As the Nest Turns, 19 April 2021

Congratulations to Annie and Grinnell on the third hatch at the University of California Peregrine Falcon nest in the Campanile. What a glorious site to hatch! Looks like the time was about 6:00:09.

Annie and Grinnell are announcing that 3 has hatched. One more to go! 19 April 2021

Three and a half hours later, soft and fluffy like its two older sibs. One more hatch to go for Annie and Grinnell! Oh, aren’t they cute!!!

Congratulations to the entire team at Rutland and Urdaibai Ospreys in Northern Spain. The first egg for the translocated Ospreys was laid this morning. The male is Roy – after Roy Dennis and his boundless energy and commitment to the project. The female is Landa. This is just fantastic news in trying to get more Ospreys breeding in different parts of Europe.

Landa is showing Roy their first egg. 19 April 2021
Gorgeous female, Landa. 19 April 2021

Some are thinking that there could be a hatch at The Landings, Savannah Osprey Nest on Skidaway Island happening. Here is a close up of 1 and 2 and that third egg taken at 16:38 today. Am I missing something? Is there a pip?

So cute. 19 April 2021
Little sleeping Ospreys. 19 April 2021

Congratulations to Clywedog’s Dylan and Blue 5 F Seren on the arrival of the second egg! Oh, that nest is soggy.

A soggy Clwedog Nest. 19 April 2021

There has been a visitor to the Loch Arkaig nest when Louis was there. Females generally have darker necklaces than the males. Look at Louis’s for a comparison. If this is a potential mate, she is quite beautiful. Still, we are all remaining hopeful for Aila to return despite rumours that there were some sounds of ‘rumpy pumping’ on the microphone out of view of the camera.

A visitor arrives with a beautiful necklace at Loch Arkaig while Louis is on the nest. 19 April 2021

As we continue to track the condition of Tiny Tot at the Achieva Osprey nest, there have been two fish deliveries today, so far. The first came at 7:13:11. Tiny Tot got a little – and I do mean a little – food. The rain has been coming down and the babies were soaked around 8:57.

Soggy babies. 19 April 2021

The second fish delivery came at 12:35:37. Tiny Tot was able to steal some bites from Diane feeding 1 and was eating with 1 until 2 came up. Again, Tiny Tot had some bites but he simply has not had enough food.

Tiny Tot eating with 1. 19 December 2021. 2 is making its move to enter between Tiny Tot and 1.

As I have argued in an earlier blog, Tiny Tot’s getting a good meal – at this moment in time – will not impact the survival of 1 and 2. Tiny Tot is not a threat to them like he might have been at 2 or 3 days old. That was when the elimination of a competitor would enhance the survival of the older two. The big sibs are nearly ready to fledge. Tiny Tot having some good meals will be good for the entire family whose DNA will be added to the natural world. Remember, 1 and 2 also share DNA with Tiny and the parents. The survival of the three promotes the DNA of Jack and Diane and the survival enhances their place in the natural selection process. It makes their success in raising three healthy ospreys to fledge – glowing! Tiny Tot is too old and it simply does not make sense to deprive him of food at this stage!

People on the streaming cam chat have gotten upset at one another and emotional. In their article on ‘Avian Siblicide’, D. Mock et al do discuss the fact that some birds are ‘selfish’. The observation by some chatters that 2 will keep Tiny Tot away from food even when its crop is more than full is directly related to that behaviour of monopolization. Mock et al argue that being selfish is a trait that can be passed thru DNA and that it should not be the guiding principle of natural selection (445). Those who have been alarmed by 2 have used terms that, indeed, indicate an action that is selfish – ‘2 is being a piggy.’ The adjective is, according to Mock et al, appropriate for the actions of 2. We all hope that the three will be healthy and fledge – it is clear that all persons care. It is clear, at this junction, that the nest and the family would benefit from the survival of Tiny Tot. Hopefully, everyone can join together and wish all the best without being defensive or argumentative. Birds, like people, are not immune to being selfish and monopolizing resources. In the end, though, it sure helps if they share.

Over in Kansas, Bonnie looks adoringly at the two little Great Horned Owls her and Clyde raised on the stolen Bald Eagle Nest. They are branching and nearing fledge watch. What a magical nest to watch with two parents who worked really hard for the success of their owlets!

19 April 2021

White-bellied sea eagles, Lady and Dad, have been spending more and more time at their nest in the old Ironwood Tree in Sydney Olympic Park. You might remember that Daisy, the Pacific Black Duck, commandeered the space to lay her eggs only to have the ravens eat them all! Very disappointing. Lady and Dad are now doing some nestorations and are filling in that hole a little. Everyone is excited for June to come. You can almost hear them say, ‘Look at the mess that Little Duck made!’

Lady and Dad doing some much needed repairs to their nest.

It is nearing dinner time and Big Red is incubating the eggs. Arthur will be around shortly so that she can have dinner and a break before night duty. She looks really comfy on that nest on the light well on the grounds of Cornell University. What a beauty at 18. The grand dame of Red Tail Hawks!

Big Red is enjoying a dry day on the nest. 19 April 2021

Thank you so much for joining me today. It is still cold on the Canadian prairies and the snow is not melting in my garden. The normal cast of characters was joined by Fox Sparrows in droves this morning. Their song is incredibly lovely. What a joy! Take care. Stay safe. See you soon.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I obtained my screen shots: Farmer Derek, Cornwall Bird Lab and Savannah Osprey, Woodland Trust, Post Code Lottery, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Achieva Credit Union, Clywedog, Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Center, and Cornell Bird Lab and Red Tail Hawks.

You can always count on Arthur

Big Red, the grand dame of the Red Tail Hawks, whose nest is on the Fernow Light Stand on the Cornell Campus at Ithaca, New York lost her long time mate, Ezra, in March 2017. She had many suitors who were put through the rigours to find out if they were good providers and devoted so that their chicks would grow and thrive. Big Red chose Arthur. All of the humans thought that Big Red had ‘lost her mind’ in selecting such a young male to be her companion.

Big Red hatched somewhere near Brooktondale, New York, in 2003. She received her leg band on 7 October 2003 in Brooktondale. I have yet to find out the name of the bander. In 2017, Big Red was fourteen years old. Arthur, who had been born in an adjacent territory and who was known by some as ‘Wink’, was born in 2016. When he arrived checking on the Fernow Nest, he was only a year old and did not have his red tail feathers. He caught Big Red’s attention and by the fall they had totally bonded and were fixing up the nest for the coming breeding season in 2018. Big Red could not have chosen a better mate!

In the image below, Arthur has delivered prey to the nest so that Big Red can go and eat and he can take over the incubation duties of their three eggs. This was last evening.

13 April 2021

While Ezra was known as the squirrelinator, Arthur is known for capturing more chipmunks. Hence, he is often called the chippyinator. However, Arthur is like a jet plane when it comes to hunting. Rumour has it that he has flown onto someone’s porch to get a squirrel! So maybe Arthur is both squirrelinator and chippyinator!

In the image below, Arthur is delivering a Robin to Big Red as she incubates the eggs in one of Ithaca’s snowstorms. It was the day she laid her third egg of the 2021 season.

1 April 2021

The images below are from last year. The Js have hatched. How can you tell? Look at all the prey around the nest. Arthur will bring in so much that Big Red can line the nest bowl with fur! I am serious. No one on this nest is going hungry.

6 May 2020

Arthur has found a nest of goslings and thought Big Red might like one for dinner.

6 May 2020

Unlike other raptors, hawks will only eat road kill if there is a food shortage. On occasion, Arthur has brought in live prey to the nest. Some believe this is a teaching lesson for the nestlings.

Of course, people that watch hawk nests have a strange habit of trying to identify prey or making up names such as ‘Dunkin’ Chipmunks’ or ‘Chocolate Chippie Cookies with a Squirrel Glaze’. All kidding aside, researchers watch what prey is brought into the nest and the amounts. A typical Red-Tail hawk diet consists of 68% mammal, 17.5% other birds, 7% reptiles/amphibians/snakes and 3.2% invertebrates. Those amounts come from research by Johnsgard in 1990 but those observing the Cornell nest say that they still apply, for the most part. In 2020 with the pandemic, there was a proliferation of chipmunks. It is believed that the lack of cars killing chipmunks on the road helped with this along with just not having people around.

In April of 2018, Ferris Akel caught Arthur eating a skunk:

The same researchers have tested prey for its caloric/protein/fat/cholestrol components. Did you know that 3.6 ounces of raw pigeon has 294 calories compared to the same amount of squirrel which has only 120 calories?

From the prey delivery reports, it was established that nearly .7 more prey was delivered in 2020 compared to 2016, 2018 and 2019. That is an enormous difference. None of it was wasted, everything was eaten. The factor that changed – the pandemic. Arthur was able to freely hunt all over the campus. There were hardly any people or cars to contend with. The more food the healthier the chicks are. Even feather growth can indicate when a bird was hungry. Also, the longer the eyasses stay on the nest the better their survival rates in the wild.

Big Red laid three eggs for the 2021 season. The first was on 26 March followed by 29 March and 1 April. Red-tail hawks generally incubate their eggs for 28-35 days. Big Red’s incubation periods have ranged from 38 to 41 days. Still, by the 28th of April all eyes will be on that nest! The Ks are coming. Yippeee.

Why do I mention all of this? There is no doubt that Arthur is a devoted mate. When it is time to fix up the nest, work on the nest bowl, incubate the eggs, provide prey for Big Red and then for her and the eyasses, Arthur is right there! You know the other ones that I wish were like Arthur if you read my blog. I will leave it at that. Can you hear me growling at them?

You can watch the life streaming of this nest here:

In other news, the three chicks on the Achieva Osprey nest are waiting for food. Yesterday Diane, the female, delivered many fish and Tiny Tot finally got a good feed very late in the day. As I write this it is 3pm and no food has come to the nest. The mother is not calling for food and the male touched down for only a few minutes around noon. There is something wrong at this nest today. It is extremely hot there, over 30 near the nest. Hopefully if it is the heat food will come in. Tiny was well fed but he needs to eat less more often still. The fish also provides the hydration. I wish the wildlife laws allowed for the care in these situations.

Louis is still waiting for Aila to arrive at the Loch Arkaig nest and Iris continues to bring in twigs and branches for her nest at Hellsgate. One of the members of the FB group had a really good take on Iris. Instead of bemoaning the fact that she will not be able to raise chicks if Louis repeats his behaviour, we should be happy that she can enjoy her summer vacation without the burden of care for little ones and the toll it takes on one’s body. What a positive way of looking at this. Maybe I should be thanking you Louis for just being Louis. Iris has fledged at least 30-40 chicks or more – she does deserve a break to stay healthy.

You can watch Iris at the Hellsgate Osprey Nest cam:

And you can watch Louis wait for the arrival of Aila here:

Thank you so much for joining me today. I wish the news was better on the Achieva Nest. We can hope that it is only the heat. Still the little one needs to eat more often. Take care and keep watching the nests!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen shots: Woodland Trust and People Play Lottery, Cornell Bird Lab – Hellsgate Osprey and Red-Tail Hawk, Ferris Akel, and Achieva Credit Union.

Osprey Lessons and Sharpie pays a visit

A couple of weeks ago, a really good book landed on my desk. It is The Rutland Water Ospreys. It is beautiful, full of colour photographs, drawings, and brimming with all the information that Roy Dennis, Tim Appleton, Tim Mackrill, and Helen McIntryre learned when Rutland Water set about to increase the number of Ospreys in the United Kingdom. What they and other researchers learned through direct observation, banding, and using satellite monitored trackers has changed many commonly held beliefs about Osprey. I hope, over the course of the next weeks to introduce you to some of the things they learned, along with others.

Translocating. When Roy Dennis set about to take young osprey from their nests in Scotland and introduce them to Rutland, the team learned one big important aspect that increased their success. I mention this first because I am once again hoping there would be a break at the Achieva Osprey Nest in Dunedin, Florida. Tiny Tot has not had anything to eat since 11 am on April 11. Despite fish deliveries including a whopper by Diane, Tiny did not get that much food. How could Tiny thrive too? I wished that the rangers in Florida that work with USFWS would remove Tiny from the nest and hand feed him til he was strong enough to be introduced. And this is precisely what they did at Rutland in the beginning. What they learned is you do not remove the runt from the nest. Instead you take one of the larger, older chicks leaving the little one with its parents and possibly another sibling. By removing the bigger older chick that required more food and was being the most aggressive, the little one grew and thrived. At the same time the bigger old chick did better being translocated. It did not have to be fed by hand but could eat on its own and did not have difficulties being removed from the nest.

The image below is of the 2011 chicks of Monty and Nora from the Cors Dyfi Nest in Wales. There they are: Einion Blue DH, Dulas Blue 99, and Leri Blue DJ. They have just received their trackers. Look how the trackers fit in a little pack on their backs. [Note: 3 healthy Osprey chicks raised in the same nest. No problems with rivalry].

The satellite trackers do not harm the birds. There are various models, some are battery powered while some are solar. Many weight only 0.15 grams. They get very sophisticated and expensive depending on what data the researchers want. Some fit directly on the feathers while others are inside a kind of backpack. Using super glue, some plastic tubing, and some dental floss the tracker is fitted onto the central shaft of the tail feather if it was a tail mounted device or on the back.

Researchers check to make sure that the feathers of the young Osprey are hard-penned. When feathers begin to grow, there is blood flowing through the shaft. As the birds ready to fledge, the blood supply to the feather stops flowing and the shaft turns white. At that stage, the feather is hard penned. Some of you might remember that Joe and Connie’s oldest chick, Hope, in the Captiva Florida Bald Eagle Nest on Santibel Island died from a broken blood feather. The real cause was rodenticide but the young bird, having ingested the poison from prey she was fed, broke off one of her feathers jumping about the nest. Because the poison was an anti-coagulant, she literally bled to death. Blood feather versus hard penned.

Solly, the Port Lincoln Osprey is wearing a tracker positioned on her back that is expected to last for seven years. Others are only intended to last a year – for short term research projects. They will come off during the moult. That is the kind that the two Royal Albatross, LGL and LGK, have on their back.

Solly is 205 days old. From her backpack satellite transmitter, we know that she spent last night at Eba Anchorage. We have also learned from Solly that juvenile Eastern Osprey travel as much as 200 kilometres from their natal nest. The assumption had always been that juvenile osprey stayed closer to home. Not true!

Another common held belief was that male Ospreys always return to the area of their natal nest after their first migration to breed. The evidence this time came from banding, the coloured Darvic rings. The sighting of a male Osprey, orange/black 11 (98), a Rutland bird, in a Scots pine in north Wales, some 200 miles west of Rutland, proved that belief to be wrong. In fact, the sighting of orange/black 11 (98) in Wales did something else – it confirmed that the bird had survived. When it did not return to Rutland, it was wrongly assumed to be dead. Another sighting on that trip enroute home was of another Rutland male. This time 07 (97) was not dead either but had a female and a chick in a nest in mid-Wales.

These are only a few of the common beliefs that have been debunked through the use of logic, banding, or satellite transmitters. Every day researchers are learning something new and exciting. It is a great time to be learning about birds.

———————————————————————————-Some fun images to close off. Louis at the Loch Arkaig Osprey Nest. Instead of pacing and waiting for Aila to arrive, Louis (pronounced Lou-ee) is using his talons to dig up the nest and refurbish it. His digging is quite efficient. Everyone is holding their breath waiting for Aila to arrive.

12 April 2021. Louis is doing nestorations.

Louis continues to wait for Aila on the 13th. Oh that she would arrive. The migration is so difficult. A healthy Kielder Osprey, Blue Y6 (18) female was spotted in Santander, Spain a couple of days ago. She was healthy. Then she was found a couple of days later dehydrated and with a broken leg. All of Louis and Aila’s fans are hoping that she is in the last group of ospreys moving north from Africa into the United Kingdom.

And a glimpse at the cutes little baby osprey – the first hatch of the year in the Savannah, Georgia Osprey nest on 13 April. The pip started at 10:58 on the 12th. There are three eggs on this nest. If you want to follow this new little one and its siblings, I have posted the information below.

Sharpie must have known that I am feeling a ‘little blue’ over Tiny Tot and he decided to pay me an early morning visit. He caused quite the commotion on his arrival. There had been a glut of European Starlings at the feeders. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were no less than 35. And then we got the most beautiful murmurations – two of them – thanks to Sharpie! It is always a treat to see that Sharpie is surviving. He stays with us in the cold Canadian winter, never migrates and made a bit of history on Cornell birds because of that. Here he is today another snowy day – in April!

Thank you for joining me today – as I wait, impatiently, for Tiny Tot to be fed enough to survive. It is lovely hearing from you, too. Stay safe. Enjoy the birds!

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Woodland Trust and Post Code Lottery and Rutland Water, Cornell Lab & Skidaway Audubon. Thanks also to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project and the telemetry they post on their FB Page.