Cuteness Overload in Bird World

It is Tuesday in New Zealand but on the Canadian prairies it is Monday and it is snowing! There is snow swirling all around and the birds would like nothing better than to come into the house! Poor things.

Today is the day that the NZ Department of Conservation rangers at Taiaroa Head weigh all of the Royal Albatross chicks. Every Tuesday they do this. If any of the chicks are underweight, the rangers will give them a supplemental feeding. Sometimes the winds are not conducive to returning while at other times these largest of NZ sea birds have to travel far to find food. Sadly, some of them also perish in the process. If there is only one parent feeding it is often hard to keep up with the demands of a growing albatross chick. That is when I sing the praises of the NZ DOC – they will do anything to keep the adults and the chicks in a good healthy state.

The Royal Cam chick is a female and she was hatched 80 days ago. Her nest is at a place called ‘The Flat Top’ on Taiaroa Head, a peninsula near Dunedin, New Zealand. It is the only breeding colony near human habitation for these albatross. Because raising a chick causes such stress on their bodies, the albatross breed biennially. Indeed, while it might sound like they have two years to recuperate, it will take almost an entire year to raise their chick. The 2021 Royal Cam chick will fledge and begin her five to six years at sea in September. Her parents will return to Taiaroa Head to feed her until she goes on her own journey. The parents will then go to sea only returning the following November when they will breed again. This means that the parents will not see one another for approximately fourteen to fifteen months returning to a specific spot on the planet to breed. It is a real joy and a relief when both return safely. The chick will remain at sea, never touching land, for five to six years before she returns to Taiaroa Head to begin choosing her own mate.

In the past week, the Royal Cam chick has ‘lucked out’. She had two family visits – her parents arrived yesterday around 15:00 and they had flown in together on Saturday to feed her together. It is hard to comprehend how extraordinary these family reunions are until you sit and stare at the ocean where the two go foraging for food for both themselves and the chick. It is vast.

Two months ago, Lime-Green-Lime (LGL), the female and Lime-Green-Black (LGK) were fitted with small backpack satellite transmitters. These transmitters are intended to study their foraging habits. LGL has travelled 11.737 kilometres going to and from the sea in order to feed her chick. This is the graph of those travels:

What a happy family reunion! The nickname for the little chick has been a Maori word for cloud, Kapua. I think you can see why in the image below! Look at all that gorgeous white feathery down.

LGL and LGK both visit and feed their chick. 12 April 2021

Kapua has learned how to beg for food. In fact, she is often impatient during these family visits for good feedings. Sometimes her parents like to stop and visit with one another! Of course, Kapua wants all the attention on her.

The albatross chick has to clack on the parent’s bill to stimulate the regurgitation of food. Here you can see how the parent also has to lean down and the way the chick and parent hold their bills so the precious squid oil will go into the chick and not on the ground!

While her parents are away, Kapua spends time in her nest. She watches the boats go past, makes little play nests around her but never strays, at this age, far from her natal nest in case her parents return with food.

Isn’t she the epitome of cuteness?

When things get too stressful on the other nests, I always return to the Royal Albatross and my faith in the New Zealand government for keeping Kapua safe and healthy.

Yesterday was a milestone for one of the most beautiful Bald eaglets anywhere, Legacy. She is the daughter of Samson and Gabrielle at the Northeast Florida Bald Eagle Nest in Jacksonville, Florida. Legacy has been jumping up and down working her wings and legs to get them strong on the spongy Spanish moss nest. Yesterday, though, Legacy made another milestone. She branched at 3:59. Legacy will continue now to go up on the branches of her natal tree until the point where she will fly from the nest to a branch before she takes her first real flight from the nest which is known as fledging. There she is. Legacy was a little nervous and she made her way down to the nest bowl carefully. Soon, though, she will be jumping up and down to that branch having a lot of fun! She loves the wind beneath her wings.

Legacy is a big strong eaglet. 11 April 2021

Sweet little babies staying warm and dry under Nancy at the MN DNR nest. Looks like they have rain instead of the snow we are experiencing north of them. The little ones are not able to regulate their temperature yet so they need to stay warm and dry!

Little ones staying warm near Nancy, MN DNR Nest. 12 April 2021

Izzi, the peregrine falcon has not left his natal scrape box in Orange, Australia. Yesterday he caught an adult Starling all by himself and was quite loud in announcing it to the world. This image catches his trade mark screeching on entering the scrape box:

The two owlets raised in the Bald Eagle Nest near Newton, Kansas are growing and growing. There are still many who consider them to be ‘cute’! Yesterday their mother, Bonnie, tested them. She left a duck and parts of a rabbit in the nest. She stood on a branch watching to see if they would begin feeding themselves. They didn’t but they will be self-feeding soon!

Bonnie is feeding Tiger and Lily duck and rabbit. 11 April 2021

And it is so sweet. Louis is on the nest at Loch Arkaig early to add a few sticks. He stayed on the perch branch for a long time waiting for Aila to return.

In 2017, Louis was given the nickname ‘Lonesome Louis’ because he paced back and forth on the nest when his mate of ten years did not return. The pair had failed to breed in 2016 and people were hopeful that 2017 would be different. Louis waited for three weeks and then a new female appeared. It was Aila meaning ‘bringer of light’ in Finnish. The pair raised one chick in 2017 and he was called Lachlan meaning from the lakes. Sadly, a Pine Marten raided their nest and ate the eggs in 2018. In 2019, the couple had two chicks fledge – Mallie and Rannoch and in 2020, there was the famous trio – Dottie, Vera, and Captain. Everyone is hoping for a quick return of Aila so that Louis is not ‘lonesome’ again!

Louis looks for Aila. 12 April 2021.

There are two other updates without images. Iris at the Hellsgate Osprey nest has been doing nestorations and feeding herself. Her mate, Louis, who also has another nest with Star at the Baseball park has visited twice – each time mating with Iris. The last time was 18:16 on 11 April when he made a quick visit. Louis brings Iris nothing – and yes, he is a bird but I continue to say how sad this is for the oldest female Osprey in the world. Wouldn’t it be nice if she was treated like the royalty she is? And the other is the state of the Achieva Osprey Nest in Dunedin, Florida. Jack the father has not been seen for awhile and everyone is beginning to wonder if he did not die or get severely injured. The thunderstorms have been very severe. Yesterday, there were two fish in the morning and Tiny Tot did get fed from both. He has not eaten now for more than 26 hours. Diane brought a small fish this morning that partially fed 1 and 2 and she has gone out and caught another smaller fish. Right now the two older osplets are eating. There may not be enough for Tiny. She will have to go out again if she is to eat and feed Tiny. There have been rumours about a hawk in the area. So, once again, we are at a tragic point this season on this nest. Just when Tiny Tot was getting full for a couple of days and getting his stamina and health back, then the storms come. Diane cannot protect her osplets and fish at the same time. She has not eaten either and I hope that whatever threats are around the nest are gone and that Diane catches one of her whooper catfish so that everyone can be full.

UPDATE 2PM CDT: Jack has arrived at the nest with a fish at 2:41:31 EDT. Diane was still feeding 1 and 2 on the fish she brought in – her second of the day. Maybe Tiny Tot will get some food. Glad Jack is OK.

Thank you for joining me today – our wintery weather will be here for three days if the predictions are correct. Not a great time for my walks!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Cornell Bird Cams and the NZ DOC, Farmer Derek, the NEFLorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Woodland Trust and People Post Lottery, Sturt University at Orange and Cilla Kinross, and the MN DNR.

Happy Saturday in Bird World

It might be hot and windy but Jack has delivered one big fish and another piece onto the Achieva Osprey nest this morning. Thank you, Jack! All is well on that nest! Tiny Tot still had his crop from yesterdays big feed when a big fish arrived at 7:16:50. Despite the fact that he was right there when that whopper landed, Diane pulled the fish around to feed the bigger ones first. She knows what she is doing. Feeding them first kept peace on the nest and she knew there would be enough left for her and Tiny.

Tiny Tot remained in his position when the fish arrived while the older sibs ate their breakfast. Without calling attention to himself, he pivots so that he can eat when they are finished. Very smart.

Tiny Tot is a survivor. He is clever and he keeps his eye on everything that is going on in the nest. Today, there have been no attacks on him. Did the arrival of all that fish yesterday help calm the food competition on the nest?

Tiny eats! At 9:20:03 Tiny Tot looks like he has swallowed a beach ball! Look at that crop. I just think this is the silliest pose I have ever seen in a bird. Tiny is preening his tail.

In the image below you can also get an idea of how much bigger the older sibling is than Tiny. Look at the difference in their wings. Tiny is getting his juvenile feathering on his back and wings. For sure, a total of about 7 full days without food (if you add it all up) stunted his growth. Let’s hope that these good feedings help him get bigger quicker.

Jack is working on more gold stars today. Everyone is looking up as the second food item arrives at 11:10:22. It is hard to tell but it looks like a piece of fish not a whole fish. Once again our little trooper is jolly on the spot.

This time Diane did not move the fish. She kept it by Tiny Tot and started feeding him immediately. The older ones were watching the traffic together.

At some point the older siblings came over to get a few bites. There was no bonking. Tiny had eaten a lot and he quietly turned to the rim of the nest. When they left, he turned back to mom to eat some more. Diane also ate some very good bites but before she finished the last bit, she stretched her neck to Tiny who, at first, refused any more food. In the end, he did eat a little more at 11:46:44 after mom insisting. Here he is full, Diane tidying up the tail, and a very happy nest on a hot, very windy day in St Pete’s.

In other Osprey news, Mrs G has laid her first egg of the 2021 season! Mrs G is the oldest Osprey in the United Kingdom and is the mate of the unringed male known as Aran at the Glaslyn nest in Wales. Congratulations!

And poor Dylan. The weather in the United Kingdom has been strange. It snowed on the Clywedog nest in Wales on the afternoon of 10 April. Here is that beautiful Dylan posing for us.

The mystery at the Loch Arkaig nest continues. Everyone believed that Louis had arrived the other day but it looks like it was a male intruder who is still hanging around the nest. As far as anyone knows, Louis and Aila have not returned. (I erroneously reported Louis had arrived as did everyone else!) The weather and the winds continue to be an issue and this very popular Osprey couple could be waiting it out. Meanwhile, the nice looking male looks like he owns the place.

I really wish Louis and Aila had trackers so we knew they are alright and just progressing slowly. In the satellite image below, we can see Rutland 4K (13) making his way through France on his return trip from Africa. In this 250 kilometre or 155 mile section, Rutland 4K (13) reached heights of 650 metres or 2132 feet above sea level.

These advanced backpack transmitters are amazing. They can tell you where the raptor went for their migration and if they are near to any dangerous issues such as Avian Pox along the coast of Senegal in 2021. They tell us their travel speed, the height, where they are enroute during migration. Researchers can then match this data with wind thermals. We are learning so much!

This is the most recent tracking data on Solly, the female osprey from the Port Lincoln Osprey nest. Solly is 203 days old today and she spent the night up at Eba Anchorage. Ever since she left her natal nest on the barge at Port Lincoln, Solly has been traveling north but she has continually returned, if she went much beyond Perlubie, to either Streaky Bay or Eba Anchorage. Solly has already provided the researchers in Australia with a dirth of material. We know where she spends the night, where she goes to fish, how she responds to crowds on a beach and how far away from her natal nest she went – which changed our understanding of the distance juveniles travel when they leave home.

Switching over to the United States again, it is a beautiful sunny day in Ithaca, New York and our favourite male Red-tail Hawk has been on incubation duty. In fact it is 23 degrees C and no snow in sight! Arthur, you really are a cutie. Look at that gorgeous red tail. Big Red seems to be trusting you more with nest duties.

The little eaglets born on the Minnesota DNR nest are growing. The eldest stretches its neck and watches Nancy, the female, eat the fish tail. Look at that little crop. This nest is doing really well. Everyone has learned how to feed or eat and the supply of food seems just right.

It is a good day just to pop in and check on those Great Horn Owlets, Tiger and Lily. Here is Tiger this morning standing next to Bonnie. How is that for growth? The time passed so quickly from the day the pair of owls decided to take over this Bald Eagle nest for their owlets. That was 1 February. The owlets were born on 7 and 9 March and are now 33 and 31 days old. We will see them climbing all over the nest and upon the branches soon. In a little over two weeks, around 47 days old, the owlets should be trying to fly. That should be around 24-26th of April. They will stay around the nest, improving their flying and hunting skills before dispersing to their own territory.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope that your Saturday is as beautiful as it is here on the Canadian prairie – gorgeous blue sky and no wind. Looking forward to 14 Celsius about the time for my walk. Take care everyone. Enjoy your weekend.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I get my screen shots: Farmer Derek, the MN DNR, Cornell Bird Lab Red-Tail Hawk Cam at Ithaca, Achieva Osprey, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, Woodland Trust, Lyn Clywedog and Cyfoeth Natural Resources

What is it about Ospreys?

I keep telling myself that I am going to write about the new murder mysteries set in Paris by Cara Black, or my trip to the duck pond to try and convince the geese that they really should eat lettuce and not bread, or the hope in everyone’s heart for the COVID vaccines to work BUT, the universe keeps drawing me back to Ospreys.

This morning Bird World cheered as the oldest female Osprey in the world landed on her nest in Missoula, Montana. I wish Bird World could work some magic and keep Iris’s most recent mate, Louis, over in his nest with Star at the baseball park. Maybe someone could encourage a really nice male Osprey to find Iris quickly and treat her the way she should be treated – respectfully and sharing everything – including taking care of the osplets.

Iris is a real catch and I hope she proves everyone wrong when it comes to older Ospreys still being able to lay fertile eggs and raise chicks. Here is the shot of her landing. Gosh, isn’t she in magnificent physical shape? There is not a feather out of place. You really could mistake her for an eight year old bird! Wonder what Iris’s secret is?

Iris safely lands on her nest in Missoula, Montana to begin the 2021 season. 7 March 2021

Around lunch time, Iris sat, looking at her nest and the train passing. I watched thinking how grand it would be for her to arrive back at her nest with it all reconstructed and a loving mate waiting with a fish. My goodness if anyone deserves it – it is Iris!

Iris sits on her perch resting after her long migration. 7 April 2021

After Tiny Tot losing out to the food earlier, it felt like just another tense day. Two full days without food. When would Tiny get to eat this time?

At 2:44:29 Jack delivered a nice sized fish to the nest sans head. It was long and narrow but looked like enough since the big ones had already eaten. Would there be enough for Tiny?

Jack landing with a mid-afternoon meal. 7 April 2021

Diane rushes over, mantles and takes the prey.

Jack arriving with fish. Diane rushes to mantle it. 7 April 2021

Tiny Tot was in the right place in all the commotion of the landing and take off. He actually got the first few bites. That’s Tiny Tot facing mom between her and Jack, right in front of Diane’s bowed head.

Diane mantles fish arrival. 7 April 2021

And around 2:47, Diane fed him and #1 together. Then the two bigger siblings decide they are starving and over the feeding. But since the two of them had a big feed this morning and Tiny missed out, they were not as famished as they thought. It was, in fact, a strange feeding with the big sibs coming and going, #2 seemingly just blocking Tiny because she could. Tiny getting bites and the big ones deciding they want more continues until 3:19:37 when Tiny moves up. The older sibs finally leave. Diane pulls out every morsel of flaky fish she can find including some nice big pieces. Tiny eats until 3:27:54. Tiny had a great crop!

That is Tiny Tot in the image below, the one to the back. You can see his crop. You can also see how much larger the other two are because they have had days and days of food when Tiny didn’t eat.

Diane overlooking her three chicks. From left to right: Tiny Tot, 2, Diane, 1. 7 April 2021

At 4:14 Diane stands on the rim of the nest looking at her three children. For the past two years she has only had one chick each year. It must be different and challenging to understand the needs of three. She is, however, a selfless mom. Diane is also hungry. Diane calls for another fish delivery. She leaves the nest. It is unclear if Diane caught the fish or if she retrieved it from Jack off the nest but, at 5:58:23, she brings in a fish.

Diane arrives with the last fish of the day. 7 April 2021

The older siblings do not allow Tiny Tot to have any. Thank goodness he still had a nice crop from the afternoon feeding. Around 7:41, Tiny Tot tries to pull some morsels off of a bony piece that Diane hid so Jack could not remove it from the nest. It was too small to hold with his talons but Tiny did manage a few bites.

In the picture below, Tiny is to the left trying to find some fish on that piece of bone. The other two are passed out.

Tiny Tot is having a go at self feeding. 7 March 2021

The tenseness of this nest reminds me of when Daisy the Black Pacific Duck laid and was incubating her eggs on the nest of the White Bellied Sea Eagles in Sydney’s Olympic Park. Everything just hung by a thread and the pendulum could swing in any direction. My concern for Tiny Tot is that the older sibs are eating and eating and growing and growing. One of them tried to take the tail piece away from Diane today. If it had, Tiny would not have had any food in the afternoon. While Tiny does not require nearly the amount that the older do, he still needs to eat and should be doing so on a regular basis throughout the day. What happens when those two big ones grab the fish from Jack and eat the entire thing?

And speaking of nest tensions, whew! An unringed female landed on the Loch of the Lowes nest of Laddie and NC0. The intruder was standing right over the nest cup when Laddie landed with a nice sized fish. The intruder grabbed it and flew off the nest. NC0 arrives and gives Laddie an earful. Oh, my. Here is the video of that moment:

I have always said that watching the bird cams was much better than many of the movies on the streaming stations. Osprey World could beat any soap opera though!

Will two-timing Louis draw Iris into agony again this year? Will NC0 forgive Laddie? Will Laddie have to bring NC0 two fish? And will Tiny get fed tomorrow?

I want to leave you with an image of pure happiness. The two little ones of Harry and Nancy having a meal on the MN DNR Bald Eagle cam. Aren’t they adorable?

Two little bobbleheads enjoying a fish meal. 7 April 2021

Thank you for joining me on what can only be called ‘As the Nest Turns’.

Credit for featured image: “Pandion haliaetus Osprey” by David A. Hofmann is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I take my screen images: the Achieva Credit Union Osprey Cam in St Petersburg, Florida; the Cornell Bird Lab and the Hellsgate Osprey Cam; MN DNR Bald Eagle Cam; and the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Ups and Downs in Bird World

The Scottish Osprey nests were almost blown off their platforms on Sunday. Laddie (LM12) had no more brought a fish to the nest for NC0 than the wind began to stir. You can see the choppy waves beginning on the Loch of the Lowes. Thank goodness there were no eggs in the nest! At the beginning of the migration season, Laddie arrived early in hopes that NC0 would return to his nest and be his mate. He worked daily making sure that everything was perfect for her arrival.

In the image below, NC0 has accepted Laddie’s gift of a fish. In the background you might not be able to tell the branches are blowing but you can begin to see that the water is getting choppy. Look at their fine nest and hold that image in your mind.

Now look at the image below. This is the same nest that Laddie and NC0 were standing on. There are huge waves on the loch. The trees are twisting and the winds simply picked up the part of the nest facing away from the loch and dumped it over the egg cup.

The running joke is that the situation is so dire it would make an Osprey sea sick.

Blue NC0 stands on the nest the morning after the winds, Monday 5 April. Laddie must have been disappointed after all his hard work. They are so close to needing the nest for NC0 to lay her eggs.

NC0 got busy cleaning up undaunted by the task!

Wow. NC0 worked hard and got everything back in order. And Laddie who was MIA most of the rebuilding rewarded her with a nice fish after!

Louis is expected on the Loch Arkaig Nest on 5 April to be followed by his mate, Aila. The snow and blowing winds could cause a delayed return. We will keep an eye out! Some snow remains on the nest.

In contrast Mrs G and Aran at the Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Nest in Wales had a partially sunny day with no strong winds. And it wasn’t pitching down rain.

The new parent, Harry, on the Minnesota DNR Nest, stared at his eaglets for quite a long time today. Was he admiring them? was he wondering why they weren’t moving? did he think they were dead? Well, they weren’t dead. Just food comas!

The drama at the Durbes White Tailed Eagle Nest in Latvia continues. Milda and her mate, Raimis, had been together for six years when Raimis disappeared on 27 March. It is not known if he is severely injured and cannot return or if he is dead. It is a long time for him to be away from the nest. Milda is incubating three eggs and has been protecting it from a male intruder. She has gone without food to keep her precious eggs warm. The touching story of this female eagle protecting her eggs and not leaving the nest to hunt so she can eat has captured the attention of people in Latvia and around the world. She was the feature of a recent Latvian Panorama television programme. 4 April marks what would be her eighth day without food. Today, however, Milda left with the male intruder. It is not known but is assumed that she ate while she was away from the nest. She returned with a large crop. The unringed male could form a bond with Milda and feed her while she incubates her eggs. As we have learned from the nest of Spilve, a Golden Eagle, a single parent cannot forage, incubate, feed, and protect little ones alone. The next few days should clarify the situation at the nest in Kurzeme, Durbe County, in western Latvia. This is a short video of Milda flying in with the male intruder who has been named Mr. X.

Milda had her own bad weather with high winds and snow with clearing up in the late afternoon. Milda left the nest for a few minutes when the snow cleared. There is some indication that there is some fighting going on on the ground. Is it dogs? or is it Milda’s new potential mate and another male?

Some of you might be wondering what is happening at some of the other Bald Eagle nests. It is hard to keep up this time of year with Ospreys landing in the UK, eggs hatching all over the US, eggs being laid, birds coming and going and migration still on going in Manitoba. I will try and bring news of a few nests over the next few days that I have been following just to keep you up to speed.

One of those nests is The Trio over near Fulton, Illinois on the Mississippi River. There was a streaming cam on their old nest but the high winds last year destroyed it and they rebuilt. All images are from birders on the ground with their cameras. One of those is Dennis Becht. He caught this image today. If you squint you will see the head of a wee eaglet sticking up between the adults.

Solly, the Port Lincoln female Osprey, is 198 days old today. She spent Easter Sunday at Eba Anchorage and today she is back at her favourite haunts in Streaky Bay. It is wonderful to ‘see’ the satellite tracking on Solly and to know that she is well. Birders on the ground saw her with a salmon on Easter Sunday eating on a post. How grand.

Tiny Tot’s crop has gone up and then down and back up again. He had two feedings today at the Osprey Nest in St Petersburg. Jack brought in a very large fish yesterday that came and went 3 times and today, a large fish arrived at 8:02. The two older ate and Tiny Tot had a private feeding from around 8:36-9:07. He was eating again around 10:27 with the others. The regular delivery of large fish and the energy that Tiny has derived from eating plus his being clever are helping this little one to start growing and get its confidence back. Tiny hangs back and let the others eat – it protects his head and neck from bonking. But he also keeps a sharp eye on what is going on and when he senses it is nearly his time to eat, he moves up carefully without causing attention. He is extremely clever and we are all hoping that the good feedings continue. His growth is a little slowed because of so many days without food. No doubt the very large fish that have come in are working to his advantage. There is always food left for him and Diane. Gold stars for Jack.

Tiny had dropped his crop (moving food from the holding area to the stomach) this morning. There had been some concern by chatters yesterday that he might not be able to do this after he was so dehydrated from not eating for three days but, luckily that was not the case. He ate for approximately 43 minutes and then ate again. Tiny is full! And the nest is peaceful.

I wonder if Jack has found a new place to fish? The fish brought in the last two days have been much larger than some of the deliveries a few days ago.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I don’t know about the rest of you but if Tiny has a full crop in the morning my day is much brighter! Stay safe. Wish for good weather for all the birds and large fish on the Achieva Osprey nest!

Thank you to all the streaming cams where I get my screen shots: the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, The LTV Juras erglis Durbe, the MN DNR, the FB Page and Dennis Becht for the Trio, The Woodland Trust and People Play Lottery, Scottish Wildlife and Friends of Loch of the Lowes, Port Lincoln Osprey FB page, and Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn.

The race to save the African vulture

In the latest edition of BirdLife Magazine out of Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab, there is a compelling article on the race in Africa to save the African Vulture. It was very moving to read it so soon after discovering the women of the Hargila Army in Assam and their literal saving of the General Adjutant, a stork that also consumes carrion and helps keep disease at bay. The article stresses that vultures are the most endangered raptors in the world. While you might not be familiar with the African Vulture or the General Adjutant, you probably are aware of the California condor. Vultures exist in almost every country. They are crucial part of the food chain and play an important role in the environment. This is why conservation biologists around the world are screaming out for change to save them!

In Africa alone, seven of the ten vulture species are endangered. Many of the issues that threaten the vultures also impact other species. However, in India and parts of Africa, the vulture population dropped by as much as 99%. The author of the article noted that this is ‘apocalyptic’. We are familiar with causes such as habitat loss, electrocution from hydro poles, collisions with buildings and vehicles, the lead used in fishing and hunting equipment, scarcity of food, as well as egg collecting. There are several other threats to the vultures in Africa. One of them is rock climbing and disturbing the nests. Another is the trade in vulture body parts which are used for good luck charms in Africa. The head is believed to bring good luck in business while other parts are used as talismans. The birds are directly poisoned. The last is the impact of the veterinary use of NSAIDs. What is NSAID poisoning? Have you ever heard of it? I certainly knew about its use because I cannot drink milk or eat meat unless it is organic but, I was not aware of its impact on bird populations such as vultures. It is wonderful to learn something new each day! Although I prefer if it is something happier.

The image below shows the many animals and birds that compete for the small amount of food available in Africa.

“Environment of the Hyena Jackal Vulture Group” by Ryan Somma is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NSAIDs are cheap pharmaceuticals given to cattle to relieve them of their pain and to increase their milk production. They are anti-sterodial. It has long been recognized that the industrial dairies in the US keep the cattle in small pens, standing all day on concrete that causes excruciating pain. These cows are also given treatments to increase their milk production. The life of the cow that never gets to explore and eat grass is traumatic and their longevity is significantly reduced.

The efforts in Africa to eliminate the use of veterinary grade NSAIDs as well as captive-breeding programmes are showing promise. Fencing and satellite tracking is gaining ground. Biologists say that it is time to think ‘bigger’. At the same time, the growth in traditional beliefs is spreading in Africa, alongside the use of more modern pesticides. The author states, however, ‘That for all the bad news, conservationists have taken heart from the fact that the decline in African vultures has been slower than the extraordinary rapid collapse that occurred in Asia’.

“African safari, Aug 2014 – 042” by Ed Yourdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Elsewhere in Bird World, life is good on this Sunday the 4th of April. Rising early to watch and hopefully see Tiny Tot (aka Lionheart, Braveheart, Tumbles, 3) have breakfast, the chatters on the Achieva Osprey site probably had their mouths open. A headless fish arrived at 7:22:22. There was some confusion on the nest as Jack stayed with the fish and Diane left for a break. Tiny had already positioned himself and Dad began to feed him. Jack is not the best at feeding the chicks – he is known for touching beaks with no fish – but this morning Tiny got bites. Neither 1 nor 2 seemed interested. They were very busy preening. Eventually 1 joined and Dad fed 1 a bite then Tiny a bite. Mom returns and Dad leaves at 8:01:17. Diane continues feeding Tiny. Tiny awoke with a crop from yesterday but he ate this morning til he could not eat anymore. At 8:12:07 he stopped. There was not a kerfuffle with the older siblings.

Tiny being fed at 7:59 am while older siblings preen. 4 April 2021

Look carefully at Tiny above (far left chick). His little tail is growing and his plumage is changing. A few more days of good feedings and he might be out of the ‘woods’ in terms of his survival.

Diane with her three growing osplets. 4 April 2021

In the image above, Tiny is in the back. You can see his crop. He is standing confidentially next to 2. What a joyous moment on this nest.

The two bald eaglets of Nancy and Harry at the Minnesota DNR nest are growing. Everything is fine on that nest. Harry has learned to feed them and he is a good provider. Nancy is a fantastic mom. Look at those cute little bobbleheads enjoying the warm sun with their mother.

Kisatchie is growing and growing. First time parents Anna and Louis have done really well. The nest is coated with pine to keep away the insects. Kisatchie is healthy and well fed. His plumage is changing every day as he rids himself of his natal down.

I am afraid to say little owlets anymore. Look at Tiger (left) and Lily (right). They are keeping both Bonnie and Clyde busy hunting, day and night it seems. They look like they are wearing beautiful mohair coats with hoods. In my neighbourhood, yesterday, we were reminded about how formidable a raptor these Great Horned Owls are when one of the ones living nearby tried to take off with one of the neighbour’s cats that had gotten out in the back lane. Remember. Great Horned Owls can carry three times their own weight!

And last but never least, my all time favourite bird mother, Big Red sitting on her three eggs in the Red Tail Hawk nest on the Cornell University Campus. Isn’t it lovely? She actually gets to enjoy some sunshine today!

Thank you so much for joining me today. Keep your eyes on what is happening in the Tampa area. There is rumour that 480 million gallons of radioactive water is threatening to push down a retaining wall. If so, this will be catastrophic not only for the people of the area but for the wildlife – including many Ospreys and Bald Eagles that we so dearly treasure.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I grabbed my screen shots: the Kisatchie National Forest and the USFWS, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Cornell Bird Lab Red Tail Hawk Cam at Ithaca, Farmer Derek, and the Achieva Credit Union in St. Petersburg.

Credit for feature image: “In search of the Maltese Falcon #13 – White Backed Vulture, Malta Falconry Centre” by foxypar4 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Waiting

Everyone seems to be waiting for something today. Those that follow the nest of Big Red and Arthur, the Red Tail Hawks in Ithaca, NY, are waiting for the second egg to arrive. Meanwhile, Big Red has been restless all day – on and off the nest. It has been like a revolving door, slightly surprising knowing her inclination to not share too much incubation time with Arthur. The skies just opened and Arthur is on deck keeping that precious egg dry and warm! The rain is pouring over the lens of the camera making Arthur look like a smudge. He is anything but a smudge today. Between 7am and noon, he was on the nest incubating five times – 5! I stopped counting after that.

Isn’t he gorgeous? Five years old and a great provider and dad.

Early this morning, around 8:30 the winds were whipping and Big Red got tossed. Last year this happened and an eyas went flying with her. Let’s hope that she is OK.

It takes some time for new parents – birds and humans – to understand how to take care of their little ones. When the two very young parents had their eaglet hatch on the Kisatchie National Forest nest, I thought for certain that eaglet was going to die. It couldn’t seem to stop bobbling, Mom tried desperately to feed it, and Dad kept stacking up the fish. At one time there were 18! If I remember correctly it was on the third day that the little one and mom figured out the proper angles so the little one could grab the fish. Now, that is all history. Kistachie is a huge, very spoiled only child of two very devoted parents, Anna and Louis. Kisatchie will never go hungry. It is always ‘please take another bite!’ from Anna. Kistachie has had mega food comas. They figured it out and all are thriving down in Central Louisiana on the shores of Kincaid Lake.

At the MN DNR nest, Nancy is waiting for the four year old dad, Harry, to figure out precisely what he is supposed to do. People watching the nest are waiting and worrying. Harry is amazing at security. He needs to learn that he has to bring fish to the nest and he will, after watching Nancy, figure out how to feed that little bobble head. Meanwhile, Nancy has, at times, lost a bit of patience,. And, on top of all of this, the second egg is pipping so, Nancy is waiting for another mouth to feed.

Only one osprey has arrived at a monitored nest today in the United Kingdom. That was White YA at Kielder 1A nest in the Kielder Forest. Everyone is watching the ones with trackers and waiting for more arrivals as April approaches.

It’s 4pm in St Petersburg, Florida and Diane is waiting for Jack to bring in a whopper of a fish for those three growing osplets. The trio had a fish at 8:50:13 and it looked like all ate and were ‘nice’ to one another. Let us hope that the next fish is really big and stability on this nest continues.

Another nest waiting for food deliveries is the Great Horned Owls who stole the Bald Eagle Nest on a farm near Newton, Kansas. It seems that snake has been on the menu today but the owlets are getting supersized quickly and Bonnie is hoping Clyde will come through with something larger! She waits.

I want to thank Elena for writing to me today thanking me for my post about ‘The Sadness and Hope in Latvia’. Spilve struggled to feed her beautiful almost ready to fledge Golden Eaglet after her mate went missing and was presumed to have died. To protect her eaglet she had to remain close to the nest but that meant little food. It broke the hearts of so many when beautiful Klints starved. Each of us struggles to understand.

And I want to thank you for joining me today. There is not a lot to report. We seem to be in a holding pattern today and maybe that is a good thing. I will post any updates on hatches, new eggs, and arrivals late today.

Thank you to the MN DNR, Achieva Credit Union, KNF, Kielder Forest, Farmer Derek, and the Cornell Bird Lab for their streaming cameras where I took my scaps.

It’s a wonderful day in Bird World

It is always such a joy to wake up and see Big Red incubating an egg. There is something about the annual rhythm that is very reassuring. She was there all night but, at 6:36 Big Red turned incubation duty over to Arthur. Over the years Big Red has given Arthur a little more responsibility each year. This morning he was on the egg from 6:36-8:56 and again from 10:56-11:13. I wonder if she will allow him to feed and brood the eyases more, too???

Handsome Arthur with his light plumage and deep dark eyes.

Over the years Arthur has gotten more confident.

Big Red’s plumage colouring is darker than Arthur’s. Here you can see both of their beautiful tails – those red tails that define them as Red-Tail Hawks. Notice the way the wings fold and make a ‘V’. This is known as the scapular V and often individuals identify untagged birds through the patterning of the scapular V.

We are finally getting a glimpse at the MN DNR of that little one that started hatching at 6:27 on the 25th. Oh, the woes of trying to feed a little bobble head! Oh, a little bobble, so cute. In a couple of days this little one will know precisely what to do o grab that fish that its dad brought in!

Last year on 27 March, Osprey spotters in the UK had charted 52 sightings. This year there have been more than 100. The Welsh, the Scots, and the British love their Ospreys and they are so organized with web sites and keeping up on every arrival at monitored – and many unmonitored – nests. This is the type of interactive chart they have:

If you are keeping track, to date the latest arrival on a monitored nest is Blue 7A (14) at Esthwaite Water in the Lake District. This is Ozzy and his mate is unringed Olive, yet to arrive.

The most wonderful thing is to wake up and have breakfast with Big Red – as so many of her followers do. She is one of the most known and loved Red Tail Hawks in the world. But this morning I looked at the weather on my phone. I have all of the main nest sites that I watch listed. It was 23 degrees in St Petersburg, Florida when I woke up. I have been trying to get to the ‘why’ of the fish deliveries at this Osprey nest and thus, the nest competition leaving Tiny Tot behind. The graph that I have charted shows that when the temperatures in St. Pete’s are in the 27-30 range or there is a storm or it is windy (such as 30 kph), Jack does not bring fish to the nest. It just seems logical. Yet many Bald Eagles are very successful fishing in those conditions. So to test this, I wondered about this morning when it was 23 and no 29 like it was yesterday. In fact, last night I decided that I would not check on the Osprey nest with Tiny Tot until Tuesday. My heart had simply ached for the past two days and I didn’t think I could watch another one starve to death on a nest. But 23 degrees. Would this nest turn around yet again? It is clear from Tiny Tot’s actions that it wants to live. How this little one got its energy yesterday, I don’t know. But it tried being fed by walking around the rim of the nest. Sadly there were only 7 bites of fish left when it came its turn. This morning, a fish was brought in at 7:30. Tiny Tot persisted walking again up on the rim of the nest to where the mother was feeding. At 7:59 he was eating. Another fish was brought in at 9:48. Tiny Tot left with a big crop. Tiny Tot is smart and he has figured a work around to the two big siblings. The issue is the amount of food. As long as the fish are big enough and delivered close enough together Tiny has a chance.

You will have noticed that I continue to call Tiny Tot a ‘he’. You mostly hear the word used in falconry, the old medieval term tercel (UK) or tiercel (US). It refers to the belief that only 1 in 3 eggs is a male – the third. It also refers to the fact that male raptors are one-third smaller than the females. That is the reverse sex-size dimorphism.

You cannot tell the sex of a bird, for certain, without doing DNA testing or seeing them laying an egg like Big Red yesterday. Many experts have been fooled trying to use clues such as the size of the feet or the length of certain parts of their bodies. So, there is nothing saying that Tiny Tot is a small male. I don’t know!

Here is Tiny started to move to the rim to get fed, away from the big ones.

Bingo. There is fish left and Tiny gets a good feeding. The two others are satisfied and leaving him alone.

This is Tiny in front after having some of the second fish. Look at his crop. Just puts a big smile on my face.

I just want to close with a few quick images. Maybe some of these are your favourites. The first is Mrs G, the oldest Osprey in Wales eating a fish up on a tree branch. She is at the Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn nest in Wales and she is waiting for her mate, Aran, to arrive from his winter migration.

Everything is absolutely fine at the GHOW nest near Newton, Kansas. Those owlets are growing like bad weeds. I wish I could crochet! Wouldn’t a white mohair beret with those colours and patterns look fantastic?

Kisatchie at the Kisatchie National Forest nest on the shores of Lake Kincaid has really grown. As an only eaglet, s/he has grown big and been spoiled by first time parents, Anna and Louis.

And I will close where I began – with Big Red – my best raptor mother of the year, always! Thanks for joining me today. Take care. Stay safe. Enjoy the weekend.

Thank you to the following streaming cams: KNF, Cornell Bird Lab, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, Farmer Derek, MN DNR, and Achieva Osprey.

Arrivals

My day started off really well with the arrival of the much anticipated first egg of Big Red and Arthur at the Fernow light tower in Ithaca, NY. It was really windy this morning reminding us of the terrible weather this gorgeous eighteen year old Red Tail Hawk endures annually.

Arthur arrives at 14:47 and gets to see their first egg. He had to climb over Big Red to do it though!

Arthur looked at the egg for a bit and was promptly off to find some prey for Big Red.

Big Red does most of the incubating. Every year – this is now their fourth – she seems to allow him to incubate a little more. He is a great provider and she is never hungry.

Arthur has brought Big Red a vole for her dinner as the lights go out in Ithaca. You can see it at the front right of the egg cup. How sweet. But wait, it could be a chippie. What do you think with those ears? Arthur is a champ at catching chippies and if you watch this nest you will become an expert at identifying dead prey. Even if you don’t want to. I promise.

Last year I would stay awake in the night or get up to make sure Big Red was OK. There was more than one night when she was encased in snow and ice. Laura Culley used to say to me, ‘Don’t worry. Big Red has this all under control.’ And, of course, Laura was always right. But it didn’t matter – hundreds of us still worried. She looks so contented and happy. It is the middle of the night and it is quiet. The buses that drive down the road in front of the nest aren’t running and there are few, if any, people about.

Look for another egg on the 28th! Big Red can lay three eggs by the 30th. One every other day. This couple have no trouble raising three eyases. If you wanted a perfect hawk family with a territory with lots of prey, their eyases have both.

Nancy and Harry at the MN DNR nest have a chick. The hatch began with a pip at 6:27pm on the 25th. We got a little peek at their new addition today! It is a little cutie and Harry already has food up on the nest for his first. Congratulations Nancy and Harry!

Ah, two older birds – Big Red and Nancy – both choose much younger mates. I hope Harry is as good a provider as Arthur is. So far he has been amazing.

Isn’t Nancy beautiful?

They aren’t eggs or chicks but the Osprey began arriving in the UK so fast today, the very last day of World Osprey Week, that people had trouble filling in their charts. Here are some of the arrivals at the monitored nests if you are keeping track.

Blue 33 or Telyn (female) arrived at the Dyfi Osprey nest in Wales at 17:28 on the 26th. Telyn will now wait for her mate Idris to arrive! This couple is one of the most popular in Wales.

Blue 35 and White YW both landed on the Foulshaw Moss nest today. What fantastic timing.

White YW arrives at the nest accompanied by a crow. 26 March 2021
Blue 35 arrives. I wonder if they know each other are home?

And instead of Louis or Alia, snow arrived at Loch Arkaig in Scotland.

Everything is starting to get exciting. Laddie and his new lady NC0 of the Loch Lowes Osprey Nest were caught mating on the nest. Let’s hope they have a good bond.

Sadly, the fish arrivals at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St. Petersburg did not materialize in the quantity for Tiny Tot to get a food feeding. He tried hard even walking along the nest rail to get fed, begging all the time. The older ones fed for two hours but Tiny only got 7 bites. There was hope for a late fish arrival but it did not materialize. If you read my blog regularly, you will know that I have suffered over this Osprey nest. And that is directly related to wanting to know ‘the why’ of the behaviour. Jack and Diane have raised three before to fledge. Is it the heat? the winds? a lack of fish? Studies have shown that the smallest can be excluded by the bigger chicks even if there is enough food. I would argue that when there was enough, this nest was civil. But a bad storm, then high temperatures (fish go to the bottom normally then), and winds caused an erratic delivery. That set about a perception of a lack of fish for all. For two days, the 23rd and 24th there was plenty and all was well. The past two have seen insufficient food even for Harriet. It is all about survival. And nature, contrary to what many believe, is not cute nor is it nice. That all birds would have parents like Big Red and Arthur and a territory for prey like Big Red and Arthur – well, that would be wonderful.

Thank you for joining me today. I would love to say hello to each of you individually. Thank you for your letters and your comments. I am so glad that you are finding joy in the birds. It is magical, isn’t it? We get a glimpse into a world that we would not have otherwise.

I want to thank the following sponsors of streaming cams: Cornell Bird Lab, MN DNR, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Dyfi in Wales.