Sunday in Bird World

The news on Tiny Tot is not so good. The last time he had a good feed was 9pm the 16th. Tiny Tot ate off bones yesterday and despite opportunities to feed him today, Diane gave him a piece of fish skin. Then she fed him 9 bites of fish and could have continued but stretched her neck to feed one of the big ones when they were full and not wanting fish. It does not bode well for our little one. Tiny Tot has not given up and he reminds me so much of WBSE 26 who was determined to be a normal sea eagle.

Diane feeds Tiny Tot 9 bites. 18 April 2021

At the Dyfi Nest in Wales, Idris and Telyn welcomed their third egg at 7:05 am this morning.

Three eggs for one of Wale’s favourite Osprey couples. 18 April 2021

It is still a lonely nest up at Loch Arkaig. Louis is waiting for Aila. Will she return? There remains some hope because KR3 (male) returned to Balgavies Loch yesterday so birds are still returning from Africa.

There were, however, two Ospreys on the Loch Arkaig nest in the very early morning. Not quite sure what is going on. Not Aila. A pair looking for a nest???

The little eyasses of Annie and Grinnell at the University of California campus at Berkeley are adorable. Both healthy and doing well. Two more to come. Grinnell will make sure that all are fed and plump! No worries on this nest. Gosh, I love falcons and hawks.

The two osplets over on the Savannah Osprey Nest are doing great, too. After so much issues with the third, believe it or not I am hopeful that this mother will have only two hatch with two healthy fledges!

Dylan has been delivering nice trout to Blue 5F Seren on Clywedog. Doing a hand off right at sunset on incubation duties. That first egg in the nest was laid on 16 April. We should be expecting the second tomorrow!

Kielder 1A with White YA and Mrs YA, an unringed female, laid their third egg today.

@ Forestry England. 18 April 2021. Kielder 1A Nest

So the United Kingdom Osprey Nests with three eggs currently are: Dyfi, Foulshaw Moss, Glaslyn, Kielder 1A, Loch of the Lowes, and Rutland Mantou.

Over in Taiwan at the Black Kite Nest, the eldest hatch, Pudding, fledged yesterday, 17 April. Pudding will return to the nest for about a month to eat or until their hunting skills are well established. In the image below, Pudding is coming down from the branch on the left while Brulee is being fed by mom.

Pudding fledged on 17 April 2021 and is joining mom and Brulee for lunch. 18 April 2021

We woke to a morning snow on the Canadian prairies. The birds are calling and there are new visitors to the garden, a few Brown Thrashers. Take care everyone. Thank you for joining me. Send the warmest of wishes to Tiny Tot. He is a rack of bones and has such a will to live. In his short life, he has now missed almost 13 days of food where the others have stuffed themselves.

Thank you to the following nests and their streaming cams and sponsors. This is where I get my screen shots, Taiwan Black Kite Camera, Achieva Credit Union Osprey, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Woodland Trust, Post Code Lottery, Cornell Bird Labs and Savannah Osprey, Friends of Loch Arkaig, and Clywedog.

Feature image is from the Taiwan Black Kite Streaming Camera.

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.

The Black Kites of Taiwan

Every day the stories of raptors being injured or killed because of lead in fishing and hunting equipment or rat poisons lands on my desk. Each wildlife rehabilitation clinic in Canada and the United States has story after story of very ill or dying raptors, hundreds at each clinic. Imagine. The United States Department of Fish and Wildlife Services keeps records of the reported deaths. That is, however, just the tip of the so-called iceberg. Raptors in urban centres, such as New York City disappear – one day they are taking care of eyases and the next day they are gone. Carcasses are found on the roofs of buildings, on the streets where someone picks them up and places them in the garbage, or in light wells. The problem of rodenticide or lead poisoning is not limited to North America. It is a global problem that is often extremely complex.

“rural taiwan 1” by magilla 03 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In Taiwan, the Black Kites were disappearing. Due the efforts of academics and students from Taiwan’s Pingtung University of Science and Technology, conservation groups such as the Keelung Wild Bird Society, as well as individuals such as Shen Chen-Chung, the population of Black Kites on this densely populated island are now returning.

““城市獵人: 麻鷹(黑鳶) Urban Hunter: Black Kite (Milvus migrans)” / 自然 Nature / SML.20130509.7D.41656” by See-ming Lee (SML) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Black kites are medium-sized raptors but with a wingspan of a Western Osprey, 150 cm or 5 feet. Adults weigh on average 550 grams or 1.2 pounds. They are 47 to 60 cm long (or 18.5 to 24 inches). These dark coloured birds have lighter plumage on their head and neck. Their flight feathers are black with some cross bars while the body is rather striated. They have a yellow cere and gape; their bill is totally black. Their legs are yellow with black talons. The females are, as in other raptors, larger than the males. Like Red Tail Hawks, the Black Kite lives to soar, rising high on the thermals in the air.

In the image below you can see the gape and the cere that are yellow above the black beak.

“Black Kite {Milvus migrans}” by – Ariful H Bhuiyan – is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Black kites breed once a year. The average clutch is two to three eggs but as few as one and as many as five eggs have been seen. Incubation of eggs to hatching is twenty-eight to thirty-two days. Days to fledging is approximately forty-two to fifty-six.

Black Kites are opportunistic feeders. In Taiwan, they eat a lot of grasshoppers, lizards, and snakes as well as rats, chickens, and carrion. They are scavengers and often take food from people eating at restaurants or having picnics. They are very susceptible to pesticides and it was pesticides that were killing them.

In order to combat the problem of the Black Kite deaths and to try and rebuild the populations of these much admired raptors, citizen birding groups worked with the Raptor Research Group of Taiwan. They set up a FB group to generate observations of poisonings of the Black Kite. They collated those results. One of the things that they discovered is that most of the Black Kite deaths took place near farms were rice and adzuki beans were grown as well as airports. The dead birds were collected for testing. The birds tested positive for Carbofuran poisoning. Carbofuran is one of the most toxic pesticides used to kill insects in potato, soybean, and corn crops. It is sprayed on the fields to kill insects which, in turn, were eaten by the Black Kites. The birds also had residues of SGAR brodifacoum and SGARs bromodialone and flocoumafen in their bodies. Each of these is an anti-coagulant meaning that the blood will not clot. The poisons are put out to kill rats but the rats do not die instantly. They begin to have internal bleeding that makes them sluggish. As a result, they are easy prey for the raptors who suffer a very painful secondary death.

Because of the efforts of the students, academics, and citizen birders, the Taiwanese government ended the use of Carbofuran in 2015. There are still rodenticides available to local farmers but their potency has been quite diluted, only 3%. The government has also set about to educate farmers on the deaths of birds due to pesticides as well as new farming techniques leading to the growth and sales of environmentally friendly adzuki beans. As a result, the number of Black Kite nests are growing from less than 300 to 709 in 2020.

At the same time that the government was educating the farmers, a film, Fly, Kite, Fly was released in 2015 detailing the two decades that Shen Chen-Chung spent documenting the Black Kite and its demise and return. Every effort, it is hoped, will improve the lives of the beloved birds.

The film documents the two decades that Shen Chen-chung documented the Black Kite in Taiwan. it was released in Canada in 2016.

The image below shows a female Black Kite feeding her two chicks. The nest is in a hillside cemetery in Taiwan. The eldest chick hatched on 3 March with the youngest believed to have hatched on 6 March. The chicks were not even two weeks old when a fire ravished the cemetery below their nest. The cameras were burned and no one knew the fate of the two chicks in the nest. There was nothing for anyone to do but wait to see if the chicks survived and, if so, to see if the parents would return to the nest to care for them. When the fire cooled, late the following day, the chicks were discovered alive. And both of their parents were feeding them! Because they survived the fire, the chicks were named Pudding and Brulee after the popular French flaming dessert, Creme Brulee. The mother is Blanche because she brought many white flowers to the nest and the male is Brownie for the colour of their plumage.

The nest is covered with some ash making it appear white and powdery.

Black kite female, Blanca, feeds her two chicks, Cream and Brulee. 30 March 2021.

If you would like to watch this nest, here is the link:

The efforts of these groups and individuals are to be applauded and copied. It is time that North American banned the use of lead in both hunting and fishing equipment and rodenticides. Taiwan has shown that it can be done.

Thank you so much for joining me today in Bird World. I hope that you will take a look at this family of beautiful Black Kites.

Thank you to Black Kite Nest Cam Live in Taiwan. That is where I took my scaps. Information on the citizen efforts comes from several articles in The Taiwan Times.

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.