Late news in Bird World

Around the beginning of May, people in Manitoba get ‘itchy’ to get out in the garden. The garden centre catalogues have been sitting since December, the days are getting warmer, and that urge to get out and plant starts taking over our thoughts. Today was a quick trip to a garden centre just outside of the city near the river. On the way there I was delighted by the hawks soaring. One Red Tailed Hawk (RTH) was being chased by a couple of crows while a Broad-winged Hawk was flying above the banks of the river. I did not stop and take photographs. By the time I would have pulled over they would have been gone. But, thank heavens, for a book that I got at Christmas. The RTH I recognized immediately but not the second raptor. That book is Hawks from Every Angle. How to Identify raptors in flight by Jerry Liguori. I wish the images were bigger but, other than that, it has been a great help in identification.

Speaking of identification, the two eaglets on the Minnesota DNR nest were banded on 4 May. I tried to catch a good image of their legs but those two are not giving one thing away!

Here is a close up of their young father, Harry. No, he isn’t dirty! He hasn’t completely ‘matured’ (someone might have to adjust that) as he is not believed to be five years old yet! Well, Harry, you are a great dad. You stepped up to the plate and incubated your babies, learned how to feed them, and brought in prey. It took you a bit to catch on – but, you did!

The cameras at the MN DNR Bald Eagle nest were turned off during the process of banding. They also did a health check and took blood samples. Soon we will know the genders of the two eaglets! Here is a video from 2015 at the same nest showing the process:

Many were very sad when California Condor’s Redwood Queen and Phoenix’s egg was deemed non-viable. Those two will try again next year. But congratulations go out to California Condors Condor 589 and Phoebe (569) known as the Pinnacle Power Couple. Their baby hatched on 12 April and is #1078. #1078 will need to survive for six months in the nest being fed by 589 and 569. #1078 will be learning to fly in mid-October. The couple have been together for five years and this is the third chick – hence the designation ‘power couple’. Most California Condors only breed every two years.

#1078 one week old. Phoebe is feeding the baby. Taken from video feed Pinnacles National Park Cam. 19 April 2021

Over in Hellgate Canyon in Missoula, Montana, the oldest Osprey in the world, Iris, landed a whopper!

Just look at the size of that fish and the perfect form Iris has. I am impressed.

Iris got to enjoy some of that magnificent catch and then Louis must have heard about that great catch and thought she might share. In the end, he did steal part of that fish and took it to the pole to eat. Darn that Louis. Iris doesn’t fish for him! He is supposed to be taking care of her.

Gabby has been with Legacy all day at the NE Florida Bald Eagle nest in Jacksonville, Florida. It seems that Samson and Gabby are keeping a close eye on Legacy so she doesn’t get lost again! Well, was she lost? She sure might have been. She has stayed at the nest. It is another hot and very windy day but, if Samson continues his regular food drop, Legacy will have some dinner around 5:30 nest time.

Legacy is sure watching for Samson to appear with her dinner! It is nearing 5pm nest time. Good training for Legacy once she gets the confidence to fly about more.

Arthur has made several prey drops trying to encourage Big Red to let him incubate the Ks but Big Red is steadfast. It is raining and she still doesn’t trust Arthur enough to let him take over when the rain is pitching down! K1 and K2 got a quick feed. Meanwhile, K3 is hatching. The progress is unclear – cannot see the egg!

It’s dinner time at the Achieva Osprey nest and Diane brought in a catfish for #2 and Tiny Tot. It has not been that long since Tiny polished off an entire fish so he is not rushing to get in line. In addition, Tiny might have figured out that the best meat on the catfish comes a little later. Mom has to fight with the head to get it all open. Diane doesn’t like a flake of fish to be wasted! No doubt. She is a good fisher, like Iris, and takes great care of her kids.

Oh, Tiny Tot is so smart. See. He waited. If you look carefully there is really good fish left – nice big chunks of flaky catfish! Sometimes it is good to not rush. Diane is happy to feed that back half of that fish to Tiny and have some bites herself. So Tiny had at least one entire fish to itself and half of another big catfish. He’s set for the night!

There were alarms in the Matsalu National Park in Estonia. Eerik stayed on the White-tailed Eagle nest tree with Eve in order to protect the family. If he wasn’t on the nest, he was on a close branch in case there was an intruder.

Oh, everyone is eating!!!!!!

It is Happy Hatch Day for Izzi, the Peregrine falcon eyass of Xavier and Diamond. Their scrape box is on the water tower on the grounds of the Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia. Izzi has not left home. Will Izzi ever leave home? Many are probably asking the same question. For me, it is a joy to see him grow into a healthy capable falcon!

@ Charles Sturt University Orange Australia. 5 May 2021

And it wouldn’t be fair to check on Izzi and not on the trio at the UC Berkeley Campus. Oh, my how they have changed from the marshmallows last week with the pink beaks and legs. So imagine these three growing up and looking like Izzi in a few months. They will, I promise. They are already charging Annie and Grinnell and trying to self feed. Oh, they are adorable!

It is Day 36 for Maya and Blue 33 (11)’s first egg. Eggs have been rolled and Maya has been enjoying the nice weather. That one egg looks terribly suspicious but no word of a pip or a hatch yet!

Thanks everyone for joining me. I hope where ever you are that your Wednesday has been a good one. Take care. See you soon in Bird World.

Remember: 8 May is Bird Count Day. Get all the information on how you can participate here:

https://ebird.org/news/global-big-day-8-may-2021

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: LRWT Rutland Osprey Project, UC Falcon Cam, Achieva Credit Union, Eagle Club of Estonia, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Cornell Bird Lab RTH Cam, Cornell Bird Lab and the Montana Osprey Project, MN DNR, Ventana Wildlife, and Pinnacle Wildlife.

A sighting of Legacy?

I have been following Legacy since she hatched on the 8th February. She grew strong and beautiful on the Bald Eagle nest of her parents, Samson and Gabrielle, in Jacksonville, Florida. In fact, the second egg did not hatch and Legacy (N24) had her parents complete attention. Despite being an only child she quickly learned skills to help her on her journey to adulthood. Those pinecones that come into the nest, sometimes with needles, are not only good to keep insects away but they also help the raptors learn to grip with their talons. I have watched Red Tail-Hawks play with pinecones like they were soccer balls. Legacy mantled and fought for the fish deliveries, built up strength in her wings, and she fledged. What a beautiful flight that was on the 26th of April. Here is a video clip:

The last confirmed sighting of Legacy at the nest was at 9:53:51 on 28 April. She had been chatting with Gabby and she flew off. Like before, everyone expected her to return to the nest. Many who watch Legacy also watch Harriet and M15s Bald Eagle nest in Fort Myers and know that E17 and E18 return to the nest for food while flying about the neighborhood to build up flight muscles and landing skills. So everyone has been worried when she did not return to the nest.

Today, rumours of a fly by at 9:35:15 seen only on camera 2 circulated. Here is the sequence of that flight below and to the side of the nest tree.

The image below is the area with the juvenile Bald Eagle blown up so the juvenile can be seen better.

Please note the time: 9:35:15. As it happens, the parents fly to the nest tree landing at 9:36:02. They are precisely 47 seconds – not even a minute – behind the juvenile doing the fly by.

Here is the parent landing on the look out branch at 9:36:02.

Here is Samson settled down looking around.

No one can be 100% certain that it was Legacy that did a fly by without DNA evidence or a good enough photograph to compare to one of her on the nest. That said, I believe that Samson has just missed Legacy! Why she does not come to the natal nest, I don’t know. Maybe they are just missing one another. Maybe she is being fed off the nest. We do not know but I believe that she is still in the territory of her parents and as of this morning is flying strong.

The only other news is that, sadly, the egg of Redwood Queen and Phoenix appears to have failed or not been fertile. According to the Ventana Wildlife Society, 50-60% of all California Condor eggs fail to hatch. Hopefully the pair will have more success next year!

Everything is going well on the Achieva Osprey Nest. I will check in there first thing tomorrow morning. Biggie Tot spent the day eating and #2 has really been exercising their wings. My daughter thinks that fledge will happen tomorrow. Stay tuned!

I will leave you with an image from Sturt University in Orange, Australia. The scrape box on the water tower belongs to Peregrine Falcon bonded pair, Xavier and Diamond. They had one hatch in 2020, Izzi. Izzi’s first fledge was a fludge. He went to sleep on the rim of the scrape box and fell out. He was returned to the scrape box. The second fledge he flew into a window and went into care for five days and was returned to the scrape box. The third fledge was a success. Now everyone thought that Izzi would, like all other peregrine fledglings, leave the parental territory by January at the latest. Tomorrow is 1 May and Izzi still brings his prey to the box that I think he believes is his own. I will keep you posted on developments. Izzi is the cutest thing. No one would mind watching him live his live from here.

Everything feels right in Bird World on a late Friday night on the Canadian prairies. Thanks so much for joining me. Let us all hope that the juvenile in those images is Legacy and that she is just being fiercely independent and being fed off screen. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams. That is where I get my screen shots: Charles Stuart University Falcon Cam Project, NEFlorida and the AEF, Ventana Wildlife Society and Explore.org

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.

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.