Starting off to be a great day in Bird World

Looking out onto the garden in the morning is always a delight, even when it feels like rain or snow is coming. The sky is a white-grey. The trunks and branches of the trees are all manner of brown except for the Flame Willow which is the most striking orange-red. Our forecast is for three days of snow starting Monday. They are mostly wrong. Fingers crossed.

The Grackles are building their nest and the Starlings seem to have taken over the feeders while the Dark-eyed Junco are dancing around on the outdoor carpet finding any little seed they can. How many grains do they need to keep up their energetic activity?

“Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)” by Becky Matsubara is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“European Starling” by Becky Matsubara is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For the past four years, the European Starlings and the Dark-eyed Juncos arrive in the garden in early April. This year they came in mid-March. The Starlings are known to chase the sparrows away from the feeders but, in my yard, they seem to prefer to forage around on the ground. It is the Grackle family that causes the most mischief but I adore them. They always arrive around the end of March and did the same this year. Two years ago they fledged a single chick. The extended family arrived to cheer it on. It was the most amazing moment. I am going to get an outdoor camera! There were seventeen of them gathered. The fledgling and its family all left together. Last year Mr Crow raided the nest and ate the new fluffy chicks right after the Great Horned Owl threatened its nest. It is always a big saga during the summer. Things quiet down again in October when the visitors return to their winter vacation spots.

Speaking of migration, there is a lot of news. I have borrowed the image below from the Loch Arkaig FB page. I do hope they don’t mind. The credit goes to Hugh William Martin. The posting says it all. The much loved and long awaited male osprey who doesn’t hesitate to tandem feed with his mate, Aila, stole my heart last year for that single reason. He is an amazing dad and mate. Louis will fish day and night for his family and he will help Aila keep the kids sorted. No fears for JJ7 the third, the tercel, the smaller male named after Captain Sir Thomas Moore. You will remember Sir Tom, the war hero who, at nearly 100, pledged to walk 100 lengths of his garden to raise money for the National Health Service (NHS). His goal was 1000 GBP but his venture captured the hearts of people around the world and he made over 13 million GBP for the health services in Britain. Incredible. I hope that Captain’s (JJ7) life is as long and illustrious.

But for now we celebrate the arrival of Louis. There are more than 300 people at this moment watching an empty nest; Lewis is off on his roost or fishing. Hopefully, Aila will return shortly and we will be able to watch them again outfit their nest and get to raising a healthy happy family!

In other migration news, the book, A World on the Wing. The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Scott Widensaul arrived this morning in the mail. I cannot wait to grab some time and read it. Glancing I notice a lot of material on satellite transmitters.

The other day someone watching one of the nests that I check said they did not believe in banding or transmitters – the osprey are not endangered. I would argue, as they did at Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania in the 20th century, that you need to know when you are entering a decline to find out why. That is one reason that you want numbers. How do you really know if there are too many? Hawk Mountain is on the migratory bird route from the Eastern parts of Canada and the US and they literally count the birds. A research project coming out of the University of Montana at Missoula with Dr Erick Greene has to do with migration and the understanding of the perils the birds face. Dr Green is also interested in the mercury levels in the local osprey as well as foraging and how a colony of ospreys can help one another find more food versus a solitary osprey. Some of the Montana birds are wintering in southern Mexico. At Port Lincoln, Solly, the 2020 first hatched female, was fitted with a satellite transmitter and ringed. She has already changed what we know about osprey movements away from their nest in that area where Osprey are highly endangered. Lots to learn about the long and arduous trips that all the migratory birds make – not just Ospreys! The bird books are stacking up but I do hope to get to read them shortly!

There have been a few chuckles up at the Loch of the Lowes Osprey nest since Laddie (LM12) inadvertently gave a fish to an intruder sitting on the nest and not to his mate NC0 yesterday. To put it mildly, don’t get a female Osprey upset!!! Everyone wondered if NC0 would forgive Laddie – she kicked him off the nest. Everything looked as if it was going fine this morning. NC0 returned to the nest cup. Everything appeared to be rather serene. Is she preparing to lay an egg?

But, as this soap opera continues, no more had everything appeared to be settled than the intruder arrived and Laddie flew in to assist. Didn’t someone say that there are eight Osprey males in Scotland needing mates?! or is it also this prime piece of real estate?

A female osprey has returned from her migration and has, for the past couple of days, been hanging around the Llyn Brenig nest in north Wales. It is the home to male Blue HR7 and female Blue 24. Please note the wind turbines. Some chicks have been killed in them. Spotters are hoping to identify the bird by her tag. She is being very mysterious and teasing us and not revealing anything, not even one number!

This morning I decided not to get up and check on the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg- at least, not first thing. Some days my whole body seems to go on a food strike in support of Tiny. But I seem to have helpers these days -wonderful ones -and I was told right away that Tiny was eating after 10am. So coffee in hand, I decided to go back and check. I am happy to report that although he ate last, Tiny did get 88 bites (call me obsessive) between 7:46:22 and 7::52:27. Diane offered him the tail at the end and he mantled it. Great work Tiny Tot!

Here he is with fish flakes around his mouth at 7:50 having a private feed:

And here is Tiny mantling the fish tail that Diane gave him:

Tiny had a crop, in the image above, at 8:01. He dropped that crop prior to 9:30. Note: Dropping food from the crop sends it to the stomach. It is like a holding and processing tank. At 9:40:39 a second fish was delivered to the nest. At 10:04:20 Tiny is fed. There is a lot of skin but Diane is also finding flakes of fish. Tiny had 97 bites. Diane offered him the tail. At 10:16, Tiny had a crop again. In the scheme of things anyone watching would realize that the amount of food to fill Tiny is insignificant in the face of what the two older siblings eat.

Someone asked if Tiny would catch up in size. That is an interesting question. I have not gone through all my notes but it appears that from 12 March to now, Tiny missed seven (7) complete days of food. And we know that he has not eaten nearly the amount of fish as the others on the other days. A real reveal would be to compare meals and length of feeding times since we cannot weigh the food. Still, skin or not, I was glad that Tiny was rewarded by 97 bites on that second feeding. It is nearing 4pm on the nest. Hopefully two more fish will come in before dark – two more fish that are large enough for all.

Diane trying to provide shade on a hot 26 degree C day in St Pete’s.

The three siblings on the Achieva Osprey nest. From left to write 1, Tiny Tot, and 2. Everyone hopes that any intruders that may be in the area will leave so that Diane can go fishing, too. We wait and hope. It is all anyone can do.

I want to leave you some close up images of Iris, the world’s oldest osprey. She returned from her long migration to Missoula, Montana yesterday. It wasn’t long til she was over in the river and had caught herself a whopper. Apparently, Louis has been around for a visit today. Louis became Iris’s mate when her faithful companion Stanley died. Louis has been around for 4 years with no breeding success. He has another family so food and nest security are all left to Iris who also has to lay the eggs, incubate, and eat. Last year a raven stole her egg. Prior to Louia, Iris has raised, it is believed, anywhere from 30-40 chicks to fledge. All are hoping for a devoted partner. Hopefully she will kick Louis from the nest for good!

And a quick peak at the two Great Horned Owlets in the Bald Eagle nest in Kansas. They are growing and growing and Farmer Derek’s snake population on his farm is declining! If you can’t get mice, snake is an excellent second choice! It is hard to believe but these two will be branching soon. They look like little people with those big eyes all wrapped up for winter. Adorable.

Take care everyone. Thank you so much for joining me and the birds in ‘As the Nest Turns’. I hope you have a great end of the week wherever you are.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my images: Farmer Derek, Montana Osprey Project and Cornell Bird Labs, Friends of Loch of the Lowes and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Friends of Loch Arkaig, Scottish Wildlife Trust and People Play Lottery, Friends of Llyn Brenig, and the Achieva Credit Union. Also the Friends of Loch Arkaig FB Page.

The race to save the African vulture

In the latest edition of BirdLife Magazine out of Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab, there is a compelling article on the race in Africa to save the African Vulture. It was very moving to read it so soon after discovering the women of the Hargila Army in Assam and their literal saving of the General Adjutant, a stork that also consumes carrion and helps keep disease at bay. The article stresses that vultures are the most endangered raptors in the world. While you might not be familiar with the African Vulture or the General Adjutant, you probably are aware of the California condor. Vultures exist in almost every country. They are crucial part of the food chain and play an important role in the environment. This is why conservation biologists around the world are screaming out for change to save them!

In Africa alone, seven of the ten vulture species are endangered. Many of the issues that threaten the vultures also impact other species. However, in India and parts of Africa, the vulture population dropped by as much as 99%. The author of the article noted that this is ‘apocalyptic’. We are familiar with causes such as habitat loss, electrocution from hydro poles, collisions with buildings and vehicles, the lead used in fishing and hunting equipment, scarcity of food, as well as egg collecting. There are several other threats to the vultures in Africa. One of them is rock climbing and disturbing the nests. Another is the trade in vulture body parts which are used for good luck charms in Africa. The head is believed to bring good luck in business while other parts are used as talismans. The birds are directly poisoned. The last is the impact of the veterinary use of NSAIDs. What is NSAID poisoning? Have you ever heard of it? I certainly knew about its use because I cannot drink milk or eat meat unless it is organic but, I was not aware of its impact on bird populations such as vultures. It is wonderful to learn something new each day! Although I prefer if it is something happier.

The image below shows the many animals and birds that compete for the small amount of food available in Africa.

“Environment of the Hyena Jackal Vulture Group” by Ryan Somma is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NSAIDs are cheap pharmaceuticals given to cattle to relieve them of their pain and to increase their milk production. They are anti-sterodial. It has long been recognized that the industrial dairies in the US keep the cattle in small pens, standing all day on concrete that causes excruciating pain. These cows are also given treatments to increase their milk production. The life of the cow that never gets to explore and eat grass is traumatic and their longevity is significantly reduced.

The efforts in Africa to eliminate the use of veterinary grade NSAIDs as well as captive-breeding programmes are showing promise. Fencing and satellite tracking is gaining ground. Biologists say that it is time to think ‘bigger’. At the same time, the growth in traditional beliefs is spreading in Africa, alongside the use of more modern pesticides. The author states, however, ‘That for all the bad news, conservationists have taken heart from the fact that the decline in African vultures has been slower than the extraordinary rapid collapse that occurred in Asia’.

“African safari, Aug 2014 – 042” by Ed Yourdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Elsewhere in Bird World, life is good on this Sunday the 4th of April. Rising early to watch and hopefully see Tiny Tot (aka Lionheart, Braveheart, Tumbles, 3) have breakfast, the chatters on the Achieva Osprey site probably had their mouths open. A headless fish arrived at 7:22:22. There was some confusion on the nest as Jack stayed with the fish and Diane left for a break. Tiny had already positioned himself and Dad began to feed him. Jack is not the best at feeding the chicks – he is known for touching beaks with no fish – but this morning Tiny got bites. Neither 1 nor 2 seemed interested. They were very busy preening. Eventually 1 joined and Dad fed 1 a bite then Tiny a bite. Mom returns and Dad leaves at 8:01:17. Diane continues feeding Tiny. Tiny awoke with a crop from yesterday but he ate this morning til he could not eat anymore. At 8:12:07 he stopped. There was not a kerfuffle with the older siblings.

Tiny being fed at 7:59 am while older siblings preen. 4 April 2021

Look carefully at Tiny above (far left chick). His little tail is growing and his plumage is changing. A few more days of good feedings and he might be out of the ‘woods’ in terms of his survival.

Diane with her three growing osplets. 4 April 2021

In the image above, Tiny is in the back. You can see his crop. He is standing confidentially next to 2. What a joyous moment on this nest.

The two bald eaglets of Nancy and Harry at the Minnesota DNR nest are growing. Everything is fine on that nest. Harry has learned to feed them and he is a good provider. Nancy is a fantastic mom. Look at those cute little bobbleheads enjoying the warm sun with their mother.

Kisatchie is growing and growing. First time parents Anna and Louis have done really well. The nest is coated with pine to keep away the insects. Kisatchie is healthy and well fed. His plumage is changing every day as he rids himself of his natal down.

I am afraid to say little owlets anymore. Look at Tiger (left) and Lily (right). They are keeping both Bonnie and Clyde busy hunting, day and night it seems. They look like they are wearing beautiful mohair coats with hoods. In my neighbourhood, yesterday, we were reminded about how formidable a raptor these Great Horned Owls are when one of the ones living nearby tried to take off with one of the neighbour’s cats that had gotten out in the back lane. Remember. Great Horned Owls can carry three times their own weight!

And last but never least, my all time favourite bird mother, Big Red sitting on her three eggs in the Red Tail Hawk nest on the Cornell University Campus. Isn’t it lovely? She actually gets to enjoy some sunshine today!

Thank you so much for joining me today. Keep your eyes on what is happening in the Tampa area. There is rumour that 480 million gallons of radioactive water is threatening to push down a retaining wall. If so, this will be catastrophic not only for the people of the area but for the wildlife – including many Ospreys and Bald Eagles that we so dearly treasure.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I grabbed my screen shots: the Kisatchie National Forest and the USFWS, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Cornell Bird Lab Red Tail Hawk Cam at Ithaca, Farmer Derek, and the Achieva Credit Union in St. Petersburg.

Credit for feature image: “In search of the Maltese Falcon #13 – White Backed Vulture, Malta Falconry Centre” by foxypar4 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Toxic wastelands threaten Bird World

In the course of a few hours today, a friend living in Pennsylvania sent me the news and a video from Twitter showing the nuclear waste being pumped into a holding area in Sarasota, Florida. Moments later, the Cornell Bird Lab e-mailed the latest edition of Birdlife Magazine with its story of the threats to African vultures from farmers using anti-inflammatory pain killers, dielofenae, on their cattle to stop pain and increase milk yields. Another reader sent me an article on the red algae along the coast of Texas and Florida that causes damage to the nervous and digestive systems of marine life and the birds that eat the fish. All of this information arrived on my desk just moments after one of the chatters on the Achieva Osprey streaming cam in St Petersburg brought up the fact that the male Ospreys in the area, there are reported to be thirty Osprey nests, have to compete with lots of motor boats in order to feed their families.

I sat staring at the screen remembering that eons ago, my father fished with a motorboat in Lake Texhoma. It was a time when no one considered their environmental actions. What I remember were not only the 31.7 kg or seventy pound catfish my father regularly caught but also that beautiful iridescence floating on the water around the boat. As a child I did not understand that the fuel and the oil my father mixed with it was poisoning the fish that we would eat – and neither did he. We know better today.

Humans are capable of cleaning up much of the mess that we have made to the planet. When I was a graduate student, my advisor, Dr Klaus Klostermaier, informed me the reason that there were no insects in Germany was because the massive pollution had killed them all. The industrial area around Dusseldorf cleaned up the river system. It took some time but it was accomplished I think, also, of the groundbreaking work that Rachel Carson did on the impact of DDT and her book, Silent Spring. Today, we still feel the impact of DDT, despite it being banned now for nearly fifty years. That poison still remains in the soil and the plants. Bald Eagles in certain parts of the world still have thin egg shells because of it. Regardless of how long it takes and how defeatist some feel about our ability to survive a sixth extinction, I believe, like Greta Thunberg that we have an obligation – each of us as individuals – to try and make a difference. It doesn’t have to be some great international effort. The women saving the General Adjutant in Assam began at home and so can the rest of us.

In Winnipeg, members of the Manitoba Birding FB group are considering how to best address the issue of feeding bread to the ducks and geese at the ponds in our two big parks – St Vital and Assiniboine. Bread is not good for any bird. Yes, it fills them up and they seemingly love it but it is empty calories. It would be like us eating junk food all day long every day, losing our taste for good nutritious food. I know, first hand, that parents do not necessarily know that bread is bad for the birds. This was something that I did with my parents. For many, taking their children for a walk at the park and bringing a loaf of bread is almost free entertainment for an afternoon. We delight at the geese scurrying across the water of the pond to grab the bread. It makes people feel good. However, the bread is not only bad for the bird’s health, it also deteriorates in the water causing algae growth which leads to the death of the pond and the plants that the geese and ducks need. No one wants to take away the fun that people have feeding the ducks and geese. It is hoped that through education people will choose to find food that is healthy for both the birds and their ponds. My plan is to write our City Parks and Recreation Department asking that their staff put up posters on the buildings near the ponds or have permanent signs made at significant sites around the ponds. There should then be a convenient place for individuals to purchase appropriate food at a reasonable price. An option would be to license a vendor to sell food at the ponds. It’s a beginning!

Please feel free to grab this poster and spread it through social media and if you are a teacher perhaps include this in a science lesson. And for those of you who find yourself with a glut of lettuce in your garden, those ducks and geese will sure love it. Chop it up before heading out.

For those of you that do not live in Winnipeg, it is very possible that you have this very same issue. Check it out and see what you can do. It is one way to help the local birds.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate the messages and all of the information that you send to me. Next week I will be addressing the issues of dumping toxic and nuclear substances into the ponds, lakes, rivers, and oceans. For now, I just want to smile. Someone on the Achieva Osprey chat said that they had never seen a chick like Tiny Tot/Lionheart/Braveheart/Tumbles/3 survive such testing conditions in any Osprey nest. Diane really filled him up this afternoon and even though the fish brought in around 6pm was not enough to feed it, the little one still had a crop and its little bottom is getting some flesh on it. So I want to close with an image of Tiny Tot’s large crop and another of Tiger and Lily, the two owlets living in a nest stolen from a Bald Eagle near Newton, Kansas. My how they have grown! Some days we just have to not allow the massive environmental issues to cloud the joy and the love we get from the birds. My friend, Phyllis, would say put it in a container and leave it there for a few hours – it isn’t going away!

It is a strange angle. Tiny Tot is preening but that big grey beach ball where you would think his head would be is his crop. He is on the far left. Oh, how I love this little bird – like so many of you. His determination to live, to not give up, to figure an angle around to get fed is impressive. It is day to day. He is getting a cute little tail and well, we hope for several fish in a row, large ones, tomorrow.

Tiny Tot ate and ate. Thank goodness. He will have enough to keep him til tomorrow. 3 April 2021

Tiger and Lily are being left alone more and more by their mother, Bonnie. Butt, no worries, she is just on another branch on the tree. Look at how big they are and how well they blend into the environment.

Thank you to everyone who wrote and sent me links to information today. I really appreciate it. Anyone reading this loves birds and we are all in this together. The streaming cams give us a glimpse into their lives that we would never have otherwise. We share their joys and their sorrows. Take care everyone. Stay safe!

Thanks also to the Achieva Credit Union and to Farmer Derek for their streaming cams. That is where I took my screen shots.

It’s 3 for Big Red and 4 for Dahlgren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Izzi is adorable.

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

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

Tuesday updates in Bird World

I am going to start off saying that Jack, the male at the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida wins the Dead Beat Dad of the week award – for the third week running. Jack, do you have another family? or maybe two? Seriously. It is nearly 5pm in St Petersburg and your family have not had one single fish today. It is 28 degrees in the sun for them and they depend on the fish for water. Tiny Tot depends on the regular delivery of fish for its life. So maybe if I scream at you at the beginning, you will surprise me and show up with three or four fish! I sure hope so.

Jack, your family is waiting!

In contrast to the situation at the Achieva Osprey Nest is the Bald Eagle nest with three eaglets in Pittsburg. There both mom and dad are involved in the feeding of the young ensuring that the bonking and food competition is kept to a minimum. Well, as I have said before – birds are like humans. The kids can’t pick their parents or the parent’s territory but two parents working together certainly helps the survival of the children!

Look at those three beautiful babies at the Pittsburg Hays nest. Aren’t they adorable. All lined up waiting for mom and dad to feed them together.

Storms came through my part of Canada last night but they also swept across the United States. It was a gale force wind on the nest of the Great Horned Owls on the farm near Newton, Kansas. Tiger and Lily, the two owlets of Bonnie and Clyde were cuddled up with mom holding on in the strong winds.

More Osprey are arriving in the United Kingdom. Idris (male) arrived home on 29 March to his mate Blue 33 otherwise known as Telyn at the Dyfi Nest in Wales. Telyn is a great fisher. This morning she caught a whopper!

Telyn caught this huge fish to welcome home her mate, Idris, at the Dyfi Nest in Wales. 30 March 2021.

Blue 5F, Seren, came in on 29 March to join her mate Dylan at the Clywedog Osprey Nest. Unringed female joined White YA at Kielder 1A arriving on 30 March while male Blue WG 6 came home on 29 March at the Kielder Forest 6 nest. And the last one, female Blue KC joined her mate at Threave Castle on 30 March.

A great morning image of Mrs G and Aran at the Glaslyn Nest. Aran might be wondering if Mrs G is going to bring him breakfast like Telyn might be doing for Idris. Did I say that Osprey males drive me nuts?

Our dear little Legacy is simply not so little anymore. The eaglet of Samson and Gabby at the NE Florida Eagle Nest in Jacksonville has grown benefitting from being the only child in the nest. She sometimes looks like she has been working out at the gym!

Legacy benefited from great parents, Samson and Gabby, from a nest that had sufficient prey for everyone. Here is Samson delivering a fish for Legacy. Legacy has been self-feeding for some time now.

Legacy decided to see if she could fly like her dad!

Laddie LM12 and Blue NC0 have been bringing in nesting materials between gaps in the storms that have been plaguing Scotland around Loch of the Lowes. They have also been having to fend off intruders from their nest. Everyone wants the best nest in the neighbourhood – and no doubt this one so close to the loch is prime real estate.

And last for today the White Bellied Sea Eagles whose nest is in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park have been coming in over the last few days. They have been bringing sticks and making some nestorations. Still a couple of months before thoughts of eaglets come to mind on that nest.

Take care everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today. I do wish someone would set up a food table next to the osprey nest in St Petersburg. They did this at Rutland for one of the nests when a partner was MIA and it worked. But maybe Jack will be moved to action. Every time I say something bad about him he shows up with fish. I remain cautiously hopeful.

Thank you to the following streaming cams: Achieva Credit Union Osprey Cam, Pittsburg Hays Osprey Cam, Derek the Farmer, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, NEFL Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Bywyd Gwylit Glaslyn Wildlife, and Cors Dyfi Wildlife Reserve.

Bonnie, Clyde and the Rabbit

The camouflage is so good. Can you find the rabbit next to Bonnie?

The owlets are being well fed and they are growing. Their plumage changes every day and they seem to be constantly hungry. It is no wonder. The eldest, Tiger, was born on 7 March and the youngest, Lily, on 9 March. Just think of them as two weeks old for ease. By the time they are five weeks old they will be climbing around on the branches of the tree and they will be flying at nine to ten weeks.

In the image below you can get a glimpse of the changing plumage on Tiger. Note the colour of the beak. When Tiger was born it was pink. Now it is a lovely espresso black. You can also see the coloured plumage coming around the neck and the wing. Behind them you can see the green ‘8’ of the Garter snake in the pantry and in front of Tiger are the parts of a rabbit brought in by mom last night.

Bonnie heaves the rabbit up and over the edge of the twig nest.

She brought the head of the rabbit in earlier. In total, the lapin was broken up into three pieces but still, the headless back seemed like it was pretty heavy for Bonnie to lift. But she did it! It is certainly a feast for the owlets.

The oldest was doing a little bit of preening and then they both heard mom coming. Look at their sweet faces looking at Bonnie. A happy, well-fed raptor family! And no real drama. It is nice for a change.

This is a quick posting. All is going well at this nest. The owlets are growing and growing and getting to eat a variety of food. They will imprint that into their memory for when they are hunting for themselves. Bonnie is a fantastic mother and with the rains settling in around 4pm in Kansas she will need those little ones to cuddle up and sleep.

Thank you for dropping by to check in on the birds in Bird World.

Thanks to Farmer Derek for his streaming cam. That is where I captured my images.

Rain and blowing winds

It’s raining outside. The sky is a heavy grey and the flame willow’s bark is a bright reddish-orange in this light. It is gorgeous. But where are the robins who should be pulling worms from the soil around the flame tree? They are no where to be seen. And the Dark eyed Juncos have not arrived en masse either. We wait.

The branches turn green in the summer but in the winter the Flame Willow is a bright red-orange.
“American Robin” by nicolebeaulac is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There is no life in the dreary damp garden except for two BlueJays flitting about. In half an hour it will fill up just when the feeders are being replenished. Sometimes I think the sparrows have an alarm clock set – they are that punctual.

The last couple of days there has been a sadness hanging over the Bald Eagle community. Indeed, it hangs heavy today just like the grey drizzly skies that surround me. Jackie and Shadow on the Big Bear Bald Eagle nest in Big Bear, California lost their first clutch this year. Their nest is about 44 metres or 145 feet up in a Jeffrey pine tree with a view of Big Bear Lake. It is incredibly beautiful. Jackie is thought to be nine years old and Shadow is around seven; neither are banded and both so want to be parents. A Raven ate their first egg and the second broke. They tried again. Sadly, the first chick died during hatch as thousands of people watched anxiously along with Jackie and Shadow on 18 March. They could hear its chirping and must have been so excited. The second egg is now 38 days old. The normal for BE hatch is 35. Last year they incubated their eggs for sixty days and when they finally stopped the ravens came – the eggs were empty.

So we hope and wait. I really hope – beyond hope – for this nest to be successful this year.

And, of course, there are the on going issues related to the Great Horned Owls and Harriet and M15 on the Pritchett Farm in Fort Myers, Florida. The GHOW nest is 274 metres or .1 of a mile away from the eagle’s nest. This has caused nothing but undue problems for the eagles this year. Last night’s attack was one of the worst. The GHOW knocked Harriet off the branch and into the nest but a then off the nes! You can hear the cries.

Lady Hawk’s video shows this from several angles. You can watch the first and get the idea.

Eagle and Great Horn Owl populations have recovered since the time of DDT. Now, there are several issues both related to human activity – the loss of habitat -meaning space – and also the lack of trees adequate for nests that impact the lives of both. There is more and more competition for resources.

E17 and E18 are both self-feeding and they really are the best of buddies. Twins born within hours of one another. E18 might be the Queen of Mantling but both still love to be fed by their parents. They are so big. One of the best ways of telling which is which is if you can see the tip of the tails. The one with a white band, on the left, is E18.

For those who worry about aggressive behaviours, it is now easy to forget that many were horrified at the bopping E17 gave 18. E17 even had to go into time out at CROW clinic! It all evened out. E18 grew and became not so intimidated. That is a good thing. They will hopefully both thrive in the wild. As Sharon Dunne (aka Lady Hawk) reminded many on one of her videos yesterday, if the birds cannot survive in the nest being fed by parents they will never be able to survive in the wild. As it stands, less than half the bald eagles that fledge live to see their first birthday.

Look close. The white band is on the eaglet on the left. That is E18 with E17 on the right.

I continue to tell people that GHOWs are fierce competitors and they are dangerous. There is nothing cuddly about them! Speaking about Great Horned Owls and Bald Eagles, the two owlets of Bonnie and Clyde are really growing. The oldest is always ready to try and hork down the mouse that Clyde delivers. In this early morning shot, you can see Clyde, Bonnie, and one of the eaglets. Everyone is doing fine on that nest. Only time will tell if the owls become permanent occupants of what was a Bald Eagle nest.

The daughters of Farmer Derek named the owlets Tiger (the eldest) and Lily (the youngest). In the image below Clyde is on the left, Bonnie is in the back and if you squint you can see one of the owlets, probably Tiger, in the nest. Sweet names. I wonder if they knew that GHOWs are sometimes called ‘Tiger’ owls?

21 March 2021. Clyde, Harriet, and one of the owlets.

The young father, Harry, is incubating the two eggs on the Bald Eagle nest at the Minnesota DNR. You can tell it is Harry and not Nancy because of the dark patch at the end of his beak. Remember – this young father has not fully changed to his adult colouring – he is only four years old! That tree is really twisting and the wind is howling and blowing. Those eagles have had all kinds of weather to contend with, too. But now we should be thinking about a pip! Their second egg was laid at 2:54 pm on 20 February with the first on the 18th. That means that egg 1 is 31 days old. If the rule of 32 days for a hatch applies this young father should be getting excited. I hope that the weather smartens up for them and they have a successful hatch!

Very young father incubates eggs at MNDNR awaiting first pip. 21 March 2021.

The rain and the wind that is keeping the Minnesota nest soaked and twisting left the Bald Eagle nest in Jacksonville soaked as well. Gabby did a great job of keeping Legacy covered up and Samson even brought in provisions during the windy storm.

One of the things you will no longer see on the NE Florida eagle nest is ‘eggie’. Samson came in on the 17th of March and while Legacy was self-feeding, he aerated the nest. As he was punching holes in the base of the nest cup, Samson kept checking that Legacy was busy eating. Then he buried ‘Eggie’ in one of the holes and covered it with Spanish Moss. There seem to be no adverse effects. Some of us thought we would have to strap a backpack on Legacy so she could take Eggie and pinecone with her when she fledges. It’s hard to believe that it was not so long ago when Legacy had Avian Pox. She survived it well. In the image below Gabby has brought in a fish for Legacy. Legacy mantles and feeds herself. ‘Look, I am all grown up, Mom!’ They are all growing way too fast.

21 March 2021. Legacy is self feeding.

And the rest of Bird World seems to be in a holding pattern today. The trio at the Achieva Osprey nest have been fed. They all had good full crops last night and there was not so much commotion this morning when the first fish was brought in at 7:59.

21 March 2021 From left to right: 2, Brutus, Tiny Tot

The people on chat have named the eldest Brutus because of the way that it treats the other two. And, Brutus, was particularly nasty to both Tiny Tot and 2 last evening. Still, they got food and that was really what mattered. Brutus has not been able to stifle their will to survive. You can see all three of them standing up to be fed this morning. I did do a wee bit of a giggle. For many, Brutus is a male name and is associated with male aggression since the time when Marcus Junius Brutus was one of Julius Cesar’s assassins. In this instance, it is, however, highly likely that Brutus is a big female. Watching the Port Lincoln Osprey cam showed me that like GHOWs, you do not mess with a big female Osprey when she is upset. Best to just stay away.

Big and Li’l are doing fine on the Duke Farms Bald Eagle nest. Both of them had a nice crop this morning. There was even a tandem feeding with Mom and Dad.

21 March 2021. Both parents feeding at Duke Farms eagle nest.

Someone remarked at how big Li’l is getting – that is what happens when you get enough food, you grow!

And last but never least – the ‘Brutus’ of the Port Lincoln Osprey nest, Solly, is thriving. She is 183 days old today and she has mustered the strength and the courage to cross the entire bay at Streaky Bay. Well done, Solly!

Thanks for coming to check all the characters in Bird World today. The birds bring us so much joy – and sadness, sometimes. And, yes, uneasiness when we worry about them. Most of us sleep better when we know they have had a good meal. So today, let us send warm wishes for Jackie and Shadow – maybe a miracle will happen. It is too bad we can’t slip an orphaned baby eaglet in their nest for them. I am sure they would adore it.And let’s begin to get excited for the young father up in Minnesota. I hope it is a nice warm day tomorrow for their hatch.

And thank you to Port Lincoln Osprey and their Satellite Tracker, the streaming cams from Duke Farms, Achieva Osprey, NE Florida Eagle Cam and the AEF, SW Florida Eagle Cam and D Pritchett, Farmer Derek, the Minnesota DNR, and Big Bear Eagle cam.

The Owlets have names

Just a very quick announcement. The two Great Horned Owls, Bonnie and Clyde, who stole the Bald Eagle nest on the farm near Newton, Kansas had two eggs hatch. The oldest hatched on 7 March and the youngest 9 March. Already they have pin feathers and the oldest horked an entire mouse last night! The farmer that set up the streaming cam for the Bald Eagles and whose family has welcomed the owls has two daughters. Those daughters got to pick the names for the owlets. The oldest is Tiger and the little one is Lily! What wonderful names.

You can just see the proud mama, Bonnie, and one of the little ones sticking its head up.

Lovely names and it is so nice to see the entire family involved. We have all learned so much since the owls took over the nest on 1 February. Thank you Farmer Derek and your family.