Name the Chick Contest

The New Zealand Department of Conservation have opened up the contest for the naming of the Royal cam chick of 2021. You can enter, too. Here is the poster and the URL for additional information:

This year’s Royal Cam chick is a female. She is the daughter of Lime-Green-Lime (LGL) and Lime-Green-Black (LGK). The parents are named after the coloured ring bands on their legs. Only the Royal Cam chicks get an official Maori name. In fact, in 2019, LGL and LGK were the parents of Karere who was the royal cam chick that year.

This year’s chick hatched on 24 January 2021. The eggs are removed from the nest near hatch and placed in an incubator. A dummy egg is put under the parent at the time. This is to ensure that no fly strike kills the newborn. When the chick is returned, the dummy egg is removed, the nest is sprayed with a substance that will not harm the birds, and the chick is placed under the parent. The rangers at Taiaroa Head do many checks on the health and safety of both the parents and the chick daily.

The royal cam chick just hatched in the incubator. 24 January 2021. @Ranger Julia NZ DOC

She is the sweetest, soft as a cloud gorgeous indigo eyed sea bird!

The Royal Cam chick and her beautiful indigo eyes. 9 April 2021

Here she is getting a feeding from LGK, her dad, today:

The royal cam chick is tapping at her father’s bill to stimulate feeding. 9 April 2021

From the time this beautiful fluff ball was born, she was taught to tap the parent’s bill in order to stimulate them to regurgitate the oily squid food for the little one. When the chick is very small the parents will take turns staying with it and feeding it little bits many times per day. As the chick gets older, the meals are larger but farther a part. After about six weeks, the chick is in the pre-guard stage where the parent leaves it alone for awhile. Then both parents are out foraging for food. This chick is now left alone and the parents only return to feed her.

LGK is leaning down so he can feed his royal cam chick. 9 April 2021

This year’s royal cam chick’s parents, LGL and LGK, are fitted with satellite transmitters that show where they are fishing. The red is for LGL, the mother and the blue is for LGK, the father. The piece of land jutting out about a third of the way up from the bottom is Taiaroa Head. You can see the point where the land and take off. That is their chick!

The NZ DOC rangers on Taiaroa Head weigh the chicks every Tuesday. In the event that a parent has been away for an extended period, the staff will give the chicks a supplemental feeding should it be required.

You can watch the Royal Cam chick here:

Watching the comings and goings at the Royal Albatross nest is the total opposite of watching the Achieva Osprey nest. If the Albatross chicks get too hot, there is a sprinkler system to help cool them off. The rangers often switch out the eggs should one couple lose their chick and another parent not return. Everything is done for the welfare of the these sea birds. There are no worries about whether or not the little one will get enough to eat! It is recognized that human impact on the climate, specifically, and the planet overall (over fishing, not taking care and albatross caught as bycatch) has made these things necessary. There is no debate, no paper work that takes days – the rangers are ready to go should anything be required.

Thank you for joining me today. Look up the guidelines for the name the chick contest and then check out Maori names and their meanings. There are lots of great prizes and it is a lot of fun. As we get near to World Albatross Day in June there will also be contests for children – and cake contests we can all enter!

Thank you to the NZ Department of Conservation and the Cornell Bird Lab for their streaming cam and Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg. That is where I get my screen shots. Thank you also for caring about your wildlife NZ. It warms my heart.

ACHIEVA OSPREY UPDATE: Tiny had 2 feedings today, 8 April before 10:30 am. Another fish came in at 7:08:20. It was medium sized. Tiny kept his head down til he knew the bigger 2 had eaten. He went over to mom but there was no fish left for him or her. Both are very hungry. The mother brought in two of the three fish today.

In the image below you can see that Tiny is up by mom, Diane, but nothing left for either one of them. Hoping for more and bigger fish tomorrow. Sad situation. I would really like to understand the ‘why’. I just looked at the Venice Golf and Country Club Osprey nest with its three and each one is great. What is happening on this nest? and why?

Tiny has finally been able to get up to mom but there is not a scrap of food left for him or her. 8 April 2021.

Saving their wildlife

The New Zealand Department of Conservation takes care of the country’s wildlife. If there is a problem, especially one created by humans, there will be ways to intervene on behalf of the non-humans. The country is quite amazing. I have a dear friend who lives there who says, “New Zealander’s love their birds and what the government is doing to protect them”. The only other comment my friend has is that they hope the country will end the use of coal.

Northern Royal Albatross. Wikimedia Commons.

During 2021, the NZ government will be undertaking a broad study of the Northern Royal Albatross. A part of this study will involve attaching trackers to birds on Chatham Islands as well as the mated pair that are the parents of the Royal Cam chick at Taiaroa Head. The solar powered trackers are extremely light and weigh 20 grams. They are placed on the back feathers and will stay in place until the first moult, approximately one year. You might remember from an earlier posting that Australia put a tracker on Solly, the female Eastern Osprey, born on the barge at Port Lincoln this year. Already Solly is changing what is known about those amazing sea birds and the tracking of the Albatross will yield, hopefully, good results, too.

Lime-Green-Black (LGK) was on the nest so his transmitter was attached today. When Lime-Green-Lime (LGL) returns to relieve LGK from his feeding duties, the rangers will attach hers.

Below is an image of LGK spreading his wings. You can see his tracker. And look! there is the chick looking at its dad. Hopefully the information the trackers provide new information for the researchers. At the same time, we know that these transmitters are able to show how close the albatross are to legal fishing vessels as well as illegal. Perhaps, some way, they can help bring about international legislation to end fishing practices that cause these gentle birds to become bycatch.

Royal Cam Chick of 2021 looking at its dad, LGK.
Royal Cam dad, LGK with his tracker, resting above the chick at sunset, 11 August.

The New Zealand DOC is extremely active ridding Taiaroa of predators that humans have introduced. Those in need of protection that are listed as vulnerable, endangered, or near threatened include the Otago Shag, the Northern Royal Albatross, the Sooty Shearwater, and the Red-billed Gull. The predators that have required eradication are stoats, rabbits, hedgehogs, and feral cats. The DOC has various methods that they use to capture these animals. In their information, they indicate that they gauge their success rate by the number of chicks that are alive not by the number of predators that are caught. Increased heat causes more flies and there are issues with fly strike and newborn albatross. Rangers spray the nest with an insecticide to eliminate this issue.

There are other human introduced issues to other wildlife at Taiaroa such as the Blue Penguin. The rising heat from climate change, fishing net, line, and hooks, marine pollution such as oil spills, chemical spills, and plastic are among the direct threats caused by humans.

Halfway around the world from New Zealand is tiny Gough Island.

Gough Island, December 2005. Photo by M. Chowd. Wikimedia Commons.

They are separated by 10,964 km (6812.7 miles) and yet Taiaroa Head has much in common with Gough – mainly, Albatross! Gough Island is rugged and is a UK territory and it is home to the Tristan Albatross which is on the verge of extinction by human introduced rats that have grown into mega-sized monsters.

Tristan Albatross, 2009. Photograph by M. Clarke. Wikimedia Commons.

In the 19th century, sailors brought mice with them when they arrived on Gough. They have no natural predators on the islands. The mice learned to love the taste of the Albatross eggs and the chicks. With no where to flee, the birds were literally ‘sitting ducks’ so to speak for the mice who grew into enormous rats. They are so big and so bold now that they are attacking even larger sea birds and endangering the Atlantic Petrel and the MacGillivray prion. They are, in fact, able to eat a large seabird whole and alive. Cameras have caught the rat behaviour and it is alarming. The rats gather at night and form groups. As many as nine will attack a nest.

The operation is due to take place in 2020. Given the location of the island, it is an enormous logistical challenge.

It involves chartering a ship from South Africa, which will carry two helicopters and a load of poisonous, cereal pellets. These will then be spread across the island by the helicopters. They contain an anticoagulant which should kill the mice within 24 hours.

The eradication of the mega-rats was supposed to happen in 2020 but will now take place this year. And it is a seriously difficult task. In fact, sitting on the Canadian Prairies, this seems like a logistics nightmare. Gough Island is tiny and in the middle of the Atlantic. The plan, as I understand it, is to charter a ship in South Africa that will then travel over some of the roughest seas in the world carrying helicopters and poisonous cereal pellets. They will be dropped from the helicopters onto the island. The poison that will be used is the same type as that which people are lobbying to be banned. I have been writing about this since the death of Peace and Hope at the Captiva Nest.

Of course, before any of this can happen any birds or other animals on Gough will need to be removed safely. I wish I could ask someone questions. What happens to the cereal pellets that aren’t eaten? could the poison go into the soil? what if there are cereal pellets left and the returning birds eat them? I am sure that these have been answered somewhere because the debate on how best to deal with the issue of the ever-growing rats and rat population on Gough has been on going for at least a decade.

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Updates: Gabby is feeding E24 a gourmet meal of squirrel and fish. And this little one is so cute. When mom gets up it follows her big yellow beak because it knows that food is coming. Its eyes, feathers, and general overall appearance, despite the mass of nasty mosquitoes at night, seem fantastic. There appears to be no more change to the egg.

Cute and fuzzy, changing from white to grey before our eyes.


E18 was wanting more of the fresh catfish and then…

E17 woke up and noticed! E17 immediately came over and demanded to be fed while pulling at the little one’s wing. This kid really needs a time out.

E18 is, however, learning how to deal with the issue. It goes down in a pose of submission but making sure its back is to the larger sibling. This protects its head and neck.

Both eaglets had big crops and after two bites, E17 fell over in a food coma and the little fella turned back around and ate lots more fish. Good work around E18! Maybe you will give your sis another one of those mysterious wing pokes today!!! Bad old sister.

Ah, sweet. Nothing like having a fresh catfish dinner by yourself.

Proud parents, M15 on the left and Harriet on the right are really enjoying having their babies back. I know many worried that they might not accept them but from the evidence above all is well. Including E17 being a little stinker!

The bitter cold that hit Canada, that Polar Vortex, dipped way down into the United States including the eagle nests along the Mississippi River. Historically, Starr has laid her eggs around the middle of February. She is seen in the image below on the right with one of the Valors to the left (apologies I can only identify them from the front). Ground watchers say that the trio have been working on the nest despite the very blistery cold weather. They have also reported that Starr spent last night sleeping on the nest. Eggs coming soon!

It’s a great photo actually showing the difference in size between the female (on the right) and the male (on the left).

The cold weather in the US is treacherous. The birds are definitely not used to these types of dipping temperatures. Many spend the winter in Kansas and Oklahoma and do not migrate. I wonder if this winter might change that. It is being reported in Kansas that the beautiful hawks are freezing. Many are being rescued by kind individuals. If you live in areas where there are hawks, put the number of the local wildlife rehabilitation clinic on your cell phone in case you see a bird that needs help and you don’t know what to do. Thank you!

All of the eagles and the Albies are doing good today. There is news coming out of Pennsylvania, despite the cold weather than another mated pair of Bald Eagles have laid their first ever egg. It is eggciting! News on that later tonight in a quick update on that and I plan to check in on Solly and she where she is today. Wonder what new records that beautiful Eastern Osprey is breaking today?

Stay safe everyone. If you are in the area of this extreme cold weather, stay inside. Make sure your cell phone is charged. Stay warm. Double up your socks. Whatever you need to keep well.

Thank you so much for stopping by. It is so nice to have you with me.

Thank you to Cornell Lab Cams, the NZ DOC, the SWFL cam and D. Pritchett family, and the NEFL streaming cam where I grab my images.