It is Wednesday night and the BBC One Show aired a programme on Rutland Water and the ospreys today in the UK. As the hosts know, one of the most impressive things Ospreys do – and they do a lot – is their particular dive to catch fish.
So, instead of showing you still shots here is the programme. It is just a little over 5 minutes so enjoy!
Thanks for checking in today. I really hope you enjoyed seeing where Blue 33 (11) and Maya’s nest is in relation to everything else at Rutland Water. It is a wonderful setting and maybe one day all of us will be able to visit and see these magnificent fish hawks.
Wednesday started off with the sudden death of EE2 at the White-tail Eagle Nest in Estonia. The little one was up, bright and cheery at 4:04 and then gone. There has been a lot of speculation. A heat wave went through the area with temperatures doing from 1 to 26 degrees C in a day. Those dramatic changes can put stress on wildlife. Eve and Eerik had plenty of food and the eaglets were, as far as I could tell, growing and filling up the egg cup. Yes, there could have been a toxin and for sure, everyone has been watching EE1 closely. It could also have been a tragic accident of some sort. We won’t know because the body of the little one will not be taken – so I am going to stop speculating myself and hope that EE1 thrives and fledges. EE1 was fed five times between 13:22 and 19:14 and appears healthy.
The three eyases of Annie And Grinnell were banded today. The chick on the left has been banded. The one whose wings are back and looks totally frightened is just getting ready to be banded. It looks a little frightened.
The eyases receive two bands. One is metal and has a 9 digit aluminum band. There is a second coloured band with four digits that is unique to Peregrine Falcons in the SF Bay region. No gloves are used in the banding process so that the banders can handle the birds safely. Banding helps with studies in survival and movement. It does not hurt the birds.
The three are all males.
The banding was an on line event with two people from the centre answering questions as they discussed the process. You can see the whole procedure here and listen to the questions being answered:
Can you tell which of the two ospreys on the nest is Tiny Tot?
Oh, my, that bird has grown! Someone looking over my shoulder said, ‘The one with the beard!’ Well, if those feathers were smoothed down, it sure would be hard to pick Tiny out because Tiny isn’t Tiny anymore. Tiny Tot needs to grow some more feathers for flight. Look at sibling #2 at the back. See the length of the wing tip feathers? And the next layer? It would be really good if Tiny got all that feather growth before setting out on its own. Hopefully Tiny will hang around the nest, as #2 has done, to get some more flight training and to let the parents, Jack and Diane, feed it.
Sibling #2 is on the perch post eating a fish and Tiny Tot has just acquired the 3:47 pm fish delivery. No doubt s/he is going to be really full! Look at the size of that fish!
Big Red and Arthur’s little ones are doing fine. K3 really is a corker. Poor thing. I watched it yesterday when it got behind siblings 1 and 2 and wasn’t getting any bites. Oh, that little one – not scared at all – pecked at that big sib. I was rolling with laughter. It was like a comedy routine. Early this morning, for the first feeding, K3 was up front. It takes a few days to figure out the strategy but those little ones have spunk and drive. No one needs to worry about getting fed on Big Red’s nest!
This nest has a lot of different food items for the Ks. Believe it or not, at this age, they are already imprinting those birds and mammals so that when they are older, they will know that it is OK to eat them. The eyases have to pack a lot of knowledge into a few short months.
Big Red goes off for a break. It is a nice warm day. Arthur delivers a grey squirrel and then returns with a Starling! Everything is fine on the nest of the Ks.
I did a quick check on the little osplets on the Savannah nest. They had nice crops – both of them – around 13:30 – left over from the earlier feeding.
The second sibling is getting a nice feed from mom. That is nice to see. There remains some rivalry that can be unpleasant at times.
The image below was taken yesterday, 11 May. It is Iris and for those of you who do not know, Iris got her name from the specks in her right eye. You can see them clearly below. So, even without any band, everyone knows that this is Iris!
Iris did not incubate the eggs in the nest last night nor did she spend the night on the perch. In fact, she left her nest in good time to go and get herself a good fish dinner and did not return until this morning.
Iris had a nice fish breakfast before heading over to the nest nearby.
Iris returned to the nest at 6:42. She had been away at least twelve hours. Iris is taking care of herself.
As the graduate student at the UC Falcon Cam said today when asked if Annie and Grinnell would remember the banding every year. He said, “Birds have memories.” There is no doubt in my mind that Iris is chained to her hormones during the breeding season. She migrates to Montana and begins working on her nest. She lays eggs regardless or not of mating. She has some urge to incubate them BUT no doubt, over the past four or five years she remembers what has happened. Perhaps she remembers and isn’t caring so much this year? I cannot answer that. Perhaps she knows that both of those eggs are not fertile. ——- I just want to continue to enjoy seeing her. She is an amazing Osprey.
Legacy at the NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam in Jacksonville was waiting for a food drop this morning.
Isn’t ‘he’ gorgeous? He, you ask. The reasoning is in part because of the ‘flat’ head but more important the mandible – the yellow portion of the beak/mouth does not extend to 90% of the back of the eye. I hope that makes sense. Instead, the bright yellow area below stops almost level with the front of the eye. Take your finger to see – and then notice how much longer it would be if it extended to the back of the eye. Are you a boy, Legacy? Of course, there is never 100% certainty unless a DNA test is taken or you see Legacy lay an egg but, it is a good indicator.
Samson came in with a fish delivery at 2:11:32 and he got out of Legacy’s way fast!
Wow. By 2:31 – twenty minutes later – there is hardly anything left of that fish! Good work, Legacy. You are a pro at self-feeding.
I want to close with a look at a power couple in the Osprey world: Maya and Blue 33 (11). Blue 33 (11) has brought a fish to Maya so she can feed the two Bobs.
There was mention about Blue 33 (11) and this nest at Mantou Bay at Rutland. Tiger Mozone said something very ensightful: “Blue 33 (11) not only wanted the nest but Maya, too.” Right on. As Tiger pointed out, Maya had first been paired with 32 (05) who was shot. Then she was with 5R (04) but he didn’t return in 2014. In 2014, Maya paired with 28 (10) who Tiger calls Wonky Wing – Blue 33 (11) made short shift of him evicting him from the nest. Maya and Blue 33 (11) did not breed that year but they started in 2015 and have since had twenty-one chicks!!!!!!!! Blue 33 (11) knew a good female as well as a good nest.
Look at those healthy Bobs. I cannot think of a better way to end the day than seeing these two strong future ospreys.
Thank you for joining me today. It is nice to have you here with me.
Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: LRWT, NEFlorida Eagle cam and the AEF, Montana Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab, Skidaway Audubon, Achieva Credit Union, UC Falcons, and the Eagle Club of Estonia.
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.
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 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.
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.
Diane is on the nest with Tiny. They are both waiting for an incoming fish.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maya laid her third egg today on the Rutland Mantou Bay Nest. You might recall that her mate, Blue 33 (11) was the first to return from the migration to Africa followed in a few minutes by Maya. That was on the 19th of March. Their first egg was laid on 30 March with the second egg on 2 April. So far, Maya and Blue 33 (11) are the only monitored Osprey couple in the UK to have eggs in the nest.
You can watch Maya and Blue 33 (11) at their Rutland Mantou Nest here:
Blue 3J or Telyn and her mate Idris have been working to build up their nest. Telyn arrived on 26 March followed by Idris’s return on the 29th. It is the end of the day and Telyn is waiting for Idris to bring her a fish for her dinner.
I love looking at bird nests. My favourite is still that of Daisy Duck, the little Pacific Black Duck that made a nest on the White Bellied Sea Eagles nest in Sydney’s Olympic Park. Oh, it was so beautiful with her down interwoven with the beautiful leaves from the nest.
Telyn and Idris’s nest is getting larger. Look at the colours of the lichen on the branches.
Here is another look at Telyn waiting for supper. Youcan also see how high the sides of the nest are getting.
If you want to check in on Telyn and Idris, here is the streaming cam:
Blue 5F – Seren – has been busy working on the nest that she shares with her mate, Dylan at the Hafren Forest, Clywedog Reserve in Wales. A lot of twigs have been brought in and she seems to be weaving them together with some local grass materials. Look at that amazing sunset that she has! Wow. She is waiting for her dinner delivery from Dylan and here it comes!
If you want to check in on Seren and Dylan, here is their streaming cam:
And if the wind tearing up their nest was not enough for Laddie and NC0 at the Loch of the Lowes, then the snow and blowing winds that arrived late today are surely to put a damper on any more nestorations for a bit. Gosh, it is like winter is happening all over again in Scotland!
If you want to check on Laddie and NC0, here is the streaming cam:
One of the most lonely Osprey nests is Hellsgate Canyon just outside Missoula, Montana. The nest is prime real estate despite it being located in a parking lot between Missoula College and the Riverside Health Centre. It is only 15 metres or 50 feet away from the Clark Fork River. It belongs to Iris, the ‘grand dame of the Ospreys’ according to Dr Green at the University of Montana at Missoula. In the image below, taken in 2018, you can see the distinctive band in Iris’s left pupil that identifies her. Iris is believed to be at least 23 years old if not older. Her original nest was on a pole down the highway. This platform nest in the image below was built in 2008. She had a wonderful mate named Stanley that did not return from winter migration in 2016. Louis arrived on the nest on 26 April 2016 and Iris accepted him immediately. Their eggs in 2016 were infertile, in 2018 their one chick got out from under Iris and died of hypothermia. In 2019, there were three chicks. L’el’e was born on 4 June and survived. The other two did not. The issue had to do with starvation. Louis was not bringing food to the nest. At the time it was thought that he was just inexperienced at fishing but it turns out he had two families.
Louis and Starr have arrived back in the area. We wait to see if Iris returns. If she does, I hope that she gets a fantastic new mate and she changes the research on how long Ospreys can lay fertile eggs! Iris was last seen at her nest on 8 September 2020 just before she migrated.
Here is the link to the streaming cam at Hellsgate. Fingers crossed. Maybe we can catch Iris arrival! I sure hope she survived the winter. Or maybe she decided to retire and stay in the warmer climates year round. She certainly deserves it. She has probably raised 30-40 chicks to fledge. Incredible. Iris, you are my hero! I have seen you protect your nest, bring in huge fish by yourself. You deserve a good retirement or a great mate.
And when I checked on Tiny Tot at the Achieva Osprey Nest, he still had a crop from his morning’s feeding. It is nearly 3pm. Would be fantastic for him to get another good feed before bed. He needs to put all that food into growth. His energy and his cleverness have returned. Someone told me he is like Lazarus rising from the dead. Others stopped watching the streaming cam because they feared his demise. Tiny Tot is not out of the woods. The other two siblings are quite large, especially 2 which now seems to have taken over the dominant role on the nest. I am very hopeful if big fish continue to come into the nest on a regular basis, Tiny Tot will fledge!
Tiny is in front of Diane in the image below.
If you wish to follow Jack and Diane and the trio, here is the link to their streaming cam:
Thank you so much for joining me today. Fingers crossed as we await the arrival of Louis and Aila in Loch Arkaig ——– and the return of Iris. If she doesn’t return, I hope she is relaxing somewhere very nice!
I also want to thank all of the Osprey streaming cams that I have posted today. Their cameras provide the feed where I get my screen captures. Many of the cameras, such as Glaslyn with Aran and Mrs G, survive only on donations from viewers. If you are watching one of those cameras, think about chipping in a fiver. Every little bit helps. I have posted the links in the hope that more people will watch these amazing birds build their nests and raise their families.
My daughter asked me today if I would continue to watch the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida. She had a very good point. Tiny Tot or 3 (some call it Tumbles) was born on 5 March. Since the 12th of March, I have notes indicating that Jack, the male, needs to bring in more fish. I have notes that Tiny Tot was fed well one day and had no food for two days. That was three weeks ago. Many have invested in their own stress level height since food procurement on this nest became a visible problem – not only to streaming cam watchers but to the older osprey. The perception or the reality that there is not enough contributes to food competition and siblicide. This nest has literally been like a rollercoaster ride for everyone including Diane, the mother, who found as many morsels as she could to feed Tiny from 1:15-1:53 today. He had a bit of a crop. Continued large fish coming into the nest on a regular basis – a real effort on the part of Jack – is required.
There are ‘good’ Osprey nests to watch. Everyone has their favourite. I am going to only mention five today so if you have a favourite, let me know – and tell me why you like that nest so much! I am going to start with the first one because the female has already laid two eggs this season. That nest belongs to Maya and Blue 33 (11). This is a dad that cuddles with the female. They almost arrive together from their winter migration to Africa. They are an amazing duo. Blue 33 (11) does not have another nest with chicks to feed! He is totally devoted to Maya and their chicks and their nest is Rutland Mantou Bay.
Mary Kerr did the hearts on this image for the Loch Arkaig FB group. I want to make sure she gets the credit, not me. And one of the things Mary said was, ‘Maya really lucked out when she got him in 2014 as a mate’.
You can watch these two lovebirds on the Rutland Mantou Bay Nest at the following link:
The second nest is at Loch Arkaig, home to Louis and Aila. They are due to be back at the nest around 5 April. I will put in the highlights from their 2020 season. I like this nest because Louis works day and night to feed those babies. Last year Aila laid three eggs and they all hatched. I watched a tandem feeding when the little one, Captain, was fed by itself while the two bigger, older chicks were fed by the other parent. It was joyful and it brought my faith back in ospreys after seeing little Tapps die at Port Lincoln. Here is the video of the highlights from the 2020 nest at Loch Arkaig. The three siblings are believed to be 2 males and a female. Doddie the first born is a male, Vera the female, and Little Captain, a male is banded Blue JJ7. Enjoy it! When Louis and Aila return, I will be sure to let you know. The link to their nest is below the video.
And the link to the Loch Arkaig site for when Louis and Aila return in a few days:
All of these nests are wonderful and I have not listed them in rank order. My third nest is that of Idris and Blue 33 Telyn at the Dfyi Nest in Wales. Idris is known to be loyal, a great protector, and provider! You can access this popular couples nest here:
And I have two other nests to mention. One is in the UK and the other is in San Francisco.
I could not leave this page and not have included the nest of Mrs G and Aran. Mrs G is the oldest osprey in the United Kingdom, believed to be twenty-one years old. She is a powerhouse. This couple are at the Glaslyn Osprey Nest in Wales and here is the link:
And the last of the Osprey nests is the one in San Francisco Bay with Richmond and Rosie. Richmond is more known for his antics of bringing objects – aprons, toys, etc – to the nest but the two actually work well together. Richmond lives in San Francisco year round and Rosie migrates for the winter. Rosie is now incubating three eggs. The first was laid on 24 March, the second on 27 March, and the third on 30 March. That will keep Richmond busy bringing in fish when they hatch! Here is the link to their nest:
That link provides you to a number of past videos, too.
A fish came into the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida at 5:33:51. Tiny Tot got a few bites after the two bigger ones but he still has a crop from his earlier feeding. This is much better than being sunk in all over as he had been. I live in hope that the momentum of fish – some big fish – a small one is not enough – come in and Tiny makes it.
I have written in-depth about many of the ospreys on these nests in other blogs. That information often includes their biography. When everything goes well, there is nothing more wonderful than seeing these amazing fish eagles thrive and fledge. They have a difficult life – the ones that migrate. The trip is 4000 miles one way over large bodies of water, mountains, and deserts. 50% do not make it.
Thank you for joining me today. All of the other nests that I follow seem to be doing really well today. For those of you that celebrate Easter – have a Happy Easter Weekend. Take care everyone.
Thank you so much to the following for their streaming cams. This is where I get my screen shots: the Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg, Florida; the Bywd Gwyllt Glaslyun Wildlife, Bay Osprey by Golden Gate Audubon, Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Friends of Loch Arkaig, Rutland Wildlife at the Mantou Bay Nest, Mary Kerr for her cute FB image of Maya and Blue 33 (11), the Woodland Trust and People Play Lottery, and the LRWT Rutland Osprey Project.
Oh, the postman delivered a copy of The Rutland Water Ospreys by Tim Mackrill. If you are really into Ospreys – their history and the reestablishment of them in the United Kingdom, I suggest you either order your own copy or ask your library to purchase one. It is an excellent history with beautiful images. There are photos of all the Ospreys and their genealogy, lovely drawings of the birds, a chronological history of the reintroduction of Osprey into the United Kingdom as well as a look at the people involved and the migration to Africa. It will keep you busy for several full days!
The history of the Osprey as a species is very long. Did you know that there are fossils showing that Osprey lived 10-15 million years ago? Storied in Natural History museums and in research facilities, there are a few claws of Osprey from the Eocene epoch which was 50 million years ago. Further evidence such as wing bones have been found and dated to the mid-Miocene epoch or 13 million years ago. Those were found in California and Florida in 1976 Stuart A. Warter. Warter was highly skeptical of the remains attributed to the Eocene era. Eggs of Osprey were found in Austria and the back limb ones in Florida from the late-Miocene era. All of that suggests that Ospreys were present in the southern US and in Europe from 10-15 million years ago. More fossils were found in Western Europe, North and Central America during the last 2 million years. Ospreys were found in the period from 9000-5000 BP in the Balkans as well as the rest of Central Europe, including Switzerland. All of a sudden no remains are found for nearly 4000 years. The Osprey show up again in the Baltic, in northeast Germany. Because of hunting, egg collection, and taxidermy and then the use of DDT, they reach near extinction again. This information has been taken from the article, ‘Archaeozoological records and distribution history of the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in Central Europe’ in The Journal of Ornithology, vol. 10, no. 1, 2006. I am also reminded that the Roman writer, Pliny, mentions that the Osprey parents have their chicks fly to the sun as a test and that Shakespeare mentioned Ospreys in his 1609 play, Coriolanus. Osprey specialists in Britain believe that he must have seen the live birds. In China, Ospreys are symbols of fidelity.
World Osprey Week is to celebrate the rebuilding of the Osprey in the United Kingdom and what better way, on this the third day of World Osprey Week to check in on the monitored nests to see who has returned. To the time of my writing this on 24 March at 2:45 pm CDT, only four Osprey have returned to the United Kingdom so far.
Laddie (unringed) or LM12 arrived at 5pm on 21 March. This will be his tenth season at the Loch of the Lowes and Laddie wasted no time in fixing up his nest and hoping that his young mate of last year, Blue NCO will return. In the image below he has come to the nest with a morning fish hoping that his mate might have arrived. He has spent the last two days doing nestorations. Look at how clean and nice that nest is! Laddie we sure hope that a wonderful young lady comes to you.
Maya and Blue 33 (11) came in on March 19 within minutes of one another. Blue 33 (11) arrived at 12:29pm and Maya came in at 12:56. They got down to business renewing their bonds at 1pm and then began nestorations. Today they have had to fend off some intruders. They are at Rutland MB.
The very first osprey to arrive on a monitored nest was back on the 19th of March and that was a female at Rutlands, Blue 25 (10).
Black 80 is said to have arrived back at Threave Castle on 23 March. No doubt waiting for its mate unringed Mrs O. However, friends of Threave Osprey have been near to the nest and have not seen an Osprey.
Had a visitor to Loch Arkaig but not the one everyone was counting on!
If you would like to keep track of the Ospreys coming and going, you can find the chart here:
That link also gives you the history, the genealogy, and more information that you could ever hope to find on one site. It is excellent. And so we wait and mourn the two Osprey migrating back from Africa that were shot on purpose over the island of Malta. What a sad sad event and one that happens to often over this small Mediterranean Island. One of the stories can be found here:
Moving back to the United States. Oh, that Osprey male, Jack, at the Dahlgren Nest is such a hoot! His nest is simply full of all manner of things. And it is raining! Poor Harriet. Their first egg arrived at 4:33 on 23 March.
And I am honestly not sure why many male Osprey are called Jack but a check on the Achieva Osprey nest reveals that yesterday, Diane came in with a gigantic catfish and fed the trio for several hours. That feeding seems to have turned the tide in that nest for now. Jack came in with a fish at bedtime and all three went to sleep with large crops. This morning Jack brought in two fish. Peace reigns and little Tiny Tot has been well fed for 2 days. I am hoping that this will blast away any food insecurities that the two oldest have and that Jack and Diane will both bring in lots of fish.
In the image below Tiny Tot is still eating. The two older sibs are in a food coma. So all is good. Let’s hope that large fish come in regularly now and the weather stabilizes for them. It would be fantastic for this nest to fledge three again this year!
Thank you for joining me today. By the end of the week there should be some more osprey arriving in the United Kingdom – news for celebration as World Osprey Week continues. Have a great day.
Thank you to Achieva Osprey, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Rutland for their streaming cams where I got my scaps.
Piscivorous means ‘fish eating’ and Ospreys are almost exclusively fish eating birds.
Since this is the beginning of World Osprey Week, I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate those pecularities to the Osprey that allow it to fish so well. In the image above, the Osprey is using its very developed musculature system to pull the fish out of the water. Look at those wings, uplifted bringing the bird out of the water.
In order to hold on to that fish without it slipping, the Osprey has several advantages that other raptors, such as eagles, lack. The talons of an Osprey are round. Because they are round they can dig deep into the flesh of the fish. The talons of other raptors are concave with a groove on the underside. Look at that rough skin covering the feet. We might want to send them for a pedicure but it is those are sharp little barbs (like needles) called spicules that also help grasp those slippery slimy fish. Ospreys are the only raptor that has a reversible toe. Normally there are three toes in front and the hallux in the back. When fishing, Ospreys can move one of the front toes to the back to help hold on to the fish. This means that they can adjust the toes to catch the prey from the front or the back. Incredible.
Ospreys big yellow eyes can see 19x better than we can as humans. Not only is their eye sight extraordinary, they also have a transparent third eyelid called the transparent nicitating membrane that protects their eyes when they dive. Kind of like a permanent pair of goggles! And to offset the glare, there is the distinctive black strip of plumage that runs from their eye to their neck.
When they hunt, Ospreys fly over a body of water at approximately 18 m or 60 feet in the air. When they spot a fish, they hover, something other raptors cannot do. Then they flap their wings and plunge almost straight into the water feet first. Their nostrils close completely when they dive! They can completely close and lock their talons in 2/100th of a second. I honestly cannot imagine how quick that is. But it does allow for them to be successful when hunting – and their success rate is about 20% or every 1 out of 5 attempts.
This three minute video by the BBC is one of the best at showing how Ospreys fish:
Thanks for joining me today. I hope to see you again soon. Happy World Osprey Week!
The main image is “aguila pescadora 15 – osprey fishing” by ferran pestaña is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
World Osprey Week is from 22-26 and it celebrates the arrival of the Ospreys from their winter migration in Africa back to the United Kingdom in spring. For the second year, the pandemic has caused previous large celebrations to be much scaled down. Still, it does not damper the enthusiasm of Osprey lovers throughout Wales, England, and Scotland as they welcome home these beautiful yellow eyed sea hawks.
There is even an app and a website where you can go for sightings and confirmed arrivals on nests. This is very impressive.
And there are educational programmes and YouTube videos all week. Here is Day 1:
There are also free digital educational packets which you can order on line. Simply go to this URL and sign up: www.lrwt.org.uk/wow
Now let’s check and see which of the Ospreys at monitored nests have arrived so far.
The very first Osprey to arrive was Blue 25 (10), a female. She is back on one of the Rutland’s nests. Blue 25 (10) was born in Rutland in 2010 – hence, the (10) in brackets behind the tag colour and number.
The stars of the Mantou Nest are Maya and Blue 33 (11). They arrived within thirty-minutes of one another. Great planning! Blue 33 (11) flew in at 12:29 followed by Maya at 12:56. These two have been together and raising chicks since 2015. And they wasted no time in getting reacquainted. The streaming cam caught them mating at 1pm! After fighting over a fish that Maya caught, Blue 33 decided some nestorations were in order.
After bonding it was time to eat and you can see that everyone wants the fish that Maya caught! Too funny.
All is calm again and it is time to start getting the nest in order. Don’t you think Blue 33 (11) is handsome?
And both arrived back on the nest right before dawn on the 22nd of March to start things off:
Laddie (LM12) arrived home at 5pm, 21 March, at the Loch of the Lowes Reserve nest. He is the resident male at this nest. There is a new female as of last March tagged NCO. She was ringed as a chick at Loch Ness in 2016. His former mate was LF15. She went missing on the 7 August 2018.
Lock Arkaig is awaiting the arrival of Louis and Alia.
The nest at Glaswyn is awaiting for the arrival of Mrs G (the oldest Osprey in Wales) and Aran.
The Cumbria Wildlife Trust is waiting for arrivals to their Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest . 2021 will be the eighth year running – should the mated pair arrive – that Osprey chicks have been born on this nest. The couple are Blue 35 (female) and White YW (male). This mated couple have fledged sixteen chicks between 2014-2020. At least one of their fledglings, Blue 5N, of 2018 has been spotted in The Gambia in 2019.
So everyone is waiting! Some people are trying to keep six screens open at one time in case someone arrives today. Enjoy the beginning of World Osprey Week! Find a nest and enjoy all the fun of the arrivals.
And before I close this off. Just a note. The Achieva Osprey nest fooled me again. All three had full crops this morning at 9:33 CDT. Wow. So happy. Let’s hope Jack continues to bring in very large fish. It helps.
Thank you to Achieva Credit Union, the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, Friends of Loch Arkaig FB, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Scottish Wildlife Trust for their streaming cams where I got my scaps.
The University of California Campus at Berkeley is ‘falcon crazy.’ They even named their basketball team the Falcons. Indeed, the feathered pair nesting on top of this beautiful building are ‘stars’. Everyone knows about them and gets excited – how grand is that?!
The Campanile was designed in the Gothic Revival style and was completed in 1914. The tower, reminiscent of the Campanile di San Marco in Venice, is ninety-four metres or 308 feet hight and has four bells. It is the most recognized building on the University campus.
This is the view from the roof:
In 2016, a pair of Peregrine Falcons began to roost on the roof of the Campanile. Their scrape box is two floors up from the bells and to everyone’s amazement the bell concerts do not seem to bother the raptors. If it did, we can imagine that they would have left quickly. Most of the time it is a safe place to raise their young but they have had, like other nests, intruders checking out their prime real estate.
In 2017, the same pair returned to raise eyases. They were given the names Annie and Grinnell in honour of the founder and first director of UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Annie Grinnell. Annie is not banded and her history including how old she is remains unknown. However, Grinnell was banded in 2013 as a nestling near Martinez, California. All of their chicks are banded in the nest.
If you have read most of my blogs you will know that I am a great proponent of banding. The amount of information that can be discovered is significant. And for Birders on the Ground it is an opportunity to take part. It takes a village to chase after falcons and check their bands, photograph them, and then find the right person to contact to tell them of the sighting.
If you have never seen a nestling banded, here is your opportunity. This is a short video of Poppy, Sequoia, and Redwood being banded in the scrape box in 2020 along with a Q&A:
Annie and Grinnell made their first nest on a sand bag on the roof of the Campanile in March of 2017. Poor things! But they had nothing else. In the wild, Peregrine falcons make their nests on a the edges of cliffs with a sandy base or in gravel.
In the image below, Grinnell is incubating the eggs in the permanent scrape box. Notice that it is a simple enclosure, with a single opening at the front. Wooden rulers have been fixed to the frame of the door and the corners so researchers can check the height of the young. Simple pea gravel or small river stones line the bottom. This is the ‘nest’. No other materials will be brought in. The falcons will rub their breast into the gravel to make a hollow for the eggs.
When two of the eggs of Annie and Grinnell’s first clutch rolled off the sandbox and broke, the University decided to install a temporary scrape box. Annie and Grinnell accepted the box and fledged their first babies – two eyases- from the Campanile. They were a male named Fiat and a female named Lux. The names were derived from the University motto, Fiat lux, which means bringing knowledge to light. Fiat survived but Lux was killed by window strike.
The following year the University installed a permanent nest box for the pair hoping that they would return and lay their eggs again. In April of 2018, Annie and Grinnell had three eggs hatch. Named after three elements discovered at Berkeley the chicks were a male named Berkelium, another male named Californium, and a female named Lawrencium. All three fledged. Lawrencium is the only one of Annie and Grinnell’s chicks that has been spotted. She is nesting on the island of Alcatraz.
In 2019, the exploits of Annie and Grinnell were streamed to the world. That year two chicks hatched and were successful fledges. One was named Carson after Rachel Carson. Hers is a name that you should know. Carson is the author of the book Silent Spring that led to the banning of DDT. Cade was named after Tom Cade, an Ornithologist recognized for his efforts to both protect and reestablish Peregrine Falcon populations after they were wiped out by DDT. Cade was the founder of the Peregrine Fund. He died in 2019 at the age of 91.
In 2020, Annie and Grinnell fledged three – a female named Poppy, a male named Sequoia, and another male named Redwood.
It’s 2021 and Annie and Grinnell are incubating four eggs! The first was laid on 10 March, followed by the second on 12 March, the third on the 14th and the final egg on St. Patrick’s Day.
In the image below, Grinnell has arrived to partially incubate the first three eggs. The eggs can actually range from a cream colour to red but here you see that Annie has laid three lovely red eggs.
While it is known that falcons sometimes lay five eggs, it is rare. And this brings me to why I love falcons so much and it isn’t just their very ‘cute’ plumage. It is because of delayed incubation. Annie and Grinnell can hatch four eyases but I am not up worrying all night when one didn’t get fed or the eldest was aggressive – it would be rare for that to happen but I am aware that it does.
The embryos inside eggs only develop when they are warm. Peregrine falcons, Red Tail Hawks and other raptor species (other than Ospreys and various species of eagles) want their eggs to hatch at roughly the same time. That way there is not a significant difference in development. To achieve this synchronization, the early eggs are only partially incubated until all are laid. Then hard incubation begins. Annie and Grinnell will take turns incubating the eggs. After hard incubation starts the eggs will hatch in roughly 32-33 days after the last egg was laid. The eyases use their ‘egg tooth’ to help them get through the thick shell which can take from 24-48 hours. Pip watch should start about 19 April! I am so excited!
UPDATES: Speaking of pip watch, Jackie and Shadow can hear one of their little ones chirping in the shell. Big Bear Eagle fans are on hatch alert!
Maya and Blue 33 have both arrived at the Mantou Bay Nest at Rutland in the UK on 19 March. Blue 33 (11) came in at 12:29 and Maya was right behind him at 12:56.
So far it appears that Blue 25 (10) is still waiting for her mate at Rutland.
The three on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida have now been fed to the relief of everyone. The storm caused Jack to bring in only a small fish last evening. Brutus, the eldest, was very aggressive towards the smaller two and they went to sleep without any fish. (Brutus is the name given to the eldest by the chat group). First fish this morning was also small and caused aggressive behaviour. However, Jack went and brought in a nice sized second fish right away and everyone ate and were congenial.
Both were fed at the Duke Farms Bald Eagle Nest in Hillsborough, New Jersey so all is well on that nest.
Solly, the Port Lincoln Osprey, is 181 days old today. She spent the night at the Streaky Bay Hospital and has been out and about looking for fish. She loves this area. I hope it keeps her safe and is her forever home.
It’s nearly 4pm on a beautiful sunny day on the Canadian prairies. Let’s hope it stays that way so that everyone can get out for a walk and check on the local wildlife in their area.
Thanks to UC Berkeley Falcons, Duke Farms, Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg, Big Bear for their steaming cams and Rutland Wildlife where I took my scaps and to Port Lincoln Ospreys and the PLO researchers for the satellite tracking for Solly.
The first Osprey to land on a nest in the United Kingdom for the 2021 breeding season is Blue 25 (10). This gorgeous female was the first to arrive last year as well but this time, she is a day earlier.
So who is Blue 25 (10)? She is the daughter of Maroon AA (06) and Argyll BTO (R). She was born in 2010 at Rutland – hence the (10) after her tag number. ‘Site Fidelity’ is when an animal or bird returns to where they were born. Normally only the males return to their natal nest area but, Blue 25 returned to Rutland in 2012. She bonded with Blue 11 (10). In 2013, they had two chicks: Blue 3K is a female and Blue 4K is a male. The male returned to Rutland on 10 July 2015. He is the first 4th generation bird to return. That is quite an accomplishment! In 2013, the pair fledged a single female Blue 5K. In 2014, they fledged Blue 8K, a male, and a female, Blue 9K. The records unfortunately stop in 2015.
It is now 2021. Both Blue 25 and Blue 11 are now eleven years old. Let’s hope that Blue 11 arrives back at the nest!
Ospreys were completely wiped out in Britain. This early extermination was caused by game wardens on large estates killing the birds, through egg collection, habitat loss, and by taxidermy – yes, the killing and the stuffing of these lovely birds. wiped out in England by persecution – through egg-collection and taxidermy – and by habitat loss.
In England, The Leicestershire and Rutland Trust introduced sixty-four 6-week-old Ospreys (introduced from Scotland) between 1996 and 2001. At Rutland, in 2019, there were twenty-five Ospreys in the area with eight couples breeding. One of those couples is Blue 25 (10) and her mate Blue 11 (10). And we know that half of that bonded pair has safely returned to Rutland from Africa.
The other pair is Maya and her mate 33. They were the celebrated parents of the 150th chick to be born in Rutland in 2019. They have claimed the nest at Manton Bay where, since 2015, they have successfully raised ten chicks.
If you would like a list of the UK Ospreys, their band numbers, dates of return, etc. up to and including 2015, please go to this Internet site:
That beautiful only eaglet, so spoiled by its first time parents Anna and Louis born in the nest in the Kisatchie Forest has a name! And it is a wonderful name: Kisatchie. Anna and Louis celebrate the great state of Louisiana while Kisatchie immortalizes this nest in this forest. It is the only national forest in Louisiana and consists of 800,000 acres covering seven parishes in the state. It is designated an Important Bird Area and is now covered with Loblolly and Slash Pines after reforestation efforts. The raptors living in the forest include Red-shouldered hawks, Sharp-shinned hawks, Broad-winged hawks as well as Cooper’s hawks and Bald Eagles. Other species of birds include the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Northern Bobwhite, Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-bellied and Downy woodpeckers along with the Brown-headed Nuthatch.
This young couple came last year to check out the abandoned Bald Eagle nest and returned this year to make it their natal nest. The rangers say that they are young, 5-6 years old. They had just gotten their adult plumage in the fall of 2020. At 11pm on 23 February 2021, the little one hatched. The nest is very close to the lake and Louis is an amazing fisher. The pantry is always full and Anna never wants her little one to go hungry. If you watch this nest, the youngster always has a crop and Anna is always wanting it to take just one more bite! It is too cute.
Anna says, ‘Please just one more bite!’
Once upon a time I worried that Anna would never figure out how to feed her baby and the baby wouldn’t catch on either but – well, that was pretty silly. This Bald Eagle nest is the envy of most.
As World Osprey Week quickly approaches on 22 March, I am certain that there will be more announcements coming soon of arrivals from Africa. Let us hope that each one arrives home safely.
Thank you for joining me today! And thanks to the Forestry Services at the Kisatchie National Forest for getting those cameras streaming and for handling all of the naming contests. They names are fantastic. And thank you to Rutland Wildlife Trust for the camera where I took the scap of Blue 25 (10)’s arrival!