Late Friday night smiles from Bird World

Just a few glimpses into some of the nests at the end of my Friday.

Over at Pittsburg Hayes Mom is bringing in sticks to work on the nest when the chicks take an interest.

The sun is setting over Durbe, Latvia. Milda is feeding her miracle chick and the sun is shining. Oh, it must feel good not to be soggy after yesterday’s soaker.

Annie has the eyasses cuddled up along with that fourth egg. She is brooding them. Oh, if it is viable we should be ready for pip and hatch.

Tiny Tot finally got a few bites of the catfish delivery that came at 2:50:37. Sibling #2 pretty much monopolized the entire feeding but Tiny did get some bites after 4pm. Not many but was fed this morning some. I wish that the parents would break up the fish in pieces so they could self-feed. Anyone have a meat saw?

And just look at those darlings over at the Savannah Osprey Nest on Skidiway Island. Nice full crops, standing up tall and behaving. And, no, that third egg has not hatched. Let’s continue to hope that it sits there unviable. Two healthy chicks to get to fledge is a big job. If Ospreys are like Red tail Hawks the more food they can eat and the longer they are on the nest the better their chances of survival. It is not a kind world out there – they need all the tools in their tool kit they can muster. Sounds like what I used to say to students when they asked for advice.

Phoenix has finished his incubation duties and we are waiting for the arrival of Redwood Queen back to the nest to have her lunch. There is the egg that everyone’s eyes will be on tomorrow! One more California Condor would be so welcome and it would surely be heartwarming for these two survivors to have a successful hatch. Stay tuned. If you want to keep an eye on this important event, I have posted the link to the camera.

Look high on the branch. The two Great Horned Owls born in the Bald Eagle Nest on a farm near Newton, Kansas are sitting on a branch with their mom, Bonnie. Tiger and Lily were born on March 7 and are branching. First flights could be anytime.

The single surviving eaglet in the Fort Vrain Bald Eagle Nest in Colorado is hoping for a bit of lunch.

It rained earlier today in Minnesota and Nancy is making sure that she keeps her two eaglets dry.

And those two precious eaglets on the Minnesota DNR nest are exploring. They have their beautiful charcoal thermal down and you can just see some of the white dandelions of the natal down hidden by the thermal. Harry our first time dad at the age of four and Nancy have done great. Wonder what they are looking at so carefully?

Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis will know that I am extremely interested in the social behaviour of the birds in their nests. I am particularly interested in the survival rate of a third hatch on Osprey nests. Today, Tiger Mozone shared with me his favourite video of all time and it gave me such a smile that I want to share it with you. I don’t think Tiger would mind in the least. It is of the 2011 Dennis Puleston Osprey. You need to watch the entire video. It is short, 3:41 minutes. Keep your eye on the little one. Before you start, if you have been watching the Achieva Osprey Nest, think of this small one as Tiny Tot. Thank you, Tiger Mozone. This is fabulous!

May 8 is Bird Day in North America. That is when Cornell Bird Labs ask everyone to do a count in their gardens and at the parks. It is a way of collecting migration data. I will give you more details so you can participate next week. That is it for Friday. Have a fabulous weekend everyone.

Thank you to Tiger Mozone for sending me the link to that fabulous video. I laughed and laughed. We all need that these days.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my screen shots: MN DNR, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Farmer Derek, X-cel Energy, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidiway Audubon, Ventana Wildlife, Achieva Credit Union Osprey, Explore.org, Pittsburg Hays Bald Eagle Cam, and the Latvia Wildlife Fund.

Late Thursday updates in Bird World

Last year, the streaming cam viewers of Loch Arkaig Osprey nest went from its norm of 60,000 viewers to over 400,000. People from around the world watched Louis and Aila raise three – Dottie (male), Vera (female), and Captain (male)- Ospreys to fledge. As the pandemic moves into its second year, each one of those viewers and more are holding their breath, biting their finger nails off, pulling their hair out, or pacing back and forth for the arrival of Aila. Louis has now been home from his winter migration to Africa for five days. He is working hard to get the nest ready for Aila’s arrival. But where is she?

Loch Arkaig. Louis waits. 15 April 2021.

Late this afternoon, there was a spotting of an unringed Osprey passing over Arran heading due North. Could it be Aila? Depending on how the Osprey flies it is 80-100 miles and if it is Aila, she should arrive tomorrow! It is going to be one sleepless night with devotees getting up early to fix their eyes on the screen! One woman said it very well, ‘They saved my life last year during the pandemic. I want Aila home safe!’

The Osprey nest on The Landings Golf course on Skidaway Island near Savannah, Georgia is expecting its second hatch soon. The first is getting around nicely after hatching on 13 April.

Just look at those beautiful baby blues. They will change to an orange-yellow and then when this little one is an adult, they will turn to that bright yellow distinctive iris of the Osprey.

Now are you going to be nice to your little sibling?

At the Lesser Spotted Eagle nest in Latvia, Andris is bringing nice presents of prey to Anna. They are both working hard on preparing the nest. Look at all that beautiful pine.

Also in Latvia, Milda took several breaks from incubation. She was looking around but I did not see Mr C trying to incubate eggs today (let me know if he did). She just might have given him the boot. There has sure been a lot of drama around and under this nest with White-tailed eagles fighting. Very disturbing for Milda who, sadly, is probably incubating unviable eggs.

At 7:14:44 pm Diane is calling to Jack to bring food to the Achieva Osprey Nest in Dunedin, Florida. Tiny Tot is asleep. Fish was delivered at 3:21:46 am and again at 11:55:01. Tiny Tot had a good feed on the early fish and had a good crop. He did not get any of the 11:55 fish despite being up close. If the weather forecast is correct, this nest can expect thunderstorms beginning around 4am Friday morning. It says 40%. I hope they are wrong. The temperature is cooling to 23 or 24 right now.

7:16:00. Diane is calling Jack to bring fish. 15 April 2021

Tiny Tot is hungry and he is starting to call Jack, too. He’s there calling on the far left.

7:43:37. Hurry up with the fish dad! 15 April 2021

Now the two larger osplets are up and calling for dad, too. Unless this is a whopper – and I do mean a HUGE fish – Tiny Tot might not get any food tonight. He ate his fill this morning when the other two weren’t that interested – and yesterday, too.

7:58

And there it is. The third fish of the day, if you count the middle of the night delivery, lands at 7:59:14.

And who got the fish?

It looks like 2 mantled the fish and has it. You can see her in the middle. Tiny is to the far left keeping himself down. Dad quickly leaves. But thank goodness, Diane steps in and takes control of the food delivery! That is all Tiny Tot needs – the older stealing the fish! That fish is not that big.

Diane feeds 1. Tiny Tot is between Diane and 2 who is watching but not being aggressive.

At 8:05:09, 2 has walked around and behind 1. There was no attack on Tiny Tot. Meanwhile, Diane continues to feed 1. It is unclear if Tiny Tot is getting any bites of fish. There are no tell tale signs of his body moving slightly up and down but I cannot be certain, one way or the other.

And then 2 who is so aggressive to Tiny Tot just gets up and turns and goes the other way. By this time there is only half of the small fish left. Is it possible that Tiny Tot will get a little of this fish?

8:05 Diane is feeding 1. Cannot tell if Tiny Tot is getting any fish. 15 April 2021

A few minutes later, 2 turns around behind Diane. The behaviour is quite odd because if food is involved, 2 is always threatening to Tiny Tot. Yesterday 2 was not hungry. I thought it was trying to pass a pellet or it was just the heat. This is perplexing.

And then 2 flaps its wings and goes towards the rim of the nest looking back.

Then 2 walks behind Tiny and raises its neck like it is checking on the fish.

But nothing. 2 turns around and goes to the rim of the nest. Meanwhile, less than half the fish is left and 1 is still eating. At 8:11:49, 1 walks across the nest and, once again, comes up behind Diane settling under her tail. How odd.

But just as quickly, 2 backs up and sort of looks off the rim of the nest, again.

At 8:16:05, 2 is back up by Diane and she feeds it a bite of food.

At 8:17 Diane is still feeding 1. 2 is behind under between her legs and Tiny Tot is at the rim at the far edge of the nest watching. He will move up closer to Diane and the feeding. But as the light dims it is very unclear whether or not there was any fish left for him. It looks like 1 might have eaten the entire delivery. Still, around 8:30 it appears a slight shift in angle and height and perhaps, just perhaps, Tiny got the last bites by the tail. Tiny had a crop at 12:04 from the big meal earlier and while it is preferable that he eat more food more often, he will be alright. What is strange about this entire feeding is the behaviour of 2. And that is why I have detailed it so closely. Is 2 struggling to cast a pellet? Or is something else wrong?

The Great Horned Owls have amazing plumage and they are starting to get the distinctive tufts of feathers for their ears. Here they are, Tiger and Lily, looking like they are standing and having a chat. Some will think that they are ‘so cute’ but these owls are deadly. In Europe, there are more incidents of GHOWs killing entire raptor families than I want to think about. We have seen them hurling Harriet and M15 off their Bald Eagle nest in Fort Myers, Florida or the much smaller Boo Book Owl in Australia knocking WBSE Lady and injuring her eye. They travel at night while the other birds are sleeping and they fly silently with the help of their soft rounded feathers. The increase in their numbers, the loss of habitat and stated another way, the loss of large trees for nests is causing problems. These two should be branching and fledgling shortly.

15 April 2021

Over at the UC Berkeley campus, Grinnell is having a very difficult time trying to get Annie to get off the eggs. Hatch watch starts on Saturday and Annie is always reluctant not to be right there when it starts!

While the Peregrine Falcons are on the verge of hatching, fledge watches are also going on around the globe. In Taiwan, the Black Kites ‘Pudding’ and ‘Brulee’ were born on 3 and 5 March, respectively. They were banded on 2 April – Orange K2 and K3. The average amount of time for Black Kites from hatch to fledge is 42-50 days. Pudding is 44 days old and Brulee is 42 days old.

Both are getting their wings stronger by flapping and flapping. And look at that magnificent tail. The fledglings generally stay in the nest perfecting their flying and hunting skills for another 42-56 days until they are self-reliant. The parents supplement their food.

Once the nestlings are older, they will sleep with their head tucked on their back. It is not under their wing although their beak might be. Did you know that sleeping this way allows the bird to relax its neck?

Thank you so much for joining me today. Stay safe everyone!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I get my screen shots: the Taiwan Black Kite Cam, Achieva Credit Union, Farmer Derek, UC Berkeley Cal Falcons, Latvijas Dabas, Latvian Fund for Nature, Cornell Bird Lab, and Woodland Trust and Post Code Lottery.

Nest News

I am always grateful when someone introduces me to a new nest. And today, not only did Tiny Tot get fed for 45 minutes in a private feeding but two friends introduced me to two new nests. It feels like one of those days when you don’t know whether to cry with joy or go out and purchase a lottery ticket! And then something even crazier happened.

Everyone has their favourite birds. I have a friend who loves Ospreys because Ospreys don’t ‘eat things with feathers’. There are others who like songbirds and not raptors who eat them and those who like raptors and not songbirds. Most of us actually like all the birds – the question is how in the world do we keep track of all our favourites in a single 24 hour day?

It is possible that everyone else in the world knows about this amazing website. I lists all of the bird cams on the planet associated with each type of bird. Seriously! I came upon it by accident today. Here is the URL

https://www.viewbirds.com/

The birds are listed first by their common names. All you do is click on the name and you will be taken to the streaming cameras for that listing. For example, Northern Goshawk comes up with two cameras. One of those is in Riga, Latvia and the other is in The Netherlands. For my beloved Red-Tail Hawks there are four cameras. One is for Pale Male, the oldest RTH at 31 still actively breeding from his nest on Central Park. One is for Big Red at Ithaca, NY and the other two are in California and another in NY at Syracuse. I have not had time to check to see if there are any broken links but the ones I have checked are good. And I didn’t list the Osprey cameras in Germany and Poland. You can find them yourself. Have fun!

Oh, there is so much news. First, congratulations to SWFlorida’s Eagle Cam E17 who fledged on 14 April. The only question left is: will E18 fledge tomorrow. You will remember these two precious babies with conjunctivitis who spent five days in the care of CROW. Their parents are Harriet and M15. And it was E17 that got time out for being such a bully to E18! They are best mates. One does something and then the other. I think we can count on E18 feeling the wind beneath its wings tomorrow and if not then the next day.

Wow. These two have given so many people such joy. From the endless bonking as bobbleheads to their tug-o-wars with prey and now their branching and fledging. It would be magical if they had satellite trackers. Wonder where they will wind up traveling as juveniles?

E17’s first flight. 14 April 2021.

E17 has been flying around the nest today after its fledge yesterday. What a beauty! Congratulations E17!

If you follow the Latvian Lesser Spotted Eagles, Anna and Andris, you will be thrilled to know that they have returned from their winter vacation in Africa arriving back at their nest in Latvia at 7:06 am on 14 April. In the image below they are already beginning to work on their nest!

Milda. You will recall that Milda had three eggs. Her mate Raimis disappeared on 27 March. It is not known if he is severely injured or dead. As we all know, it is impossible for one parent to incubate, hunt, and protect eggs and the territory. Milda stayed on the nest and did not eat. Everyone was worried. Several intruders came around the nest and eagles were heard fighting on the ground. One of those males was nicknamed Mr C. Mr C even attempted to incubate the eggs on 10 April but Milda kicked him off the nest. That same day he helped Milda defend the nest. Today she allowed him to incubate the eggs. Still, it is not clear that she has accepted Mr C as her mate.

In the image below, Milda is getting off the eggs and Mr C is anticipating getting to incubate them.

Milda has been off the eggs for extended periods. She had to eat. One time was five hours and the temperature was nippy. It is highly likely that the eggs are no longer viable. Milda will hopefully have many more successful clutches.

What I find interesting is the acceptance of another male’s eggs by Mr C. It happens but it certainly isn’t the norm.

You can check out the action with Milda and her suitors at the Durbe nest here:

Everything is fine with the San Francisco Bay Ospreys, Richmond and Rosie. After a scare when a plastic bag landed on the nest there was much relief when it was gone. Rosie laid her eggs on March 24, 27, and 30.

It is almost 9pm in California and there is Richmond protecting Rosie and their clutch.

The Loch Garten Nature Reserve Cam went live today. You can watch the antics of a new set of Ospreys – maybe! Will keep you posted on nest takeover. Isn’t it a beautiful place?

Here is the link to the cam in Abernethy, Scotland:

What a beautiful nest! We need a family!

Before I get to the Tiny Tot update, I had a comment asking if Aila had been spotted enroute from Africa to Loch Arkaig. Unfortunately, Aila is not ringed so we don’t know! We are waiting like Lonesome Louis right now. Hurry and get home, Aila. We can stop chewing our fingernails then. Look at how much work Louis has done on the nest in the four days he has been home.

Louis has really been working on the nest! 15 April 2021

Tiny Tot Update. Jack brought in a whole fish at 3:21:46. Either he has found a place to fish in the night or he had a stash from earlier. Tiny Tot got a nice feed and at 6:236:20 he is flapping his wings and doing a ps.

Arrival of fish at 3:21:36
Tiny and one of the older siblings eating. 6:30 ish. 15 April 2021
Tiny and older sibling still eating! 15 April 2021

The arrival of the second fish at 11:55:01. Diane is having to pull it off of Jack’s talons.

Tiny Tot still has a crop from the early morning feed. Diane is feeding the older ones as he looks on – wanting fish, of course! He is in the growing stage while the others are slowing down. No sooner than Diane was feeding the chicks and there is an intruder alarm.

Jack and Diane are both on the nest to protect the chicks. Notice how the trio know to get down as thin as a pancake. And the plumage blends them right into the nest. Fabulous.

Everything is back to normal by 12:30. Let us hope the intruder goes away. Whole families of Osprey have been killed in other places. Stay safe Jack, Diane, and kiddos.

Thank you for joining me. It is not yet noon on the Canadian prairies and no doubt there will be much more news as the day passes. I will give an update tonight. There are a number of Ospreys moving up from the south of England and a Scottish Darvin ringed female causing some mischief. Let’s hope she gets home. See you later. Take care all.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cameras: Achieva Credit Union, SWFlorida Eagle Cam and D Pritchett, Woodland Trust and Post Code Lottery, Friends of Loch Arkaig, SF Bay Ospreys and Audubon, Loch Garden Nature Reserve, and LDF White Tailed Eagle and Lesser Eagle.

Will Spilve revitalize the Latvian Golden Eagle nest?

It has now been five years since a Golden Eaglet fledged from this nest on an island near Spilve, Latvia. The people of Latvia were so hopeful that Virsis and his new young mate, Spilve, would raise a family last year. The pair met in 2019 but Spilve was not yet an adult and it was in 2020 that the two mated and Spilve laid two eggs. Everyone watched with great hope. One of those was fertile but, the other hatched. That little eaglet was named Klints.

In the image below prey has arrived at the nest for the beautiful Klints.

Virsis brings a bird to the nest for Spilve to feed Klints. 12 June 2020

A tragedy came to this nest when Virsis disappeared leaving Spilve to care for both herself and the young eaglet. Spilve could not leave her baby and travel a long distance to get large prey and the small voles that she could find for Klints close to the nest so she could protect him were not enough food. He died of starvation on 1 July.

For several days Spilve tried to feed her child until she realized he had died. How sad. First her mate dies and then her first child. We know that birds mourn. This must have been very, very difficult for Spilve. She returned to the nest on several occasions but no one, at the time, knew if she would stay ‘loyal’ to the nest of her mate, Virsis, or leave the area.

Everyone was very happy when they saw Spilve arrive back at the nest in January 2021 and again on several occasions in February. On 21 February Spilve arrives at the nest. She brings some pine and begins working on what appears to be an egg cup.

All the time Spilve was on the nest working on the egg cup, she appeared to be looking around for someone. Calls could be heard in the forest.

Spilve leaves and then an adult male comes to the snowy nest bringing some pine. He had never been seen on the nest cam. He has just missed Spilve.

Grislis comes to the nest on 21 February bringing some pine boughs.

The male eagle, who will become known as Grislis, actively works on the egg cup.

Grislis working on the egg cup. 21 February 2021

Spilve had to have been looking to meet with Grislis at the nest. It would be strange behaviour for a stranger to show up with pine and immediately begin working on a nest cup as Grislis did. The pair form a bond and mate that day. The pair might have met in another part of the forest where Spilve roosts. Or was it just coincidence that they both came to the same nest that day, worked on the egg cup, and then immediately became interested in one another? We may never know the answer to that question.

What we do know is that the Golden Eagle is one of the rarest birds in Latvia. These beautifully feathered eagles are slowly rising in numbers. There were, in 2018, only eight to ten known breeding pairs in existence. This means that for Spilve to find an adult male as a mate is fortuitous. Her first mate, Virsis, had been alone for many years when he met her.

In 2020, Spilve laid her first egg on March 28 and her second on 1 April. We are hoping that she will be laying eggs in that nest cup soon. It would mean that this new bonded pair and their love could bring new life to this manmade nest in the middle of an island near Spilve, Latvia. There are known to be two other nests in the bog near this one and it is possible that they could choose to use one of those. Whichever nest Spilve and Grislis choose, it will bring much joy to the people of Latvia when their eggs hatch and the eaglets fledge increasing the numbers of resident Golden Eagles in Latvia.

Spilve brings some pine to the nest on 25 March 2021.
Grislis comes to the nest on 1 April 2021.

There are no eggs yet but if Spilve is going to use this nest we should be expecting her to lay them any day now. Here is the link to the Golden Eagle cam on the manmade nest in a bog near Spilve, Latvia:

That is beautiful Klints. He was so very near fledging when this father went missing. Because the eagles are so rare, the wildlife authorities in Latvia might want to reassess their reasons for nest interventions in such circumstances. There have been such instances with the osprey in the United Kingdom and the authorities at Rutland decided to build a food table near to the nest in the hope that it would help the mother and the chick survive.

Thank you for joining me today. These are such gorgeous eagles. I will update you on any eggciting events should they occur.

Other news of Latvian Nests: Milda, the White Tailed Eagle on the Durbe Nest, stayed for days without eating after her mate did not return. There are three eggs. She seemingly left the nest for a break and food on 1 April but now it appears she was protecting the nest. She has not eaten for six days. There is a male hanging around the nest. Only time will tell if Milda will accept him and if he will help her raise the hatchlings should they survive. Right now she seems him as a threat to her eggs.

If you would like to watch this nest, here is the link:

Thank you to the LVM Klinsu and Latvijas Juras erglis Durbe streaming cam. That is where I accessed my screen shots.

Dire situations unfolding in Latvia and Florida today

There are two situations unfolding as I write this in Bird World. The first is at the White Tail Eagle Nest in Latvia. The nest is in Durbe Municipality. The White Tail Eagle couple have three eggs on the nest. The male disappeared on 27 March. It is believed that he might have been killed by a rival male wanting to claim the female and the nest but, all that is known for certain is that the male has not brought food to the nest for four days and is presumed dead. The female has not left incubating her eggs. She will have to leave at some point or she will starve to death. Will she accept the intruding male? Will he care for her? and the eggs? Or is there a rival couple trying to take over the entire nest?

As many have noticed, the female is getting weaker and the intruder is able to get closer to the nest. You can see it at the top left just flying in to land and the female on the nest calling to it. Soon she will be too weak to protect herself and the nest. This reminds me of the situation with Klints last year where the father also disappeared. It was later in the year and Klints was almost ready to fledge but his mother would not leave him and, as a result, she could only find small mice for his food and he starved. Unfortunately, it takes two adults working full time to raise a family on one of these nests. And it is also reminiscent of the NE Florida Nest when Juliet was injured and presumed killed by a female intruder when her eggs were about to hatch. Romeo tried to take care but could not do all the jobs of both the male and the female. The intruding female took the hatched chick when he had to go and hunt for food for it and him. Romeo left the nest despondent and never returned.

You can watch as this event unfolds here:

At the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida, the male brought in two very small fish yesterday and another small one this morning. The three chicks are at a critical point. The two biggest require more food daily to thrive. The little one requires food just to live. The next couple of days are critical. It is now believed that he has another family that he is also providing for. The female on that nest is Diane and she has not had much to eat. The third chick, the very small one, Tiny Tot, has not had food for 2.5 days now going on three. It is 28 degrees C and he is dehydrating. Storms are moving into the area. Sadly, this is a scenario that has played out many times in the Osprey world. I am thinking of Iris, the oldest known living female Osprey, at 28 whose mate, Louis, had another family and her nest suffered. Even with two parents, it is often difficult to maintain the level of food for four – the three little ones and the mother. The smallest in the Port Lincoln Osprey nest in Australia died at eighteen days of age from siblicide. He was called Tapps. It was not a case of the father having two nests that I am aware of but, rather, issues getting fish or the father simply not going out fishing.

If you feel so inclined, you can watch the Achieva Osprey nest here:

We need some good news to balance all this out.

So briefly, the female, Bella, at the NCTC Bald Eagle Nest noticed that one of her small chicks, E5 had ingested fishing line. She acted quickly and pulled it out!

E5 ingests the fishing line. 30 March 2021
Bella is removing the fishing line. 30 March 2021

This is a great Bald Eagle nest to watch. These are very attentive parents and there is lots of prey. Below is the link:

I would like to leave today on another positive note. Big Red and Arthur. What can I say? This couple is dynamite when it comes to raising Red Tail Hawks. Arthur has been trained well and rises to the occasion every time. When the eggs hatch and the Ks are with us, Arthur will have that nest lined with prey – like a fur lined bed.

Arthur is on incubation duty right now!

Here is the link to the streaming cam set up on the Cornell University campus to watch Big Red and Arthur. Once the eggs hatch there will be a live chat as well.

There is lots of news on Osprey arrivals in the UK and I will bring those to you this evening with an update on the two nests I am watching – the White Tailed Eagle nest in Latvia and the Osprey nest in St. Petersburg.

Thank you for joining me today. I wish all of the news was joyful but, sadly Mother Nature is not a warm fuzzy mother. She can be very cruel.

Thank you to the following streaming cams: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Labs, NCTC, and LDF tiesraide.

Sadness and Hope in Latvia

Spilve is a northern neighborhood of Riga, Latvia. It is most famous for its airport that was operating during World War I which is still busy today training pilots. The word Spilve means a type of ‘cotton grass’.

Spilve Airport with its classical facade. Wikimedia Commons.

Spilve is also the name of a very young and extremely beautiful female Golden Eagle and she is the heroine of our story.

The Golden Eagle is one of the largest raptors in the world. This strong eagle is capable of killing cows and horses but normally subsists on medium sized mammals and large birds. They also eat carrion (dead animals, mostly road kill). Golden Eagles are about the same size as Bald Eagles. Their plumage is a beautiful golden brown and their heads are brown with a gold nape. Their average life span is thirty-two years. In Latvia, they are only a few Golden Eagles. They are extremely rare. They are listed in the Red Book (both in Latvia and Russia) and are highly protected. The European Union Directive 2009/147/EC and Article 4 of the Bird Directive also protect their habitats. Various other laws set up protection zones around nests – year round and seasonal. Anyone must have a permit to enter as human interference is prohibited. With the advent of human-made platform nests, there is a slow increase in the number of Golden Eagles.

In 2010, Ugis Bergmannis, Senior Environmental Protection Agent, built an artificial Golden Eagle nest on an isolated island in a bog. That site is managed by Latvian State Forests. Eaglets were raised on that site up to and including 2016 when the male, Virsis, lost his mate. (No one knows how old Virsis is). There were many females that came around the nest that Virsis protected but no bonds were made. Then in 2019 a dark eyed, dark feathered beauty came to the nest. She was too young to breed but Virsis must have been attracted to her. In the late winter of 2020, the pair began to bring twigs to the nest. During March they were mating. Streaming cam watchers along with the people of Latvia were excited because it had been more than three years since a little Golden eaglet had hatched on that nest! Golden Eagles are extremely rare. Eyes were glued to the streaming cam feed and then at 16:30 on the 28 of March 2020, Spilve went into labour for three minutes. At the end she was chorteling to Virsis to come see. The first egg was fully laid at 16:33. So many people in Latvia and around the world celebrated. On 1 April, Spilve laid her second egg.

Spilve looking at her spotted egg.

Golden Eagles take from 40-45 days of incubation between the day the egg is laid and hatch. Local statistics state that only 8% of the Golden Eagle nests having two eggs actually fledge two juveniles. Of Spilve’s eggs, only one hatched. The first egg was unviable and the second hatched on day 38, the 9th of May 2020. The young eaglet was named Klints which means ‘Rock’. The word for Golden Eagle in Latvian is ‘Klinsu Erglis’.

Little Klints is born on 10 May 2020. Spilve looks down seeing her first eaglet.

The early prey was just small birds brought to the nest. The normal prey for Golden Eagles is rabbits and fawns and some wondered if this area had enough food for the family. Images on the streaming cam show the parents arriving with full crops but often there was no food on the nest. This begins to change after about a week. On 17 May, Spilve catches a large rabbit while Virsis cares for Klints. It is a feast for the whole nest including Klints who is chirping away. After this, a variety of food is brought to the nest including a fox cub, more hares, and even ducks. Food items are plentiful and Klints thrives.

I can stand up – on my ankles!

Virsis and Klints looking into one another’s eyes. How touching.

Klints with Virsis.

By June 1, Klints is strong and is standing.

Klints. 1 June 2020. Standing and looking over edge of nest.

Family portrait on 5 June. Virsis on the left, Klints in the middle and Spilve on the right. Virsis made five small prey deliveries on this day. Everyone is doing well.

Family portrait. Virsis on the left, Spilvie on the right and little Klints with a full crop in the middle.

The following day, Virsis brings the legs of a rabbit and its spine to the nest along with a raccoon for the pantry. Watch out Klints!

Food delivery! Watch out below.

Klints watches, in anticipation, his father deliver the heavy raccoon to the nest. Klints is in his accelerated growing phase and needs a lot of food.

By now Klints is very steady when he is standing and you can see the gorgeous black feathers coming in at the wing tips. What a beautiful eaglet!

Did you order a raccoon?

Parents begin to leave Klints on the nest alone by itself. They bring small prey items and Klints mantles and tries to eat them whole without a lot of success. Spilve feeds him. On the 12th of June only a small bird is delivered to Klints by Virsis. It is raining off and on and it is getting hot and humid. 13 June is a much better hunting day for Virsis and he brings a large prey item into the nest. There is enough for everyone!

On 16 June Spilve arrives at the nest with a limp. There is a big thunderstorm and no prey items on the nest for Spilve and Klints to eat. Both are cold and drenched.

Cold and shivering.

Once the rain stops, Virsis brings food to the nest for Klints. Shortly after, Spilve arrives with a small bird. There is lots for everyone to eat. Klints is not self-feeding and he relies on Spilve to feed him. He is meeting each and every one of his milestones. Look at the gorgeous dark plumage coming in on Klints’s wings and back.

Virsis brings prey to Klints.

21 June. Huge milestone. Klints begins self-feeding! Like every other eaglet, it depends on the prey item as to how much success they will have. Spilve is not far away. She watches over Klints so no intruder will harm him. Klints has a difficult time and on 23 June Spilve is at the nest to feed him a late morning breakfast.

23 June Spilve feeds a breakfast of leftovers. Mom and little one kissing.

On 22 June, Vrisis brings in two baby cubs and an adult Black Grouse. This is a bounty. Everyone eats well. Adult eagles can travel as much as 10 kilometres to hunt. Vrisis makes it clear that there are ample prey items to bring to the nest.

23 June. Exercising in the 28+ C temperatures.

June 22 is the last time Virsis is ever seen. He will be presumed dead. Without Virsis to bring in large prey items, Spilve is limited to the area of the nest for hunting. The female eagle’s main job is to take care of and protect the eaglet at the nest. She will only then only hunt around the nest for both of them to survive. Owls and other predators do live in the area. Spilve brings the small prey item which is on the nest near Klints’s talons but he cannot eat. It is too late.

As one of the researchers said, a week without enough food caused this very healthy Golden Eaglet to die of starvation. They said it is clear that one adult cannot feed the baby. And, indeed, after Virsis disappears, owls are around the nest and Spilve knows she cannot leave her baby.

30 June 2020

Klints dies of starvation on 1 July 2020. Spilve brings a small food item and tries to wake Klints to eat. She brings food twice before she comes to understand what has happened. How very, very sad.

1 July 2020

Spilvie was seen visiting the nest in August. She was very careful around the body of Klints which is partially covered with pine needles. Some eagles are known to cover the bodies of their dead in the nest, sometimes moving them periodically. Others cover them and leave them for a few days and then remove them. Eagles have their mourning rituals. At the Captiva Bald Eagle nest in Florida, little Peace was kept in the nest for a number of days and then removed. When Hope died, the parents stood vigil over her body until it was removed for a necroscopy. Both died of rodenticide poisoning, something that could easily be avoided. Peace was young but Hope was big and strong like Klints. So very, very sad.

Spilve is very, very careful. She finds the little bit of food that she brought to Klints after he had died and she eats it.

I am trying to find out if this is a last visit to the nest for Spilve before she migrates for the winter. If anyone knows, please write to me.

On 25 February 2021, a stranger comes to the nest.

Soon Spilve and the new male are making nestorations. It appears that they have bonded. Klints body is covered with more pine and twigs.

You can see the video here;

I would like to thank one of my readers, Etj from Brazil, for alerting me to this wonderful nest and to the plight of this family. All of the scaps of Virsis, Spilve, Klints, and the new male are taken from the Latvian Golden Eagles/LVM Klinsu erglis streaming cam. (Be aware of the time difference. I am not showing images during the night and either the cam is down or there is no IR). Let us all hope that Spilve and her new mate have many successful years together and healthy fledges.