Nest News

I am always grateful when someone introduces me to a new nest. And today, not only did Tiny Tot get fed for 45 minutes in a private feeding but two friends introduced me to two new nests. It feels like one of those days when you don’t know whether to cry with joy or go out and purchase a lottery ticket! And then something even crazier happened.

Everyone has their favourite birds. I have a friend who loves Ospreys because Ospreys don’t ‘eat things with feathers’. There are others who like songbirds and not raptors who eat them and those who like raptors and not songbirds. Most of us actually like all the birds – the question is how in the world do we keep track of all our favourites in a single 24 hour day?

It is possible that everyone else in the world knows about this amazing website. I lists all of the bird cams on the planet associated with each type of bird. Seriously! I came upon it by accident today. Here is the URL

https://www.viewbirds.com/

The birds are listed first by their common names. All you do is click on the name and you will be taken to the streaming cameras for that listing. For example, Northern Goshawk comes up with two cameras. One of those is in Riga, Latvia and the other is in The Netherlands. For my beloved Red-Tail Hawks there are four cameras. One is for Pale Male, the oldest RTH at 31 still actively breeding from his nest on Central Park. One is for Big Red at Ithaca, NY and the other two are in California and another in NY at Syracuse. I have not had time to check to see if there are any broken links but the ones I have checked are good. And I didn’t list the Osprey cameras in Germany and Poland. You can find them yourself. Have fun!

Oh, there is so much news. First, congratulations to SWFlorida’s Eagle Cam E17 who fledged on 14 April. The only question left is: will E18 fledge tomorrow. You will remember these two precious babies with conjunctivitis who spent five days in the care of CROW. Their parents are Harriet and M15. And it was E17 that got time out for being such a bully to E18! They are best mates. One does something and then the other. I think we can count on E18 feeling the wind beneath its wings tomorrow and if not then the next day.

Wow. These two have given so many people such joy. From the endless bonking as bobbleheads to their tug-o-wars with prey and now their branching and fledging. It would be magical if they had satellite trackers. Wonder where they will wind up traveling as juveniles?

E17’s first flight. 14 April 2021.

E17 has been flying around the nest today after its fledge yesterday. What a beauty! Congratulations E17!

If you follow the Latvian Lesser Spotted Eagles, Anna and Andris, you will be thrilled to know that they have returned from their winter vacation in Africa arriving back at their nest in Latvia at 7:06 am on 14 April. In the image below they are already beginning to work on their nest!

Milda. You will recall that Milda had three eggs. Her mate Raimis disappeared on 27 March. It is not known if he is severely injured or dead. As we all know, it is impossible for one parent to incubate, hunt, and protect eggs and the territory. Milda stayed on the nest and did not eat. Everyone was worried. Several intruders came around the nest and eagles were heard fighting on the ground. One of those males was nicknamed Mr C. Mr C even attempted to incubate the eggs on 10 April but Milda kicked him off the nest. That same day he helped Milda defend the nest. Today she allowed him to incubate the eggs. Still, it is not clear that she has accepted Mr C as her mate.

In the image below, Milda is getting off the eggs and Mr C is anticipating getting to incubate them.

Milda has been off the eggs for extended periods. She had to eat. One time was five hours and the temperature was nippy. It is highly likely that the eggs are no longer viable. Milda will hopefully have many more successful clutches.

What I find interesting is the acceptance of another male’s eggs by Mr C. It happens but it certainly isn’t the norm.

You can check out the action with Milda and her suitors at the Durbe nest here:

Everything is fine with the San Francisco Bay Ospreys, Richmond and Rosie. After a scare when a plastic bag landed on the nest there was much relief when it was gone. Rosie laid her eggs on March 24, 27, and 30.

It is almost 9pm in California and there is Richmond protecting Rosie and their clutch.

The Loch Garten Nature Reserve Cam went live today. You can watch the antics of a new set of Ospreys – maybe! Will keep you posted on nest takeover. Isn’t it a beautiful place?

Here is the link to the cam in Abernethy, Scotland:

What a beautiful nest! We need a family!

Before I get to the Tiny Tot update, I had a comment asking if Aila had been spotted enroute from Africa to Loch Arkaig. Unfortunately, Aila is not ringed so we don’t know! We are waiting like Lonesome Louis right now. Hurry and get home, Aila. We can stop chewing our fingernails then. Look at how much work Louis has done on the nest in the four days he has been home.

Louis has really been working on the nest! 15 April 2021

Tiny Tot Update. Jack brought in a whole fish at 3:21:46. Either he has found a place to fish in the night or he had a stash from earlier. Tiny Tot got a nice feed and at 6:236:20 he is flapping his wings and doing a ps.

Arrival of fish at 3:21:36
Tiny and one of the older siblings eating. 6:30 ish. 15 April 2021
Tiny and older sibling still eating! 15 April 2021

The arrival of the second fish at 11:55:01. Diane is having to pull it off of Jack’s talons.

Tiny Tot still has a crop from the early morning feed. Diane is feeding the older ones as he looks on – wanting fish, of course! He is in the growing stage while the others are slowing down. No sooner than Diane was feeding the chicks and there is an intruder alarm.

Jack and Diane are both on the nest to protect the chicks. Notice how the trio know to get down as thin as a pancake. And the plumage blends them right into the nest. Fabulous.

Everything is back to normal by 12:30. Let us hope the intruder goes away. Whole families of Osprey have been killed in other places. Stay safe Jack, Diane, and kiddos.

Thank you for joining me. It is not yet noon on the Canadian prairies and no doubt there will be much more news as the day passes. I will give an update tonight. There are a number of Ospreys moving up from the south of England and a Scottish Darvin ringed female causing some mischief. Let’s hope she gets home. See you later. Take care all.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cameras: Achieva Credit Union, SWFlorida Eagle Cam and D Pritchett, Woodland Trust and Post Code Lottery, Friends of Loch Arkaig, SF Bay Ospreys and Audubon, Loch Garden Nature Reserve, and LDF White Tailed Eagle and Lesser Eagle.

Ospreys – the raging mad and the wonderful

My daughter asked me today if I would continue to watch the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida. She had a very good point. Tiny Tot or 3 (some call it Tumbles) was born on 5 March. Since the 12th of March, I have notes indicating that Jack, the male, needs to bring in more fish. I have notes that Tiny Tot was fed well one day and had no food for two days. That was three weeks ago. Many have invested in their own stress level height since food procurement on this nest became a visible problem – not only to streaming cam watchers but to the older osprey. The perception or the reality that there is not enough contributes to food competition and siblicide. This nest has literally been like a rollercoaster ride for everyone including Diane, the mother, who found as many morsels as she could to feed Tiny from 1:15-1:53 today. He had a bit of a crop. Continued large fish coming into the nest on a regular basis – a real effort on the part of Jack – is required.

There are ‘good’ Osprey nests to watch. Everyone has their favourite. I am going to only mention five today so if you have a favourite, let me know – and tell me why you like that nest so much! I am going to start with the first one because the female has already laid two eggs this season. That nest belongs to Maya and Blue 33 (11). This is a dad that cuddles with the female. They almost arrive together from their winter migration to Africa. They are an amazing duo. Blue 33 (11) does not have another nest with chicks to feed! He is totally devoted to Maya and their chicks and their nest is Rutland Mantou Bay.

Mary Kerr did the hearts on this image for the Loch Arkaig FB group. I want to make sure she gets the credit, not me. And one of the things Mary said was, ‘Maya really lucked out when she got him in 2014 as a mate’.

You can watch these two lovebirds on the Rutland Mantou Bay Nest at the following link:

The second nest is at Loch Arkaig, home to Louis and Aila. They are due to be back at the nest around 5 April. I will put in the highlights from their 2020 season. I like this nest because Louis works day and night to feed those babies. Last year Aila laid three eggs and they all hatched. I watched a tandem feeding when the little one, Captain, was fed by itself while the two bigger, older chicks were fed by the other parent. It was joyful and it brought my faith back in ospreys after seeing little Tapps die at Port Lincoln. Here is the video of the highlights from the 2020 nest at Loch Arkaig. The three siblings are believed to be 2 males and a female. Doddie the first born is a male, Vera the female, and Little Captain, a male is banded Blue JJ7. Enjoy it! When Louis and Aila return, I will be sure to let you know. The link to their nest is below the video.

And the link to the Loch Arkaig site for when Louis and Aila return in a few days:

All of these nests are wonderful and I have not listed them in rank order. My third nest is that of Idris and Blue 33 Telyn at the Dfyi Nest in Wales. Idris is known to be loyal, a great protector, and provider! You can access this popular couples nest here:

And I have two other nests to mention. One is in the UK and the other is in San Francisco.

I could not leave this page and not have included the nest of Mrs G and Aran. Mrs G is the oldest osprey in the United Kingdom, believed to be twenty-one years old. She is a powerhouse. This couple are at the Glaslyn Osprey Nest in Wales and here is the link:

And the last of the Osprey nests is the one in San Francisco Bay with Richmond and Rosie. Richmond is more known for his antics of bringing objects – aprons, toys, etc – to the nest but the two actually work well together. Richmond lives in San Francisco year round and Rosie migrates for the winter. Rosie is now incubating three eggs. The first was laid on 24 March, the second on 27 March, and the third on 30 March. That will keep Richmond busy bringing in fish when they hatch! Here is the link to their nest:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1gn6yIRa_cBKExVmHdg3jQ

That link provides you to a number of past videos, too.

A fish came into the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida at 5:33:51. Tiny Tot got a few bites after the two bigger ones but he still has a crop from his earlier feeding. This is much better than being sunk in all over as he had been. I live in hope that the momentum of fish – some big fish – a small one is not enough – come in and Tiny makes it.

I have written in-depth about many of the ospreys on these nests in other blogs. That information often includes their biography. When everything goes well, there is nothing more wonderful than seeing these amazing fish eagles thrive and fledge. They have a difficult life – the ones that migrate. The trip is 4000 miles one way over large bodies of water, mountains, and deserts. 50% do not make it.

Thank you for joining me today. All of the other nests that I follow seem to be doing really well today. For those of you that celebrate Easter – have a Happy Easter Weekend. Take care everyone.

Thank you so much to the following for their streaming cams. This is where I get my screen shots: the Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg, Florida; the Bywd Gwyllt Glaslyun Wildlife, Bay Osprey by Golden Gate Audubon, Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Friends of Loch Arkaig, Rutland Wildlife at the Mantou Bay Nest, Mary Kerr for her cute FB image of Maya and Blue 33 (11), the Woodland Trust and People Play Lottery, and the LRWT Rutland Osprey Project.

Everyone loves Richmond

There is a lot of chattering going on around the ‘bird’ world and the one common word that binds people in the United Kingdom with those in San Francisco and Australia is: Osprey. Every continent has Osprey – some more than others. Many of my friends adore them above any of the other feathered friends because they ‘eat fish’. They are sometimes called ‘sea eagles’ but do not confuse them with White-Bellied Sea Eagles. Totally different.

Note the beautiful yellow eye, the dark line from that eye to the neck and the hooked beak. Wikimedia Commons.

You will find Ospreys on every continent in the world except for Antarctica. And there is no missing them. They have very distinctive plumage that helps them with the glare off of the water when they are hunting. See that black line going from the beak over the eyes and to the back of the head? That will stop the glare from the water so that their great vision, three times that of a human, can help them spot the fish swimming below the surface. If you watch American football you might recall that the players put a black line under their eyes to stop glare – something learned from the Osprey! The soles of their feet are different than other raptors. They are very rough with tiny little barbs. If they were a person you might recommend they go to get a pedicure – that is how rough those soles are. That rough surface helps them to hang on to wet slippery fish that do not want to be an Osprey’s dinner. They have four toes like all other raptors but the Ospreys can do something that others can’t – they can swivel one of those front toes to the back to help hold on to those wiggly fish. Brilliant.

Ospreys are smaller than a Bald Eagle but bigger than the large hawks. They weight 1500-2000 grams (3-4 pounds). They are about 54-58 cm long (21.3-22.8 inches) with a wingspan of 150-180 cm (59 to 79 inches). Their head, throat, and body along with their legs are mostly white. They have black and white banded tail feathers and distinctive black and white wings that bend at the joint. Their beak is black and shaped like a very sharp hook. Their eyes are a beautiful, beautiful yellow.

Feet first to catch those fish! NASA image. Wikimedia Commons.

Female Osprey are about 20-30% larger than the males. The females have a ‘necklace’ of feathers that is darker and more distinctive than the male.

Female in back, male in front. Note feathers at top of chest. Scap from Loch Arkaig FB Page.

Osprey’s have a distinctive dive and I do not have an image of it. Once they have spotted their prey, they bring their feet forward so they are even with their beak and then catch their prey feet first. They then latch on to the fish with those sharp talons. It is quite spectacular.

How large are the fish that the Osprey catch? The Osprey normally catches fish that are 15-30 cm in length (6-12 inches) and that weight less than 454 grams or a pound. The largest observed catch was 1250 grams or 2.5 pounds. Some researchers believe that they can easily carry up to half their weight.

Do Ospreys eat anything other than fish? The answer is actually yes. While the majority of their diet is fish, Osprey have been observed, on rare occasions, to eat other birds, voles, squirrels, muskrats, eels, and salamanders. Droughts really impact Osprey and their ability to thrive.

Note: Ospreys carry their fish with those amazing feet and talons. Wikimedia Commons.

The territory of an Osprey will be near a body of water – a lake, a river with lots of fish, along the shores of the oceans and seas. They build their nests off the ground to avoid predators. Originally, Ospreys made their nests in tall trees but, as you know, there is a shortage of structurally sound tall trees.

Those migrating to Canada have been known to make their nests on utility poles. Sadly, this is a huge problem because of electrocutions. So many died that petitions were sent to Manitoba Hydro, a public utility company. Near to Lake Winnipeg, that company began erecting nest platforms for the Osprey. Ospreys actually like human-made nests. It is said that if you provide a nest, the sea hawks will come. And many in Scotland will tell you that is true! Ospreys are loyal and generally return to the same nest year after year.

During the winter, Ospreys head to warmer climates returning to their breeding grounds in spring. Ospreys from the United Kingdom migrate to The Gambia or Senegal with some juveniles known to stay around the coastal areas of Spain. Ospreys from North America migrate to the southern parts of the United States along the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California, the coasts of Mexico and countries of Central America. Some Ospreys do not migrate. They include those living in warmer climates year round such as Australia, Singapore, other parts of Asia, and parts of the southern United States including Florida.

An Osprey adding twigs to the human-made nest. Wikimedia Commons.

Solly was born on a nest sitting on a barge at Port Lincoln, Australia. She is an Eastern Osprey and they are critically endangered. Look carefully and you can see the satellite transmitter on her back. She has a bright orange band on her left leg and a metal one on the right. Solly is easy to spot and many are taking her photograph as she travels the Eyre Peninsula of Australia moving north from her barge nest. I often report on her movements and from those the researchers are changing their minds about how far Ospreys travel from their natal nest.

One of the most famous Osprey couples has their nest on a 75 foot high World War II Whirley crane in Richmond.

Rosie and Richmond’s nest on an old crane overlooking SF Bay. SFBayOsprey Cam scap.

They are Rosie and Richmond and Richmond – well, everyone loves Richmond! Richmond is quite the character. He loves bringing blankets and stuffed toys up to the nest.

Richmond with the notorious blanket. Everyone took turns moving it about the nest. It was removed for safety reasons. SFBay Osprey Cam scap.

One of my most favourite Ospreys is Iris. She is not named after the flower but because she has some very distinctive spots on the iris of her left eye. Iris is the female at the Hellsgate Nest in Montana. For many, many years Iris and her mate, Stanley, nested at the site and raised many chicks. Stanley did not return in 2016. Iris’s new mate, Louis, has proven to be unreliable and the breeding seasons have been unproductive. While most Osprey are thought to live up to twenty-five years, Iris is believed to now be twenty-nine years old.

Iris with her distinctive left eye. Cornell Bird Cam, Hellsgate Osprey scap.

During the 2020 breeding season, Iris had simply ‘had it’. Louis, her mate, actually had another family. Iris laid her egg on the nest but Louis did not bring her food or come to relieve her. She had to leave the egg to eat – and, of course, the Ravens were watching and they came and ate it. Iris was not pleased. Then a squirrel climbed up the platform and was trying to get on the nest. Take the time to watch this video to the end. It is only four minutes long. I seriously would not mess with a female Osprey when they are having a bad day. I want to add that Iris was seen fishing and she sometimes returns to the nest. Everyone is hoping that she will come back for the 2021 season with a new partner.

Iris may help avian researchers understand how long wild Osprey can lay fertile eggs. We know that with Wandering Albatross, Wisdom, who is 69 years old is still raising chicks.

Iris is having a very bad day.

Ospreys raise only a single brood of chicks a year. There will be anywhere from one to four eggs. Both parents will incubate the eggs although many note that the female is there more than the male. The eggs are hard incubated from the time the first one is laid. This means that the last chick might hatch six days later than the first. This often results in siblicide where there are three or more chicks. The smallest is just that much smaller and seen as a threat to food resources. That said, I have seen Osprey parents do dual feedings, such as Loch Arkaig in Scotland, with three chicks growing up to fledge with no dominance issues. First pips are normally around thirty-six days. First flight dates really vary from 50 to sometimes as much as 60 days with 55 being the average. The chicks will use their natal nest as a home base. Parents will teach the juveniles to fish and will supplement them with fish they have caught for several months after fledging.

Ospreys were severely impacted by the use of DDT and their numbers declined rapidly. Many countries are working hard to reintroduce them to the wild. I highly recommend:

The Woodland Trust Loch Arkaig Nest in the Scottish Highlands. That URL is: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/osprey-cam/

You can find Richmond and Rosie at: http://sfbayospreys.org/

If you are interested in following Solly, the Eastern Osprey from Port Lincoln, go to: https://www.facebook.com/portlincolnosprey

You can reach the Kielder Osprey Nests through the following URL: https://www.visitkielder.com/play/discover/kielder-ospreys

If you have a favourite Osprey nest, please let me know. I would love to hear about it.

Update on Solly before I leave. Solly is now 157 days old. She spent yesterday back at Eba Anchorage. Locals say she is staying in a small marshy area near the town.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Hope to see you again soon!

Thank you to the streaming cams at SFBay Ospreys, Hellsgate Osprey by Cornell Lab Cams, Woodland Trust and Loch Arkaig, Port Lincoln Osprey FB Page and Wikimedia Commons.