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.

The race to save the African vulture

In the latest edition of BirdLife Magazine out of Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab, there is a compelling article on the race in Africa to save the African Vulture. It was very moving to read it so soon after discovering the women of the Hargila Army in Assam and their literal saving of the General Adjutant, a stork that also consumes carrion and helps keep disease at bay. The article stresses that vultures are the most endangered raptors in the world. While you might not be familiar with the African Vulture or the General Adjutant, you probably are aware of the California condor. Vultures exist in almost every country. They are crucial part of the food chain and play an important role in the environment. This is why conservation biologists around the world are screaming out for change to save them!

In Africa alone, seven of the ten vulture species are endangered. Many of the issues that threaten the vultures also impact other species. However, in India and parts of Africa, the vulture population dropped by as much as 99%. The author of the article noted that this is ‘apocalyptic’. We are familiar with causes such as habitat loss, electrocution from hydro poles, collisions with buildings and vehicles, the lead used in fishing and hunting equipment, scarcity of food, as well as egg collecting. There are several other threats to the vultures in Africa. One of them is rock climbing and disturbing the nests. Another is the trade in vulture body parts which are used for good luck charms in Africa. The head is believed to bring good luck in business while other parts are used as talismans. The birds are directly poisoned. The last is the impact of the veterinary use of NSAIDs. What is NSAID poisoning? Have you ever heard of it? I certainly knew about its use because I cannot drink milk or eat meat unless it is organic but, I was not aware of its impact on bird populations such as vultures. It is wonderful to learn something new each day! Although I prefer if it is something happier.

The image below shows the many animals and birds that compete for the small amount of food available in Africa.

“Environment of the Hyena Jackal Vulture Group” by Ryan Somma is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NSAIDs are cheap pharmaceuticals given to cattle to relieve them of their pain and to increase their milk production. They are anti-sterodial. It has long been recognized that the industrial dairies in the US keep the cattle in small pens, standing all day on concrete that causes excruciating pain. These cows are also given treatments to increase their milk production. The life of the cow that never gets to explore and eat grass is traumatic and their longevity is significantly reduced.

The efforts in Africa to eliminate the use of veterinary grade NSAIDs as well as captive-breeding programmes are showing promise. Fencing and satellite tracking is gaining ground. Biologists say that it is time to think ‘bigger’. At the same time, the growth in traditional beliefs is spreading in Africa, alongside the use of more modern pesticides. The author states, however, ‘That for all the bad news, conservationists have taken heart from the fact that the decline in African vultures has been slower than the extraordinary rapid collapse that occurred in Asia’.

“African safari, Aug 2014 – 042” by Ed Yourdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Elsewhere in Bird World, life is good on this Sunday the 4th of April. Rising early to watch and hopefully see Tiny Tot (aka Lionheart, Braveheart, Tumbles, 3) have breakfast, the chatters on the Achieva Osprey site probably had their mouths open. A headless fish arrived at 7:22:22. There was some confusion on the nest as Jack stayed with the fish and Diane left for a break. Tiny had already positioned himself and Dad began to feed him. Jack is not the best at feeding the chicks – he is known for touching beaks with no fish – but this morning Tiny got bites. Neither 1 nor 2 seemed interested. They were very busy preening. Eventually 1 joined and Dad fed 1 a bite then Tiny a bite. Mom returns and Dad leaves at 8:01:17. Diane continues feeding Tiny. Tiny awoke with a crop from yesterday but he ate this morning til he could not eat anymore. At 8:12:07 he stopped. There was not a kerfuffle with the older siblings.

Tiny being fed at 7:59 am while older siblings preen. 4 April 2021

Look carefully at Tiny above (far left chick). His little tail is growing and his plumage is changing. A few more days of good feedings and he might be out of the ‘woods’ in terms of his survival.

Diane with her three growing osplets. 4 April 2021

In the image above, Tiny is in the back. You can see his crop. He is standing confidentially next to 2. What a joyous moment on this nest.

The two bald eaglets of Nancy and Harry at the Minnesota DNR nest are growing. Everything is fine on that nest. Harry has learned to feed them and he is a good provider. Nancy is a fantastic mom. Look at those cute little bobbleheads enjoying the warm sun with their mother.

Kisatchie is growing and growing. First time parents Anna and Louis have done really well. The nest is coated with pine to keep away the insects. Kisatchie is healthy and well fed. His plumage is changing every day as he rids himself of his natal down.

I am afraid to say little owlets anymore. Look at Tiger (left) and Lily (right). They are keeping both Bonnie and Clyde busy hunting, day and night it seems. They look like they are wearing beautiful mohair coats with hoods. In my neighbourhood, yesterday, we were reminded about how formidable a raptor these Great Horned Owls are when one of the ones living nearby tried to take off with one of the neighbour’s cats that had gotten out in the back lane. Remember. Great Horned Owls can carry three times their own weight!

And last but never least, my all time favourite bird mother, Big Red sitting on her three eggs in the Red Tail Hawk nest on the Cornell University Campus. Isn’t it lovely? She actually gets to enjoy some sunshine today!

Thank you so much for joining me today. Keep your eyes on what is happening in the Tampa area. There is rumour that 480 million gallons of radioactive water is threatening to push down a retaining wall. If so, this will be catastrophic not only for the people of the area but for the wildlife – including many Ospreys and Bald Eagles that we so dearly treasure.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I grabbed my screen shots: the Kisatchie National Forest and the USFWS, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Cornell Bird Lab Red Tail Hawk Cam at Ithaca, Farmer Derek, and the Achieva Credit Union in St. Petersburg.

Credit for feature image: “In search of the Maltese Falcon #13 – White Backed Vulture, Malta Falconry Centre” by foxypar4 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

First Osprey arrives in the UK – and the little eaglet in the Kisatchie National Forest has a name

The first Osprey to land on a nest in the United Kingdom for the 2021 breeding season is Blue 25 (10). This gorgeous female was the first to arrive last year as well but this time, she is a day earlier.

So who is Blue 25 (10)? She is the daughter of Maroon AA (06) and Argyll BTO (R). She was born in 2010 at Rutland – hence the (10) after her tag number. ‘Site Fidelity’ is when an animal or bird returns to where they were born. Normally only the males return to their natal nest area but, Blue 25 returned to Rutland in 2012. She bonded with Blue 11 (10). In 2013, they had two chicks: Blue 3K is a female and Blue 4K is a male. The male returned to Rutland on 10 July 2015. He is the first 4th generation bird to return. That is quite an accomplishment! In 2013, the pair fledged a single female Blue 5K. In 2014, they fledged Blue 8K, a male, and a female, Blue 9K. The records unfortunately stop in 2015.

It is now 2021. Both Blue 25 and Blue 11 are now eleven years old. Let’s hope that Blue 11 arrives back at the nest!

Ospreys were completely wiped out in Britain. This early extermination was caused by game wardens on large estates killing the birds, through egg collection, habitat loss, and by taxidermy – yes, the killing and the stuffing of these lovely birds. wiped out in England by persecution – through egg-collection and taxidermy – and by habitat loss.

In England, The Leicestershire and Rutland Trust introduced sixty-four 6-week-old Ospreys (introduced from Scotland) between 1996 and 2001. At Rutland, in 2019, there were twenty-five Ospreys in the area with eight couples breeding. One of those couples is Blue 25 (10) and her mate Blue 11 (10). And we know that half of that bonded pair has safely returned to Rutland from Africa.

The other pair is Maya and her mate 33. They were the celebrated parents of the 150th chick to be born in Rutland in 2019. They have claimed the nest at Manton Bay where, since 2015, they have successfully raised ten chicks.

If you would like a list of the UK Ospreys, their band numbers, dates of return, etc. up to and including 2015, please go to this Internet site:

http://ukospreys.uk/rutland-breeding.htm

That beautiful only eaglet, so spoiled by its first time parents Anna and Louis born in the nest in the Kisatchie Forest has a name! And it is a wonderful name: Kisatchie. Anna and Louis celebrate the great state of Louisiana while Kisatchie immortalizes this nest in this forest. It is the only national forest in Louisiana and consists of 800,000 acres covering seven parishes in the state. It is designated an Important Bird Area and is now covered with Loblolly and Slash Pines after reforestation efforts. The raptors living in the forest include Red-shouldered hawks, Sharp-shinned hawks, Broad-winged hawks as well as Cooper’s hawks and Bald Eagles. Other species of birds include the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Northern Bobwhite, Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-bellied and Downy woodpeckers along with the Brown-headed Nuthatch.

This young couple came last year to check out the abandoned Bald Eagle nest and returned this year to make it their natal nest. The rangers say that they are young, 5-6 years old. They had just gotten their adult plumage in the fall of 2020. At 11pm on 23 February 2021, the little one hatched. The nest is very close to the lake and Louis is an amazing fisher. The pantry is always full and Anna never wants her little one to go hungry. If you watch this nest, the youngster always has a crop and Anna is always wanting it to take just one more bite! It is too cute.

Anna says, ‘Please just one more bite!’

Once upon a time I worried that Anna would never figure out how to feed her baby and the baby wouldn’t catch on either but – well, that was pretty silly. This Bald Eagle nest is the envy of most.

As World Osprey Week quickly approaches on 22 March, I am certain that there will be more announcements coming soon of arrivals from Africa. Let us hope that each one arrives home safely.

Thank you for joining me today! And thanks to the Forestry Services at the Kisatchie National Forest for getting those cameras streaming and for handling all of the naming contests. They names are fantastic. And thank you to Rutland Wildlife Trust for the camera where I took the scap of Blue 25 (10)’s arrival!

Monday Catchups in Bird World

I want to start with this old battle scared Bald Eagle now known as ‘The Warrior’. Perseverance would be a great name, too! This amazing eagle will not give up.

Last fall, in late September or early October, he was seriously injured. His leg was broken and his beak was badly compromised but, he was flying and no one treated him because he was not ‘down’. His leg healed (kinda) and you can see the state of his beak. On 10 February, CT Environmental Conservation Officer Michael Curran, found the Bald Eagle in a ditch unable to move. Lucky for this old fella’, he was taken to A Place Called Hope in Killingworth, CT, USA. He should have been dead. The staff cleaned him up, fed him, and the next day he was still alive and showing all signs of wanting to live. His lead levels were found to be 48.9 – highly toxic. And so a long series of Chelation Therapy began. In this process, EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)—is injected into the bloodstream (usually through an IV) to remove heavy metals such as lead from the bird’s body.

On 17 February, his lead levels had dropped from 49.8 to 12.5. And on 2 March, they were down to 10.1.

Believe in miracles? I have said it many times but the survival of these beautiful raptors depends entirely on someone willing to take a chance and spend the money! One session of Chelation Therapy costs almost $600 US. The easiest way to fix this is to simply ban the use of lead in hunting and fishing equipment. It is that easy. Every day I read about more and more birds dying from lead toxicity.

On 4 March, the old eagle was doing so well that he was able to go outside in the exterior aviary for the first time since he arrived at the clinic.

And here he is today 15 March 2021 flying around the aviary.

The clinic says that he has difficulty breathing because of the beak injury, especially if he exerts himself. He can fly and has no problems making his target for landing. He can be wobbly when standing. This old fellow who has probably been hungry a lot of his life is very much enjoying the food! I don’t blame him – nice cut up meat in a dish with no rodenticides or lead. Couldn’t be better than that.

If you are anxiously awaiting the Loch Arkaig streaming cam to start, wait no longer, it is now running. We are all awaiting the arrival of Louis and Aila. In 2020, Louis arrived on 5 April with Aila returning on 6 April. In 2019, they both arrived on 4 April.

And the nest that I am waiting for – because Red Tail Hawks and Peregrine Falcons are my true loves – is in Ithaca, New York. The nest is on a light stand on the Cornell University Campus and it belongs to Big Red who is eighteen this year and her mate Arthur who will be five. Arthur has been working non-stop early in the morning to get the nest just right for his mate. I am thinking we will see eggs in that nest in about a week! Yahoo. I promise to make you a fan of RTH’s before they fledge in late July or early August.

And speaking of Red Tail Hawks, it looks like Pale Male – who is thirty-one years old – is actively preparing for this season with his current mate, Octavia. Their nest is at 927 Fifth Avenue on Central Park – the penthouse on the park! D. Bruce Yolton did a short video of Pale Male:

Bruce keeps an active list of all the happenings at the fourteen Red Tail Hawk nests in New York City. (A few are not listed). You can check it out by Googling ‘Urban Hawks’.

If you have not seen the amazing story of Pale Male, all his mates, and the furor that came to involve actress Mary Tyler Moore – the battle to save the nest- then you must watch this film. You simply have to!

https://www.thelegendofpalemale.net/

Here are the Monday beef and bouquets in Bird World: The male Osprey, Jack, at the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida gets my ‘beef’ for today. It is hot, nearly 30 degrees C and your three kids and your mate are hungry and dehydrating. It is 15:27 – get yourself in gear and bring them a fish and don’t eat the head this time! The Dead Beat Dad Award for this week goes to you, Jack.

The bouquet goes to Louis in the Kistachie National Forest Eagle Nest. This first time Bald eagle dad simply can’t stop fishing. One day there were eighteen on the nest! Stacked! The eaglet and Anna thought they were going to have to sleep on them. Wonder if we could get some of those fish couriered over to St Pete’s for those cute little Osplets? So Louis, first time father, congratulations – you win the bouquet for the week.

Anna is feeding the soon to be named little one on the nest inside the Kisatchie Forest. This little eaglet is so full – almost all day – that it spends much of its time in a food coma. The other day its crop was so big it had a hard time moving. No one is going hungry on this nest! Anna picked a good reliable mate.

One of many meals during the day keep this little one hydrated in the hot bayou of Louisiana. @KNF Bald Eagle cam

The stack of eighteen fish from the weekend is finally dwindling.

Full tummy. Little eaglet in KNF Bald Eagle nest in food coma. @KNF Bald Eagle Nest

Thank you for joining me in Bird World. Take care, stay safe!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams: Kisatchie National Forest, Achieva Credit Union (St Petersburg, 4th Street), Loch Arkaig Ospreys, and Cornell Labs. Thank you to A Place Called Hope for their dedication to raptors, their belief in the Old Warrior, and for the photos from their FB Page.

KNF Eaglet needs a name!

The submission for the final selection of a name for the eaglet in the nest in the Kisatchie Forest is over. 200 names were submitted from people in the US, Australia, and Canada. The final three names for the public to choose from are: Liberty, Kisatchie, and Stormy. You must use the KNF Forestry Office Survey Monkey tool. Submissions cast any other way will not be counted. This is the URL for that Survey Monkey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HKMJRPR

The parents have been given the names Anna and Louis. And, of course, if you reverse that you get the great state that little eaglet resides in.

11 March 2021. Louis is checking out the pantry while Anna broods the eaglet. @KNF Eagle Cam

Before I leave, I just want you to check out the fish on that nest. I do not believe I have ever seen more fish on a Bald Eagle nest that this one. This first time father is really keen to keep his family well fed! No food security issues here. Incredible.

11 March 2021. KNF eaglet with its mother, Anna. @KNF Bald Eagle Cam

Take care everyone. Thanks for participating. Vote!

Bobbleheads and more Bobbleheads

The Bald Eagle nest at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey had three eggs. There is something really interesting and ‘cute’ going on at this nest. The oldest chick was born on 26 February and the little one was born on 2 March. If the third egg is going to hatch we should be watching for pips today or tomorrow. This experienced gorgeous mom is going to have her hands full! And quite a few other mothers as there appears to be a glut of Bald Eagle nests with three eggs in them this year.

When the parent is not around the oldest one sends a message of dominance by bonking the little one. This drives me nuts because I am always afraid that one of them will be injured. These little guys are, however, remarkable in their resilience.

4 March 2021 Bonking @Duke Farms Eagle Cam
Look at me! I am the boss! @Duke Farms Eagle Cam

However, when the mother is feeding and the big one stands in front, the little one has already figured out how to stretch its neck to get food from mom.

Let’s see how far I can stretch over my big sib. @Duke Farms Eagle Cam
Ha, ha. I did it. Mom saw me. @Duke Farms Eagle Cam

This is going to be interesting. At one time it actually gave the older sib a bit of a peck on the neck to get it to move so it could have a bite of fish! This little one is really smart. Those images were taken on 4 March 2021.

On 5 March, Mom has both lined up. There is not going to be any nonsense. Aren’t they precious?

One bite for you and another one for your sib. @Duke Farms Eagle Cam

At the Harrison Bay Bald Eagle nest in Tennessee, Athena and Eliot have welcomed HB 17 and HB 18 on 4 March. Looks like we have another set of twins. There is one more egg to hatch on the HB nest. The streaming cam didn’t focus in on the little ones but you can sure make out that there are two wiggling underneath their mom.

If you want to keep abreast of these little ones, here is the link to the Harrison Bay Cam:

And the new dad at the Kisatchie National Forest nest (NNF) is one super provider. On 4 March, it looked like there were parts of at least eight fish on that nest. Mom and baby continue to improve their feeding and eating rituals. It looks like they are going to have to eat much more or the parents will be building the nest rails out of those fish with dad stacking them up more and more.

Food Security @KNF Streaming Cam
Ah, that’s right. I turn this way and you bite that way! We got this. @KNF Streaming Cam

Here is the link to the KNF nest in case you want to see these new parents continue to learn and their only little eaglet grow. Look closely. There is a cute little tail forming – that white line of feathers on its tiny little end. If you would like to try and name this little eaglet, please send your name suggestions before March 7 to: nameKNFeagle@gmail.com

This week has been absolutely crazy with Ospreys laying eggs, Bald Eagles laying eggs, Ospreys flying home to the UK to their nests, and with the arrival of spring the first Canada Geese and Bald Eagles arriving in Manitoba. It is impossible to keep track of each and everyone!

You might, however, be wondering about that Great Horned Owl that took over the Bald Eagle nest near Newton, Kansas. This morning Bonnie appears to be sitting higher on her nest, is much more alert, and is doing tiny little chirpy hoots. This gular fluttering could be a way to regulate her temperature since it is a little getting warmer. Gular fluttering is a vibration of the bird’s throat tissues. But it is only 53 degrees F. Could it also mean that there might be some hatching?

Oh, I want to surprise everyone including Clyde. @Derek the Farmer

The link to catch all the action of Bonnie and Clyde, the Great Horned Owls that stole a Bald Eagle Nest is here:

Have a fabulous Friday everyone. Thanks for joining our check in on ‘the birds and their babies’.

Thanks to the following streaming cams listed under the captured shots.

Ever wonder what it is like to be a first time bird mom?

One of the wonderful things to come out of the pandemic is the number of people who started watching streaming bird cams. Testimony after testimony speaks to the transformative power of the birds. They have brought joy to so many of us. The birds have taken away the isolation and loneliness of the pandemic. Together we have marvelled at how a Bald Eagle can shake the snow off her wings but never get a flake on the eggs she is incubating. We have held our collective breathes when Big Red, the Red Tail Hawk at Cornell, was blown off her nest.

We cried with joy when Ms Pippa Atawhai literally ran with her webbed feet to get to her dad, OGK, when he returned after being at sea. We smiled when they fledged wishing we could just hold on to them for a few more days. They touched our hearts.

Pippa (left) with OGK (right). @Cornell Bird Cams and NZ DOC

Since the end of January there have been many Bald Eagle hatches. There are many pip watches on the horizon and eggs are being laid around North America. In fact, the Bald Eagles in Canada’s most western province, British Columbia, have recently laid eggs, the earliest in the history of the nest at Surrey. Some of the parents are older and very experienced and for others, this is their first time to lay an egg, have it hatch, and have a tiny little eaglet to care for. It cannot be easy. They have no manuals. Their mothers or grandmothers are not there to help the young mothers understand how to feed their baby and care for it. And, yet, they do. The term ‘bird brain’ is misdirected. Study after study speaks to the genius of birds in terms of their communication, navigation, and their use of tools. An excellent book on this topic for the lay person is Jennifer Ackerman’s The Genius of Birds.

Along with using tools, communicating, and the migrating birds navigational system to get them to their favourite feeders in the summer, birds instinctively know that they must cover their babies in the snow and pouring rain when they have only natal down. The chicks, eaglets, eyases, or ‘babies’ as I often call them know to raise their little bottoms and shoot their ps out of the nest. They learn so fast! But wonder what it is like to be a first time ‘bird’ mother?

RTH hatchling J1, 2020. @Cornell Labs RTH Streaming Cam

At 11pm on the 23rd of February, the single eaglet on the Kisatchie National Forest nest hatched. Its parents are, as far as anyone knows, first timers. The nest is located in Central Louisiana. From the food deliveries, it appears that the area is relatively rich in prey, especially fish, which, of course, Bald Eagles love. The father understands his role as providing food to the nest, sometimes incubating the eggs, brooding the eaglet, and defense. The other evening when he took over brooding duties, out of habit he rolled the eaglet thinking that it was still an egg! The eaglet is fine but having rolled eggs for more than a month – it seems it might have become a habit, at least for the dads. The mother, in her enthusiasm, tried first to shove large bites of food in the eaglets mouth. It wasn’t working. It also was not working that she was holding her beak straight and vertical. Oh, when that poor baby got only one or two bites and the mother was ready to get back to brooding, I became the ‘auntie’ trying to explain to the young mother what to do through the screen. It didn’t work! Somehow the little thing managed grab enough of the big pieces that it survived. I admit to having my doubts for a couple of days. But then magic happened! On 1 March, the whole feeding process changed. Let me show you in a few images. I am so proud of both of them. Gold stars all around.

The chick is peeping and the mother responds by getting up from brooding. She moves to the pantry. The little eaglet is looking out of the nest bowl in the opposite direction from under its mother’s tail. This isn’t looking very hopeful.

Then the mother repositions herself.

OK. Mom is ready but, seriously. The little one is now in a different spot but still not aligned for a feeding.

The mother steps into the nest bowl, leans her head and tempts the little eaglet with a small piece of fish. She is teaching it to stand nearer to the pantry.

The little eaglet turns its head! And its beak aligns perfectly with its mothers. A nice bite of fish!

The mother continues offering bites, sometimes trying to hold her head differently. The little one continues to grab the fish. This is the longest and best feeding I have seen at this nest for this six day old eaglet. It is also getting stronger and can stabilize its head. I cannot even imagine what it is like trying to feed a bobble head.

It was almost a four minute feeding. The little one had a nice crop and it is now time to sleep and grow! For now the frequent feedings and smaller amounts are perfect. In a week we will see some longer feedings with larger bites. It is so wonderful to see these two figuring this most essential part of parenting and survival out. Fantastic!

Did you wait for a little one to be fed and then you said to yourself that it was alright for you to do something else or go to sleep? Everything just felt alright with the world. Well, today I smiled in relief. These two are going to be alright. If you would like to watch the little chick as it grows up at the KNF nest, please go here to watch the streaming cam:

Thank you for joining me today. It is almost spring…less than three weeks. Yippee.

Richmond and Rosie together!

Richmond was flying around the SF Bay area and arrived at the nest to check on things and bring a piece of fish to Rosie in case she had returned from migration. That was nine days ago, just after Valentine’s Day, 16 February 2021. That is brilliant Richmond. You know she is on her way home to you.

Where’s Rosie? I have a late Valentine present.

Rosie returns landing on the nest on 18 February. It was her shortest winter migration ever. Wonder how Richmond knew to expect her? She was only away from the Whirly crane nest for 154 days. She sits resting and waiting for Richmond to find her on the nest.

Rosie having a rest. Third eyelid closed.

Then early on the morning of 25 February 2021 magic happens. Rosie is waiting at the nest. What a beautiful view she has. The sun is just coming up.

Sunrise over SF Bay.

Here comes Richmond! Hello Rosie. Did you miss me?

Here I come, Rosie.

Not sure Richmond’s grand entry was what Rosie was expecting but it is, Richmond, after all. What a crazy Osprey he is! They have been apart now for a little over five months.

If you want a warm welcome, land on the nest!

Rosie gives Richmond a flip of her wings and he pretends he is a hovercraft. Gosh the hovering that these sea eagles do is amazing. Rosie looks up at him adoringly.

You do that rather well, Richmond.

Richmond decides to take a spin around the Whirley Crane. So happy. Both are back home and ready for another season!

Bye Richmond.

Richmond is a character and he and Rosie have successfully managed an Osprey nest with three chicks to fledge several times. Incredible! But the one thing everyone loves is when Richmond brings something interesting to the nest. He is notorious for this. Once it was a blanket, then a number of stuffed toys including a monkey and another time it was an apron with a person’s name on it. In 2018, he brought a red hat to Rosie and the three chicks that everyone played with for awhile.

Richmond’s kids playing with the red hat, 2018.

Richmond and Rosie are experienced parents. And again, raising a nest of three Osprey chicks is no easy feat. This is the type of rivalry that can go on and yet, the three survived to fledge. Yahoo, Richmond and Rosie!

Who’s the boss around here? Me, me, me.

Moving from San Francisco Bay and the experienced and successful nest of Richmond and Rosie to the central part of the bayou in Louisiana. This is the nest of the new couple at Kisatchie National Park. It was a busy first twenty-four hours for this young mother brooding her little one. Right around 23:29:19 a racoon tried to get up to the nest. The female was alert and she successfully defended the nest and her tiny, tiny eaglet.

An intruder is coming up the side of the nest!

Their first and only eaglet of the season hatched at 11 pm on the 23rd. It is now 36 hours old. Below is a picture of it in the big nest on the morning of the 25th. The eaglet is 34 hours old. The father has really filled the nest with food. He is a fantastic provider. The eaglet looks so little next to the fish.

So tiny in that big nest!

A challenge for this first time mother is how to feed their baby. The eaglet and the mother know by instinct that it is beak to beak. However, the mother is always either too close or the sight line for the little one is off a bit. Fish goes on its head and on the side of the face with a few bits getting into its mouth. These two need to begin to coordinate so that this little one will thrive. They are both trying – it is hard to hit a slightly moving target, the mouth of that little bobble head. Sometimes the mother tries to push the fish into the little one’s mouth. She is trying very hard. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for them. The eaglet will survive on the contents of the egg for about twenty four hours (or so I am told).

In the image below both of the parents are there caring for their wee one.

New parents adoring their day old baby.

The young mother seems to get a little frustrated when the eaglet will not open its beak wide enough. She will get the hang of it. It is hard to realize just how small the bites are these wee ones can eat!

Open wider so I can get the fish in, please!

Everyone knows what to do. They just need to meet up at the right time like Rosie and Richmond! We will keep a close watch on these two nests for developments.

Thank you for joining me. Have a fantastic day. Updates on other nests will be posted in about nine hours.

Thank you to the streaming can at the KNF Eagle Nest and the SF Bay Ospreys and the Audubon Society for the streaming cam for Richmond and Rosie.