White-tailed Eagles in Poland

3 April 2022

One of my favourite White-tailed eagle females is Milda. I have mentioned her before in my blog. Her nest is in Durbe County in Estonia. It has been a rough year for Milda since her long-term mate was missing and presumed dead in late March of 2021. Milda heroically tried to incubate the eggs without food for 8 straight days to the point of starvation. Several males offered hope and then didn’t. As if with a miracle the two chicks hatched and we all celebrated only for them to perish because of one of the males taking the food off the nest and then not covering them. But, that was last year, and there was hope for this one but again, disappointment when the eggs laid were broken by an interloper.

The females on the nests need a good strong partner who is working with them cooperatively!

The White-tail Eagle is so rare in Eastern Europe. Latvia, Estonia, and Poland are doing what they can to encourage breeding sites.

The White tail eagles are Haliaeetus Albicilla. They are the largest raptors in Europe and are located from Greenland to Asia. The Eagle Directory describes the plumage like this, “White-Tailed Eagles are almost entirely brown. They have a yellow-gray head, neck, breast, and lesser wing coverts, and the belly, thighs, and rump are dark brown. The flight feathers are close to black and their wedge-shaped tail, as their name would indicate, is white. The tibia are feathered, though the tarsi are not, and the legs and feet are yellow. The eyes, beak, and cere are yellow.”

As you can seen from the images of the White-tailed Eagles below, the plumage can vary and of course, we have to take into account the lighting and settings on these streaming cams. These eagles grow to be from 74-92 cm long with a wingspan of 193-244 cm. The females are larger than the males as in most raptor species and weight between 3.7 and 6.9 kg. The males come in at 3.1 to 5.4 kilos. Their life expectancy can be up to 36 years. They eat mainly fish but also hunt mammals such as rabbits and birds. I have seen them also be opportunistic and bring some carrion to the nest. Indeed, it was a crane brought to the White-tailed eagle nest last year that killed two wee chicks because that crane brought with it the highly pathogenic Avian Flu, H5N1. While the birds are listed as not being under threat in some areas, they are very rare in Eastern Europe and the UK is trying to reintroduce them. While they may lay 1-3 eggs, it is most typically 2 eggs that will be incubated by both parents (as you see below) and hatch within 34-46 days. Fledging typically takes place between 77-90 days after which the fledglings are depending on the parents for 4-6 weeks while they learn to fly and hunt.

In older White-tailed eagles, the head and neck can be almost white.

The adults in the images are in a nest in the Woziwoda Forest District. It is a special project of the Eagle Conservation Committee, the Woziwoda Forest District and Polish Radio promotion both old forests and the White-tailed Eagles. The nest is highly protected. There can be no activity within a radius of 200 m. Setting up the camera were problematic and the workers who installed it had to do this cautiously when the eagles were away.

The nest you are looking at is on a 140 year old pine tree at a height of 25 metres. This nest has been occupied for four years. It is known that there was one fledge in 2021.

For transparency, I do not know any of the history of this nest so I do not know whether to give you caution or not. I am attempting to find out. The setting is simply beautiful and if some of you have been watching this nest in the past, please let me know. The chat is in Polish and I understand eggs are being incubated but it is not clear how many or when they were laid by the information provided.

Here is the link:

Just an update on 2 other nests: The adults at Dale Hollow have brought in a teaser 2 bite fish and a small sucker early in the morning. Big ate both of them. No other food has been provided to the eaglets up to 18:30 this evening. I sure wish they would bring a whopper on the nest tonight for both. That said, Little Middle ate well yesterday and is OK. Sadly, Little Middle continues to pull that monofilament line. Thank you to ‘CA’ from Belgium who sent me this 15 second video clip. I could not see him dragging the nesting material, my mistake.

https://youtube.com/clip/Ugkxv7V8o6oR9Gyt8aIgJyQ8dTxjUZI3Copk

Annie and the new male continue to bond in the scrape box. I have caught him incubating a few times today. I sure hope he is a good guy to our Annie! I don’t think any male will ever fill Grinnell’s shoes – he was a huge character in every aspect of a raptor’s life but any bird who will care for Annie, Grinnell’s eggs and now on of his own is gold in my books!

Karl II has spent his 4th night in the Ukraine not far from Kyiv. Anne7 posted this image of where he was hunting for food this afternoon. I am so grateful for the Looduskalender Forum and their English pages and to the tirelessness of Anne7 to inform all of us of Karl’s whereabouts. I wish him to replenish his energy and get to Estonia! Fast.

You may find yourselves spending too much time looking at the Dale Hollow nest hoping for a miracle. I had to begin to pull back today. It is mentally exhausting. We cannot make the adults bring in more food and legions of you have contacted enough people to get help. ‘L’ has had a promising conversation with Al Cerere who asked the important questions. If help can come, he is the guy to make it happen. We simply have to wait and hope. My heart breaks for both of these eaglets but, of course, most especially Little Middle.

Our weather is set to soar to a high of 8 degrees Celsius. We will all be outside in our summer clothes! Well, not quite but it will feel like that. It was a damp day, cold to the bones British type weather today. Birds are arriving and I really hope to get out to see some of them in the morning tomorrow. My post will likely arrive late in the afternoon.

Thank you so much for joining me this evening. Please take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures: Cal Falcons and Bieluki On line Bory Tucholskie.

Annie and her new man…love at The Campanile?

2 April 2022

So many of us love/d Grinnell. I do not know anyone who is not still shocked by his death.

How do you write about a Peregrine Falcon that brought so many so much love, joy, and laughter? Grinnell was a very sweet lad. I have found it difficult to write about him because for many years it was always ‘Grinnell and Annie’ ‘Annie and Grinnell’. In my mind, I was not able to separate the two. They were a constant which, over the past few years, has been very reassuring. And then they weren’t.

Grinnell was last seen at The Campanile at 10:37 on the 31st of March. He was later found dead in the downtown area of San Francisco. It is believed he was chasing a female intruder and went low and got hit by a car.

Grinnell hatched along with another male in a nest near Martinez, California. He was banded in 2013. This makes him 9 years old this year.

Annie and Grinnell were bonded mates for six years. Indeed, it was probably only Grinnell’s injuries on the 29th of October that caused them to be separated for the longest time in their relationship. They appeared at The Campanile in December 2016 making their first nest on a sandbag!!!!!!! Cal Falcons decided that it was better if they fixed them a proper nest in 2017 which evolved into the scrape box that you see on camera in 2018.

Annie and Grinnell raised two to fledge in 2017- Fiat and Lux. Fiat flew out of Mum and Dad’s territory to set up his own while, sadly, Luxe hit a window and died. In 2018, they fledged 3 – Berkelium, Lawrencium, and Californium. All successfully left. Lawrencium, the female has a nest on Alcatraz and has made Grinnell and Annie grandparents. In 2019, there were two fledges – Carson and Cade. In 2020, there were three – Poppy, Sequoia, and Redwood. Poppy was spotted recently in San Jose, California and Sequoia is known to be in Santa Clara, California. Unless a miracle happens, 2021 will be the couple’s final breeding season. It was hugely successful with three males fledging – Fauci, Kaknu, and Wek-Wek. In total, they fledged 13 juvenile peregrine falcons in 5 seasons. It is not clear how many grandchildren the couple have.

We ached for Annie and the two eggs in the scrape.

It has been a bit like a roller coaster with the plot thickening every day since Grinnell’s death. A male appeared, began courting Annie, and briefly incubating the eggs almost as soon as Cal Falcons announced the death of Grinnell. The news of this tragic drama has spread. It even made it to the Toronto news.

https://toronto.citynews.ca/2022/04/02/berkeley-peregrine-falcon-finds-partner-after-mates-death/

The new male likes to sit on the ledge above the nest box watching over Annie and the eggs. Has she accepted prey from him? I am not certain.

This afternoon, Annie initiated the bonding and the male immediately came to join her at 16:30.

He has a limp. Cal Falcons confirms that this should not impact his hunting. And, in fact, he tried to give Annie some nicely prepared prey last night but she was either full, according to Cal Falcons, or not ready to commit. Has anything changed today?

After the bonding ritual, the young male situates himself on the eggs to incubate them.

He is rather cute and I am quickly warming up to him.

These are gentle gestures of loving kindness — the world could use so much more kindness like this – right now.

There are so many news stories out about Annie and the new male. Here is one with comments by Lynn from Cal Falcons:

I will always treasure the years that I was privileged to watch Annie and Grinnell raise their chicks. No one will replace Grinnell in the hearts of thousands but, for now, I am grateful to this young male who has been hanging around for about a month, that he is stepping up and will help raise the last two chicks ever of Grinnell’s. That makes him a winner in my books.

Thank you for joining me tonight. If you are looking for a blog on Sunday, it will be coming late in the afternoon. I am counting Canada Geese tomorrow at several locations! Continue to send your warm wishes to all of the birds especially those migrating over war zones and those entangled with monofilament line. Please take care. See you soon!

Thank you to Cal Falcons for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.

The sadness of Grinnell, the fishing line, and a new mate for Annie? No, this is not April Fools.

1 April 2022

It has been a very difficult two days in Bird World. The first concerns rose with the fishing line on the Dale Hollow Bald Eagle nest two days ago – its wrapping around Little Middle’s feet – and then the most horrific news coming yesterday of Grinnell’s death. As so many of you commented in the first instance, ‘If they can get up there to fix the camera, then why can’t they get up to help the little eaglet?’ But no one can make sense of Grinnell’s death. I tried to write a tribute to this sweet little falcon and could not do it last night. I will but it is going to take a few days. He was such a sweet little falcon that I simply cannot believe he is not with us this morning.

My heart ached for Annie. She was in the scrape calling. She did not lay a third egg yesterday.

I really felt for Annie last night. Where was her mate? why was he not relieving her? why was Grinnell not bringing her something to eat? Where was Grinnell?

It is unusual for a falcon to be down amidst traffic. They hunt in the air – they are the world’s fastest aerial predators. So what was Grinnell doing in traffic? The premise that Grinnell was chasing an intruder that knocked him down into the traffic seems reasonable —– and so sad. Always protecting his and Annie’s territory and babies.

‘B’ sent me a good article about Grinnell that I want to share with you.

Some of you will know Xavier and Diamond whose scrape is on the grounds of Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia. Xavier means Saviour. You might also know that but maybe some of you don’t. Xavier was given that name because when Diamond’s mate disappeared, presumed dead, Xavier came to the rescue almost immediately. He kept Diamond and the eyases fed. He did not interact with the chicks too much and of course, he did not harm them. He proved to be so trustworthy that Diamond bonded with him the following year and they had their own family. Perhaps Annie will have just such a saviour.

This was, literally, just posted by Cal Falcons. It can’t be an April Fool’s joke. Is it possible Annie will have help raising those chicks? Is this the male that Grinnell was chasing? was Annie talking to this male last night?

No one has gone up to help Little Middle at the Dale Hollow nest with the fishing line. It is still wrapped around his feet and in different configurations at various times. So much fish came on the nest this morning – at least three large fish, that it defies understanding that Big would continue to attack Little Middle but she did on several different occasions. Indeed, the kids had hardly anything to eat yesterday so I assumed Big would eat first and she did have a big crop. LM had nothing and then had an opportunity and Big attacked. Later Little Middle got up and ate until he had a nice crop. Then another fish arrived on the nest – a 4th.

Little Middle was so hungry that he began pecking on the fish in the centre of the nest. You might recall that Little Middle did this yesterday moving a fish from beside Big to eat away on it. DH15 is a survivor – if he gets the chance!

Little Middle managed to get a good feeding. And we can all say, ‘whew’.

I do not see Little Middle dragging the nesting material around this morning. I have caught a glimpse of the fishing line around its talons, loose. Perhaps this wee one who has endured so much will be able to get rid of it.

Little Middle was so hungry that he got himself back up to the fish after about 9 minutes of hanging by the rim of the nest. Big had already eaten and Middle Little had little food since Thursday morning if any food. He chewed on a fish by itself.

Big’s presence is just intimidating. She seems to get upset for no reason that Little Middle exists.

I had hoped that Middle Little would grow bigger and that Big would plateau but not only does it seem that Big’s plumage is changing dramatically, she also continues to grow. Her leg is almost the size of her parents! Middle Little still has to be careful.

River flew in with another fish 09:59:00. This should be number 4. Big was sleeping on the #3 fish and River was feeding #2. Plenty of fish today for both eaglets – no reason for any beaking or rivalry.

Little Middle has a crop and that is good.

There are so many nests that need to be checked on and I have an appointment today. A good report on all of them will come later with updates on Dale Hollow, Annie and the new mate, and Karl II if there is any new tracking data.

It feels a bit like we are all in a bird whirlwind. No one expected Annie to bond with another male this fast! Cal Falcons is really having to rewrite what they know about falcons! And we are learning, too. I just wonder if this is the male that was around when Grinnell was injured?

Thank you for joining me. Take care everyone. I will do a very quick update late tonight. See you soon!!!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures and video clips: Dale Hollow Bald Eagles and Cal Falcons. Thank you ‘B’ for the article on Grinnell.