5 February 2023
Good Morning Everyone,
As most of you know, I write my blog the afternoon and evening prior to the morning I publish it. I have had countless letters and notes today and a couple of comments wondering why isn’t anyone searching for Harriet. I do not know who began spreading the idea that there was no one looking for Harriet. Harriet is one of the most famous Bald Eagles in the world. She is beloved by the Pritchett family and thousands and thousands of watchers. She is known throughout Fort Myers. All of the news media – papers, radio, and TV news have covered the story of Harriet missing. People have been out searching. Here is one story that is carried about those searches.
Saturday was one of the most heart-wrenching days I have spent monitoring a single nest while trying to keep up with some of the others. We are all sad. You are, I am, the Pritchett’s are. My thoughts have gone to M15 who is actively grieving for his mate and yet, has the responsibility for their last two eaglets. He brought in a fish big enough for all three to eat well this morning but, as we all know, 22 ate it all. 21 got little as I document below. It pulls at our heart. M15 will look after these children as best he can. He has other responsibilities too – while not knowing what has happened to Harriet. It is a very different situation to Gabby who had no eaglets on the nest. We do not know what will happen if 21 continues to keep 22 from eating. There are many scenarios at play with lots of people behind the scenes trying to figure out what is the best thing to do. All I know is that the Pritchett family cares deeply for its eagles. They have a stocked pond for them. They got help for 17 and 18’s eyes immediately. Those eagles are part of their extended family. If anyone can pull a Rabbit out of a Hat, the Pritchett’s can working together with CROW and the USFWS. The best place for the eaglets is on the nest with their dad, M15. I hope that there is a sudden change in 21 because 22 needs food and it is scared of its stronger and larger sibling. At the same time, M15 will, as eagles do, feed the beak that is at the table. I live in the hope that something good will happen.
I spent my Saturday on and off the SWFlorida Eagle Cam. All of the other nests appear to be fine. It is agonising to watch 22 being so hungry, digging through the nest for scraps when 21 has been fed well and has kept its little sibling from being fed by M15. 22 was able to get enough off the bones and fish by itself to get a small crop. I want 22 is a survivor like Tiny Tot Tumbles and Blue 464. Certainly 22 is as afraid of eating as TTT was…we just have to hope. The good news and celebration is down in Miami with Rose and Ron. And well, the fact that everyone else is doing well including Zoe who has a perch above a creek makes everyone happy. The first part of my blog is a long overview of SWFlorida today. Then I move into the other nests and all the great news happening elsewhere.
The temperatures are climbing on the Canadian Prairies with the Polar Vortex moving away. There is little wind. The squirrels were out in the garden enjoying a good feed.
You can see some of the snow falling. Dyson is on top heading for a solid seed cylinder while one of her babies is enjoying Black Oil Seed and some Butter Bark Bites.
M15 flew in with a large fish with its head on at 12:15:04 on Saturday. E21 was first up and did not hold back keeping its younger sibling in submission. As it ate and ate, E22 sort of shifted, keeping its head down, hoping there might be some fish left. E21 as I write has been feeding for a long time. M15 constantly looking around, keeping what is going on in the surrounding environment in his head. 21 is getting some huge bites. If you were watching – and thousands are – you will see that 22 finally moved up and got a bite – before 21 reached out to peck it. M15 left the nest and the rest of the fish.
E21 has been eating for at least 30 minutes and has a huge crop. M15 does a good job feeding his eaglet amidst all the other worries he has.
M15 waited for 22 to come over. 21 is stuffed and appears to be ready to go into food coma. 22 is looking.
The famous two bites of fish for 22.
At 13:03, just as 22 was set to eat, 21 goes on the attack.
M15 flies off. He is very preoccupied with the intruders into his territory. Don’t blame him! It is difficult to care for the eaglets, secure food, and secure the air space around the nest.
n the midst of his own personal grieving, M15 is taking care of his eaglets and his territory. He is an extraordinary dad and he will do the best he can BUT he cannot pull 22 up to the table to eat. There might be some tactics he could use but he has a lot on his plate and has no mate to help him.
The story continues with E22 finding fur and an old fish tail in the nest and self-feeding. Now get over to the new fish, 22. You got this!
E21 is aroused and is practically sleeping on the fresh fish..
22 creeps over with the fish tail towards the fresh fish and 21 strikes. This reminds me of Tiny Tot Tumbles. TTT ate the old food on the nest and survived until a time when the parent fed her secretly after dark when the other two slept. Fingers crossed that 22 can get a piece of that fish…there are two sections, the body and tail and the head. Plenty for both eaglets. A22 is desperately trying to self-feed. He just doesn’t have the technique down…hold it down with your talons and pull hard, 22!
E21 went back and 22 continued to work on the fish tail. He has gotten some fish off it – even a few bites helps. Every bite helps.
Then 21 took the fish tail. That was a moment when I felt someone had just hit me in the gut. How could he deny 22 that small morsel of fish? He took it and then just left it.
22 finally got over to the fresh fish and began picking at the head – not the open part – without success.
Then M15 flew to the nest at 14:18:39. I wonder if he saw 22 at the fish wanting food? But leave it to 21 – who is still bursting – to go up and begin pecking 22. Sad. Will 22 get some food?
It is possible we need another fish on this nest…22 is still not getting any and 21 is bursting at the crop. Sometimes if another fish comes on in rapid succession and if the parent won’t give up, the second submissive eaglet gets to eat. You have seen this at other nests. M15 doesn’t have the time to get out and get another fish. We are fortunate he was able to catch that big one this morning.
M15 flew off the nest at 14:49. 21 is in food coma (thank goodness). 22 moves over to self-feed. He found some scraps and is working on a piece. This is good. If M15 flew down now would 21 wake up? or would 22 get fed? We don’t know the answer to that but 22 is getting some flakes of fish. As I said earlier, even small amounts of fish help and we know that 22 ate some of the old fur and dried up rabbit. Bald Eagles eat anything and everything. As an adult, they will eat fur and bones and hard pieces of food to survive if they need to. IF 22 survives, he has been learning some good lessons on this nest for his future. I do hope he does but, it is not a given based on what is happening.
22 pecks and finds some bites until 21 wakes up and comes to investigate at 14:57 when it beaks little sib. 21’s crop is huge.
At 15:39 E22 broke into an area of the fish with flakes…can he get enough to fill up?
At 15:46, E22 could be heard singing, “I Did It My Way” as the little sibling had found enough scraps on the nest and the fish – he is really not that good at self-feeding but 22 worked at it – and he had a small crop. A round of applause. This is the face of a survivor.
It is 18:08, M15 is guarding the territory. He has brought in one large fish and did 3 feedings. Or was it 4? 21 got all of the them but a couple of bites while 22 ate scraps on the nest.
We must prepare ourselves. It is possible that only one eaglet will survive with Harriet’s absence. It is difficult raising eaglets – this size – alone – and I also believe we must accept that Harriet is not returning. If 21 were willing to let 22 get a good feed, I might feel different. But 21 is not willing to share. We wait. We Hope. There is absolutely nothing else we can do as we have no idea what discussions are taking place in the quiet corners of the Pritchett Farm, CROW offices, and USFWS. We know the situation is being monitored and we know that there is a search for Harriet.
PG&E backs down from cutting down old pine with a nest to a pair of Bald Eagles. Thank goodness the eagles returned to the nest when they did or the outcome would have been different!
Oh, I wish I lived in Iowa! Do you know anyone who might be interested?
If this doesn’t turn someone’s stomach. What was practised in the UK’s historical past has met up with a society that no longer finds this acceptable. When will the enforcers step up and do what is right? Raptor Persecution UK reports on this tragedy:
The rotting carcasses of shot pheasants, ducks and geese have been found today, dumped on the Otley Wetlands Nature Reserve in West Yorkshire.
Morgan Caygill (@atypicalbirder) posted the following on Twitter this afternoon:
From the grisly photograph it’s clear that at least some of these birds have been ‘breasted’ (i.e. the breast meat has been removed, presumably for consumption).
It’s not clear whether the birds were all shot on the nature reserve or whether they had been shot elsewhere and just dumped on the reserve. It seems unlikely that bird shooting would be permitted on this award-winning reserve as it’s previously been celebrated as a ‘safe haven for wildlife’ (here).
Even if shooting is permitted here, however, the dumping of shot bird corpses would not be permitted. It’s an especially stupid and reckless thing to do given the ongoing concerns about the spread of avian flu.
Regular blog readers will know that the dumping of shot gamebirds is not a new phenomenon, it’s been happening up and down the country for years, prior to this latest outbreak of avian flu: e.g. in Cheshire, Scottish borders (here), Norfolk (here), Perthshire (here), Berkshire (here), North York Moors National Park (here) and some more in North York Moors National Park (here) and even more in North Yorkshire (here), Co. Derry (here), West Yorkshire (here), and again in West Yorkshire (here), N Wales (here), mid-Wales (here), Leicestershire (here), Lincolnshire (here), Somerset (here), Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park (here), Suffolk (here), Leicestershire again (here), Somerset again (here), Liverpool (here), even more in North Wales (here) even more in Wales, again (here), in Wiltshire (here) in Angus (here), in Somerset again (here) and once again in North Yorkshire (here).
The dumping of shot game birds is a breach of the Code of Good Shooting Practice which states:
‘Shoot managers must ensure they have appropriate arrangements in place for the sale or consumption of the anticipated bag in advance of all shoot days‘.
The Code of Good Shooting Practice is, however, in effect, just advice. It has no legal standing and is unenforceable. It’s handy for the shooting industry to point to it as ‘evidence’ that the industry is capable of self-regulation but it’s not really worth the paper it’s written on if shoot managers can breach it without consequence, as they so often do.
Last year, almost a year to the day, after yet another episode of dumped shot game birds, there was an exchange in the House of Lords where game bird shooter and DEFRA Minister Lord Benyon denied that there was evidence of shot gamebirds being dumped (I know!) and Lord Newby, having seen the evidence provided by this blog, stated he would pursue Benyon to find out what plans the Government had for dealing with it (see here). Unfortunately nothing ever came of that but in December 2022 Green Peer Natalie Bennett said she’d chase it up with Benyon.Raptor Persecution UK Blog, 4 February 2023
At our nests:
Well, everyone was waiting and most people thought it wouldn’t happen but Rose laid her first egg at the WRDC nest with her new mate, Ron. Congratulations to everyone at WRDC and thanks to ‘H’ who warned me that Rose might be in labour. While I will question the wisdom of raising eaglets so late in the season with the heat, the saying ‘Eagles know best’ is appropriate here. Time: 18:22:10.
Ron has not seen his egg as I finish writing this (2300 Saturday evening). He will, no doubt, be elated in the morning!
HeidiM caught the action on video for us. Thanks ‘H’. Does anyone think Rose looks like she is in shock? Remember this will be the first egg she has ever laid…and her very first chick. Ron is experienced…so happy for him. The pair were so cute working on the nest – all that effort is now paying off.
Pardon me for being me…but I hope that they have one healthy little eaglet to care for this first year – not two or three, just one super healthy chick.
Baiba caught Ron’s reaction! Thanks, ‘H’ for telling me about this video.
Little B16 celebrates its two week old hatch! What a little sweet butterball of a baby.
Pa Berry feeds his baby some squirrel. Two weeks. Notice those black spots…thermal down is coming and our soft little butterball of a baby is going to change.
Connick had a good day. That eaglet is a little butterball like B16. Some people would say he looks like a Buddha sitting there. Notice that gorgeous wooly charcoal thermal down and the way the dandelions form almost a hooded cape over the little fellow. I keep saying….there is something nice about one eaglet on a nest!
Rhona A did an amazing little video clip of Alex bringing in the 15 fish yesterday – I missed the last one. 15. No worries about anyone going hungry on this nest. Lots of fish for self-feeding. Would love to send one or two of these over to SWFlorida or to Zoe.
Valentine and Nugget (yes, that is the official name for 02) are great. There is so much fish on that nest no one knows where to start eating and feeding. Did I saw I wish we could dump about 5 of them on the nest at SWFlorida? That would stop all the food insecurity for 21!
Next Friday, voting will begin for Anna and Louis’s third hatch in their three years together. Be sure to stop in and vote! Give this little one a super name.
Oh, if you are wondering what 03 is doing – well, it is incubating Dudley. 03 often sits on Dudley and we might need a backpack for 03 to fledge with Dudley if the affection continues. If you watch this nest, keep an even on 03’s behaviour. Sometimes Dudley is between his legs when he is being fed. So cute.
And there are no worries about Indigo. Indigo is still in Diamond and Xavier’s territory and was in the scrape screaming in Elain’s highlights for 4 February.
For all you Redding Eagle fans, there is some action at the nest caught by SK Hideaways.
Zoe is apparently fine. She is alive and this is the latest announcement by Fran Solly of Friends of Osprey. Thanks, ‘H’ for the tip that the tracking had come in!
Fran Solly says that Zoe has a perch over the water. Smart girl our Zoe.
The latest news shows images of where Zoe has been fishing. You know, she is a smart girl! Here is the announcement and one of the images. Sure makes you feel better. I wonder if these creeks aren’t full due to the flooding???? Anyone know?
What I would really like right now is an update on Ervie. Let me go and check to see if there is one and, yes, one from a couple of days ago. Ervie is still hanging around Port Lincoln!
Everything is fine at Superbeaks. The eaglets are self-feeding and being fed by Mum and Dad.
Jackie and Shadow are good except for the Ravens/Crows that you can hear at various times when you are watching the streaming cam. We are now 10 days away from pip watch for Jackie and Shadow. I am so glad these eagles have spaced out their eggs and hatch days a bit! Then we can enjoy the little ones at each nest a little longer. What a switch from the heat in Miami to the cool mountains of California with snow.
Do you watch the Bluff City, Tennessee Bald Eagle Nest? Frances laid her first egg of the season with her new mate on the 2nd of February. If there is a second egg, it should arrive today. Her new mate brings her a huge fish to celebrate —– gosh, Ron, did you hear that? Will you bring Rose a big fish, too?
Here is the link to this Eastern Tennessee University eagle cam:
It has been a long and tiring day for everyone. Last year was an exceptionally difficult one and this year has started off no different with the loss of Samson and Alden right at the end of 2022. I cannot imagine Harriet returning to the nest. ‘Something’ has happened to her and we might never know what that was. She was a devoted mother. She was much loved and no doubt we will mourn her later but, for now, it is that helpless feeling. Send positive wishes to the SWFlorida Eagle nest – M15 and 21 and 22 and the Pritchett Family. It is a difficult time for all of them.
Thank you so much for being with me today. Take care. See you soon.
Thank you to the following for their notes, their announcements, tweets, posts, videos, and streaming cams: ‘H’, SWFlorida Eagle Cam and D Pritchett, Terry Carman and Bald Eagles Live Nest Cams and News, Raptor Persecution UK, WRDC, Heidi Mc and the WRDC, Baiba and the WRDC, Berry College Eagle Cam, Window to Wildlife, KNF-E3, KNF-E1, Elain and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, SK Hideaways and the Redding Eagles, Fran Solly and Friends of Osprey, Port Lincoln Osprey, Superbeaks, FOBBV, and ETSM and BTES.