Bedtime Snacks

Many reading my blog will have had a routine at bedtime – either as a child, or with your children or grandchildren, or both. Perhaps someone read you a story or there was milk and cookies. Something that would mark the transition from the day time activities to night and quieting down. In a similar way, there seems also to be a nest rhythm. Where there are little ones that need to be fed more often that the bigger ‘babies’ – and where prey is available on the nest – the mothers always make sure that the little ones have been fed before they are tucked in.

It is nearly 8:40pm in Estonia and Eve is getting ready to feed the little ones their last meal for the day. This meal will have to last them until the sun comes up in the morning.

Eve has been keeping the two warm all day. Notice how she is stretching her left leg and wing. She will also do that with her right – birds get ‘stiff’ from sitting in one position for hours just like humans it appears.

Eagle Club of Estonia. 9 May 2021

White-tail Eagles roost at night. So Eve will be settling in with the little ones and needs a relaxation break for a night of brooding the eaglets. Look at how big they are!

Eagle Club of Estonia 9 May 2021

The older sibling might be looking off in the distance but the little one is already for some fish before bedtime. It is stretching its neck to try and get the first bite. That stretching also strengthens the neck muscles.

Eagle Club of Estonia. 9 May 2021

As the sun set in Jacksonville, Florida, Gabby and Samson made sure Legacy had a nice fish so that she would have a full crop before bed just like Eve did with her two little ones.

NE Florida Eagle Cam 9 May 2021

There is always a flurry with those deliveries. Samson doesn’t always get his legs and talons out of the way fast enough.

NE Florida Eagle Cam and the AEF. 9 May 2021

Gabby watches over Legacy as she eats her fish. Indeed, Gabby and Samson have been very attentive since Legacy returned to the nest. They may know that the owl and the hawk have been intruding and that their attacks could actually injure their eaglet.

NE Florida Eagle Cam and the AEF. 9 May 2021

Legacy was still working on that fish tail when the IR cameras came on. Nite Legacy, sweet eagle dreams!

NE Florida Eagle Cam and the AEF. 9 May 2021

I remember, with great fondness, the many meals my Asian friends shared with me when I was visiting them. One of their traditions was to eat around 10pm when the heat of the day had dissipated. Today it was more than 30 degrees C in St Petersburg, Florida. Tomorrow my weather report says it will be a stifling 33 degrees. Tonight, as the IR cameras came on and it had cooled to 23, Diane was sharing a fish with Tiny Tot and sibling #2 had its own piece. The low light didn’t seem to be causing them any problems and I wonder if birds enjoy eating when it is cooler rather than when it is super hot.

Achieva Credit Union. 9 May 2021

As the sun set on Skidaway Island near Savannah, Georgia, there was a nice big fish on the nest for the two little ones before they settled in for the night. I have been worried about the second osplet because the oldest has been fairly aggressive. #2 went to bed with a fully crop tonight. No worries at all.

Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon. 9 May 2021

#2 had to wait but mom made certain that it was full to the brim and more. There will still be some fish for her, too.

Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon. 9 May 2021

The little eaglet in Fort St Vrian in Colorado went to bed with a really full crop tonight, too. The appetizer was fish followed by ‘a feathered’ something or another main course.

X-cel Energy. 9 May 2021
X-cel Energy. 9 May 2021

It has been wet and cold in Ithaca, New York. 6 degrees C and rain and more rain. Big Red did not catch a break to feed her little ones before bedtime. Normally their little crops are stuffed. She knew that she had to keep the Ks warm and dry. The forecast says that the heavy rain will stop on Monday morning around 6am.

Cornell Bird Lab. 9 May 2021

The rain stopped for a few minutes around 14:00 and Big Red took a relaxation break from the brooding and even took time to bring in another rail for the nest. Let’s hope that it is warmer tomorrow and the nest, the Ks, and mom get a chance to completely dry out.

Cornell Bird Lab 9 May 2021

Big Red’s Ks made up for not having their bedtime snack with several breakfasts. Everyone is just fine. It’s cloudy and should go up to 11 or 13 C today, 10 May, in Ithaca.

Cornell Bird Lab. 10 May 2021
Cornell Bird Lab. 10 May 2021

Thank you so much for joining me. Have a great Monday!

Thank you to the sponsors of the streaming cams where I get my screen shots. I have credited them under the images today.

Bird Mothers of the Year

Every year we stop and think about the women who gave us life and mentored us to become independent adults. I want to stop for a moment and consider a few of the bird mothers. Last year I was able to single out one bird that seemed to give it her all and that was Big Red, the Red tailed-hawk whose nest is on the Cornell Campus. This year I have a few more to add. I am certain that you have your own list as well.

In studying the social behaviour of birds, one of the things that has astonished me is how complicated the lives of our feathered friends are and how the behaviour of humans has impacted their lives.

The birds are not listed in any particular order – I could not, for the life of me, rank them. They have struggled against the greatest odds sometime. The first bird mentioned does not have a happy ending and this is a warning about that. If you would prefer to skip this mom, then please scroll down to Big Red.

The first female on my list is Milda. Milda is a White-tailed Eagle. She worked with her long time mate, Raimis, and rebuilt their nest near Durbe, Latvia. She laid her eggs on March 12, 15, and 21. The last time that Raimis was seen was the 27th of March. Milda incubated her eggs and stayed on her nest, despite several intruders, for eight days without eating. Then on two occasions, she had to leave the nest to try and find food and was off her eggs for periods nearing five hours at a time. It is not clear how successful she was in hunting. A male WTE appeared and tried to help incubate. By some miracle two of the three eggs hatched on the 21 and 24th of April. The people of Latvia and those who adore Milda were overcome with emotion. But that joy was short lived. It was pretty clear that Milda was almost starving to death. She had completely depleted her bodily resources. The male brought a crow to the nest and the eaglets were fed and then he took it away. It was very cold and Milda had to eat. She had to leave the nest to find food. She was desperate. If she did not survive neither would her eaglets. It is like the instructions when you fly on a plane: put your own oxygen mask on first before you help your children. Did Milda know that her eaglets would freeze? was this a form of euthanasia? did Milda think the male would incubate the eaglets while she found food? In all of this, there was also an intruder. Milda’s eaglets slowly froze to death. Later that day she consumed them.

Cannibalism in eagles is a new area of study with the growing number of streaming cameras. In 2002, a group of wildlife biologists in Virginia were stunned when they observed a male eagle killing his eaglets alive and eating them. More reports of similar behaviour came in leading researchers to believe that the behaviour may be more common that believed particularly in times of food shortage.

Milda was a very devoted and dedicated single mother. The circumstances were dire. She could not help her babies if she could not feed herself and she was starving. We have watched birds mourn their dead. It is beyond my comprehension to understand how difficult all of this was for Milda. The lack of a partner and the inability of a female parent to provide enough food for their eaglet also happened at another nest in Latvia. That was the nest of Spilve whose beautiful eaglet, Klints, perished from starvation. Spilve mourned the death of her Klints. This year, she refused to use the nest that Klints’s body has become a part of. Instead, her and her new mate went to another.

I am really aware of the dedication that the Latvians have for their wildlife. What has caused a drop in prey? has it always been this difficult? and would it be possible to stock artificial ponds for these large raptors? Those are just three of my questions.

Milda feeding her two little ones their last meal. 25 April 2021

My second bird mother of the year will always be first in my heart- Big Red whose territory is on the Cornell Campus.

Big Red is even wetter. 8 May 2021

Big Red hatched near Brooktondale, New York in 2003. She was banded on 20 October 2003 in Brooktondale. She is eighteen years old. The exact history of her mates and the number of eyasses she has raised to fledge will never be known. She was known to have a nest in 2010 on the Cornell Campus and two years later cameras were installed. Her mate at the time was Ezra. Ezra was killed in 2017. It is the only year that she did not have a clutch. She bonded with her current mate, Arthur, that same year. It is entirely possible that Big Red has fledged no less than 35 eyasses. This year she has another clutch of three. Big Red is a devoted mother. By the fall she is already selecting which light tower to use as a nest and is working with Arthur then and to a greater degree in February to ready the nest for the upcoming breeding season. She has been encrusted in snow more times than I want to remember and soaked to the bones. She has been blown off the nest! Still she works and keeps those kiddos of hers full to the brim. As someone recently said, ‘No one leaves Big Red’s table hungry.’ And when her eyasses fledge she will spend days with them in family hunting expeditions so that they are as prepared as she can make them for the outside world.

Today, she was soaked to the bone and cold – even the babies are a wee bit ‘wet’. Those heavy raindrops wanted nothing more than to turn into icy slush. She fed her three little ones as quickly as she could so they would not get wet and catch a chill. Just look at the love in those eyes! Being a mom is what it is all about for Big Red.

Unlike Milda, Big Red has a devoted mate, Arthur, who is busy filling the pantry providing food for Big Red and the Ks as well as security for the territory. Arthur also gives Big Red much needed relief breaks despite the fact that she prefers to look after the little ones almost 100% of the time! Her territory is also prey plentiful.

Big Red will always be at the top of my list. She is just simply amazing.

A soaked Big Red. 7 May 2021

My third female is Diane at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida. I am including Diane in my list for one single reason. This year her three eggs hatched and she had three osplets to raise. At the time the three were born (5th and 7th of March), there was plenty of prey on the nest. However, a week later the fish deliveries became irregular causing food insecurity on the nest. It was unclear whether or not the third hatch would survive. There would be days of plenty and then hardly any fish. If the babies didn’t eat neither did Diane. Many suspected that Jack, her mate, might have another nest. Diane began to go fishing supplementing the fish that were brought onto the nest and that is why I am including her. When she was able she would leave the nest and bring in huge catfish to feed her babies and herself. She was a selfless mom. The two older siblings and in particular, the second hatch, demanded more and more food. For days in a row the third hatch had no food. Even Diane acted on several occasions like the little one would not live. Then something happened. The food became more plentiful and she paid particular attention so that the third hatch was full. I call him Tiny Tot. This year Diane will fledge three – . Tiny Tot is the only one left to fledge and his feather growth is behind. And that is OK. Tiny Tot is simply a delight.

In the image below Tiny Tot sits in the middle of the nest with its full crop and its ever growing wings. At one time no one believed #3 would survive and most thought it would be stunted but Tiny is filling out all over. Diane makes sure that sibling #2 standing on the rim of the nest at the back does not eat all of the fish that comes on the nest. I have to give her like 5 gold stars for stepping in and making sure that the food is shared between these two. No one is left out.

Tiny is really growing. Maybe he is a she? 7 May 2021

Diane is on the nest with Tiny. They are both waiting for an incoming fish.

Diane on the left and Tiny Tot on the right. Not so Tiny anymore!

Tiny Tot can self-feed. He was the first of the three to do so. To survive he found fish bones with a little flesh on them and ate it. Diane does love to feed him, tho.

Diane loves to feed Tiny Tot even tho he can do it himself. 7 May 2021

As the sun goes down, Diane and her two little ones are full. Tiny is actually full to the brim. You can see that glimmer of the sun on his big crop.

The sun sets on the St Petersburg Osprey Nest and all are full. 7 May 2021

Another bird mom that has touched my heart in a way that I cannot quite put my finger on is Eve, the mate of Eerik, whose nest is in the Matsalu National Park in Estonia. It is so cold in Estonia that the geese had to stop their northern migration. Eve is a huge White-tailed Eagle – she almost looks ‘wooly’ because her plumage is so thick to keep her warm. She is the most gentle of mothers with her two little eaglets.

Eve does not have the prey problem that Milda had in Latvia. There are plenty of fish and other birds that Eerik brings to the nest. Eve carefully conceals them and keeps them fresh in the straw around the rim of the nest-like an old fashioned ‘ice box’. What they have had to contend with are intruders and lingering cold weather to the extreme. It is especially important because the eaglets cannot thermoregulate their temperature. They depend on Eve and Eerik for everything. Many mornings Eve has woken up to be completely covered in a cold frost. I am really looking forward to these two growing up. Look at the little one put its wing around its big sib. This is such a peaceful nest. Eve keeps everything under control.

Eve feeding her two growing eaglets. 7 May 2021

There are so many bird mothers whose lives need celebrating if for nothing else than they successfully raised their clutches. It is not easy. Humans have impacted their lives in so many ways it would take an entire blog to list them but climate change and its impact on prey, loss of habitat, plastic in the oceans, toxins, etc come to the top. I cannot even begin to create a list of all of those. If I continued to include images and write ups for the mothers, the blog could easily include Harriet at the Bald Eagle Nest in SW Florida in Fort Myers. She is just an amazing mother to E17 and E18. Those kiddos are well equipped to take on the world. Then there is Anna, the first time Bald Eagle mother, who had to learn along with her eaglet how to feed her baby properly. Kisatchie has thrived and is now branching on his nest tree in the Kisatchie National Forest. On the Mississippi River, the nest of Starr and the Valors was destroyed last year by the winds. Starr had to work with Valor I and II to build a new nest for the 2021 season. They built an amazing nest and now have three growing eaglets. Or what about the female at Duke Farms who spent the entire incubation period encased in snow? Her two eaglets are now branching. Diamond, the Peregrine Falcon, in Orange, Australia still has her seven month old fledgling living in her scrape box. Her patience is amazing and her and Xavier have raised a formidable falcon! What about the Osprey females who lay eggs and raise their little ones in nests so full of toys and blankets they often cannot even find the chicks. This year, Harriet at the Dahlgren Nest, lost one of her eggs in Jack’s deliveries! They probably deserve a medal every day for their good humour. Then there are the ones, driven by their instincts and ‘Mother Nature’ that want to be mothers so badly such as Jackie at Big Bear or Iris at Hellsgate? If certificates were given out, they would all receive them – every single one of them!

Here is Iris bringing in a whopper of a breakfish for herself. Iris is the oldest living osprey in the world – the grand dame of all Ospreys. She has fledged no less than 35-40 osplets – no one really knows for sure, that is just an estimate. Since the death of her trusted mate, Stanley, Iris has returned to her nest every year during breeding season. Her current mate, Louis, has another nest and another mate and Iris is now, by default, a single mother. Her natural instincts bring her back from her 4,000 mile migration to her nest in Missoula, breeding with Louis, and because she is both provider, incubator, and security guard – like Milda and Spilve – her clutches have not been successful. Her last fledge was a single osplet in 2018. Still she is there doing her best!

And Happy Mother’s Day to Maya on the Rutland Mantou Nest whose first osprey egg of the season hatched at 15:23 today, 8 May. You can just see the little one getting out of its shell.

Thank you for joining me today to appreciate the difficult circumstances each of our bird mothers face. There is a story for each of them! They are all much loved.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: LWRT Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey, The Eagle Club of Estonia, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Latvian Fund for Wildlife, and the Achieva Credit Union.

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.

As Friday comes to an end and Saturday begins, Bird World is good

I spent Friday watching five fish being delivered to the St Petersburg Achieva Credit Union Osprey nest. Yes, you read that correct – there were five fish deliveries! I have already reported on the four and Tiny Tot’s strategies to getting fed mega fish. Well, before we check on a few other nests, let’s look at this last feeding.

The fifth fish arrives at 5:32:35. Now, Tiny Tot just finished eating from the fourth fish at 4:23. At that minute, Diane could not force him to take another bite. He pancaked. Tiny Tot finally felt what it is like to be so full you simply cannot stand to think about taking one more bite of fish. For Tiny, this is such a fantastic place to be.

I don’t think anyone was expecting the fifth fish to arrive when it did. Indeed, the older siblings were busy watching the traffic. Diane offers Tiny the first bites but he is still too full. It looks like sibling #1 wants some bites. Mom moves the fish away from Tiny. The older sibling stops and you can almost hear Tiny saying, ‘Did someone say fish?’ Tiny decides that, yes, he can hold some more fish! Why not? My favourite image is of the two older siblings looking down and realizing that Tiny Tot is still eating. You could almost hear them say, ‘Didn’t know the kid could eat so much! We better get in there before he eats the entire fish!’

At 5:48:28 one of the big sibs is ready to eat. Tiny Tot does not care. He couldn’t eat another bite. Tiny Tot moves away the fullest he has been in a single day – probably all his life! Wow.

What a happy Osprey nest. This is the way it should be. Full, happy, growing and healthy babies. Jack comes in to check and see if there are any leftovers at 6:53:58. Jack and Diane might have been used to bringing fish back and forth and it lasting. The last two seasons there has only been one chick each year. This year it is triple.

I got a giggle. My daughter said it looked like Diane was having a chat with Jack telling him how nice and quiet it is when all the kiddos are full and sleeping. Maybe Jack will get the hint – we need lots more fish every day just like today.

I note that the temperature is quite warm in St Petersburg today. Still, Jack pulled off some nice fish – five of them. He ate well, Diane got to eat – finally and the kids are full. Glorious. Jack you get the bouquet for the day! Your fishing skills were fantastic today. Keep up the good work.

Worrying about whether Tiny Tot was going to eat or not has really stopped me from checking on some of the other birds that we love. And, some of them are really getting close to the fledge. What is fledging? At around 77-84 days, or 11 or 12 weeks, eaglets will take their first flight. This does not mean that they will be leaving the nest forever! No, no. They will remain near the nest where they were born for a month, 6 weeks, or for some, 2 entire months. During this time they hone their flying, landing, and hunting skills. Their parents will continue to provide them with food.

Leading up to fledging, the eaglets will jump, flap their wings and look like they are on a trampoline both jumping and flapping. Then they will branch. Branching is when they will leave the nest bowl and land on one of the branches of the natal tree.

Look at beautiful Legacy (N24). Isn’t she a stunner? Her parents are Samson and Gabrielle. Her grandparents were Romeo and Juliet. She was born in the same nest that her father, Samson, was born. She overcame Avian Pox and look at those deep ebony eyes.

Legacy hatched on 8 February. She is now 60 days old. She has been preening and there is some of her baby down stuck to her beak.

You can still see a few bits of soft white down coming out where she has been preening.

Legacy is a blur she jumps up and down! Oh, she must love the wind under those wings of hers.

You can watch Legacy as she prepares for branching and her first flight.

And I can’t check on Legacy up in Jacksonville without going across the state to check in on E17 and E18. These are the twins of Harriet and M15 at the Fort Myers Bald Eagle Nest on the Pritchett farm. They were born on 23 January 2021. That makes them 75 days old today and right at the beginning of fledge watch.

Both of them have been branching.

E17 and E18 have done everything together. There are many who assume that when one flies, the other will follow. If you haven’t checked in on the SWFLorida Eagle cam, here is the link. It is really exciting to see these juveniles take their first flight.

There have been some interesting developments in Latvia on the nest of Milda. Milda is the mate of Raimis. They are White-tailed Eagles, a critically endangered species in Latvia. Milda laid three eggs but Raimis has been missing since 27 March. Milda remained devoted to her eggs and stayed on the nest with no food. Since her mate disappeared there have been at least three intruders around the nest, at least two males and a female. Because she has no mate to feed her, Milda stayed on the eggs as long as she could without starving herself. She left on day 8 to find food. Since then she has left several times to hunt and eat leaving the eggs exposed to very cool temperatures. It is now believed that they are no longer viable. In a strange twist today, Milda got up to leave and one of the strangers, they are calling him Mr C, tried to come on the nest and incubate the eggs! Milda caught him and chased him off.

Milda sees the other eagle on the branch.
Milda needs to take a break and flies off her eggs.
The eggs are uncovered on the nest.
The male stranger flies down to the nest from the branch and goes to incubate the eggs.

In the bottom image you can see the male White-Tailed Eagle that had been on the branch come down and move to incubate the eggs. Milda caught him just as he was about to brood and chased him away.

It is very sad that her eggs are not going to be viable. But Milda’s health is a first priority. She will be able to lay more eggs in the future and who knows – maybe this mysterious male will turn out to be an ideal mate!

The two little Black Kite eyasses that were born on 3 March and 5 March are really growing and their plumage is changing so much. Their nest is in a tall tree in a cemetery in Taiwan. The pair survived a fire in the cemetery that almost destroyed them and their nest. As a result they were named Pudding and Brulee for being alive when the fire was cool enough for them to be checked. On 2 April, they were banded. Pudding is Orange K2 and Brulee is Orange K3.

Black kites fledge, on average, from 42 to 56 days. They are a medium sized raptor. Like the Bald Eagles, Legacy and E17 and E18, they will stay with their parents from two weeks to eight weeks after fledging to hone their flying and hunting skills. Orange K2 is 36 days old today and Orange K3 is 34 days old. We will be on fledge watch at this nest in one week. You can watch the Black Kites of Taiwan here:

It has been a rather exciting day and it continues to be harder and harder to keep up with all of the bird nests. Branching, fledging, arrivals of Ospreys in the UK, incubations – it is happening everywhere! There are not enough hours in the day. But Friday was simply special – Tiny Tot’s strategies for getting to the right spot in order to eat played out well with the delivery of all those fish.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you jumped up and down doing the happy dance for Tiny Tot. And Jack, you are amazing.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Black Kite Cam of Taiwan, SWFlorida and D Pritchett, NEFlorida and AEF, Achieva Credit Union Ospreys, and the Latvian White-Tailed Eagles.

Little Lionheart

There is an air of hope and happiness for the littlest Osprey on the St. Petersburg, Florida nest of Diane and Jack. Believed to be close to death and not having any food for three days, he had 23 bites of fish late on 1 April in the dark, after his siblings had gone to sleep. Yesterday, Tiny got to eat in the afternoon and had a crop. To the joy of all, no only is his ‘ps’ good but he was fed from 12:42 to 1:28 today by Diane. He was full to the brim. Diane kept offering and he did take a few more bites but he was stuffed!

To tell you that the chatters were elated would not really give you a sense of the happiness and hope for this little one. One person said this is her favourite nest. I am certain that if an osprey nest can give a person an ulcer, I will have one by the time 3 fledges. I have, more than once, wanted to strangle Jack. Many are convinced that he has another family. Who knows? It is cooler in St Petersburg today. 20 degrees C or 73 F. The winds are blowing and the water could be choppy for fishing as someone mentioned. But what caught my eye this morning was someone who called 3, Little Lion heart. ‘Three’ has had many names. Some call him Tumbles and I have called him Tiny Tot. But gosh, doesn’t Lionheart fit? If you look up the meaning of Lionheart, it defines a person of exceptional courage and bravery.

If Lionheart has energy from the food, he is clever and knows to keep his head down and wait. Otherwise, 2 who is standing up in the front is alerted and will do anything to keep the little one from eating.

1:17 pm. Lionheart started being fed at 12:24. The big 2 is waking up. But, Lionheart kept eating! 3 April 2021

So whatever you want to call him – 3, Tumbles, Tiny Tot, or Lionheart – his little bottom is getting fat from the good food.

In the world of hawks and falcons, we call the males a tercel. It comes from the word ‘third’ because it has been believed for eons that the third egg was always male. That is why I refer to 3 as a ‘he’.

The other day someone mentioned, when we worried, that in Europe, the storks throw the runt off the edge of the nest and only feed the larger birds. What I find interesting is that I cannot find hard data on the long term survival rates between a larger sibling versus the third and often smaller one. There is not enough research nor is there enough banding and satellite tracking to indicate, it seems, that the larger bird will survive in the wild more so than the smaller one. Indeed, at this very moment, there are eight male Osprey in Scotland that need mates and several others in Wales causing some havoc because they do not have a female mate. If you know of research, please do send me an e-mail or make a comment. I wonder if we have simply accepted in our heads the survival of the ‘largest’ as being the ‘survival of the fittest’ long term. We have talked about the bullying factor and siblicide and food competition. Wonder if the smallest survives due to being clever that this is not also something to help them in the wild?

If positive wishes, love, and prayers can help, Lionheart has a huge support network that love him and want to see this little fella’ fledge. Wish for fish!

Take care everyone. Enjoy your weekend. If you celebrate Easter, have a very happy Easter. Thank you to my daughter who caught the start time when Tiny Tot Lionheart turned around to start eating. And thank you for the energy coming through for this little one.

Thank you to the Achieva Credit Union for their streaming cam where I took these screen shots.

It’s 3 for Big Red and 4 for Dahlgren

The Guardian ran a story, ‘All my eaglets: pandemic audience spellbound by saga of nesting bald eagles’ in its Wildlife section this morning. While the story focused on the growing number of people watching bird streaming cams during the pandemic, it chose to use the example of two nests. The sadness of Jackie and Shadow at the Big Bear Bald Eagle Nest in the San Bernadino Valley and the joy of Liberty and Guardian and their three chicks at the Redding Bald Eagle nest. Richard Luscombe really caught the moment – the joy celebration, the sadness and loss. Jackie (9 year old female) and Shadow (7 year old male) are two of the most popular Bald Eagles on streaming cams and yet, their story encapsulates great sadness. For two years they have tried to raise a chick. This year in their second clutch there was a hatch. Heartbreak came when that chick died trying to break out of the shell. Jackie and Shadow continue to care for the second egg which watchers know will never hatch. Last year they sat on two eggs for sixty days before giving up. In contrast, Guardian (7 year old male) and Liberty (22 year old female) are raising triplets and Liberty has, in her lifetime, successfully fledged 22 and outlived two mates. Like human families and stories, every bird nest is different.

Over the past year, I have received (or seen) letters, comments, and testimonies about the birds. It is clear that the ‘bird’ families streaming into our living rooms have become ‘intimate’ friends whose daily lives we share – their joys and their challenges. One woman wrote to tell me that she knows ‘her bird family’ better than her own human family! She is not alone. From the infertile eggs to the cheeping of the hatching chick, people have watched the birds and their loneliness and pain have been diminished. Many of you have written to me to tell me how the birds have saved your lives, including several with stage 4 cancer and partners who have died from COVID. Caring for the birds has lessened the impact of the isolation and has given us something to focus on besides ourselves. ‘A distraction from our lives’ a woman from The Netherlands said.

When the pandemic ends, I hope that all of you will continue to watch the lives of your favourite bird families unfold. And I would encourage you to talk to your children and your grandchildren or the neighbour’s children so they will become interested in wildlife. They need all of us to help them have better lives.

Jackie and Shadow continue to incubate an egg that will never hatch. Many wonder if there is not DDT still present in the soil or something causing this lovely and entering couple so many issues trying to have a little one. Clearly the thinness of the eggs that have broken could indicate that. 1 April 2021.
The triplets at the Redding nest being fed. There is plenty of food and all are lined up nicely.

I received a very touching letter from a woman from New Mexico who commented on the tragic events unfolding at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg. She was reminded of a news story where a family went into a cafe for a meal -the parents, a young girl, and boy. The parents fed the young girl and themselves. The boy watched the others eat while he was offered nothing. The boy appeared to be bruised as if he had been physically harmed to the wait staff. The waitress wrote on her hand ‘Do you need help?’ to the child who, eventually, shook their head yes. The waitress phoned the authorities and the children were taken into care immediately. The boy had been abused and food had been withheld for a long time. The woman from New Mexico said, ‘Humans do it, too’. As sad and angry as I am at the Ospreys in St Petersburg, for them it is a matter of having at least one healthy fledgling. The biology books stress the survival of the fittest! Someone who has filmed birds said to me and I have reiterated it many times, ‘If they cannot survive on the nest being fed, they cannot survive in the wild – it is brutal out there’. This morning a huge fish came in but the middle Osprey made sure Tiny Tot did not get anything to eat. Tiny was too weak to fight. I had hoped that his suffering would be taken away in the night.

UPDATE: Tiny Tot was fed at 9:27 this morning. His crop was about a third full. The saga continues.

After my tirade on birds laying too many eggs to care for if they all hatched – and hence, having the situation of the St Petersburg nest – Jack and Harriet of the Dahlgren Osprey Nest in Machodoc Creek in King George County, Virginia laid a fourth egg! You might not immediately recognize the osprey nest that I am talking about but if I said to you that Jack is the one that brings in the most toys to the nest, often covering it while Harriet has to keep busy finding space for them, I think you might know the nest that I am talking about. There was a toy shark or dolphin the other day. As it happens, the first egg is either lost in the nest or broke – there are three eggs being incubated despite four being laid. Last year the couple successfully fledged three and all of us join in hoping that happens this year! Unless there is a problem in the river, this couple has their nest in a prime location for fish!

And to add to the jokes that go along with April Fool’s Day, Big Red and Arthur not only woke up to snow this morning but also to their third egg.

Big Red is eighteen years old. She was ringed at Brooktondale New York, about eight miles from Ithaca. She has known this weather all her life and can deal with it. Her and her mate, Arthur, do not migrate but stay in Ithaca all year long. They have a prey rich territory and both work like a well oiled machine. Unless there is some strange surprise, I expect we will see three eyases fledging in June.

All is well over at the Great Horned Owl Nest on the farm in Kansas. Both Tiger, the eldest, and Lily, the youngest, are growing. To the delight of viewers, Bonnie brought in a very large rabbit to the nest in the Cottonwood Tree. Everyone wondered how she managed. Great Horned Owls can actually carry prey three times their weight – an advantage over Bald Eagles who can carry only 66% of their weight. Besides rabbit, the owlets have had a diverse menu. One food item that might not have been expected in such quantities has been snake. Farmer Derek probably had no idea he had so many snakes on his property! Using March 7 as a date for hatching, we should be watching for Tiger to fledge around 42-56 days which would be 18 April to 24 April. Tiger’s extremely soft feathers – they look like mohair to me – mean that he will be a formidable predator being able to fly without being heard. With his short rounded wings he will also be able to make tight corners and quick turns around the trees in the woods.

And down in Orange Australia at the Charles Sturt University, Peregrine Falcon couple, Xavier and Diamond, are in the scrape box having a conversation and bonding. The conversation might be about their cute little Izzi who fledged three times from this box. The first time Izzi was napping on the ledge and fell out. He was returned by the researcher, Cilla Kinross. The second time he did fledge but then flew into a window and was taken into care and returned to the scrape box. The third time he fledged properly. While most of the falcons would have left the scrape box to find their own territory by January, Izzi appears determined to live out the rest of his life chasing Xavier and Diamond and sleeping with Diamond in the scrape box. It is an unfolding soap opera that is delightful.

Izzi is adorable.

I will leave you with that adorable face. Peregrine falcons are the cutest. Thank you for joining me today. Take care. Stay safe. Enjoy the birds.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my scaps: Charles Sturt University Peregrine Falcon Cam, Farmer Derek, Friends of Big Bear Bald Eagles, Friends of Redding Bald Eagles, Cornell Bird Lab, and the Dahlgren Osprey Cam.

Bird World – Monday Updates full of joy

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) has a new couple on their nest. Harry, the male, is still sporting some of his 4 year old Bald Eagle plumage. Nancy is the female and all we know is that she is older – precisely hold old or how many eaglets she has raised is unknown. The couple welcomed little E1 on 26 March and E2 was born on 29 March at 3:24pm.

Harry is just starting to figure out what his duties are. I had a giggle when E1 was born. Harry tried to roll the little fluff ball – and he is not the only one to do that! It will be a real delight to watch this couple raise these little ones in what should be a prey rich area.

Harry wanted to feed the little ones this morning but he is still flummoxed by the entire experience. Nancy will make sure he figures it out! Best he goes out fishing and fills the pantry.

It has been pitching down rain in Wales but Aran has arrived safely home from his winter migration, He is on the perch to the left. Mrs G, the oldest Osprey in Wales, is on the nest with a morning fish. She is one of the best fishers in the country and often hauls in whoppers to the nest. There will be cheers all day throughout Wales. It is such a relief when both mates arrive home safely from their winter vacations.

Aran arrives home. 29 March 2021

Over at the Loch of the Lowes Nest, Laddie and NC0 got right down to business at the break of dawn. Or did they? Maybe Laddie just did a landing sans fish??

Look at that gorgeous view. Just stunning with the apricot and pink over the water from the glow of the morning sun rising. What a wonderful place for a nest.

At the Great Horned Owl Nest on the farm near Newton, Kansas, Bonnie has been going out hunting. The owlets had mostly snake today. Bonnie joined up with Clyde and the image below shows her bringing in a vole. She helps orient the head so that little Lily has an easier time horking it whole. These two are growing and growing and demanding more and more food.

At the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida, both Diane and Jack brought in fish late in the day. Mom actually left the nest to go fishing when it appeared she had given up on dad. It made for a lot of confusion. with the trio. Look where Diane has that fish! Tiny Tot got right up on the rails. These are really hold your breath moments because those twigs that make up the outside of this nest are not all that secure. By getting up there though, Tiny ensured that it got food while the other two were still full from eating earlier. And it’s a good thing. It is noon on this nest on Monday, 29 march. Not a single fish has arrived all morning. Diane found some scraps in the nest and fed Tiny Tot a few. If I could strangle a bird it might be Jack!

Diane feeding Tiny Tot. 28 March 2021.

I received the most wonderful letter from a lady in Iowa who stressed that they were the home of the ‘Decorah Eagles’. When my parents were still alive, there were many trips where we would drive through Iowa on the way to see them in Oklahoma. But, I have to admit that while I had heard of the Decorah Bald Eagles it was not a nest that I was following. This lovely woman’s letter tweaked my interest and if you don’t know the nest, it is really a wonderful one to follow. Little DN13 was born on 26 March followed by DN14 on the 27th. They are so cute and the parents are beam with pride.

Here is the link to the Decorah Explore streaming cam:

And last but never least, Big Red laid her second egg of the 2021 season this morning at 10:10am. And, if she lays three, we can look for the last one on 1 April! It is colder in Ithaca this morning at 5 degrees C or 41 F than it is here in Winnipeg where it is 8 degrees C or 46.4 degrees F. It has stopped raining and the sun is finally coming out in Ithaca.

Yesterday, Arthur did most of the incubating and he was on the nest before Big Red flew in to lay this egg. They are a great pair that often work like well designed Swiss watch.

And here is the link to the Cornell Red Tail Hawk cam with Big Red and Arthur:

As many of you know, I am one of a growing number of individuals calling for the ban of lead in fishing and hunting equipment and designer rat poisons. I am working on a story about the Black Kites in Taiwan and a man who worked to get rat poison banned in that entire country.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Stay safe!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I took my scaps: Cornell Bird Labs, Decorah Eagles and Explore, Achieva Osprey, Farmer Derek, MN DNR, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and the Bywd Gwylit Glaslyn Wildlife.

World Osprey Week Days 2 and 3

Oh, the postman delivered a copy of The Rutland Water Ospreys by Tim Mackrill. If you are really into Ospreys – their history and the reestablishment of them in the United Kingdom, I suggest you either order your own copy or ask your library to purchase one. It is an excellent history with beautiful images. There are photos of all the Ospreys and their genealogy, lovely drawings of the birds, a chronological history of the reintroduction of Osprey into the United Kingdom as well as a look at the people involved and the migration to Africa. It will keep you busy for several full days!

The history of the Osprey as a species is very long. Did you know that there are fossils showing that Osprey lived 10-15 million years ago? Storied in Natural History museums and in research facilities, there are a few claws of Osprey from the Eocene epoch which was 50 million years ago. Further evidence such as wing bones have been found and dated to the mid-Miocene epoch or 13 million years ago. Those were found in California and Florida in 1976 Stuart A. Warter. Warter was highly skeptical of the remains attributed to the Eocene era. Eggs of Osprey were found in Austria and the back limb ones in Florida from the late-Miocene era. All of that suggests that Ospreys were present in the southern US and in Europe from 10-15 million years ago. More fossils were found in Western Europe, North and Central America during the last 2 million years. Ospreys were found in the period from 9000-5000 BP in the Balkans as well as the rest of Central Europe, including Switzerland. All of a sudden no remains are found for nearly 4000 years. The Osprey show up again in the Baltic, in northeast Germany. Because of hunting, egg collection, and taxidermy and then the use of DDT, they reach near extinction again. This information has been taken from the article, ‘Archaeozoological records and distribution history of the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in Central Europe’ in The Journal of Ornithology, vol. 10, no. 1, 2006. I am also reminded that the Roman writer, Pliny, mentions that the Osprey parents have their chicks fly to the sun as a test and that Shakespeare mentioned Ospreys in his 1609 play, Coriolanus. Osprey specialists in Britain believe that he must have seen the live birds. In China, Ospreys are symbols of fidelity.

World Osprey Week is to celebrate the rebuilding of the Osprey in the United Kingdom and what better way, on this the third day of World Osprey Week to check in on the monitored nests to see who has returned. To the time of my writing this on 24 March at 2:45 pm CDT, only four Osprey have returned to the United Kingdom so far.

Laddie (unringed) or LM12 arrived at 5pm on 21 March. This will be his tenth season at the Loch of the Lowes and Laddie wasted no time in fixing up his nest and hoping that his young mate of last year, Blue NCO will return. In the image below he has come to the nest with a morning fish hoping that his mate might have arrived. He has spent the last two days doing nestorations. Look at how clean and nice that nest is! Laddie we sure hope that a wonderful young lady comes to you.

Laddie on the nest at Loch of the Lowes 24 March 2021.

Maya and Blue 33 (11) came in on March 19 within minutes of one another. Blue 33 (11) arrived at 12:29pm and Maya came in at 12:56. They got down to business renewing their bonds at 1pm and then began nestorations. Today they have had to fend off some intruders. They are at Rutland MB.

Maya and Blue 33 working on nest and defending it against an intruder. 24 March 2021

The very first osprey to arrive on a monitored nest was back on the 19th of March and that was a female at Rutlands, Blue 25 (10).

Blue 25 (10) checking in on the Mantou Nest at Rutlands. 19 March 2021.

Black 80 is said to have arrived back at Threave Castle on 23 March. No doubt waiting for its mate unringed Mrs O. However, friends of Threave Osprey have been near to the nest and have not seen an Osprey.

Had a visitor to Loch Arkaig but not the one everyone was counting on! 

If you would like to keep track of the Ospreys coming and going, you can find the chart here:

http://ukospreys.uk/arrivals.htm

That link also gives you the history, the genealogy, and more information that you could ever hope to find on one site. It is excellent. And so we wait and mourn the two Osprey migrating back from Africa that were shot on purpose over the island of Malta. What a sad sad event and one that happens to often over this small Mediterranean Island. One of the stories can be found here:

Protected Ospreys shot down by hunters in Gozo and Malta

Moving back to the United States. Oh, that Osprey male, Jack, at the Dahlgren Nest is such a hoot! His nest is simply full of all manner of things. And it is raining! Poor Harriet. Their first egg arrived at 4:33 on 23 March.

And I am honestly not sure why many male Osprey are called Jack but a check on the Achieva Osprey nest reveals that yesterday, Diane came in with a gigantic catfish and fed the trio for several hours. That feeding seems to have turned the tide in that nest for now. Jack came in with a fish at bedtime and all three went to sleep with large crops. This morning Jack brought in two fish. Peace reigns and little Tiny Tot has been well fed for 2 days. I am hoping that this will blast away any food insecurities that the two oldest have and that Jack and Diane will both bring in lots of fish.

In the image below Tiny Tot is still eating. The two older sibs are in a food coma. So all is good. Let’s hope that large fish come in regularly now and the weather stabilizes for them. It would be fantastic for this nest to fledge three again this year!

Thank you for joining me today. By the end of the week there should be some more osprey arriving in the United Kingdom – news for celebration as World Osprey Week continues. Have a great day.

Thank you to Achieva Osprey, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Rutland for their streaming cams where I got my scaps.