Intruder at Achieva Osprey Nest – again!

Of course, I cannot stop checking on Tiny Tot at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida. Too soon he will be gone – poof. It appeared that it had been a relatively calm day for Tiny but I was wrong! That adult intruder was back on the nest this morning.

Tiny Tot had a fish delivery. The parent who delivered the meal was on the nest with Tiny at 9:50:01. I believe it was Jack but I am not 100% sure. Remember that Tiny has a fish he is protecting – you can’t see it but it is there tucked between his legs and below his belly.

Both become aware of another Osprey flying over. You can see the shadows over the nest sometimes. They both begin to look different directions with Tiny Tot flapping its wings and alarming.

The parent raises their wings and looks like they are going to fly off after the intruder.

The parent stops and begins to fold their wings down as the intruder approaches the nest coming in from the right. You can see them. That black line with the white is that osprey approaching (middle of the image on the right).

The intruder is at the nest!

He buzzes over Tiny Tot without stopping missing its landing.

And you can just see the tail feathers as that nest invader leaves.

But that isn’t the end of it. Tiny is not able to eat his fish yet because that intruder bird overshot its target and comes back! At 9:51:18, the intruder returns and lands on the nest at 9:51:29 right behind Tiny Tot who is still guarding his fish lunch. He lost one fish to the intruder bird yesterday and he is not going to make that mistake again.

Tiny is doing a fantastic job mantling its fish. He is not going to engage the intruder adult today. He wants his lunch and he knows that if he stays like this he will keep it – he learned that from the fight with the intruder yesterday. Smart kid this Tiny Tot. Oddly, the parent just looks off in the distance as if they are completely oblivious to what is happening behind them. Odd that.

And then without any agitation, the intruder takes off at 9:52:20. It is gone.

Tiny is still mantling that fish determined that no one is going to take it away for awhile after that bird is gone.

And then relief sets in and Tiny Tot gets to enjoy his fish. Whew! These events happen so quickly and can be so dangerous. Poor Tiny.

And before I close there is a couple of news items in Bird World. The little albino osprey born at the nest in Urdaibai, Spain ate for the first time. It only took a couple of bites as expected and went back to sleep between its siblings. How cute is that? Just a little cuddle puddle.

And I have been spelling his name wrong – it is Wattsworth at the Cowlitz PUD nest in Washington State. He brought Electra and the two chicks four fish deliveries today. My goodness, he really is changing his ways. One of them was what we call a ‘Mud Puppy’ here in Canada – a small catfish but, it was nonetheless a fish!

Here is Wattsworth on the left. He has just given Electra the little catfish. And look, one of the chicks already has a big crop. What a wonderful day for this osprey family. I hope you keep it up, Wattsworth. It sure would be nice to have a couple of fledges off this nest this year and not tragedy! The world could use some joyful news – so, Wattsworth – keep bringing in the fish!

Thank you for dropping in on this quick check on Tiny Tot. He sure is learning a lot on that natal nest. He should almost be prepared for anything. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the Achieva Credit Union, the Cowlitz PUD, and Urdaibai Biosphere Park for their streaming cams. That is where I get my screen shots.

As the Nest Turns – Monday late edition

My regular readers will know and might be scratching their heads about all the Osprey posts. Like 400,000 others, I rejoiced when Louis helped Aila feed the three chicks on the Loch Arkaig Osprey Nest. It renewed my faith in Ospreys after having had a rough season with a couple of other nests. Mary Cheadle posted this image taken from the streaming cam last year of Louis helping with the three little ones. That is JJ7 Captain being fed alone so he is not bothered by the two older and bigger siblings. I mean how brilliant is that! It was 3 June 2020. What a beautiful family photo. They all fledged. Sadly, Aila did not return from her winter migration this year. Louis has a new mate off camera on another nest. I hope he is helping with the little ones too. This family gave me hope – hope that not every third chick died of siblicide. And then there was Port Lincoln and Tiny Tot – but Tiny Tot’s survival has really moved me. So, I haven’t stopped my love for Ospreys – it has grown!

Osprey dads vary in their dedication and care of their family just like human dads. Some help with incubation and feeding the wee ones while others bring in lots of fish and do territorial protection. And then there are some who don’t have another nest but still do not bring in any fish and their children starve to death. Then there are the moonlighters like Louis in Missoula, Montana who has two nests but he only takes care of one. A reader asked me if I had heard of or watched the Cowlitz Nest in Washington State. I don’t. I know about it. It is the nest of Electra and Wadsworth. At present there are two chicks. Wadsworth helped incubate the eggs and everyone thought he might have changed his ways but no fish deliveries til this morning – when people feared the little ones would die. After Tiny Tot and then Glaslyn, I am afraid that I do not need the drama. I hope that Wadsworth continues to provide for his family – that is HIS job. Electra’s is to keep the chicks warm and dry and to feed them.

We now know that Ospreys in need will accept fish that they did not catch. The laws in Europe and the UK permit feeding tables. In 2012, Rutland provided one for one of their nests. I heard of an instance in Canada but it is not clear to me what the circumstances were or even when the event took place. I understand the Ospreys did not accept the fish. Mrs G and Aran readily accepted the fish from the staff and volunteers at Glaslyn. They are alive today because of the insights and generosity of these fine caring people. So what about the situation with Electra? On the surface it appears that intervention cannot take place unless the situation has been caused by humans – according to US wildlife laws written more than 50 years ago. But that cannot strictly be the case. This February E17 and E18 were removed from their natal nest by CROW, a wildlife rehabilitation clinic in Fort Myers, Florida, because the eaglets had conjunctivitis. This is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball. Humans tend to call it pink eye. The eaglets remained in the care of CROW for five days. To the people that had the backbone to get the care those eaglets needed – bravo! Just how they got around that archaic law of non-interference is unknown to me but they did and I am glad. I put out a call to help Legacy if, in fact, the bout of Avian Pox she had worsened. Thankfully, it was not necessary. But I sure did ruffle a lot of feathers – and they weren’t on birds! At this point in the history of the planet, the unseasonal weather, the lack of prey, the loss of habitat and the resulting woes of the wildlife rests right on the shoulders of us, humans. But if the community were to get permission to supplement the feeding of Electra and her chicks, I would highly recommend that they contact the Glaslyn Center in Wales. It is the fine details that matter. You don’t want Electra to bolt and not return! Still, I hope that Wadsworth shapes up and takes responsibility for his family.

This morning the intruder was back on the Achieva Osprey Nest. Today, it successfully got Tiny Tot off the nest. Jack flew in and dispensed with the intruder and stayed doing guard duty on the perch pole til late in the afternoon.

At 3:58:58 Tiny Tot returned to the nest very hungry! Here is his approach and landing – gosh he is a good pilot!

Here comes Tiny lining up with the runway.

Landing gear down.

Wing tips going down. Perfect.

Now that he is safely home and there is no intruder, Tiny Tot is rather impatient and would really like some lunch!

Looks like sibling 2 has a similar idea. Oh, dear.

Tiny Tot isn’t the only one waiting for dinner rather impatiently. Big and Little from Duke Farms have been sitting on the nest or the branches around the nest hoping for a food drop. You might recall that the pair of them fludged and the parents were able, after a few days, to get them back to the nest. The parents come with prey but sometimes the youngsters timing is wrong. Big got the last drop. Little has to be really hungry. The amount of time they are hanging around the nest tells me two things. The parents are not doing prey drops elsewhere and the juveniles haven’t had much luck hunting on their own. Fingers crossed for them today.

The storks that are being fed by the villagers of Mlade Buky in Czechoslavkia are really growing. Here is their delivery of little fish today.

And here is them with their dad a little later. What a wonderful caring community. It looks like these three are going to survive thanks to their help. Let us hope the storks bless this village!

The kindness of the Glaslyn community is helping Mrs G and Aran gather their strength. They continue to provide fish for the pair and will do us until such time Aran is healed and can fish.

Laddie has joined NC0 on the nest. NC0 has just had a bath and her hair has that wind swept pandemic look! Laddie looks at her adoringly! Meanwhile Little Bob is thinking it is time for some fish. Laddie is thinking intruders! He will stay on the nest for awhile helping keep NC0 and the two Bobs safe.

When it is all quiet Laddie brings in a nice fish. Little Bob eats his fill and doesn’t want anymore. NC0 offers to both of them several times before tucking in herself.

There were several other feedings throughout the day. This is the last one as the sun is setting. Take a glimpse of Little Bob. He is beginning to get that reptilian look.

Big Red and the Ks are definitely enjoying the sun. Look at those feathers coming in and it looks like Arthur made another squirrel delivery!

Soon these Ks are going to be running up and down that ledge jumping and flapping and causing everyone to have a small heart attack.

Mom is back on the barge at Port Lincoln and Solly with her satellite tracker is north of Eba Anchorage, past Kiffin Island and Perlubie. Gosh, it is sure good to know that she is alive and surviving. She is 284 days old today. Thanks for the satellite tracking!

It is a beautiful day in Canada. Happy Memorial Day to my friends in the US and Happy Bank Holiday to those in the UK. Thank you for joining me.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Lab RTH, Duke Farms, Mlade Buky Streaming Cam, Scottish Woodland Trust and Loch of the Lowes, Scottish Wildlife Trust and People Postcode Lottery, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, and the Port Lincoln Osprey FB Page for the information on Solly.

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.