateful. It is just like the joy that all of the birds give us each day.

So take care everyone and remember – March 8 is Bird Count Day. I will remind you tomorrow with the link so you can submit your count. It helps everyone understand the perils of migration. Thank you for joining me!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I get my screen shots: NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Achieva Credit Union, The Eagle Club of Estonia, UC Falcon Cam, Duke Farms, Cornell Bird Lab RTH, Cornell Bird Lab and the Montana Osprey Project, and LRWT Rutland.

As the Nest Turns is spinning faster!

Big Red left the Fernow Lightbox Nest with the 2Ks at 14:10:46. She returned at 14:24:14. The temperature in Ithaca was 25 degrees C and the 2 Ks were fine. They got some much needed warmth from the sun.

Oh, gosh, aren’t they the cutest with those tiny little wings and fat little bottoms!

Oh, look at K1 looking up to its Mom. How sweet. And look what Big Red has in her talons!!!!! Looks like rabbit is in the pot for dinner.

Often Arthur will hunt – his job is provide the food for the family, security for the territory, and support for Big Red – and leave prey at a drop off for Big Red to pick up and take to the nest. Sometimes Big Red hunts herself. We will never know who caught the bunny but there it is – it will become hawk. I sound like a broken record but these kids will never be short of food – never. And if they are there will have had to have been a major catastrophe in the area.

The vandalism at the Llyn Brenig Osprey nest caught the attention of one of the BBC morning programmes. On Saturday night the platform was approached by boat and cut down with a chainsaw. A tragedy. On that nest was the female and her egg. Alternative arrangements have been made for the Ospreys which Wales Water hopes they will take advantage of – one is a new platform close by and another is a replacement platform where their original one was.

Here is that broadcast:

As gleeful as I am to see Big Red and her very trusted mate, Arthur, enjoying their beautiful babies, I am equally joyful to see ‘no’ eggs on the nest of Iris at the Hellgate Osprey Nest. Her mate, Louis, has two nests. Historically he has not been the best provider for Iris, the oldest breeding Osprey in the world. There has been nothing short of heart ache for Iris since her mate, Stanley, died. I am glad there are no eggs. Iris will not take another mate because she is bonded to this nest in Louis’s territory. Another male will not come and take over unless he takes out Louis – and then what about Starr and her osplets? It is very complicated. Raising chicks takes a toll on both of the parents.

Over in the United Kingdom, Maya and Blue 33 (11) woke up to a soggy morning. Blue 33 (11) loves sleeping and cuddling next to his mate. Their devotion to one another is refreshing when I think about what Iris’s life could be and isn’t.

As the day progressed, the sun came up and Maya dried out. It is day 35 for that first egg that Maya laid. You might remember that her and Blue 33 (11) were the first couple to return from their winter migration to Africa on 19 March. The normal incubation period for Ospreys is 35-42 days. We are now on hatch watch for this lovely couple!

If you would like to catch out the action, here is the link to their camera at Rutland Mantou:

I often get frustrated with prey delivery to the nests. The birds cannot, of course, go to a store and buy a bunny or a fish. They have to hunt and fish for their food. It was a lot easier for the birds to do this before we took over their land or killed it with pesticides and herbicides. Boating and fishing leave their mark on the health and well-being of the birds as well.

Here is a video of Richmond, the mate of Rosie, at the San Francisco Osprey Nest on the Whirley Crane. It is a 6 minute clip of him going out to fish. Richmond is a bit like Arthur – he is an incredible provider.

If you would rather not look at the video, I can show you that Richmond was successful but it was the legion of trips that he had to do across the water that is so impressive.

It is evening in the United Kingdom and any snow that was on the Welsh Osprey nests yesterday is now gone.

Mrs G is on her nest at Glaslyn as the sun is setting and all is fine.

Telyn is on her nest and all is well. She apparently called out to a train when it went by! No hatch alerts for either of these two nests. More than a week to go at either one (or a little more).

And the last for today, the White Tail Eagle nest in Estonia of Eve and Eerik. Eerik is another great dad – he is working on keeping the pantry full enough. Those two little ones are really growing. Everything is positively fine on this nest. The little ones sit up and eat and there is no mischief!

Thank you so much for joining me. I will see you tomorrow. Have a great evening! It is a wonderful day to work in the garden. I noticed there is now green on the rose bushes and the peony shoots are about 10 cm high. Stay safe everyone.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Eagle Club of Estonia, Dyfi Osprey Project, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, Cornell Bird Lab and the Montana Osprey Project, LRWT Osprey Project with Rutland Water and Rutland Wildlife Trust and, Bay Ospreys by Golden Gate Audubon.