More good news, Wisdom is home!

Oh, it is another cold one on the Canadian Prairies. -28 with an extreme cold warning. The birds are fed and there were two Blue Jays stuffing themselves under the feeders. It is always nice to see them.

Lots of things happening in the world of our birds! Sometimes it is hard to keep up with the switches on the individual nests or the antics of the Es.

The image below is the best image I have of Wisdom. Remember. Wisdom is the oldest banded Albatross in the World and is at least 69 years old. Here she is in 2011 with her Moli on Midway Atoll. Wisdom is a Laysan Albatross. Look at how close the nests are together! Midway is a small atoll measuring 6.2 square kilometres or 2.4 square miles. In other words, it is very crowded with the half million pairs of Laysan Albatross calling it their nesting territory and home.

Wisdom, 2011. Image courtesy of USFWS.

There is ten years between the image of Wisdom and her chick in 2011 above and the one below. The one below was taken yesterday right after she arrived back on 6 February to relieve her mate. While Wisdom was out to sea her beautiful little chick of 2021 hatched. Is it just the cutest?

Wisdom sees her 2021 chick for the first time on 6 February.

Oh, look at the little sweetie peeking out.

Wisdom looking down and preening her baby.

Images thanks to Friends of Midway Atoll.

I want to include some historical images for you of the Midway Atoll and the Laysan Albatross. All of these photos were taken by government staff on the atoll and are courtesy of the USWFS. Some of you will remember Midway for its strategic positioning during WWII. Today it is the home of the albatross!

1965
1958

In the image below, the adults have white plumage with brown wings and the most amazing eye makeup of any bird on the planet! The fluffy brown feathers and grey bills and faces are the baby Moli grown into juveniles. If you look carefully at the back left you will see that the juvenile is losing its fluffy brown down. Soon it will resemble the adult.

There are actually funny contests on Hawaii for the Moli with the craziest moulting pattern! Some seriously look like bikinis.

June 2008
9 January 2012

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Well, Harriet and M15 seem to have the SouthWest Florida Eagle nest at Fort Myers under control. Sometimes the little ones, the second born, figure it out but, in this instance, it seems that little E18 is getting some help from mom and dad. Where there are issues related to who is dominant or food resources, the largest can really cause distress to the smaller one. Some of you might remember that Hope pulled all the hair off the top of Peace’s head in one of their bopping sessions. It was really too horrid to watch. Sometimes the competition results in the death of the smaller, weaker, and more submissive one. This is not going to be the case on this nest! Twice now M15 has stepped up when E17 was full and asleep and started feeding sweet little 18. I am a sucker for the underdog! M15 stuffed that little eaglet with big morsels of rabbit and then Harriet moved over and fed it some fish. Needless to say both the eaglets are sleeping on cropzillas tonight.

[Images of Harriet and M15’s nest courtesy of D Pritchett Eagle Cam.]

Both eaglets have little crops. Watch E18 is going to go to sleep and M15 is going to feed little 18 more rabbit!

E18 really enjoys its private dining with dad!

Stay asleep E17!!!!!!

E18 really loves his Dad.

Harriet walks over to feed E18 some fish but I think this little one really enjoys his rabbit. Look at the way E18 and M15 are looking at one another. So sweet.

I am going to sleep a little better tonight knowing that little E18 went to bed with a full tummy and that his daddy, M15 is keeping an eye out for him.

This was a few hours ago. It is amazing how these little ones begin to understand how to survive. Some of them get pretty inventive in getting food and staying out of the eye of the bigger sibling. Little E18 is doing well and the parents have its back. I noticed Harriet giving M17 a tap on the beak yesterday as if it was a warning for a time out! That eaglet can’t help but get in trouble wherever it is. E18 was even bopping back at Harriet. I wonder if she has a secret time out spot? Yesterday I was hoping that M15 would build a little pen around 18 for a few minutes.

Harriet feeding E18. Image courtesy of D Pritchett SWFL eagle cam.

Remember the Trio of Eagles and their nest at Fulton, Illinois? the two males Valor I and II and the female, Starr? I like to imagine in my mind that it is easier to take care of a nest of two youngsters but I want to give M15 a big round of applause this morning. He is right there with Harriet looking after the kids. And he certainly is close to E18.

I want to be very careful and try not to put human emotions onto our birds. But I do wonder if M15 was hassled by a big sister when he was in the nest.

Harriet and M15 both on deck. Image courtesy of D Pritchett SWFL eagle cam.
E18 peeking out while E17 naps. Image courtesy of D Pritchett SWFL eagle cam.

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Down in New Zealand, another Albatross mom returned from the sea. Lime-Green-Lime (LGL) slipped yesterday to relieve Lime-Green-Black (LGK). I know it is hard to get your head around all those limes! The winds have been blowing and the fishing must be good. She was only away for three days.

LGL arrives home. Image courtesy of Cornell Lab and NZ DOC.

Ah, the proud mamma looking down at her two week old baby.

LGL looking down at her precious chick. Image courtesy of Cornell Lab and NZ DOC.

This kiddo sure learned how to get his bill in place so that he could get that squid shake. Yum. This two week old already weighs 1.2kg (2.65 pounds)!! Oh, my. And I will absolutely say, for certain, that this has to be a little boy! The average weight of a Royal Albatross chick at fledge (usually mid September) is 8-8.5 kilograms. The largest has been 14.3 kilograms. This little one isn’t going to be little for long if these parents keep feeding him lots and lots of high protein oily food! Such gentle and loving birds.

I have said it before but I find the Albatross so relaxing. Yes, there is lots of drama but some how it just isn’t as visually stressful as the Bald Eagles. It is a bit like watching Daisy the Duck. You can sit for hours with the birds simply rotating on their nest. There is no bopping or pulling the siblings hair out. And, of course, there aren’t any siblings! The parents focus for two years is on this one single chick.

Nice feeding! Image courtesy of Cornell Lab and NZ DOC.

Ranger Sharyn gently removes the chick for his weight check. Look how big he is! Now, no more daily checks. He is doing fine. He will only be weighed Tuesday mornings.

Ranger Sharyn preparing to weigh the chick. What a handful! Image courtesy of Cornell Lab and NZ DOC.

Ranger Sharyn is so gentle with this growing chick. Ranger Sharyn! Did you remember to bring the bigger bag for this big boy?

This baby is growing! Image courtesy of Cornell Lab and NZ DOC.

Awwwww.

And last but never least, our beautiful Bald Eagle mom at Duke Farms in New Jersey. Yesterday the snow on her big nest was almost gone. Look what is happening now!!!!!!!! Oh, my. She is one dedicated mother that will persevere through thick or thin. It was nice she had a break to shake all that snow off. Let’s hope that this bad weather that they are having on the eastern coast of the United States lets up soon. It is the same system, I think, that is sending strong winds to the eagles at Fort Myers along with some rain.

Sunday, February 7. Snow returns to the nest. Image courtesy of Duke Farms eagle cam.

Just looking at that nest in NJ makes me want to run and get a bigger and thicker pair of socks. This poor mom. Nothing but snow. I do wonder if we will see more of this in the coming years with the climate changing. Or if eagles like these will have to relocate further south. We will keep an eye on them.

Stay safe. Thanks for joining me today to check in with our favourite birds. See you tomorrow!

The babies are home, the babies are home.

I have to admit that I was a little concerned about E17 and E18. How many days could they be in the clinic? how soon would their eyes heal? would Harriet and M15 accept them? Falcons have been removed from their scrape box and returned in five days with no problem and someone did tell me that an eagle had been away from its nest for treatment for eleven days with the parents accepting it fully. Remember, Laura Culley, the falconer, says that “worrying is nothing more than establishing the outcome in your mind before anything has happened”. I get it but it is really hard not to be concerned. The eaglets are so little and vulnerable.

Yesterday E17 and E18 arrived back at the nest at 9:20 am.

Joshua Tree loans their truck to return the eaglets. Image courtesy of CROW.
CROW returns eaglets on 5 February. Image courtesy of CROW.

The parents were off soaring and fishing. Harriet did not come to the nest for five hours. She was almost shocked to find her babies there!

This is a cute little video of the arrival. My heart broke and tears rolled down my cheeks when E18, the little one (facing its mother in the image below), runs to its mom.

Oh, my babies are home! Little E18 runs to its mother. Image courtesy of D. Pritchett Real Estate streaming eagle cam.

There has been a lot of discussion on FB about the aggression of the oldest one, E17 to E18. You will remember that E17 got time out when the pair were at the clinic having their eye infection treated. I will not say that aggression has stopped, it hasn’t.

Harriet and M15 have been together a long time and successfully fledged their eaglets. They know what they are doing. I am just a human without feathers and I cannot fly. M15 brought in a rabbit this morning. E18 ate first and she ate until her crop was about to pop. And then E18 fell asleep and guess what? Little E17 was fed. For those of you not familiar with Bald Eagles, it is often best to let the aggressive one get fed and fall into a food coma and then the other one can eat in peace. Both had full crops. And M15 has also brought in a fish to go with the rabbit for later feedings.

In the image below, E18 is being fed while E17 snores away. Nice to have a private feeding without any intimidation!

M15 feeding little E18 while E18 sleeps. Image courtesy of D. Pritchett Real Estate streaming eagle cam.

If you look carefully, you will see that E18, the eaglet farthest away from the parent, has a nice crop. The crop is a storage area for food in a raptor’s esophagus. Food sits in the crop waiting to be digested. Raptors do something called a crop drop that moves the food to their stomach. Sometimes you can actually see this happen if you are watching one of the streaming cameras. The food that cannot be digested is formed into a pellet and is thrown up. The proper term is ‘casting a pellet’.

I have a crop too: E18. Image courtesy of D. Pritchett Real Estate streaming eagle cam.

E18 is asleep and E17, that little stinker, is over by the parent. You can easily see its full crop (large dark grey sort of shiny area below its head). No doubt Harriet and M15 will feed them several times today.

It wasn’t quail but it was good. E18 is in a food coma and E17 has a bulging crop, too. Image courtesy of D. Pritchett Real Estate streaming eagle cam.

And while I was absorbed by these little fellas being returned to the nest, something wonderful, halfway around the world, happened.

On Midway Atoll, in the Pacific Ocean, a little Moli was born. But this isn’t just any Moli, it is the baby of Wisdom, the oldest known banded Laysan Albatross in the world. She is at least 69 years old. Wisdom’s mate is Akeakamai. Most Laysan Albatross return bi-annually to breed, lay their egg, incubate, and fledge their Moli. Wisdom and her mate have, since 2006, met every year on Midway. How remarkable! It is believed that Wisdom has now laid between thirty and thirty six eggs. Four years ago, in 2017, a chick that Wisdom hatched in 2001 made her nest just a few feet away from her mother’s nest.

In the image below, you can see the tiny Moli that had just hatched. It is 1 February 2021. Wisdom is out fishing and Akeakamai was there to welcome his little one. Wisdom is helping scientists learn about the longevity of Laysan Albatross. In fact, she is rewriting everything they thought they knew.

Wisdom’s Moli. Born 1 February. Image courtesy of the FB page of the Pacific Coalition.

One of the biggest challenges facing Laysan Albatross are rising sea waters and storm surges. Approximately half a million breeding pairs of Laysan Albatross lay their eggs and raise their chicks on the Midway Atoll. Midway is only eleven feet above sea level. While the rate of ocean rise is not yet enough to submerge the island, the increase in storms and flooding are of concern. In February 2011, ten years ago, a storm destroyed 40,000 nests at a time when the eggs were just hatching. A third of the entire population was destroyed. Because the albatross are faithful to the nest, they return, year after year, to the same location. This process is known as philopatry.

To help solve the problem of seas rising and storm surges, there are projects between the US Navy, the US Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Pacific Rim Coalition. They are working together to create a new albatross colony on Oahu, one of the Hawaiian islands. In 2017, fifteen five-week-old chicks were moved to Oahu to try and form a new colony.

Besides sea water, Midway Atoll is like the garbage can for all the plastic in the Pacific Ocean. And the birds eat it and they die. We need to do better. But, it’s Saturday and we will talk about that and sticky paper traps for mice on Monday. Today, let’s just feel good about the eaglets being home and having full crops and Wisdom’s healthy chick hatching.

One of the things that I love about the Albatross – it doesn’t matter which species – is how gentle and fun these big seabirds can be.

Here is a quick little video of their mating dance. Look! They do sky calls. Don’t you just wish you could dance like these two?

And last but not least, another smiling story for a cold, cold Saturday. The snow on the nest of the Bald Eagles at Duke Farm in Hillsborough, New Jersey is almost completely melted. Yippee. What a change from a few days ago when the mom was buried in snow during the nor’easter.

The snow is melting. Image courtesy of Duke Farms Streaming Eagle Cam.

The Polar Vortex has hit the Canadian Prairies and it is dangerously cold. We are being told to stay inside. The birds have been fed and I am going to hunker down with some nice hot tea and read a new book that arrived, Late Migrations. A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl.

Thank you for checking in with our favourite birds today. I needed to post some cheerful stories because marked on my calendar in big red letters is ‘hatch watch for Daisy the Duck’. Oh, how I hope she is paddling away enjoying herself. She gave us such joy and I know that many of you miss her as much as I do. Take care. See you soon!