Iris is the oldest osprey in the world – the grand dame of all of them. In her lifetime it is estimated that she has fledged between 30 and 40 chicks but no one knows for sure. It is possibly way more. Iris is known around the world and her arrival on 7 April 2021 to her Hellsgate nest made print and television news. Social media announcements were full of joy and were sent internationally. This is a huge event. No one knows when Iris leaves Missoula, Montana in the late summer if she will return from her winter migration. In fact, no one knows where precisely she winters.
The Osprey Telemetry Studies plotting map indicates that the Ospreys in Montana winter from southern Texas to Central America. None of the birds go to South America. Dr Erick Greene of the University of Montana says that wherever Iris goes it must be great as she returns to Missoula very healthy.
It is a challenging journey. We are so pleased to be able to watch this amazing bird live her life. I just wish we could find her a fantastic mate. Even after travelling so far, she visits her nest and then goes and catches a whopper of a trout to eat. Can you imagine how great a mother she still could be?
Iris lands at her Hellsgate Nest in Missoula, Montana at 10:35:55 on 11 April with a nice fish for breakfast.
In the afternoon of 11 April, Iris is working on nest renovations.
Yesterday Louis came to visit while Iris was building her nest and they mated. I know that Louis and Iris are birds but Louis has a family over at the Baseball Park and it would be nice if Iris had a mate that would help her incubate, that would feed her, and that would make certain her chicks were well taken care of and fledged. Stanley was amazing. Her years with Louis have ended badly. Iris will probably not take a new mate if she still considers Louis her mate – and his other mate is Star. I think it is sad. We will never know if the oldest Osprey in the world can still lay fertile eggs and raise chicks. Last year she lost her egg to the Raven. Louis does not provide for her in terms of help – any help – and she has to leave her egg to go and feed herself. Quite honestly, I am disappointed. Will leave it at that. Iris deserves better.
There is a very good book on Iris and her mate Stanley and the studies at the University of Montana at Missoula. It shows Iris’s old nest, the erecting of the current nest, pictures of her chicks and a good discussion of the heavy metal studies being conducted due to the mining in the region. It is called The Call of the Osprey.
Thank you for dropping in. I know that the people who love Osprey love Iris. This is just a quick glimpse at what she has been up to since returning to her breeding site in Missoula, Montana.
Thank you to the Montana Osprey Project and the Cornell Bird Lab for the streaming cam where I got my scaps and to Dr Erick Greene for posting the image of Iris and her first trout on the Montana Osprey FB Page.
At 5:24:46 pm Diane, the mother of the three osplets on the Achieva Osprey Nest almost got blow off!
There are several thunderstorms coming and going with the winds gusting very high to the wee hours of the morning. The little ones were well fed before noon.
Just so you can see precisely where this Osprey nest is on the western coast of Florida, here is a map:
I hope that your screen will enlarge this image so you can see it better. If not, I want you to look on the left hand side of the state about halfway up to the panhandle. You will see an inlet. That is Tampa Bay. Now continue up the coast. Find Clearwater. The Osprey nest is actually in Dunedin, Florida which is slightly north of Clearwater. [Note: The toxic dump that made the news last week is around Sarasota, south of Tampa Bay.]
Ospreys are, of course, not afraid of water but Tiny does not have all of his grown up feathers yet. The older siblings will want to snuggle too but I hope that Tiny got right in under Diane. Thank goodness it is not cold.
Around 6:09:59 there was a break in the water. Diane and the babies are soaked but, bless his heart. Jack arrives with what looks like a Gar – long needle like fish. It isn’t big and it won’t feed everyone but, gold stars for bringing that in. The seas had to be very rough.
The weather indicates several more hours of thunderstorms. Maybe Jack can get out and get another one before dark. It’s raining now but there is to be another thunderstorm in 45 minutes, a break and then another storm at 8pm (if the weather is correct). Sunday looks like another stormy day. Then two good days. Hopefully the weather will not disturb the feeding schedule too much on this nest. Things have been going really well for Tiny Tot.
You can barely see Tiny Tot’s back behind the chick on the left. It doesn’t look like anything will be left. We all hope for another fish to come in. A glimpse at Tiny Tot shows that he does still have a crop from the huge feed this morning. Still, it is much better if he eats because of the bad weather in the area. With the rough seas who knows when Jack will be able to bring another fish in – or what size it will be.
You can see that crop on Tiny Tot better here after that Gar disappeared. Tiny didn’t get any food but he is still full from the morning. One of the nicer things that is also happening on this nest is that Tiny Tot is being accepted more as being part of the family. When he was ‘starving’ (is there any other way to put it?) and many felt that Tiny Tot would not make it, he was ‘apart’ from the family. Sleeping alone, etc. It is good to see them together.
There is another fish delivery at 8:01:48. The light on the nest is going and it is hard to tell who specifically delivered it as Jack and Diane landed on the nest at the same time. It is also hard to see how big it is. Hopefully there will be something for Tiny Tot. He appears to have been trying to cast a pellet all day. That can sometimes interfere with any interest in food. But, let us hope the little guy is up to eating if there is fish for him. Tomorrow looks like thunderstorms again in the area.
Tiny is up to take advantage of the feeding if there is fish left. You can just catch Tiny’s head at the far right of Diane.
So hard to tell. No IR on this camera so the light can cause great difficulties in trying to tell who is who. One thing that did happen is that 1 and 2 have been at one another. #1 was always dominant but #2 is trying to take top position. #1 is not going to give it up easy. As long as the two of them battle, that is fine. They are nearly the same size. Tiny Tot is too small. It needs to eat and the older ones battling could work in its favour. The thunderstorms have started again and Diane has stopped feeding.
It is worth having a look at a different problem. Let’s head over to Loch of the Lowes. If you follow my blog, you will remember that the male, Laddie LM12, inadvertently gave a female intruder who was sitting on the nest cup a nice size fish. Laddie intended it for NC0. Why would he think another female would be in her place on the nest, right? Well, there was one. NC0 flew in madder than a hatter and kicked Laddie from the nest. To make up for his indiscretion, Laddie has been bringing in nice sized fish for NC0 to make up.
Look at that nice big fish! Laddie wants to keep NC0 happy.
Awwww. Blue 33 (11) is giving Maya a break from incubating their three eggs. What a hair cut! He is such a sweetie. Loves to cuddle with Maya and is just one of those super dads.
Thank you Jack, Laddie, and Blue 33 (11) for taking such good care of your mates – regardless of the weather.
And thank you for checking in again. Send positive wishes to the Achieva Osprey nest because this is not the end of the bad weather for them, it is just the beginning.
Thank you to the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, Achieva Osprey, Scottish Wildlife and Friends of Loch of the Lowes for their streaming cam. That is where I get my screen shots.
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
Looking out onto the garden in the morning is always a delight, even when it feels like rain or snow is coming. The sky is a white-grey. The trunks and branches of the trees are all manner of brown except for the Flame Willow which is the most striking orange-red. Our forecast is for three days of snow starting Monday. They are mostly wrong. Fingers crossed.
The Grackles are building their nest and the Starlings seem to have taken over the feeders while the Dark-eyed Junco are dancing around on the outdoor carpet finding any little seed they can. How many grains do they need to keep up their energetic activity?
For the past four years, the European Starlings and the Dark-eyed Juncos arrive in the garden in early April. This year they came in mid-March. The Starlings are known to chase the sparrows away from the feeders but, in my yard, they seem to prefer to forage around on the ground. It is the Grackle family that causes the most mischief but I adore them. They always arrive around the end of March and did the same this year. Two years ago they fledged a single chick. The extended family arrived to cheer it on. It was the most amazing moment. I am going to get an outdoor camera! There were seventeen of them gathered. The fledgling and its family all left together. Last year Mr Crow raided the nest and ate the new fluffy chicks right after the Great Horned Owl threatened its nest. It is always a big saga during the summer. Things quiet down again in October when the visitors return to their winter vacation spots.
Speaking of migration, there is a lot of news. I have borrowed the image below from the Loch Arkaig FB page. I do hope they don’t mind. The credit goes to Hugh William Martin. The posting says it all. The much loved and long awaited male osprey who doesn’t hesitate to tandem feed with his mate, Aila, stole my heart last year for that single reason. He is an amazing dad and mate. Louis will fish day and night for his family and he will help Aila keep the kids sorted. No fears for JJ7 the third, the tercel, the smaller male named after Captain Sir Thomas Moore. You will remember Sir Tom, the war hero who, at nearly 100, pledged to walk 100 lengths of his garden to raise money for the National Health Service (NHS). His goal was 1000 GBP but his venture captured the hearts of people around the world and he made over 13 million GBP for the health services in Britain. Incredible. I hope that Captain’s (JJ7) life is as long and illustrious.
But for now we celebrate the arrival of Louis. There are more than 300 people at this moment watching an empty nest; Lewis is off on his roost or fishing. Hopefully, Aila will return shortly and we will be able to watch them again outfit their nest and get to raising a healthy happy family!
In other migration news, the book, A World on the Wing. The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Scott Widensaul arrived this morning in the mail. I cannot wait to grab some time and read it. Glancing I notice a lot of material on satellite transmitters.
The other day someone watching one of the nests that I check said they did not believe in banding or transmitters – the osprey are not endangered. I would argue, as they did at Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania in the 20th century, that you need to know when you are entering a decline to find out why. That is one reason that you want numbers. How do you really know if there are too many? Hawk Mountain is on the migratory bird route from the Eastern parts of Canada and the US and they literally count the birds. A research project coming out of the University of Montana at Missoula with Dr Erick Greene has to do with migration and the understanding of the perils the birds face. Dr Green is also interested in the mercury levels in the local osprey as well as foraging and how a colony of ospreys can help one another find more food versus a solitary osprey. Some of the Montana birds are wintering in southern Mexico. At Port Lincoln, Solly, the 2020 first hatched female, was fitted with a satellite transmitter and ringed. She has already changed what we know about osprey movements away from their nest in that area where Osprey are highly endangered. Lots to learn about the long and arduous trips that all the migratory birds make – not just Ospreys! The bird books are stacking up but I do hope to get to read them shortly!
There have been a few chuckles up at the Loch of the Lowes Osprey nest since Laddie (LM12) inadvertently gave a fish to an intruder sitting on the nest and not to his mate NC0 yesterday. To put it mildly, don’t get a female Osprey upset!!! Everyone wondered if NC0 would forgive Laddie – she kicked him off the nest. Everything looked as if it was going fine this morning. NC0 returned to the nest cup. Everything appeared to be rather serene. Is she preparing to lay an egg?
But, as this soap opera continues, no more had everything appeared to be settled than the intruder arrived and Laddie flew in to assist. Didn’t someone say that there are eight Osprey males in Scotland needing mates?! or is it also this prime piece of real estate?
A female osprey has returned from her migration and has, for the past couple of days, been hanging around the Llyn Brenig nest in north Wales. It is the home to male Blue HR7 and female Blue 24. Please note the wind turbines. Some chicks have been killed in them. Spotters are hoping to identify the bird by her tag. She is being very mysterious and teasing us and not revealing anything, not even one number!
This morning I decided not to get up and check on the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg- at least, not first thing. Some days my whole body seems to go on a food strike in support of Tiny. But I seem to have helpers these days -wonderful ones -and I was told right away that Tiny was eating after 10am. So coffee in hand, I decided to go back and check. I am happy to report that although he ate last, Tiny did get 88 bites (call me obsessive) between 7:46:22 and 7::52:27. Diane offered him the tail at the end and he mantled it. Great work Tiny Tot!
Here he is with fish flakes around his mouth at 7:50 having a private feed:
And here is Tiny mantling the fish tail that Diane gave him:
Tiny had a crop, in the image above, at 8:01. He dropped that crop prior to 9:30. Note: Dropping food from the crop sends it to the stomach. It is like a holding and processing tank. At 9:40:39 a second fish was delivered to the nest. At 10:04:20 Tiny is fed. There is a lot of skin but Diane is also finding flakes of fish. Tiny had 97 bites. Diane offered him the tail. At 10:16, Tiny had a crop again. In the scheme of things anyone watching would realize that the amount of food to fill Tiny is insignificant in the face of what the two older siblings eat.
Someone asked if Tiny would catch up in size. That is an interesting question. I have not gone through all my notes but it appears that from 12 March to now, Tiny missed seven (7) complete days of food. And we know that he has not eaten nearly the amount of fish as the others on the other days. A real reveal would be to compare meals and length of feeding times since we cannot weigh the food. Still, skin or not, I was glad that Tiny was rewarded by 97 bites on that second feeding. It is nearing 4pm on the nest. Hopefully two more fish will come in before dark – two more fish that are large enough for all.
The three siblings on the Achieva Osprey nest. From left to write 1, Tiny Tot, and 2. Everyone hopes that any intruders that may be in the area will leave so that Diane can go fishing, too. We wait and hope. It is all anyone can do.
I want to leave you some close up images of Iris, the world’s oldest osprey. She returned from her long migration to Missoula, Montana yesterday. It wasn’t long til she was over in the river and had caught herself a whopper. Apparently, Louis has been around for a visit today. Louis became Iris’s mate when her faithful companion Stanley died. Louis has been around for 4 years with no breeding success. He has another family so food and nest security are all left to Iris who also has to lay the eggs, incubate, and eat. Last year a raven stole her egg. Prior to Louia, Iris has raised, it is believed, anywhere from 30-40 chicks to fledge. All are hoping for a devoted partner. Hopefully she will kick Louis from the nest for good!
And a quick peak at the two Great Horned Owlets in the Bald Eagle nest in Kansas. They are growing and growing and Farmer Derek’s snake population on his farm is declining! If you can’t get mice, snake is an excellent second choice! It is hard to believe but these two will be branching soon. They look like little people with those big eyes all wrapped up for winter. Adorable.
Take care everyone. Thank you so much for joining me and the birds in ‘As the Nest Turns’. I hope you have a great end of the week wherever you are.
Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my images: Farmer Derek, Montana Osprey Project and Cornell Bird Labs, Friends of Loch of the Lowes and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Friends of Loch Arkaig, Scottish Wildlife Trust and People Play Lottery, Friends of Llyn Brenig, and the Achieva Credit Union. Also the Friends of Loch Arkaig FB Page.
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?
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!
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?
Diane rushes over, mantles and takes the prey.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Thank you for joining me on what can only be called ‘As the Nest Turns’.
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.
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.
It is Day 4 of World Osprey Week and there are a lot of smiles as these fish hawks return from their winter migrations.
The seasonal movement of the Western Ospreys in the United Kingdom and Western Europe happens twice a year. This means that the birds travel a total distance of 8000 km or 4970 miles annually. They migrate north in the spring where the days are long. They are returning to their nests to breed. The summer in Europe is a perfect time to raise their chicks because food is plentiful throughout the food chain. They will return to Africa from August-October, travelling alone. The mothers leave while the dads remain at the nest to feed the fledglings. Once the fledglings leave then the male will depart. They will live in the mangrove forests and estuaries of The Gambia and Senegal. The adults return to the United Kingdom between February, March, and early April while the juveniles will remain in Africa.
This seasonal migration is treacherous. It is especially difficult for the young birds. Only 30% survive their first year. Just to get to Africa they have to go through the Bay of Biscay. In the map below the Bay of Biscay is directly to the west of France. It is a huge body of water with strong winds. The Osprey have to hug the coast or they can be blown out to the Atlantic Ocean and perish.
If they make the Bay of Biscay successfully, they have three other challenges. The first is the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea. Then the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and the Sahara Desert. There is absolutely no water in the Sahara and, consequently, no fish. The trees are small and there are two major predators in the desert, the eagle owls and the jackals.
They will live in the mangroves and the estuaries of Senegal, The Gambia, with some staying in Guinea.
The new arrivals in the United Kingdom are exciting.
Laddie LM12 has been fixing up the nest at the Loch of the Lowes since 21 March hoping that NC0 will return and want to be his mate. And his wish came true. NC0 arrived back at the Scottish nest today, 25 March. But instead of bringing her a nice fish, Laddie decided that more nesting material would be appropriate. The image below shows Laddie (the one mantling) arriving once he had spotted NC0 on the nest. Shortly after they bonded their relationship – to the happy delight of thousands watching on camera!
Mrs G arrived at the Bywyd Glaslyn Nest in Wales at 8:42, 25 March. Her mate, Aran, should not be far behind.
Mrs G is approximately twenty to twenty-one years old. She has been nesting at Bywyd Glaslyn since 2004. She laid 32 eggs with her first mate 11 (98) and 17 eggs with Aran. Of those, 46 hatched and 41 fledged. She has at least 100 grandchildren and 4 great grand chicks. As the oldest Osprey in Wales, she is the matriarch of the Welsh Ospreys!
Dylan arrived at Lyn Clywedog in the Hafren Forest in Wales at 19:30 on 24 March. He is waiting for his mate Seren, Blue 5F to arrive.
And others are starting their journeys. Rutland 4K (13) was fitted with a satellite tracker when he was five years old during the summer of 2018. Satellite imagery indicates he left his winter home in Guinea on 21 March and is traveling at a rate of 72 kph or 45 mph.
More and more arrivals will be coming in the next few days. What a fantastic way to wind up World Osprey Week.
And checking on on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida, I have a smile on my face. We are beginning the third day of the ‘turn around’. Gosh, I hope that I do not jinx it. It started with Diane bringing in an extra large catfish first thing on the 23rd of March. She fed the osplets for hours including Tiny Tot who had his first bursting crop for more than a week. The 24th was a good day. Crops on all during the day and this morning Jack brought in a fish with a head at 7:20:16. Tiny Tot had a nice crop! I wonder if Diane has been doing a lot of loud calling. Last night Jack landed on the nest without a fish. Diane and the three started yelling loudly – Jack took off quickly. You could almost hear Diane tell him not to come back without a fish. So the fish arrives this morning with its head – almost a first!
In the image below, Tiny Tot still has a full crop at noon on 25 March 2021.
Oh, thank you for joining me on a beautiful spring day. In Manitoba, the sun is shining and the Grackle family of 17 have returned from their winter vacation. It’s a good day.
Thank you to the Loch Arkaig FB page, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the United Kingdon Ospreys, Bywyd Glaslyn Streaming Cam, and the Achieva Credit Union for their images or streaming camera where the images were taken. Thank you to Rutland for the satellite tracking information for 4K (13).
Loch of the Lowes is a loch near Dunkeld in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. The Osprey nests are part of the Scottish Wildlife Trust along with the forested area. There are hides and there is a shop.
The loch has been a perfect place for Ospreys to nest for over fifty years. There is a large number of mature trees for nests and many sources of fish. Some of the tree nests have artificial platforms attached at the top. It is relatively predator free and the many hours of sunshine allow the Ospreys a longer time for fishing. It is idyllic for the Osprey – or was. Besides other birds of prey, other predators of the Osprey are humans – those who simply want to disturb the Osprey, the continuing problem of the egg collectors. and helicopters.
By 1916, the Ospreys were ‘extinct’ in Scotland. By 1954, there were four Osprey nests. In 1969 the area was designated as a site of special scientific interest and was purchased by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. That year Ospreys arrived late in the season, too late for breeding but they returned making the Loch Lowe nest only the fifth in Scotland at the time.
The most remarkable of the Ospreys at Loch Lowes is ‘The Lady of the Loch’ who arrived in 1990. Lady is the oldest breeding Osprey in the United Kingdom. In twenty-four years of breeding, Lady had four mates with whom she laid seventy-one eggs. She fledged fifty chicks! In 2005, Lady laid a clutch of four eggs – and she would go on before she became infertile to do that one more time in 2013. Incredible. I cannot even imagine trying to feed four Osplets!
Here is a video of Lady laying that fourth egg in 2013:
In 2010, Lady laid eggs for a record breaking twentieth time only to fall gravely ill. You have to realize that the average life expectancy of an Osprey is eight years and Lady is laying eggs for a twentieth time!!!!!!!!! The wildlife managers did not think she would live. Her new mate that year, ,her third, tagged Green 7Y, noticed that Lady was very sick and possibly dying. (Green 7Y was born in 2000 just twelve miles from Loch Lowe). He stepped up and did the fishing for her and the Osplets as well as the security. At one point, Lady quit eating. She was believed to be only hours away from dying when she watched her chicks fledge that year. Wildlife managers did not believe that Lady could undertake her migration to West Africa but she did and she returned in 2011 to lay eggs again with Green 7Y. Those eggs were not fertile. Sadly, Green 7Y did not return from his migration in 2012.
In 2012, Lady took her last and fourth mate, LM12 (unbanded but thought to be young). The pair remained together for three breeding seasons during which time their chicks were tagged with satellite transmitters. One, Blue 44, disappeared during migration in France and Spain while a 2013 female, Blue YZ, disappeared in Guinea Bisseau. Her body along with her tag were recovered in 2014. 2014 was the last year that Lady laid eggs with LM12. They were not fertile. Lady was thought to be at least twenty-eight years old (not banded and that would be the minimum age). She did not return to the nest for breeding and Roy Dennis says that he would like to imagine her in retirement sunning herself in Spain!
LM12 kept the nest with a new mate from 2015-2020. LM12’s current mate is a young female Blue Darvic tag NCO. She hatched at Loch Ness in 2016 and 2020 was believed to be her first breeding year. That spring a visitor to the loch broke the pandemic curfew riding in a kayak close enough for the nest’s microphone to pick up a cough. They so disturbed the Osprey for more than two hours that they did not return to the nest to lay their eggs. The nest had been in use constantly since 1991 – this was the first year that it was abandoned. We wait in 2021 to see if the mated pair will return.
It should be noted that the reserve area is always closed to the public, pandemic or not, during the breeding season. This was a major intrusion and sadly, it could have consequences for several years.
Here is a link to the live streaming camera at the Loch. Let us all hope that the person did not put the Ospreys off of this nest for good.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust has revised the estimate for the juveniles who migrated to Africa to return. From their experience they say that it is anywhere from 3-5 years. Perhaps there will be some sightings this year!
World Osprey Week is getting closer. It is the 22-26 of March, only nine days a way and counting. Thanks for joining me. I hope you liked the story of that remarkable female and her aerie. Just imagine all those Osplets! I hope that some of Lady’s DNA survives. I must check. Several years ago consideration was being given to some type of memorial for Lady. Will keep you posted if I find it.
What can I say? Spring is in the air everywhere and the folks in the United Kingdom are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their beloved Ospreys. There are now sightings for some of the nests and, we are, like them, getting ready for World Osprey Week. Today, the focus is on Loch Arkaig.
The staff at Loch Arkaig were shocked – pleasantly so – when the numbers of viewers of their streaming cam jumped from 60,000 to 400,000. Can you imagine? Many of the viewers during the pandemic were first time visitors to streaming cams. It is delightful because so many who began watching in the spring of 2020 now realize how much they enjoy the birds and how precarious their lives are. The people advocating for safety measures and donating to streaming cams has increased significantly. Many fell in love with the Scottish wilderness and the beautiful Osprey. Loch Arkaig is located in one of the only remaining Caledonian pine forest. These trees are part of the very first pine trees to be brought into Scotland during the Late Glacial period, about 7000 BCE.
Despite the fact that the Loch appears to be far away from Glasgow, it isn’t. If you travel to Scotland and like hiking, this area is a place not to miss. There are no less than twenty different trails near Loch Arkaig ranging from an easy walk of 9.5 km or 6 miles to a very hard walk of 224 km or nearly 15 miles. There are moors and there are hills, some of the highest in the area. And if you are a Harry Potter fan, you can catch the Harry Potter train at Fort William.
As elsewhere, the Scottish Osprey disappeared during the twentieth century. In Scotland, the game keepers of the large estates killed the Osprey because they believed they were a threat to the wildlife on the grounds. The other major destruction came from egg collectors. Breeding pairs were seen before World War II at Loch Garten but it was not until 1954 when a pair of Scandinavian Ospreys arrived at the Loch that the modern era of Ospreys began in Scotland. In 2011, there were 202 known pairs and a decade later, there are more than 300 breeding pairs. Today, the Osprey is a Scottish icon.
In the United Kingdom, the ospreys grow to about 55-62 cm or 21 to 24 inches in length. Their wings span ranges from 145-180 cm or 57 to 71 inches. Their heads are white with the tell tale brown band running from the gorgeous yellow eyes. The breast of the female has a darker apron than the males with beautiful brown plumage on the backs and wings. They weigh 1.2-2 kg or 2.6 or 4.4 lbs. They have Reverse sex-size diamorphism meaning that the female is larger than the male.
The Scottish Ospreys are a migratory species. They return to Scotland in late March (or early April) where they will stay til September raising their young before returning to Senegal or The Gambia for the winter. The clutch has an average of three eggs which are incubated for five weeks (35 days). The female does most of the incubation and brooding while the male provides the food and security. The Osplets will fledge between 51-56 days. About 21 days after the young fledge, the female leaves the nest for Africa. The male remains feeding any chicks for another 7-14 days. Then the male leaves for Africa. The juveniles also go to Senegal or The Gambia although some have been noted to remain on the southern coast of Spain and Portugal. The juveniles will not return to Scotland until they are two years old. To avoid interbreeding, the males tend to return to their natal nest area while the females go elsewhere.
The return of the Osprey is being celebrated during World Albatross Week from 22-26 March – the return of the Osprey to Wales, England, and Scotland! It is a joyous time with birders tracking the bands from the south of England and posting the notices on various FB pages. Indeed, it appears that the Ospreys in Scotland could be arriving back early. The bands on the Perth and Kinross Osprey were seen at Glen Shee flying west today, 21 March 2021 at 15:54. Wow!
Last year I marvelled at Louis and Aila at the Loch Arkaig Osprey nest. Louis first appeared in 2017 and was later joined by Aila. Their first Osplet was named Lachlan by the public and hatched in 2017. They lost their clutch in 2018 to Pine Martens (many sites are putting up protections for the Osprey from the Pine Martens) but fledged two in 2019, Mallie and Rannoch. And in 2020, nearly half a million people watched Doddie, Vera, and little Captain. To aid in identification, Scottish Osprey have a blue/white Darvic ring (blue band, 3 white letters/numbers) on their left leg and a metal British Ornithological band on their right. This is reversed for Welsh and English Ospreys. In Scotland they are called tags and in North American, they are called bands.
The unique letter and number code for Loch Arkaig Ospreys is:
JH4 – Lachlan, male, fledged in 2017 JJ0 – Mallie, female, fledged in 2019 JJ2 – Rannoch, female, fledged in 2019 JJ6 – Doddie, male, fledged in 2020 JJ8 – Vera, female, fledged in 2020 JJ7 – Captain, male, fledged in 2020
The family keeps Louis busy fishing. Loch Arkaig is 19 km or 12 miles long. Louis has brought in both fresh and salt water fish meaning that he also fishes at sea. That is apparently a little farther distance than if the fished at the very far end of Loch Arkaig. The favourite fish on the nest appear to be Brown Trout and Salmon.
In 2020, Louis brought in 553 fish. Ailia fished and brought 26 to the nest late in the breeding season. Breaking this down, information from the Loch shows that of those 579 fish there were 459 trout, 64 flat fish, 34 mackerel, 11 sea trout and grilse, 7 Arctic Char and 4 pike. Impressive.
Here is a video of the highlights from the 2020 season:
And another. Enjoy!
None of the offspring of Louis and Aila have been spotted except when Doddie stopped in at Somerset on his first migration in the fall of 2020. The journey of more than 6400 km to migrate is treacherous. They get in storms, the winds, they can be shot, there was Avian Pox in Senegal in 2021, there are droughts, water shortage, and they can simply starve to death being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The little ones are young when they leave the nest. They have a long way to travel and find food and manage on their own without their parents or siblings there to help. Let us hope that some of them are spotted this year. That would be grand. It is heartbreaking to watch them hatch, grow, and fledge and never hear another word. It is one reason I am very grateful that some of these birds have satellite trackers like Solly from the Port Lincoln Osprey nest. (The Australian Osprey do not have to migrate but the young ones still have a daunting time surviving to adulthood).
I have to admit that the Osprey have become one of my favourite birds to watch. While I am counting down to World Osprey Week in the United Kingdom, I will also be looking forward to the arrival of the Osprey in Manitoba. More on that in the late spring.
Thank you for joining me today.
Cover photo credit: “Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)” by Allan Hopkins is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
What is World Osprey Week? It is when the world joins with all our friends in the United Kingdom to celebrate the return of the Ospreys from their winter migration. It is a time for celebration, educational fun, and competitions – especially for children. There will also be a lot of videos for those of us who do not live in the UK. Congratulations to the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust who are celebrating the 25th anniversary of Osprey Week!
Ospreys are large ‘fish hawks’. In fact, they used to be included with all species of hawk but, now, they have their own category among avians. They live near water. It can be either fresh water or salt water – rivers like the one show in the image below or coastal estuaries, lakes, reservoirs, or fish hatching ponds. You will find them anywhere there are large numbers of fish. They are known for their ability to hover, like a helicopter. They do this often when landing at their nest or when fishing where they will hover over the fish until they plunge into catch that fish – feet first!
The history of Ospreys in the United Kingdom is a sad one. By the middle of World War I (1916), they were almost extinct. The demise of the Ospreys was due to shootings and egg collecting. Later, in the twentieth century, more were dying because of pesticides like DDT. Indeed, the Ospreys were one of the first of the large birds to alert the world to the threat of these harmful chemicals. Electricity is something that each of us use daily. My laptop computer is plugged in right now recharging as I write. The lamp to my right allows me to see. But this modern convenience – electricity – is a real threat to raptors such as the Osprey. Indeed, the main threats today are loss of habitat, power line collisions, and electrocution.
Operation Jimmy honours Blue CU2 ‘Jimmy’ an Osprey born in Scotland. On his migration home, Jimmy stopped in Wales and continued to return. Jimmy was very popular. Sadly, he was electrocuted on a killer pole on a windy rainy day after he had caught his last fish. People were sad and angry. But they got to work. In an effort to stop birds from landing on these electrical poles and being killed, artificial nests started being constructed for the Osprey. In this video you can see one being installed. With the addition of natural perches, it is hoped that there will not be another electrocution.
Last year there were four breeding pairs in Wales. Today I will take a quick peek at two of those nests: Glaslyn and Dyfi. The streaming cam links are posted so you can join in the fun welcoming back these very famous Osprey.
Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife (BGGW) started when the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) ended his stewardship program of the Glaslyn Ospreys in 2013. BGGW is a small community not-for-profit group that is dedicated to the care of the wildlife in the Glaslyn Valley including the current resident pair of Ospreys, Mrs G and Aran (since 2015).
What a gorgeous place for an Osprey nest!
Mrs G is the oldest breeding female Osprey in Wales. She has been breeding at the Glaslyn nest since 2004. She is estimated to be nineteen or twenty years old. Mrs G has laid at least fifty-one known eggs to date. Forty-one of those hatched and thirty-eight fledged. Mrs G has at least eight-five grandchildren – some have revised this figure to 100. Whew! Those are the ones they know about. What a legacy! Here is the link to their live streaming cam:
Another nest in Wales is the Dyfi Ospreys near Machynlleth. The current resident pair are Idris and Telyn and they are passionately adored by their followers. This project began in 2009 with the erection of artificial nest and perches. The first breeding pair were Monty and Nora. Nora, however, did not return from the winter migration. A new female Blue 12/10 took Nora’s place and was subsequently named Glensi. The couple fledged thirteen chicks between 2009 and including 2017. Glensi did not return to the nest in 2018. Did I say that migrating back and forth from the United Kingdom to Africa is dangerous? That spring Monty bonded with Blue 3J/13 named Telyn. Together the pair have raised six to fledge – three females and three males in the 2018 and 2019 season. Monty did not return after the 2019 season.
I love seeing Osprey catch fish to feed their little ones. Here is a look at Monty and Telyn in 2019 when there were three hungry mouths. Sadly, this will be Monty’s last clutch. He was an incredible provider:
Here is the link to the Dyfi Osprey Project and its streaming cam:
All over the United Kingdom individuals are posting their sightings of returning Ospreys. There are currently contests at many nests to predict when the resident pair will land. One of those is Loch Arkaig and I will be taking a look at that nest tomorrow.
I have not checked in on Solly lately and it is time. Solly, the Eastern Osprey born on the barge in Port Lincoln is 172 days old today. She has been moving between the Streaky Bay area and Eba Anchorage with a couple of flights to Haslam for several weeks. Today she is back in Streaky Bay! These satellite trackers are really quite amazing.
These three images show her movements for today (the top one) and yesterday (the bottom one). This girl loves to fly around.
It is unclear if there have been any sightings of her sibling, DEW.
Thank you so much for joining me today. Stay safe!
Thank you to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project for the satellite tracking imagery of Solly.