Tuesday Morning with the Ospreys

10 May 2022

It is a gorgeous morning with the promise of 20 degrees C. There is a blue sky and that tinge of green on the trees. By afternoon many of those leaf buds will be leaves. It is also a good day to go and check on those cute little wood ducks!

I lucked out this morning at the UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey Nest. There was a fish delivery around 10:00. The nest was civil! So, I am going to make a assumption and see how far I can go back. There had to be at least one big fish, if not two, for Big to be nice and let Middle eat first.

Yes, there is a fish that is being fed to the two that comes prior to 06:35. I cannot tell you what happened when this fish arrived. Mum is feeding Middle nicely when I re-wind.

At 07:23:06, the pair are snuggled together in the centre of the big nest. It is hard to tell them apart. The hint is the plumage. Big remains darker than Middle. There is a little more juvenile plumage coming in. Big is bigger but when they are moving around on the nest, it is really difficult to determine who is who. Both are walking well now.

At 09:09, Big is self-feeding on a piece of fish left on the nest.

This is interesting. This is at least a second fish (perhaps there was an earlier one also to the first). Big has no interest in harassing Middle who is obviously hungry and up at Mum’s beak.

Big does come up for food and Middle begins to do his quick grab. There is no attempt to harm Middle, however.

It helps to have Big get caught up in eating a small piece of fish. Indeed, both of the chicks appear to have a piece of fish tail that they are trying to eat.

Mum was still feeding Middle at 10:25.

Now, I would like to rewind to what happened when I wasn’t able to access the camera so that we can appreciate what is happening this morning. I am very grateful for a very detailed report on the nest from ‘R’ who also knows the area well and was able to clarify where Dad goes fishing.

This is a broader map of the UFlorida-Gainesville campus showing several lakes. ‘R’ tells me there is no boating on most of them and limited boating on the larger lake. When I am looking at the reasons for there to be issues of food competition, the first thing I wonder about is the source for the fish. As some of you may realize, in Montana the Ospreys up near Missoula whose nests are on the Clark Fork River are having difficulties – or will – if the high temperatures and lack of snow pack and rain continue. The trout die. Here, this does not seem to be an issue. I did have to giggle. We know nothing about alligators in lakes in Canada that I am aware of – but apparently the lakes in Gainesville have gators and they do eat the odd dog when the walker gets it too close to the shore. Goodness, that would be a shock! As ‘R’ pointed out, the gators should not be a problem to the Osprey.

The nest is located on the Soccer Practice Field. That is the red indicator below. You can see that Dad has a large lake close by and further to the right another. Unless something is killing off the fish in those lakes, access is not an issue. Perhaps temperature is? It is 69 degrees F this morning in Gainesville. A respectable temperature for fishing. Does the temperature impact fish delivery if it gets up in the high 80s? Good question to find the answer.

‘R’ reports that Dad brought in little food on Friday. That evening, that big storm with the high winds that swept through the area and the nests – they were blowing on Captiva – took out the camera. There was on and off camera access Saturday but nothing steady with the camera until Sunday. It is unclear about food deliveries during this time but typically it is difficult for an Osprey to fish if it is a very bad storm. There is also an issue of barometric pressure. Easier to fish when the pressure is falling as opposed to rising. I am going to have to set up a graph and see if this is impacting Dad. ‘R’ was sadly able to report that a few years ago in another storm both of the chicks were knocked out of the nest. How tragic.

The report for Sunday and Monday were not good. As ‘R’ notes, this was probably due to a lack of fish deliveries. Bit was extremely aggressive attacking Middle constantly. Middle tried to position itself to get away from Big but this did not help. At this point Mum is favouring feeding Big over Middle.

The pattern continued to Monday morning – Big being clearly aggressive and Mum favouring Big in the feeding. It was estimated by ‘R’ that Big got ten bites to Middle’s one. Also noted was the fact that Middle went into submission easily whereas last week, Middle was showing some ability to deal with Big’s dominance.  

The factors that are leading to food competition continue to be a lack of fish delivery by Dad, weather, and at least one instance of an intruder that was seen landing on a light near the nest.

I am extremely happy that something has happened this morning to turn this aggressive behaviour around this morning. If it is possible I want to go back and build up a graph checking on the barometric pressure in Gainesville and compare it to the days we know there were good fish deliveries and little. Is this the culprit? or is it intruders? the temperature?

I want to take you to an Osprey nest where – for the past five or six years – there has been not a single problem. That is the Manton Bay nest of Blue 33 (11) and Maya. Three eggs this season. Two have now hatched. I will expect the next one to hatch tomorrow. The eldest hatched last evening and the second is still wet! You can barely see it in front of Big Bob. — A note. All of the Ospreys are Bobs in the UK. The Bob refers to the bobbing head. so it will be Big Bob, Middle Bob, etc.

That is that big fish I was talking about yesterday. The Manton Bay nest is right in the water at Rutland. There is nothing cuter than a day old Osprey chick. Nothing. OK. Maybe a Red-tail Hawk or a Peregrine Falcon.

Big Bob is already eating well.

Maya is a bit like Big Red, the Red-tail Hawk matriarch at Cornell. She wants her babies full to the brim and more. No need for a hungry wiggly baby while one is trying to dry off and get used to having hatched and the other is thinking about hatching.

Brooding and incubating. It will be much easier for Maya when the third hatches. Again, I am not expecting any issues at this nest over food competition. Blue 33 (11) always has the fish on the nest at dawn. If he doesn’t then we should start worrying about him! This is a terrific nest.

Here is the link to the streaming cam at Rutland Manton Bay:

I have not checked any other nests this morning but I will do later today. The sun is bright and it is getting warmer and it is time to do a hike around a lake to check on some ducks and geese.

Have a wonderful day everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. See you soon!

Thank you to the UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey Cam and the LRWT for their Manton Bay cam where I took my screen shots. A special thanks to ‘R’ who educated me in potential fishing sources for Dad at Gainesville and for bringing me up to speed with great detail over the weekend and Monday happenings at Gainesville.

Sunday in Bird World

8 May 2022

I had a lovely letter from a friend today. Like so many of you, she has tried to watch some of the nests and gotten attached to the birds only to have her heart pulled out when an older sibling shoves them out of the nest or, in other instances, they were starved or killed by beaking or both. It has been a tough year on the nests. Tough even for me.

My friend pulled back and has started watching Big Red and Arthur’s nest on the campus of Cornell and Annie and Alden on the grounds of UC-Berkeley. Her question this morning was simply to clarify that hawks and falcons do not practice siblicide. The answer is that the preponderance of siblicide occurs in eagles (some species more than others), egrets, boobies, herons, pelicans and, I am going to add ospreys to that list. There are lots of reasons, some explored in earlier blogs but, it is safe to say that if you wish to enjoy the birds on the streaming bird cams, falcons and hawks are generally a very safe choice as are ducks and geese. Because the chicks are precocial (are fully feathered, can walk and swim and eat on their own), the ducks and geese need those chicks to hatch all at once. They delay full incubation until the last egg is laid. Robins do that too and so do hawks and falcons. In this way, the older chicks are not that much bigger (normally) than the younger. The ducks and geese and even the raptors need their babies to fledge at the same time. So incubating them so they will hatch together really helps. It is called synchronous hatching (begins hard incubation after the last egg is laid) as opposed to asynchronous hatching where the parent immediately begins hard incubation immediately after the first egg is laid.

Annie makes a kind of chee-up sound when she is ready to put the food in the beak. The chicks learn this. Annie might well give the biggest chick the first few bites but she immediately moves around giving the youngest some. Today, the Peregrine Falcon Mother at the scrape in Oudenaarde, Belgium spent a whole hour making sure that all 5 of her eyases were fed and full. No one left the table hungry. The Mum at the Manchester NH falcon nest also has five eyases. Not one of them went to bed hungry tonight despite their size difference – the smallest had a big crop just like the largest. That is what hawks and falcons do!

A clump of falcons in a feather bed.

The wee one is piled on top of one of the siblings to stay warm.

Here is Annie feeding her two chicks brunch on Mother’s Day! Watch carefully how she feeds the big one several bites, then the small one and then goes back and forth. Annie is a pro. Both are well fed!

And Cal Falcons posted a second feeding just a short time ago. It is really cute. Alden checks in on the babies who see an adult and open their beaks. Alden is so cautious and nervous. He It very happy when Annie arrives with lunch he provided in her beak from the other side of the scrape!

Here is that feeding. It is so cute. Notice how the little one gets full and then gets back up for some more. Falcons eat everything. Nothing is wasted. Some of the first few bites were feathers.

It doesn’t get much better than the Red-tail Hawk nest of Big Red and Arthur at Cornell. Little L4 is growing and surviving and well, I haven’t watched this nest 24/7 but I have not seen any tendencies by the oldest to interfere with the younger ones.

SF Bay Ospreys does not want us to forget about Rosie on Mother’s Day. I adore her and if there is an osprey nest in the US to watch that is stable – Rosie and Richmond in SF are it! —- Oh, and no. Ospreys are not prone to Avian Flu. They eat fish.

Someone dressed Spirit up. LOL. Good thing I don’t have the software to do this!!!!!!! I think Spirit is a Jackie in the making, too.

We all loved Kindness at Glacier Gardens. Many have been watching the nest cam and have been wondering where the eagles , Liberty and Freedom, are. Well, they have built a new nest! Here is the video reveal of that find:

The camera remains off line at the UFlorida-Osprey nest if you have been checking. It is unclear when it will be back on. If it is a mechanical issue it would be difficult since the chicks are older.

The Dale Hollow Eaglets have full crops and are drying off today. These two are doing very well.

Some nest renovations have been going on at the National Arboretum. I don’t think DC9 appreciated some of those branches.

At 2045 there is still no hatch at the Manton Bay nest of Blue 33 (11) and Maya. Maya is certainly restless tonight.

If you are a fan of Lady and Dad at the Sydney Sea Eagle nest in the Olympic Forest, you will know that the couple have been working on the nest. We are about three weeks away from the first egg being laid.

Where’s Ervie? Looks like he still hanging around the barge area of Port Lincoln. Fine by me!

It has been a busy day at all the nests and throughout different regions as the migratory birds continue to move through. My garden was full of White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows again today along with the usuals. The little Chickadee couple love to have a swim!

The Starling was not so pleased when Dyson came along and wanted some of the seeds.

Dyson is trying to try out for the local gymnastics team. Look at her stretch! She is losing her winter fur and the tufts on the end of her ears are gone. Ironically, her tail is much thicker. She is in really good health. Good to see.

I hope that each of you have had a wonderful day today and, hopefully, if you could, got to spend some time outside. It really is energizing – even for a few minutes sitting in the sun. Thank you so much for joining me today. It is a joy to have you here. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams and/or FB pages where I took my screen captures: SF Ospreys, Cal Falcons, Peregrine Falcon Network, Cornell RTH, Friends of Big Bear Valley, NADC-AEF, DHEC, Sea Eagle Cam@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, and the LRWT.