Late Thursday and early Friday in Bird World

Congratulations to Richmond and Rosie on the safe hatch of their third osplet on 5 May.

Rosie was ever so excited to tell Richmond and to introduce him to the new baby.

The two at The Landings Osprey Nest on Skidaway Island near Savannah had nice large crops at 20:24 on 6 May. Oh, these two are growing. The oldest is on the right and the youngest on the left. Its colouring is very dark and quite lovely.

Big Red was trying to give the Ks a late night feed of rabbit but they appear to still be working out precisely what to do at chow time. It won’t be long til they are clamouring for those tasty morsels.

The little ones were definitely more awake and ready for breakfast! Look how strong they get in such a short period of time.

We haven’t checked in on the Great Horned Owls, Bonnie and Clyde, and their two owlets for awhile. It was a good day to go and watch. At 20:52 Lily fledged! It was amazing.

Both Lily and Tiger are on the nest as the sun begins to set.

Tiger flies away and Lily looks up at the branch where Clyde used to land when she was wee so that Bonnie could fly up and get the prey without being off the nest too long.

Lily flies to the branch.

She turns around and looks. Maybe she sees Tiger.

And off she goes – a blur between the two branches on the left.

Lily is an even fainter blur in the bottom left corner. Congratulations Lily Rose – you are now a fledgling!

Samson brought Legacy her breakfish at 10:02:24. Dad got out of the way pretty quickly. Legacy got her talons into his legs and talons during the last delivery. Ouch. That must have hurt!

Looks like Samson is playing the surrogate sibling eating the fish.

Legacy flies down from her branch and Samson tries to get out of the way quick. Legacy needs to learn how to take fish away from other eagles to survive.

Great mantling job, Legacy!!!!!!!!

Parent keeps a watchful eye guarding the nest as Legacy eats.

There is still no hatch at the Rutland Mantou Bay Osprey nest of Maya and Blue 33 (11). It is day 38 hour 16.

Iris incubated her egg overnight and is sitting on the perch post this morning. I wonder if Louis might bring her a fish? If not she is going to have to get her own and we know the Raven is just watching and waiting for Iris to leave. Remember, most mates will bring the female food. Louis has two nests. Gosh, I wish he would help Iris.

Eve is feeding the two little ones this morning – it is the evening meal in Estonia. It is interesting that she keeps the fish fresh by placing them under the straw of the nest. It reminds me of how humans used to keep ice from thawing.

In the image below you can see Eve uncovering the fish for the babies who are just waking up.

Oh, yum. This is such a pleasant nest to watch. One of my favourites. Dependable parents who don’t allow any nonsense from the kiddos. Everyone gets fed – just like at Big Red’s nest.

Tiny Tot has done well this morning. There was a fish delivery at 8:02:42. Tiny Tot got it.

Jack flies away while Tiny Tot mantles the fish.

Eventually sibling #2 takes it away. Diane watches as #2 eats the fish. She is very observant about what goes on the nest. It looked like she was going to take it away and then Tiny Tot grabbed it back and finished it off!

It was interesting watching Diane. She let sibling #2 eat enough fish for her and then stepped in to create a diversion so Tiny could also get a meal. Fabulous mom.

At 8:42:45 Tiny Tot takes the fish and self-feeds in the shade of mom.

At 11:44:13, Jack arrives on the nest with another fish. And look who is ready for another fish meal – Diane and Tiny!

Tiny Tot is very confident and doesn’t shy away when sibling #2 gets a whiff of fish on the nest and comes to share. How wonderful!

Thank you for joining me this morning. I will send out a reminder to you this evening because tomorrow is the day to count all of the birds in your neighbourhood. Join with hundreds of thousands of people around the world doing Citizen Science to help us understand about migration.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams. That is where I get my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, NEFlorida Eagle Cam and the AEF, The Eagle Club of Estonia, LRWT Rutland Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey Project, Farmer Derek, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, and the Golden Gate Audubon Osprey Cam.

Saturday happenings in Bird World

Since Legacy fledged on 26 April, returned, and then left the nest at 9:53:51 on the 28th, I have worried – like so many others – about where she was and if she was alright. Was she injured? did she get chased from the territory by smaller birds? Samson and Gabby came to the nest tree with fish and called – they spent hours scanning the top of the trees for a sight of their Legacy. We just wanted to get one more glimpse of the most beautiful Bald Eagle who had survived Avian Pox and who had grown up just to be a magnificent eagle. Stunning. We wanted to know that she was alright – that nothing had happened to her! She was given the name ‘Legacy’ because she would carry on the lineage from Romeo and Juliet, her grandparents, who had hatched Samson in that very same nest in Jacksonville. How could she just be gone? poof!

Yesterday, I was certain that Legacy did a flyby at 9:35:15. In the 47 seconds it took for Samson to get to the nest tree, Legacy was gone. Has their timing just been bad?

One of my eagle experts tells me that the fledglings have to ‘imprint’ the way back to the natal nest.

This morning Legacy returned to her natal tree at 10:41:31. It is the first time in three days that one or both of her parents were not sitting on the Lookout Branch trying to locate her! Legacy spent the day calling. During this time individuals noticed that she had done a couple of crop drops and she also did a ‘ps’. There is some yellow – the ps should be white – indicating slight dehydration according to my eagle expert.

I thought her call sounded hoarse but I am a worrisome auntie of this beautiful bird. She waited on the nest all day long and is, as I write, looking out over the trees from the Lookout Branch. I hope she spends the night in her nest resting and that Samson and Gabrielle return in the morning with a nice big fish for Legacy’s breakfast.

And, of course, we are all now worrying where the parents are! If anyone told you Bird World was serene and peaceful, they were joking!

Sibling #2 at the Achieva Osprey nest fledged – and I should have been jumping up and down with joy but, I was consumed with Legacy. That fledge took place at 6:57:10. It was a really nice take off but 2 almost taloned Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot with a rather undignified return landing at 7:04:43.

Barbara Snyder put together an 8 minute video of the take off, the wait, and the landing. Here it is:

Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot the Raptor has eaten and grown and eaten and grown today. I will never forget this bird for the hilarious poses with its full crop. Today there were a few more of those to enjoy. Everyone can rest easy. Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot is full. Here is one of those funny crop shots.

The two little ones at the Estonia White-tailed Eagle nest of Eve and Eerik are growing and they love their feedings. Both of them really perk up when Eve gets up and announces it is meal time. So far there is nothing to worry about on this nest! Whew.

The two osplets on The Landings Skidaway Island Osprey nest were alright this morning. I am so used to the nests having food in the pantry that I get a little nervous checking on this nest. That lack of fish has caused the older sibling to have some food security issues. Things were peaceful when I checked in several times this morning and right after lunch. They were, however, hoping for a fish delivery when the image below was taken. You can see that the smaller one, at the back, does not have a crop.

Well, there are no food insecurities of any kind in San Francisco. The three eyasses of Annie and Grinnell have the ‘food thing’ all figured out. They are even grabbing at the prey when it is delivered breaking off chunks and eating them! These three are incredible. Self-feeding 101.

I so wanted to get a good image of Tiger and Lily Rose, the two owlets of Bonnie and Clyde, who took over the Bald Eagle nest on a farm near Newton, Kansas. They have thrived under the great care of their parents. Both have been introduced to eating mice, then snake, graduating to rabbit, and birds. There is a rumour floating around that they had a tug-o-war with a snake yesterday. I am so sorry I missed that – it would have been hilarious.

Images taken from a streaming cam are deceiving. Sometimes the angle makes a part of the owl’s body look larger than it actually is – or smaller. I remember viewers of the White-Bellied Sea Eagle cam horrified that the right foot of WBSE 26 was swollen to three or four times its normal size. It was, simply, the angle of the camera. Because Tiger and Lily Rose are in this huge nest – 2 metres wide – they appear small. Their round feathers that will allow them to fly in silence look so soft. Someone told me today that they really just wanted to pick one of them up and cuddle it. What do you think? wise idea?

Bonnie and Clyde will feed Tiger and Lily Rose in the nest and off. They will continue this even though Tiger and Lily are catching their own food and until such time as the two little ones leave the territory.

The trio at the Pittsburg Hayes Bald Eagle nest were having their afternoon siesta when a cute little red squirrel decided he would climb the nest tree and take a peek to see what was inside that big nest. Oh, my. Good thing he got away quick – he would have been a nice snack!

Harry spent a long time with the two eaglets that hatched on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Bald Eagle cam five weeks ago. This evening he came roaring in and, of course, the eaglets thought food delivery.

But there was nothing between those talons. So Harry went to check in the pantry and couldn’t find anything either.

It’s 8:20 pm. It is wonderful that the daylight lasts so much longer now than it did in the winter. Harry might just have time to grab a fish or maybe that is what Nancy is doing right now – hunting.

Things on the nest calmed down. If you look at the eaglet on the far left you will notice that it has a crop. These kiddos can wait til morning if nothing arrives now. They are fine. The parents are a super team and this is not a nest that I worry about. They had a nice big feed of fish earlier. You can see that big crop on the little one sitting by Nancy (below).

Big Red is still incubating three eggs. When you want something to happen, time just seems to drag. Simply cannot wait for the hatch of these little ones. You talk about amazing avian parents – Big Red and Arthur are it! Hands down.

Arthur has spoiled me. I am used to seeing an egg cup lined with prey just ready for Big Red to grab it and feed the the eyasses. I cannot even imagine an empty pantry.

In closing, I want to brag a little. The Newfoundland Power Company set up a number of Osprey nests. One is called the Snow Lane Nest and I will leave the link so you can check on that nest. The resident male Osprey, Beaumont, just returned to Canada on 30 April.

The camera was launched on 29 May 2019 but the story began three years earlier when Newfoundland Power was contacted by Rob Bierregaard of Drexel University in Pennsylvania. Drexel had an interest in tagging some of the osprey hatchlings from Newfoundland so their migratory journey to and from South America could be plotted. The Newfoundland Osprey are believed to winter at the border of Columbia and Venezula. One of those Ospreys was Shanawdithit. That name was bestowed on the Osprey as a memorial to the last known living member of the Beothuk people. The Beothuk are the original inhabitants of Newfoundland. Shanawdithit is a female and she was tagged. Shanawdithit had an unnamed partner so the power company held a competition for the name. A grade 5 student, Aurora Hickey, picked the name Beaumont. That name is a tribute to the Newfoundland regiment that was almost completely wiped out on 1 July 1916, in France during Word War I, the Beaumont-Hamel. Sadly, Shanawdithit did not return in 2018 but it was too late for Beaumont to find another mate. In 2019, Beaumont bonded with Hope. They raised one chick in 2019 and two in 2020. Beaumont is waiting to welcome Hope back to Newfoundland now.

And that is a wrap. It has been a day of waiting. So instead of worrying about Legacy, we will all begin to worry about Samson and why there is no fish on the nest for his beautiful fledgling. I promise – we will worry til he flies up and surprises Legacy. I hope their timing is good tomorrow!

Thank you so much for joining me. Stay safe. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Thank you to the following you supplied the streaming cams where I took my screen shots: NEFlorida Bald Eagle and the AEF, Achieva Credit Union, Eagle Club of Estonia, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, UC Falcon Cam, Farmer Derek, Hays Pittsburg Bald Eagle Cam, MN DNR, Cornell Bird Lab, and Newfoundland Power Company.

And then there was a pip – and other news

Congratulations to Redwood Queen #190 and Phoenix #477 on the pip of their egg. It came at 2:44 pm PDT on 24 April 2021.

Redwood Queen is one of the captive bred California Condors. She hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo on 10 May 1998. Redwood Queen is a survivor. As many of you know, my interest is in the social behaviour of avians. In particular, the long term survivability of birds – large birds like raptors, condors, and vultures – who have been treated marginally by their group. Redwood Queen was just such a bird. She was forced by her flock to eat last and then only if there was anything left on the carcass. However, the most dominant male Condor, Kingpin #167, chose Redwood Queen as his mate and her status within the group went from the bottom to the top! The pair raised five biological chicks together. One of those was #1031 Iniko, a female, who survived the Dolan Fire of 2020 in this very tree where Redwood Queen’s new chick will hatch. Sadly, Kingpin #167 has not been seen since the fire. Phoenix survived the Basin Complex fire of 2008 as a young hatchling; he hatched on 22 April that same year This will be the first chick for this new bonded pair.

Condors are very susceptible to lead poisoning. They eat the carrion or dead animals as well as the innards of the deer and other animals that hunters leave behind in the woods and forests. The Ventana Wildlife Society along with many wildlife rehabilitation and FB groups are working to get lead banned from hunting and fishing equipment. Here is a safe alternative promoted by the Ventana Wildlife Society:

There are thunderstorms brewing in the US Southeast today – many areas are expected to have heavy rain and baseball size hail and there could be tornadoes.

One Osprey nest that got hit hard was Skidiway Island. Mum has got those little osplets tucked in nice and dry.

That rain continued and ten hours later you can see all of the water and the nest still soaking at The Landings.

Weather was on the agenda in Durbe, Latvia, too, with snow falling on Milda and the White-tail Eagle Nest.

The balance to keep the babies fed but dry and not suffer from hypothermia must be a real challenge for these amazing bird mums.

Heavy winds whipped the Achieva Credit Unions artificial Osprey nest around in the afternoon. Someone thought Tiny Tot might have gotten sea sick! The winds did stop but the local weather shows they could get a thunderstorm later tonight or tomorrow.

Tiny Tot managed to snag that fish away from #2 this morning and have a good feed but #2 remembered that incident later in the day when he bonked Tiny aggressively. Tiny lost out on the afternoon fish but he will be fine. Tomorrow is another day!

From the looks of it I am going to have to stop calling him Tiny Tot though. Look at that young lad standing nice and tall. Amazing what a little food can do! (Tiny is the one at the back. Look at those nice pantaloons he is getting).

Tiger and Lily have had a good day on that Bald Eagle Nest their parents, Bonnie and Clyde, commandeered. Look at them standing on that branch having a chat! They are now flying from the branches to the nest. Oh, my, they are growing fast.

We haven’t checked on Solly for a week or so. Will she surprise us and be somewhere besides Streaky Bay? Let’s check! Ah, our girl loves this area. The fishing must be fantastic. Solly is 217 days old on 25 April. Amazing. I am so grateful that she has a satellite tracker. Just wish we would get some news of DEW.

This is nothing more than a quick check in. I wanted everyone to know about the pip at the Big Sur Condor Nest. It is really exciting. Take care of yourselves.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams; this is where I get my screen shots: Farmer Derek, Latvian Fund for Nature, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidiway Audubon, Achieva Credit Union, Ventana Wildlife and Explore.org. I would also like to thank the Port Lincoln Osprey Project and their FB page for the graph on Solly’s travels.

As the Nest Turns, 19 April 2021

Congratulations to Annie and Grinnell on the third hatch at the University of California Peregrine Falcon nest in the Campanile. What a glorious site to hatch! Looks like the time was about 6:00:09.

Annie and Grinnell are announcing that 3 has hatched. One more to go! 19 April 2021

Three and a half hours later, soft and fluffy like its two older sibs. One more hatch to go for Annie and Grinnell! Oh, aren’t they cute!!!

Congratulations to the entire team at Rutland and Urdaibai Ospreys in Northern Spain. The first egg for the translocated Ospreys was laid this morning. The male is Roy – after Roy Dennis and his boundless energy and commitment to the project. The female is Landa. This is just fantastic news in trying to get more Ospreys breeding in different parts of Europe.

Landa is showing Roy their first egg. 19 April 2021
Gorgeous female, Landa. 19 April 2021

Some are thinking that there could be a hatch at The Landings, Savannah Osprey Nest on Skidaway Island happening. Here is a close up of 1 and 2 and that third egg taken at 16:38 today. Am I missing something? Is there a pip?

So cute. 19 April 2021
Little sleeping Ospreys. 19 April 2021

Congratulations to Clywedog’s Dylan and Blue 5 F Seren on the arrival of the second egg! Oh, that nest is soggy.

A soggy Clwedog Nest. 19 April 2021

There has been a visitor to the Loch Arkaig nest when Louis was there. Females generally have darker necklaces than the males. Look at Louis’s for a comparison. If this is a potential mate, she is quite beautiful. Still, we are all remaining hopeful for Aila to return despite rumours that there were some sounds of ‘rumpy pumping’ on the microphone out of view of the camera.

A visitor arrives with a beautiful necklace at Loch Arkaig while Louis is on the nest. 19 April 2021

As we continue to track the condition of Tiny Tot at the Achieva Osprey nest, there have been two fish deliveries today, so far. The first came at 7:13:11. Tiny Tot got a little – and I do mean a little – food. The rain has been coming down and the babies were soaked around 8:57.

Soggy babies. 19 April 2021

The second fish delivery came at 12:35:37. Tiny Tot was able to steal some bites from Diane feeding 1 and was eating with 1 until 2 came up. Again, Tiny Tot had some bites but he simply has not had enough food.

Tiny Tot eating with 1. 19 December 2021. 2 is making its move to enter between Tiny Tot and 1.

As I have argued in an earlier blog, Tiny Tot’s getting a good meal – at this moment in time – will not impact the survival of 1 and 2. Tiny Tot is not a threat to them like he might have been at 2 or 3 days old. That was when the elimination of a competitor would enhance the survival of the older two. The big sibs are nearly ready to fledge. Tiny Tot having some good meals will be good for the entire family whose DNA will be added to the natural world. Remember, 1 and 2 also share DNA with Tiny and the parents. The survival of the three promotes the DNA of Jack and Diane and the survival enhances their place in the natural selection process. It makes their success in raising three healthy ospreys to fledge – glowing! Tiny Tot is too old and it simply does not make sense to deprive him of food at this stage!

People on the streaming cam chat have gotten upset at one another and emotional. In their article on ‘Avian Siblicide’, D. Mock et al do discuss the fact that some birds are ‘selfish’. The observation by some chatters that 2 will keep Tiny Tot away from food even when its crop is more than full is directly related to that behaviour of monopolization. Mock et al argue that being selfish is a trait that can be passed thru DNA and that it should not be the guiding principle of natural selection (445). Those who have been alarmed by 2 have used terms that, indeed, indicate an action that is selfish – ‘2 is being a piggy.’ The adjective is, according to Mock et al, appropriate for the actions of 2. We all hope that the three will be healthy and fledge – it is clear that all persons care. It is clear, at this junction, that the nest and the family would benefit from the survival of Tiny Tot. Hopefully, everyone can join together and wish all the best without being defensive or argumentative. Birds, like people, are not immune to being selfish and monopolizing resources. In the end, though, it sure helps if they share.

Over in Kansas, Bonnie looks adoringly at the two little Great Horned Owls her and Clyde raised on the stolen Bald Eagle Nest. They are branching and nearing fledge watch. What a magical nest to watch with two parents who worked really hard for the success of their owlets!

19 April 2021

White-bellied sea eagles, Lady and Dad, have been spending more and more time at their nest in the old Ironwood Tree in Sydney Olympic Park. You might remember that Daisy, the Pacific Black Duck, commandeered the space to lay her eggs only to have the ravens eat them all! Very disappointing. Lady and Dad are now doing some nestorations and are filling in that hole a little. Everyone is excited for June to come. You can almost hear them say, ‘Look at the mess that Little Duck made!’

Lady and Dad doing some much needed repairs to their nest.

It is nearing dinner time and Big Red is incubating the eggs. Arthur will be around shortly so that she can have dinner and a break before night duty. She looks really comfy on that nest on the light well on the grounds of Cornell University. What a beauty at 18. The grand dame of Red Tail Hawks!

Big Red is enjoying a dry day on the nest. 19 April 2021

Thank you so much for joining me today. It is still cold on the Canadian prairies and the snow is not melting in my garden. The normal cast of characters was joined by Fox Sparrows in droves this morning. Their song is incredibly lovely. What a joy! Take care. Stay safe. See you soon.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I obtained my screen shots: Farmer Derek, Cornwall Bird Lab and Savannah Osprey, Woodland Trust, Post Code Lottery, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Achieva Credit Union, Clywedog, Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Center, and Cornell Bird Lab and Red Tail Hawks.

First Hatch UC Berkeley Falcons -‘As the Nest Turns’, early morning Saturday edition

At 9:00:04pm on Friday night, 16 April, a fifth fish landed on the Achieva Osprey nest. Tiny Tot was there and ready for a good feed. Except for a couple of bites that went to 1 and I hope some to Mom, it is 9:27 and Tiny Tot is still eating. I know that there are tears flowing in lots of places around the world. There is a lot of talk about the survival of the fittest but if Tiny Tot can survive this nest, he can probably survive a lot better than most!

9:28:14. 15 April 2021. Tiny Tot still being fed.

It was too dark to see how big the fish is that Diane is feeding Tiny Tot. But he is going to be full when he finishes. The others aren’t interested. Thank goodness! He is still going strong at 9:30!

Tiny Tot finally got a meal! 9pm. 16 April 2021

It just makes you feel good all over. The feeding ended around 9:33. It is not clear if the fish was completely gone or if Diane is saving some for morning. And it was impossible to see if Tiny had a crop or not. But, he did eat!

And Diane brought in a fish at 7:13:46 am Saturday morning. She eats the head herself. Feeds 1 and then feeds a few bites to 2 and Tiny gets fed some. He has a Tiny sized crop seen at 11:02:45 but I would not say he got fed a lot. It was a real bony catfish but Diane ate the majority. Mom has to eat. Hopefully more fish today.

Tiny stayed up and cried for food. 17 April 2021
11:02:45. 17 April 2021. Tiny has a mini crop

The first hatch at the UC Berkeley falcons – Annie and Grinnell – happened this morning. Congratulations!

One nest that I always check on but, often, forget to report about is the NE Florida Bald Eagle cam in Jacksonville. E24 or Legacy hatched on 8 February. Samson and Gabrielle are her parents and her grandparents are Romeo and Juliet. Today someone asked if the offspring ever return to their natal nests. They do! And some go on to raise their own children on those nests, just like Samson is.

My goodness. Legacy has grown into one of the most beautiful Bald Eagles I have ever seen. She is 67 days old. She is like ebony – deep, dark penetrating eyes and black plumage. Legacy is jumping around the nests on a pair of legs that would be the envy of any sumo wrestler. She is a big girl! And flapping her wings. She has been self-feeding for some time and it will not be long, since she is now branching, that she will fledge. Still, I am reminded of the wisdom shared by Laura Culley one day: The longer the juvenile can stay on the nest and the more good food they eat, the better their chances of survival in the wild. So, Legacy, please stay with us longer.

Legacy has been branching. 16 April 2021
Awww. Legacy still has Pinecone! 16 April 2021

Oh, there is one nest that has really been neglected. The Trio over near Fulton, Illinois – Starr, Valor l, and Valor II. Their nest got destroyed in the winds last year so they rebuilt across the Mississippi River. There is no camera. Thanks to Dennis Becht who takes the most amazing photographs of the eagles along the river (Google his name to find his website and all the images), we can get glimpses into what is happening in the nest. The image below was taken by Dennis and shared on the Trio Eagle Nest Lovers FB Group today. There are six in that nest in the sun. Oh, if the three little ones would stick up their heads. You can clearly see them and they are looking great! How wonderful to have an extra parent to help get the fish in the nest.

And here is another that Dennis took on 13 April. You can really see those lovely little eaglets! Thanks Dennis. Oh, they are adorable! I love this nest – everyone working for the family. The three of them built a new nest that looks like the envy of many in a very short time. And there will be no shortage of food with two parents out fishing and one watching over the babies.

The Stewards of the Mississippi River confirmed that on 5 April there were three eaglets. Precise hatch times unknown.

Starr with the three little ones. 13 April 2021.

I had no more finished checking on the Bald Eagle trio and I go to have a look at what is going on in the life of Iris, the oldest breeding Osprey in the world, and guess what? There are three ospreys on Iris’s Hellsgate nest in Missoula, Montana. Seriously!

Three on Iris’s nest. 16 April 2021

Now Louis (far right) has just had his sweet way with Iris (facing us). Then the third bird appears (back left). Is this Starr, Louis’s other mate over at the baseball park? did she catch him in the act? or is this an intruder maybe wanting in on this nest? Wow. Iris, you might have a new suitor!

And what a prize nest it is. The river is just to the right and down a little hill, about 15 metres or 50 feet away. And then of course the best prize of all – Iris!

River where Iris fishes. 16 April 2021

There is wingersizng happening over at the Great Horned Owl Nest near Newton, Kansas. Both of the owls now walk around the rim of the nest with ease.

16 April 2021

The two little Ospreys on the Savannah Osprey nest seem to be doing fine. After the Achieva nest, I keep hoping that the third egg on this nest doesn’t hatch. Let’s just have two healthy ospreys fledge instead.

Lunch time. 16 April 2021. Savannah osprey nest.

Big Red had to be grateful for the waterproofing quality of feathers. It rained all day long on the Red Tail Hawk nest in Ithaca today.

Pitching down rain on Big Red. 16 April 2021

Harry and Nancy’s two eaglets on the MN DNR Bald Eagle nest are doing fantastic. They are the cutest balls of dark grey down. Gosh. It is hard to imagine that everyone was worried that Harry wouldn’t come through feeding and hunting but he did.

Little cuties are really growing. MN DNR Bald Eagle nest. 16 April 2021

Curious but afraid of heights. Just don’t get any closer, little one!

16 April 2021. MN DNR Bald Eagle Nest

It is late Friday night, the 16th of April. Wonder what will happen in Bird World tomorrow? will Aila show up at the Loch Arkaig nest and make Louis happy? will the visitor return to Iris’s nest? Join me in ‘As the Nest Turns’. Take care!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I get my screen shots: MN DNR, Achieva Osprey, Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey Project, Cornell Red Tail Hawk Cam, Farmer Derek, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, and the Cornell Lab and Skidiway Audubon Savannah Osprey Nest. I would also like to thank Dennis Becht and the Trio Lovers FB group for the images of Starr, Valor I and II.

Cuteness Overload in Bird World

It is Tuesday in New Zealand but on the Canadian prairies it is Monday and it is snowing! There is snow swirling all around and the birds would like nothing better than to come into the house! Poor things.

Today is the day that the NZ Department of Conservation rangers at Taiaroa Head weigh all of the Royal Albatross chicks. Every Tuesday they do this. If any of the chicks are underweight, the rangers will give them a supplemental feeding. Sometimes the winds are not conducive to returning while at other times these largest of NZ sea birds have to travel far to find food. Sadly, some of them also perish in the process. If there is only one parent feeding it is often hard to keep up with the demands of a growing albatross chick. That is when I sing the praises of the NZ DOC – they will do anything to keep the adults and the chicks in a good healthy state.

The Royal Cam chick is a female and she was hatched 80 days ago. Her nest is at a place called ‘The Flat Top’ on Taiaroa Head, a peninsula near Dunedin, New Zealand. It is the only breeding colony near human habitation for these albatross. Because raising a chick causes such stress on their bodies, the albatross breed biennially. Indeed, while it might sound like they have two years to recuperate, it will take almost an entire year to raise their chick. The 2021 Royal Cam chick will fledge and begin her five to six years at sea in September. Her parents will return to Taiaroa Head to feed her until she goes on her own journey. The parents will then go to sea only returning the following November when they will breed again. This means that the parents will not see one another for approximately fourteen to fifteen months returning to a specific spot on the planet to breed. It is a real joy and a relief when both return safely. The chick will remain at sea, never touching land, for five to six years before she returns to Taiaroa Head to begin choosing her own mate.

In the past week, the Royal Cam chick has ‘lucked out’. She had two family visits – her parents arrived yesterday around 15:00 and they had flown in together on Saturday to feed her together. It is hard to comprehend how extraordinary these family reunions are until you sit and stare at the ocean where the two go foraging for food for both themselves and the chick. It is vast.

Two months ago, Lime-Green-Lime (LGL), the female and Lime-Green-Black (LGK) were fitted with small backpack satellite transmitters. These transmitters are intended to study their foraging habits. LGL has travelled 11.737 kilometres going to and from the sea in order to feed her chick. This is the graph of those travels:

What a happy family reunion! The nickname for the little chick has been a Maori word for cloud, Kapua. I think you can see why in the image below! Look at all that gorgeous white feathery down.

LGL and LGK both visit and feed their chick. 12 April 2021

Kapua has learned how to beg for food. In fact, she is often impatient during these family visits for good feedings. Sometimes her parents like to stop and visit with one another! Of course, Kapua wants all the attention on her.

The albatross chick has to clack on the parent’s bill to stimulate the regurgitation of food. Here you can see how the parent also has to lean down and the way the chick and parent hold their bills so the precious squid oil will go into the chick and not on the ground!

While her parents are away, Kapua spends time in her nest. She watches the boats go past, makes little play nests around her but never strays, at this age, far from her natal nest in case her parents return with food.

Isn’t she the epitome of cuteness?

When things get too stressful on the other nests, I always return to the Royal Albatross and my faith in the New Zealand government for keeping Kapua safe and healthy.

Yesterday was a milestone for one of the most beautiful Bald eaglets anywhere, Legacy. She is the daughter of Samson and Gabrielle at the Northeast Florida Bald Eagle Nest in Jacksonville, Florida. Legacy has been jumping up and down working her wings and legs to get them strong on the spongy Spanish moss nest. Yesterday, though, Legacy made another milestone. She branched at 3:59. Legacy will continue now to go up on the branches of her natal tree until the point where she will fly from the nest to a branch before she takes her first real flight from the nest which is known as fledging. There she is. Legacy was a little nervous and she made her way down to the nest bowl carefully. Soon, though, she will be jumping up and down to that branch having a lot of fun! She loves the wind beneath her wings.

Legacy is a big strong eaglet. 11 April 2021

Sweet little babies staying warm and dry under Nancy at the MN DNR nest. Looks like they have rain instead of the snow we are experiencing north of them. The little ones are not able to regulate their temperature yet so they need to stay warm and dry!

Little ones staying warm near Nancy, MN DNR Nest. 12 April 2021

Izzi, the peregrine falcon has not left his natal scrape box in Orange, Australia. Yesterday he caught an adult Starling all by himself and was quite loud in announcing it to the world. This image catches his trade mark screeching on entering the scrape box:

The two owlets raised in the Bald Eagle Nest near Newton, Kansas are growing and growing. There are still many who consider them to be ‘cute’! Yesterday their mother, Bonnie, tested them. She left a duck and parts of a rabbit in the nest. She stood on a branch watching to see if they would begin feeding themselves. They didn’t but they will be self-feeding soon!

Bonnie is feeding Tiger and Lily duck and rabbit. 11 April 2021

And it is so sweet. Louis is on the nest at Loch Arkaig early to add a few sticks. He stayed on the perch branch for a long time waiting for Aila to return.

In 2017, Louis was given the nickname ‘Lonesome Louis’ because he paced back and forth on the nest when his mate of ten years did not return. The pair had failed to breed in 2016 and people were hopeful that 2017 would be different. Louis waited for three weeks and then a new female appeared. It was Aila meaning ‘bringer of light’ in Finnish. The pair raised one chick in 2017 and he was called Lachlan meaning from the lakes. Sadly, a Pine Marten raided their nest and ate the eggs in 2018. In 2019, the couple had two chicks fledge – Mallie and Rannoch and in 2020, there was the famous trio – Dottie, Vera, and Captain. Everyone is hoping for a quick return of Aila so that Louis is not ‘lonesome’ again!

Louis looks for Aila. 12 April 2021.

There are two other updates without images. Iris at the Hellsgate Osprey nest has been doing nestorations and feeding herself. Her mate, Louis, who also has another nest with Star at the Baseball park has visited twice – each time mating with Iris. The last time was 18:16 on 11 April when he made a quick visit. Louis brings Iris nothing – and yes, he is a bird but I continue to say how sad this is for the oldest female Osprey in the world. Wouldn’t it be nice if she was treated like the royalty she is? And the other is the state of the Achieva Osprey Nest in Dunedin, Florida. Jack the father has not been seen for awhile and everyone is beginning to wonder if he did not die or get severely injured. The thunderstorms have been very severe. Yesterday, there were two fish in the morning and Tiny Tot did get fed from both. He has not eaten now for more than 26 hours. Diane brought a small fish this morning that partially fed 1 and 2 and she has gone out and caught another smaller fish. Right now the two older osplets are eating. There may not be enough for Tiny. She will have to go out again if she is to eat and feed Tiny. There have been rumours about a hawk in the area. So, once again, we are at a tragic point this season on this nest. Just when Tiny Tot was getting full for a couple of days and getting his stamina and health back, then the storms come. Diane cannot protect her osplets and fish at the same time. She has not eaten either and I hope that whatever threats are around the nest are gone and that Diane catches one of her whooper catfish so that everyone can be full.

UPDATE 2PM CDT: Jack has arrived at the nest with a fish at 2:41:31 EDT. Diane was still feeding 1 and 2 on the fish she brought in – her second of the day. Maybe Tiny Tot will get some food. Glad Jack is OK.

Thank you for joining me today – our wintery weather will be here for three days if the predictions are correct. Not a great time for my walks!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Cornell Bird Cams and the NZ DOC, Farmer Derek, the NEFLorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Woodland Trust and People Post Lottery, Sturt University at Orange and Cilla Kinross, and the MN DNR.

Starting off to be a great day in Bird World

Looking out onto the garden in the morning is always a delight, even when it feels like rain or snow is coming. The sky is a white-grey. The trunks and branches of the trees are all manner of brown except for the Flame Willow which is the most striking orange-red. Our forecast is for three days of snow starting Monday. They are mostly wrong. Fingers crossed.

The Grackles are building their nest and the Starlings seem to have taken over the feeders while the Dark-eyed Junco are dancing around on the outdoor carpet finding any little seed they can. How many grains do they need to keep up their energetic activity?

“Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)” by Becky Matsubara is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“European Starling” by Becky Matsubara is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For the past four years, the European Starlings and the Dark-eyed Juncos arrive in the garden in early April. This year they came in mid-March. The Starlings are known to chase the sparrows away from the feeders but, in my yard, they seem to prefer to forage around on the ground. It is the Grackle family that causes the most mischief but I adore them. They always arrive around the end of March and did the same this year. Two years ago they fledged a single chick. The extended family arrived to cheer it on. It was the most amazing moment. I am going to get an outdoor camera! There were seventeen of them gathered. The fledgling and its family all left together. Last year Mr Crow raided the nest and ate the new fluffy chicks right after the Great Horned Owl threatened its nest. It is always a big saga during the summer. Things quiet down again in October when the visitors return to their winter vacation spots.

Speaking of migration, there is a lot of news. I have borrowed the image below from the Loch Arkaig FB page. I do hope they don’t mind. The credit goes to Hugh William Martin. The posting says it all. The much loved and long awaited male osprey who doesn’t hesitate to tandem feed with his mate, Aila, stole my heart last year for that single reason. He is an amazing dad and mate. Louis will fish day and night for his family and he will help Aila keep the kids sorted. No fears for JJ7 the third, the tercel, the smaller male named after Captain Sir Thomas Moore. You will remember Sir Tom, the war hero who, at nearly 100, pledged to walk 100 lengths of his garden to raise money for the National Health Service (NHS). His goal was 1000 GBP but his venture captured the hearts of people around the world and he made over 13 million GBP for the health services in Britain. Incredible. I hope that Captain’s (JJ7) life is as long and illustrious.

But for now we celebrate the arrival of Louis. There are more than 300 people at this moment watching an empty nest; Lewis is off on his roost or fishing. Hopefully, Aila will return shortly and we will be able to watch them again outfit their nest and get to raising a healthy happy family!

In other migration news, the book, A World on the Wing. The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Scott Widensaul arrived this morning in the mail. I cannot wait to grab some time and read it. Glancing I notice a lot of material on satellite transmitters.

The other day someone watching one of the nests that I check said they did not believe in banding or transmitters – the osprey are not endangered. I would argue, as they did at Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania in the 20th century, that you need to know when you are entering a decline to find out why. That is one reason that you want numbers. How do you really know if there are too many? Hawk Mountain is on the migratory bird route from the Eastern parts of Canada and the US and they literally count the birds. A research project coming out of the University of Montana at Missoula with Dr Erick Greene has to do with migration and the understanding of the perils the birds face. Dr Green is also interested in the mercury levels in the local osprey as well as foraging and how a colony of ospreys can help one another find more food versus a solitary osprey. Some of the Montana birds are wintering in southern Mexico. At Port Lincoln, Solly, the 2020 first hatched female, was fitted with a satellite transmitter and ringed. She has already changed what we know about osprey movements away from their nest in that area where Osprey are highly endangered. Lots to learn about the long and arduous trips that all the migratory birds make – not just Ospreys! The bird books are stacking up but I do hope to get to read them shortly!

There have been a few chuckles up at the Loch of the Lowes Osprey nest since Laddie (LM12) inadvertently gave a fish to an intruder sitting on the nest and not to his mate NC0 yesterday. To put it mildly, don’t get a female Osprey upset!!! Everyone wondered if NC0 would forgive Laddie – she kicked him off the nest. Everything looked as if it was going fine this morning. NC0 returned to the nest cup. Everything appeared to be rather serene. Is she preparing to lay an egg?

But, as this soap opera continues, no more had everything appeared to be settled than the intruder arrived and Laddie flew in to assist. Didn’t someone say that there are eight Osprey males in Scotland needing mates?! or is it also this prime piece of real estate?

A female osprey has returned from her migration and has, for the past couple of days, been hanging around the Llyn Brenig nest in north Wales. It is the home to male Blue HR7 and female Blue 24. Please note the wind turbines. Some chicks have been killed in them. Spotters are hoping to identify the bird by her tag. She is being very mysterious and teasing us and not revealing anything, not even one number!

This morning I decided not to get up and check on the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg- at least, not first thing. Some days my whole body seems to go on a food strike in support of Tiny. But I seem to have helpers these days -wonderful ones -and I was told right away that Tiny was eating after 10am. So coffee in hand, I decided to go back and check. I am happy to report that although he ate last, Tiny did get 88 bites (call me obsessive) between 7:46:22 and 7::52:27. Diane offered him the tail at the end and he mantled it. Great work Tiny Tot!

Here he is with fish flakes around his mouth at 7:50 having a private feed:

And here is Tiny mantling the fish tail that Diane gave him:

Tiny had a crop, in the image above, at 8:01. He dropped that crop prior to 9:30. Note: Dropping food from the crop sends it to the stomach. It is like a holding and processing tank. At 9:40:39 a second fish was delivered to the nest. At 10:04:20 Tiny is fed. There is a lot of skin but Diane is also finding flakes of fish. Tiny had 97 bites. Diane offered him the tail. At 10:16, Tiny had a crop again. In the scheme of things anyone watching would realize that the amount of food to fill Tiny is insignificant in the face of what the two older siblings eat.

Someone asked if Tiny would catch up in size. That is an interesting question. I have not gone through all my notes but it appears that from 12 March to now, Tiny missed seven (7) complete days of food. And we know that he has not eaten nearly the amount of fish as the others on the other days. A real reveal would be to compare meals and length of feeding times since we cannot weigh the food. Still, skin or not, I was glad that Tiny was rewarded by 97 bites on that second feeding. It is nearing 4pm on the nest. Hopefully two more fish will come in before dark – two more fish that are large enough for all.

Diane trying to provide shade on a hot 26 degree C day in St Pete’s.

The three siblings on the Achieva Osprey nest. From left to write 1, Tiny Tot, and 2. Everyone hopes that any intruders that may be in the area will leave so that Diane can go fishing, too. We wait and hope. It is all anyone can do.

I want to leave you some close up images of Iris, the world’s oldest osprey. She returned from her long migration to Missoula, Montana yesterday. It wasn’t long til she was over in the river and had caught herself a whopper. Apparently, Louis has been around for a visit today. Louis became Iris’s mate when her faithful companion Stanley died. Louis has been around for 4 years with no breeding success. He has another family so food and nest security are all left to Iris who also has to lay the eggs, incubate, and eat. Last year a raven stole her egg. Prior to Louia, Iris has raised, it is believed, anywhere from 30-40 chicks to fledge. All are hoping for a devoted partner. Hopefully she will kick Louis from the nest for good!

And a quick peak at the two Great Horned Owlets in the Bald Eagle nest in Kansas. They are growing and growing and Farmer Derek’s snake population on his farm is declining! If you can’t get mice, snake is an excellent second choice! It is hard to believe but these two will be branching soon. They look like little people with those big eyes all wrapped up for winter. Adorable.

Take care everyone. Thank you so much for joining me and the birds in ‘As the Nest Turns’. I hope you have a great end of the week wherever you are.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my images: Farmer Derek, Montana Osprey Project and Cornell Bird Labs, Friends of Loch of the Lowes and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Friends of Loch Arkaig, Scottish Wildlife Trust and People Play Lottery, Friends of Llyn Brenig, and the Achieva Credit Union. Also the Friends of Loch Arkaig FB Page.

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.

Eating and growing

The two little ones on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nest are quite a lively pair. First time, four year old Harry has learned to feed and Nancy has relaxed. Harry is good on the nest and food is there. The little ones are rather spunky to say the least!

Bonnie went out hunting and brought a small live garter snake back to the nest. Lily got there first and ate the entire snake – live – all by herself – as Tiger and Bonnie looked on in amazement.

Look closely at how thick Tiger’s legs are. Look down at its talons. These two owlets are really growing! Both of them are flapping their wings and wandering around the nest. Tiger is very sturdy on those sturdy limbs! Both of them are endless pits in terms of wanting food.

Li’l and Big at the Duke Farm nest are growing and growing. There have been tandem feedings and attempts at self-feeding! Doing good. Li’l can hold its own against its big sib.

It really does help to be the only eaglet in the nest with a parental territory that is full of prey. Kisatchie is always being fed and cared for by its mom, Anna. Louis continues to be an expert fisherman and Kisatchie always has a full crop. I don’t believe this eaglet would understand what hunger actually was. And you know what? That is just fine. His feathers will go strong. Eaglets that have had periods – several of hunger – have thinner spots in their feathers.

In constrast, the Redding triplets are always hungry it seems. Two of them are trying to climb out of the nest cup so that they can have some of that juicy fish. It keeps mom and dad very busy!

I will leave you with an image of my heroine, Big Red, the Red Tail Hawk incubating three eggs on a light stand on the Cornell Campus. Big Red always gets my vote for ‘Mom of the Year’. She is quite amazing! Year after year she gets soaked, gets encrusted in snow and ice, and still she raises the strongest happiest eyasses. She is much loved.

This was a short update on how some of the nests are doing. Thank you for joining me today. Stay safe everyone!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I got my screen images: Cornell Bird Lab, the Kisatchie National Forest, , the Pittsburgh Hays Eagle Cam, Friends of Redding Eagles, Farmer Derek, MN DNR Eagle Cam, and Duke Farms.

UPDATE ON THE ACHIEVA OSPREY NEST IN ST PETERSBURG. Tiny Tot was fed this morning at 9:27 after the other two. He had a small crop. It was the first time he ate in 3 full days. Tiny Tot later later had some seizures. It is unclear what damage the lack of food did to his internal organs. A huge catfish came in at 4:22. The two bigger ones ate for a couple of hours. Tiny attempted to get food and was pecked by 2. The dad, Jack, came and took the extra fish away. It is quite sad to see anything suffer so much, begging for food – literally starving to death. It is nothing short of a slow horrible death. The question is why? Is there a lack of fish? Does the father have two families? Other Osprey nests raise three healthy osplets to fledge – even small ones. A good example is Loch Arkaig in 2020.

It’s 3 for Big Red and 4 for Dahlgren

The Guardian ran a story, ‘All my eaglets: pandemic audience spellbound by saga of nesting bald eagles’ in its Wildlife section this morning. While the story focused on the growing number of people watching bird streaming cams during the pandemic, it chose to use the example of two nests. The sadness of Jackie and Shadow at the Big Bear Bald Eagle Nest in the San Bernadino Valley and the joy of Liberty and Guardian and their three chicks at the Redding Bald Eagle nest. Richard Luscombe really caught the moment – the joy celebration, the sadness and loss. Jackie (9 year old female) and Shadow (7 year old male) are two of the most popular Bald Eagles on streaming cams and yet, their story encapsulates great sadness. For two years they have tried to raise a chick. This year in their second clutch there was a hatch. Heartbreak came when that chick died trying to break out of the shell. Jackie and Shadow continue to care for the second egg which watchers know will never hatch. Last year they sat on two eggs for sixty days before giving up. In contrast, Guardian (7 year old male) and Liberty (22 year old female) are raising triplets and Liberty has, in her lifetime, successfully fledged 22 and outlived two mates. Like human families and stories, every bird nest is different.

Over the past year, I have received (or seen) letters, comments, and testimonies about the birds. It is clear that the ‘bird’ families streaming into our living rooms have become ‘intimate’ friends whose daily lives we share – their joys and their challenges. One woman wrote to tell me that she knows ‘her bird family’ better than her own human family! She is not alone. From the infertile eggs to the cheeping of the hatching chick, people have watched the birds and their loneliness and pain have been diminished. Many of you have written to me to tell me how the birds have saved your lives, including several with stage 4 cancer and partners who have died from COVID. Caring for the birds has lessened the impact of the isolation and has given us something to focus on besides ourselves. ‘A distraction from our lives’ a woman from The Netherlands said.

When the pandemic ends, I hope that all of you will continue to watch the lives of your favourite bird families unfold. And I would encourage you to talk to your children and your grandchildren or the neighbour’s children so they will become interested in wildlife. They need all of us to help them have better lives.

Jackie and Shadow continue to incubate an egg that will never hatch. Many wonder if there is not DDT still present in the soil or something causing this lovely and entering couple so many issues trying to have a little one. Clearly the thinness of the eggs that have broken could indicate that. 1 April 2021.
The triplets at the Redding nest being fed. There is plenty of food and all are lined up nicely.

I received a very touching letter from a woman from New Mexico who commented on the tragic events unfolding at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg. She was reminded of a news story where a family went into a cafe for a meal -the parents, a young girl, and boy. The parents fed the young girl and themselves. The boy watched the others eat while he was offered nothing. The boy appeared to be bruised as if he had been physically harmed to the wait staff. The waitress wrote on her hand ‘Do you need help?’ to the child who, eventually, shook their head yes. The waitress phoned the authorities and the children were taken into care immediately. The boy had been abused and food had been withheld for a long time. The woman from New Mexico said, ‘Humans do it, too’. As sad and angry as I am at the Ospreys in St Petersburg, for them it is a matter of having at least one healthy fledgling. The biology books stress the survival of the fittest! Someone who has filmed birds said to me and I have reiterated it many times, ‘If they cannot survive on the nest being fed, they cannot survive in the wild – it is brutal out there’. This morning a huge fish came in but the middle Osprey made sure Tiny Tot did not get anything to eat. Tiny was too weak to fight. I had hoped that his suffering would be taken away in the night.

UPDATE: Tiny Tot was fed at 9:27 this morning. His crop was about a third full. The saga continues.

After my tirade on birds laying too many eggs to care for if they all hatched – and hence, having the situation of the St Petersburg nest – Jack and Harriet of the Dahlgren Osprey Nest in Machodoc Creek in King George County, Virginia laid a fourth egg! You might not immediately recognize the osprey nest that I am talking about but if I said to you that Jack is the one that brings in the most toys to the nest, often covering it while Harriet has to keep busy finding space for them, I think you might know the nest that I am talking about. There was a toy shark or dolphin the other day. As it happens, the first egg is either lost in the nest or broke – there are three eggs being incubated despite four being laid. Last year the couple successfully fledged three and all of us join in hoping that happens this year! Unless there is a problem in the river, this couple has their nest in a prime location for fish!

And to add to the jokes that go along with April Fool’s Day, Big Red and Arthur not only woke up to snow this morning but also to their third egg.

Big Red is eighteen years old. She was ringed at Brooktondale New York, about eight miles from Ithaca. She has known this weather all her life and can deal with it. Her and her mate, Arthur, do not migrate but stay in Ithaca all year long. They have a prey rich territory and both work like a well oiled machine. Unless there is some strange surprise, I expect we will see three eyases fledging in June.

All is well over at the Great Horned Owl Nest on the farm in Kansas. Both Tiger, the eldest, and Lily, the youngest, are growing. To the delight of viewers, Bonnie brought in a very large rabbit to the nest in the Cottonwood Tree. Everyone wondered how she managed. Great Horned Owls can actually carry prey three times their weight – an advantage over Bald Eagles who can carry only 66% of their weight. Besides rabbit, the owlets have had a diverse menu. One food item that might not have been expected in such quantities has been snake. Farmer Derek probably had no idea he had so many snakes on his property! Using March 7 as a date for hatching, we should be watching for Tiger to fledge around 42-56 days which would be 18 April to 24 April. Tiger’s extremely soft feathers – they look like mohair to me – mean that he will be a formidable predator being able to fly without being heard. With his short rounded wings he will also be able to make tight corners and quick turns around the trees in the woods.

And down in Orange Australia at the Charles Sturt University, Peregrine Falcon couple, Xavier and Diamond, are in the scrape box having a conversation and bonding. The conversation might be about their cute little Izzi who fledged three times from this box. The first time Izzi was napping on the ledge and fell out. He was returned by the researcher, Cilla Kinross. The second time he did fledge but then flew into a window and was taken into care and returned to the scrape box. The third time he fledged properly. While most of the falcons would have left the scrape box to find their own territory by January, Izzi appears determined to live out the rest of his life chasing Xavier and Diamond and sleeping with Diamond in the scrape box. It is an unfolding soap opera that is delightful.

Izzi is adorable.

I will leave you with that adorable face. Peregrine falcons are the cutest. Thank you for joining me today. Take care. Stay safe. Enjoy the birds.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my scaps: Charles Sturt University Peregrine Falcon Cam, Farmer Derek, Friends of Big Bear Bald Eagles, Friends of Redding Bald Eagles, Cornell Bird Lab, and the Dahlgren Osprey Cam.