Legacy – you give us such joy!

Remember when you went to YouTube to check on a nest and you could always count on the beautiful bird and its family being there? It was so comforting. And remember the day you checked and that nest was empty? That is what happened to me today when I went back to check on Legacy. She was on the branch at 9:17.

And then she was gone.

Legacy hatched on 8 February. She fledged on the 26th of April. The other egg in the clutch was unviable. Officially she is N24 but a contest was held by the AEF for a name. Legacy is so appropriate. The nest in this tree is where Legacy’s grandparents, Romeo and Juliet, raised their family. Then, after a tragedy, Legacy’s father, Samson, who was born in this very tree on 23 December 2013, returned to raise his family with his mate, Gabrielle.

Legacy has been returning to the nest tree. But today, for some reason, ‘something’ feels different. I hope it is just me out of tune with the world.

Samson thought he might lure her back to the nest with a nice fish around 3:30pm today, the 28th. Legacy was believed to be flying around the nest around 2:45 and Samson thought his little one would be hungry – but she didn’t stop to land on the tree! Flying is such fun.

Samson wound up eating that beautiful fish.

Samson and Gabrielle will stay at the nest, just like Samson’s parents, Romeo and Juliet did, for about 30-45 days after their eaglet fledges before going to cooler climates. They will return in September to begin nestorations for the next breeding season.

It would be grand to see Legacy for another week or more. S/he needs to learn to fly and to hone her hunting skills. S/he is not banded. Will we recognize her/him if they return to the nest area in four or five years like her father Samson did? Oh, how I wish Legacy had a Darvin band!

You brought us such joy, Legacy, watching you change from a little ball of grey fuzz to a magnificent black plumed Juvenile. You took care of ‘eggie’ and were an excellent incubator. You helped with nest repairs, always returning to roll your egg and pick up pinecone. At one time we imagined that you would need a little backpack for ‘Eggie and Pinecone’ when you fledged.

You are Samson’s delight.

Fly high little one. Be safe. You beat Avian Pox and grew to be so very, very beautiful and strong. Go out into the world and beat the odds!

Thanks for joining me. I cannot tell you what joy Legacy brought to so many lives. I hope to see her one more time before she begins her big journey of discovery. In the meantime, I hope that all of you will join with me to help Legacy and all the wildlife by writing to anyone who has influence and who will listen – stop the use of lead in fishing and hunting equipment and ban the use of rodenticide. It does make a difference! Give back to these beautiful creatures the joy they have given to us.

Thank you to the NEFlorida Eagle Cam and the AEF for their streaming cam. That is where I get my screen captures.

Note: Samson and Gabby have been up at the tree – it is nearly 7pm and the sun is going down. Like all of us, they hope Legacy will return to the nest tonight.

8:30 am 28 April 2021. Legacy
8:30 am. 28 April 2021. Legacy

Sunday Babies

It is Sunday, 7 March 2021. The sun, peeking over the horizon announcing a new day reminds us that it has been twenty-four hours since Bonnie did not eat the mouse that Clyde brought her (5:20 am 6 March). Instead, Bonnie flew to the branch where Clyde was, picked up the mouse, and dropped it into the egg cup. Very unusual behaviour for someone who normally eats that mouse right away! Everyone wondered about a pip or a hatch. This morning at 6:31 am Clyde flew in. Bonnie stayed on the nest and Clyde brought the mouse to her. There was a bit of a conversation between the two. Bonnie is definitely behaving differently and it is possible that some of her movements might have been feeding actions – biting off small pieces of mouse and feeding. All we know for certain is that the usual routine in that nest has changed over the past twenty-four hours.

Sun is rising and Clyde is on the branch with a mouse. 7 March 2021. @Derek the Farmer
Clyde carefully carries the mouse to Bonnie. 7 March 2021. @ Derek the Farmer
Hi Sweetie. Here’s your morning mouse. 7 March 2021 @ Derek the Farmer
Clyde and Bonnie having a chat. Isn’t he cute?! 7 March 2021 @Derek the Farmer
7 March 2021 Clyde flying off. @Derek the Farmer

And just as a reminder, the eagle’s nest is about 1.8 metres (about six feet) across. Look at the size of Bonnie and Clyde. And then look at how well they blend into their environment. Nature’s camouflage is magnificent! Talk about getting lost in the crowd. These owls do that very well. The Great horned Owl will be even more fierce protecting this nest. As I wrote in another blog several weeks ago, you don’t mess with a GHOW! They may look cuddly and sweet but I don’t think anyone should get between them and their owlet.

To give you an idea, the Bald Eagle nest in Fort Myers, Florida of Harriet and M15 is constantly having GHOW attacks. Last night the GHOW knocked M15 off his branch (again). Remember, GHOWs are silent when they fly. They can sneak up on Bald Eagles who will not hear them coming. Lady Hawk caught the attack and the reaction in this video:

And since we are here with Harriet and M15, best have a look at E17 and E18. If you haven’t been following them you will not believe how much they have grown. I will post a picture of the twins at the clinic when they were getting their eyes treated and another one today. Hold on for a big surprise.

The first image is 4 February, just a little over a month ago. E17 is in the time out corner because it has been very aggressive towards little E18 especially around meals times.

4 February 2021. E17 and E18 are at CROW for treatment of conjunctivitis. @CROW FB

If you are going to ask yourself how these two grew so fast, the image right below is 24 February. E17 is at the front and E18 is at the back. They have eaten so much food that their crops look like huge bellies! It could be a crop pop. Oh, and look at how big those feet are. Even so, there are still some dandelion bits remaining.

The image below is 7 March 2021 – thirteen days after the image above. You will see that the twins are getting their juvenile feathers. E18 is at the top looking out of the nest and E17 is flat out asleep on the nest. These two are forty-two days old today. Fledge watch for Bald Eagles is ten to twelve weeks. Oh, my. They are half way grown!

7 March 2021. SWFL Bald Eagle Nest. @SWFL and D. Pritchett

It’s after 2pm on 7 March and E17 and E18 are hungry. E18 is at the top and E17 nearer the bottom. E18 has become the master? mistress? of the snatch and grab. E18 is perfectly positioned watching Harriet rip off the pieces of meat and she goes in for the grab. It is amazing how those second hatches figure ways out to get around the more dominant sibling.

The snatch and grab. 7 March 2021. @SWFL and D Pritchett

This is N24 on 7 March 2021, below. Typically, he or she is close to ‘the egg’. N24 incubates the egg, rolls the egg and is typically just a ‘good little mom’. There is every indication that N24 is in the last phases of the Avian Pox and healing well without any issues to the beak.

N24 and eggie. 7 March 2021 @NEFL and AEF Cams

And another picture with Samson this morning. N24 is twenty-seven days old today. Wow. And losing all of its baby down.

N24 with Samson. 7 March 2017. @NFL and AEF Eagle Cam

Hey Mom! Look. I can fly!!!!!!!! Look at how big those wings are. They are so heavy that in the picture above the wings are relaxed.

Look I can fly! 7 March 2021 @NEFL and AEF Eagle Cam

The two little eaglets at Duke Farm are doing well and mom seems to have any bonking issues under control. Meanwhile dad is working overtime to get fish stacked in that nest! They are so cute. Little bobbles.

Lined up for lunch. 7 March 2021 @Duke Farms

The little one at the Kisatchie National Forest (KNF) Bald Eagle nest is growing fast. Both the eaglet and mom have really worked out any issues with feeding. And with all that fish that dad is bringing in there are bound to be insects. The couple are now bringing in pine boughs to counter that – pine oil, anything pine, helps with bugs and mosquitoes!

Little one waiting for a name. 7 March 2021. KNF Bald Eagle Nest @KNF Bald Eagle Nest

It’s a beautiful day in Central Louisiana. The sun is filtering down through the trees on to the nest. The little one is resting with its mom. So cute.

Warm early spring afternoon at the KNF Bald Eagle Nest. 7 March 2021. @KNF Bald Eagle Nest

Today is the last day to send in a potential name for this little eaglet. A committee will narrow the submitted names down to three for public voting between March 11 and 16. The public’s choice will be announced on March 17, St Patrick’s Day. If you want to submit a name, today is your last chance. Send the name to: nameKNFeagle@gmail.com

Have a great end of the week everyone. Thanks for stopping in to check on the babies!

Pretty Parents Posing

With the news of more Great Horned Owl attacks on Bald Eagle nests (post on that tomorrow), I wanted to stop and find something joyful to celebrate. Certainly the birds have brought so much joy to all of us. I hear from someone every day telling me what the streaming bird cams have meant to them and how they have begun to take an interest in the birds outside their windows. It is still difficult, in most places, to walk freely outside because of the pandemic. I really do appreciate those little notes that you send me. And I am also grateful for news of new nests. I will be bringing some news of those later this week. Birds have connected us all from the Canadian prairies where I am all the way south from me to a PhD student in Brazil, across the Atlantic and Europe to a lovely woman who cared for a raven for five months in Poland, to Australia, Europe, Asia, and back to North America. It really is hard to measure just how much being able to watch the daily activities of our feathered friends has added to our mental well being for more than a year. They have really kept a lot of us sane and grounded. I hope that the love and concern that you have for the birds now will continue to grow and enrich your life even more.

N24. NEFL Eagle nest, 24 February 2021.

It is pretty hard to beat Samson and M15 for being great dads. The pantries are filled up with every type of prey that they can find, they are both great at incubating the eggs, and are there to see their new babies hatch. Lately I have had fun watching Samson trying to get N24 under him to brood while also incubating that egg that we all know will never hatch. He has been so delicate. Sometimes N24 seems to be brooding that egg that winds up all over the nest. It is almost like it is now an ornament that no one knows precisely what to do with. Eventually it will get broken and make its way down between the branches and leaves and become part of the nest.

N24 looking out at the world, fish in the pantry and ‘that egg’. 24 February 2021.

Yesterday Samson seemed to pose for a photographer out of the frame with N24. I don’t think you could ask them to stand any better! N24 is sixteen days old today and already he has really accelerated in growth over the past week. Juvenile feathers are coming in and since he was five days old, Samson has had him crawling up to the pantry to be fed. A wonderfully strong little eaglet, N24 has been flapping its wings. I wonder how long it will be til he walks?

Look at how proud Samson is of his baby! I think this is my most favourite photograph ever of an eaglet with their parent. Even the lighting is perfect.

Samson and N24. 23 February 2021

The Great Horned Owl has been causing disruptions over at the SWFL nest with Harriet and M15. M15 was knocked off of his branch into the nest and the owl almost pulled Harriet off the nest. These disruptions have happened on a daily basis causing worry for the eaglets’ safety.

I love the image below of Harriet standing over the eaglets in that most defiant pose daring that GHOW to mess with her babies!

Harriet watching over E17 (r) and E18 (l), 24 February 2021

I became acquainted with birds as a child. When I was a little girl, my father fed ‘the red birds’ in our back garden. They were actually a family of cardinals that had a nest in our Magnolia tree. Even though they were wild they knew to trust my dad and they would come and take nuts out of his hand. It was magical to watch. My maternal grandfather had been a rancher. He was the last person anyone would have thought would own a bird but he did. It was a little blue budgie bird named Jimmie. That bird was more special than anyone including me and my grandmother. It ate off the side of his plate at lunch and it pretty much had the run of the house. One day when my grandfather was away, Jimmie flew out the front door. My grandmother and I panicked. We wondered if we could buy another one and would my grandfather notice? Of course he would have noticed! Luckily for us, we left the screen door open and Jimmie flew back into the house after being out for a couple of hours. As a child I was taken to the Natural History Museum at the University of Oklahoma to go through the drawers of eggs and stuffed birds and there was always a stop on the way home to feed the ducks. It was not, however, until a very personal encounter with a female Sharp-Shinned Hawk in my own garden in January 2018 that my interest in the welfare of birds began to grow exponentially. I was less than a foot away from her, both of us were looking intently into one another’s eyes. That moment changed my life.

And that magical moment can happen for you, too. If it hasn’t, already.

This morning a pair of Red Tail Hawks, Big Red who is 18 years old and Arthur who will be five this year, are pondering what to do about their nest in Ithaca. The three Js sure made a mess of it hopping and flapping last year. Both of them have been in and out of the nest lately and today they were there together testing the nest bowl and looking around at all the nestorations needed. The time until Big Red lays her first egg is getting closer. We should be looking for that egg around the first day of spring. Gosh, time passes quickly.

Their nest is on a stadium light box on the grounds of Cornell University. In fact, the Cornell Ornithology Labs operate a number of streaming cameras including this one. There is also a very informed chat group that is often moderated by Laura Culley. She has owned falcons and hawks for almost thirty years. She knows so much. And this nest of Big Red and Arthur’s has already changed what we know about the life cycle and behaviour of these hawks.

The link to the Red Tail Hawk streaming cam is:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/red-tailed-hawks/

Big Red and Arthur, 24 February 2021.

Cornell operates a number of its own streaming cams and partners with other agencies. One of those is the New Zealand Department of Conservation. They both support the camera for the Royal Albatross at Taiaroa Head, NZ. This is a great camera to start watching right now. The chick is unnamed and we will be finding out the gender shortly. I am betting on a boy because right now, he is so big he has to be weighted in a laundry basket and his parents can no longer brood him. He is too big to be under them. The mother, LGL, left him alone for the first time the other day (this is called pre-guard stage) and a red banded non-breeding juvenile kind of roughed the little one up a bit. The juveniles are curious. They have been at sea for five or six years and are returning to find a mate. They haven’t seen little ones before. While it tears at your heart strings when you see these little albatross all alone, around the world there are thousands of others sitting on their nest waiting for their parents to return and feed them. Eventually they will make play nests around their natal nest and begin flapping those big wings of theirs to get their strength for fledging. Weigh ins are Tuesday mornings New Zealand time. On the Canadian prairies, this is Monday 2pm to around 6pm. The link to that streaming camera is:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/royal-albatross/

Royal Cam Chick left alone for the first time in pre guard stage

In about a week to ten days, this little Royal Albatross will be nothing but a ball of fluff. They are so cute and so gentle. It is a very relaxing nest to watch. There is a FB group that brings up to date images and activities surrounding World Albatross Day which is 19 June. I will bring more information on that as it approaches. There are colouring contests for children, cake contests, and eventually, the name the chick contest later in the year. The Royal Cam chick will fledge around the middle of September.

There is joy in the Duke Farms Bald Eagle nest as the snow is finally melting. This eagle mom was encased in snow until recently. We are getting closer to hatch on this nest! There are three eggs under there. I hope there is a lot of prey and that these parents are good at tag team feeding. They are going to need all the coordination they can get!

Snow is finally disappearing. 24 February 2021.

And what a beautiful view from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nest. This is the nest of that cute little sub-adult male. The snow is disappearing there too making it easier to get prey.

I want to leave you with a big smile on your face. It just goes to show how these birds can just make our moods so much brighter. Look at these two below. That is E17 and E18. They both look like they could simply pop! Or perhaps they are thinking about trying out to be clowns with those big clown feet! How can you not love these two?

E18 closest to the front, E17 toward the back. 22 February 2021.

Take care everyone. Please feel free to let me know of your favourite nest or an experience that changed your life because of birds. I promise to respond. You can leave a comment or you can e-mail me. That e-mail is: maryannsteggles@icloud.com

Thank you to the AEF, the streaming cam at NEFL Eagle nest, SWFL and D. Pritchett Real Estate, Duke Farms, Cornell Ornithology Lab, NZ DOC, the MN DNR.