Tiny Tot, update – updated!

By 11:44:36, Tiny Tot had precisely nine bites of fish and a piece of fish skin.

I have felt, like so many others, gutted. Tiny Tot has survived, well beyond the first couple of weeks, through food famines and intimidation. Neither 1 or 2 pecked it to death and, indeed, if they had directly wanted to kill Tiny Tot, it would have been easier when he was smaller. Instead, the need for more food on this nest has been the main driver of the pecks and the intimidation directly and indirectly on Tiny Tot.

There are general reasons for siblicide to occur and the one most common to Ospreys is when food either becomes scarce or is perceived to be scarce. On the Achieva Osprey, this takes the form of both direct and indirect aggression to Tiny Tot. #2 sibling hovers over Tiny Tot to frighten him even though Tiny Tot might have been the first up to be fed. Individuals might also have noticed that even though #2 sibling is full, it will come and demand that Diane, the mother, feed it, instead of Tiny Tot. So, instead of direct pecking leading to death, the threats from #2 might cause Tiny Tot to starve to death. The elimination of Tiny Tot just before the older siblings fledge has no benefit to them in terms of food competition. They are grown and will not starve to death if he eats.

What I have been fighting against is the simplicity of the argument that eliminating Tiny is advantageous to both 1 and 2. As Mock et al state in their article, Avian Siblicide (1990), ‘According to this simple analysis, natural selection should always reward the most selfish act, and siblicide is the epitome of selfishness.’ Even looking at the work of Mendel and that of several British geneticists, the authors understand that helping a sibling assists the entire family – in this case ospreys – to survive. They ask, ‘Since selection favours genes that promote their own numerical increase, what advantage might there be in destroying a sibling – an organism with a high probability of carrying one’s own genes?‘ To continue to understand what could be playing out on the Achieva nest, we have to look at the youngest sibling as the marginal individual. If Tiny Tot were to survive, Diane and Jack would congratulate themselves in the way birds do on raising three healthy chicks to fledge. It is parental success! And when everyone worried that chick #2 had crop rot, Tiny Tot would have been a replacement for that bird had it died. Tiny Tot is a kind of insurance policy.

Food shortages appear to persist at the Achieva Osprey nest and those food shortages along with periods of bad weather have certainly contributed to instability. In addition, the frequency of food deliveries appears to have stimulated the aggression on this nest. Indeed, Diane, the mother, has waited to feed her chicks with no fish arriving until late afternoons sometimes. She has taken it upon herself, like today, to go and fish in order that she has food herself. She has ignored Tiny Tot at times when he is screaming and wanting to be fed – feeding instead the two older siblings. Chick #2 has been aggressive towards the mother. When Diane was feeding Tiny Tot in the wind today, even though #2 was full, it heard Tiny Tot crying for food and came and interfered in the feeding. Does chick #2 intimidate Diane the mother who is hungry and tired? Chick 2 is larger now than Diane is. Diane has had to do all of the roles on the nest. Interestingly, for two days now fish have been left on the nest in anticipation that either 1 or 2 or both would begin self-feeding. The only chick to have done this is Tiny Tot – and that was for survival. I suggest that if allowed, Tiny Tot would be feeding itself from the fish brought onto the nest provided they were unzipped far sooner than its two older siblings who simply seem to not understand what to do with the fish attached to their talons when they step on it. Perhaps this has been a blessing in disguise as Diane has fed Tiny and if the bigger ones mantled all the deliveries and ate them, would Tiny get any food? We don’t know.

So today, five fish have now been delivered to the nest. At 3:55:01 Diane brings in one of her huge catfish. There is going to be a lot of bone and skin but, the other two had three other deliveries including a large fish coming in at 1:01:20. Surely to goodness both Diane and Tiny Tot will get some of this whopper.

Diane brings her whopper of a catfish to the nest. She is an excellent fisher! 18 April 2021

Tiny Tot got himself right up by Diane. If he is going to be fed, this is the place to be. The two big siblings cannot be that hungry. Look at Diane’s thin legs. They say that the parents, especially the mother birds, lose weight taking care of the chicks. It is often cited as being at least 30% of their body weight. Some bird species only breed every other year so that the adults can get into good physical shape. A good example of are the Albatross. I wonder why evolution has not allowed for that in other species like the Osprey?

I love this image. Both 1 and 2 are still up at the rim of the nest but there is Diane feeding Tiny Tot. Yesterday, I wondered if she had decided to stop feeding him.

In reality, Tiny needs to survive the self-feeding and fledging of the two older siblings. Then Diane can feed him and her alone. He is determined and clever and I would hope that those qualities might trump selfishness. But that is me being human.

It is 5:11 and Diane has been feeding Tiny Tot and 2 has decided to get antsy and aggressive. Tiny is very aware of what is happening. That is one reason he has survived.

I wonder how much food Tiny Tot will get?

In the image below, 2 is walking away from Diane. 1 is still up wanting some bites and Tiny Tot has his eye open. He is listening and watching for a chance of more fish.

There is still more fish. You can see it between Diane’s legs above. It is hoped that Tiny will get another opportunity to feed. But, he got some nice big bites of fish, more than the nine that he had this morning. Everything helps him live for another day. Some people wonder why he doesn’t fight? My first response is it uses up too much precious energy. And being clever, Tiny would know that the others are too big now and could if they wanted kill him. So Tiny Tot is being smart and taking advantage of any opening for food he can – whether it is chewing a bone or sticking right up front with Diane as long as he can!

The fifth fish came in at 7:33:46. Diane fed the older siblings and at around 7:46 she began to feed Tiny Tot and did so for approximately eight minutes. So he has gotten food from at least three fish – not huge amounts but food nonetheless. Remember, Tiny Tot just has to survive the older two til they fledge and hopefully he will be fed well til he can fledge. It needs to be noted that the older ones will also require supplemental feedings after fledging so it could get a bit tricky.

Thank you for joining me on this update. Please send your warm wishes to this nest. At midnight the weather is showing a 40% chance of thunderstorms increasing to 80% during the day on Monday and 90% on Tuesday. Tiny needs all the food he can muster!

Thank you to the Achieva Credit Union in Dunedin, Florida for their streaming cam. That is where I took my screen shots.

Good article on siblicide comparing five bird species: Mock, Drummond, and Stinson (1990). ‘ Avian Siblicide.’ American Scientist, 78, pp. 438-449.

Eagle Tales and an update on Tiny Tot

It seems like it was almost yesterday when the female Bald Eagle at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey was encased in snow.

And then, there were two! The first eaglet hatched on 26 of February while the second one made its way out of that hard shell on 3 March. They were nicknamed ‘Li’l’ and ‘Big’ by the chatters on the Duke Farm streaming cam. And many worried that ‘Li’l’ was not getting enough to eat.

4 March 2021

Here they are precisely two weeks later. Look who is in front!

18 March 2021 A feeding after the rain.

And here they are today with juvenile plumage. Very beautiful and healthy eaglets! When they are banded, one or both of them will be fitted with a satellite transmitter. Rumours say it is EagleTrax brand.

“20180220-Duke Farm color” by Gary 光原 Liu is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Duke Farms is not new to banding or tracking and I really applaud them for this. On 1 May 2019 they banded the younger male E/88 and fitted him out with a satellite tracker. They wanted to know where the juveniles went after they fledged. This is a question many have been begging to find out about the eyasses of Big Red and Arthur, the Red-Tail Hawks whose nest is on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Where do they go? do they survive? The eaglet was named ‘Duke’. Duke went on line on 17 September 2019. He made several trips to Pennsylvania, several back into New Jersey and settled in Maryland on the Susquehanna River in the Upper Chesapeake Valley. He returned to New Jersey in early November 2020. On 24 November 2020 he was photographed eating a deer carcass with an immature female in a field. On 19 January 2021 he was actually at the Millstone River in New Jersey, close to his natal nest.

“Millstone River – Ricoh FF-9 1:3.5 f=35mm Compact 35mm Film P&S (1988) & Fuji 400 ISO Film” by Logos: The Art of Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

If you want to see images of ‘Duke’ please go to this site:

http://www.conservewildlifenj.org/blog/category/duke-farms-eagle-cam/

Achieva Osprey Update: There has been a lot of fish delivered to this Osprey nest in Dunedin, Florida today. I have actually lost count. At least 5 or 6 and Jack just came in with a big hunk of fish and left because Diane still had fish she was feeding, The issue is: Tiny had only a few bites all day. It is an extremely sad situation. Tiny had a few bites today while the others ate and ate. There was a delivery at 4:53:28 and this one hot on the heels at 6:56:30. Tiny has managed to get between the mother’s legs and is getting some bites – some were nice size. It is 7:30. But Diane moves away and takes the fish and the two big ones are now resting on the nest and eating! Tiny gets some food around 8pm but Diane is feeding one of the big ones at the same time.

The light is going away. Tiny has managed to grab some bites. This was a really big fish. There should have been lots for him. You can see the tail to the left of Diane’s feet.

Diane has moved the fish again and is feeding Tiny and one of the big ones. The big one leaves and Diane is getting some food too. Tiny gets some bites. It is unclear how much of the fish is left or how much Tiny will get. The fish was moved again and Tiny started eating again around 8:19. It looks in the poor light that he might have a crop. Oh, my. How grand.

Thank you for joining me today. I hope the weather is nice where you are. The snow is still coming down on the Canadian prairies.

Thank you to the streaming cams at Duke Farms and the Achieva Credit Union in Dunedin, Florida.

Maya lays first egg of the UK Osprey season

Maya is a untagged/unringed female Osprey. She is the mate of Blue 33 (11) at Rutland. For the 2021 Osprey season in the United Kingdom, the pair returned from their winter migration to Africa on 19 March. They were the first two to arrive back! Blue 33 (11) arriving at 12:29 and Maya (unringed) arriving at 12:56. That was fabulous timing. The pair actually mated at 1pm. And no sooner than the couple had finished their nestorations than Maya laid the first egg of the 2021 Osprey season. It was around 21:00 on Sunday the 29th of March. Congratulations Blue 33 (11) and Maya!

You can see the pair on the nest and Maya laying that historic egg here:

Maya left the egg to take a short break. There it is!

And while Maya and Blue 33 (11) will be contemplating a second egg, others are just arriving in from their migration. The list of the arrivals is growing and instead of making a lengthy list, you can check the arrivals on the following link:

http://ukospreys.uk/arrivals.htm

The list is updated including the column for eggs, chicks, and ring numbers daily. The United Kingdom loves their Ospreys and they have an amazing network to monitor arrivals and departures.

Here is a gorgeous shot of Blue F5 called Seren. She arrived back on the 29th of March. She is the mate of Dylan (unringed) on the Clywedog Reservoir Nest. Located near Llanidloes, Wales at the head-waters of the River Severn, it is truly an area of great beauty. In the winter 5F spends her time in the Tanji Marsh in The Gambia. She has been photographed there for the past seven years by Chris Wood.

Here she is with the sun setting looking out over her territory. Isn’t she gorgeous?

What a view Seren has!

“Llyn Clywedog” by Darryl Hughes is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Loch of the Lowes in Scotland is equally enchanting and is home to Laddie and NC0, we think. NC0 did return to Laddie’s nest after her migration to Africa and they have mated. We will have to wait to see how this goes! They are sometimes a bit awkward with one another.

“Loch of the Lowes” by Graeme Pow is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It’s such a gorgeous place that Laddie and NC0 (in the nest) have had to chase off intruders! Too few great nests in good prey territory.

Here is beautiful NC0 all by herself on the nest:

Sadly, the third osplet on the St Petersburg nest has been shut out of all food deliveries today, thus far. There were two small fish and then one huge one. 3 or Tiny Tot got 1 bite. You can see him leaning over the rim of the nest at the back right behind one of the elder ones. The two older kept it from eating even when they were full.

The biggest one went over when it thought the mother would feed the small one and made sure it did not get up to get fed. It is a sad reality when there is a sense that there is only enough food for 1 or 2. If you could scoop Tiny Tot up and take it to a facility and it could eat and get bigger and stronger and put it back on the nest, this chick might survive. The issue is that no one is ready to intervene in that way – yet. They did at Rutland and I am very impressed. They even brought a food table for the mother. I often think of Spilve’s nest in Latvia. If someone had placed a food table for her, Klints might have lived and fledged. But the rules of engagement with wildlife have to be changed in order for these things to happen. If we can only help wildlife when something that a human did has caused the issue, then what about habitat loss, toxic water, and pollution reducing prey?

Will Tiny Tot survive another day with one bite of food in three days total and temperatures of 28 degrees C? I will remember this clever little one for the energy he drew up in himself to figure out and walk around the rim of the nest, to get under the mother to eat. He is too dehydrated today to do that. He is too worn down and he cannot PS anymore which means his body is shutting down. I hope his suffering ends. It feel utter despair and I hope that there will be a conversation of the role that humans need to have in helping the non-humans.

So when you see me say that I wish all nests had only two eggs hatch, Tiny Tot and Tapps from the PLO Nest and the third one of Iris’s osplets a couple of years ago are the reason.

We need to see a couple of other happy bird moments and there are so many. I want to close with two. The first is a picture of the two chicks in the Black Kite Nest in Taiwan. Their mother is feeding them. It is such a peaceful sight and to think they survived a fire just two weeks ago. They are simply adorable these two.

The two youngsters on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nest are doing splendid. This is the nest of four year old Harry and his mate, unknown age, Nancy. Harry struggled and he has even caught on to feeding the little ones. It is magnificent.

Look at this girl. This is Legacy from the NE Florida Bald Eagle Nest in Jacksonville. Oh, this wee one had an eye irritation and then got Avian Pox and over came it to turn into this big strong eagle. Oh, how I wish we could put a coloured ring and number on these kiddos so we would know what happened to them. Sadly less than 50% of all juvenile eagles survive. She looks like a survivor to me!

Thank you so much for joining me. The birds bring us great joys and deep, deep sadness. Who would have thought? Take care everyone. Stay safe.

Thank you to the streaming cams where I took my screen shots: the NEFL Bald Eagle Nest and the AEF, The Black Kite Nest in Taiwan, MN DNR, Achieva Osprey, Scottish Wildlife, the Rutland Wildlife Trust, and Clywedog.

Featured image is Mrs G and Aran at the Glaslyn Nest in Wales.

Eating snakes, eating, and not eating

I wonder how many people have seen a Garter Snake on a Great Horned Owl Nest? I sure haven’t! But through the technology of the streaming cam hundreds watched as Bonnie, the GHOW, tried to deal with just that. Yes, Clyde brought her a snake and it still had the head on it!

At first you might have been fooled into thinking it was someone’s garden hose but, nope. Lily apparently horked a nice big chunk of it and I am pretty certain if Lily had a piece so did Bonnie and Tiger.

Look at how big that first owlet, Tiger, is! You can see the pin feathers on the wings and body starting. Bonnie is going to have a harder and harder time keeping these owlets in that nest bowl.

And I should probably stop saying ‘Little’ Kisatchie. The eaglet in the nest near Kincaid Lake in Central Louisiana, named after the Kisatchie Forest, is quite big. Anna and Louis are first time parents and they keep Kisatchie full to the brim. Today, there were lots of people walking around in the park and the nest was not loaded with fish like it normally is but, look at the crop that is coming on this eaglet! Anna insists on ‘pushing’ the food in until Kisatchie can’t take another bite! Oh, what a contented nest. If every nest could be guaranteed one healthy hatch, oh, if!

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the Achieva Osprey nest. And for anyone reading this that gets upset about sibling dominance, then please stop here.

This morning Brutus, the oldest, got all of the fish save for a few bites for Tiny Tot. It is unclear if 2 got anything. A gar came in around 6:05 and Brutus again ate all of it while both Tiny Tot and 2 took the submissive pose. They curl up and hide their heads to protect them from the pecking. The problem is literally a growing one. Brutus eats lots more and grows and then requires more food. Tiny Tot and 2 are probably in sub-par survival mode today.

Intellectually I understand dominance, ‘survival of the fittest’ and even understand siblicide but it sure doesn’t make it any easier to watch. I am not saying that is what is happening here. But with the heat and storms of last week, the eldest has been triggered to dominate all the food, not allowing the others to eat until it is full. That sometimes means they go without.

The image below shows Brutush eating the 6:05pm fish. Tiny Tot is in submission as is 2 on the other side of Brutus.

Tiny Tot has remained in submission. Brutus feels 2 moving and stops eating to go and peck its head and shake it so that it will not come up for food. Neither Tiny Tot or 2 attempt to eat anything.

Jack brought in another fish at 8:02. As might be expected, Brutus is up at the front but it is not really wanting to eat. Diane pushes flakes of fish in its mouth. It is there to intimidate the other two who not having eaten more than a few morsels all day are hungry. But they are not eating. Brutus being there is enough. Yesterday the two held their own and ate but, not today.

And Mom was hungry, too. And so..only mom and Brutus ate.

We will just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings. This nest has fooled me before.

Thank you for joining me. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the Achieva Credit Union, the Kisatchie National Forestry Department, and Farmer Derek for their streaming cams. That is where I get my scaps.