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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Louis is still waiting for Aila to arrive.
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.
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.
You can really get into a cuteness overload watching all the little bobbleheads that are less than a week old. The UC Berkeley Peregrine Falcons are a case in point. Soft little balls of white down with pink beaks and feet that are being taught the sounds the parents make when they are there to feed them. The team at UC Berkeley Falcon Cam posted this short video of Annie, Grinnell, and the two chicks at dinner time. Listen to the sounds the adults make to alert the chicks that it is time for lunch.
We should be looking for one or two hatches tomorrow at this falcon nest.
You can just see the two osplets at the Savannah Osprey nest peering over the edge of the nest cup their necks stretched. They are both doing fantastic! All good news. I continue to hope that the third egg is not viable – these two are doing fine and this nest has a reputation for issues relating to siblicide if there is a third hatch.
Louis has been doing his regular visit to Iris’s nest. It is a good think thing that Iris is a great fisher and doesn’t sit around and wait for someone else to bring her a fish. No sign of the third osprey that was on the nest yesterday.
Everyone has an opinion about Iris. Indeed, I fell victim to wanting to see the oldest breeding osprey in the world raise another batch of chicks. But after watching Diane at the Achieva osprey nest and the toll that it is taking on Diane physically, it could well be a blessing that Louis does his hello and thank you. Unless there is a dramatic change, Iris will continue catching big fish and feeding herself, fixing up her nest so that it is the envy of everyone. She will lay her eggs and the Raven will steal them —— and then, after a bit, she will enjoy herself for the summer while others work day and night to feed their growing chicks.
Iris has really been fixing up her nest. Look at how healthy she is – she is absolutely majestic. And she deserves a break from the rigours of motherhood. After all, she has given no less than thirty or forty offspring and who knows how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the natural world. I would like to think of her watching the setting sun eating her fish instead of being exhausted at the end of the day.
At the NCTC Bald Eagle nest, we have a group portrait with mom, Bella, and the two little ones. They are 30 and 28 days old now. They look like they are posing just for us! Oh, they are cute.
E17 at the SWFlorida Bald Eagle Nest has fledged. E18 has not taken that first flight from the nest but did join E17 up on the attic today.
Jackie and Shadow can now move on with their lives. They have been incubating an unviable egg ever since their first chick died during hatch. Today the raven came and took the other egg. This couple up at the Big Bear Nest in Northern California can try again next year!
In the image below, Ma is feeding FSV44 who started piping on 16 April, the day that its older sibling died during brooding. No one knows what happened to the first hatch at this nest in Platteville, Colorado. Ma and Pa Jr were taking their turns and the eaglet appeared healthy. Glad to see that this little one is fine and is eating well!
The sun is just rising in Latvia and Milda continues to incubate her eggs at the White-tailed eagle nest in Durbe. Rumour has it that her and Mr C – now called Chips – might be bonding more as a couple. Only time will tell. Milda lost her mate Raimis on 27 March after he did not return from hunting prey. He was either too injured or died. Several suitors and intruders have been around the nest, some of them fighting. Milda is incubating three eggs. She spent days on the nest without eating – eight of them! She has left the eggs for around five hours uncovered and it is believed that are no longer viable.
A new day is beginning in Latvia and in Florida it is just past midnight. There has been a storm already with lightning, winds, and rain. The weather service says there is a lull and then it will begin again early in the morning. As evening closed on the Achieva Osprey nest, a fifth fish had come in and Tiny Tot had been fed some. How much is not really clear but not enough for him to get a crop. Tiny Tot did retrieve the fish tail and was self-feeding and then Diane turned around and gave it to 1. 1 did eat from the tail and then Diane came over and fed 1. Tiny Tot moved in and was also stealing some bite from one. It could be a long day tomorrow if it is real stormy and the weather forecast looks dire for a few days. I will keep you posted on all developments.
1 got nasty – like she used to do – and had a threatening posture directed towards Tiny. There is no reason for the aggressive stanch. Tiny Tot is not a threat to their survival at this stage. 2 is actually larger than Diane and both eat all day. Tiny Tot needs only a small portion to survive and thrive which is good for this nest.
Thank you for joining me in Bird World. It continues to be cold on the Canadian Prairies. I will do updates on the UK Osprey Nests tomorrow, the hatch at UC Berkeley and, of course, will keep an eye on what is happening to Tiny Tot. Continue to send your warm wishes his way.
I would like to thank the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: The Latvian Fund for Nature, Xcel Energy Fort St. Vrian Bald Eagle Nest, Friends of Big Bear Bald Eagle Nest, SWFlorida Bald Eagle Nest and D Pritchett real estate, NCTC Bald Eagle Cam, Cornell Bird Cams and the Montana Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Cams and the Savannah Osprey Nest, and the Achieva Credit Union.
When I woke up this morning, this was the weather forecast that caught my attention. I sat and stared. Yes, the Achieva Osprey Nest in St. Petersburg, the SWFL Eagle Nest in Fort Myers, and the NEFL Eagle Nest in Jacksonville were all in the ‘possible threat’ of a Severe Threat region. What precisely does that mean? If it’s bad it is going to be really bad but, it might not be nothing at all?
At the Osprey nest in St. Pete’s, it was already starting to get a little gusty. Still, Jack came in with a really nice fish around 9:09 and all had a good breakfast – all of them were fed equal – and there was no issues of the eldest trying to be dominant. Great planning, Jack! It was, however, not long until the local weather report had warnings of rip tides (dangerous currents) and by 10:30 the nest platform was swaying pretty good. The local weather said 48 kph or 30 mph winds. It is hard to understand what that means to the nest structure and the Ospreys. I have presumed that the structure was built to withstand a hurricane but that might not be true at all. But what kind of a gust does it take to blow an Osprey or a little one off the nest? My mind quickly went back to the wind gusts that sent the Red Tail Hawk at Ithaca, New York, Big Red, flying off the nest bowl taking one of the eyases with her last year in the spring. That was really scary to watch. They both clamoured back onto the nest. Still, I sat and hoped that Tiny Tot would hold on good and tight. How much does the little thing weigh?
The image below does not capture the swaying of the nest. The rains had not started but, the gusts were strong. See how the little ones are all tucked in. It reminds me of ‘the duck and cover’ exercises when I was in grade school. If a nuclear bomb exploded, we were told to get under our desks and cover our heads – we would be safe. Don’t even get me started about that. However, those three little Ospreys are doing a great job of tucking in. They would have gotten an A from my first grade teacher, Mrs McReynolds.
In a couple of hours there was a break in the weather and the little ones were able to relax. You are looking at Tiny Tot on the left and the eldest on the right. Both are getting juvenile plumage – all the fluffy down is now gone. They have a grey matte down covering and the beautiful copper coloured feathers are coming on their heads. They have a white stripe from their heads down their backs. The dark lines from the back of their eyes to their neck are becoming prominent. They sure resemble dinosaurs when they are all tangled up together! Their crops have dropped so both are ready for a good meal. Let’s hope Jack has some success fishing. I am going to imagine that fishing could be difficult with the rain, winds, and rip tides.
Within an hour, the weather changed again. The winds picked up giving Diane a brand new hair do and the little ones are holding on under her wings. Good thing. The skies open and heavy rain comes down soaking everyone and the nest.
It has been a difficult week for food on this nest. The high temperatures, reaching as much as 30 degrees C, have meant that the fishing was only good in the early mornings and around sun down. Despite the rain and the rip tides today, Jack did manage to bring in another fish -quite small – after the weather had settled for a bit, around 7:26pm.
The oldest dominated the feeding and treated both number 2 and Tiny Tot (some call him Tumbleweed) rather aggressively. The kids are wet and cold and miserable – and I imagine Diane is, too. These are experienced parents who have fledged three off a nest. They know what they are doing but they cannot control the weather – the storms or the high heat. Let’s just hope that tomorrow is a cool calm day with a couple of big fish on the nest!
The issues with the eldest on the Achieva Osprey Nest happen over and over again on Osprey and Bald Eagle nests around the world (as well as with other species). And the situation -the sibling rivalry -can turn on a dime. For the past few days there have been concerns about the aggressive behaviour of the eldest to the youngest at the Duke Farm nest in Hillsborough, New Jersey. The actions of the eldest got so bad that a message was posted by Duke Farms acknowledging that the behaviour being displayed was abnormally aggressive – ‘abnormally.’ The farm had obviously received e-mails and phone calls wanting an intervention to happen. Duke Farms had to remind watchers that the birds are protected and that their staff are not allowed within 305 metres or 1000 feet of the nest.
I have great sympathy for anyone watching the bashing that is given to the smaller ones. My whole body has gone rigid seeing a little one in submission unable to get any food – their heads pecked and their necks twisted by the eldest – when all they want is a few morsels of fish. And like many of you, I have watched these little ones perish, frustrated that no one took them off the nest and fed them so they got strong and could go back.
This morning the rain was coming down really hard. There was no food on the nest. The fish from yesterday was gone and the mother had picked every piece of meat off of the black feathered bird brought into the nest. At 12:59 the male flew to the nest and looked at the empty pantry. At 14:57:21 he returns with a trout from the stocked pond on the farm. Yes, like the nest for the SW Florida eagles on the Pritchett Farm, this one also has a fully stocked pond for the eagles.
Nest watchers were anticipating that the behaviour of the eldest was going to be very bad once prey arrived since there had been no food for twenty-four hours. That is, however, simply not what happened. The youngest stepped up to the front of the nest bowl and ate – and I mean ate! Not nibble – gorged on large chunks of fresh fish. It had so much confidence that it actually stole a bite of fish out of the eldest’s beak. This little one is smart. If it gets a chance it keeps its head down and then gets fed. Yesterday everything worked in its favour, too. The eldest ate first – as usual. Mom fed it from the black feathered bird picking anything off that she could find til it was full. Then she moved over to the fish. At first the little one was hesitant but, sensing that the eldest was not going to attack, it took a few bites and then climbed around and went up where its mother could more easily feed it. She filled that little eaglet with fresh fish. So, again, the little one is smart – in fact, they have to be to survive. And that is what all of this is about – survival.
Samson and Gabby watched the skies from the branches for a long time. If you look off in the distance the report for Jacksonville showed the worst of the storm coming in late, around 11pm nest time. Still the dark skies must have worried these experienced parents. It is always good to remember that the birds can sense the changes in the weather coming as good as any satellite system.
Gabby is sleeping close to Legacy. It is nearly 11pm. You can hear the winds on the camera’s microphone but the local weather says it is clear. Excellent news.
The weather forecast for these three nests calls for slightly cooler temperatures with sun or partly cloudy skies for Friday the 19th. Let us hope that lots of fish are on the menu! I should also add, since some of you might be wondering – the nest in Fort Myers is also fine. No weather issues!
Thank you so much for joining me today. Before I go, let’s close with a scap of Bonnie the Great Horned Owl. She is all fluffed up. What amazing plumage! She, once again, survived the snow and rain in Kansas. Her little ones still have their eyes closed but they were restless and one stuck its head up. They are doing fine. Clyde is a fantastic provider and the mice were coming to the nest despite the inclement weather!
Thank you to the Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg, Florida; Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey; Derek the Farmer, and the AEF and NEFL Eagle Cam for their streaming cameras. That is where I took my scraps.
Today is a bit of a catch up in Bird World. Lots of things are happening so hopefully you will enjoy some very funny moments, a bit of worry, and a celebration. Eggs are being laid all over North America including the nest at the Surrey Reserve part of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation in British Columbia. That happened on 24 February at 4:02 pm. More intruders everywhere. One of the Bald Eagles at the Hays Pittsburg nest was knocked off the nest by a Great Horned Owl on the 24th. This is the first time ever for such an attack at this nest. Sounds familiar? M15 and Harriet remain on full alert at night because of the GHOW in their Fort Myers, Florida territory.
The new mother and the recently hatched eaglet in the KNF nest in the central area of Louisiana seem to be gathering some momentum about feeding and eating. It is still not perfect with the eagle not understanding that it needs to feed its chick many small bites but, luckily the little one grabbed on to a big bite and ate it. Just ate it this morning as it had done yesterday. It was one of those hold your breath moments when you wished that piece of fish down that little one’s throat. That big piece was probably worth ten or more small ones. Yippee. The poor little thing needs its’ face wiped. I don’t think this mother would win a darts game, at least, not yet.
But notice. They now have the mechanics. Mom is sideways and the little one takes its beak at a ninety-degree angle. They are getting there.
It’s noon on the 26th and the little one ‘looks’ better. The mom has the size of the pieces of fish down (most of the time) but the chick, for some reason, doesn’t seem to get to open its beak wide and grab the fish yet.
It’s actually very frustrating watching. Meanwhile, Dad has come in to check on the pantry. It doesn’t take many bites to keep these tiny little ones going but they do need several pieces of fish many times a day. It’s not like E17 and E18 (below) that now have fewer but heartier meals a day during their rapid growth phase. Fingers crossed! It has to be difficult being a first time mom. Humans, normally, have lots of help but this young eagle is all on her own. Most of the time it works out but this year, at least one first time Eagle mom, didn’t know what to do when her day old chick got out of the egg cup while she was incubating the second egg. And it all turned quickly into a tragedy as she picked the baby up with her beak. What option did she have? None other than to wait and it was during the Polar Vortex and there was snow on the ground. The father who was standing at the end of the nest was no help. Sadly, the second egg proved to be not viable for the Berry College Eagle Nest. We will hope this young mother does better next year. Or maybe she will try for a second clutch this year!
Elsewhere, other Bald Eagle parents are filling their eaglets up to the top – making sure that they go into a food coma and don’t fight with one another.
At the SWFL nest, E18 looked like he is going to try out for the role of Hulk in the next movie. Honestly, I have never seen a crop this full. That looks very uncomfortable but he doesn’t seem to mind. These two are literally growing in their sleep and almost overnight, many of E18’s feathers turned dark.
It is hot in Fort Meyers, 28 degrees C and everyone is trying to stay cool. Harriet tries to be a mombrella but E17 and E18 are getting really big.
The Little one on the NEFL Bald Eagle nest is really starting to change. Notice those dark feathers coming in. But the sweetest thing is that this little one has finally found a good use for ‘that’ egg.
‘Little’ N24 looks so tiny sitting on that egg but he is too big to fit under Gabby anymore. He cuddles up close trying to stay in the shade as the temperatures begin to rise in St Augustine. Samson has filled the pantry and both him and Gabby have kept any intruders away from the nest.
As the sun sets, Samson gets into position to keep watch during the night.
The old Warrior Eagle with the beak and leg injury is doing really well and will have another round of Chelation Therapy. Then he will go outside in the aviary spaces to build up his muscles. The vets and rehabbers will then be able to better assess his future. What an amazing recovery.
More and more eagles are winding up in care because of lead poisoning. It is not just an issue for the US but also for Canada. This week alone five Bald Eagles have been treated in British Columbia for various levels of toxic lead poisoning. Wherever there is fishing and hunting this will be a problem until the type of fishing and hunting equipment is changed. That should mean that every state and province should outlaw the use of lead.
Solly, the Port Lincoln Osprey, looked like she was heading home to Port Lincoln and the barge but now seems to have changed her mind. She roosts in Eba Anchorage at night flying to Perlubie Wednesday to fish and today, at 159 days old, she has gone farther north to Haslam. There are a lot of people wishing Solly would return to the natal nest so they could have a look at her, she doesn’t seem to be interested. Let us all hope that she finds an amazing territory of her own with lots of fish and she prospers, finds a mate, and is that awesome female Osprey mom that we know she can be.
And here is a peek at the hatchling at the Duke Farms nest in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Remember that there were three eggs. One laid on Jan 17, the second on the 20th, and the third on the 23rd. If you have followed my postings, you will also remember that this poor eagle was encrusted in snow for many more days than some of the other nests. The dad came and pecked away at the snow so that the female could get out one time.
Normally Bald Eagle eggs take 35-37 days to hatch. This is day 40. There is some speculation that egg 3 could be the only viable one.
And here is the full reveal below. Great mom. That shell is cleaned up and the little one looks really healthy!
The parents of the Royal Cam chick, LGL (Lime Green Lime) and LGK (Lime Green Black), showed up at the natal nest to feed the little one. The chick which weights over 2.2 kilos is now in the ‘pre guard’ stage. This is when the parents leave the chick alone on the nest for short periods of time. They forage close and return to feed the baby. Gradually their time away will increase and it is anticipated that the two alternating will have a nice rhythm, one arriving and leaving and in a few days the other arrives, feeds, and leaves. This type of coordination doesn’t happen often. So it was a delight to see the three of them on the nest together at Taiaroa Head, NZ.
Thanks for joining me today as we catch up on some of the amazing birds we have been watching together. I look forward to you checking in again!
With the news of more Great Horned Owl attacks on Bald Eagle nests (post on that tomorrow), I wanted to stop and find something joyful to celebrate. Certainly the birds have brought so much joy to all of us. I hear from someone every day telling me what the streaming bird cams have meant to them and how they have begun to take an interest in the birds outside their windows. It is still difficult, in most places, to walk freely outside because of the pandemic. I really do appreciate those little notes that you send me. And I am also grateful for news of new nests. I will be bringing some news of those later this week. Birds have connected us all from the Canadian prairies where I am all the way south from me to a PhD student in Brazil, across the Atlantic and Europe to a lovely woman who cared for a raven for five months in Poland, to Australia, Europe, Asia, and back to North America. It really is hard to measure just how much being able to watch the daily activities of our feathered friends has added to our mental well being for more than a year. They have really kept a lot of us sane and grounded. I hope that the love and concern that you have for the birds now will continue to grow and enrich your life even more.
It is pretty hard to beat Samson and M15 for being great dads. The pantries are filled up with every type of prey that they can find, they are both great at incubating the eggs, and are there to see their new babies hatch. Lately I have had fun watching Samson trying to get N24 under him to brood while also incubating that egg that we all know will never hatch. He has been so delicate. Sometimes N24 seems to be brooding that egg that winds up all over the nest. It is almost like it is now an ornament that no one knows precisely what to do with. Eventually it will get broken and make its way down between the branches and leaves and become part of the nest.
Yesterday Samson seemed to pose for a photographer out of the frame with N24. I don’t think you could ask them to stand any better! N24 is sixteen days old today and already he has really accelerated in growth over the past week. Juvenile feathers are coming in and since he was five days old, Samson has had him crawling up to the pantry to be fed. A wonderfully strong little eaglet, N24 has been flapping its wings. I wonder how long it will be til he walks?
Look at how proud Samson is of his baby! I think this is my most favourite photograph ever of an eaglet with their parent. Even the lighting is perfect.
The Great Horned Owl has been causing disruptions over at the SWFL nest with Harriet and M15. M15 was knocked off of his branch into the nest and the owl almost pulled Harriet off the nest. These disruptions have happened on a daily basis causing worry for the eaglets’ safety.
I love the image below of Harriet standing over the eaglets in that most defiant pose daring that GHOW to mess with her babies!
I became acquainted with birds as a child. When I was a little girl, my father fed ‘the red birds’ in our back garden. They were actually a family of cardinals that had a nest in our Magnolia tree. Even though they were wild they knew to trust my dad and they would come and take nuts out of his hand. It was magical to watch. My maternal grandfather had been a rancher. He was the last person anyone would have thought would own a bird but he did. It was a little blue budgie bird named Jimmie. That bird was more special than anyone including me and my grandmother. It ate off the side of his plate at lunch and it pretty much had the run of the house. One day when my grandfather was away, Jimmie flew out the front door. My grandmother and I panicked. We wondered if we could buy another one and would my grandfather notice? Of course he would have noticed! Luckily for us, we left the screen door open and Jimmie flew back into the house after being out for a couple of hours. As a child I was taken to the Natural History Museum at the University of Oklahoma to go through the drawers of eggs and stuffed birds and there was always a stop on the way home to feed the ducks. It was not, however, until a very personal encounter with a female Sharp-Shinned Hawk in my own garden in January 2018 that my interest in the welfare of birds began to grow exponentially. I was less than a foot away from her, both of us were looking intently into one another’s eyes. That moment changed my life.
And that magical moment can happen for you, too. If it hasn’t, already.
This morning a pair of Red Tail Hawks, Big Red who is 18 years old and Arthur who will be five this year, are pondering what to do about their nest in Ithaca. The three Js sure made a mess of it hopping and flapping last year. Both of them have been in and out of the nest lately and today they were there together testing the nest bowl and looking around at all the nestorations needed. The time until Big Red lays her first egg is getting closer. We should be looking for that egg around the first day of spring. Gosh, time passes quickly.
Their nest is on a stadium light box on the grounds of Cornell University. In fact, the Cornell Ornithology Labs operate a number of streaming cameras including this one. There is also a very informed chat group that is often moderated by Laura Culley. She has owned falcons and hawks for almost thirty years. She knows so much. And this nest of Big Red and Arthur’s has already changed what we know about the life cycle and behaviour of these hawks.
Cornell operates a number of its own streaming cams and partners with other agencies. One of those is the New Zealand Department of Conservation. They both support the camera for the Royal Albatross at Taiaroa Head, NZ. This is a great camera to start watching right now. The chick is unnamed and we will be finding out the gender shortly. I am betting on a boy because right now, he is so big he has to be weighted in a laundry basket and his parents can no longer brood him. He is too big to be under them. The mother, LGL, left him alone for the first time the other day (this is called pre-guard stage) and a red banded non-breeding juvenile kind of roughed the little one up a bit. The juveniles are curious. They have been at sea for five or six years and are returning to find a mate. They haven’t seen little ones before. While it tears at your heart strings when you see these little albatross all alone, around the world there are thousands of others sitting on their nest waiting for their parents to return and feed them. Eventually they will make play nests around their natal nest and begin flapping those big wings of theirs to get their strength for fledging. Weigh ins are Tuesday mornings New Zealand time. On the Canadian prairies, this is Monday 2pm to around 6pm. The link to that streaming camera is:
In about a week to ten days, this little Royal Albatross will be nothing but a ball of fluff. They are so cute and so gentle. It is a very relaxing nest to watch. There is a FB group that brings up to date images and activities surrounding World Albatross Day which is 19 June. I will bring more information on that as it approaches. There are colouring contests for children, cake contests, and eventually, the name the chick contest later in the year. The Royal Cam chick will fledge around the middle of September.
There is joy in the Duke Farms Bald Eagle nest as the snow is finally melting. This eagle mom was encased in snow until recently. We are getting closer to hatch on this nest! There are three eggs under there. I hope there is a lot of prey and that these parents are good at tag team feeding. They are going to need all the coordination they can get!
And what a beautiful view from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nest. This is the nest of that cute little sub-adult male. The snow is disappearing there too making it easier to get prey.
I want to leave you with a big smile on your face. It just goes to show how these birds can just make our moods so much brighter. Look at these two below. That is E17 and E18. They both look like they could simply pop! Or perhaps they are thinking about trying out to be clowns with those big clown feet! How can you not love these two?
Take care everyone. Please feel free to let me know of your favourite nest or an experience that changed your life because of birds. I promise to respond. You can leave a comment or you can e-mail me. That e-mail is: email@example.com
Thank you to the AEF, the streaming cam at NEFL Eagle nest, SWFL and D. Pritchett Real Estate, Duke Farms, Cornell Ornithology Lab, NZ DOC, the MN DNR.
Everyone is talking about the Kakapo today because two of the 208 died. These events are always full of sadness.
Have you heard of Kakapo?
They live in New Zealand and they are parrots that cannot fly. Wings are only for balance and support. Some people think they look like an owl. In fact, they are nocturnal and only move around at night. Their plumage is a beautiful moss green with some yellow and black. Their feathers are very soft because they do not need them for flight. Their bill, legs, and feet are grey. Using those grey feet they run all over the ground and climb trees. They blend in perfectly to the forests of the small islands where they now live. These islands are designated nature reserves and only authorized personnel can go on them.
Before humans arrived on the shores of new Zealand, the forests were full of these amazing creatures. Many of the early settlers kept them as pets saying that they were as friendly as dogs. They are still friendly towards humans today. In the 1990s, only fifty existed. The predators of the adults were cats and stoats while rats were known to eat the eggs and the chicks. The New Zealand Department of Conservation undertook an amazing intervention in order to try and save the Kakapo. They literally gathered up the fifty that were alive and moved them to islands where there were no predators. In June there were 210. Sadly, today there are now 206. Every Kakapo has a radio transmitter whose battery needs to be changed at least once a year. They are carefully monitored and health checks are undertaken on a regular basis. Birds may receive supplemental feeds and eggs and chicks can be rescued and raised by hand. Because there are so few, the genetic diversity is extremely low and there is also a very low fertility rate. The Kakapo are managed on three islands and there is now managed mating using artificial insemination to help manage genetic loss. They are currently sequencing the genomes of all living kakapo to aid in their conservation. The females start breeding around five years but the males are not able to fertilize the eggs until they are about ten years old. They are said to only breed when the fruit of the Rimu trees bloom which is every 2-4 years. The males get off pretty easy. The females have to incubate the 1-4 eggs, feed themselves and their chicks, and also protect their nest and young. That is the reason that so many fell victim to cats and stoats in the past. They are strict vegetarians. Kakapo generally live to be ninety years old if they do not come to harm by predators or viruses.
They are so very cute. They love to hide from the Rangers when they come to change their transmitters but they also love their almond treats after!
If you would like to learn more about the Kakapo, this is a seven minute video that is quite good:
And if you are a teacher or you know someone who is and who might like to show their students this amazing non-flying parrot – that is so utterly sweet – head over to this site sponsored by the NZ Government:
That Great Horned Owl on the Bald Eagle nest near Kansas City is still there. The Bald Eagles have not evicted her. Poor thing. That snow is really packed around her. The flakes stopped coming down and while it has warmed up, it is still a frigid -4 F. Our owl (I was tempted to say little but they really are not little) is trying to sleep and keep those eggs warm. Her mate, Clyde (gosh that was my dad’s name- who would name their little son Clyde???????) is very good at bringing her prey during the night. Last mouse deposit was right before dawn broke this morning.
Bonnie took a break – less than two minutes off those eggs. Gosh she was fast! That got me to wondering how quickly that -5 temperature would impact those eggs.
It doesn’t look like any of the snow fell in over the eggs. I wondered if the warmth of Bonnie’s body would have made a bit of a crust??? Just a silly thought but, maybe.
The Bald Eagle sitting on the nest in Hillsborough, New Jersey at Duke Farms is getting some relief. The snow has stopped falling and is actually melting there. We can finally see the nest. Let’s hope she catches a break and doesn’t get hit by the system moving through on Wednesday. This poor mother has had snow for twice as long as anyone else with eggs underneath them. She should get some kind of endurance prize!
And there is some really good news on the nest of Gaby and Samson over at NEFL. Little E24 was having problems with its right eye. This morning it was completely closed again but later in the day it opened up. I could not see any discharge. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it just got a poke from some of that nest material. And give a hand to Samson who brought in five big fish. I wonder if he is expecting bad weather to set in?
Oh, just look. There is the little one’s tiny little foot close by its mom. How precious.
Samson can be my weatherman any day. He brought in such a big pile of fish earlier. Now you can hardly make out his silhouette as the rain pelts down at the nest near St. Augustine, Florida. There are also thunderstorms in the area but no tornadoes. Smart dad. That little one will be under its mother staying dry while she continues to incubate an egg that will never hatch.
It has been a beautiful day out at Big Bear. That snow and chilly winds are gone! How nice for Jackie and Shadow.
I am also very happy to report that there was so much food on the SWFL Eagle nest of Harriet and M15 that the bopping of 17 towards 18 was next to nothing today. In fact, I hope they are growing out of that behaviour. There is lots and lots of food. Indeed, hold on. Harriet even brought in some road kill today in the form of a grey tabby cat. So again, if you ever find yourself near someone who is saying eagles only eat fish, well they sure don’t on Harriet and M15’s nest. They are great opportunistic eagles. At the same time it is extremely worrying when the hawks, falcons and eagles land on the streets and highways to get the carrion and get hit themselves. It is also, of course, tragic when someone’s pet gets hit by a car.
And last, let’s check up on Solly to see what she is up to. To date Solly has re-written a lot of aspects of Osprey behaviour in Australia. That is fabulous news and supports putting satellite transmitters on birds for additional research and learning. Of course, the streaming cameras that I watch, like you, are invaluable as are the BOGs (Birders on the Ground).
Solly is 149 days old and she is still enjoying Eba Anchorage and flying over to Kiffin Island to find her dinner. Look at that seabird go!
And speaking of Ospreys, one of the Scottish Kieldner Ospreys Blue Y6, White EB’s youngest daughter, that hatched in 2016 was seen at Tanji Marsh Bird Reserve in The Gambia by bird guide, Fansu Bojang. This is just excellent news. You might recall that Avian Flu went through the Pelican population in Senegal and there was some worry for the UK Ospreys. This is just wonderful news! Last year was Blue Y6’s first year to raise chicks. She had two with her mate at a nest in Perthshire. Let’s hope she does it again this year.
There is lots of good news all around in the bird world. Even the Kakapo Recovery said that they are grateful for the growth in the numbers and with that also comes higher numbers of those dying.
The Ospreys will be making their way back to their nests across the UK and Europe soon. We wish them all safe travels. The hawks and falcons will be finding twigs for their nests and in a few weeks we will begin to welcome another group of baby eagles.
I am keeping a particularly close eye on that nest of Big Red and Arthur.
Stay safe and stay warm! Thank you for joining me today. See you tomorrow!
Thank you to the Kakapo Recovery, the AEF for the streaming cams at Big Bear and NEFL, the SWFL streaming cam and the D. Pritchett family, Derek the Farmer’s streaming cam, Port Lincoln Osprey for the tracking information on Solly, Duke Farms streaming cam, and Kielder Ospreys.
In the Gambia, there is a group of people who go to the beach several times during the day and cut the fishing line off the wildlife. It doesn’t just impact the birds – both land and sea – but also the beautiful animals that live in the sea and along the shore.
Below is a map showing you the location of the country, The Gambia. You will note that it is just south of Senegal. The Ospreys from the United Kingdom migrate to this area of Senegal and The Gambia for the winter.
It was not that long ago that Avian Flu killed over 350 sea birds in Senegal. It was tragic and many wondered how this would impact their favourite Ospreys from Wales and Scotland.
It seems that it is not only the Avian Flu that is the menace but also fishing equipment – nets, lines, hooks. It is wonderful that there are people who dedicate their life to going down to the beach and helping the sea birds and animals.
Updates on Everyone:
SWFL Eagle Cam at Fort Myers: Harriet and M15, E17 and E18. E17 continues to be a little brat. Sometimes I just want to put a small paper bag on that eaglet for a few minutes. Little E18 managed to get some food by walking over to his mother after E17 was so full it passed out. Even then E18 did the snatch and grab. I am hoping that M15 will be on the nest this evening.
For now, the eaglets are hot!
These two still have crops but one of their parents is on watch while the other one is out fishing so they have a nice big meal at sunset to keep them full and quiet overnight.
NEFL Eagle Cam at St. Augustine: Samson and Gabrielle, E24 and unhatched/unviable egg
Oh, they are hot everywhere in Florida. Even the little one doesn’t need to be under its mother today. Sadly, Gabby still incubates that egg that is no longer viable. I don’t know how long it takes before the mothers give up on these eggs. But that little tiny E24 is sure a fluffy butterball. So cute.
Samson brought in a nice big fish for Gabby and E24 just a few minutes ago.
Samson has brought in some more fish. As the sun begins to get ready to set the little one, E24 is underneath Gabby keeping warm.
And speaking of Samson. The nest that we are looking at belongs to Gabby and Samson. Samson was born on this nest 8 years ago to Romeo and Juliet. Juliet was injured by an intruder and both her and Romeo disappeared. Their son now has their nest. Someone posted a picture of Samson on the nest with his mother, Juliet, today. He looked formidable back then. So happy he is on his parent’s nest!
Big Bear Eagle Cam, Big Bear California: Jackie, Shadow, and 2 eggs of second clutch
Shadow brought in a nice big fish for Jackie during the snow storm but hurrah – the snow and ice pellets have stopped. There is blue sky in the distance. He has now changed positions with her and he is incubating the eggs.
The Trio Love Nest, Fulton, Illinois: Starr, Valor I and II and we are awaiting eggs
The camera has been down and the weather has been extremely frigid in this area of the United States. It appears that the eagles are hunkered down somewhere else and not on the nest.
Duke Farms Eagle Nest, Hillsborough, NJ: Two adult eagles, three eggs
The snow has stopped and some of it on the nest is melting. We have three eggs under these tenacious beautiful birds.
Royal Albatross Cam, Taiaroa Head, NZ: Lime-Green-Lime and Lime-Green-Black and chick
Everything is fine down in New Zealand except — these parents simply cannot stay away from their chick. I just get used to one being on the nest and then, surprise, the other one returns from sea in twenty-four hours! The norm is about six or seven days during feeding periods. And if you think all birds are the same, they are not. I expected similar behaviour to the Royal Cam parents last year. OGK, the dad, was the light of little Pippa’s eyes (her Maori name is Atawhai). They would literally run to one another once she could walk. He would give her long feedings and sit next to her. The mother, on the other hand, would feed Pippa very quickly and leave. The two this year are, of course, very fond of one another preening and sky calling but they are both so devoted to this little one.
Port Lincoln Osprey: Solly
As you know, we can track Solly by her satellite transmitter. She was up at Streaky Bay yesterday (photos posted). Let us see if we can check in on her today.
Well, she has moved. Yesterday, Solly had been at Streaky Bay which is at the bottom of this map. Solly has continued to move north. She spent the night at Kiffin Island and is now at Eba Anchorage. No pictures yet but she is testing out all of the territory. Gosh, it is nice to have a tracker on these seabirds. In fact, for those of you that might just be joining us, Solly is breaking records for the Ospreys. She is now more than 220 kilometers away from her natal nest at Port Lincoln. She is 146 days old.
Let’s see where Eba Anchorage is.
She travelled about 18 kilometres (11.1 miles) heading north. And Solly continues to break records. I wonder if she will go all the way to Perth?
On the map below she is in the upper left quadrant past Streaky Bay.
Everyone that we are able to see on our ‘bird’ checklist is fine despite the either frigid cold and snow or the heat in Florida. And the tracking information is going to become invaluable. We are already learning so much from Solly. Now with the two trackers on the Royal Cam Albatross, LGL and LGK, we will get some idea where they are fishing so close to Taiaroa Head.
Thank you for joining us at the end of the week. Take care. Stay safe. We look forward to you joining us tomorrow.
Thank you to the Eagle cams at NEFL, SWFL including D Pritchett Real Estate, Cornell Ornithology Lab and the NZ DOC, Duke Farms, The Trio Love Nest Cam, and Big Bear Eagle Cam. Their streaming footage provides me with my screen captures.
The pandemic and the onset of winter and, now, the Polar Vortex, mean that more often than not, my friends are tucked up under an old quilt or duvet, sipping hot tea, and reading. It is a favourite pastime of Canadians in the winter! And a lovely one at that. It is so nice to find articles in the strangest of places remarking on how we have all come to love books in the past year and have supported small book sellers. Many of my friends order an armful of books each week. Sadly, our libraries have been closed. It has encouraged me to seek out small publishers and second hand shops.
A nice surprise arrived in the post today. It is a book I ordered several weeks ago from an on line shop that specializes in used book. The book is called On the Wing. To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon by Alan Tennant. I haven’t finished my last book but I was tempted to peek inside. Gosh. That first page got me really excited. Let me quote some of the lines: “With no companion, guided only by the ancestral memory she carried within, our little hawk was staking her life. Nothing like the abstract idea of migration that I’d imagined, it was humbling even to be a spectator to the mortal intensity of what the tiny, determined speck below was doing”. “No one would ever know what she thought, but it was clear as we watched, something had swirled to life within this falcon, becoming the driving force of her entire being”. Tennant was in a Cessna Skyhawk, 2000 ft in the air, following a female peregrine falcon, with a tracker glued to her tail feathers, from Padre Island to the Arctic. Oh, I can’t wait to join him on this journey!
And, speaking of migration, before it happens, there is the Great Bird Count from 12-15 of February. And everyone can take part from toddlers to seniors, experts to backyard birders. It is fun and it is free. You just need your eyes (OK, mine aren’t so good because of glaucoma but I can still spot those feathered creatures luring around), a good memory or a note pad and pencil, and a computer to submit your findings.
Just imagine everyone around the world looking out their windows from Friday to Monday counting the birds that they see. You can spend from fifteen minutes each day to as long as you wish. Everyone goes to birdcount.org and reports their counts. Then researchers at places like the Audubon Society, the Cornell Ornithology Lab, etc will create a giant map of where all the birds are. Bird counts happen several times a year. All those counts reveal how recent weather patterns impact the birds and their movements. I hope you will join in the fun!
And now for some updates on some of our favourite birds.
First up is the NorthEast Florida Eagle cam nest near St. Augustine. E24 is filling itself up with nice big bites of fish for such a little one. Samson brought in several nice big fish today and stocked up the pantry. No worries for Gabby if she is hungry or E24. Not a worry in the world. One of the things I love is seeing the dad fill that fridge up good. It looks like armadillo could be on the menu tomorrow. If only Gabby had a fridge and some non-harmful insecticide spray. There are so many mosquitoes there.
Look at that little one, so fluffy and round.
Well, the second wee one has a problem. A half of the shell from the first hatch did not get out of the nest fast enough and it slipped itself right over the other egg. So, it is making it much more difficult for E25 to hatch. That is why it looked like the chick had pecked all the way around the middle. It was an illusion. Gabby is looking down at a new hole the one inside is making as she tucks E24 in for a nap.
This happens often. Sometimes it takes so long for the little one to hatch that the first born is just so much older and bigger and the second born doesn’t survive. The older one totally dominates everything.
You can see how the shell got slipped over. It looks like the little one inside cracked this egg all around but it didn’t. Look carefully. There is a pip on the left end toward the bottom corner of the picture. Let’s hope it works and gets out of there soon.
I wonder if it is hotter in Fort Myers where E17 and E18 are growing up. The eagles in NEFL just don’t seem to be panting as much today as Harriet, M15 and the twins are.
Just look. You would think they are the best of buddies sharing a joke. Born within two hours of one another, they are twins. But that doesn’t mean, as we all know, that there isn’t fierce competition when it comes to food.
They both had a great big breakfast this morning. Just look at that crop. E17, the oldest, can’t even see its feet.
And here’s E18, just as stuffed. Sometimes I just want to poke one of those crops to see how they feel.
As the day progressed and the temperature rose, the little eaglets searched for any shade they could find around the nest.
It wasn’t long until Mom Harriet flew in and rescued her babies from the scorching Florida sun. She is like a ‘mumbrella’.
Right around tea time, Dad comes in with a snack for the youngsters.
In the book I am reading, Late Migrations. A Natural History of Love and Loss, the author Margaret Renkl says: “The cycle of life might as well be called the cycle of death: everything that lives will die, and everything that dies will be eaten. Bluebirds eat insects; snakes eat bluebirds; hawks eat snakes; owls eat hawks. That’s how wilderness works, and I know it. I was heartbroken anyway”. Renkl was referring to the wrens eating the bluebird eggs in the nest box on her porch. But today, for a snack, M15 found a fluffy little bunny. My friend, Michelle, always tells me that the bunny will become an eagle. It still makes me sad. The hawk that comes to our garden and I have an agreement. He can’t touch the rabbit that lives there or the little Downy Woodpecker. Sparrows are fair game.
M15 has once again made sure that the eaglets are too full for E17 to cause any mischief to her little brother, E18.
But the day is not over. It is 6pm on the nest and the twins are getting fed the rest of the rabbit. E18 has watched and learned well. He is now the master of what we call ‘snatch and grab’. I have seen him do this several times today. Pretends he is not interested, parent offers, he rushes and grabs. It turns out the eat far faster but, hey, whatever works. It is hard to see but both have huge crops and will sleep like babies the rest of the night. Great work Harriet and M15. Gotta’ love this family. If only every eaglet were as lucky (or every child) to have such great parents.
I have not checked into the Captiva Nest on Sanibel Island for several days. The last time there was an intruder and after reading about Romeo and Juliet or the Trio, I just couldn’t stand another heart break. I call the Captiva nest “the sadness”. It has not always been this way, just this year. This is where Peace and Hope, the beautiful eaglets of Connie and Joe died from rodenticide poisoning. You will remember how remorseful the parents were. And then there was an intruder. But, things happen in an instant on these nests and to my shock, when I clicked on the camera for the Captiva Nest today, there was Connie wrestling with a small shark! Seriously, a shark. It actually bit her beak. You can see the blood. (Just a note, it wasn’t blood from the shark). She fought with that thing and didn’t let it get the best of her. And for all the bother, she had a massive lunch. That shark is now an eagle – a fish with feathers. The bleeding was reported to CROW and the vets watched the footage and noted that the blood had stopped. No need for an intervention. Yeah. A quiet little yeah. I honestly don’t know how you would try and help a full grown eagle if it didn’t want to be helped.
Connie must have been very proud of herself. You can see the water in the distance and that shark was alive when she landed on the nest with it. These female eagles really do impress me!
Joe came in to check and see if everything was alright. And Connie allowed him to share her fish when she was finished – but not before!!!!!!!!!!
This is an image from the other camera monitoring this nest. Looks like a small shark to me.
Over in Hillsborough, New Jersey, the Eagles at Duke Farm are experiencing very different weather from Florida. It is currently 1 degree C. or 34 degrees F. at the nest. Over the next couple of days the temperature will rise to 2 or 3 C and that snow should melt. And then, wham. Just about the time you think it is over for this nest, the snow comes back heavy on Saturday and Sunday.
I promised an update. It is nearing 9:30 pm on 9 February. Across North America the birds are trying to sleep. In Australia, they have been awake for a few hours.
Tomorrow we will check on the Royal Albatross and see if Gabby has one eaglet or two.
Sleep well everyone. Take care of yourselves and don’t get out in this extreme weather unless it is absolutely essential. Check out the site to put in the birds you count in a few days – just so you know where to go. It is such a joy to share my love of these beautiful creatures with you.
Thank you to the NEFL eagle cam, the SWFL cam and D. Pritchett Farms and Real Estate, Captiva eagle cam, and Duke Farms eagle cam for their streaming cameras. This is where I get my screen shots for you.
It is nearly -40 now and will be in the -50s with the wind chill in parts of Canada for a few more days but, when I looked at the map the deep blue desperately cold area dips way, way south. It includes the Bald Eagle nests on the Mississippi River near Fulton, Illinois, the Bald Eagle Nest in New Jersey, and it will touch on the nest of my favourite Red Tail Hawk family in Ithaca, New York. Thankfully, Big Red has not laid any eggs yet. Six more weeks to go! There is barely a spot that is not going to be well below normal. Perhaps the eagle nests in Florida have escaped this. Oh, I feel so sorry for all of the birds and the animals and despite the fact that I know they are extremely smart, I still worry about them. And, also, of course all the people including the many homeless in all of our communities.
In the past couple of days we have talked and seen those eggs cracking and new little fluff balls appearing. Instead of talking about it again, I am going to post a short little video by Dr. Christian Sasse. He lives in British Columbia. You might know of his magnificent photographs of the Bald Eagles around Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Oh, you can tell just looking at them that he loves those raptors. He made a very short video of the last moments of hatching. It is something that most of us will not ever be close enough to see. I do hope you enjoy it!
You already know that the first little eaglet has burst out of its shell at the Northeast Florida nest of Samson and Gabrielle. That other egg was really split but by 5pm 8 February (Monday), the eaglet had not hatched. You can see the crack in the egg and the grey fluff of the little one in the aerie. Gabrielle is working on the nest. You will see them venting and airing the nest. The adults may bring in greenery to help minimize insect issues. Nothing like having some rotting fish in a nest open to the sun and it is 30 degrees C. Can you imagine what that smells like? Whew.
Gabby’s little one, whose fluffy head you can see next to the egg of its sib, is very strong. It is standing up and eating great big bites of fish.
Awwwwwww. Cuteness! I am so happy for Gabby and Samson. This is their second try this season. They, too, were the victim of a raven grab when Gabby needed to leave the nest and Samson wasn’t around. He is being super diligent this time!
The second egg is not showing any big changes to me. It is possible that it is not viable. There is a huge problem coming for the eagles. After 1970 when they were all but wiped out, there are now so many that there are not enough trees for them to nest in. That is the biggest reason we are seeing intruders in nests. I wonder if they will adapt to sharing like the Trio?
Are you familiar with the word ‘carion’. No, I am not talking about a video game or a wood wind quartet, carion as in ‘road kill’. I joked with you yesterday but, in fact, I guess it isn’t a joke. People who love raptors talk about dead animals. And that brings me to the picture below. That is M15, the father of E17 (the little terror) and E18 (the sweet cutie) of the Southwest Florida Eagle nest on the property of the Pritchett Family.
I recall, not that long ago, having a discussion with someone about prey. They told me in no uncertain terms that eagles only eat fish. Now, let’s think about that. Didn’t we just see a bunny on the SWFL nest? and a possum up at Gabby and Samson’s place? The White-Bellied Sea Eagles even brought in a fox cub so that they could have a family feast with 25 and 26! That fox cub was carion, road kill. Oh, and Dad even brought in a turtle last year. The sea eaglets had no idea what to do with it but Lady did. Must have been very tasty. She did not offer Dad a single bite. The live streaming cams are certainly changing what we know about all of the birds. Things that everyone believed are being tested. Remember Solly from yesterday’s posting? Remember she flew inland and was 200 kilometres away from her nest. She is breaking records and we are learning something every day. Just like we do on the eagle nests.
Today, M15 has found ‘something’. The image is too grainy and he was way too far away for the cam operator to focus. But he fought with ‘it’ for awhile. At one time I really thought it was another large dark bird. It is definitely too big to get up to the nest whole. Maybe tomorrow M15 or Harriet will be able to rip off a piece of it so that we can see what they have found. One year Harriet brought an Anhinga into the nest. They are large birds with long sharp beaks that stab fish underwater. They are sometimes called the devil bird. I don’t think that is what M15 has but, who knows?
Harriet caught a fish in the morning. Between her and the eaglets, it didn’t last long. Not a flake left! It was a really not day and that fish gave the little ones much needed hydration.
But look where E18 got himself. At first I just held my breath thinking he would get his leg caught and would not be able to get out. Or he was going to fall out of that nest. But this was a great move. 18 has the perfect location to be fed without any bother from 17. There is even a pokey stick between them.
I would just as soon they didn’t try to get up on the rim of the nest though. It is pretty nerve wrecking watching.
When Harriet finished, they both passed out in food comas. Keep them full and happy.
A great close up. Looks like their eyes are all healed without any relapses. Fantastic! And the egg tooth seems to be gone now.
Is it possible for a raptor’s talons to be cute?
Ah, and they are so sweet when they are sleeping. Best buddies. Makes my heart melt.
What a great way to close the blog today with this cuddle puddle!
Stay inside if you are in the area of the Polar Vortex. Call for help if you need it. Which reminds me. Keep your phone charged! I will check in on the nests in the area of the cold later today and give you a short update.
Thank you for dropping by. It is so wonderful to know there are so many people who love birds.
And thank you to the NEFL Eagle Cam and the SWFL Eagle Cam and D. Pritchett family for the streaming cameras where I took my scaps.
Before I get to the main topic of today, I want to bring you an update on E17 and 18. You might have been wondering whether or not these little cutie pies would be leaving the clinic and going home to Harriet and M15 today. Sadly, it looks like the answer is no. It is no surprise that both of them are eating well. At today’s weight in and vet check, E17 was 445 grams and E18 was 340 grams. Oh, they sure are growing!
One thing that has happened is that E17 is showing aggression towards E18 during the feeding times yesterday, 3 February. This is about resources and is hardwired into raptors despite the presence of a full pantry from mom and dad. The staff of CROW can separate them but when they are returned to the nest the aggression will continue in the form of E17 bonking and E18 lowering its head in submission. This is natural behaviour. Do I like it? No. What I have observed is that the one being picked on gets really smart and sneaking in terms of getting its fair share. Old timers who have watched eagles for years tell me just to settle down, quit worrying, and ride it out. In the case of these two all will be well.
Harriet cannot separate them at the nest but CROW did. E17 is having a time out from bopping E18! Look at it having to sit in the corner.
Oh, gosh, these two are soooooooo cute.
And here is the photo from this morning. They are changing colour right before our eyes. And their eyes are improving. No discharge at all. Some irritation in E17’s right eye and in both eyes of E18. My goodness from those poor crusted babes that looked like their eyes came out of a horror movie, they are looking like really beautiful strong eagles today,
They might miss that lady with that veil that has been feeding them all that yummy food. Wonder if Harriet and M15 supply quail?
I am going to mention Laura Culley twice. Oh, I admire this woman and her wisdom about birds and, in particular, hawks and falcons. Indeed, I know much more about those smaller raptors than I do these big Bald Eagles. I know that a lot of us worry when we see the little ones bopping one another. It is funny for about a day or two and then we get afraid for the smaller one. This is what Laura tells me about worrying and I want to share it with you. “Worrying is creating an outcome in our minds that hasn’t happened yet. Soar above it all and look at the big picture.” That has helped me in other times, too, if I can remember it. Maybe it can help you, too, or someone you know.
Culley also explained to me the difference in the two terms, formel and tercel. When we talk about raptors, the formel refers to the female. The tercel is the male. ‘Tercel’ comes from the word third because it is believed that the third egg was always the male. In this instance, it is the second egg. In the case of our Bald Eagles as well as the hawks and raptors that I love, the female is the largest. This is called Reverse sex-size diamorphism. It seems that we are already seeing this in E17 and E18, perhaps.
And this whole thing about dominance and territory leads perfectly into this unusual story.
How many adult Bald Eagles do you see sitting on branches of the same tree? If you said three, you are right. These three eagles have a nest in a tree on the Mississippi River near Fulton, Illinois. Just from reading about E17 and E18 we know that even eaglets fight for dominance and for food. And that is what makes this nest so special. There are two males and a female and, apparently, they are an Internet sensation.
It all began in 2012, nine years ago. Valor 1 (one of the males) was mated with a female named Hope. They had a nest along the Mississippi River. But Valor I was anything but a good dad and mate. He was completely irresponsible in taking care of the eaglets when it was his turn. Hope incubated the eggs almost entirely by herself. Valor 1 did not bring food to her nor did he appear to relieve her of her duties. He was a dead beat eagle dad. There is no other way to say it. Hope had to stay on the nest almost the entire time. But she had to get food and take breaks. Sometimes Valor 1 would incubate them but only for about ten minutes before he got bored and left. This is starting to sound like what happened to Daisy the Duck, right? The winter along the Mississippi was very cold and none of the rangers believed that the eggs would hatch. To the surprise of everyone, they did! Hope had to leave the little eaglets to get food for the three of them. Valor 1 did not help at all. Just like Daisy, Hope had to get off the nest to go to the bathroom and to get food for both her and her babies. Sadly, when they were four days old, while Hope was away both eaglets fell off the nest and died.
Next breeding season, in 2013, Hope wasn’t having anything to do with Valor I. A new male appeared despite Valor 1 hanging about the nest continually. Hope and her new mate fledged two eaglets in 2013 and 2014. Yeah for this great mom! Interestingly, in 2015, Hope mates with both males and that year, another two eaglets fledged. The following year, in 2016, Hope again mates with the two males who are now named Valor I and Valor II. All that is known is that three eggs hatched. The monitoring camera broke down and the rangers cannot say for sure what happened on the nest after hatch. But something magical happened that year. Valor I was seen helping with more of the nest building. He incubated the eggs and he helped provide food. In other words, he grew up! Maybe it was by watching what Valor II was doing?
The images below show the three Bald Eagles sharing nest renovation duties in November, 2017.
In 2017, the three assumed all duties equally. They replenished nest material, incubated the eggs, brought in food for one another, protected the nest, and fed and took care of the two eaglets that were born. On March 24, the nest was attacked by two intruders, both Bald Eagles. Hope fought them off as best she could but she was fatally injured. Her body was never found, Valor I and II protected the eaglets and remained unharmed. And, to the shock of all, Valor I and II took on shared ‘eaglehood’. They took turns keeping the eaglets warm and safe, they brought food and feed the little ones, and they guarded the nest. Indeed, they did all that and fought off continued attacks by the two intruders throughout April and into May. Both of the eaglets fledged on May 30. Isn’t that amazing? Oh, I wish Daisy had help like this.
In the image below, one of the Valors (on the right) is defending the nest from one of the intruders on 4 April. You can see the grey eaglets on the nest just behind the parent. Attacks like these continue for the entire month. Most believe that the two intruders wanted to take over the nest. Bit Valor I and II did not let that happen nor did they allow any harm to come to the little ones. What a team.
That fall a young female appeared. In September, Rangers noticed that she was collecting material for the nest. She mated with both Valor I and II and the trio shared all responsibilities for the nest and the eaglets. Two eaglets hatched in 2018. One is known to have died when it was about a month old. The other one fledged early but was seen by the rangers in the area and it was doing just fine. The rangers named the female Starr.
The two images below show Star and both Valors working on the nest in November, 2017.
In 2019, the three raised three healthy eaglets that fledged.
In 2020, two eggs were laid on 14 and 17 February. They hatched on 23 and 24 March fledging on 10 and 16 of June. Everything was wonderful until Derecho entirely destroyed the beautiful old nest in August. A derecho is a long straight line windstorm that can have speeds up to that of a hurricane. Everything was torn apart. But that did not phase the three Bald Eagles. They started to rebuild their nest across the Mississippi River from the ole one. The trio can only be seen from a distance until a new streaming camera can be installed.
In the image below, Starr is on one of the branches along with one of the Valors. It is 3 February 2020. This will be their third breeding season together. The other Valor is bringing in sticks to help continue to build the new nest. Note how shallow the nest is now. Each year they will add more and more twigs and branches and soon it will be as large as the old nest.
This week Starr has been observed mating with both of the Valors. The three appear to have a fantastic relationship that is nothing short of miraculous in terms of Bald Eagle behaviour.
Every duty that is associated with a Bald Eagle nest from nestorations, to catching food, incubating eggs, feeding nestlings, and teaching eaglets is now shared equally. The rangers have not observed any animosity. This is such a rare occurrence that many are baffled at why it has worked so well. What they do know is that having three to share the duties has ensured up to this season anyway, that every breeding season has fledged healthy juvenile Bald Eagles. It certainly underscores that old saying, ‘If we just work together, we can do anything’.
I will bring you updates on this nest as more news is available. For now, the threesome continues to mate and bring sticks to the new nest. E17 and E18 are gaining weight, eating well, and their eyes are improving. I was sure hoping they would be home Friday (the 5th) but now think it will be Saturday. Oh, gosh. Harriet and M15 will hear their little peeps and be so excited.
Take care everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today. Please stay safe and well.