Fantastic Osprey News

First up, Louis has landed on the Loch Arkaig Nest – no joke. He touched down at 18:14pm on 11 April to begin the 2021 season at Loch Arkaig. No more worries about the intruder bird (we hope) that was making itself comfortable. Let us all hope that Alia is right behind. What a relief! There were cheers around the world, literally. And tears of great joy rolling down hundreds of eyes.

Over at the Loch of the Lowes, Blue NC0 now called Nessie – has laid her and Laddie’s first egg for the 2021 season. And this is a huge relief just like the arrival of Louis. How grand. It will be wonderful to see little ones on this nest. Note: Laddie and NC0 raised one chick in the 2020 season.

At the Foulshaw Moss Nest, Blue 35, who arrived back on 26 March, has laid her first egg in the snow! Her mate is White YW. Their nest is in a bog in Cumbria. Fantastic! The nest bowl is very deep. We might get a glimpse of the egg during an incubation exchange but, for now, it is nice and cosy in this wintery weather.

And the very first sighting of Blue 222 born on Kielder Nest 1A in 2018 was on 8 April in Aberdeenshire! I mean how wonderful is this. The migration is difficult, especially for just fledged ospreys. To have one survive and to see it catching a huge fish is marvellous. The image was taken by Rob MacDonald and posted on the Loch Arkaig FB page. I hope he does not mind my using you to tell you of this wondrous event. Imagine from the fall of 2018 to now – not knowing anything about the survival of this bird and here she is! Splendid.

There she is with a gorgeous fish she has caught – big enough she has to use both talons. Her name is Binkey after Binkey Burn, a tributary of the Cranecleugh Burn that flows into the Kielder.

Over at the Glaslyn, Aran comes in and gives Mrs G a break to eat. Mrs G has been eating for more than an hour! We also get a glimpse of the egg in the exchange of incubation duties!

Aran on incubation duty while Mrs G enjoys her fish. 11 April 2021.
Mrs G enjoying her fish. 11 April 2021.
A great look at Mrs G’s first egg of the 2021 season. 11 April 2021.

I wish the news of the weather down in Dunedin, Florida were better. The Achieva Osprey nest is soaked to its core.

I am happy to report that two fish did arrive on the nest during breaks in the weather. Tiny Tot ate from 7:27:45-7:48 and then again from 10:32:03 to 10:44:44. Tiny Tot had dropped the crop that he went to sleep with on the 10th of April. It is unclear if he had any of the fish that was delivered right before the skies opened to rain last night. He has not had a crop from the amount of food he has eaten but he has eaten and that is a good thing!

There is Tiny with his juvenile plumage coming in being fed by Diane.

It is nearly 3:30pm nest time in Florida. The water is still dripping off the birds but it looks like there is a lull in the weather. There is rain but no thunderstorms. From the weather report that heavy rain and thunderstorms will begin in about half an hour and continue past 7pm. Let us hope that Jack can sneak in a fish. It is 19 degrees going up to 23 Celsius. The weather for Monday thru Wednesday is better. Hoping to get Tiny Tot some more crops then before the storms start again next weekend.

3:30 pm 11 April 2021. Diane keeping the babies dry as best she can.

Thank you for joining me today. I hope that the good news will rub off on Tiny Tot’s nest with the arrival of a big fish during a break. Have a good rest of the weekend everyone. Take care.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams or their FB postings: Woodland Trust Loch Arkaig, Post Code Lottery, Friends of Loch Arkaig FB Page, Achieva Credit Union, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Bywyd Gwyllt Wildlife Trust, and Friends of Loch of the Lowes and Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Wow…the weather! And three great bird dads.

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.

As Friday comes to an end and Saturday begins, Bird World is good

I spent Friday watching five fish being delivered to the St Petersburg Achieva Credit Union Osprey nest. Yes, you read that correct – there were five fish deliveries! I have already reported on the four and Tiny Tot’s strategies to getting fed mega fish. Well, before we check on a few other nests, let’s look at this last feeding.

The fifth fish arrives at 5:32:35. Now, Tiny Tot just finished eating from the fourth fish at 4:23. At that minute, Diane could not force him to take another bite. He pancaked. Tiny Tot finally felt what it is like to be so full you simply cannot stand to think about taking one more bite of fish. For Tiny, this is such a fantastic place to be.

I don’t think anyone was expecting the fifth fish to arrive when it did. Indeed, the older siblings were busy watching the traffic. Diane offers Tiny the first bites but he is still too full. It looks like sibling #1 wants some bites. Mom moves the fish away from Tiny. The older sibling stops and you can almost hear Tiny saying, ‘Did someone say fish?’ Tiny decides that, yes, he can hold some more fish! Why not? My favourite image is of the two older siblings looking down and realizing that Tiny Tot is still eating. You could almost hear them say, ‘Didn’t know the kid could eat so much! We better get in there before he eats the entire fish!’

At 5:48:28 one of the big sibs is ready to eat. Tiny Tot does not care. He couldn’t eat another bite. Tiny Tot moves away the fullest he has been in a single day – probably all his life! Wow.

What a happy Osprey nest. This is the way it should be. Full, happy, growing and healthy babies. Jack comes in to check and see if there are any leftovers at 6:53:58. Jack and Diane might have been used to bringing fish back and forth and it lasting. The last two seasons there has only been one chick each year. This year it is triple.

I got a giggle. My daughter said it looked like Diane was having a chat with Jack telling him how nice and quiet it is when all the kiddos are full and sleeping. Maybe Jack will get the hint – we need lots more fish every day just like today.

I note that the temperature is quite warm in St Petersburg today. Still, Jack pulled off some nice fish – five of them. He ate well, Diane got to eat – finally and the kids are full. Glorious. Jack you get the bouquet for the day! Your fishing skills were fantastic today. Keep up the good work.

Worrying about whether Tiny Tot was going to eat or not has really stopped me from checking on some of the other birds that we love. And, some of them are really getting close to the fledge. What is fledging? At around 77-84 days, or 11 or 12 weeks, eaglets will take their first flight. This does not mean that they will be leaving the nest forever! No, no. They will remain near the nest where they were born for a month, 6 weeks, or for some, 2 entire months. During this time they hone their flying, landing, and hunting skills. Their parents will continue to provide them with food.

Leading up to fledging, the eaglets will jump, flap their wings and look like they are on a trampoline both jumping and flapping. Then they will branch. Branching is when they will leave the nest bowl and land on one of the branches of the natal tree.

Look at beautiful Legacy (N24). Isn’t she a stunner? Her parents are Samson and Gabrielle. Her grandparents were Romeo and Juliet. She was born in the same nest that her father, Samson, was born. She overcame Avian Pox and look at those deep ebony eyes.

Legacy hatched on 8 February. She is now 60 days old. She has been preening and there is some of her baby down stuck to her beak.

You can still see a few bits of soft white down coming out where she has been preening.

Legacy is a blur she jumps up and down! Oh, she must love the wind under those wings of hers.

You can watch Legacy as she prepares for branching and her first flight.

And I can’t check on Legacy up in Jacksonville without going across the state to check in on E17 and E18. These are the twins of Harriet and M15 at the Fort Myers Bald Eagle Nest on the Pritchett farm. They were born on 23 January 2021. That makes them 75 days old today and right at the beginning of fledge watch.

Both of them have been branching.

E17 and E18 have done everything together. There are many who assume that when one flies, the other will follow. If you haven’t checked in on the SWFLorida Eagle cam, here is the link. It is really exciting to see these juveniles take their first flight.

There have been some interesting developments in Latvia on the nest of Milda. Milda is the mate of Raimis. They are White-tailed Eagles, a critically endangered species in Latvia. Milda laid three eggs but Raimis has been missing since 27 March. Milda remained devoted to her eggs and stayed on the nest with no food. Since her mate disappeared there have been at least three intruders around the nest, at least two males and a female. Because she has no mate to feed her, Milda stayed on the eggs as long as she could without starving herself. She left on day 8 to find food. Since then she has left several times to hunt and eat leaving the eggs exposed to very cool temperatures. It is now believed that they are no longer viable. In a strange twist today, Milda got up to leave and one of the strangers, they are calling him Mr C, tried to come on the nest and incubate the eggs! Milda caught him and chased him off.

Milda sees the other eagle on the branch.
Milda needs to take a break and flies off her eggs.
The eggs are uncovered on the nest.
The male stranger flies down to the nest from the branch and goes to incubate the eggs.

In the bottom image you can see the male White-Tailed Eagle that had been on the branch come down and move to incubate the eggs. Milda caught him just as he was about to brood and chased him away.

It is very sad that her eggs are not going to be viable. But Milda’s health is a first priority. She will be able to lay more eggs in the future and who knows – maybe this mysterious male will turn out to be an ideal mate!

The two little Black Kite eyasses that were born on 3 March and 5 March are really growing and their plumage is changing so much. Their nest is in a tall tree in a cemetery in Taiwan. The pair survived a fire in the cemetery that almost destroyed them and their nest. As a result they were named Pudding and Brulee for being alive when the fire was cool enough for them to be checked. On 2 April, they were banded. Pudding is Orange K2 and Brulee is Orange K3.

Black kites fledge, on average, from 42 to 56 days. They are a medium sized raptor. Like the Bald Eagles, Legacy and E17 and E18, they will stay with their parents from two weeks to eight weeks after fledging to hone their flying and hunting skills. Orange K2 is 36 days old today and Orange K3 is 34 days old. We will be on fledge watch at this nest in one week. You can watch the Black Kites of Taiwan here:

It has been a rather exciting day and it continues to be harder and harder to keep up with all of the bird nests. Branching, fledging, arrivals of Ospreys in the UK, incubations – it is happening everywhere! There are not enough hours in the day. But Friday was simply special – Tiny Tot’s strategies for getting to the right spot in order to eat played out well with the delivery of all those fish.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you jumped up and down doing the happy dance for Tiny Tot. And Jack, you are amazing.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Black Kite Cam of Taiwan, SWFlorida and D Pritchett, NEFlorida and AEF, Achieva Credit Union Ospreys, and the Latvian White-Tailed Eagles.

Toxic wastelands threaten Bird World

In the course of a few hours today, a friend living in Pennsylvania sent me the news and a video from Twitter showing the nuclear waste being pumped into a holding area in Sarasota, Florida. Moments later, the Cornell Bird Lab e-mailed the latest edition of Birdlife Magazine with its story of the threats to African vultures from farmers using anti-inflammatory pain killers, dielofenae, on their cattle to stop pain and increase milk yields. Another reader sent me an article on the red algae along the coast of Texas and Florida that causes damage to the nervous and digestive systems of marine life and the birds that eat the fish. All of this information arrived on my desk just moments after one of the chatters on the Achieva Osprey streaming cam in St Petersburg brought up the fact that the male Ospreys in the area, there are reported to be thirty Osprey nests, have to compete with lots of motor boats in order to feed their families.

I sat staring at the screen remembering that eons ago, my father fished with a motorboat in Lake Texhoma. It was a time when no one considered their environmental actions. What I remember were not only the 31.7 kg or seventy pound catfish my father regularly caught but also that beautiful iridescence floating on the water around the boat. As a child I did not understand that the fuel and the oil my father mixed with it was poisoning the fish that we would eat – and neither did he. We know better today.

Humans are capable of cleaning up much of the mess that we have made to the planet. When I was a graduate student, my advisor, Dr Klaus Klostermaier, informed me the reason that there were no insects in Germany was because the massive pollution had killed them all. The industrial area around Dusseldorf cleaned up the river system. It took some time but it was accomplished I think, also, of the groundbreaking work that Rachel Carson did on the impact of DDT and her book, Silent Spring. Today, we still feel the impact of DDT, despite it being banned now for nearly fifty years. That poison still remains in the soil and the plants. Bald Eagles in certain parts of the world still have thin egg shells because of it. Regardless of how long it takes and how defeatist some feel about our ability to survive a sixth extinction, I believe, like Greta Thunberg that we have an obligation – each of us as individuals – to try and make a difference. It doesn’t have to be some great international effort. The women saving the General Adjutant in Assam began at home and so can the rest of us.

In Winnipeg, members of the Manitoba Birding FB group are considering how to best address the issue of feeding bread to the ducks and geese at the ponds in our two big parks – St Vital and Assiniboine. Bread is not good for any bird. Yes, it fills them up and they seemingly love it but it is empty calories. It would be like us eating junk food all day long every day, losing our taste for good nutritious food. I know, first hand, that parents do not necessarily know that bread is bad for the birds. This was something that I did with my parents. For many, taking their children for a walk at the park and bringing a loaf of bread is almost free entertainment for an afternoon. We delight at the geese scurrying across the water of the pond to grab the bread. It makes people feel good. However, the bread is not only bad for the bird’s health, it also deteriorates in the water causing algae growth which leads to the death of the pond and the plants that the geese and ducks need. No one wants to take away the fun that people have feeding the ducks and geese. It is hoped that through education people will choose to find food that is healthy for both the birds and their ponds. My plan is to write our City Parks and Recreation Department asking that their staff put up posters on the buildings near the ponds or have permanent signs made at significant sites around the ponds. There should then be a convenient place for individuals to purchase appropriate food at a reasonable price. An option would be to license a vendor to sell food at the ponds. It’s a beginning!

Please feel free to grab this poster and spread it through social media and if you are a teacher perhaps include this in a science lesson. And for those of you who find yourself with a glut of lettuce in your garden, those ducks and geese will sure love it. Chop it up before heading out.

For those of you that do not live in Winnipeg, it is very possible that you have this very same issue. Check it out and see what you can do. It is one way to help the local birds.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate the messages and all of the information that you send to me. Next week I will be addressing the issues of dumping toxic and nuclear substances into the ponds, lakes, rivers, and oceans. For now, I just want to smile. Someone on the Achieva Osprey chat said that they had never seen a chick like Tiny Tot/Lionheart/Braveheart/Tumbles/3 survive such testing conditions in any Osprey nest. Diane really filled him up this afternoon and even though the fish brought in around 6pm was not enough to feed it, the little one still had a crop and its little bottom is getting some flesh on it. So I want to close with an image of Tiny Tot’s large crop and another of Tiger and Lily, the two owlets living in a nest stolen from a Bald Eagle near Newton, Kansas. My how they have grown! Some days we just have to not allow the massive environmental issues to cloud the joy and the love we get from the birds. My friend, Phyllis, would say put it in a container and leave it there for a few hours – it isn’t going away!

It is a strange angle. Tiny Tot is preening but that big grey beach ball where you would think his head would be is his crop. He is on the far left. Oh, how I love this little bird – like so many of you. His determination to live, to not give up, to figure an angle around to get fed is impressive. It is day to day. He is getting a cute little tail and well, we hope for several fish in a row, large ones, tomorrow.

Tiny Tot ate and ate. Thank goodness. He will have enough to keep him til tomorrow. 3 April 2021

Tiger and Lily are being left alone more and more by their mother, Bonnie. Butt, no worries, she is just on another branch on the tree. Look at how big they are and how well they blend into the environment.

Thank you to everyone who wrote and sent me links to information today. I really appreciate it. Anyone reading this loves birds and we are all in this together. The streaming cams give us a glimpse into their lives that we would never have otherwise. We share their joys and their sorrows. Take care everyone. Stay safe!

Thanks also to the Achieva Credit Union and to Farmer Derek for their streaming cams. That is where I took my screen shots.

Little Lionheart

There is an air of hope and happiness for the littlest Osprey on the St. Petersburg, Florida nest of Diane and Jack. Believed to be close to death and not having any food for three days, he had 23 bites of fish late on 1 April in the dark, after his siblings had gone to sleep. Yesterday, Tiny got to eat in the afternoon and had a crop. To the joy of all, no only is his ‘ps’ good but he was fed from 12:42 to 1:28 today by Diane. He was full to the brim. Diane kept offering and he did take a few more bites but he was stuffed!

To tell you that the chatters were elated would not really give you a sense of the happiness and hope for this little one. One person said this is her favourite nest. I am certain that if an osprey nest can give a person an ulcer, I will have one by the time 3 fledges. I have, more than once, wanted to strangle Jack. Many are convinced that he has another family. Who knows? It is cooler in St Petersburg today. 20 degrees C or 73 F. The winds are blowing and the water could be choppy for fishing as someone mentioned. But what caught my eye this morning was someone who called 3, Little Lion heart. ‘Three’ has had many names. Some call him Tumbles and I have called him Tiny Tot. But gosh, doesn’t Lionheart fit? If you look up the meaning of Lionheart, it defines a person of exceptional courage and bravery.

If Lionheart has energy from the food, he is clever and knows to keep his head down and wait. Otherwise, 2 who is standing up in the front is alerted and will do anything to keep the little one from eating.

1:17 pm. Lionheart started being fed at 12:24. The big 2 is waking up. But, Lionheart kept eating! 3 April 2021

So whatever you want to call him – 3, Tumbles, Tiny Tot, or Lionheart – his little bottom is getting fat from the good food.

In the world of hawks and falcons, we call the males a tercel. It comes from the word ‘third’ because it has been believed for eons that the third egg was always male. That is why I refer to 3 as a ‘he’.

The other day someone mentioned, when we worried, that in Europe, the storks throw the runt off the edge of the nest and only feed the larger birds. What I find interesting is that I cannot find hard data on the long term survival rates between a larger sibling versus the third and often smaller one. There is not enough research nor is there enough banding and satellite tracking to indicate, it seems, that the larger bird will survive in the wild more so than the smaller one. Indeed, at this very moment, there are eight male Osprey in Scotland that need mates and several others in Wales causing some havoc because they do not have a female mate. If you know of research, please do send me an e-mail or make a comment. I wonder if we have simply accepted in our heads the survival of the ‘largest’ as being the ‘survival of the fittest’ long term. We have talked about the bullying factor and siblicide and food competition. Wonder if the smallest survives due to being clever that this is not also something to help them in the wild?

If positive wishes, love, and prayers can help, Lionheart has a huge support network that love him and want to see this little fella’ fledge. Wish for fish!

Take care everyone. Enjoy your weekend. If you celebrate Easter, have a very happy Easter. Thank you to my daughter who caught the start time when Tiny Tot Lionheart turned around to start eating. And thank you for the energy coming through for this little one.

Thank you to the Achieva Credit Union for their streaming cam where I took these screen shots.

It’s 3 for Big Red and 4 for Dahlgren

The Guardian ran a story, ‘All my eaglets: pandemic audience spellbound by saga of nesting bald eagles’ in its Wildlife section this morning. While the story focused on the growing number of people watching bird streaming cams during the pandemic, it chose to use the example of two nests. The sadness of Jackie and Shadow at the Big Bear Bald Eagle Nest in the San Bernadino Valley and the joy of Liberty and Guardian and their three chicks at the Redding Bald Eagle nest. Richard Luscombe really caught the moment – the joy celebration, the sadness and loss. Jackie (9 year old female) and Shadow (7 year old male) are two of the most popular Bald Eagles on streaming cams and yet, their story encapsulates great sadness. For two years they have tried to raise a chick. This year in their second clutch there was a hatch. Heartbreak came when that chick died trying to break out of the shell. Jackie and Shadow continue to care for the second egg which watchers know will never hatch. Last year they sat on two eggs for sixty days before giving up. In contrast, Guardian (7 year old male) and Liberty (22 year old female) are raising triplets and Liberty has, in her lifetime, successfully fledged 22 and outlived two mates. Like human families and stories, every bird nest is different.

Over the past year, I have received (or seen) letters, comments, and testimonies about the birds. It is clear that the ‘bird’ families streaming into our living rooms have become ‘intimate’ friends whose daily lives we share – their joys and their challenges. One woman wrote to tell me that she knows ‘her bird family’ better than her own human family! She is not alone. From the infertile eggs to the cheeping of the hatching chick, people have watched the birds and their loneliness and pain have been diminished. Many of you have written to me to tell me how the birds have saved your lives, including several with stage 4 cancer and partners who have died from COVID. Caring for the birds has lessened the impact of the isolation and has given us something to focus on besides ourselves. ‘A distraction from our lives’ a woman from The Netherlands said.

When the pandemic ends, I hope that all of you will continue to watch the lives of your favourite bird families unfold. And I would encourage you to talk to your children and your grandchildren or the neighbour’s children so they will become interested in wildlife. They need all of us to help them have better lives.

Jackie and Shadow continue to incubate an egg that will never hatch. Many wonder if there is not DDT still present in the soil or something causing this lovely and entering couple so many issues trying to have a little one. Clearly the thinness of the eggs that have broken could indicate that. 1 April 2021.
The triplets at the Redding nest being fed. There is plenty of food and all are lined up nicely.

I received a very touching letter from a woman from New Mexico who commented on the tragic events unfolding at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg. She was reminded of a news story where a family went into a cafe for a meal -the parents, a young girl, and boy. The parents fed the young girl and themselves. The boy watched the others eat while he was offered nothing. The boy appeared to be bruised as if he had been physically harmed to the wait staff. The waitress wrote on her hand ‘Do you need help?’ to the child who, eventually, shook their head yes. The waitress phoned the authorities and the children were taken into care immediately. The boy had been abused and food had been withheld for a long time. The woman from New Mexico said, ‘Humans do it, too’. As sad and angry as I am at the Ospreys in St Petersburg, for them it is a matter of having at least one healthy fledgling. The biology books stress the survival of the fittest! Someone who has filmed birds said to me and I have reiterated it many times, ‘If they cannot survive on the nest being fed, they cannot survive in the wild – it is brutal out there’. This morning a huge fish came in but the middle Osprey made sure Tiny Tot did not get anything to eat. Tiny was too weak to fight. I had hoped that his suffering would be taken away in the night.

UPDATE: Tiny Tot was fed at 9:27 this morning. His crop was about a third full. The saga continues.

After my tirade on birds laying too many eggs to care for if they all hatched – and hence, having the situation of the St Petersburg nest – Jack and Harriet of the Dahlgren Osprey Nest in Machodoc Creek in King George County, Virginia laid a fourth egg! You might not immediately recognize the osprey nest that I am talking about but if I said to you that Jack is the one that brings in the most toys to the nest, often covering it while Harriet has to keep busy finding space for them, I think you might know the nest that I am talking about. There was a toy shark or dolphin the other day. As it happens, the first egg is either lost in the nest or broke – there are three eggs being incubated despite four being laid. Last year the couple successfully fledged three and all of us join in hoping that happens this year! Unless there is a problem in the river, this couple has their nest in a prime location for fish!

And to add to the jokes that go along with April Fool’s Day, Big Red and Arthur not only woke up to snow this morning but also to their third egg.

Big Red is eighteen years old. She was ringed at Brooktondale New York, about eight miles from Ithaca. She has known this weather all her life and can deal with it. Her and her mate, Arthur, do not migrate but stay in Ithaca all year long. They have a prey rich territory and both work like a well oiled machine. Unless there is some strange surprise, I expect we will see three eyases fledging in June.

All is well over at the Great Horned Owl Nest on the farm in Kansas. Both Tiger, the eldest, and Lily, the youngest, are growing. To the delight of viewers, Bonnie brought in a very large rabbit to the nest in the Cottonwood Tree. Everyone wondered how she managed. Great Horned Owls can actually carry prey three times their weight – an advantage over Bald Eagles who can carry only 66% of their weight. Besides rabbit, the owlets have had a diverse menu. One food item that might not have been expected in such quantities has been snake. Farmer Derek probably had no idea he had so many snakes on his property! Using March 7 as a date for hatching, we should be watching for Tiger to fledge around 42-56 days which would be 18 April to 24 April. Tiger’s extremely soft feathers – they look like mohair to me – mean that he will be a formidable predator being able to fly without being heard. With his short rounded wings he will also be able to make tight corners and quick turns around the trees in the woods.

And down in Orange Australia at the Charles Sturt University, Peregrine Falcon couple, Xavier and Diamond, are in the scrape box having a conversation and bonding. The conversation might be about their cute little Izzi who fledged three times from this box. The first time Izzi was napping on the ledge and fell out. He was returned by the researcher, Cilla Kinross. The second time he did fledge but then flew into a window and was taken into care and returned to the scrape box. The third time he fledged properly. While most of the falcons would have left the scrape box to find their own territory by January, Izzi appears determined to live out the rest of his life chasing Xavier and Diamond and sleeping with Diamond in the scrape box. It is an unfolding soap opera that is delightful.

Izzi is adorable.

I will leave you with that adorable face. Peregrine falcons are the cutest. Thank you for joining me today. Take care. Stay safe. Enjoy the birds.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my scaps: Charles Sturt University Peregrine Falcon Cam, Farmer Derek, Friends of Big Bear Bald Eagles, Friends of Redding Bald Eagles, Cornell Bird Lab, and the Dahlgren Osprey Cam.

Waiting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ospreys are returning!

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!

NC0 has just arrived at the Loch of the Lowes nest in Scotland. Laddie flew to greet her with new nesting material. 25 March 2021.

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!

The beautiful dark plumage of Mrs G. 25 March 2021. Just after a fish dinner!
Mrs G. The oldest osprey in Wales. 25 March 2021

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.

Dylan just arriving on the Clywedog Nest. 24 March 2021

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.

Tiny Tot is still much smaller than his siblings but he is surviving and doing well the last few days. 25 March 2021. @Achieva Credit Union Osprey Cam

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).

World Osprey Week Days 2 and 3

Oh, the postman delivered a copy of The Rutland Water Ospreys by Tim Mackrill. If you are really into Ospreys – their history and the reestablishment of them in the United Kingdom, I suggest you either order your own copy or ask your library to purchase one. It is an excellent history with beautiful images. There are photos of all the Ospreys and their genealogy, lovely drawings of the birds, a chronological history of the reintroduction of Osprey into the United Kingdom as well as a look at the people involved and the migration to Africa. It will keep you busy for several full days!

The history of the Osprey as a species is very long. Did you know that there are fossils showing that Osprey lived 10-15 million years ago? Storied in Natural History museums and in research facilities, there are a few claws of Osprey from the Eocene epoch which was 50 million years ago. Further evidence such as wing bones have been found and dated to the mid-Miocene epoch or 13 million years ago. Those were found in California and Florida in 1976 Stuart A. Warter. Warter was highly skeptical of the remains attributed to the Eocene era. Eggs of Osprey were found in Austria and the back limb ones in Florida from the late-Miocene era. All of that suggests that Ospreys were present in the southern US and in Europe from 10-15 million years ago. More fossils were found in Western Europe, North and Central America during the last 2 million years. Ospreys were found in the period from 9000-5000 BP in the Balkans as well as the rest of Central Europe, including Switzerland. All of a sudden no remains are found for nearly 4000 years. The Osprey show up again in the Baltic, in northeast Germany. Because of hunting, egg collection, and taxidermy and then the use of DDT, they reach near extinction again. This information has been taken from the article, ‘Archaeozoological records and distribution history of the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in Central Europe’ in The Journal of Ornithology, vol. 10, no. 1, 2006. I am also reminded that the Roman writer, Pliny, mentions that the Osprey parents have their chicks fly to the sun as a test and that Shakespeare mentioned Ospreys in his 1609 play, Coriolanus. Osprey specialists in Britain believe that he must have seen the live birds. In China, Ospreys are symbols of fidelity.

World Osprey Week is to celebrate the rebuilding of the Osprey in the United Kingdom and what better way, on this the third day of World Osprey Week to check in on the monitored nests to see who has returned. To the time of my writing this on 24 March at 2:45 pm CDT, only four Osprey have returned to the United Kingdom so far.

Laddie (unringed) or LM12 arrived at 5pm on 21 March. This will be his tenth season at the Loch of the Lowes and Laddie wasted no time in fixing up his nest and hoping that his young mate of last year, Blue NCO will return. In the image below he has come to the nest with a morning fish hoping that his mate might have arrived. He has spent the last two days doing nestorations. Look at how clean and nice that nest is! Laddie we sure hope that a wonderful young lady comes to you.

Laddie on the nest at Loch of the Lowes 24 March 2021.

Maya and Blue 33 (11) came in on March 19 within minutes of one another. Blue 33 (11) arrived at 12:29pm and Maya came in at 12:56. They got down to business renewing their bonds at 1pm and then began nestorations. Today they have had to fend off some intruders. They are at Rutland MB.

Maya and Blue 33 working on nest and defending it against an intruder. 24 March 2021

The very first osprey to arrive on a monitored nest was back on the 19th of March and that was a female at Rutlands, Blue 25 (10).

Blue 25 (10) checking in on the Mantou Nest at Rutlands. 19 March 2021.

Black 80 is said to have arrived back at Threave Castle on 23 March. No doubt waiting for its mate unringed Mrs O. However, friends of Threave Osprey have been near to the nest and have not seen an Osprey.

Had a visitor to Loch Arkaig but not the one everyone was counting on! 

If you would like to keep track of the Ospreys coming and going, you can find the chart here:

http://ukospreys.uk/arrivals.htm

That link also gives you the history, the genealogy, and more information that you could ever hope to find on one site. It is excellent. And so we wait and mourn the two Osprey migrating back from Africa that were shot on purpose over the island of Malta. What a sad sad event and one that happens to often over this small Mediterranean Island. One of the stories can be found here:

Protected Ospreys shot down by hunters in Gozo and Malta

Moving back to the United States. Oh, that Osprey male, Jack, at the Dahlgren Nest is such a hoot! His nest is simply full of all manner of things. And it is raining! Poor Harriet. Their first egg arrived at 4:33 on 23 March.

And I am honestly not sure why many male Osprey are called Jack but a check on the Achieva Osprey nest reveals that yesterday, Diane came in with a gigantic catfish and fed the trio for several hours. That feeding seems to have turned the tide in that nest for now. Jack came in with a fish at bedtime and all three went to sleep with large crops. This morning Jack brought in two fish. Peace reigns and little Tiny Tot has been well fed for 2 days. I am hoping that this will blast away any food insecurities that the two oldest have and that Jack and Diane will both bring in lots of fish.

In the image below Tiny Tot is still eating. The two older sibs are in a food coma. So all is good. Let’s hope that large fish come in regularly now and the weather stabilizes for them. It would be fantastic for this nest to fledge three again this year!

Thank you for joining me today. By the end of the week there should be some more osprey arriving in the United Kingdom – news for celebration as World Osprey Week continues. Have a great day.

Thank you to Achieva Osprey, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Rutland for their streaming cams where I got my scaps.

UC Berkley Falcons and quick Friday updates

The University of California Campus at Berkeley is ‘falcon crazy.’ They even named their basketball team the Falcons. Indeed, the feathered pair nesting on top of this beautiful building are ‘stars’. Everyone knows about them and gets excited – how grand is that?!

“The Campanile of UC-berkeley” by ChanduBandi is marked with CC0 1.0

The Campanile was designed in the Gothic Revival style and was completed in 1914. The tower, reminiscent of the Campanile di San Marco in Venice, is ninety-four metres or 308 feet hight and has four bells. It is the most recognized building on the University campus.

This is the view from the roof:

In 2016, a pair of Peregrine Falcons began to roost on the roof of the Campanile. Their scrape box is two floors up from the bells and to everyone’s amazement the bell concerts do not seem to bother the raptors. If it did, we can imagine that they would have left quickly. Most of the time it is a safe place to raise their young but they have had, like other nests, intruders checking out their prime real estate.

In 2017, the same pair returned to raise eyases. They were given the names Annie and Grinnell in honour of the founder and first director of UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Annie Grinnell. Annie is not banded and her history including how old she is remains unknown. However, Grinnell was banded in 2013 as a nestling near Martinez, California. All of their chicks are banded in the nest.

If you have read most of my blogs you will know that I am a great proponent of banding. The amount of information that can be discovered is significant. And for Birders on the Ground it is an opportunity to take part. It takes a village to chase after falcons and check their bands, photograph them, and then find the right person to contact to tell them of the sighting.

If you have never seen a nestling banded, here is your opportunity. This is a short video of Poppy, Sequoia, and Redwood being banded in the scrape box in 2020 along with a Q&A:

Annie and Grinnell made their first nest on a sand bag on the roof of the Campanile in March of 2017. Poor things! But they had nothing else. In the wild, Peregrine falcons make their nests on a the edges of cliffs with a sandy base or in gravel.

In the image below, Grinnell is incubating the eggs in the permanent scrape box. Notice that it is a simple enclosure, with a single opening at the front. Wooden rulers have been fixed to the frame of the door and the corners so researchers can check the height of the young. Simple pea gravel or small river stones line the bottom. This is the ‘nest’. No other materials will be brought in. The falcons will rub their breast into the gravel to make a hollow for the eggs.

When two of the eggs of Annie and Grinnell’s first clutch rolled off the sandbox and broke, the University decided to install a temporary scrape box. Annie and Grinnell accepted the box and fledged their first babies – two eyases- from the Campanile. They were a male named Fiat and a female named Lux. The names were derived from the University motto, Fiat lux, which means bringing knowledge to light. Fiat survived but Lux was killed by window strike.

The following year the University installed a permanent nest box for the pair hoping that they would return and lay their eggs again. In April of 2018, Annie and Grinnell had three eggs hatch. Named after three elements discovered at Berkeley the chicks were a male named Berkelium, another male named Californium, and a female named Lawrencium. All three fledged. Lawrencium is the only one of Annie and Grinnell’s chicks that has been spotted. She is nesting on the island of Alcatraz.

In 2019, the exploits of Annie and Grinnell were streamed to the world. That year two chicks hatched and were successful fledges. One was named Carson after Rachel Carson. Hers is a name that you should know. Carson is the author of the book Silent Spring that led to the banning of DDT. Cade was named after Tom Cade, an Ornithologist recognized for his efforts to both protect and reestablish Peregrine Falcon populations after they were wiped out by DDT. Cade was the founder of the Peregrine Fund. He died in 2019 at the age of 91.

In 2020, Annie and Grinnell fledged three – a female named Poppy, a male named Sequoia, and another male named Redwood.

It’s 2021 and Annie and Grinnell are incubating four eggs! The first was laid on 10 March, followed by the second on 12 March, the third on the 14th and the final egg on St. Patrick’s Day.

In the image below, Grinnell has arrived to partially incubate the first three eggs. The eggs can actually range from a cream colour to red but here you see that Annie has laid three lovely red eggs.

While it is known that falcons sometimes lay five eggs, it is rare. And this brings me to why I love falcons so much and it isn’t just their very ‘cute’ plumage. It is because of delayed incubation. Annie and Grinnell can hatch four eyases but I am not up worrying all night when one didn’t get fed or the eldest was aggressive – it would be rare for that to happen but I am aware that it does.

Grenville on hard incubation duty, 19 March 2021.

The embryos inside eggs only develop when they are warm. Peregrine falcons, Red Tail Hawks and other raptor species (other than Ospreys and various species of eagles) want their eggs to hatch at roughly the same time. That way there is not a significant difference in development. To achieve this synchronization, the early eggs are only partially incubated until all are laid. Then hard incubation begins. Annie and Grinnell will take turns incubating the eggs. After hard incubation starts the eggs will hatch in roughly 32-33 days after the last egg was laid. The eyases use their ‘egg tooth’ to help them get through the thick shell which can take from 24-48 hours. Pip watch should start about 19 April! I am so excited!

UPDATES: Speaking of pip watch, Jackie and Shadow can hear one of their little ones chirping in the shell. Big Bear Eagle fans are on hatch alert!

Maya and Blue 33 have both arrived at the Mantou Bay Nest at Rutland in the UK on 19 March. Blue 33 (11) came in at 12:29 and Maya was right behind him at 12:56.

Maya and Blue 33 (10) arrive at the nest in Rutland on 19 March 2021.

So far it appears that Blue 25 (10) is still waiting for her mate at Rutland.

The three on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida have now been fed to the relief of everyone. The storm caused Jack to bring in only a small fish last evening. Brutus, the eldest, was very aggressive towards the smaller two and they went to sleep without any fish. (Brutus is the name given to the eldest by the chat group). First fish this morning was also small and caused aggressive behaviour. However, Jack went and brought in a nice sized second fish right away and everyone ate and were congenial.

Both were fed at the Duke Farms Bald Eagle Nest in Hillsborough, New Jersey so all is well on that nest.

Solly, the Port Lincoln Osprey, is 181 days old today. She spent the night at the Streaky Bay Hospital and has been out and about looking for fish. She loves this area. I hope it keeps her safe and is her forever home.

It’s nearly 4pm on a beautiful sunny day on the Canadian prairies. Let’s hope it stays that way so that everyone can get out for a walk and check on the local wildlife in their area.

Thanks to UC Berkeley Falcons, Duke Farms, Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg, Big Bear for their steaming cams and Rutland Wildlife where I took my scaps and to Port Lincoln Ospreys and the PLO researchers for the satellite tracking for Solly.