You can always count on Arthur

Big Red, the grand dame of the Red Tail Hawks, whose nest is on the Fernow Light Stand on the Cornell Campus at Ithaca, New York lost her long time mate, Ezra, in March 2017. She had many suitors who were put through the rigours to find out if they were good providers and devoted so that their chicks would grow and thrive. Big Red chose Arthur. All of the humans thought that Big Red had ‘lost her mind’ in selecting such a young male to be her companion.

Big Red hatched somewhere near Brooktondale, New York, in 2003. She received her leg band on 7 October 2003 in Brooktondale. I have yet to find out the name of the bander. In 2017, Big Red was fourteen years old. Arthur, who had been born in an adjacent territory and who was known by some as ‘Wink’, was born in 2016. When he arrived checking on the Fernow Nest, he was only a year old and did not have his red tail feathers. He caught Big Red’s attention and by the fall they had totally bonded and were fixing up the nest for the coming breeding season in 2018. Big Red could not have chosen a better mate!

In the image below, Arthur has delivered prey to the nest so that Big Red can go and eat and he can take over the incubation duties of their three eggs. This was last evening.

13 April 2021

While Ezra was known as the squirrelinator, Arthur is known for capturing more chipmunks. Hence, he is often called the chippyinator. However, Arthur is like a jet plane when it comes to hunting. Rumour has it that he has flown onto someone’s porch to get a squirrel! So maybe Arthur is both squirrelinator and chippyinator!

In the image below, Arthur is delivering a Robin to Big Red as she incubates the eggs in one of Ithaca’s snowstorms. It was the day she laid her third egg of the 2021 season.

1 April 2021

The images below are from last year. The Js have hatched. How can you tell? Look at all the prey around the nest. Arthur will bring in so much that Big Red can line the nest bowl with fur! I am serious. No one on this nest is going hungry.

6 May 2020

Arthur has found a nest of goslings and thought Big Red might like one for dinner.

6 May 2020

Unlike other raptors, hawks will only eat road kill if there is a food shortage. On occasion, Arthur has brought in live prey to the nest. Some believe this is a teaching lesson for the nestlings.

Of course, people that watch hawk nests have a strange habit of trying to identify prey or making up names such as ‘Dunkin’ Chipmunks’ or ‘Chocolate Chippie Cookies with a Squirrel Glaze’. All kidding aside, researchers watch what prey is brought into the nest and the amounts. A typical Red-Tail hawk diet consists of 68% mammal, 17.5% other birds, 7% reptiles/amphibians/snakes and 3.2% invertebrates. Those amounts come from research by Johnsgard in 1990 but those observing the Cornell nest say that they still apply, for the most part. In 2020 with the pandemic, there was a proliferation of chipmunks. It is believed that the lack of cars killing chipmunks on the road helped with this along with just not having people around.

In April of 2018, Ferris Akel caught Arthur eating a skunk:

The same researchers have tested prey for its caloric/protein/fat/cholestrol components. Did you know that 3.6 ounces of raw pigeon has 294 calories compared to the same amount of squirrel which has only 120 calories?

From the prey delivery reports, it was established that nearly .7 more prey was delivered in 2020 compared to 2016, 2018 and 2019. That is an enormous difference. None of it was wasted, everything was eaten. The factor that changed – the pandemic. Arthur was able to freely hunt all over the campus. There were hardly any people or cars to contend with. The more food the healthier the chicks are. Even feather growth can indicate when a bird was hungry. Also, the longer the eyasses stay on the nest the better their survival rates in the wild.

Big Red laid three eggs for the 2021 season. The first was on 26 March followed by 29 March and 1 April. Red-tail hawks generally incubate their eggs for 28-35 days. Big Red’s incubation periods have ranged from 38 to 41 days. Still, by the 28th of April all eyes will be on that nest! The Ks are coming. Yippeee.

Why do I mention all of this? There is no doubt that Arthur is a devoted mate. When it is time to fix up the nest, work on the nest bowl, incubate the eggs, provide prey for Big Red and then for her and the eyasses, Arthur is right there! You know the other ones that I wish were like Arthur if you read my blog. I will leave it at that. Can you hear me growling at them?

You can watch the life streaming of this nest here:

In other news, the three chicks on the Achieva Osprey nest are waiting for food. Yesterday Diane, the female, delivered many fish and Tiny Tot finally got a good feed very late in the day. As I write this it is 3pm and no food has come to the nest. The mother is not calling for food and the male touched down for only a few minutes around noon. There is something wrong at this nest today. It is extremely hot there, over 30 near the nest. Hopefully if it is the heat food will come in. Tiny was well fed but he needs to eat less more often still. The fish also provides the hydration. I wish the wildlife laws allowed for the care in these situations.

Louis is still waiting for Aila to arrive at the Loch Arkaig nest and Iris continues to bring in twigs and branches for her nest at Hellsgate. One of the members of the FB group had a really good take on Iris. Instead of bemoaning the fact that she will not be able to raise chicks if Louis repeats his behaviour, we should be happy that she can enjoy her summer vacation without the burden of care for little ones and the toll it takes on one’s body. What a positive way of looking at this. Maybe I should be thanking you Louis for just being Louis. Iris has fledged at least 30-40 chicks or more – she does deserve a break to stay healthy.

You can watch Iris at the Hellsgate Osprey Nest cam:

And you can watch Louis wait for the arrival of Aila here:

Thank you so much for joining me today. I wish the news was better on the Achieva Nest. We can hope that it is only the heat. Still the little one needs to eat more often. Take care and keep watching the nests!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: Woodland Trust and People Play Lottery, Cornell Bird Lab – Hellsgate Osprey and Red-Tail Hawk, Ferris Akel, and Achieva Credit Union.

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.

Iris

Iris is the oldest osprey in the world – the grand dame of all of them. In her lifetime it is estimated that she has fledged between 30 and 40 chicks but no one knows for sure. It is possibly way more. Iris is known around the world and her arrival on 7 April 2021 to her Hellsgate nest made print and television news. Social media announcements were full of joy and were sent internationally. This is a huge event. No one knows when Iris leaves Missoula, Montana in the late summer if she will return from her winter migration. In fact, no one knows where precisely she winters.

The Osprey Telemetry Studies plotting map indicates that the Ospreys in Montana winter from southern Texas to Central America. None of the birds go to South America. Dr Erick Greene of the University of Montana says that wherever Iris goes it must be great as she returns to Missoula very healthy.

It is a challenging journey. We are so pleased to be able to watch this amazing bird live her life. I just wish we could find her a fantastic mate. Even after travelling so far, she visits her nest and then goes and catches a whopper of a trout to eat. Can you imagine how great a mother she still could be?

Iris catches a whopper of a trout. 8 April 2021. Photo by E. Greene from Montana Ospreys FB Page.

Iris lands at her Hellsgate Nest in Missoula, Montana at 10:35:55 on 11 April with a nice fish for breakfast.

Landing with a nice big breakfast. 10:36 am. 11 April 2021

In the afternoon of 11 April, Iris is working on nest renovations.

Iris digging up the nest cup. 11 April 2021
Bringing in sticks and moving them about. 11 April 2021
Look at those strong legs Iris has. 11 April 2021
Iris having a break. Nice crop! 11 April 2021

Yesterday Louis came to visit while Iris was building her nest and they mated. I know that Louis and Iris are birds but Louis has a family over at the Baseball Park and it would be nice if Iris had a mate that would help her incubate, that would feed her, and that would make certain her chicks were well taken care of and fledged. Stanley was amazing. Her years with Louis have ended badly. Iris will probably not take a new mate if she still considers Louis her mate – and his other mate is Star. I think it is sad. We will never know if the oldest Osprey in the world can still lay fertile eggs and raise chicks. Last year she lost her egg to the Raven. Louis does not provide for her in terms of help – any help – and she has to leave her egg to go and feed herself. Quite honestly, I am disappointed. Will leave it at that. Iris deserves better.

There is a very good book on Iris and her mate Stanley and the studies at the University of Montana at Missoula. It shows Iris’s old nest, the erecting of the current nest, pictures of her chicks and a good discussion of the heavy metal studies being conducted due to the mining in the region. It is called The Call of the Osprey.

Thank you for dropping in. I know that the people who love Osprey love Iris. This is just a quick glimpse at what she has been up to since returning to her breeding site in Missoula, Montana.

Thank you to the Montana Osprey Project and the Cornell Bird Lab for the streaming cam where I got my scaps and to Dr Erick Greene for posting the image of Iris and her first trout on the Montana Osprey FB Page.

Iris is home!

At 8:06:48 cheers rang out around the world. It was touch down for Iris, the oldest Osprey in the entire world! Believed to be 25 or more years old, according to Dr Ericke Green of the University of Montana.She is just landing from her winter migration. All the worrying about whether or not she survived another year is put to rest.

Welcome home, Iris!

Welcome home, Iris. 7 April 2021

Isn’t she a beauty? Imagine making that 4000 mile migration every year for 25 years successfully? And for those of you that have watched Iris, you know that she is a great fisher!

Iris’s nest, prior to this one, was on a hydro pole about 68 metres or 200 feet from this one. This artificial nest was built for Iris because of the high rate of electrocutions on power lines – all birds, not just Osprey. The power lines are high enough and have a clear view that they appear to be desirable. The new nest, erected in 2007, is all set up with a high resolution camera. Iris took to the new nest right away, thankfully.

Iris had a wonderful mate. His name was Stanley. Stanley did not return from migration in 2016. Unfortunately, she teamed up with Louis who also has a nest over at the baseball field with Star. Their relationship has been tragic for this fantastic Osprey mother who fledged no less than 30 chicks before meeting Louis.

Iris fully on her nest after landing. Gosh, she looks to be in good shape! 7 April 2021

Iris is already making renovations to her nest. Let us all send her positive energy for a new mate and a successful breeding season. She certainly does deserve it.

In terms of Osprey research, Iris can change all of the statistics if she mates, lays fertile eggs, and raises more successful chicks!

Welcome home, Iris! The world is watching and sending you the best wishes for a new mate and a very happy, full of fish breeding season and a successful fledge to your children!!!!!!

Oh, she must be tired and it must feel good to be home on your perch. Iris doesn’t have to go far to catch fish – the fork of the river is just 15 metres or 50 feet away.

Iris suns herself on her perch. 7 April 2021

You can watch Iris and hope with the rest of the Osprey world here:

Meanwhile, everyone continues to monitor the Loch Arkaig nest in Scotland for the arrival of Louis and Aila.

Here is the link to one of the finest Osprey nests on the planet because of these amazing parents:

Update on the Achieva Osprey Nest: Sadness returns at the Achieva Osprey nest. It is day 2 and 2pm nest time. Tiny Tot has had 2 or 3 bites of food. Diane, the mother, has not left the nest to fish due to an intruder. Raptors will generally protect their territory first. A small piece of fish came in this morning. Tiny Tot got under Diane’s legs and had a good spot. He got a couple of bites and then #1 – who is losing the dominant position – wanted under mum and got him out.

Tiny Tot under Diane hoping to grab more than 2 bites. 7 April 2021

Thank you for checking in today. And what a glorious day it is. Iris, it is so nice to see you. You are literally amazing.

Thank you to the Montana Osprey Project, the Cornell Lab for Birds, Woodland Trust and People’s Play Lottery, and the Achieva Osprey nest for their streaming cameras. That is where I get my screen captures.

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.