“Biggie’ Tot and more in ‘As the Nest Turns’

One of the individuals watching the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida said that the worry over Tiny Tot caused them to age ten years. There are so many people that probably feel the same way. We ached when Tiny Tot did not have food for one, two, and even three days and cried with joy when its crop was full. We had visions of helicopters dropping fish from the sky or setting up a food table. There were times when I went to sleep and thought that I would wake up and Tiny Tot would be dead. How could this little one survive on so little in that exhausting Florida heat?

Tiny Tot is a survivor. He is clever, determined, and willing to eat scraps and chew on catfish bones if it means he lives another day. Tiny Tot watches and listens. So often he was the first to grab the fish on arrival, mantling -only to have the parent take it to feed the two older siblings and, if there was anything left, he was fed. If I heard the phrase ‘natural selection’ or ‘survival of the fittest’ one more time I was going to blow up. What appeared to be happening was the survival of the not so clever bully bird. And then something happened.

Precisely when did mum decide that her third chick was going to survive despite everything it had been through? Diane observes those three chicks of hers. She monitors the time they spend self-feeding and when she sees they have had about 1/3 to a 1/2 of the fish – depending on who is in the nest – she takes the fish and shares it with the other one. What was it that turned this nest around? We might never know. For the past 3 or 4 nights I have slept well with the knowledge that Tiny was alright.

The problem is ‘the’ name now. #3 has been called 3, Tumbles, Braveheart, Lionheart, etc. I gave it the moniker, Tiny Tot. Tiny isn’t actually ‘tiny’ anymore. If he continues to eat and grow like he is doing then by Monday he could be twice as big as he is now. So, moving forward, no more Tiny Tot for me. #3 is now Biggie Tot the Raptor.

Indeed, every time I checked on the nest today, Biggie Tot was eating exactly like he is in the image below. Every time! How is that possible? As long as nothing bizarre happens – and in Bird World anything can change in a blink – Diane and Jack will be celebrating the fledging of not two but three ospreys this year. Well done you two. Jack, you surprised me and came through with 5 or 6 fish sometimes.

Good night Biggie Tot! Sleep well on your full tummy.

29 April 2021

I kept a close watch on the NEFlorida Bald Eagle Nest of Samson and Gabrielle and their fledgling, Legacy today. I briefly stopped in to see a couple of others but my energy and focus was on Legacy.

The last official sighting of Legacy was at 9:53:51 EDT on 28 April.

Legacy and Gabby. They spent the morning together before Legacy flew off. 28 April 2021

What a beauty!

Some think that there could have been a possible flyby at 8:41:16 on the morning of 29 April. It was caught on the tree cam.

Is it Legacy? 29 April 2021

On Thursday, the 29th of April, Samson brought a fish to the nest to try and entice Legacy to come to the nest tree. That didn’t work and Samson wound up eating it. Earlier yesterday, Gabby was with Samson at 11:37:35.

Today, Samson spent the majority of the day – more than eight hours – on the branch looking and listening for Legacy.

29 April 2021

I am not an expert on Bald Eagles but I have trusted acquaintances who are and they shared their knowledge with me today as I searched for some answers. I will share with you everything that I learned as I try to make sense out of what is happening.

First, Bald Eagles do not directly teach the young to hunt prey. I am used to falcons and hawks literally taking their clutch after they have fledged and having ‘hunting parties’ with them. It was not unusual to have Big Red and Arthur showing their juveniles how to catch a squirrel by taking them out and doing just that! A fledgling eagle might make its way to the river and observe their parents catching fish just as WBSE 23 did with Lady and Dad according to one of my trusted sources. The parents and other eagles taught by example.

Secondly, what is typical for a fledgling Bald Eagle is what is happening on the nest of Harriet and M15 in Fort Myers. There E17 and E18 are becoming stronger fliers – going for a flight and then returning to the nest. The parents bring food to the nest for each of them. It is more normal for the fledgling Bald Eagles to stay at the nest for 4-6 weeks doing precisely what E17 and E18 are doing. My trusted sources, who have more than 35 years experience with Bald Eagles together, say it is definitely not typical for a Bald Eagle to fledge one day, take a couple of flights the next, and then leave – poof. I will never sugarcoat anything and neither do the individuals who advised me today. Bald Eagle fledglings are not capable of taking care of themselves in such circumstances. They are still not strong fliers and they do not have the hunting skills required. ‘It normally does not end well’ is what one of them said and that stuck in my head.

So what might have happened? To return to the example of the Sea Eagles, WBSE 26 was chased out of the parent’s territory in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park by several Pied Currawong. Perhaps Legacy got too far away to return at night. That is a possibility. Legacy might be ‘downed’ and is unable to get up and fly to the nest. That could be a huge problem depending on what other wildlife is in the area. The other possibility, as one of the experts noted, is that Legacy is a single child and it is easier for the parent to feed them off nest. So Gabby could be feeding Legacy while Samson is trying to coax her back to the nest. The other possibilities for this situation are more dire. Many fly into power lines while others get their wings caught up in branches. Fighting to get free they rip their wings. She could have tried to get carrion off the highway and gotten hit by a car. Those are just some of the many possibilities. There could be people out looking for Legacy during the daylight hours – something that we might not ever know. Still, I hope like I did for Tiny now Biggie Tot that everything turns around for the best and we see Legacy or have a positive sighting of her soon and that she is well.

It was a miserable rainy day for Big Red and Arthur at the Cornell Fernow light tower. Everyone is getting excited for a possible hatch watch. It would appear that the oldest egg is 34 days and Big Red’s statistics indicate hatches between 38 and 41 days, longer than normal for other RTHs. So I am not going to start getting excited until next week. Knowing Big Red she will surprise all of us!

A rather soggy Big Red. 29 April 2021

Lunch ‘looks’ reasonably peaceful at ‘The Landings’ Skidaway Island Osprey nest. I use the term ‘looks’ because we all know that looks can be deceiving. The eldest still asserts its dominance but, so far, the younger one is alright. Dad just brought in a fish and already both of the little ones have crops. Their plumage is really changing. It looks like the one to the top has a mask on today.

Lunch is on. 29 April 2021
Playing nice. 29 April 2021

Isn’t this just a cute little cuddle puddle? It is hard to believe that before the next academic term begins at Berkeley, these three will be flying at stealth speeds and catching prey in mid-air.

Such sweeties. Cuddled together in the shade to avoid the hot sunlight. 29 April 2021

It is clearly easier to get dirty when eating if you are white. The falcon parents have a particular call they make when they arrive with the food and it is time to eat. The little ones stand in a group and grab or the parent hangs the food above their beak. They want the chicks to stretch their necks so that they become strong. When there are no more chirping eyasses and no more wide open mouths, feeding is over. No bonking. Just nice full crops and food comas.

Feed me, feed me! 29 April 2021

The nest cup in the White-tailed Eagle nest in Estonia is very deep. It really protects the little one from the cold winds. The temperature at the nest continues to be about 1 degree C. This picture was taken after 5pm in the evening. Look at that wonderful sunshine and blue sky – what a change from the frosty morning they had. You can just see the little bobble head reaching up to get its evening meal. There is another egg in this nest and if it is viable, it should be hatching tomorrow.

Eve feeding her first hatch. 29 April 2021

Louis continues to be attentive to Iris at the Hellgate Osprey Nest – visiting and mating more often since the banded intruder showed up in Louis’s territory. So far there are no eggs in Iris’s nest!

One of several reasons cited for the female raptors being 33-50% larger than the males (dimorphism) can be seen below. The male osprey flies in and lands on the female. If the weight distribution were the opposite, the female could be crushed.

Louis landing on Iris for a mating attempt. 29 April 2021
29 April 2021. Louis and Iris mating (or not?)

I want to leave you with a bit of a smile or maybe a horrible nightmare. I simply cannot imagine Osprey chicks wandering around in all of the stuff that Jack brings to this nest. The stuffed shark and a brown teddy bear are still there along with some hats and sweaters and other toys. Harriet has to be so patient! I just want to go out there and tidy it up for her before the babies hatch at this nest near King George, Virginia. Don’t you?

The hoarde of objects that Jack brings to Harriet as gifts at the Dahlgren Osprey Nest. 29 April 2021

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care of yourselves, stay safe. I will continue to monitor the Bald Eagle nest in Jacksonville for any news of Legacy along with the Big Sur California Condor nest for hatch. Thank you to those who have taken the time to send me a note or ask a question. I am glad you are enjoying my blog. It is so nice to hear from other bird lovers!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams – that is where I grab my screen shots: Dahlgren Osprey Nest, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Achieva Credit Union, UC Falcon Cam, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Eagle Club Estonia, and Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey Project.

Happiness in Bird World on Earth Day

I want to wish each and everyone of you and our planet a Happy Earth Day. On the Canadian Prairies it has turned out to be jubilant. It is 17 degrees C outside which feels like summer – yes, it is going to get cold again quickly but still a break today is most welcome. All the snow in my garden is melted.

Bird World is jubilant! Look carefully at the image below. Can you spot Tiny Tot?

Tiny Tot with his crop. 22 April 2021

The last time we witnessed Tiny Tot with a crop was on 7 April. That was precisely 15 days ago and during that time he has survived by being clever and persistent. Tiny Tot used his clever mind and took advantage of positioning and the fact that 2 had eaten an entire fish late last night. Tiny had part of the first fish delivery that came at 7:18:03 as well as part of the second delivery arriving at 9:50:55.

One of the Achieva Osprey cam chatters, Vol Crush, named 1 and 2 Hoover Harley and Dyson Davidson. What a wonderful morning laugh. Tiny Tot was Phoenix – an appropriate name for him since he does seem to rise from the ashes of the nest and survive in ways that many cannot comprehend.

It is now 25 degrees C in St Petersburg, Florida. Tiny Tot has let his big sister shade him. It is full sun and hotter up on that nest. At 2:20 all of the siblings are looking up. Wonder what they see?

Also take a look at Tiny. He has been getting his contour feathers and now instead of those ‘whiskers’ that he had he is also beginning to get his chest feathers. If his luck and persistence endures, he will be an Osprey to contend with being able to survive in very dire circumstances by not giving up. What a bird.

The fourth egg at the UC Berkeley Falcon Nest has not hatched yet but gosh, look at the cuteness in those little pink beaks. Do they look like marshmallows to you?

Lime Green Black flew in to feed his girl quickly and out again he went. That was at 11:49 am. What a lucky princess! The satellite monitoring of LGK and LGL shows that they have had to go further out to forage to feed their girl.

Soon, we should have the short list for names of our Royal Albatross Princess at Taiaroa Head. Every year the Royal cam chick is given a Maori name. She will be the only hatchling of 2021 to have a name along with her band numbers. I will keep you posted so you can vote.

In Canada, our national bird is the Gray Jay. Not the Blue Jay and not the Toronto Blue Jays but the Gray Jay. Here is an image so you can get this in your mind.

“Gray Jay, Slough Creek” by YellowstoneNPS is marked with CC PDM 1.0

The national bird of the United States is the Bald Eagle. That symbol is on currency, on posters, and is celebrated at all patriotic events. And today, the only trained Bald Eagle to fly in an enclosed space – like at the Super Bowl or the 9/11 Memorial – Challenger is 32 hatch years old. He will get special salmon cakes and other treats to celebrate his extraordinary life. Happy Hatch Day Challenger!

Al Cerere, the founder of the American Eagle Foundation Founder and former President of the AEF, takes Challenger on Fox and Friends on Memorial Day in 2017 to talk about how Challenger. There are many more videos of Challenger flying and his birthday celebration in 2020. You can check them out by doing a search on YouTube.

Louis has been over to visit Iris at the Hellsgate Osprey Nest today. Gosh, I wish for once he would bring her a fish! Just once, Louis. Wouldn’t that be nice? Apparently, he does feed Star at his other nest over at the baseball park. Someone pointed out something important – this nest is in Louis’s territory and no other male would likely challenge Louis. On the other hand, I know that most people want Iris, the oldest breeding Osprey in the world, to have a mate and they would love to watch her raise her osplets again. It has been awhile. But there is also the argument that having raised no less than 30 and possibly 40 or more chicks she deserves a break. If you have watched the mothers on these nests they work hard and lose about 30% of their body weight.

Louis arrives in Iris’s life in 2016. Since then the only egg to hatch has been egg #1 laid on 27 April 2018. That egg hatched on 4 June and the chick fledged on 5 August.

There is some logic that not having to raise a nest full of chicks might be what is helping Iris to survive as long as she has. She always returns from her winter migration in great health. She is an excellent fisher. Nature will once again take its course this summer in Missoula. For me, just seeing Iris – working on the nest, bringing in fish she has caught, is fantastic and reassuring.

And speaking of eggs and hatchlings, there are still only two at The Landings Savannah Osprey nest and I am overjoyed that other egg is just sitting there. If it is pipping, I am unaware. The two are healthy and getting along. It would be such a blessing for this nest to have these two remain so.

In Latvia, everyone is still joyous over the successful hatching of Milda’s second egg. That beautiful little White Tailed Eaglet is doing great. Here it is getting a meal before the heavy rains set in later in the afternoon.

As the heavy rain falls late in the day it sounds like there also could be some hail falling. That little eaglet is snug under Milda! Nothing is going to get it wet. Mr Chips has brought in fish that can feed both mom and baby.

And over in Wales, there are smiles because one of the Dyfi hatchlings of 2018, Dinas has arrived home to Wales. Last year he was seen in Anglesey. Congratulations everyone. What a relief to see a return! Phillip Snow captured Dinas eating a fish. The image was posted on the Loch Arkaig FB this morning. What a great fish!

And, last, a report on another Louis. As anyone watching the nest of Louis and Aila at Loch Arkaig can tell you, it is becoming sad not to see Aila return. There are still ospreys returning to the UK from their winter migration to Africa and Aila has come in late previously but it appears that Louis might be with another female on the nest out of view of the camera. Fish were seen being delivered and two birds on that nest. Louis is an amazing dad and the three osplets that hatched and fledged in 2020 are a testimony to his efforts, day and night, to keep them fed. He even did tandem feedings with Aila which won my love. Oh, if that would happen on the Achieva Osprey nest I would collapse. Birds, like humans, are born into different homes with parents with different skills and means. Whatever happens up in Scotland, I know that we wish Louis well.

Have a fabulous day today everyone! Enjoy the beautiful outdoors and do something for the betterment of our planet – no matter how large your effort, everyone can make a difference.

Thank you to the following where I grabbed my images: the Loch Arkaig FB page and Phillip Snow, the Cornell Bird Lab and Skidiway Audubon Savannah Osprey Nest, the Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg FL, the UC Falcon Cam, the Latvian Nature Fund and the White Tail Eagle cam at Durbe, Cornell Lab and NZ Doc Royal Albatross, and Cornell Lab and Montana Osprey Project.

Life in Osprey World

Maya laid her third egg today on the Rutland Mantou Bay Nest. You might recall that her mate, Blue 33 (11) was the first to return from the migration to Africa followed in a few minutes by Maya. That was on the 19th of March. Their first egg was laid on 30 March with the second egg on 2 April. So far, Maya and Blue 33 (11) are the only monitored Osprey couple in the UK to have eggs in the nest.

Wow. You can see the full colour range of the Osprey eggs, from cream to red. 5 April 2021. Rutland Mantou Nest

You can watch Maya and Blue 33 (11) at their Rutland Mantou Nest here:

Blue 3J or Telyn and her mate Idris have been working to build up their nest. Telyn arrived on 26 March followed by Idris’s return on the 29th. It is the end of the day and Telyn is waiting for Idris to bring her a fish for her dinner.

I love looking at bird nests. My favourite is still that of Daisy Duck, the little Pacific Black Duck that made a nest on the White Bellied Sea Eagles nest in Sydney’s Olympic Park. Oh, it was so beautiful with her down interwoven with the beautiful leaves from the nest.

Telyn and Idris’s nest is getting larger. Look at the colours of the lichen on the branches.

Here is another look at Telyn waiting for supper. Youcan also see how high the sides of the nest are getting.

If you want to check in on Telyn and Idris, here is the streaming cam:

Blue 5F – Seren – has been busy working on the nest that she shares with her mate, Dylan at the Hafren Forest, Clywedog Reserve in Wales. A lot of twigs have been brought in and she seems to be weaving them together with some local grass materials. Look at that amazing sunset that she has! Wow. She is waiting for her dinner delivery from Dylan and here it comes!

If you want to check in on Seren and Dylan, here is their streaming cam:

And if the wind tearing up their nest was not enough for Laddie and NC0 at the Loch of the Lowes, then the snow and blowing winds that arrived late today are surely to put a damper on any more nestorations for a bit. Gosh, it is like winter is happening all over again in Scotland!

If you want to check on Laddie and NC0, here is the streaming cam:

One of the most lonely Osprey nests is Hellsgate Canyon just outside Missoula, Montana. The nest is prime real estate despite it being located in a parking lot between Missoula College and the Riverside Health Centre. It is only 15 metres or 50 feet away from the Clark Fork River. It belongs to Iris, the ‘grand dame of the Ospreys’ according to Dr Green at the University of Montana at Missoula. In the image below, taken in 2018, you can see the distinctive band in Iris’s left pupil that identifies her. Iris is believed to be at least 23 years old if not older. Her original nest was on a pole down the highway. This platform nest in the image below was built in 2008. She had a wonderful mate named Stanley that did not return from winter migration in 2016. Louis arrived on the nest on 26 April 2016 and Iris accepted him immediately. Their eggs in 2016 were infertile, in 2018 their one chick got out from under Iris and died of hypothermia. In 2019, there were three chicks. L’el’e was born on 4 June and survived. The other two did not. The issue had to do with starvation. Louis was not bringing food to the nest. At the time it was thought that he was just inexperienced at fishing but it turns out he had two families.

Louis and Starr have arrived back in the area. We wait to see if Iris returns. If she does, I hope that she gets a fantastic new mate and she changes the research on how long Ospreys can lay fertile eggs! Iris was last seen at her nest on 8 September 2020 just before she migrated.

Here is the link to the streaming cam at Hellsgate. Fingers crossed. Maybe we can catch Iris arrival! I sure hope she survived the winter. Or maybe she decided to retire and stay in the warmer climates year round. She certainly deserves it. She has probably raised 30-40 chicks to fledge. Incredible. Iris, you are my hero! I have seen you protect your nest, bring in huge fish by yourself. You deserve a good retirement or a great mate.

And when I checked on Tiny Tot at the Achieva Osprey Nest, he still had a crop from his morning’s feeding. It is nearly 3pm. Would be fantastic for him to get another good feed before bed. He needs to put all that food into growth. His energy and his cleverness have returned. Someone told me he is like Lazarus rising from the dead. Others stopped watching the streaming cam because they feared his demise. Tiny Tot is not out of the woods. The other two siblings are quite large, especially 2 which now seems to have taken over the dominant role on the nest. I am very hopeful if big fish continue to come into the nest on a regular basis, Tiny Tot will fledge!

Tiny is in front of Diane in the image below.

If you wish to follow Jack and Diane and the trio, here is the link to their streaming cam:

Thank you so much for joining me today. Fingers crossed as we await the arrival of Louis and Aila in Loch Arkaig ——– and the return of Iris. If she doesn’t return, I hope she is relaxing somewhere very nice!

I also want to thank all of the Osprey streaming cams that I have posted today. Their cameras provide the feed where I get my screen captures. Many of the cameras, such as Glaslyn with Aran and Mrs G, survive only on donations from viewers. If you are watching one of those cameras, think about chipping in a fiver. Every little bit helps. I have posted the links in the hope that more people will watch these amazing birds build their nests and raise their families.

Everyone loves Richmond

There is a lot of chattering going on around the ‘bird’ world and the one common word that binds people in the United Kingdom with those in San Francisco and Australia is: Osprey. Every continent has Osprey – some more than others. Many of my friends adore them above any of the other feathered friends because they ‘eat fish’. They are sometimes called ‘sea eagles’ but do not confuse them with White-Bellied Sea Eagles. Totally different.

Note the beautiful yellow eye, the dark line from that eye to the neck and the hooked beak. Wikimedia Commons.

You will find Ospreys on every continent in the world except for Antarctica. And there is no missing them. They have very distinctive plumage that helps them with the glare off of the water when they are hunting. See that black line going from the beak over the eyes and to the back of the head? That will stop the glare from the water so that their great vision, three times that of a human, can help them spot the fish swimming below the surface. If you watch American football you might recall that the players put a black line under their eyes to stop glare – something learned from the Osprey! The soles of their feet are different than other raptors. They are very rough with tiny little barbs. If they were a person you might recommend they go to get a pedicure – that is how rough those soles are. That rough surface helps them to hang on to wet slippery fish that do not want to be an Osprey’s dinner. They have four toes like all other raptors but the Ospreys can do something that others can’t – they can swivel one of those front toes to the back to help hold on to those wiggly fish. Brilliant.

Ospreys are smaller than a Bald Eagle but bigger than the large hawks. They weight 1500-2000 grams (3-4 pounds). They are about 54-58 cm long (21.3-22.8 inches) with a wingspan of 150-180 cm (59 to 79 inches). Their head, throat, and body along with their legs are mostly white. They have black and white banded tail feathers and distinctive black and white wings that bend at the joint. Their beak is black and shaped like a very sharp hook. Their eyes are a beautiful, beautiful yellow.

Feet first to catch those fish! NASA image. Wikimedia Commons.

Female Osprey are about 20-30% larger than the males. The females have a ‘necklace’ of feathers that is darker and more distinctive than the male.

Female in back, male in front. Note feathers at top of chest. Scap from Loch Arkaig FB Page.

Osprey’s have a distinctive dive and I do not have an image of it. Once they have spotted their prey, they bring their feet forward so they are even with their beak and then catch their prey feet first. They then latch on to the fish with those sharp talons. It is quite spectacular.

How large are the fish that the Osprey catch? The Osprey normally catches fish that are 15-30 cm in length (6-12 inches) and that weight less than 454 grams or a pound. The largest observed catch was 1250 grams or 2.5 pounds. Some researchers believe that they can easily carry up to half their weight.

Do Ospreys eat anything other than fish? The answer is actually yes. While the majority of their diet is fish, Osprey have been observed, on rare occasions, to eat other birds, voles, squirrels, muskrats, eels, and salamanders. Droughts really impact Osprey and their ability to thrive.

Note: Ospreys carry their fish with those amazing feet and talons. Wikimedia Commons.

The territory of an Osprey will be near a body of water – a lake, a river with lots of fish, along the shores of the oceans and seas. They build their nests off the ground to avoid predators. Originally, Ospreys made their nests in tall trees but, as you know, there is a shortage of structurally sound tall trees.

Those migrating to Canada have been known to make their nests on utility poles. Sadly, this is a huge problem because of electrocutions. So many died that petitions were sent to Manitoba Hydro, a public utility company. Near to Lake Winnipeg, that company began erecting nest platforms for the Osprey. Ospreys actually like human-made nests. It is said that if you provide a nest, the sea hawks will come. And many in Scotland will tell you that is true! Ospreys are loyal and generally return to the same nest year after year.

During the winter, Ospreys head to warmer climates returning to their breeding grounds in spring. Ospreys from the United Kingdom migrate to The Gambia or Senegal with some juveniles known to stay around the coastal areas of Spain. Ospreys from North America migrate to the southern parts of the United States along the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California, the coasts of Mexico and countries of Central America. Some Ospreys do not migrate. They include those living in warmer climates year round such as Australia, Singapore, other parts of Asia, and parts of the southern United States including Florida.

An Osprey adding twigs to the human-made nest. Wikimedia Commons.

Solly was born on a nest sitting on a barge at Port Lincoln, Australia. She is an Eastern Osprey and they are critically endangered. Look carefully and you can see the satellite transmitter on her back. She has a bright orange band on her left leg and a metal one on the right. Solly is easy to spot and many are taking her photograph as she travels the Eyre Peninsula of Australia moving north from her barge nest. I often report on her movements and from those the researchers are changing their minds about how far Ospreys travel from their natal nest.

One of the most famous Osprey couples has their nest on a 75 foot high World War II Whirley crane in Richmond.

Rosie and Richmond’s nest on an old crane overlooking SF Bay. SFBayOsprey Cam scap.

They are Rosie and Richmond and Richmond – well, everyone loves Richmond! Richmond is quite the character. He loves bringing blankets and stuffed toys up to the nest.

Richmond with the notorious blanket. Everyone took turns moving it about the nest. It was removed for safety reasons. SFBay Osprey Cam scap.

One of my most favourite Ospreys is Iris. She is not named after the flower but because she has some very distinctive spots on the iris of her left eye. Iris is the female at the Hellsgate Nest in Montana. For many, many years Iris and her mate, Stanley, nested at the site and raised many chicks. Stanley did not return in 2016. Iris’s new mate, Louis, has proven to be unreliable and the breeding seasons have been unproductive. While most Osprey are thought to live up to twenty-five years, Iris is believed to now be twenty-nine years old.

Iris with her distinctive left eye. Cornell Bird Cam, Hellsgate Osprey scap.

During the 2020 breeding season, Iris had simply ‘had it’. Louis, her mate, actually had another family. Iris laid her egg on the nest but Louis did not bring her food or come to relieve her. She had to leave the egg to eat – and, of course, the Ravens were watching and they came and ate it. Iris was not pleased. Then a squirrel climbed up the platform and was trying to get on the nest. Take the time to watch this video to the end. It is only four minutes long. I seriously would not mess with a female Osprey when they are having a bad day. I want to add that Iris was seen fishing and she sometimes returns to the nest. Everyone is hoping that she will come back for the 2021 season with a new partner.

Iris may help avian researchers understand how long wild Osprey can lay fertile eggs. We know that with Wandering Albatross, Wisdom, who is 69 years old is still raising chicks.

Iris is having a very bad day.

Ospreys raise only a single brood of chicks a year. There will be anywhere from one to four eggs. Both parents will incubate the eggs although many note that the female is there more than the male. The eggs are hard incubated from the time the first one is laid. This means that the last chick might hatch six days later than the first. This often results in siblicide where there are three or more chicks. The smallest is just that much smaller and seen as a threat to food resources. That said, I have seen Osprey parents do dual feedings, such as Loch Arkaig in Scotland, with three chicks growing up to fledge with no dominance issues. First pips are normally around thirty-six days. First flight dates really vary from 50 to sometimes as much as 60 days with 55 being the average. The chicks will use their natal nest as a home base. Parents will teach the juveniles to fish and will supplement them with fish they have caught for several months after fledging.

Ospreys were severely impacted by the use of DDT and their numbers declined rapidly. Many countries are working hard to reintroduce them to the wild. I highly recommend:

The Woodland Trust Loch Arkaig Nest in the Scottish Highlands. That URL is: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/osprey-cam/

You can find Richmond and Rosie at: http://sfbayospreys.org/

If you are interested in following Solly, the Eastern Osprey from Port Lincoln, go to: https://www.facebook.com/portlincolnosprey

You can reach the Kielder Osprey Nests through the following URL: https://www.visitkielder.com/play/discover/kielder-ospreys

If you have a favourite Osprey nest, please let me know. I would love to hear about it.

Update on Solly before I leave. Solly is now 157 days old. She spent yesterday back at Eba Anchorage. Locals say she is staying in a small marshy area near the town.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Hope to see you again soon!

Thank you to the streaming cams at SFBay Ospreys, Hellsgate Osprey by Cornell Lab Cams, Woodland Trust and Loch Arkaig, Port Lincoln Osprey FB Page and Wikimedia Commons.