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.

Time to go awwwwwwwww

If you have been following the saga on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida, you will know that three days ago #3, aka Tiny Tot, Lionheart, Braveheart, Tumbles, or Tater Tot, was believed to be almost dead. He had not had any food for three days, the temperatures for those days in St Petersburg had been quite hot, and Tiny Tot almost appeared to be shrinking. He had also chose to isolate himself from the rest of the family. Well, just set your speed to fast forward. Three days of good meals and full crops does wonders.

There he is standing in the back of the nest looking out to the traffic. Look at that fat little bottom and those legs. They are getting thicker too! He is also getting some juvenile plumage. My goodness what those good meals of fish have done for this little one. The regular deliveries have also stopped the food competition that has been going on in this nest. Right now everything is peaceful and we can sit back and enjoy this lovely family hoping that Tiny’s luck will continue.

And grown up plumage means that Tiny is going to be spending a lot more time preening than he has had to do! It’s a good problem for this little Osprey.

In the image below, there he is. He has sat down where he was standing above and is now busy preening every part of his body. They say feather growth is really itchy! I honestly cannot imagine how any human knows that for sure – maybe he is just busy conditioning all those new feathers.

The link to the Achieva Osprey cam is here:

And say awwww to little Kisatchie at the Kisatchie National Forest Bald Eagle Cam in Central Louisiana. An only eaglet, Kisatchie – nicknamed Kit and Kissie – is getting his dark juvenile plumage. Today, his mother, Anna brought in a small morsel of food to the nest and Kisatchie did an amazing mantling. Then he let Anna have the prey to feed him! Kisatchie is being taught good lessons for when he is on his own.

There is Anna arriving. Look how big her wings are as she carefully descends to the nest between the two trees. Incredible.

No sooner had Anna landed on the nest than Kisatchie went into mantling posture. Mantling claims ownership – ‘This is mine!’ The wings lowered around the prey and the head down really protect what is hidden underneath. Kisatchie is growing up. The little one is the first eaglet to hatch in this Loblolly Pine nest since 2013. That momentous occasion occurred at 11pm on 23 February. Kisatchie is 43 days old today – a day over six weeks. Did you know that the eaglets start branching and take their first flight when they are ten to twelve weeks old? You are growing up too fast, Kisatchie. I remember you as a bobble head and Anna trying to learn to feed you. Your dad Louis had eighteen fish stacked up one day on the nest! You are Anna and Louis’s first little one and they wanted to make sure you were never hungry.

The link to the KNF Bald Eagle nest is here:

Last year, I did not think another Royal Albatross chick could ever be as cute and funny as Atawhai but then along came this fluffy little one. The Royal Cam chick whose parents are LGL (Lime Green Lime, female) and LGK (Lime Green Black, , male) is 73 days old today. The nickname that has been given to her – until she gets her formal Maori name- is another Maori name, Kapua meaning ‘cloud’. And she is fluffy, just like a cloud.

This is one of my favourite images of this little albatross. She always looks like she is smiling and her beautiful indigo eye is staring right at you..

It’s OK. You can go awwwww now. In the image below she is getting a feeding of squid from her dad, LGK. When he flies in, LGK usually lands and then spends some time with his chick. He sits by her and they chat before he feeds her. LGK is wearing a satellite tracker. It shows that he is having good luck fishing near to Taiaroa Head. Because of that closeness, LGK flies in to feed Kapua at least every other day.

And while Kapua won’t be starting to hover or fledging until September, she is already strengthening her wings by stretching and flapping.

Kapua’s nest is on Taiaroa Head near Dunedin, New Zealand. There are a number of rangers employed to make sure that these wonderful sea birds are safe and in good health. Every Tuesday the chicks are weighed. Their weight is compared to a chart and if any chick is underweight it will get a supplemental feeding of squid from the rangers. Sometimes the parents are very late in returning from sea. Sadly, some of them do not return. But, if anything should happen to endanger the life or health of these beautiful cotton balls, the NZ Department of Conservation steps in to help them. I so admire their dedication and their understanding and mitigation of the perils these sea birds face.

Kapua is a big girl. Yes, they know she is a girl. She has been DNA tested and she will also get banded. Here she is being put into a laundry basket for weighing.

Today, Kapua is 73 days old and weights 6 kilograms or 13.2 pounds. She definitely did not need a supplemental feeding!

The link to the Royal Albatross Chick’s cam is here:

And now to say cute three times with the trio at the Pittsburg Hays Bald Eagle Nest. The screen shot of the three in the image below was taken today. They are all lined up in birth order. Beginning on the far right, the biggest one with a crop is H13 born at 4:21 am on 23 March. Eighteen hours later came H14 at 21:57 on 23 March. The smallest one on the far left, such a little cutie, is H15 born on 27 March at 5:33 am.

The Bald Eagle couple have been together since 2013. The nest is 8 km or 5 miles outside the city of Pittsburg. This is the first time that the couple have had three chicks successfully hatch since 2014. The arrival of all three has caused a lot of excitement in the area and for watchers on the streaming cam.

Just for comparison, the image below was taken six days ago. Look how much those cute little bobbleheads have grown. My goodness. They have more than doubled their size.

I don’t like the bonking or the food competition but there is something so sweet about a tiny little bundle of soft downy feathers.

Here is the link to the Pittsburg Hays Bald Eagle cam:

Thank you so much for joining me today. Take care. Stay safe. Enjoy the birds.

Tuesday morning update on Achieva Osprey nest. Only delivery was a small fish at 10:43 – my daughter caught it. It was so small I didn’t even see that fish. Tiny Tot did not get fed. Hoping that this nest will not go back and that at least 2 large fish arrive – or 1 huge one that will feed everyone.

Thank you to the streaming cams listed above. That is where I grab my screen shots.