Thursday in Bird World

It is still super cold on the Canadian Prairies. You don’t even have to look at the temperature on the phone when you hear a super loud crunch when you walk on the snow. It is so dry, the snow, that you cannot even pack it into a snowball or a snowwo/man. The European Starlings were waiting for the first food drop, all lined up on the tips of the Lilac Bush branches. Surprisingly, the Sparrows beat them out. Four sparrows to one Starling. They will all eat but, most of the time, the Sparrows get shut out. The other day Little Woodpecker was here. He just stays away from all of them. Which reminds me – I need to go and fix his suet!

Looking back on the history of the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge, I realize that we probably have another month with the three lads. Last year DEW was last seen on 17:01 25 January. He was never sighted again after that time. Solly departed and flew West on 2 February. We know from her tracker that Solly thrived until that tragic day this fall when, after catching a fish, she landed on a power pole and died. I know that Port Lincoln has lobbied hard to get those poles covered and I understand that the power company is cooperating. For those who wrote letters to the Minister, thank you. Public pressure can help.

Ervie had advanced from flying to the fishing ramps to hanging around the commercial shipping yards over at the Marina!

That is Ervie on his perch. You can see that is crop is full.

Ervie and Falky on the nest hoping to get a fish from Dad.

The nest of White-tail Eagle, Milda, at Durbe has been covered with snow. Still, nest visits have taken place. Just look at the forest and the view. So beautiful. This nest will not become active until spring when I will be reporting daily on the happenings. Looking the White-tail Eagles raising chicks and the return of the Black storks.

Kindness’s nest is all covered in snow up at Glacier Gardens in Juneau, Alaska.

If you are wondering what Kindness might be doing, please have a look at this 2 minute video. It is a bit dated in the sound but the information is correct to the present time. The images of the eagles flying and eating are gorgeous. The video ends abruptly. I would have loved to hear about the two clans but, another time! There are so many Eagles in Alaska. They sometimes take over small trucks delivering fish to the canneries.

The Roe Deer feeder is in Latvia. Yesterday, for the first time, they caught a female deer cow and her calf coming to eat. You can see them arriving on the right to try and get some food. The males are the ones with the antlers and from my reading it can be dangerous. The mother and her baby will wait after being escorted by the leader of the bucks and return.

You can see the little one eating here. There is a hierarchy in all of the groups. This is, of course, why our birds try so hard to be dominant and why Ervie, once he established himself, expected to get the first fish of the morning. E19 and E20 are going through this process currently.

Andy and Lena were both alert and alerting at the Captiva Osprey Nest this morning.

Of course their eyes are so good. All I could hear were people below. I wonder if that is the issue? They sure have a beautiful site for a nest! Hopefully it will be a successful season for this lovely pair who continue to try and continually have the Crows steal their eggs.

You can watch Andy and Lena here:

Harriet and M15 are being kept busy by E19 and 20. You can hear the little ones chirping away to Mum and Dad.

The pair got started on all the beaking as soon as Harriet got up to feed them. Oh, my.

There are over 4000 people watching these two at any one time and a myriad of videos coming up on YouTube. You won’t be able to miss them!

Everything is just fine in Bird World. The eggs at Taiaroa Head have been candled and OGK and YRK’s egg is developing normally. We are a month away from hatch. Gabby and Samson are taking turns up at NEFlorida and you will see me getting pretty excited in a couple of weeks. Thankfully, Daisy has not yet returned to the WBSE nest that I am aware. The latest news was awhile ago on WBSE27 who is currently in rehabilitation. The two chicks at Hilton Head are doing great. My copy of The Season of the Osprey arrived in the post this morning. That is on the agenda for today. It is far too cold to be outside for very long.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Stay warm, stay safe and take care until I see you again.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Glacier Gardens, Roe Deer Feeder in Latvia, SWFlorida Eagles and D Pritchett Family, Port Lincoln Osprey, Captiva Osprey Cam, and the Latvian Fund for Nature.

Bird Mothers of the Year

Every year we stop and think about the women who gave us life and mentored us to become independent adults. I want to stop for a moment and consider a few of the bird mothers. Last year I was able to single out one bird that seemed to give it her all and that was Big Red, the Red tailed-hawk whose nest is on the Cornell Campus. This year I have a few more to add. I am certain that you have your own list as well.

In studying the social behaviour of birds, one of the things that has astonished me is how complicated the lives of our feathered friends are and how the behaviour of humans has impacted their lives.

The birds are not listed in any particular order – I could not, for the life of me, rank them. They have struggled against the greatest odds sometime. The first bird mentioned does not have a happy ending and this is a warning about that. If you would prefer to skip this mom, then please scroll down to Big Red.

The first female on my list is Milda. Milda is a White-tailed Eagle. She worked with her long time mate, Raimis, and rebuilt their nest near Durbe, Latvia. She laid her eggs on March 12, 15, and 21. The last time that Raimis was seen was the 27th of March. Milda incubated her eggs and stayed on her nest, despite several intruders, for eight days without eating. Then on two occasions, she had to leave the nest to try and find food and was off her eggs for periods nearing five hours at a time. It is not clear how successful she was in hunting. A male WTE appeared and tried to help incubate. By some miracle two of the three eggs hatched on the 21 and 24th of April. The people of Latvia and those who adore Milda were overcome with emotion. But that joy was short lived. It was pretty clear that Milda was almost starving to death. She had completely depleted her bodily resources. The male brought a crow to the nest and the eaglets were fed and then he took it away. It was very cold and Milda had to eat. She had to leave the nest to find food. She was desperate. If she did not survive neither would her eaglets. It is like the instructions when you fly on a plane: put your own oxygen mask on first before you help your children. Did Milda know that her eaglets would freeze? was this a form of euthanasia? did Milda think the male would incubate the eaglets while she found food? In all of this, there was also an intruder. Milda’s eaglets slowly froze to death. Later that day she consumed them.

Cannibalism in eagles is a new area of study with the growing number of streaming cameras. In 2002, a group of wildlife biologists in Virginia were stunned when they observed a male eagle killing his eaglets alive and eating them. More reports of similar behaviour came in leading researchers to believe that the behaviour may be more common that believed particularly in times of food shortage.

Milda was a very devoted and dedicated single mother. The circumstances were dire. She could not help her babies if she could not feed herself and she was starving. We have watched birds mourn their dead. It is beyond my comprehension to understand how difficult all of this was for Milda. The lack of a partner and the inability of a female parent to provide enough food for their eaglet also happened at another nest in Latvia. That was the nest of Spilve whose beautiful eaglet, Klints, perished from starvation. Spilve mourned the death of her Klints. This year, she refused to use the nest that Klints’s body has become a part of. Instead, her and her new mate went to another.

I am really aware of the dedication that the Latvians have for their wildlife. What has caused a drop in prey? has it always been this difficult? and would it be possible to stock artificial ponds for these large raptors? Those are just three of my questions.

Milda feeding her two little ones their last meal. 25 April 2021

My second bird mother of the year will always be first in my heart- Big Red whose territory is on the Cornell Campus.

Big Red is even wetter. 8 May 2021

Big Red hatched near Brooktondale, New York in 2003. She was banded on 20 October 2003 in Brooktondale. She is eighteen years old. The exact history of her mates and the number of eyasses she has raised to fledge will never be known. She was known to have a nest in 2010 on the Cornell Campus and two years later cameras were installed. Her mate at the time was Ezra. Ezra was killed in 2017. It is the only year that she did not have a clutch. She bonded with her current mate, Arthur, that same year. It is entirely possible that Big Red has fledged no less than 35 eyasses. This year she has another clutch of three. Big Red is a devoted mother. By the fall she is already selecting which light tower to use as a nest and is working with Arthur then and to a greater degree in February to ready the nest for the upcoming breeding season. She has been encrusted in snow more times than I want to remember and soaked to the bones. She has been blown off the nest! Still she works and keeps those kiddos of hers full to the brim. As someone recently said, ‘No one leaves Big Red’s table hungry.’ And when her eyasses fledge she will spend days with them in family hunting expeditions so that they are as prepared as she can make them for the outside world.

Today, she was soaked to the bone and cold – even the babies are a wee bit ‘wet’. Those heavy raindrops wanted nothing more than to turn into icy slush. She fed her three little ones as quickly as she could so they would not get wet and catch a chill. Just look at the love in those eyes! Being a mom is what it is all about for Big Red.

Unlike Milda, Big Red has a devoted mate, Arthur, who is busy filling the pantry providing food for Big Red and the Ks as well as security for the territory. Arthur also gives Big Red much needed relief breaks despite the fact that she prefers to look after the little ones almost 100% of the time! Her territory is also prey plentiful.

Big Red will always be at the top of my list. She is just simply amazing.

A soaked Big Red. 7 May 2021

My third female is Diane at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida. I am including Diane in my list for one single reason. This year her three eggs hatched and she had three osplets to raise. At the time the three were born (5th and 7th of March), there was plenty of prey on the nest. However, a week later the fish deliveries became irregular causing food insecurity on the nest. It was unclear whether or not the third hatch would survive. There would be days of plenty and then hardly any fish. If the babies didn’t eat neither did Diane. Many suspected that Jack, her mate, might have another nest. Diane began to go fishing supplementing the fish that were brought onto the nest and that is why I am including her. When she was able she would leave the nest and bring in huge catfish to feed her babies and herself. She was a selfless mom. The two older siblings and in particular, the second hatch, demanded more and more food. For days in a row the third hatch had no food. Even Diane acted on several occasions like the little one would not live. Then something happened. The food became more plentiful and she paid particular attention so that the third hatch was full. I call him Tiny Tot. This year Diane will fledge three – . Tiny Tot is the only one left to fledge and his feather growth is behind. And that is OK. Tiny Tot is simply a delight.

In the image below Tiny Tot sits in the middle of the nest with its full crop and its ever growing wings. At one time no one believed #3 would survive and most thought it would be stunted but Tiny is filling out all over. Diane makes sure that sibling #2 standing on the rim of the nest at the back does not eat all of the fish that comes on the nest. I have to give her like 5 gold stars for stepping in and making sure that the food is shared between these two. No one is left out.

Tiny is really growing. Maybe he is a she? 7 May 2021

Diane is on the nest with Tiny. They are both waiting for an incoming fish.

Diane on the left and Tiny Tot on the right. Not so Tiny anymore!

Tiny Tot can self-feed. He was the first of the three to do so. To survive he found fish bones with a little flesh on them and ate it. Diane does love to feed him, tho.

Diane loves to feed Tiny Tot even tho he can do it himself. 7 May 2021

As the sun goes down, Diane and her two little ones are full. Tiny is actually full to the brim. You can see that glimmer of the sun on his big crop.

The sun sets on the St Petersburg Osprey Nest and all are full. 7 May 2021

Another bird mom that has touched my heart in a way that I cannot quite put my finger on is Eve, the mate of Eerik, whose nest is in the Matsalu National Park in Estonia. It is so cold in Estonia that the geese had to stop their northern migration. Eve is a huge White-tailed Eagle – she almost looks ‘wooly’ because her plumage is so thick to keep her warm. She is the most gentle of mothers with her two little eaglets.

Eve does not have the prey problem that Milda had in Latvia. There are plenty of fish and other birds that Eerik brings to the nest. Eve carefully conceals them and keeps them fresh in the straw around the rim of the nest-like an old fashioned ‘ice box’. What they have had to contend with are intruders and lingering cold weather to the extreme. It is especially important because the eaglets cannot thermoregulate their temperature. They depend on Eve and Eerik for everything. Many mornings Eve has woken up to be completely covered in a cold frost. I am really looking forward to these two growing up. Look at the little one put its wing around its big sib. This is such a peaceful nest. Eve keeps everything under control.

Eve feeding her two growing eaglets. 7 May 2021

There are so many bird mothers whose lives need celebrating if for nothing else than they successfully raised their clutches. It is not easy. Humans have impacted their lives in so many ways it would take an entire blog to list them but climate change and its impact on prey, loss of habitat, plastic in the oceans, toxins, etc come to the top. I cannot even begin to create a list of all of those. If I continued to include images and write ups for the mothers, the blog could easily include Harriet at the Bald Eagle Nest in SW Florida in Fort Myers. She is just an amazing mother to E17 and E18. Those kiddos are well equipped to take on the world. Then there is Anna, the first time Bald Eagle mother, who had to learn along with her eaglet how to feed her baby properly. Kisatchie has thrived and is now branching on his nest tree in the Kisatchie National Forest. On the Mississippi River, the nest of Starr and the Valors was destroyed last year by the winds. Starr had to work with Valor I and II to build a new nest for the 2021 season. They built an amazing nest and now have three growing eaglets. Or what about the female at Duke Farms who spent the entire incubation period encased in snow? Her two eaglets are now branching. Diamond, the Peregrine Falcon, in Orange, Australia still has her seven month old fledgling living in her scrape box. Her patience is amazing and her and Xavier have raised a formidable falcon! What about the Osprey females who lay eggs and raise their little ones in nests so full of toys and blankets they often cannot even find the chicks. This year, Harriet at the Dahlgren Nest, lost one of her eggs in Jack’s deliveries! They probably deserve a medal every day for their good humour. Then there are the ones, driven by their instincts and ‘Mother Nature’ that want to be mothers so badly such as Jackie at Big Bear or Iris at Hellsgate? If certificates were given out, they would all receive them – every single one of them!

Here is Iris bringing in a whopper of a breakfish for herself. Iris is the oldest living osprey in the world – the grand dame of all Ospreys. She has fledged no less than 35-40 osplets – no one really knows for sure, that is just an estimate. Since the death of her trusted mate, Stanley, Iris has returned to her nest every year during breeding season. Her current mate, Louis, has another nest and another mate and Iris is now, by default, a single mother. Her natural instincts bring her back from her 4,000 mile migration to her nest in Missoula, breeding with Louis, and because she is both provider, incubator, and security guard – like Milda and Spilve – her clutches have not been successful. Her last fledge was a single osplet in 2018. Still she is there doing her best!

And Happy Mother’s Day to Maya on the Rutland Mantou Nest whose first osprey egg of the season hatched at 15:23 today, 8 May. You can just see the little one getting out of its shell.

Thank you for joining me today to appreciate the difficult circumstances each of our bird mothers face. There is a story for each of them! They are all much loved.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: LWRT Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey, The Eagle Club of Estonia, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Latvian Fund for Wildlife, and the Achieva Credit Union.

Open Wide!

The grey skies and the cold to the bone weather on the Canadian prairies just added to the sadness at the Latvian White-tailed eagle nest. Parallel with the events of the two chicks dying from hypothermia came a wonderful letter from the LDF answering many questions I had about Milda and the nest. I will write up that information in a couple of days.

Milda was starving. She is a devoted mother but she had no food for her or her chicks and Mr C appears to be an on again, off again mate. It is unclear if there were intruders in the area. Mr C is on the branch watching the nest while Milda eats a nice big piece of fish – this fish arrived 24 hours after the nest ran out of food when Mr C removed the few remains of the Crow Milda had been feeding to the chicks. Sadly, she is now incubating the unviable egg.

The fourth egg at the UC Berkeley Peregrine Falcon nest in the Campanile must have been removed. The three little marshmallows are getting some pin feathers. It is hard to believe! They are consuming vast amounts of pigeon and transforming it into the fastest raptor on the planet. Here Annie is saying, ‘Open Wide!’

Annie and Grinnell are such devoted parents. Look at those little ones all tucked under mom right after their feeding.

Sometimes ‘open wide’ does not necessarily relate to food and a feeding. In the case of N24, our beautiful Legacy, it meant open your wings and fly. Legacy fledged this morning at 9:01! All of the aunties and uncles and grannies will be crying tears of joy and sadness. Legacy is a magnificent fledgling Bald Eagle now. She overcame Avian Pox and is the pride of Samson and Gabby and her grandparents, Romeo and Juliet. Look at the gorgeous profile of that head! And that deep, deep espresso plumage. Stunning.

There she goes at 9:01:54.

Lady Hawk put a video together from the three separate cameras. You can watch this historic event in this eagle’s life here:

In the case of Tiny Tot on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida, we can talk about opening wings and mouths. Tiny Tot loves to open his wings like a Lamborghini. Wonder if the car designers looked at the birds for inspiration? Certainly those that built the bullet train in Japan did – they used four different birds to help them get the fastest train on the planet (at the time).

Tiny Tot had a crop all morning. There were three fish deliveries before 11am! Jack has really been working to keep this pantry full. There were deliveries at 6:50:30, 9:35:05, and this is the third delivery at 10:59:18:

Tiny is really growing with all the food he has been eating. Sometimes you have to look really close to figure out which chick he is now. His ‘whiskers’ are settling down and he is getting the white plumage on his chest. There he is in the middle. You can see his nice crop.

Tiny had a good feed last night and had lots of fish from 2 out of the 3 deliveries before 11 am on 26 April. The trio are waiting for delivery 4!

Tiny Tot ate lots from fish 1, none from fish 2, and plenty from fish 3. In the image below he is being fed from fish 1. Sibling 1 had some bites and sibling 2 had a couple but, as is typical first thing in the morning, the older sibs are not as interested in eating then as they are later in the day. Tiny will eat anytime! Open wide, Tiny Tot!

Here is Tiny running to get up to the fish!

Tiny does not get anything from the second delivery but he does in the third and has a very nice crop.

Tiny is really full when the fourth fish arrives but he goes up and gets some nice pieces anyway – not a lot but remember, he is full.

Tiny Tot opens his wings wide!

Tiny Tot has eaten well today and no doubt, since it is only 3:30, there will be more fish to come. Jack, you are amazing. Diane has had some fish and everyone is doing great!

And speaking of opening wide, all eyes are on the California Condor nest in Big Sur where the egg of Redwood Queen and Phoenix is between pip and hatch.

The burnt tree in the centre is where the nest is located. The Dolan Fire ravaged this area from August to the end of December in 2020. Iniko survived the fire – he was the 2020 chick of Redwood Queen and Kingpin. Iniko is at the Los Angeles Zoo and is set to be released with a group of captive bred birds later this year.

Sadly, Redwood Queen’s mate, Kingpin, did not survive the fire. She bonded with Phoenix and this is their egg in the same nest that Iniko hatched.

Redwood Queen has just returned from having a short break. There is a stream close to the nest and she might have gone for a cool drink. It is fine to leave the egg for a short amount of time.

Thank you to each of you for joining me today. I know that we all wish that the situation at the Lavian White-tailed Eagle nest were different. I will be writing a history of the nest and looking into the weather in the area. Normally the birds time their hatches to when the animals will be coming out of winter hibernation so there is lots of food. I am curious if the cold weather has caused issues with getting prey for Milda and Mr C.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams – that is where I get my screen shots: Ventana Wildlife Society, Explore.org, Latvian Wildlife Fund, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Achieva Credit Union, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF.

Friday Morning Nest Hopping

Sad news arrived on Thursday night. Millie, a young Kakapo, was found deceased. This brings the total number of Kakapo to 204.

Millie sadly died.

In Latvia, the rain has been falling hard all day Thursday. The heavy drops sounded like hail hitting the microphone of the streaming cam. Milda has to work hard to both feed her miracle chick and to keep it warm and dry. That little one has no protection against the weather! That will come when she gets some thermal down but still, she will not be protected fully from the weather until we have juvenile contour feathers.

Rain had stopped on 23 April and Milda looks at her miracle baby.

The wind was really strong on the White-Tailed Eagle nest at Durbe, Latvia Friday morning but the rain had stopped. Milda looks at her little miracle in the nest. By afternoon the winds had calmed and the songbirds sing to Milda as she calls out to Mr C.

Milda is talking to Mr C. 23 April 2021

Milda’s eaglet is so cute and so healthy. Bird World needed something wonderful and the miracle of this little chick hatching in a nest in Latvia was it! It is really endearing to watch Milda feed her last chick with her deceased mate, Raimis.

Milda feeding her chick. 22 April 2021

I wrote with tears running down my cheeks earlier because Tiny Tot had really done well with the feedings, trying to steal a piece of fish from an older sibling, and having success grabbing a large piece from Mom that Dad has just delivered. Well, why did I think that would be the end of the day? At 6:59:57 on Thursday evening Jack arrives on the nest with a really nice headless fish.

One of the older chicks wants that whole fish but Jack seems to be waiting around for Diane to arrive. Maybe he shared the head with her? Let’s hope so. She has done an amazing job today equalizing the feeding on this nest.

But wait! Diane has other ideas. She arrives with another fish at 7:02:58. Wow. Within three minutes the nest has two fish deliveries. This is how this nest should have been going all along. Keep it up!

Of course, 2 thinks she should have both fish.

Diane looks like she is comparing her catfish to the one that the older sibling has from Jack. Oh, Diane’s fish is still alive!

I could paste fifty screen shots but, instead, I will just cut to the chase. 2 has its own fish so Diane is feeding 1. But where is Tiny Tot?

At 7:14:28 Tiny Tot is between mom’s legs getting fed. Diane moves the fish to the right corner of the nest. Tiny Tot only stopped eating to do a ps at 8:09:15.

Tiny Tot is full to the brim and finally quits eating at 8:10:10. He has eaten approximately half a catfish in this last feeding. Look at the picture above. His legs are fatter and you can see his round little bottom again. Tiny Tot staggers to the middle of the nest and passes out in a food coma. Sweet dreams little one!

It was a brilliant day on this nest on Thursday. Jack and Diane seem to have gotten their act together in terms of what is needed for food. Giving the older siblings small fish or their own piece allows Diane to feed Tiny Tot. We know that he can also self-feed. Let us hope they remember this strategy and do the same tomorrow. Diane finished feeding the big ones at 8:28 and she also got some nice bites herself – well deserved.

On Friday morning, there was some catfish left from last night (a bit and the bones) and 2 deliveries on the Achieva Nest. One looked like a flounder (or a flat fish) and another was a chunk of catfish. Tiny Tot did not get any of the first flat fish that I could see but he did get some of the big chunk that came at 8:08:18. Diane fed him some and then he took a piece at 8:28:50 and was self-feeding. Diane also fed Tiny something (perhaps the piece he was self-feeding and the old piece of catfish). There is Tiny Tot standing up nicely at the rim of the nest looking at mom when he is all finished.

Grinnell is doing the late night Thursday feeding at the UC Berkeley falcon nest. Isn’t he handsome? And as of Friday morning we still have three little marshmallows.

22 April 2021. Grinnell comes in for a late feeding of his adorable eyasses.

It is a gorgeous day on Skidiway island and there are two very healthy and alert Osplets on that nest. No sign of anything happening with that third egg (yippee).

Lunch for two. 23 April 2021

Over at the NE Florida Bald Eagle nest near Jacksonville, Legacy really enjoys her fish delivery early this morning. She is a super strong beautiful ebony coloured eaglet. All eyes are on Samson and Gabby’s 2021 chick as she continues branching. Fledge is coming soon!

Gabby and Samson continue to feed Legacy well and teach her lessons about stealing food – things she did not learn with another sibling in the nest. Legacy is going to be a magnificent eagle!

Legacy enjoying her breakfish. 23 April 2021
Legacy looking out to the wide world. She will be flying soon. 23 April 2021

Tomorrow, 24 April is the expected hatch of Big Sur’s California condors, Redwood Queen and Phoenix. Oh, I hope that egg is viable. It was laid on 4 March. What a wonderful thing for these two that both survived huge fires in their lives.

Phoenix coming in to incubate the egg. Hatch watch tomorrow. 23 April 2021

And you might remember that I was looking into third hatch Ospreys – the ones like Tiny Tot that had been battered by their older siblings. My friend ‘T in Strasbourg’ had contacted someone in Wales for me. I am very interested in the ‘survival’ rate of the ‘threes’ and Z1 was identified as an osprey like Tiny Tot who returned as a juvenile as a fierce Osprey. The last sighting I could find of him was 4 April 2020. Well news came this morning in a list on the Loch Garten FB page that Z1 arrived at his nest in Snowdonia on 1 April along with his unringed female mate. Oh, I wish I could put together a list of these third hatches that survived. Z1 is the only one of his clutch to migrate and return – now three years! Fantastic. If you think of any third hatches that were bonked and battered but survived to return from their first migration, please do let me know. I would really appreciate it.

Thank you so much for joining me today. As you can tell I am really excited about the progress that Tiny Tot has made in the past few days. It looks like all of the birds heading into the weekend are doing well. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Ventana Wildlife Society, Achieva Credit Union Osprey, NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Latvian Wildlife Fund, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidiway Audubon. Thanks also to the Kakapo Recovery FB Page where I took the image of Millie.

Happiness in Bird World on Earth Day

I want to wish each and everyone of you and our planet a Happy Earth Day. On the Canadian Prairies it has turned out to be jubilant. It is 17 degrees C outside which feels like summer – yes, it is going to get cold again quickly but still a break today is most welcome. All the snow in my garden is melted.

Bird World is jubilant! Look carefully at the image below. Can you spot Tiny Tot?

Tiny Tot with his crop. 22 April 2021

The last time we witnessed Tiny Tot with a crop was on 7 April. That was precisely 15 days ago and during that time he has survived by being clever and persistent. Tiny Tot used his clever mind and took advantage of positioning and the fact that 2 had eaten an entire fish late last night. Tiny had part of the first fish delivery that came at 7:18:03 as well as part of the second delivery arriving at 9:50:55.

One of the Achieva Osprey cam chatters, Vol Crush, named 1 and 2 Hoover Harley and Dyson Davidson. What a wonderful morning laugh. Tiny Tot was Phoenix – an appropriate name for him since he does seem to rise from the ashes of the nest and survive in ways that many cannot comprehend.

It is now 25 degrees C in St Petersburg, Florida. Tiny Tot has let his big sister shade him. It is full sun and hotter up on that nest. At 2:20 all of the siblings are looking up. Wonder what they see?

Also take a look at Tiny. He has been getting his contour feathers and now instead of those ‘whiskers’ that he had he is also beginning to get his chest feathers. If his luck and persistence endures, he will be an Osprey to contend with being able to survive in very dire circumstances by not giving up. What a bird.

The fourth egg at the UC Berkeley Falcon Nest has not hatched yet but gosh, look at the cuteness in those little pink beaks. Do they look like marshmallows to you?

Lime Green Black flew in to feed his girl quickly and out again he went. That was at 11:49 am. What a lucky princess! The satellite monitoring of LGK and LGL shows that they have had to go further out to forage to feed their girl.

Soon, we should have the short list for names of our Royal Albatross Princess at Taiaroa Head. Every year the Royal cam chick is given a Maori name. She will be the only hatchling of 2021 to have a name along with her band numbers. I will keep you posted so you can vote.

In Canada, our national bird is the Gray Jay. Not the Blue Jay and not the Toronto Blue Jays but the Gray Jay. Here is an image so you can get this in your mind.

“Gray Jay, Slough Creek” by YellowstoneNPS is marked with CC PDM 1.0

The national bird of the United States is the Bald Eagle. That symbol is on currency, on posters, and is celebrated at all patriotic events. And today, the only trained Bald Eagle to fly in an enclosed space – like at the Super Bowl or the 9/11 Memorial – Challenger is 32 hatch years old. He will get special salmon cakes and other treats to celebrate his extraordinary life. Happy Hatch Day Challenger!

Al Cerere, the founder of the American Eagle Foundation Founder and former President of the AEF, takes Challenger on Fox and Friends on Memorial Day in 2017 to talk about how Challenger. There are many more videos of Challenger flying and his birthday celebration in 2020. You can check them out by doing a search on YouTube.

Louis has been over to visit Iris at the Hellsgate Osprey Nest today. Gosh, I wish for once he would bring her a fish! Just once, Louis. Wouldn’t that be nice? Apparently, he does feed Star at his other nest over at the baseball park. Someone pointed out something important – this nest is in Louis’s territory and no other male would likely challenge Louis. On the other hand, I know that most people want Iris, the oldest breeding Osprey in the world, to have a mate and they would love to watch her raise her osplets again. It has been awhile. But there is also the argument that having raised no less than 30 and possibly 40 or more chicks she deserves a break. If you have watched the mothers on these nests they work hard and lose about 30% of their body weight.

Louis arrives in Iris’s life in 2016. Since then the only egg to hatch has been egg #1 laid on 27 April 2018. That egg hatched on 4 June and the chick fledged on 5 August.

There is some logic that not having to raise a nest full of chicks might be what is helping Iris to survive as long as she has. She always returns from her winter migration in great health. She is an excellent fisher. Nature will once again take its course this summer in Missoula. For me, just seeing Iris – working on the nest, bringing in fish she has caught, is fantastic and reassuring.

And speaking of eggs and hatchlings, there are still only two at The Landings Savannah Osprey nest and I am overjoyed that other egg is just sitting there. If it is pipping, I am unaware. The two are healthy and getting along. It would be such a blessing for this nest to have these two remain so.

In Latvia, everyone is still joyous over the successful hatching of Milda’s second egg. That beautiful little White Tailed Eaglet is doing great. Here it is getting a meal before the heavy rains set in later in the afternoon.

As the heavy rain falls late in the day it sounds like there also could be some hail falling. That little eaglet is snug under Milda! Nothing is going to get it wet. Mr Chips has brought in fish that can feed both mom and baby.

And over in Wales, there are smiles because one of the Dyfi hatchlings of 2018, Dinas has arrived home to Wales. Last year he was seen in Anglesey. Congratulations everyone. What a relief to see a return! Phillip Snow captured Dinas eating a fish. The image was posted on the Loch Arkaig FB this morning. What a great fish!

And, last, a report on another Louis. As anyone watching the nest of Louis and Aila at Loch Arkaig can tell you, it is becoming sad not to see Aila return. There are still ospreys returning to the UK from their winter migration to Africa and Aila has come in late previously but it appears that Louis might be with another female on the nest out of view of the camera. Fish were seen being delivered and two birds on that nest. Louis is an amazing dad and the three osplets that hatched and fledged in 2020 are a testimony to his efforts, day and night, to keep them fed. He even did tandem feedings with Aila which won my love. Oh, if that would happen on the Achieva Osprey nest I would collapse. Birds, like humans, are born into different homes with parents with different skills and means. Whatever happens up in Scotland, I know that we wish Louis well.

Have a fabulous day today everyone! Enjoy the beautiful outdoors and do something for the betterment of our planet – no matter how large your effort, everyone can make a difference.

Thank you to the following where I grabbed my images: the Loch Arkaig FB page and Phillip Snow, the Cornell Bird Lab and Skidiway Audubon Savannah Osprey Nest, the Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg FL, the UC Falcon Cam, the Latvian Nature Fund and the White Tail Eagle cam at Durbe, Cornell Lab and NZ Doc Royal Albatross, and Cornell Lab and Montana Osprey Project.

‘As the Nest Turns’ – late Sunday night edition

You can really get into a cuteness overload watching all the little bobbleheads that are less than a week old. The UC Berkeley Peregrine Falcons are a case in point. Soft little balls of white down with pink beaks and feet that are being taught the sounds the parents make when they are there to feed them. The team at UC Berkeley Falcon Cam posted this short video of Annie, Grinnell, and the two chicks at dinner time. Listen to the sounds the adults make to alert the chicks that it is time for lunch.

We should be looking for one or two hatches tomorrow at this falcon nest.

You can just see the two osplets at the Savannah Osprey nest peering over the edge of the nest cup their necks stretched. They are both doing fantastic! All good news. I continue to hope that the third egg is not viable – these two are doing fine and this nest has a reputation for issues relating to siblicide if there is a third hatch.

Can you spot the two osprey babies? 18 April 2021

Louis has been doing his regular visit to Iris’s nest. It is a good think thing that Iris is a great fisher and doesn’t sit around and wait for someone else to bring her a fish. No sign of the third osprey that was on the nest yesterday.

Everyone has an opinion about Iris. Indeed, I fell victim to wanting to see the oldest breeding osprey in the world raise another batch of chicks. But after watching Diane at the Achieva osprey nest and the toll that it is taking on Diane physically, it could well be a blessing that Louis does his hello and thank you. Unless there is a dramatic change, Iris will continue catching big fish and feeding herself, fixing up her nest so that it is the envy of everyone. She will lay her eggs and the Raven will steal them —— and then, after a bit, she will enjoy herself for the summer while others work day and night to feed their growing chicks.

18 April 2021

Iris has really been fixing up her nest. Look at how healthy she is – she is absolutely majestic. And she deserves a break from the rigours of motherhood. After all, she has given no less than thirty or forty offspring and who knows how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the natural world. I would like to think of her watching the setting sun eating her fish instead of being exhausted at the end of the day.

18 April 2021

At the NCTC Bald Eagle nest, we have a group portrait with mom, Bella, and the two little ones. They are 30 and 28 days old now. They look like they are posing just for us! Oh, they are cute.

18 April 2021

E17 at the SWFlorida Bald Eagle Nest has fledged. E18 has not taken that first flight from the nest but did join E17 up on the attic today.

Jackie and Shadow can now move on with their lives. They have been incubating an unviable egg ever since their first chick died during hatch. Today the raven came and took the other egg. This couple up at the Big Bear Nest in Northern California can try again next year!

Raven steals the non-viable egg on 18 April 2021. Big Bear Bald Eagle Nest.

In the image below, Ma is feeding FSV44 who started piping on 16 April, the day that its older sibling died during brooding. No one knows what happened to the first hatch at this nest in Platteville, Colorado. Ma and Pa Jr were taking their turns and the eaglet appeared healthy. Glad to see that this little one is fine and is eating well!

The sun is just rising in Latvia and Milda continues to incubate her eggs at the White-tailed eagle nest in Durbe. Rumour has it that her and Mr C – now called Chips – might be bonding more as a couple. Only time will tell. Milda lost her mate Raimis on 27 March after he did not return from hunting prey. He was either too injured or died. Several suitors and intruders have been around the nest, some of them fighting. Milda is incubating three eggs. She spent days on the nest without eating – eight of them! She has left the eggs for around five hours uncovered and it is believed that are no longer viable.

A new day is beginning in Latvia and in Florida it is just past midnight. There has been a storm already with lightning, winds, and rain. The weather service says there is a lull and then it will begin again early in the morning. As evening closed on the Achieva Osprey nest, a fifth fish had come in and Tiny Tot had been fed some. How much is not really clear but not enough for him to get a crop. Tiny Tot did retrieve the fish tail and was self-feeding and then Diane turned around and gave it to 1. 1 did eat from the tail and then Diane came over and fed 1. Tiny Tot moved in and was also stealing some bite from one. It could be a long day tomorrow if it is real stormy and the weather forecast looks dire for a few days. I will keep you posted on all developments.

Tiny has moved in to get what extra bites it can before dark. 18 April 2021

1 got nasty – like she used to do – and had a threatening posture directed towards Tiny. There is no reason for the aggressive stanch. Tiny Tot is not a threat to their survival at this stage. 2 is actually larger than Diane and both eat all day. Tiny Tot needs only a small portion to survive and thrive which is good for this nest.

Tiny moves to get away from sibling 1. 18 April 2021

Thank you for joining me in Bird World. It continues to be cold on the Canadian Prairies. I will do updates on the UK Osprey Nests tomorrow, the hatch at UC Berkeley and, of course, will keep an eye on what is happening to Tiny Tot. Continue to send your warm wishes his way.

I would like to thank the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: The Latvian Fund for Nature, Xcel Energy Fort St. Vrian Bald Eagle Nest, Friends of Big Bear Bald Eagle Nest, SWFlorida Bald Eagle Nest and D Pritchett real estate, NCTC Bald Eagle Cam, Cornell Bird Cams and the Montana Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Cams and the Savannah Osprey Nest, and the Achieva Credit Union.

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.