2 January 2022
Good Morning Everyone!
I hope that the first day of the new year started off in the right direction for everyone. At my house, it meant eating black-eyed peas for luck that I learned as a child growing up in Oklahoma. Today was also a day spent with my daughter and her family – a real treat with everyone together but the son and daughter in law who live in the Caribbean. That said, we did connect with them through the wonderful world of technology so, we were all in ‘the glass room’ together. Laughing. Smiling. Everyone is so busy that it was splendid just to stop, share a meal, and catch up on all the news.
In the mailbox: Geemeff sends us news from Yorkshire in the UK.There are some places that are taking bold moves and are forward thinking that have cancelled New Year’s Eve fireworks. If you know of other Councils or Cities, let me know! This is a good way to start the new year.
And ‘C’ writes that they have named their squirrel visitor Dyson, too! I think this is marvellous. It is a perfect name for these smart squirrels all around the world who can outwit any bird feeder manufacturer!!!!!!!! (at least the ones in my garden, anyway)
Top story for this morning. At 1027 when Harriet got up, it appeared that there could be a beak pecking its way through the shell of the narrow end of one of the eggs. But, it is now unclear about that mark. It appears to have been some nesting material that caused all the excitement. Harriet is restless. But only a tiny little peck visible in one egg.
There is disturbing weather news coming for the US for the next couple of days and it could have a huge impact on the birds. In San Francisco on Sunday, they received 5.65 inches of rain. That is the most rain ever recorded since 1849 when records began. So what happens to the falcons when it rains like this? Do their prey hide? That area needs water. The reserves are filling but, in some places, there are floods that are going to be problematic and the rain is set to continue with another system moving in.
The system that brought all the rain to California is going to move into the central US where it will meet up with warm area from the Gulf region. It is going to bring snow and ice to the nests in Iowa. Tornadoes for the area around Alexandria, Louisiana could happen today hitting the nests of Anna and Louis and Andria and Alex and Andria are going to be right in the middle of it, according to one of the current forecasts. I do not watch the weather that much but, I do check on anything that will impact our raptors!
That pink is ice and I am thinking about all of the eagles and other wildlife and birds in that region including Decorah (the system will move through Iowa).
This is a band of tornadoes potentially and Alexandria, Louisiana is right in the middle of it along with our Kistachie National Forest eagle families. You send out all the positive wishes you can to those little eaglets and their parents in E3.
Gabby and V3 were at the nest making restorations today together. I think that it is safe to say that V3 is the ‘chosen’ one to become Gabby’s mate. While we might have had another favourite out of the many suitors that came to the nest, only Gabby knows ‘the why’ of choosing V3 over anyone else. Seeing them together, working on their future, was certainly a wonderful way to spend part of the first day of the new year.
I like his eyes, he brought food, and he seemingly keeps the rest of the intruders away – a real good security guard for the nest and for Gabby. May their lives be long, healthy, and productive – as in cute little eaglets! They sure are a striking couple. But, V3 needs a name. Wonder what it will be?
He is a good provider. Just look at the crop on V3!!!!!! Sadly, Gabby isn’t always there to receive the food gifts.
Another raptor family, Big Red and Arthur, were spotted today on the Cornell Campus by Suzanne Arnold Horning. It is always a gift to see them when it is not nesting time and it is thanks to the BOGS that we are assured of their well-being. Thank you Suzanne!
Arthur sitting on top of a post looking for a vole to move in the grass. If you think about it, raptors hunt so differently. The Red-tail Hawks sit, sometimes for 45 minutes to an hour, elevated – waiting and watching and then they swoop down. Hen Harriers on the other hand fly low over the landscape once they have identified where their dinner might be. Ospreys hover focusing when they find a fish and then making that dramatic dive. They are as different in their behaviours as they are in their plumage. And Red-tail Hawks are gorgeous. My friend Toni died this year. Her and I used to banter back and forth over the most beautiful plumage. I can say that she certainly got me to appreciating that of the White-bellied sea eagle juveniles. In the end, though, they are all gorgeous in their unique ways.
Big Red. She is looking really good for a 20 year old Red-tail Hawk!
Cornell posted other images of Big Red from the 31st on their Twitter feed today.
It was raining at Orange and Elain caught some good images of one wet falcon in her daily summary of life with Diamond, Xavier, and Indigo.
There was lots of action on New Year’s Day and Deb Steyck caught Bella and Smitty arriving at the NCTC Bald Eagle nest. It is good to see them together. Last year Bella was injured in a territorial battle. She did not return to the nest for some three weeks while Smitty took up with another female. Bella kicked her off the nest and out of the area and, well, it is good to see the two together this year. Hopefully there will be little eaglets this year to make up for last!
So let’s have a conversation about one legged eagles. But before I begin, there are deer in my community that live a normal life in our urban forests and have only three legs. When I grew up, my parents had a three legged dog. They were able to adapt. While one might want to argue that an eagle with just a single leg could not possibly fish or feed itself and would starve to death, please read further down. And if you know of an eagle in the wild living with a handicap, send me a note.
There has been a bit of discussion about Clay, the one legged eagle that was in rehab at Wild Heart Ranch near Tulsa was euthanised. I have not followed this case closely but, it was a second trip for the bird who went back to the first place where it was rescued. Clay arrived with a badly infected foot that was later determined to be dead along other injuries. It is not clear to me how he was injured. It is, however, my understanding that the regulations of the USFWS do not allow wildlife rehabbers to keep one-legged Bald Eagles. Please correct me if I am wrong. I also came to understand today that it was that policy that drove the euthanasia. Again, please correct me if I am wrong. No one wants an eagle to suffer, let us be clear. This decision has prompted some to ask about the policy in light of animals living in the wild with less that the normal number of legs.
Today, an individual who has spent years around the Mississippi taking images of the Love Trio, Dennis Brecht, posted a photo he took of a Bald Eagle with one leg flying around the Mississippi at the location in the posting. Just saying. That eagle looks pretty healthy. — I have seen Dennis’s images for several years now and do not believe him to be a person who would deliberately manipulate an image.
So this brings me to another eaglet, WBSE 29 – who we all grew to love at the White-Bellied Sea Eagle nest in the Sydney Olympic Park has been euthanised. I just received a note from a very trusted individual who taught me much about eagles and kept my focus straight and not off in fantasy land. Tonight there are plenty of people whose emotions range from disappointment to fury. Here is the announcement:
As you know SE29 was rescued in early October, after some sort of severe trauma (we are not sure if he flew into a window or was hit by a car).
When he arrived he was bleeding from inside the beak indicating a bleed in the lung following the trauma. He also suffered a particularly nasty fracture just above the foot, which you can see in the radiograph attached to this post. The challenge about this fracture is firstly, that it is quite oblique, and secondly, that it is very far down in the bone, making the orthopaedic repair required quite difficult.
While stabilising and after consultation with many other raptor veterinarians around the world, we initially tried to stabilise the foot in a special cast. But it became apparent quite soon that due to the oblique nature of the fracture the fragments just could not be immobilised properly and there was still some sliding.
Normally these fractures in birds are repaired with an external fixation device. This involves crossbars through the bone which are connected and held in position by external rods. The goal is to have two crossbars in each fragment of the bone. We knew that trying to repair this fracture would be a push, because of the little room left for us in the fragment closer to the foot.
But SE29 was a young bird (this helps with healing) and he was dealing well with the process of being in care, having a generally gentle demeanour, so repair was attempted) and we placed a type 2 external fixation device. You can see on the picture what this structure looks like.
We then had to wait for the bone to mend until we could remove the pins. During this whole process SE29 has been a gentle, strong bird and has allowed us to take him through the rehabilitation process.
However, we have promised ourselves, we would only persevere with his rehabilitation if there was a reasonable chance for SE29 to return into the wild. This is where he came from, and the life of freedom is what he should have if we could make it so.
Two months into the rehabilitation process, the external fixation device was removed and it became clear that some of the tendons making the digits move did not work normally any more, and possibly there was some joint damage at the tarsometatarsal – phalanx 1 joint.
The foot is a structure a raptor just cannot live without, and we had to accept that our attempts had not worked out as we hoped. We knew it was a push from the start (again, this was a very unfavourable fracture), but SE29 had just been doing so well until then and he made us hope even more it would work out in the end. Unfortunately at this point it became clear, SE29 would not be able to be released and he was euthanased for the reasons described above.
Much like all of you, who fell in love with this little bird from since he was an egg, working with him and getting to know him also allowed him to take a very special place in our hearts and sharing these news fills us with sadness. But we are glad that we did give this bird a chance, because otherwise we would have never known.Raptor Recovery Australia FB
WBSE29 was a beautiful vibrant bird.
There are tears flowing in so many places.
The sad truth about all of this is that the situation in the Sydney Olympic Forest is untenable. The population of Pied Currawongs, Magpies, BooBook Owls, and Ravens has grown unchecked. The sea eagles do not eat them. The energy it would take to catch them would not warrant the amount of meat on their carcass. The small birds, however, attack the sea eaglets and the adults at the nest relentlessly and chase the eaglets out of the forest the minute they fledge. That means that the parents are not able to feed them, to teach them to hunt and the fledglings cannot improve their flying in peace like we see at so many other nests. Then smaller birds attack the sea eaglets when they are grounded. They were even attacking 29 when it was wrapped in a blanket being rescued! The only way that the eaglets that we grow to love so much can survive is if they are picked up the minute they are grounded and taken into a facility that will go the extra mile to ensure that they are given every opportunity to live and be released. One very good thing is that the folks on the ground- and there is a growing number of caring individuals – are dedicated to watching out for the eaglets. They make sure that care is sought the minute they see them in danger – it is the only way that they will have a chance of survival.
Maybe that nest tree should be cut down, too! Believe me I never advocate cutting down trees but, what will it take for the menacing small birds to leave the WBSE in peace?
There is some really welcome good news coming out of New Zealand today. Dr Andrew Rigby has tweeted the following announcement about the flightless green parrots that we love so much – the Kakapo.
Spend a little time with Alex and Andria – Alex working on the chair rails and those cute little eagles, 01 and 02.
Gosh, it is going to get really busy soon. Those eagle nests that are not on pip watch right now or taking care of eaglets, are really getting restorations. Nancy and her new mate arrived early at the MN-DNR nest to work on their nest.
Zoe is 107 days old today. Yesterday Dad brought in one fish for Zoe and Mum brought in two! The times were late in the day: 1606, 1759, and 1816. I wonder if they are waiting to see if their girl will go out on her own before bringing in fish for her????? Is Zoe fishing yet?
Zoe and her parents are Eastern Ospreys. Unlike the Ospreys in Europe and North America and Canada, they do not migrate. In trying to search for recent research on post-fledge independence, I came across a study about Western nests that clearly indicate that the birds become independent a month to six weeks (some stay for ten weeks) after fledgling. The timing, of course, is related to their need to be ready for migration. But what about the Eastern Ospreys at Port Lincoln? Ervie was being fed much longer last year. We attributed it to his missing talon but, what is the average age for Eastern ospreys to become independent, fully independent of their parents? According to information from Susan Close, MP, Minister for the Environment and Water in South Australia, “Young were found to fledge at 9-10 weeks of age in a study on Kangaroo Island (Dennis 2007a), and are sometimes provided with fish for a further 5-6 weeks by the male.”
If we take the extreme dates, the number of days for the non-migratory Eastern Osprey to become fully independent of their parents, is 112 days. Zoe is now 107 so she is well within that range. Interesting to note is that Mum is also providing fish for her daughter. It is normally the male – in all of the Osprey species. Is Mum providing more food for Zoe because, as we fear, there is ‘something wrong’ with Dad. He had two seizures on camera and was seen at times not to fish to his usual standard. That could have been for many reasons but, is he unwell? We do not know the answer to this and might not find out for some time but, clearly, let’s watch those fish deliveries and also, let us watch how long Zoe stays on the nest getting food.
Here is the report by the Minister of the Environment and Water on the status of the White-Bellied Sea Eagles and the Ospreys and the government’s plan for them as they are endangered. It is a worthwhile report to read – to help us understand how the South Australian government sees the recovery of these magnificent raptors. It is recent – July 2022.
Thank you so very much for being with me today. Take care of yourselves. See you soon.
Thank you to the following for their videos, letters, posts, announcements, and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Geemeff, ‘C’, The Weather Guy, SWFlorida Eagles and D Pritchett, NEFL-AEF, Suzanne Arnold Horning, @CornellHawks, Elain and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Deb Stick and the NTCT, Wild Heart Rescue FB, Dennis Brecht, Raptor Recovery Australia, @takapo, KNF-E3, MN-DNR, Port Lincoln Ospreys, and the South Australia Government.