Open Wide!

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

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

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

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

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

There she goes at 9:01:54.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is Tiny running to get up to the fish!

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

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

Tiny Tot opens his wings wide!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catching up with Legacy

I have been spending so much time checking on the arrival of Ospreys both here and in the United Kingdom, that some of my favourite eaglets and chicks on nests have grown – seemingly overnight – to be ‘super size’. I am feeling a little guilty for neglecting them for the past few days as they have brought such joy to my life and, I hope, yours.

Legacy hatched on 8 February. Do you remember when she was just a ball of fluff? In the image below she is a wee one with soft grey down and only a few pinfeathers starting to come through. She is getting ready for a ‘ps’. It is remarkable how all of the nestlings know to send their bathroom out and off of the nest. Her little head is touching the bottom of the nest bowl and she is balancing herself on the tips of her wings in order to elevate her little bottom. No one taught her, not one of her parents showed her how to do this. Oh, if it had been so easy potty training humans!

Today it was grey and rainy with a bit of wind. There has been heavy rain and tornado watches in the area for several days now. The birds are a bit wet. Here is Legacy getting ready to do a ‘ps’ today. She is 42 days old. And she kept testing the edge of the nest with her feet when she backed up. I feared she was going to fall off!

Legacy is now mantling food when the parents bring it to the nest and she is self-feeding. In the image below you can see the parents looking on while Legacy mantles the food – she spreads her wings far to each side and lowers her body of the food in a stance that doesn’t allow others to get to the prey. This is a good lesson for Legacy. She will need this to survive in the wild.

Legacy is learning to hold the prey down with her feet and talons so that it is secure and she can tear off bites with her sharp beak.

Legacy overcame Avian Pox and now she spends a lot of time doing wing exercises and hopping about the nest. Eggie and Pinecone were her good buddies. Her dad, Samson, buried Eggie in the nest last week when Legacy was self-feeding. Then he covered it with some Spanish Moss probably hoping that Legacy would not dig it out. Pinecone is still around! Legacy learned some valuable lessons with ‘Eggie’. She learned how to brood, how to aerate the nest, and roll the egg as well as incubating it. She is going to be a great mom.

Legacy poses with her beautiful mother, Gabrielle. The little one has the most incredible deep black with a hint of brown-red in her plumage. And that little bit of a tail in the first image is now growing nicely. She will need to have a long tail to help her fledge. Isn’t she stunning? Gabby and Samson make beautiful babies!

And here Legacy is kissy-kissy with mom.

It has been such a pleasure to watch this little one grow up. Legacy overcame some early eye irritation issues, then the Avian Pox, and has grown into this beautiful girl. OK. I will always believe Legacy is going to be a big girl like Gabby. Can’t say why, just one of those feelings. I hope we find out one day.

Samson and Gabrielle have done an amazing job teaching her and getting her ready for the day she will leave the nest and be on her own. Fledging is 10-14 weeks. It is hard to believe that we are halfway there!

I will leave you with an image of another nest. It is pip watch at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Bald Eagle nest. This is the nest with the young 4 year old father. Hoping for the best!

And the bouquet today goes to Clyde, the Great Horned Owl and mate of Bonnie. It has been cold and raining in Kansas and still in the last hour – just one hour – has brought in four prey items for Bonnie, Tiger, and Lily. The rabbit and the garter snake are in the pantry but Bonnie is trying to keep the wee ones dry – and it is not easy – so they are having mice and vole for snacks. It looks like it is a prey rich area for the couple and their owlets.

Bonnie and Clyde are wet but the little ones are dry. Clyde brought in four prey items. He is giving Bonnie a mouse in this delivery.

The beef goes once again to Jack at the Achieva Osprey Nest. Tiny Tot got some tiny bites of food in the last of three deliveries. The two eldest have shut him out of eating. Diane the mom has fished herself today when food did not come in. It is a stressful nest to watch.

Thank you so much for joining me today as we caught up with Legacy. And thank you to the NEFL Eagle Cam and the AEF for their streaming cam where I grabbed these images.

Owls, Eaglets, and Ospreys

Farmer Derek lives on the Klingenberg Farm near Newton, Kansas with his wife and daughters. His father and his three brothers are also working at the farm – it is a wonderful family endeavour. It is on this farm where the now famous hijacking of a Bald Eagle nest by a pair of Great Horned owls took place on 1 February. This family loved the eagles that lived on their land and were disappointed when the owls ousted them from their tree but now the entire family has embraced Bonnie and Clyde and their owlets. Farmer Derek’s father is going to build Great Horned Owls boxes for them this summer and we will see what happens. It is called Value Added Agriculture and Farmer Derek just gave an interview on a PBS Nova show called Market to Market. The interview begins with some chat about other things but most of it is focused on the owls. You can move the time forward or listen to it all, here:

Lots of the birds have been growing beyond belief and it is time to check in on some old friends. First off, Harriet and M15’s little ones (did I really say little?), E17 and E18. You might remember this image of little 18 in the striped donut towel and 17 having to have time out because she was so aggressive towards her sibling especially during feeding times.

E17 and E18 getting treated for AC at CROW, Fort Myers, Florida. @CROW FB

The image above shows the two little eagles at CROW. Aren’t they precious? Their eyes have been cleaned. They were crusty and covered over and permission was given by the USFWS to remove them for treatment. That was the first week in February. Their test results came back today and confirmed they had Avian Chlamydophilia psittaci or AC, for short. That is what CROW suspected based on their symptoms. It is a disease caused by a bacteria, Chlamydia psittacia. Birds catch it from other infected birds – dust, feather, droppings. The symptoms range from a cough, to the crusty eyes, or to sudden death. So glad that a system known to be so slow worked fast for these eaglets and that E17 and E18 were treated! The pair were at the clinic for five days, returned to the nest only when the bacterial infection was gone.

This is E17 and E18 being fed this morning, 16 March, some five weeks later. They now have juvenile plumage. The only way you can tell the two apart is that E18 has a white strip of feathers at the base of the tail. In the image below, E18 is in the middle and E17 is the farthest away.

Breakfast for E17 (left) and E18 (middle). 16 March 2021. @D Pritchett Eagle Cam

For a long time, E18 was the underdog but she quickly became the ‘Queen’ (or King) of the snatch and grab and grew big. When food is brought on the nest for self feeding, the majority of the time E18 mantles it and eats! Very capable and no longer intimidated. As is so often the case, if the little one survives they figure out ingenious ways to eat and they thrive. Lady Hawk (Sharon Dunne) did a video of a squirrel arriving three days ago and E18 mantling it and feeding. Here it is:

They have turned into such beautiful birds. Here they are looking out at the big world that will be theirs. They are now more than halfway to fledging.

16 March 2021. E17 (left) and E18 (right) looking out at the world of possibilities. @D Pritchett Eagle Cam

Little Legacy isn’t so little anymore either. She has overcome, on her own, Avian Pox which is fantastic. She will be immune for the rest of her life. The image below is from a week ago. Legacy still had soft down on her head but her feet were getting large and she had quite the full crop. There were jokes about her on the Internet as being a big ‘pudgy’. Oh, the benefits of being the only eaglet in the nest!

This is Legacy this morning on the nest with her mother, Gabby, waiting for a food delivery. The fluffy dandelions on the top of her head are almost all gone and now instead of grey down she is almost 3/4 covered with her juvenile plumage. They grow sooooooo fast and she is very beautiful. She copies her mother working on the nest, incubating and rolling ‘Eggie’ and will, one day add to the legacy of her grandparents, Romeo and Juliet.

16 March 2021. Legacy (left) and her mother Gabby. NEFL Eagle Nest, Jacksonville, FL. @AEF and NEFL Eagle Cam

You might remember the female Bald Eagle encrusted in snow for most of the incubation period – that was the mom over at Duke Farms. Two of the three eggs hatched and those two are growing and growing. These kids have some very different meals than Legacy who eats mostly fish (a few mammals) and many times people are left guessing what the two had for dinner. Despite a lot of prey available, there is some concern for the second eaglet who is consistently pecked down by the older at feeding time. It is the reason that I cringe when I see three eggs. Sometimes two is more than enough – and there are definite advantages to being an ‘only’ eaglet or Osprey. Fingers crossed for this little one.

It is unclear to me what precipitates the feeling of food insecurity that results in siblicide. I have printed and read all of the academic material – it is sitting in front of me – and I am still baffled by which nests experience siblicide and which do not. Are there real predictors?

The little one at Duke Farms wanted to eat and the older one kept blocking it this morning.

Older one at Duke Farms pecking and deliberately keeping little one from eating. 16 March 2021. @Duke Farms Eagle Cam

So, the little one waited til the older one’s crop was ready to pop and finally got around to eat. Smart. Let us hope that this keeps up.

Yippee. Older going into a food coma. Little one eating. Well done. @Duke Farms Eagle Cam

Yesterday I gave the dad, Jack, a ‘beef’. He is the mate to Diane at the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg. Those osplets hatched on the 7 and 9 of March. I fully expected when the fish did arrive that there could have been mayhem because it was so late in the day and it had been so hot but – it didn’t happen. And hats off to Jack (did he hear me screaming at him), he brought in another fish later. It is entirely understandable that it was so hot that the fish went deep in the water and Jack had to wait til it cooled off to fish. Everyone was full heading to sleep and this morning at 9:35 he brought in an early morning fish. Those Osplets lined up nicely for the meals and did not bother one another at all. They ate. So maybe I will take that beef back, Jack! These are the most well behaved siblings to one another.

16 March 2021. Breakfast for the trio. @Achieva Osprey Nest

I have included the image below because you now see the beautiful reddish-brown feathers coming in on the head of the osplet closest to the front.

And he isn’t an Owl, an eaglet, or an Osprey but Izzi, the juvenile Peregrine Falcon is the cutest thing on the planet. He is inside the scrape box of his parents, Diamond and Xavier (talk about beautiful parents) and many are wondering if Izzi will ever leave. Last fall, Izzi went to sleep on the ledge of the scrape box and fludged. He was returned to the box on top of a water town on the campus of Sturt University Orange Campus, Australia. The second fledge and he hit a window and was rescued by Cilla Kinross, the researcher, and taken for care. Five days later Cilla Kinross climbed the 170 stairs to return him to the scrape box where he successfully fledged for a third time some days later. Maybe he thinks this box is his? I guess we wait to find out. Izzi loves to look at himself in the camera!

Look at those eyes. Besides their stealth speed at aerial hunting, these little falcons are adorable. Seriously I could take him home!

So glad you could join me as we check in with some of our bird friends who have been a little ignored lately. Take care of yourself. See you soon!

Thank you to Derek the Farmer, SWFL, NEFL, Achieva, Duke Farms, and Cilla Kinross and Sturt University Orange Campus Australia for their streaming cams where I grabbed my scaps.

Sunday Babies

It is Sunday, 7 March 2021. The sun, peeking over the horizon announcing a new day reminds us that it has been twenty-four hours since Bonnie did not eat the mouse that Clyde brought her (5:20 am 6 March). Instead, Bonnie flew to the branch where Clyde was, picked up the mouse, and dropped it into the egg cup. Very unusual behaviour for someone who normally eats that mouse right away! Everyone wondered about a pip or a hatch. This morning at 6:31 am Clyde flew in. Bonnie stayed on the nest and Clyde brought the mouse to her. There was a bit of a conversation between the two. Bonnie is definitely behaving differently and it is possible that some of her movements might have been feeding actions – biting off small pieces of mouse and feeding. All we know for certain is that the usual routine in that nest has changed over the past twenty-four hours.

Sun is rising and Clyde is on the branch with a mouse. 7 March 2021. @Derek the Farmer
Clyde carefully carries the mouse to Bonnie. 7 March 2021. @ Derek the Farmer
Hi Sweetie. Here’s your morning mouse. 7 March 2021 @ Derek the Farmer
Clyde and Bonnie having a chat. Isn’t he cute?! 7 March 2021 @Derek the Farmer
7 March 2021 Clyde flying off. @Derek the Farmer

And just as a reminder, the eagle’s nest is about 1.8 metres (about six feet) across. Look at the size of Bonnie and Clyde. And then look at how well they blend into their environment. Nature’s camouflage is magnificent! Talk about getting lost in the crowd. These owls do that very well. The Great horned Owl will be even more fierce protecting this nest. As I wrote in another blog several weeks ago, you don’t mess with a GHOW! They may look cuddly and sweet but I don’t think anyone should get between them and their owlet.

To give you an idea, the Bald Eagle nest in Fort Myers, Florida of Harriet and M15 is constantly having GHOW attacks. Last night the GHOW knocked M15 off his branch (again). Remember, GHOWs are silent when they fly. They can sneak up on Bald Eagles who will not hear them coming. Lady Hawk caught the attack and the reaction in this video:

And since we are here with Harriet and M15, best have a look at E17 and E18. If you haven’t been following them you will not believe how much they have grown. I will post a picture of the twins at the clinic when they were getting their eyes treated and another one today. Hold on for a big surprise.

The first image is 4 February, just a little over a month ago. E17 is in the time out corner because it has been very aggressive towards little E18 especially around meals times.

4 February 2021. E17 and E18 are at CROW for treatment of conjunctivitis. @CROW FB

If you are going to ask yourself how these two grew so fast, the image right below is 24 February. E17 is at the front and E18 is at the back. They have eaten so much food that their crops look like huge bellies! It could be a crop pop. Oh, and look at how big those feet are. Even so, there are still some dandelion bits remaining.

The image below is 7 March 2021 – thirteen days after the image above. You will see that the twins are getting their juvenile feathers. E18 is at the top looking out of the nest and E17 is flat out asleep on the nest. These two are forty-two days old today. Fledge watch for Bald Eagles is ten to twelve weeks. Oh, my. They are half way grown!

7 March 2021. SWFL Bald Eagle Nest. @SWFL and D. Pritchett

It’s after 2pm on 7 March and E17 and E18 are hungry. E18 is at the top and E17 nearer the bottom. E18 has become the master? mistress? of the snatch and grab. E18 is perfectly positioned watching Harriet rip off the pieces of meat and she goes in for the grab. It is amazing how those second hatches figure ways out to get around the more dominant sibling.

The snatch and grab. 7 March 2021. @SWFL and D Pritchett

This is N24 on 7 March 2021, below. Typically, he or she is close to ‘the egg’. N24 incubates the egg, rolls the egg and is typically just a ‘good little mom’. There is every indication that N24 is in the last phases of the Avian Pox and healing well without any issues to the beak.

N24 and eggie. 7 March 2021 @NEFL and AEF Cams

And another picture with Samson this morning. N24 is twenty-seven days old today. Wow. And losing all of its baby down.

N24 with Samson. 7 March 2017. @NFL and AEF Eagle Cam

Hey Mom! Look. I can fly!!!!!!!! Look at how big those wings are. They are so heavy that in the picture above the wings are relaxed.

Look I can fly! 7 March 2021 @NEFL and AEF Eagle Cam

The two little eaglets at Duke Farm are doing well and mom seems to have any bonking issues under control. Meanwhile dad is working overtime to get fish stacked in that nest! They are so cute. Little bobbles.

Lined up for lunch. 7 March 2021 @Duke Farms

The little one at the Kisatchie National Forest (KNF) Bald Eagle nest is growing fast. Both the eaglet and mom have really worked out any issues with feeding. And with all that fish that dad is bringing in there are bound to be insects. The couple are now bringing in pine boughs to counter that – pine oil, anything pine, helps with bugs and mosquitoes!

Little one waiting for a name. 7 March 2021. KNF Bald Eagle Nest @KNF Bald Eagle Nest

It’s a beautiful day in Central Louisiana. The sun is filtering down through the trees on to the nest. The little one is resting with its mom. So cute.

Warm early spring afternoon at the KNF Bald Eagle Nest. 7 March 2021. @KNF Bald Eagle Nest

Today is the last day to send in a potential name for this little eaglet. A committee will narrow the submitted names down to three for public voting between March 11 and 16. The public’s choice will be announced on March 17, St Patrick’s Day. If you want to submit a name, today is your last chance. Send the name to: nameKNFeagle@gmail.com

Have a great end of the week everyone. Thanks for stopping in to check on the babies!

N24 is really improving

This is just a really quick update. The sun is quickly setting over the NEFL Eagle Cam. Little N24 is growing and growing and eating and eating. We are now in the official stage of accelerated growth. Which also means less but bigger meals and very large crops. You can see that N24 went to bed with quite a large one today.

As we had all hoped, it ‘appears’ (I am using that word cautiously) that the lesions on the left side of its face, on the lower part of the beak/mouth are drying. If this is the case, this is very good news. This is day 12 after the then suspected Avian Pox was noticed, later confirmed. Specialists say that the lesions can persist from 1-4 weeks.

Knock on wood. It would appear that N24 had a very mild case of AP. It will be immune for the rest of its life. That is the good news, too. The lesions will continue to dry and will fall off. There appears to be no damage to the beak at all.

Everyone is relieved and just very, very happy. If this beautiful eagle family could, I am certain that they would thank you for your outpourings and your positive thoughts.

Gabby was doing some nestorations while N24 slept with its huge crop. @NEFL Eagle Cam and AEF
4 March 2021. N24 sitting on his friend, Eggbert, with a full crop @NEFL Eagle Cam and AEF
Pin feathers and drying lesions. N24 sleeps by Eggbert. 4 March 2021. @NEFL Eagle Cam and AEF
N24’s AP lesions ‘appear’ to be drying. @NEFL Eagle Cam and AEF

Quick Check in: N24 and KNF

As you are aware, there is concern for little N24 because it has Avian Pox. This was noted on the 20th of February by the American Eagle Federation and reported by them on 28 February. Others had seen the lesions on the face and talons of N24. To be clear, there is no cure for Avian Pox. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, the worst causing death. AP affects all birds, not just eagles. Many overcome the disease to live normal lives. Some, however, die because of secondary infections or compromises after the disease to their ability to eat or hunt prey. It is absolutely unclear how severe this disease will be for the little eaglet in the NE Florida nest, N24. It is now 23 days old. It is approximately 27 degrees at The Hamlet, hot and humid. In another posting called N24 Needs Your Help there is information on who to contact if you are concerned. At least one eagle on a streaming cam has had Avian Pox and an intervention took place. There is a misunderstanding that the nest in question was a research nest. The suggestion is only for an intervention if absolutely necessary. In nest with its parents is the best place for N24.

N24 had a reasonably good breakfast and was, this afternoon, playing with a small piece of food on the nest. It is extremely windy. Both Gabby and N24 are waiting for a food delivery.

N24 having breakfast 1 March 2021. @AEF and Audubon Society
N24 playing with an old piece of food. 1 March 2021. @AEF and Audubon Society
N24 with Gabby. 1 March 2021. @AEF and Audubon Society

N24 ate well at 1:40 pm nest time.

1 March 2021. 1:40 pm. N24 eating well. @AEF and Audubon Society

At 4pm the lesion on the left side of the beak appears larger. It is hot and N24 is panting. Awaiting food delivery at 4pm.

It is pitching down rain at the KNF nest in central Lousiana today. That mother is doing an exceptional job to keep that little one dry. The little eaglet hatched on 23 February 2021. It is six days old today. The first time mother and the little one are getting much better at feeding and eating.

Having breakfast at the KNF nest before the rains start. Let’s hope the rain stops so the little one can have a nice late lunch!

Thank you for doing this quick check in on these two nests. Everyone send positive thoughts to little cutie pie, N24 so that he can heal quickly. We all want him back to his healthy self playing with the pinecone and sitting on ‘his egg’.

Is anything the matter with N24, our little cutie pie?

N24 was born on 8 February 2021 at the NE Florida Eagle Nest in St Augustine. He is three weeks old today.

N24’s parents are Samson and Gabrielle. We know that Samson was born on this same nest on 23 December 2013, the son of Romeo and Juliet. Samson fledged on 22 April 2014 when he was 120 days old. Four years later, there was a tragedy at the nest. Samson’s mother was injured by an intruder just days before her eggs were to hatch. She left the area and never returned. Romeo was left to do the work of both the mother and the father. That meant that he not only had to protect the nest but he also had to do the hunting and the feeding. One of the eggs hatched and while Romeo was getting food, the tiny eaglet was taken by a rival female. Forlorn, Romeo left the nest never to return. In 2018 Samson came and took control of the nest and its territory eventually bonding with Gabrielle (Gabby). There is no knowledge of Gabby before she appeared at the nest.

Samson with N24 when he was 12 days old. 20 February 2021.

There were originally two eggs in the 2021 clutch of Gabby and Samson but one was unviable. Gabby still incubates the egg on occasion but this is becoming less frequent. Meanwhile, N24 has discovered that ‘the egg’ makes an excellent stool to sit on.

N24 sitting on the egg. 24 February 2021.

N24 is meeting all of its milestones, growing big and strong. He is adorable. This little one was crawling up to the pantry when it was five days old. He is strong and curious. He plays with the materials on the nest picking them up and doing nestorations like his parents.

Looking beyond the nest. 28 February 2021.

And then on 27 February, one of the camera operators noticed something wrong. There appears to be a sore or a blister on the bottom of the beak on the left side and another on the top of the beak on the right where the cere begins.

28 February 2021

You can see it if you look carefully. The cam operators are able to zoom in to check on any concerns.

27 February 2021

The image below was taken at 4:59 today. You will first notice that N24 has a very large crop. He is eating well and his ps is normal.

4:59 pm 28 February 2021.

If you look at the area of the beak that was raised and red on the 27th, it appears to have changed.

Below is an image taken at 2:08 am on 29 February. N24 is awake and just did a ps and is looking around.

2:08 am N24 is alert.

I am not a veterinarian nor am I a wildlife rehabber and will not even speculate, for a second, if this is something minor or serious. However, the American Eagle Federation (AEF) is keeping a very close eye on N24. There are very strict rules for an intervention and it is a very complicated process involving permits from the United States Fish and Wildlife Services. Here is a chart provided by the AEF showing the process:

Let us all hope that our little cutie pie, N24, sleeping with its pinecone and the egg that would have been its sibling, N25, is just fine in the next couple of days and requires no intervention at all. The family is doing so well and it is such a joy to watch them in their every day activities.

12 days old.

Thank you for joining me. Please send positive wishes over to little NE24. He will be three weeks old tomorrow and we want him (or her) to have a long and healthy life.

Thank you to the American Eagle Foundation for the streaming cam at the NEFL Bald Eagle site. I obtained my scaps from their streaming footage.

Gosh, lots of nest happenings!

Today is a check in with our favourite birds. I am working on a developmental chart so that you can check and see how the various birds are growing and if they are meeting their milestone goals. That will be ready for tomorrow, hopefully. We haven’t checked in with our favourite ‘babies’ for a couple of days and there has been lots of activity.

Our first stop is in Fort Myers at the SWFL Eagle Nest with Harriet, M15, E17 and E18. Just yesterday E17, the one that picks on her little brother, was sound asleep in a food coma. E18 decided it would be a good time just to sit on her! You can tell the difference between the two because E17, two hours older, currently has many black feathers on its back.

These two just get funnier and funnier. They have been working on cleaning up the nest, looking over the edge at the world around them, and flapping those wings. When they stretch, like E17 is doing now you can see how long their legs are. Meanwhile, after they have eaten themselves silly, they often look like they are turning into snow people…round blobs with very large jelly bellies.

E18 decides that E17 is a good sofa.

The parents have been introducing the little ones to various types of prey. The eaglets will imprint the animals into their memory and know, when they are older, what to hunt. The other day there was a virtual smorgasbord of three fish, a rabbit, a squirrel, and a cattle egret. The kids have eaten til their crops were so big they simply fell over in a food coma. E18 is at the top of the screen. Have a look. Looks like he has swallowed a small ball. E18 really liked the Cattle Egret. I guess eaglets get tired of eating the same old thing, too.

M15 feeds E18 rabbit and Cattle Egret, Harriet feeds E17 fish

At the same time there has been some very concerning activity. A Great Horned Owl (GHOW) knocked M15 off a branch and into the nest the other evening. It is a wonder he was not severely injured. The owl has gotten braver and almost took Harriet out of the nest – like literally pulling her out. The owl knows that there are little ones for its dinner in that nest. The advantage the owl has is that it flies silent, like a Stealth bomber and it is nocturnal. There is concern because E17 and E18 are too big to fit under Harriet anymore. They often sleep at various places on that big nest. They would be easy pickings for that owl. I know I sound like a broken record but GHOWs are powerful opponents. There is nothing cute about them when it comes to survival.

The image below is from an established Bald Eagle nest near Newton, Kansas. A Great Horned Owl is taking it over to lay her eggs. The owl and eagle confront one another. The Bald Eagle leaves. To date, there have been no other altercations that I aware. The Bald Eagles might have found somewhere else to lay their eggs this season. The GHOW’s eggs will hatch if all goes well and the little owls will fledge at the end of April.

The image below shows the Bald Eagle decided to leave and wait to fight another day. Better safe than severely injured.

And speaking of injuries. Look at this fellow. His lead levels just continue to improve. And when they are cleaning the clinic, A Place Called Hope, he gets the run of the place to walk around. The rehabbers say he loves being ‘the big cheese’ and gets to look at all of the other patients in their cages. When the weather gets better, he will be able to go to the outside aviary. My goodness, he sure looks fabulous!

Sure are lots of changes and goings on in the bird world. Down in New Zealand, the Royal Albatross Chick of 2021 was left alone by its mother, LGL (Lime Green Lime) for the first time over the weekend. This is normal and is called ‘post guard’. The parents begin to leave them alone for periods of time preparing for when the chick will only see their parents when they return to feed them. Happily, the little chick’s dad, LGK (Lime Green Black) flew in about three hours after the mother had left. So that first solitary time wasn’t so bad except for one of the red banded non-breeding juveniles that wanted to give it a hard time and scare it. In actual fact, the older ones are just curious but they can get a little rough. This causes the little ones do get frightened. Imagine the first time you are left alone ever and some big Albatross comes over and starts pulling at your head! It had to be frightening.

Red Banded Non-Breeding Albatross giving the Royal Cam Chick the ‘going over’.

In the image below, the Royal cam chick puts its head down in submission. This is the second visit from the Red-banded non-breeder and the little one wants to protect itself.

Royal Cam Chick is afraid of the Red-Banded Non-Breeder and puts head down.

This little boy (OK, they haven’t announced that but because of its size and rapid growth everyone believes it is a boy) entertained itself with stretches and playing with nest material when it was fully alone. Over the course of the next months, it will build play nests all around its natal nest for something to do.

Solly, the Port Lincoln female Eastern Osprey, with the satellite tracker had been heading north. We have been watching her break records for moving so far away from her natal nest. Now at 154 and 155 days she appears to be heading south. Perhaps she has finished her adventure for now and is going home to her barge nest in Port Lincoln.

She had gone north of Eba Anchorage and now she has doubled back. Streaky Bay is on the way to Port Lincoln!

And one last check in for the day, little E24 over in North East Florida Eagle nest with parents Samson and Gabby. What a cutie! Talk about milestones – this little one seems like it is going to beat all of them. So precious. Pin feathers are coming and his eyes are nice and clear.

Gabby still incubates that egg and you might be wondering about it. The folks at the American Eagle Foundation determined that the second egg never began cracking. Half of E24s shell did slip over the small end and because of the yolk oozing out and an illusion where the crack was it looked like the other eaglet had been cracking around the middle to get out. They are saying that never happened. The second egg was not viable and it was all just an optical illusion.

E24 will not mind growing up an only eaglet. His parents take such good care of him and they challenge him every day with something new to learn.

To make sure that he clears the nest with his ‘ps’, NE24 tucks his head way down low and his tail high up. Incredible! Just watch out parents if you are in the line of fire.

So right now, everything is alright on the two Florida eagle nests, SWFL and NEFL. The Great Horned Owl still occupies the Bald Eagle nest in Kansas. The Eagle Warrior continues to improve. The Royal Albatross chick is growing by leaps and bounds and is in ‘post guard’ stage. Meanwhile Solly has decided, for some reason, to maybe head back home or to go back to Streaky Bay. She seemed to like that place a lot. We last saw her there a week ago or a little more hanging out with the pelicans. And NE24 remains adorable.

Thanks for checking in. Take care everyone. See you soon!

Thanks to the AEF and the streaming cams at SWFL and D. Pritchett, AEF and the streaming cam at NEFL, A Place Called Hope for the image of the Warrior, Derek the Farmer for the streaming cam with the GHOW, Port Lincoln Ospreys for the tracking information on Solly and the Cornell Cams and the NZ DOC for the Royal Cam Albatross.

As the sun goes down

Typically I check on ‘the babies’ many times a day. This evening there is a soft glow coming across the eagle nest onto Gabby and little NE24. The Japanese have a name for this particular light that shimmers down through the trees causing everything to appear slightly golden. It is komorebi and it is magical. It looks like the universe is laying a soft warm blanket around Gabby and NE24.

Just look into Gabby’s eyes gazing down on NE24. Pure love.

It is just turning 6pm. The setting sun is softly lighting the Spanish moss hanging down from the old tree, too. And up in that deep nest where Samson was born is Gabby and Samson’s little one, NE24. NE24 is nine days old today.

It is a Slash Pine tree. Sometimes these trees are called Swamp Pines because they grow in the watery swamps of Florida.

Samson’s parents, Romeo and Juliet, brought the very first twig for this nest for the 2008 breeding season. They placed twig after twig in that spectacular ‘V’ about eighty feet off the ground. And every year they added more. It is now estimated that the amount of sticks and leaf debris, moss, etc. making up the nest would weigh more than a metric tonne. For ten breeding seasons Romeo and Juliet successfully fledged every eaglet they reared in that nest, nineteen in all. There was plenty of food and little sibling rivalry.

No one knows anything about Gabrielle. She appeared one day, a female looking for a mate and Samson liked her out of all the others. We know that Samson was born on this very nest on 23 December 2013. He fledged on the 22nd of April 2014. Samson returned four years later and bonded with Gabrielle. Their first breeding season was 2019-20. The administrators for the NEFL Eagle cam named the eaglets Romy and Jules after Samson’s parents. Both fledged successfully.

The same soft glow of the day’s end falls over Bonnie, the GHO in the Eagle’s nest. Bonnie must be anticipating that her mate, Clyde, will come in with some treats for her. It has now been sometime since she had a meal because of the frigid temperatures. The temperature may stay in the range around 6 degrees F so there might be hope that those mice Bonnie loves will be running about tonight so Clyde can catch one for her.

As the sun set, Clyde was ready to wake up and go hunting. It wasn’t long until he brought Bonnie her first mouse of the evening.

I wish that my hearing and my eyesight were as good as Bonnie and Clyde’s. It is said that a Great Horned Owl has such good hearing that if a mouse steps on a twig they can hear it even if they are 23 metres away (75 feet). And, from observing Bonnie, we know that she really can turn her head for a complete 360 degree view. But, even though she is called a Great ‘Horned’ Owl, she doesn’t have any horns! How silly. But she does have those soft feathery tufts coming off of her incredible ears that resemble horns. Bonnie’s feathers are not hard like other raptors; they are very soft. The ends of Clyde’s feathers are round which allows him to fly virtually undetected – like a Stealth bomber – just not as fast. Bonnie hears him; she sits up in anticipation as he nears the nest (below).

Clyde flies into the nest with the mouse.
Bonnie quickly took the mouse.
After dinner they had a wee bit of a conversation.

We are so fortunate to be able to see the exchanges with these owls – what a rare treat! And aren’t they cute together?

Updates on all the gang will come later tonight. Have a fantastic day everyone.

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Thank you to NEFL Eagle cam and Derek the Farmer for their streaming cameras where I took my screen shots.

The Great Bird Count – and you can join in the fun

Friday, 12 February kicks off four days of bird counting. It does not matter where in the world you live. My readers come from every continent and I know that you will want to take part. So, what’s up and how can you join in the fun.

It’s free. Anyone can participate. You can count the birds in your garden, at the park, at the beach, or on a walk. And because of the frigid weather, you don’t even have to go outside. In fact, maybe you shouldn’t. You can look out of your window. You will need a pad of paper and something to write with. And you will need to log in to submit your observations. What if you don’t know what bird it is – well, the organizors have you covered. You have free access to Cornell’s Birds of the World to help you. And for anyone who submits sightings longer than 15 minutes or through the Merlin app on their phone, they will be entered to win a pair of Zeiss Terra ED 8 x 24 binoculars. Fantastic. So here is how to do.

I want you to go to: https://www.birdcount.org/participate/

I cannot get the link to embed in this posting, so please cut and paste.

Once you get to link, you will see the text and the images at the right (in the picture above). Please select the device that you will use to submit your count. You do this by clicking on one of three links in green. (If you are a group, like a school classroom, you click on Group Counting).

You will need to sign up for an account. It is free and once you have joined, spend some time at the Cornell site. There are free courses, bird identification postings, and you can find the links to all of the streaming cameras that Cornell Ornithology Lab helps to sponsor. Once you are signed up or signed in, you will need to determine what kind of a device you will be using to upload your counts. I will be using my laptop computer. During the day I will note the time I started watching my garden and what birds I saw during that period. In our garden it is particularly busy around 12 noon when we fill the feeders. I will start my bird count then. For four days I will count the birds that come to the garden. Don’t worry if you think you haven’t seen enough birds to bother. Every bird counts! And I really mean that.

Several years ago I noticed the Sharp-Shinned hawk and I went in and listed in on e-Bird. I had an e-mail that afternoon telling me that I could not have a Sharp-shinned hawk in my garden in Canada in January. But I did and I had a picture of it. Do not underestimate the importance of this count.

There will be another one in May. You can join in then or maybe you will want to count the birds more often and submit them to e-Bird. Taking a walk becomes fun. Just take a small notebook and pencil or your phone. Keep a list and submit it when you get home.

If you can’t count birds every day of the four days – no problem! Just submit when you can. You will be able to see the live count around the world. To see the live tracking go to birdcount.org

Have some fun. Get your friends to join in and compare the birds that you saw.

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One of the things that I am most interested in is bird behaviour. When Daisy the Duck had her nest in the centre of the old Ironbark Tree, where the White Bellied Sea Eagles raise their eaglets, will remember the reaction of the various birds to Daisy being in the nest. In the case of the Bald Eagles, I have noticed the behaviour of the adult male, M15, at the SWFL Eagle nest in Fort Myers since the twins returned from being at the clinic. M15 has gotten at least one gold star and last night, after sunset, he got another.

In the clinic it was noticed that E17 was extremely aggressive to E18. In fact, the behaviour got so bad that the clinic staff literally separated them at meal time. E17 got time out.

So it was with great interest that I watched a feeding on the nest just as dusk was falling tonight, 11 February. The events at this feeding are quite telling. Let me show you.

  1. At the onset, E17 is asleep. E 18 is sitting up and is awake. There is an old catfish by E18 (left) and fish to the right of the sleeping sib.

Harriet begins to feed E18 the old catfish. M15 has arrived on the nest to the right. E17 remains asleep.

Harriet is still feeding E18. E17 raises its head, opens its eyes and notices that its sibling is being fed. M15 is eating fish.

In the image below, E17 has sat up and bonked E18 who lies in the submission pose. Harriet has moved the old catfish around to feed E17.

Harriet continues to feed E17 but E18 is raising its head. M15 is now raising his head from eating. He is noticing what is happening. Eagles have amazing vision. His line of sight lets him know that E18 is not being fed any longer.

M15 leans over E17 to feed E18. Harriet does the same thing. E18 has not turned around to eat because he is afraid of E17 bonking him.

M15 actually feeds Harriet so she can feed E18. M15 hovers directly over E17 so it cannot cause any trouble.

Harriet continues to feed E18. E17 has gone to sleep. M15 is leaving the nest. Whew! I hope you can keep all of that straight.

Harriet and the eaglets are trying to sleep despite the mosquitoes which seem to be quite bad at both this eagle nest and the one near St. Augustive, NEFL.

It turned out that E18 has a very nice late dinner. He had some of the old catfish while E17 was sleeping and then when M15 stepped in, he had some of the new fish after E17 was asleep again.

And a quick check in this morning. I did not know that there are still eagles in Minnesota that did not migrate. They are apparently having great difficulty in this cold finding prey.

Down in Florida, it is a different story. E17 and 18 are already panting it is so hot.

And all is well in NEFL at St Augustine. Lots of fresh fish on deck and the little one just waiting for a nice bite.

And remember that beautiful picturesque Big Bear? Look what is happening to Jackie and Shadow today? The winds are horrific! And snow is coming down like hard pellets. Not the soft dancing flakes we have.

Poor Jackie. She has her head hunkered down. She is now into hard incubation as she did lay that second egg late last night! I hope Shadow can find you some nice prey in this horrific weather!

It looks like the only nice weather for our eagles is down in Florida right now.

That is our morning check in. Please remember to take part in the Great Bird Count if you can – and, of course, if you want to.

Will be back this evening with an update on the Eagles and how they are holding out in this weather. Take care everyone. Stay safe.

Thank you to the streaming cams at SWFL and D. Pritchett Real Estate, at NEFL, and at Big Bear. I get my screen shots form these cams.

And for the life of me I cannot get rid of this block. I had tried to post a link to you about the bird count – so ignore it!