Wednesday in Bird World

The rain is pouring down and it is so welcome. Thunder and lighting have sent the family cat scurrying off to her ‘tent’. The smell and the sound of the rain are a delight and the greens in the garden seem to have come alive. I cannot remember when last we had downpours like this. One of my friends in Regina, Saskatchewan says it has been four years for them.

Years ago I remember standing in the street in Chennai, South India. The skies opened up on the first day of the monsoon. It was around 4pm. People were dancing and raising their arms singing and shouting. It was a beautiful experience. Rain is certainly a gift.

A good friend of mine that lives south of the East Kootenays, at the base of the Purcell Mtns, wrote to me yesterday to tell me about the drought in their area. They have been warned that the wildfires in their area of British Columbia will be worse this year and already the creek beds are drying up and people are not able to find water when they try to drill wells. How sad. I wish I could share this downpour with her.

Today I went and checked on the tiny little third hatch at the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest of White YW and Blue 35. The little one has been treated very aggressively by both of its older siblings. Today, it waited til they had eaten and then went up to get some fish. Many of you know that I cheer these little third hatches on with all the might I have – and I know that hundreds, if not thousands more, send them positive energy and love. If they survive, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Tiny Tot on the Achieva Osprey Nest is recent proof of what can happen when a third hatch is almost starved to death and survives. They become ‘street’ smart – so to speak. They refuse to take abuse. They learn how to fight. They are clever and they are not afraid to eat left over pieces of dry fish found in a nest to survive. Tiny Tot remains on the Achieva Osprey Nest and it is wonderful to see him.

Roy Dennis in his book, The Life of Ospreys, suggests sketching the plumage on the head and neck, particularly around the eye of these unringed birds. It can help in future identification. Believe me when I say that I hope that Tiny Tot takes over this nest he has so valiantly defended – and why not? I don’t even know why he should leave. There is no rule book that says he has to. And since Florida is a year round home for the Ospreys he doesn’t have to migrate – it is his instinctual choice.

Tiny Tot sleeping on the perch ready to defend his nest if any intruder comes in the morning.

But back to these little ones. Tiny Tot did survive and the wee Bob at the Foulshaw Moss, with its sore eye from the others pecking it, has learned to wait. Here he is. He has a crop from the last feed but he is going to go up and get some more. He has stayed away til the big ones were fed and have quieted down. He may only get the food left towards the tail but he will not get walloped by the others. He needs to learn to protect himself and it looks like he is figuring that out. Well done you.

Look at the size of those other siblings! Bob 3 is hardly the size of their wing.

If you know of any third hatches who have survived aggressive treatment and gone on to fledge, please do send me a note. I am collecting information on them. Of course, on my list are Tiny Tot, Z1 Tegid of the White Egg, and JJ7 Captain (who had amazing parents and did not get the treatment that Tiny or this one on Foulshaw Moss has received). It will be interesting to see their survival rate at the age of 2 moving forward. Z1 already has its own nest in Wales for the second year of breeding. His believed to be more survivable sister died shortly after fledging. Go figure. So thank you. There are so many nests and such a history I welcome any that come to your mind. Thanks so much!

Indeed, for awhile, I thought that the second Bob on the Loch of the Lowes nest was going to suffer but Laddie seems to have kept the fish coming and NC0 has grown into being a great mother. They are both doing well.

Here is Laddie flying in with a delivery.

Here is Laddie still on the nest after delivering a fish and NC0 feeding both of the Bobs. Bob 2 is still small compared to Bob One but they are both getting their beautiful curved juvenile feathers rimmed in white. Look at those cute little tails and the blood feathers coming in on their wings. This nest at the Loch of the Lowes is really a delight to watch – and such a beautiful landscape!

It has been a really nice day in Scotland and in southern England but it is raining in Wales.

Blue 5F Seren is keeping her wee Bob warm and dry.

A lonely fish waits at the Glaslyn Nest for Aran or Mrs G to come and fetch it (or an intruder).

Over in Storkland, the three White Storks in Czechoslovakia continue to grow and do well. Every morning I wake up and smile because of the kindness of this community. I wish it were everywhere!

Everyone is doing really well at the Red tail Hawk Nest of Big Red and Arthur. Arthur made a prey drop this morning. The two older siblings ate off of it and then Big Red flew in and fed little K3.

Yesterday Big Red spent a lot of time on the fledge ledge and the fledge post. She will continue to do this showing the Ks where is the best place to take that leap of faith. Big Red is an amazing mother. I honestly don’t know how she keeps it up encased in ice and snow, soaked to the bone with rain, loving each and every chick!

Thank you so very much for joining me today. It is a wonderful day because of the rain! And it warms my heart to see the tiny little one at Foulshaw Moss still alive. I hope that everyone is well. Stay safe. See you tomorrow.

Thank you so much to the following who have streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Carnyx Wildlife, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Loch of the Lowes, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife Trust, Foulshaw Moss and the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Achieva Osprey, Mlady Buky, and the Llyn Clywedog Osprey Project.

Leaving you with a lovely image of Tiny Tot. I have a collection of these noting the distinguishing markings of this beautiful Osprey. He will not be ringed so hopefully these marks and his behaviour will always help us to identify him.

As the Nest Turns – Sunday focus: Loch of the Lowes

This blog will focus on NCO and Laddie at the Loch of the Lowes Nest for the most part. The reason? My goodness. NC0 at the Loch of the Lowes Osprey Nest up in Scotland has really kicked up her game in feeding her Two Bobs. She is impressing me! She had me worried for awhile – all first time raptor mothers do. All of ‘us’ – the aunties and uncles – sit and loudly scream into our computer proper instructions for feeding the little bobbling heads. I suspect if we had to do it in real life it would be a far different story! Needless to say I am proud of her. She seems to have stopped the anxiety of the eldest by giving a bite to it and then a bite to Little Bob. Fabulous. NC0 is going to be one of those Osprey mothers that we are giving gold medals to in a few years. She has really come a long way in a couple of weeks.

Just a bit of a recap. This Osprey Nest is located near Dunkeld, Scotland in Perth and Kinross. I pulled up a satellite view of the area around the nest so you can see the trees and the water resources for the Ospreys, LM12 and NC0. It is maintained by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and those who play the People’s Postcode Lottery – and donations.

What a beautiful location! Dunkeld is 25 minutes north and slightly west of Perth.

LM12. known as Laddie, has been breeding at Loch of the Lowes since 2012. That makes him at least eleven years old in 2021. He raised 15 chicks with his previous mates. NC0 is LM12’s third mate. She was ringed at a nest near Loch Ness in 2016 so she is five years old this year. The pair fledged one chick together in 2020.

Laddie returned from his migration to Africa on the 21st of March at 5pm. He immediately went to work restoring the nest. NC0 arrived on the 25th of March. It was unclear whether or not they would again form a bond and raise a family together this year. People waited rather impatiently. I think Laddie almost lost NC0 when he would bring a fish to the nest and then take it away this year! What kind of a provider is that? Well, they did bond and NC0 laid three eggs – on 11 April, 14 April, and 17 April. The chicks hatched on 18, 20, and 22 May. The third chick died on day 3. The cause is unknown.

It is rare for a female to feed herself before she feeds her chicks. She will eat bites that are too big for the chicks when she is feeding. But when they are full and finished food begging, she will eat. Osprey females are known to lose from 10-15% of their body weight while feeding the nestlings. Now how do the researchers know this? They have scales hidden in the nest just like there are microphones to listen to happenings in the nest and cameras for watching. Incredible.

Just look at that crop on that little one in the image below. Of course, Big Tot has a nice crop too. Did you know that Osprey chicks triple their body weight in the first egg days after hatch? Then they will double it in the next four days. So those first 12 days are critical. The fastest growth phase comes between 15 and 30 days, according to Alan Poole, author of Ospreys. The Revival of A Global Raptor. The chicks will gain 2-3% of their body weight each day when, by the time they are a month old, they have attained 70-80% of their adult body weight and their growth will begin to slow. At this point, their energy will go into producing feathers! Today, Big Bob is 12 days old and Little Bob is ten days old.

This is an excellent image for you to see the difference in the plumage as the osplets get older. Little Bob still has the soft grey feather down from birth. Big Bob is starting to enter the Reptilian phase. At this stage, that soft natal down is replaced with the darker down. It is woolier. But look closely at Big Bob. Look at the top of his head, behind the eye and around the neck. Do you see the beautiful coppery-gold pinfeathers coming in? These are beautiful healthy babies.

NC0 instinctively shades her Two Bobs from the hot sun. At the age of 2 or 3 weeks they are able to regulate their temperature by panting. So Big and Little Bob are not quite ready to do this for themselves based on their ages. But, she protects their delicate skin from the sun. It will also be later when they can stand in the rain and protect themselves with their own feathers. For now, NC0 has to do it!

She will brood them to keep them warm and dry.

Laddie has brought in a big fish for the last meal of the day. NC0 will feed the chicks, then herself, and then Laddie flies in to have some fish, too, on the nest with his family.

You can watch this osprey family at the Loch of the Lowes here:

Good Night Loch of the Lowes. Have wonderful fish dreams!

Other quick news: There is still only one chick on the Clywedog Osprey Nest of Dylan and Seren. There have been intruders at Mrs G and Aran’s nest at Glaslyn. One of the culprits is KS6, Dinas, a hatch from Llyn Clywedog. KS8 has been bothering Idris and Telyn at the Dyfi Nest. People are hoping that this brother and sister pair will just join forces and find their own nest! Tiny Tot at the Achieva Osprey Nest had an enormous fish gifted to it by Diane and an hour later was still eating. And there is fledge watch at the UC Berkeley Campus. Annie and Grinnell’s Kaknu and Wek-Wek were up on the runway thinking about flying. Annie and Grinnell are doing some spectacular aerial displays to try and encourage them. Big Red is feeding the Ks several meals. She can feel the weather changing in her hollow bones and it seems she concurs with the weather office that rain is heading their way. And down in Australia, the gang is beginning to think that eggs might be appearing on the WBSE Nest around the middle of June.

Take care everyone. Thank you for joining me today. Stay safe, stay well. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday wherever you are.

Thank you to the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the People’s Postcode Lottery for the streaming cam where I grab my screen shots and to Google Maps.

‘As the Nest Turns’ – late Friday and Saturday edition

I don’t quite remember when the heavy rains started in the United Kingdom last week. It was a terrible time with many of our Bird friends suffering because of the unseasonable weather. Chicks died, generous people came to the rescue of the Glaslyn Nest, and at two different villages in Czechoslovakia, ordinary citizens are helping two stork families survive by providing food and dry hay. You might wonder why I say ‘dry’ hay but it has been chucking down rain and the nests get soaked. Because of that and the coolish weather, the wee ones are more susceptible to any type of virus or disease. Their system can get stressed. So providing the storks with dry hay is a fundamental way of helping them to cope in what is already a stressful situation – the death of a parent. I really applaud those who stepped up and are helping out. I hope that after things settle down in Glaslyn they might publish every detail about the feeding table they provided so that others in similar situations can more quickly help the Ospreys because of what Glaslyn learned. One thing we did learn is that Ospreys will eat fish that they did not catch. Another feeding table at Rutland in 2012 also provided fish but people forget and many carry on with the belief that Ospreys will not eat fish that is provided to them. Nonsense! Aran and Mrs G were very grateful and continue to be.

I had a question from a reader and I am trying to find out the precise answer. They wondered if Aran would be alright. Yes, Aran is getting stronger every day. It was exhausting trying to fish in Force 11 winds with flooding and intruders and then an injury to the feathers required to fish and fly well. As long as Aran continues to eat the food provided he will continue to improve. We hope that there are no more intruders on that nest to damage more feathers. We must also remember that those feathers help Aran with his flying and he needs them to migrate. Please continue with your donations – no matter how small. Glaslyn exists solely on donations to run their streaming cam plus everything else and now they are feeding Aran and Mrs G. The staff and volunteers are really amazing and they are also stressed and worn out. So don’t forget them simply because there are no longer chicks to feed – they still have Mrs G, the eldest osprey in the UK at 21 and her mate, Aran, to care for. Thanks!

If you read my blog on a regular basis, you will recall that I often say that a fledgling that flies off and returns to the nest to be fed by the parent is one that has a better chance of success. Indeed, when I hear that a bird has fledged and never returned to the nest my antennae go up and for all the wrong reasons. So, it was with great joy that not only did Fauci, Annie and Grinnell’s Peregrine falcon fledgling, fly from the nest on the Campanile at Berkeley yesterday over to the Evans building but, Fauci returned to the nest tower today. My goodness I bet he was hungry – he flew in screaming. Here is the video of that return:

I hope that his siblings do not try and copy Fauci’s landing when they return!

The two Bobs had a nice fish dinner before bed last night at Loch of the Lowes. Both of them looked wide awake and hungry after Laddie brought in a nice fish.

Scottish Wildlife Trust and Loch of the Lowes. 27 May 2021

Laddie is a good provider as long as the weather cooperates. He has brought in a couple of big fish. There is an enormous size difference and NC0 doesn’t always fill up the beak of the smaller one but today it stood there til she did!

It’s Saturday and Laddie delivered another fine perch to NC0 and the little Bobs. And guess what? The sun has come out in Scotland. My goodness. They were beginning to think that winter had returned. Looking forward to some nice weather and the nest drying out!

Little Bob seems to like to be on the right side looking up at Mom. It must be working. It looks like he is growing and he is certainly holding its own. Sure makes you happy.

NC0 is doing a great job keeping the Bobs in the shade. It is about 15 degrees and it could be warmer on the nest but oh, how I bet that warmth feels good to mom. And getting this nest dry is a primary importance, too.

Iris stopped in at the Hellgate Nest today. It was almost like she was posing for all of her fans waiting to get a glimpse of her. The Ravens took and ate her three eggs so Iris doesn’t need to come to the nest but there she stood looking straight into the camera. And look at that crop. Iris can now focus 100% on herself – she has earned it. Having fledged 30-40 chicks before Louis and one with Louis, she is the grand dame of Ospreys everywhere. Thank you for popping in to show us you are OK. Put your talons up, Iris. Have a fish smoothie on us!

Isn’t she looking good?

The IR camera has been tripped by the sun rising on the Dyfi Nest in Wales. Telyn was off for a quick comfort break and the two wee ones are awake and wanting breakfish. Idris will no doubt bring in a whopper as soon as he can.

It looks like Idris and Telyn and the Two Bobs are getting a break. Their nest seems to be drying out a bit. Idris came in with a nice fish and you can see that both of the Bobs are getting a crop and Telyn hasn’t even finished feeding them. Wonderful.

There is still only one chick on the Llyn Cleywedog Nest in Wales of Dylan and Seren. And if the other two eggs do not hatch, I continue to say that one healthy little Bob is fantastic. The image below was taken last evening as the sun was going down. The little one had a nice feed along with mom, Seren.

It is late Saturday in the UK and there is still no sign of a pip on that second egg. Apparently the longest incubation for a second egg was at Dyfi – Idris and Telyn – at 37 days. The second egg on this nest was laid on 19 April. Any way I count it makes that egg 40 days old. Perhaps it is not viable. If the third egg is 38 days old today, it might still hatch. We wait!

It is just coming on 5 am on the Rutland Manton Bay nest of Maya and Blue 33 (11). The Two Bobs are still asleep and Maya is expecting an early morning delivery from dad. Just look at that beautiful sky. These nests are often located in some of the most picturesque landscapes. How wonderful!

The storklets are just waking up on the nest in Mlady Buke in Czechoslovakia. The mother was electrocuted on the hydro lines and the father cannot fish and protect the nest. The villagers have gotten together and are providing fish for the family. They bring fish right up to the nest three times a day. People can leave donations. This is heart warming.

The live camera to watch this family is here:

Yesterday, Big Red and the Ks were getting soaked in Ithaca, New York. It was hard to tell form the weather forecast if they would even catch a break before the middle of the week. Big Red was still cold and soaked this morning at 6:40 am.

She kept those babies covered as best she could but around 9am when the heavy rain had stopped, Big Red got up and took a comfort break. It was out and back in a blink trying to find something on the soaking nest to feed the babies. Arthur had brought in a Robin – not their favourite but food anyway – late yesterday. Critters hide and birds sit and hunting is difficult with wet wings – even for Arthur!

By 11 am, feathers are beginning to dry. Big Red is preening and the Ks will be working on themselves too.

I would like you to locate the black dot behind the eye of K3 nearest to you. That is the ear. It is not yet covered with feathers. Mites can get in there or mosquitoes can lay eggs and cause horrific problems for the hawklets. That is why Big Red has to keep that area clean for them until the feathers have grown over them.

They are preening away. Those feathers are all important – they will keep them dry and wet when they all come in and they will help them fly so they can hunt. They say birds spend 70% of their time conditioning and preening their feathers.

Ah, what a great shot. The Red-tail hawks only get their beautiful red tail feathers once they have their first moult and are a year old. You can just see the little tail feathers beginning on K1. “One day I will look just like my mom!”

It’s 11:33 and already the rain on the metal of the lightbox where the nest is located is drying off. Oh, goodness, I hope Arthur has good luck hunting and that our Red-tail hawk family in Ithaca gets to completely dry out and eat before the rains begin again.

Today, Aran and Mrs G have been sitting with one another on the perch post of the nest. Aran has also been seen flying as far as the Visitor Centre where he has been chasing off intruders. This is good news because this is the farthest he has flown since his injury.

It is so nice to see them together. They will both regain their strength and Aran will heal so they are ready for their late summer, early September migration.

Thank you for joining me today. I am keeping an eye on Tiny Tot at the Achieva Nest. The intruder is still around and he is sure wanting to have a fish drop. Fingers crossed for our brave little one. Take care. Stay safe!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, Cornell Bird Lab Red Tail Hawk, LRWT, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve, Dyfi Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and the Montana Osprey Project, Ziva Camera in Mlade Buky, Clywedog and Carnyx.

Wow…the weather! And three great bird dads.

At 5:24:46 pm Diane, the mother of the three osplets on the Achieva Osprey Nest almost got blow off!

There are several thunderstorms coming and going with the winds gusting very high to the wee hours of the morning. The little ones were well fed before noon.

Just so you can see precisely where this Osprey nest is on the western coast of Florida, here is a map:

I hope that your screen will enlarge this image so you can see it better. If not, I want you to look on the left hand side of the state about halfway up to the panhandle. You will see an inlet. That is Tampa Bay. Now continue up the coast. Find Clearwater. The Osprey nest is actually in Dunedin, Florida which is slightly north of Clearwater. [Note: The toxic dump that made the news last week is around Sarasota, south of Tampa Bay.]

Ospreys are, of course, not afraid of water but Tiny does not have all of his grown up feathers yet. The older siblings will want to snuggle too but I hope that Tiny got right in under Diane. Thank goodness it is not cold.

Around 6:09:59 there was a break in the water. Diane and the babies are soaked but, bless his heart. Jack arrives with what looks like a Gar – long needle like fish. It isn’t big and it won’t feed everyone but, gold stars for bringing that in. The seas had to be very rough.

The weather indicates several more hours of thunderstorms. Maybe Jack can get out and get another one before dark. It’s raining now but there is to be another thunderstorm in 45 minutes, a break and then another storm at 8pm (if the weather is correct). Sunday looks like another stormy day. Then two good days. Hopefully the weather will not disturb the feeding schedule too much on this nest. Things have been going really well for Tiny Tot.

You can barely see Tiny Tot’s back behind the chick on the left. It doesn’t look like anything will be left. We all hope for another fish to come in. A glimpse at Tiny Tot shows that he does still have a crop from the huge feed this morning. Still, it is much better if he eats because of the bad weather in the area. With the rough seas who knows when Jack will be able to bring another fish in – or what size it will be.

You can see that crop on Tiny Tot better here after that Gar disappeared. Tiny didn’t get any food but he is still full from the morning. One of the nicer things that is also happening on this nest is that Tiny Tot is being accepted more as being part of the family. When he was ‘starving’ (is there any other way to put it?) and many felt that Tiny Tot would not make it, he was ‘apart’ from the family. Sleeping alone, etc. It is good to see them together.

There is another fish delivery at 8:01:48. The light on the nest is going and it is hard to tell who specifically delivered it as Jack and Diane landed on the nest at the same time. It is also hard to see how big it is. Hopefully there will be something for Tiny Tot. He appears to have been trying to cast a pellet all day. That can sometimes interfere with any interest in food. But, let us hope the little guy is up to eating if there is fish for him. Tomorrow looks like thunderstorms again in the area.

Tiny is up to take advantage of the feeding if there is fish left. You can just catch Tiny’s head at the far right of Diane.

So hard to tell. No IR on this camera so the light can cause great difficulties in trying to tell who is who. One thing that did happen is that 1 and 2 have been at one another. #1 was always dominant but #2 is trying to take top position. #1 is not going to give it up easy. As long as the two of them battle, that is fine. They are nearly the same size. Tiny Tot is too small. It needs to eat and the older ones battling could work in its favour. The thunderstorms have started again and Diane has stopped feeding.

It is worth having a look at a different problem. Let’s head over to Loch of the Lowes. If you follow my blog, you will remember that the male, Laddie LM12, inadvertently gave a female intruder who was sitting on the nest cup a nice size fish. Laddie intended it for NC0. Why would he think another female would be in her place on the nest, right? Well, there was one. NC0 flew in madder than a hatter and kicked Laddie from the nest. To make up for his indiscretion, Laddie has been bringing in nice sized fish for NC0 to make up.

Look at that nice big fish! Laddie wants to keep NC0 happy.

Awwww. Blue 33 (11) is giving Maya a break from incubating their three eggs. What a hair cut! He is such a sweetie. Loves to cuddle with Maya and is just one of those super dads.

Thank you Jack, Laddie, and Blue 33 (11) for taking such good care of your mates – regardless of the weather.

And thank you for checking in again. Send positive wishes to the Achieva Osprey nest because this is not the end of the bad weather for them, it is just the beginning.

Thank you to the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, Achieva Osprey, Scottish Wildlife and Friends of Loch of the Lowes for their streaming cam. That is where I get my screen shots.