“Biggie’ Tot and more in ‘As the Nest Turns’

One of the individuals watching the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida said that the worry over Tiny Tot caused them to age ten years. There are so many people that probably feel the same way. We ached when Tiny Tot did not have food for one, two, and even three days and cried with joy when its crop was full. We had visions of helicopters dropping fish from the sky or setting up a food table. There were times when I went to sleep and thought that I would wake up and Tiny Tot would be dead. How could this little one survive on so little in that exhausting Florida heat?

Tiny Tot is a survivor. He is clever, determined, and willing to eat scraps and chew on catfish bones if it means he lives another day. Tiny Tot watches and listens. So often he was the first to grab the fish on arrival, mantling -only to have the parent take it to feed the two older siblings and, if there was anything left, he was fed. If I heard the phrase ‘natural selection’ or ‘survival of the fittest’ one more time I was going to blow up. What appeared to be happening was the survival of the not so clever bully bird. And then something happened.

Precisely when did mum decide that her third chick was going to survive despite everything it had been through? Diane observes those three chicks of hers. She monitors the time they spend self-feeding and when she sees they have had about 1/3 to a 1/2 of the fish – depending on who is in the nest – she takes the fish and shares it with the other one. What was it that turned this nest around? We might never know. For the past 3 or 4 nights I have slept well with the knowledge that Tiny was alright.

The problem is ‘the’ name now. #3 has been called 3, Tumbles, Braveheart, Lionheart, etc. I gave it the moniker, Tiny Tot. Tiny isn’t actually ‘tiny’ anymore. If he continues to eat and grow like he is doing then by Monday he could be twice as big as he is now. So, moving forward, no more Tiny Tot for me. #3 is now Biggie Tot the Raptor.

Indeed, every time I checked on the nest today, Biggie Tot was eating exactly like he is in the image below. Every time! How is that possible? As long as nothing bizarre happens – and in Bird World anything can change in a blink – Diane and Jack will be celebrating the fledging of not two but three ospreys this year. Well done you two. Jack, you surprised me and came through with 5 or 6 fish sometimes.

Good night Biggie Tot! Sleep well on your full tummy.

29 April 2021

I kept a close watch on the NEFlorida Bald Eagle Nest of Samson and Gabrielle and their fledgling, Legacy today. I briefly stopped in to see a couple of others but my energy and focus was on Legacy.

The last official sighting of Legacy was at 9:53:51 EDT on 28 April.

Legacy and Gabby. They spent the morning together before Legacy flew off. 28 April 2021

What a beauty!

Some think that there could have been a possible flyby at 8:41:16 on the morning of 29 April. It was caught on the tree cam.

Is it Legacy? 29 April 2021

On Thursday, the 29th of April, Samson brought a fish to the nest to try and entice Legacy to come to the nest tree. That didn’t work and Samson wound up eating it. Earlier yesterday, Gabby was with Samson at 11:37:35.

Today, Samson spent the majority of the day – more than eight hours – on the branch looking and listening for Legacy.

29 April 2021

I am not an expert on Bald Eagles but I have trusted acquaintances who are and they shared their knowledge with me today as I searched for some answers. I will share with you everything that I learned as I try to make sense out of what is happening.

First, Bald Eagles do not directly teach the young to hunt prey. I am used to falcons and hawks literally taking their clutch after they have fledged and having ‘hunting parties’ with them. It was not unusual to have Big Red and Arthur showing their juveniles how to catch a squirrel by taking them out and doing just that! A fledgling eagle might make its way to the river and observe their parents catching fish just as WBSE 23 did with Lady and Dad according to one of my trusted sources. The parents and other eagles taught by example.

Secondly, what is typical for a fledgling Bald Eagle is what is happening on the nest of Harriet and M15 in Fort Myers. There E17 and E18 are becoming stronger fliers – going for a flight and then returning to the nest. The parents bring food to the nest for each of them. It is more normal for the fledgling Bald Eagles to stay at the nest for 4-6 weeks doing precisely what E17 and E18 are doing. My trusted sources, who have more than 35 years experience with Bald Eagles together, say it is definitely not typical for a Bald Eagle to fledge one day, take a couple of flights the next, and then leave – poof. I will never sugarcoat anything and neither do the individuals who advised me today. Bald Eagle fledglings are not capable of taking care of themselves in such circumstances. They are still not strong fliers and they do not have the hunting skills required. ‘It normally does not end well’ is what one of them said and that stuck in my head.

So what might have happened? To return to the example of the Sea Eagles, WBSE 26 was chased out of the parent’s territory in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park by several Pied Currawong. Perhaps Legacy got too far away to return at night. That is a possibility. Legacy might be ‘downed’ and is unable to get up and fly to the nest. That could be a huge problem depending on what other wildlife is in the area. The other possibility, as one of the experts noted, is that Legacy is a single child and it is easier for the parent to feed them off nest. So Gabby could be feeding Legacy while Samson is trying to coax her back to the nest. The other possibilities for this situation are more dire. Many fly into power lines while others get their wings caught up in branches. Fighting to get free they rip their wings. She could have tried to get carrion off the highway and gotten hit by a car. Those are just some of the many possibilities. There could be people out looking for Legacy during the daylight hours – something that we might not ever know. Still, I hope like I did for Tiny now Biggie Tot that everything turns around for the best and we see Legacy or have a positive sighting of her soon and that she is well.

It was a miserable rainy day for Big Red and Arthur at the Cornell Fernow light tower. Everyone is getting excited for a possible hatch watch. It would appear that the oldest egg is 34 days and Big Red’s statistics indicate hatches between 38 and 41 days, longer than normal for other RTHs. So I am not going to start getting excited until next week. Knowing Big Red she will surprise all of us!

A rather soggy Big Red. 29 April 2021

Lunch ‘looks’ reasonably peaceful at ‘The Landings’ Skidaway Island Osprey nest. I use the term ‘looks’ because we all know that looks can be deceiving. The eldest still asserts its dominance but, so far, the younger one is alright. Dad just brought in a fish and already both of the little ones have crops. Their plumage is really changing. It looks like the one to the top has a mask on today.

Lunch is on. 29 April 2021
Playing nice. 29 April 2021

Isn’t this just a cute little cuddle puddle? It is hard to believe that before the next academic term begins at Berkeley, these three will be flying at stealth speeds and catching prey in mid-air.

Such sweeties. Cuddled together in the shade to avoid the hot sunlight. 29 April 2021

It is clearly easier to get dirty when eating if you are white. The falcon parents have a particular call they make when they arrive with the food and it is time to eat. The little ones stand in a group and grab or the parent hangs the food above their beak. They want the chicks to stretch their necks so that they become strong. When there are no more chirping eyasses and no more wide open mouths, feeding is over. No bonking. Just nice full crops and food comas.

Feed me, feed me! 29 April 2021

The nest cup in the White-tailed Eagle nest in Estonia is very deep. It really protects the little one from the cold winds. The temperature at the nest continues to be about 1 degree C. This picture was taken after 5pm in the evening. Look at that wonderful sunshine and blue sky – what a change from the frosty morning they had. You can just see the little bobble head reaching up to get its evening meal. There is another egg in this nest and if it is viable, it should be hatching tomorrow.

Eve feeding her first hatch. 29 April 2021

Louis continues to be attentive to Iris at the Hellgate Osprey Nest – visiting and mating more often since the banded intruder showed up in Louis’s territory. So far there are no eggs in Iris’s nest!

One of several reasons cited for the female raptors being 33-50% larger than the males (dimorphism) can be seen below. The male osprey flies in and lands on the female. If the weight distribution were the opposite, the female could be crushed.

Louis landing on Iris for a mating attempt. 29 April 2021
29 April 2021. Louis and Iris mating (or not?)

I want to leave you with a bit of a smile or maybe a horrible nightmare. I simply cannot imagine Osprey chicks wandering around in all of the stuff that Jack brings to this nest. The stuffed shark and a brown teddy bear are still there along with some hats and sweaters and other toys. Harriet has to be so patient! I just want to go out there and tidy it up for her before the babies hatch at this nest near King George, Virginia. Don’t you?

The hoarde of objects that Jack brings to Harriet as gifts at the Dahlgren Osprey Nest. 29 April 2021

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care of yourselves, stay safe. I will continue to monitor the Bald Eagle nest in Jacksonville for any news of Legacy along with the Big Sur California Condor nest for hatch. Thank you to those who have taken the time to send me a note or ask a question. I am glad you are enjoying my blog. It is so nice to hear from other bird lovers!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams – that is where I grab my screen shots: Dahlgren Osprey Nest, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Achieva Credit Union, UC Falcon Cam, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Eagle Club Estonia, and Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey Project.

Four eaglets…really? and some Sunday nest hops

There is a conservation zone in Wisconsin on the Fox River near Kaukauna. There are four healthy eaglets in a Bald Eagle Nest in that zone – four! Just look, they appear to be getting their thermal down. My goodness those parents are busy! Amazing. I always get nervous when there are three. How do you coordinate feeding four?

There are four! 24 April 2021

Down in Fort Myers, Florida E17 and E18, Harriet and M15’s eaglets of 2021, are enjoying playing in the pond this morning. They had baths and had great fun splashing one another. That pond is near their nest and the Pritchett family stocks it with fish for the eagles.

Wow, This is fun. Their first taste of water. 25 April 2021

The egg on the Big Sur California Condor Nest of Phoenix and Redwood Queen is pipping. The Ventana officials say that it takes 2 to 3 days from pip for hatch, if all goes well. Keep watching! The little condor started using its egg tooth yesterday to work its way out.

Pip started 24 April 2021

The downpour during yesterday’s storms over Savannah and the Southeast US have given way to a cloudy dry day. The two little eaglets on The Landings Nest on Skidaway Island were kept warm and dry by Mom. Here they are enjoying their lunch today.

Lunch and the two osplets are healthy and hungry. 25 April 2021

There was an intruder or intruders at the White-Tailed Eagle Nest near Durbe, Latvia today. The winds are blowing and it is 1 degree C. Mr Cips has brought in food for the little ones but, for the most part, he has been protecting the nest while Milda has been incubating. It is so cold the little ones can’t be left out in the weather long or they will get hypothermia.

Mr C is protecting nest from the intruders.

There is still no sign of Aila at the Loch Arkaig nest. Local spotters have seen Louis with another female at platform 1 mating. Louis has also been bringing fish into that nest. A slim version of Aila – that had everyone wondering and comparing photos – appeared at the Loch Arkaig nest with the camera (below). Louis did not bring her any fish. He attempted and failed at mating twice. I wonder if this beautiful nest is going to be empty this year?

Beautiful nest feels so sad when it is empty. 25 April 2021

The following nest news is wonderful. When Ospreys are ringed and fledge making their first migration to southern Spain or Africa (more likely) it is an arduous journey. The survival rate varies but no more than 50% make it. Normally the juveniles will stay there for 2 or 3 years before returning to the UK.

For the birds that are ringed people wait patiently – sometimes forever – for news of a sighting. At Loch Garten near Abernathy, Cairngorms National Park, Blue AX6 was spotted with an unringed female. Blue AX6 was ringed on 1 July 2016 at Glen Affric. He was the only survivor of the nest of three at that time. This is the first reported sighting of Blue AX6 since he fledged. Just splendid.

Loch Garten is one of the important nests in the history of Osprey introduction. The nest was opened to public viewing in 1959. The belief, at the time and promoted extensively by George Waterston, was that an educated public would help protect the Ospreys. 14,000 people visited the site that first year during the seven months it was open. The most famous and formidable Osprey on that nest was EJ. She fledged 25 osplets off the Loch Garten nest in fifteen seasons. She was 21 years old in 2019 when she did not return from migration. Grass grew on the nest with the hope that a new pair might locate here. Fingers crossed for 2021 -.

This is EJ in 2018. Gosh, she is beautiful. Those dark eye markings are amazing they way they dip and go down her shoulder to her back.

@ RSPB

The image below was taken yesterday. It is AX6 and the unringed female. Oh, there will be so many cheers if they stay and raise a family! Thanks to Mary Kerr who posted this on the Friends of Loch Arkaig FB page.

Loch Garten might have a new couple. 25 April 2021

And everything is pretty much as usual at the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida. The nest and the chicks survived the winds from yesterday. Typically, Tiny Tot grabbed the first fish delivery of the day at 7:53:53. He protected himself and got some good bites.

My fish! Tiny gets the first delivery of the day. 25 April 2021

Six minutes later, 8:03:21 one of the older siblings (I think 2) got its talon in the tail and took the fish away from Tiny. That was a good lesson. 2 hasn’t bothered earlier but Tiny will need to learn to dig his talons in that fish and stand on it like 2 does.

Tiny Tot lost its fish to 2. 25 April 2021

Mom will take the fish from the older sib and Tiny will be watching. Tiny grabs a bite meant for 2 and at 9:13:27 mom feeds Tiny.

Tiny Tot enjoying some of the fish. 25 April 2021

He has a little crop.

Diane went fishin. She brought in a catfish with its head on at 12:01:22. You can always tell if Diane catches the fish because Jack always eats the head before he delivers dinner.

Diane caught a catfish for the kids. 25 April 2021

Tiny Tot will be fed from 12:28:34-12:54:49. Tiny will also command the carcass which he is still eating at 2:02.

Two other interesting things happened on the Achieva Osprey nest this morning. Chick #1 is now hovering. 6:50:44 They need to practice their take off and landings – it is amazing watching the Ospreys and the Royal Albatross hover.

1 is hovering. She has been flapping and Tiny Tot has his head down for protection. Too bad helmets aren’t issued on these nests! 25 April 2021

That chick had a grand time! This chick is also the one who stands at the rim of the nest and extends her wings to catch the air. It is lighter in weight (or appears to be) than 2 and more interested in flying than eating. Just a beautiful strong Osprey. Lovely.

The second thing was an intruder or two – Blue Jays. I caught one of them flying by the nest at 8:01:53.

Blue Jay is flying out of the frame on the left. Been tormenting the nest all morning. 25 April 2021

I will close with two more images of the Achieva Osprey Nest. The first one is Tiny Tot with food coma (totally oblivious to anything 1 and 2 are looking at) and the second shows you how healthy he is beginning to look.

Wow. Flying. Let’s do that soon!!!!!!! 25 April 2021
Tiny is in the middle. He is getting really healthy and confident. 25 April 2021

Thank you so much for joining me today. There could be a hatch at the Big Sur condor nest tomorrow. I will keep you informed. Stay safe, stay warm. Smile.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Latvian Fund for Nature, Ventana Wildlife Society, Explore.org, SWFL Eagle Cam and D Pritchett, Loch Garten, Wooldland Trust, People Postcode Lottery, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, 1000 Islands Conservation area FB, Loch Arkaig FB, and the RSPB.

Late Friday night smiles from Bird World

Just a few glimpses into some of the nests at the end of my Friday.

Over at Pittsburg Hayes Mom is bringing in sticks to work on the nest when the chicks take an interest.

The sun is setting over Durbe, Latvia. Milda is feeding her miracle chick and the sun is shining. Oh, it must feel good not to be soggy after yesterday’s soaker.

Annie has the eyasses cuddled up along with that fourth egg. She is brooding them. Oh, if it is viable we should be ready for pip and hatch.

Tiny Tot finally got a few bites of the catfish delivery that came at 2:50:37. Sibling #2 pretty much monopolized the entire feeding but Tiny did get some bites after 4pm. Not many but was fed this morning some. I wish that the parents would break up the fish in pieces so they could self-feed. Anyone have a meat saw?

And just look at those darlings over at the Savannah Osprey Nest on Skidiway Island. Nice full crops, standing up tall and behaving. And, no, that third egg has not hatched. Let’s continue to hope that it sits there unviable. Two healthy chicks to get to fledge is a big job. If Ospreys are like Red tail Hawks the more food they can eat and the longer they are on the nest the better their chances of survival. It is not a kind world out there – they need all the tools in their tool kit they can muster. Sounds like what I used to say to students when they asked for advice.

Phoenix has finished his incubation duties and we are waiting for the arrival of Redwood Queen back to the nest to have her lunch. There is the egg that everyone’s eyes will be on tomorrow! One more California Condor would be so welcome and it would surely be heartwarming for these two survivors to have a successful hatch. Stay tuned. If you want to keep an eye on this important event, I have posted the link to the camera.

Look high on the branch. The two Great Horned Owls born in the Bald Eagle Nest on a farm near Newton, Kansas are sitting on a branch with their mom, Bonnie. Tiger and Lily were born on March 7 and are branching. First flights could be anytime.

The single surviving eaglet in the Fort Vrain Bald Eagle Nest in Colorado is hoping for a bit of lunch.

It rained earlier today in Minnesota and Nancy is making sure that she keeps her two eaglets dry.

And those two precious eaglets on the Minnesota DNR nest are exploring. They have their beautiful charcoal thermal down and you can just see some of the white dandelions of the natal down hidden by the thermal. Harry our first time dad at the age of four and Nancy have done great. Wonder what they are looking at so carefully?

Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis will know that I am extremely interested in the social behaviour of the birds in their nests. I am particularly interested in the survival rate of a third hatch on Osprey nests. Today, Tiger Mozone shared with me his favourite video of all time and it gave me such a smile that I want to share it with you. I don’t think Tiger would mind in the least. It is of the 2011 Dennis Puleston Osprey. You need to watch the entire video. It is short, 3:41 minutes. Keep your eye on the little one. Before you start, if you have been watching the Achieva Osprey Nest, think of this small one as Tiny Tot. Thank you, Tiger Mozone. This is fabulous!

May 8 is Bird Day in North America. That is when Cornell Bird Labs ask everyone to do a count in their gardens and at the parks. It is a way of collecting migration data. I will give you more details so you can participate next week. That is it for Friday. Have a fabulous weekend everyone.

Thank you to Tiger Mozone for sending me the link to that fabulous video. I laughed and laughed. We all need that these days.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my screen shots: MN DNR, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Farmer Derek, X-cel Energy, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidiway Audubon, Ventana Wildlife, Achieva Credit Union Osprey, Explore.org, Pittsburg Hays Bald Eagle Cam, and the Latvia Wildlife Fund.

What a day in Bird World!

Did something happen in the universe today? Something that made miracles happen?

The White-Tailed Eagle nest in Latvia was the first today. Milda incubated her and her missing mate, Raimis’s eggs for eight days without eating after he did not return on 27 March. She had to leave to eat and experts felt that five hours at 43 degrees F would cause the developing eaglets to die. But, there was a pip and today a hatch. Egg #2 survived! Just look at that little miracle below. Milda was helped, in the end, by Mr C, Chips. And that is another miracle – it does not always happen that a male bird will want to raise another male’s chicks but Chips did. Let us hope that he turns out to be amazing father and mate.

Milda looks at the miracle!

Birds have feelings. They mourn their dead and they can also get fed up and angry and that is precisely what happened at 9:32:40 on the Achieva Osprey Nest. Tiny Tot was fed twice yesterday. This morning Tiny Tot had no food because of #2 who has intimidated and bullied him. Yes, 2 is a bird and he is also a monopolizer of food. How would it feel always having to eat scraps? not being able to eat? having someone scare you almost to starvation? The two older siblings had been flapping their wings this morning and when #2 was in front of Tiny Tot, Tiny bonked him like he is always beating on Tiny. It had to be a moment of sheer release for the little one.

I have had just about enough of you. 21 April 2021
There you go! 21 April 2021

Tiny Tot got some food with the arrival of a second fish that came in at 1:07:24. He was eating a few bites at 2:07:25 and then again from 2:38:47-2:46:16. Diane offered him the tail. It isn’t enough but he ate! And if this nest were organized, Jack would be bringing in another fish right away.

Tiny Tot finally gets some food. 21 April 2021

At the SWFlorida Eagle nest on the D Pritchett farm, the youngest of Harriet and M15’s eaglets, E18, fledged today at 8:52:46—–in the rain! Yes, you read that right. His wings were wet and he fledged. E18 jumped around on the branch and the flew to a tree, returning to the nest tree. Later he flew and joined his sib E17 on another tree. Well done and congratulations E18!

He had a very good landing!

There are still two healthy osplets on the Savannah Osprey Nest.

Two little cuties having some lunch and being nice. 21 April 2021

And Big Red and Arthur don’t seem to be able to get a break in the weather. Today it was raining down hail like snow.

Big Red is encrusted in a hail like snow. 21 April 2021

Louis is still waiting for Aila to arrive.

Lonely Louis. 21 April 2021

There is branching happening at the nest of Bonnie in Clyde, the Great Horn Owls who took over the Bald Eagle nest on a farm near Newton, Kansas. It looks like it is Tiger up on the branch near mom, Bonnie.

Branching is happening. 21 April 2021

Thank you so much for joining me. It was a good day in Bird World. I remain hopeful that Tiny Tot will have as successful a conclusion as Milda with the hatching of an egg believed to be unviable by everyone. Look at her in the image above looking at that little miracle in the nest cup.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I get my screen shots: Latvia Fund for Nature (Durbe), Cornell Bird Lab and Skidiway Audubon Osprey Nest, Farmer Derek, SWFlorida Eagle Cam and D Pritchett, Achieva Credit Union at Dunedin, Woodland Trust, and People Postcode Lottery, and Cornell Bird Lab and Red Tail Hawks at Ithaca.