Cuteness Overload in Bird World

It is Tuesday in New Zealand but on the Canadian prairies it is Monday and it is snowing! There is snow swirling all around and the birds would like nothing better than to come into the house! Poor things.

Today is the day that the NZ Department of Conservation rangers at Taiaroa Head weigh all of the Royal Albatross chicks. Every Tuesday they do this. If any of the chicks are underweight, the rangers will give them a supplemental feeding. Sometimes the winds are not conducive to returning while at other times these largest of NZ sea birds have to travel far to find food. Sadly, some of them also perish in the process. If there is only one parent feeding it is often hard to keep up with the demands of a growing albatross chick. That is when I sing the praises of the NZ DOC – they will do anything to keep the adults and the chicks in a good healthy state.

The Royal Cam chick is a female and she was hatched 80 days ago. Her nest is at a place called ‘The Flat Top’ on Taiaroa Head, a peninsula near Dunedin, New Zealand. It is the only breeding colony near human habitation for these albatross. Because raising a chick causes such stress on their bodies, the albatross breed biennially. Indeed, while it might sound like they have two years to recuperate, it will take almost an entire year to raise their chick. The 2021 Royal Cam chick will fledge and begin her five to six years at sea in September. Her parents will return to Taiaroa Head to feed her until she goes on her own journey. The parents will then go to sea only returning the following November when they will breed again. This means that the parents will not see one another for approximately fourteen to fifteen months returning to a specific spot on the planet to breed. It is a real joy and a relief when both return safely. The chick will remain at sea, never touching land, for five to six years before she returns to Taiaroa Head to begin choosing her own mate.

In the past week, the Royal Cam chick has ‘lucked out’. She had two family visits – her parents arrived yesterday around 15:00 and they had flown in together on Saturday to feed her together. It is hard to comprehend how extraordinary these family reunions are until you sit and stare at the ocean where the two go foraging for food for both themselves and the chick. It is vast.

Two months ago, Lime-Green-Lime (LGL), the female and Lime-Green-Black (LGK) were fitted with small backpack satellite transmitters. These transmitters are intended to study their foraging habits. LGL has travelled 11.737 kilometres going to and from the sea in order to feed her chick. This is the graph of those travels:

What a happy family reunion! The nickname for the little chick has been a Maori word for cloud, Kapua. I think you can see why in the image below! Look at all that gorgeous white feathery down.

LGL and LGK both visit and feed their chick. 12 April 2021

Kapua has learned how to beg for food. In fact, she is often impatient during these family visits for good feedings. Sometimes her parents like to stop and visit with one another! Of course, Kapua wants all the attention on her.

The albatross chick has to clack on the parent’s bill to stimulate the regurgitation of food. Here you can see how the parent also has to lean down and the way the chick and parent hold their bills so the precious squid oil will go into the chick and not on the ground!

While her parents are away, Kapua spends time in her nest. She watches the boats go past, makes little play nests around her but never strays, at this age, far from her natal nest in case her parents return with food.

Isn’t she the epitome of cuteness?

When things get too stressful on the other nests, I always return to the Royal Albatross and my faith in the New Zealand government for keeping Kapua safe and healthy.

Yesterday was a milestone for one of the most beautiful Bald eaglets anywhere, Legacy. She is the daughter of Samson and Gabrielle at the Northeast Florida Bald Eagle Nest in Jacksonville, Florida. Legacy has been jumping up and down working her wings and legs to get them strong on the spongy Spanish moss nest. Yesterday, though, Legacy made another milestone. She branched at 3:59. Legacy will continue now to go up on the branches of her natal tree until the point where she will fly from the nest to a branch before she takes her first real flight from the nest which is known as fledging. There she is. Legacy was a little nervous and she made her way down to the nest bowl carefully. Soon, though, she will be jumping up and down to that branch having a lot of fun! She loves the wind beneath her wings.

Legacy is a big strong eaglet. 11 April 2021

Sweet little babies staying warm and dry under Nancy at the MN DNR nest. Looks like they have rain instead of the snow we are experiencing north of them. The little ones are not able to regulate their temperature yet so they need to stay warm and dry!

Little ones staying warm near Nancy, MN DNR Nest. 12 April 2021

Izzi, the peregrine falcon has not left his natal scrape box in Orange, Australia. Yesterday he caught an adult Starling all by himself and was quite loud in announcing it to the world. This image catches his trade mark screeching on entering the scrape box:

The two owlets raised in the Bald Eagle Nest near Newton, Kansas are growing and growing. There are still many who consider them to be ‘cute’! Yesterday their mother, Bonnie, tested them. She left a duck and parts of a rabbit in the nest. She stood on a branch watching to see if they would begin feeding themselves. They didn’t but they will be self-feeding soon!

Bonnie is feeding Tiger and Lily duck and rabbit. 11 April 2021

And it is so sweet. Louis is on the nest at Loch Arkaig early to add a few sticks. He stayed on the perch branch for a long time waiting for Aila to return.

In 2017, Louis was given the nickname ‘Lonesome Louis’ because he paced back and forth on the nest when his mate of ten years did not return. The pair had failed to breed in 2016 and people were hopeful that 2017 would be different. Louis waited for three weeks and then a new female appeared. It was Aila meaning ‘bringer of light’ in Finnish. The pair raised one chick in 2017 and he was called Lachlan meaning from the lakes. Sadly, a Pine Marten raided their nest and ate the eggs in 2018. In 2019, the couple had two chicks fledge – Mallie and Rannoch and in 2020, there was the famous trio – Dottie, Vera, and Captain. Everyone is hoping for a quick return of Aila so that Louis is not ‘lonesome’ again!

Louis looks for Aila. 12 April 2021.

There are two other updates without images. Iris at the Hellsgate Osprey nest has been doing nestorations and feeding herself. Her mate, Louis, who also has another nest with Star at the Baseball park has visited twice – each time mating with Iris. The last time was 18:16 on 11 April when he made a quick visit. Louis brings Iris nothing – and yes, he is a bird but I continue to say how sad this is for the oldest female Osprey in the world. Wouldn’t it be nice if she was treated like the royalty she is? And the other is the state of the Achieva Osprey Nest in Dunedin, Florida. Jack the father has not been seen for awhile and everyone is beginning to wonder if he did not die or get severely injured. The thunderstorms have been very severe. Yesterday, there were two fish in the morning and Tiny Tot did get fed from both. He has not eaten now for more than 26 hours. Diane brought a small fish this morning that partially fed 1 and 2 and she has gone out and caught another smaller fish. Right now the two older osplets are eating. There may not be enough for Tiny. She will have to go out again if she is to eat and feed Tiny. There have been rumours about a hawk in the area. So, once again, we are at a tragic point this season on this nest. Just when Tiny Tot was getting full for a couple of days and getting his stamina and health back, then the storms come. Diane cannot protect her osplets and fish at the same time. She has not eaten either and I hope that whatever threats are around the nest are gone and that Diane catches one of her whooper catfish so that everyone can be full.

UPDATE 2PM CDT: Jack has arrived at the nest with a fish at 2:41:31 EDT. Diane was still feeding 1 and 2 on the fish she brought in – her second of the day. Maybe Tiny Tot will get some food. Glad Jack is OK.

Thank you for joining me today – our wintery weather will be here for three days if the predictions are correct. Not a great time for my walks!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Cornell Bird Cams and the NZ DOC, Farmer Derek, the NEFLorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Woodland Trust and People Post Lottery, Sturt University at Orange and Cilla Kinross, and the MN DNR.

Happy Saturday in Bird World

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

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.

Eating and growing

The two little ones on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nest are quite a lively pair. First time, four year old Harry has learned to feed and Nancy has relaxed. Harry is good on the nest and food is there. The little ones are rather spunky to say the least!

Bonnie went out hunting and brought a small live garter snake back to the nest. Lily got there first and ate the entire snake – live – all by herself – as Tiger and Bonnie looked on in amazement.

Look closely at how thick Tiger’s legs are. Look down at its talons. These two owlets are really growing! Both of them are flapping their wings and wandering around the nest. Tiger is very sturdy on those sturdy limbs! Both of them are endless pits in terms of wanting food.

Li’l and Big at the Duke Farm nest are growing and growing. There have been tandem feedings and attempts at self-feeding! Doing good. Li’l can hold its own against its big sib.

It really does help to be the only eaglet in the nest with a parental territory that is full of prey. Kisatchie is always being fed and cared for by its mom, Anna. Louis continues to be an expert fisherman and Kisatchie always has a full crop. I don’t believe this eaglet would understand what hunger actually was. And you know what? That is just fine. His feathers will go strong. Eaglets that have had periods – several of hunger – have thinner spots in their feathers.

In constrast, the Redding triplets are always hungry it seems. Two of them are trying to climb out of the nest cup so that they can have some of that juicy fish. It keeps mom and dad very busy!

I will leave you with an image of my heroine, Big Red, the Red Tail Hawk incubating three eggs on a light stand on the Cornell Campus. Big Red always gets my vote for ‘Mom of the Year’. She is quite amazing! Year after year she gets soaked, gets encrusted in snow and ice, and still she raises the strongest happiest eyasses. She is much loved.

This was a short update on how some of the nests are doing. Thank you for joining me today. Stay safe everyone!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I got my screen images: Cornell Bird Lab, the Kisatchie National Forest, , the Pittsburgh Hays Eagle Cam, Friends of Redding Eagles, Farmer Derek, MN DNR Eagle Cam, and Duke Farms.

UPDATE ON THE ACHIEVA OSPREY NEST IN ST PETERSBURG. Tiny Tot was fed this morning at 9:27 after the other two. He had a small crop. It was the first time he ate in 3 full days. Tiny Tot later later had some seizures. It is unclear what damage the lack of food did to his internal organs. A huge catfish came in at 4:22. The two bigger ones ate for a couple of hours. Tiny attempted to get food and was pecked by 2. The dad, Jack, came and took the extra fish away. It is quite sad to see anything suffer so much, begging for food – literally starving to death. It is nothing short of a slow horrible death. The question is why? Is there a lack of fish? Does the father have two families? Other Osprey nests raise three healthy osplets to fledge – even small ones. A good example is Loch Arkaig in 2020.

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.

Bird World – Monday Updates full of joy

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) has a new couple on their nest. Harry, the male, is still sporting some of his 4 year old Bald Eagle plumage. Nancy is the female and all we know is that she is older – precisely hold old or how many eaglets she has raised is unknown. The couple welcomed little E1 on 26 March and E2 was born on 29 March at 3:24pm.

Harry is just starting to figure out what his duties are. I had a giggle when E1 was born. Harry tried to roll the little fluff ball – and he is not the only one to do that! It will be a real delight to watch this couple raise these little ones in what should be a prey rich area.

Harry wanted to feed the little ones this morning but he is still flummoxed by the entire experience. Nancy will make sure he figures it out! Best he goes out fishing and fills the pantry.

It has been pitching down rain in Wales but Aran has arrived safely home from his winter migration, He is on the perch to the left. Mrs G, the oldest Osprey in Wales, is on the nest with a morning fish. She is one of the best fishers in the country and often hauls in whoppers to the nest. There will be cheers all day throughout Wales. It is such a relief when both mates arrive home safely from their winter vacations.

Aran arrives home. 29 March 2021

Over at the Loch of the Lowes Nest, Laddie and NC0 got right down to business at the break of dawn. Or did they? Maybe Laddie just did a landing sans fish??

Look at that gorgeous view. Just stunning with the apricot and pink over the water from the glow of the morning sun rising. What a wonderful place for a nest.

At the Great Horned Owl Nest on the farm near Newton, Kansas, Bonnie has been going out hunting. The owlets had mostly snake today. Bonnie joined up with Clyde and the image below shows her bringing in a vole. She helps orient the head so that little Lily has an easier time horking it whole. These two are growing and growing and demanding more and more food.

At the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida, both Diane and Jack brought in fish late in the day. Mom actually left the nest to go fishing when it appeared she had given up on dad. It made for a lot of confusion. with the trio. Look where Diane has that fish! Tiny Tot got right up on the rails. These are really hold your breath moments because those twigs that make up the outside of this nest are not all that secure. By getting up there though, Tiny ensured that it got food while the other two were still full from eating earlier. And it’s a good thing. It is noon on this nest on Monday, 29 march. Not a single fish has arrived all morning. Diane found some scraps in the nest and fed Tiny Tot a few. If I could strangle a bird it might be Jack!

Diane feeding Tiny Tot. 28 March 2021.

I received the most wonderful letter from a lady in Iowa who stressed that they were the home of the ‘Decorah Eagles’. When my parents were still alive, there were many trips where we would drive through Iowa on the way to see them in Oklahoma. But, I have to admit that while I had heard of the Decorah Bald Eagles it was not a nest that I was following. This lovely woman’s letter tweaked my interest and if you don’t know the nest, it is really a wonderful one to follow. Little DN13 was born on 26 March followed by DN14 on the 27th. They are so cute and the parents are beam with pride.

Here is the link to the Decorah Explore streaming cam:

And last but never least, Big Red laid her second egg of the 2021 season this morning at 10:10am. And, if she lays three, we can look for the last one on 1 April! It is colder in Ithaca this morning at 5 degrees C or 41 F than it is here in Winnipeg where it is 8 degrees C or 46.4 degrees F. It has stopped raining and the sun is finally coming out in Ithaca.

Yesterday, Arthur did most of the incubating and he was on the nest before Big Red flew in to lay this egg. They are a great pair that often work like well designed Swiss watch.

And here is the link to the Cornell Red Tail Hawk cam with Big Red and Arthur:

As many of you know, I am one of a growing number of individuals calling for the ban of lead in fishing and hunting equipment and designer rat poisons. I am working on a story about the Black Kites in Taiwan and a man who worked to get rat poison banned in that entire country.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Stay safe!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my scaps: Cornell Bird Labs, Decorah Eagles and Explore, Achieva Osprey, Farmer Derek, MN DNR, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and the Bywd Gwylit Glaslyn Wildlife.

Oh, the owlets are soooooo cute!

Two Great Horned Owls took over a Bald Eagle nest on a farm and ranch near Newton, Kansas owned by the Klingenberg family. That was on 1 February. The owls were given the names of Bonnie and Clyde because of the gangsters that robbed banks in the US. Bonnie and Clyde endured the coldest weather the region had known, snow, and rain to hatch the two eggs. The oldest was born on 7 March and is named Tiger. The youngest was born on 9 March and is called Lily. The daughters of Farmer Derek named the owlets. Clyde has proven himself to be a terrific provider and between the two, the owlets are growing bigger and bigger daily.

It is getting much more difficult for Bonnie to keep the eldest under her. And the chicks were both pretty active today with Tiger getting out from under Bonnie and up on the nest to flap its wings. Yes, you read that right – it is up flapping its wings. Hard to believe. They are now 17 and 15 days old.

Here are some pictures from today. I thought you would really enjoy seeing the change in the plumage and see their eyes. Tiger looks like a little old man. (The colour from the streaming cam is very saturated at times).

This is the best look that I have had of Lily. Normally Tiger is rooting around and trying to eat everything. What a little cutie. Bonnie looks down at them with that wonderful motherly love.

At one time they were under Bonnie’s tail keeping warm. When they came out you could really see that beautiful plumage developing on Tiger’s wings and the back of its head. Soon that fluffy white down will be gone.

Here is Tiger out of the nest cup completely and facing the opposite direction from Bonnie. It is standing up well and flapping its wings. Notice the bright orange pads. And look at the back of Tiger’s head. In Canada we have nice warm mohair hats for winter and this looks like a lovely pattern for one of those.

These Great Horned Owls are bringing so much joy to so many and, in the process, people are starting to learn about owls. The streaming cams are great sites to observe what we would normally not be able to see in nature.

Have a fabulous day everyone! Thank you to Farmer Derek for the streaming cam. That is where these scaps were taken.

Bonnie, Clyde and the Rabbit

The camouflage is so good. Can you find the rabbit next to Bonnie?

The owlets are being well fed and they are growing. Their plumage changes every day and they seem to be constantly hungry. It is no wonder. The eldest, Tiger, was born on 7 March and the youngest, Lily, on 9 March. Just think of them as two weeks old for ease. By the time they are five weeks old they will be climbing around on the branches of the tree and they will be flying at nine to ten weeks.

In the image below you can get a glimpse of the changing plumage on Tiger. Note the colour of the beak. When Tiger was born it was pink. Now it is a lovely espresso black. You can also see the coloured plumage coming around the neck and the wing. Behind them you can see the green ‘8’ of the Garter snake in the pantry and in front of Tiger are the parts of a rabbit brought in by mom last night.

Bonnie heaves the rabbit up and over the edge of the twig nest.

She brought the head of the rabbit in earlier. In total, the lapin was broken up into three pieces but still, the headless back seemed like it was pretty heavy for Bonnie to lift. But she did it! It is certainly a feast for the owlets.

The oldest was doing a little bit of preening and then they both heard mom coming. Look at their sweet faces looking at Bonnie. A happy, well-fed raptor family! And no real drama. It is nice for a change.

This is a quick posting. All is going well at this nest. The owlets are growing and growing and getting to eat a variety of food. They will imprint that into their memory for when they are hunting for themselves. Bonnie is a fantastic mother and with the rains settling in around 4pm in Kansas she will need those little ones to cuddle up and sleep.

Thank you for dropping by to check in on the birds in Bird World.

Thanks to Farmer Derek for his streaming cam. That is where I captured my images.

Rain and blowing winds

It’s raining outside. The sky is a heavy grey and the flame willow’s bark is a bright reddish-orange in this light. It is gorgeous. But where are the robins who should be pulling worms from the soil around the flame tree? They are no where to be seen. And the Dark eyed Juncos have not arrived en masse either. We wait.

The branches turn green in the summer but in the winter the Flame Willow is a bright red-orange.
“American Robin” by nicolebeaulac is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There is no life in the dreary damp garden except for two BlueJays flitting about. In half an hour it will fill up just when the feeders are being replenished. Sometimes I think the sparrows have an alarm clock set – they are that punctual.

The last couple of days there has been a sadness hanging over the Bald Eagle community. Indeed, it hangs heavy today just like the grey drizzly skies that surround me. Jackie and Shadow on the Big Bear Bald Eagle nest in Big Bear, California lost their first clutch this year. Their nest is about 44 metres or 145 feet up in a Jeffrey pine tree with a view of Big Bear Lake. It is incredibly beautiful. Jackie is thought to be nine years old and Shadow is around seven; neither are banded and both so want to be parents. A Raven ate their first egg and the second broke. They tried again. Sadly, the first chick died during hatch as thousands of people watched anxiously along with Jackie and Shadow on 18 March. They could hear its chirping and must have been so excited. The second egg is now 38 days old. The normal for BE hatch is 35. Last year they incubated their eggs for sixty days and when they finally stopped the ravens came – the eggs were empty.

So we hope and wait. I really hope – beyond hope – for this nest to be successful this year.

And, of course, there are the on going issues related to the Great Horned Owls and Harriet and M15 on the Pritchett Farm in Fort Myers, Florida. The GHOW nest is 274 metres or .1 of a mile away from the eagle’s nest. This has caused nothing but undue problems for the eagles this year. Last night’s attack was one of the worst. The GHOW knocked Harriet off the branch and into the nest but a then off the nes! You can hear the cries.

Lady Hawk’s video shows this from several angles. You can watch the first and get the idea.

Eagle and Great Horn Owl populations have recovered since the time of DDT. Now, there are several issues both related to human activity – the loss of habitat -meaning space – and also the lack of trees adequate for nests that impact the lives of both. There is more and more competition for resources.

E17 and E18 are both self-feeding and they really are the best of buddies. Twins born within hours of one another. E18 might be the Queen of Mantling but both still love to be fed by their parents. They are so big. One of the best ways of telling which is which is if you can see the tip of the tails. The one with a white band, on the left, is E18.

For those who worry about aggressive behaviours, it is now easy to forget that many were horrified at the bopping E17 gave 18. E17 even had to go into time out at CROW clinic! It all evened out. E18 grew and became not so intimidated. That is a good thing. They will hopefully both thrive in the wild. As Sharon Dunne (aka Lady Hawk) reminded many on one of her videos yesterday, if the birds cannot survive in the nest being fed by parents they will never be able to survive in the wild. As it stands, less than half the bald eagles that fledge live to see their first birthday.

Look close. The white band is on the eaglet on the left. That is E18 with E17 on the right.

I continue to tell people that GHOWs are fierce competitors and they are dangerous. There is nothing cuddly about them! Speaking about Great Horned Owls and Bald Eagles, the two owlets of Bonnie and Clyde are really growing. The oldest is always ready to try and hork down the mouse that Clyde delivers. In this early morning shot, you can see Clyde, Bonnie, and one of the eaglets. Everyone is doing fine on that nest. Only time will tell if the owls become permanent occupants of what was a Bald Eagle nest.

The daughters of Farmer Derek named the owlets Tiger (the eldest) and Lily (the youngest). In the image below Clyde is on the left, Bonnie is in the back and if you squint you can see one of the owlets, probably Tiger, in the nest. Sweet names. I wonder if they knew that GHOWs are sometimes called ‘Tiger’ owls?

21 March 2021. Clyde, Harriet, and one of the owlets.

The young father, Harry, is incubating the two eggs on the Bald Eagle nest at the Minnesota DNR. You can tell it is Harry and not Nancy because of the dark patch at the end of his beak. Remember – this young father has not fully changed to his adult colouring – he is only four years old! That tree is really twisting and the wind is howling and blowing. Those eagles have had all kinds of weather to contend with, too. But now we should be thinking about a pip! Their second egg was laid at 2:54 pm on 20 February with the first on the 18th. That means that egg 1 is 31 days old. If the rule of 32 days for a hatch applies this young father should be getting excited. I hope that the weather smartens up for them and they have a successful hatch!

Very young father incubates eggs at MNDNR awaiting first pip. 21 March 2021.

The rain and the wind that is keeping the Minnesota nest soaked and twisting left the Bald Eagle nest in Jacksonville soaked as well. Gabby did a great job of keeping Legacy covered up and Samson even brought in provisions during the windy storm.

One of the things you will no longer see on the NE Florida eagle nest is ‘eggie’. Samson came in on the 17th of March and while Legacy was self-feeding, he aerated the nest. As he was punching holes in the base of the nest cup, Samson kept checking that Legacy was busy eating. Then he buried ‘Eggie’ in one of the holes and covered it with Spanish Moss. There seem to be no adverse effects. Some of us thought we would have to strap a backpack on Legacy so she could take Eggie and pinecone with her when she fledges. It’s hard to believe that it was not so long ago when Legacy had Avian Pox. She survived it well. In the image below Gabby has brought in a fish for Legacy. Legacy mantles and feeds herself. ‘Look, I am all grown up, Mom!’ They are all growing way too fast.

21 March 2021. Legacy is self feeding.

And the rest of Bird World seems to be in a holding pattern today. The trio at the Achieva Osprey nest have been fed. They all had good full crops last night and there was not so much commotion this morning when the first fish was brought in at 7:59.

21 March 2021 From left to right: 2, Brutus, Tiny Tot

The people on chat have named the eldest Brutus because of the way that it treats the other two. And, Brutus, was particularly nasty to both Tiny Tot and 2 last evening. Still, they got food and that was really what mattered. Brutus has not been able to stifle their will to survive. You can see all three of them standing up to be fed this morning. I did do a wee bit of a giggle. For many, Brutus is a male name and is associated with male aggression since the time when Marcus Junius Brutus was one of Julius Cesar’s assassins. In this instance, it is, however, highly likely that Brutus is a big female. Watching the Port Lincoln Osprey cam showed me that like GHOWs, you do not mess with a big female Osprey when she is upset. Best to just stay away.

Big and Li’l are doing fine on the Duke Farms Bald Eagle nest. Both of them had a nice crop this morning. There was even a tandem feeding with Mom and Dad.

21 March 2021. Both parents feeding at Duke Farms eagle nest.

Someone remarked at how big Li’l is getting – that is what happens when you get enough food, you grow!

And last but never least – the ‘Brutus’ of the Port Lincoln Osprey nest, Solly, is thriving. She is 183 days old today and she has mustered the strength and the courage to cross the entire bay at Streaky Bay. Well done, Solly!

Thanks for coming to check all the characters in Bird World today. The birds bring us so much joy – and sadness, sometimes. And, yes, uneasiness when we worry about them. Most of us sleep better when we know they have had a good meal. So today, let us send warm wishes for Jackie and Shadow – maybe a miracle will happen. It is too bad we can’t slip an orphaned baby eaglet in their nest for them. I am sure they would adore it.And let’s begin to get excited for the young father up in Minnesota. I hope it is a nice warm day tomorrow for their hatch.

And thank you to Port Lincoln Osprey and their Satellite Tracker, the streaming cams from Duke Farms, Achieva Osprey, NE Florida Eagle Cam and the AEF, SW Florida Eagle Cam and D Pritchett, Farmer Derek, the Minnesota DNR, and Big Bear Eagle cam.

The Owlets have names

Just a very quick announcement. The two Great Horned Owls, Bonnie and Clyde, who stole the Bald Eagle nest on the farm near Newton, Kansas had two eggs hatch. The oldest hatched on 7 March and the youngest 9 March. Already they have pin feathers and the oldest horked an entire mouse last night! The farmer that set up the streaming cam for the Bald Eagles and whose family has welcomed the owls has two daughters. Those daughters got to pick the names for the owlets. The oldest is Tiger and the little one is Lily! What wonderful names.

You can just see the proud mama, Bonnie, and one of the little ones sticking its head up.

Lovely names and it is so nice to see the entire family involved. We have all learned so much since the owls took over the nest on 1 February. Thank you Farmer Derek and your family.