Tuesday in Bird World (updated)

Redwood Queen is keeping an eye on that egg. If this is a successful hatch – and there is no reason to think it won’t be – it will be the first chick for Redwood Queen and her second mate, Phoenix. The egg is believed to be laid between 26 February and 3 March. What a wonderful event for this giant Redwood scorched with Iniko, Redwood Queen and Kingpin’s chick from 2020, inside. Both of the parents of this fortunate chick have survived major fires in the area. We know that Redwood Queen survived the Dolan Fire last year and Phoenix survived the Basin Complex Fire in 2008, the year he hatched. Redwood Queen is much older, having hatched in the Los Angeles Zoo, in 1998. She might have survived other fires. Let us all hope that the entire population of Condors – a little over 500 – is safe from any wildfires this year.

The Ventana Wildlife Society issues the following statement on 26 April:

“Redwood Queen and Phoenix are still incubating and we are hoping their egg will start hatching any day now. The hatch date of 4/24 was our best “guesstimate”, we could be off by as many as 2-4 days. We first observed the egg on March 3rd and estimated the egg was laid on 2/26. This was based on radio telemetry data and movements of the pair from the week prior. If Redwood Queen actually laid closer to March 2nd, which is possible, then the egg wouldn’t start hatching until April 28. So we have a 3-4 day hatch window.”

Speaking of eggs, an intruder eagle came to the nest of Milda and broke her remaining egg and made a mess of her nest. It is one of those blessings in disguise. It is believed that the egg in the nest was the first one that Milda had laid on the 12th of March and that it was non-viable. I am not an expert and cannot tell. The intruder eagle ate most of the insides of the egg. Now Milda can forage for food for herself and build up her strength. She is not a mate of Mr Chips (Cips) yet – they did not mate. I hope that she finds a really extraordinary mate and that she will have a successful clutch next year.

Grinnell has his hands full today. It looks like the little fluff balls of his and Annie’s are growing so fast that they will not fit under him anymore. Look how they look at their dad. Grinnell, you are so cute!

Isn’t Grinnell handsome? 27 April 2021

And talk about cute – have a look at this adorable little Moli waiting for its parents to come and feed it. This is a special Laysan Albatross chick. It is the 39th chick of the oldest banded bird in the world – Wisdom. Wisdom is 71 years old and her band number is Z333 (Red and White). Her mate is Akeakamai. Her baby has a temporary band so it is easy to recognize and that number is 33 in honour of its mother.

A bit of relief over at the Savannah Osprey Nest on Skidaway Island. The dad has brought in a fish and both are getting fed. Maybe this will ease the food competition and let these two get on to growing and enjoying one another’s company.

Yesterday it was a feast on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida. Today it is hot, 29 degrees C, and there has been only one delivery. That came at 7:02:16. Tiny Tot got enough of that fish that he had a nice little crop. Still, he is at the quick growth stage and he needs more food more frequently. It is 4:30 on the nest. Fingers crossed for a couple of late night deliveries.

Tiny is grabbing the shade from Diane around 10am in the image below and Diane is calling. Chicks thought it might have been a delivery for a bit.

You can still see Tiny Tot’s little bit of a crop.

At 13:38:31 on 27 April 2021, a mysterious stranger with a metal band on its right leg landed on Iris’s nest at Hellgate. Well, now. This could get interesting.

I am going to say ‘he’ in the hope that ‘he’ might be a fantastic mate for Iris and claim this part of Louis’s plot.

Everything is just fine on the Red Tail Hawk Nest on the Cornell University Campus of Big Red and Arthur. There are three eggs being incubated and we are heading into hatch watch.

Thanks for joining me today for a peak at the nests. All of the Osprey Nests are doing grand in the UK except for the Loch Arkaig Nest. Hope that Aila will return from her migration to raise a family with Louis is quickly dissipating. Louis has been bringing fish to another female on platform 1 and they have been mating. It is an arduous migration. Many hope that if Aila did not arrive in Scotland that she settled somewhere else – she was loved by so many. And there is news that there are now three eggs on the Osprey nest in Urdaibai, Northern Spain. Take care. I hope it is nice where you are. The weather is grand on the Canadian Prairies and it is time to go and take care of the birds in my garden. The water bowls need filling. Everyone is enjoying a good bath today.

Thanks to the following streaming cams: Ventana Wildlife Society, Explore.org, Cornell Bird Lab and Red Tail Hawks, Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, UC Falcon Cam, Achieva Credit Union, and the Latvian Wildlife Fund. Thanks also to the Midway Atoll FB Page where the image of Wisdom’s Moli was posted.

As the Nest Turns, 19 April 2021

Congratulations to Annie and Grinnell on the third hatch at the University of California Peregrine Falcon nest in the Campanile. What a glorious site to hatch! Looks like the time was about 6:00:09.

Annie and Grinnell are announcing that 3 has hatched. One more to go! 19 April 2021

Three and a half hours later, soft and fluffy like its two older sibs. One more hatch to go for Annie and Grinnell! Oh, aren’t they cute!!!

Congratulations to the entire team at Rutland and Urdaibai Ospreys in Northern Spain. The first egg for the translocated Ospreys was laid this morning. The male is Roy – after Roy Dennis and his boundless energy and commitment to the project. The female is Landa. This is just fantastic news in trying to get more Ospreys breeding in different parts of Europe.

Landa is showing Roy their first egg. 19 April 2021
Gorgeous female, Landa. 19 April 2021

Some are thinking that there could be a hatch at The Landings, Savannah Osprey Nest on Skidaway Island happening. Here is a close up of 1 and 2 and that third egg taken at 16:38 today. Am I missing something? Is there a pip?

So cute. 19 April 2021
Little sleeping Ospreys. 19 April 2021

Congratulations to Clywedog’s Dylan and Blue 5 F Seren on the arrival of the second egg! Oh, that nest is soggy.

A soggy Clwedog Nest. 19 April 2021

There has been a visitor to the Loch Arkaig nest when Louis was there. Females generally have darker necklaces than the males. Look at Louis’s for a comparison. If this is a potential mate, she is quite beautiful. Still, we are all remaining hopeful for Aila to return despite rumours that there were some sounds of ‘rumpy pumping’ on the microphone out of view of the camera.

A visitor arrives with a beautiful necklace at Loch Arkaig while Louis is on the nest. 19 April 2021

As we continue to track the condition of Tiny Tot at the Achieva Osprey nest, there have been two fish deliveries today, so far. The first came at 7:13:11. Tiny Tot got a little – and I do mean a little – food. The rain has been coming down and the babies were soaked around 8:57.

Soggy babies. 19 April 2021

The second fish delivery came at 12:35:37. Tiny Tot was able to steal some bites from Diane feeding 1 and was eating with 1 until 2 came up. Again, Tiny Tot had some bites but he simply has not had enough food.

Tiny Tot eating with 1. 19 December 2021. 2 is making its move to enter between Tiny Tot and 1.

As I have argued in an earlier blog, Tiny Tot’s getting a good meal – at this moment in time – will not impact the survival of 1 and 2. Tiny Tot is not a threat to them like he might have been at 2 or 3 days old. That was when the elimination of a competitor would enhance the survival of the older two. The big sibs are nearly ready to fledge. Tiny Tot having some good meals will be good for the entire family whose DNA will be added to the natural world. Remember, 1 and 2 also share DNA with Tiny and the parents. The survival of the three promotes the DNA of Jack and Diane and the survival enhances their place in the natural selection process. It makes their success in raising three healthy ospreys to fledge – glowing! Tiny Tot is too old and it simply does not make sense to deprive him of food at this stage!

People on the streaming cam chat have gotten upset at one another and emotional. In their article on ‘Avian Siblicide’, D. Mock et al do discuss the fact that some birds are ‘selfish’. The observation by some chatters that 2 will keep Tiny Tot away from food even when its crop is more than full is directly related to that behaviour of monopolization. Mock et al argue that being selfish is a trait that can be passed thru DNA and that it should not be the guiding principle of natural selection (445). Those who have been alarmed by 2 have used terms that, indeed, indicate an action that is selfish – ‘2 is being a piggy.’ The adjective is, according to Mock et al, appropriate for the actions of 2. We all hope that the three will be healthy and fledge – it is clear that all persons care. It is clear, at this junction, that the nest and the family would benefit from the survival of Tiny Tot. Hopefully, everyone can join together and wish all the best without being defensive or argumentative. Birds, like people, are not immune to being selfish and monopolizing resources. In the end, though, it sure helps if they share.

Over in Kansas, Bonnie looks adoringly at the two little Great Horned Owls her and Clyde raised on the stolen Bald Eagle Nest. They are branching and nearing fledge watch. What a magical nest to watch with two parents who worked really hard for the success of their owlets!

19 April 2021

White-bellied sea eagles, Lady and Dad, have been spending more and more time at their nest in the old Ironwood Tree in Sydney Olympic Park. You might remember that Daisy, the Pacific Black Duck, commandeered the space to lay her eggs only to have the ravens eat them all! Very disappointing. Lady and Dad are now doing some nestorations and are filling in that hole a little. Everyone is excited for June to come. You can almost hear them say, ‘Look at the mess that Little Duck made!’

Lady and Dad doing some much needed repairs to their nest.

It is nearing dinner time and Big Red is incubating the eggs. Arthur will be around shortly so that she can have dinner and a break before night duty. She looks really comfy on that nest on the light well on the grounds of Cornell University. What a beauty at 18. The grand dame of Red Tail Hawks!

Big Red is enjoying a dry day on the nest. 19 April 2021

Thank you so much for joining me today. It is still cold on the Canadian prairies and the snow is not melting in my garden. The normal cast of characters was joined by Fox Sparrows in droves this morning. Their song is incredibly lovely. What a joy! Take care. Stay safe. See you soon.

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I obtained my screen shots: Farmer Derek, Cornwall Bird Lab and Savannah Osprey, Woodland Trust, Post Code Lottery, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Achieva Credit Union, Clywedog, Birdlife Australia and the Discovery Center, and Cornell Bird Lab and Red Tail Hawks.

‘As the Nest Turns’ – late Sunday night edition

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.

Can you spot the two osprey babies? 18 April 2021

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.

18 April 2021

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.

18 April 2021

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.

18 April 2021

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!

Raven steals the non-viable egg on 18 April 2021. Big Bear Bald Eagle Nest.

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.

Tiny has moved in to get what extra bites it can before dark. 18 April 2021

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.

Tiny moves to get away from sibling 1. 18 April 2021

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.

Tiny Tot, update – updated!

By 11:44:36, Tiny Tot had precisely nine bites of fish and a piece of fish skin.

I have felt, like so many others, gutted. Tiny Tot has survived, well beyond the first couple of weeks, through food famines and intimidation. Neither 1 or 2 pecked it to death and, indeed, if they had directly wanted to kill Tiny Tot, it would have been easier when he was smaller. Instead, the need for more food on this nest has been the main driver of the pecks and the intimidation directly and indirectly on Tiny Tot.

There are general reasons for siblicide to occur and the one most common to Ospreys is when food either becomes scarce or is perceived to be scarce. On the Achieva Osprey, this takes the form of both direct and indirect aggression to Tiny Tot. #2 sibling hovers over Tiny Tot to frighten him even though Tiny Tot might have been the first up to be fed. Individuals might also have noticed that even though #2 sibling is full, it will come and demand that Diane, the mother, feed it, instead of Tiny Tot. So, instead of direct pecking leading to death, the threats from #2 might cause Tiny Tot to starve to death. The elimination of Tiny Tot just before the older siblings fledge has no benefit to them in terms of food competition. They are grown and will not starve to death if he eats.

What I have been fighting against is the simplicity of the argument that eliminating Tiny is advantageous to both 1 and 2. As Mock et al state in their article, Avian Siblicide (1990), ‘According to this simple analysis, natural selection should always reward the most selfish act, and siblicide is the epitome of selfishness.’ Even looking at the work of Mendel and that of several British geneticists, the authors understand that helping a sibling assists the entire family – in this case ospreys – to survive. They ask, ‘Since selection favours genes that promote their own numerical increase, what advantage might there be in destroying a sibling – an organism with a high probability of carrying one’s own genes?‘ To continue to understand what could be playing out on the Achieva nest, we have to look at the youngest sibling as the marginal individual. If Tiny Tot were to survive, Diane and Jack would congratulate themselves in the way birds do on raising three healthy chicks to fledge. It is parental success! And when everyone worried that chick #2 had crop rot, Tiny Tot would have been a replacement for that bird had it died. Tiny Tot is a kind of insurance policy.

Food shortages appear to persist at the Achieva Osprey nest and those food shortages along with periods of bad weather have certainly contributed to instability. In addition, the frequency of food deliveries appears to have stimulated the aggression on this nest. Indeed, Diane, the mother, has waited to feed her chicks with no fish arriving until late afternoons sometimes. She has taken it upon herself, like today, to go and fish in order that she has food herself. She has ignored Tiny Tot at times when he is screaming and wanting to be fed – feeding instead the two older siblings. Chick #2 has been aggressive towards the mother. When Diane was feeding Tiny Tot in the wind today, even though #2 was full, it heard Tiny Tot crying for food and came and interfered in the feeding. Does chick #2 intimidate Diane the mother who is hungry and tired? Chick 2 is larger now than Diane is. Diane has had to do all of the roles on the nest. Interestingly, for two days now fish have been left on the nest in anticipation that either 1 or 2 or both would begin self-feeding. The only chick to have done this is Tiny Tot – and that was for survival. I suggest that if allowed, Tiny Tot would be feeding itself from the fish brought onto the nest provided they were unzipped far sooner than its two older siblings who simply seem to not understand what to do with the fish attached to their talons when they step on it. Perhaps this has been a blessing in disguise as Diane has fed Tiny and if the bigger ones mantled all the deliveries and ate them, would Tiny get any food? We don’t know.

So today, five fish have now been delivered to the nest. At 3:55:01 Diane brings in one of her huge catfish. There is going to be a lot of bone and skin but, the other two had three other deliveries including a large fish coming in at 1:01:20. Surely to goodness both Diane and Tiny Tot will get some of this whopper.

Diane brings her whopper of a catfish to the nest. She is an excellent fisher! 18 April 2021

Tiny Tot got himself right up by Diane. If he is going to be fed, this is the place to be. The two big siblings cannot be that hungry. Look at Diane’s thin legs. They say that the parents, especially the mother birds, lose weight taking care of the chicks. It is often cited as being at least 30% of their body weight. Some bird species only breed every other year so that the adults can get into good physical shape. A good example of are the Albatross. I wonder why evolution has not allowed for that in other species like the Osprey?

I love this image. Both 1 and 2 are still up at the rim of the nest but there is Diane feeding Tiny Tot. Yesterday, I wondered if she had decided to stop feeding him.

In reality, Tiny needs to survive the self-feeding and fledging of the two older siblings. Then Diane can feed him and her alone. He is determined and clever and I would hope that those qualities might trump selfishness. But that is me being human.

It is 5:11 and Diane has been feeding Tiny Tot and 2 has decided to get antsy and aggressive. Tiny is very aware of what is happening. That is one reason he has survived.

I wonder how much food Tiny Tot will get?

In the image below, 2 is walking away from Diane. 1 is still up wanting some bites and Tiny Tot has his eye open. He is listening and watching for a chance of more fish.

There is still more fish. You can see it between Diane’s legs above. It is hoped that Tiny will get another opportunity to feed. But, he got some nice big bites of fish, more than the nine that he had this morning. Everything helps him live for another day. Some people wonder why he doesn’t fight? My first response is it uses up too much precious energy. And being clever, Tiny would know that the others are too big now and could if they wanted kill him. So Tiny Tot is being smart and taking advantage of any opening for food he can – whether it is chewing a bone or sticking right up front with Diane as long as he can!

The fifth fish came in at 7:33:46. Diane fed the older siblings and at around 7:46 she began to feed Tiny Tot and did so for approximately eight minutes. So he has gotten food from at least three fish – not huge amounts but food nonetheless. Remember, Tiny Tot just has to survive the older two til they fledge and hopefully he will be fed well til he can fledge. It needs to be noted that the older ones will also require supplemental feedings after fledging so it could get a bit tricky.

Thank you for joining me on this update. Please send your warm wishes to this nest. At midnight the weather is showing a 40% chance of thunderstorms increasing to 80% during the day on Monday and 90% on Tuesday. Tiny needs all the food he can muster!

Thank you to the Achieva Credit Union in Dunedin, Florida for their streaming cam. That is where I took my screen shots.

Good article on siblicide comparing five bird species: Mock, Drummond, and Stinson (1990). ‘ Avian Siblicide.’ American Scientist, 78, pp. 438-449.

Late Thursday updates in Bird World

Last year, the streaming cam viewers of Loch Arkaig Osprey nest went from its norm of 60,000 viewers to over 400,000. People from around the world watched Louis and Aila raise three – Dottie (male), Vera (female), and Captain (male)- Ospreys to fledge. As the pandemic moves into its second year, each one of those viewers and more are holding their breath, biting their finger nails off, pulling their hair out, or pacing back and forth for the arrival of Aila. Louis has now been home from his winter migration to Africa for five days. He is working hard to get the nest ready for Aila’s arrival. But where is she?

Loch Arkaig. Louis waits. 15 April 2021.

Late this afternoon, there was a spotting of an unringed Osprey passing over Arran heading due North. Could it be Aila? Depending on how the Osprey flies it is 80-100 miles and if it is Aila, she should arrive tomorrow! It is going to be one sleepless night with devotees getting up early to fix their eyes on the screen! One woman said it very well, ‘They saved my life last year during the pandemic. I want Aila home safe!’

The Osprey nest on The Landings Golf course on Skidaway Island near Savannah, Georgia is expecting its second hatch soon. The first is getting around nicely after hatching on 13 April.

Just look at those beautiful baby blues. They will change to an orange-yellow and then when this little one is an adult, they will turn to that bright yellow distinctive iris of the Osprey.

Now are you going to be nice to your little sibling?

At the Lesser Spotted Eagle nest in Latvia, Andris is bringing nice presents of prey to Anna. They are both working hard on preparing the nest. Look at all that beautiful pine.

Also in Latvia, Milda took several breaks from incubation. She was looking around but I did not see Mr C trying to incubate eggs today (let me know if he did). She just might have given him the boot. There has sure been a lot of drama around and under this nest with White-tailed eagles fighting. Very disturbing for Milda who, sadly, is probably incubating unviable eggs.

At 7:14:44 pm Diane is calling to Jack to bring food to the Achieva Osprey Nest in Dunedin, Florida. Tiny Tot is asleep. Fish was delivered at 3:21:46 am and again at 11:55:01. Tiny Tot had a good feed on the early fish and had a good crop. He did not get any of the 11:55 fish despite being up close. If the weather forecast is correct, this nest can expect thunderstorms beginning around 4am Friday morning. It says 40%. I hope they are wrong. The temperature is cooling to 23 or 24 right now.

7:16:00. Diane is calling Jack to bring fish. 15 April 2021

Tiny Tot is hungry and he is starting to call Jack, too. He’s there calling on the far left.

7:43:37. Hurry up with the fish dad! 15 April 2021

Now the two larger osplets are up and calling for dad, too. Unless this is a whopper – and I do mean a HUGE fish – Tiny Tot might not get any food tonight. He ate his fill this morning when the other two weren’t that interested – and yesterday, too.

7:58

And there it is. The third fish of the day, if you count the middle of the night delivery, lands at 7:59:14.

And who got the fish?

It looks like 2 mantled the fish and has it. You can see her in the middle. Tiny is to the far left keeping himself down. Dad quickly leaves. But thank goodness, Diane steps in and takes control of the food delivery! That is all Tiny Tot needs – the older stealing the fish! That fish is not that big.

Diane feeds 1. Tiny Tot is between Diane and 2 who is watching but not being aggressive.

At 8:05:09, 2 has walked around and behind 1. There was no attack on Tiny Tot. Meanwhile, Diane continues to feed 1. It is unclear if Tiny Tot is getting any bites of fish. There are no tell tale signs of his body moving slightly up and down but I cannot be certain, one way or the other.

And then 2 who is so aggressive to Tiny Tot just gets up and turns and goes the other way. By this time there is only half of the small fish left. Is it possible that Tiny Tot will get a little of this fish?

8:05 Diane is feeding 1. Cannot tell if Tiny Tot is getting any fish. 15 April 2021

A few minutes later, 2 turns around behind Diane. The behaviour is quite odd because if food is involved, 2 is always threatening to Tiny Tot. Yesterday 2 was not hungry. I thought it was trying to pass a pellet or it was just the heat. This is perplexing.

And then 2 flaps its wings and goes towards the rim of the nest looking back.

Then 2 walks behind Tiny and raises its neck like it is checking on the fish.

But nothing. 2 turns around and goes to the rim of the nest. Meanwhile, less than half the fish is left and 1 is still eating. At 8:11:49, 1 walks across the nest and, once again, comes up behind Diane settling under her tail. How odd.

But just as quickly, 2 backs up and sort of looks off the rim of the nest, again.

At 8:16:05, 2 is back up by Diane and she feeds it a bite of food.

At 8:17 Diane is still feeding 1. 2 is behind under between her legs and Tiny Tot is at the rim at the far edge of the nest watching. He will move up closer to Diane and the feeding. But as the light dims it is very unclear whether or not there was any fish left for him. It looks like 1 might have eaten the entire delivery. Still, around 8:30 it appears a slight shift in angle and height and perhaps, just perhaps, Tiny got the last bites by the tail. Tiny had a crop at 12:04 from the big meal earlier and while it is preferable that he eat more food more often, he will be alright. What is strange about this entire feeding is the behaviour of 2. And that is why I have detailed it so closely. Is 2 struggling to cast a pellet? Or is something else wrong?

The Great Horned Owls have amazing plumage and they are starting to get the distinctive tufts of feathers for their ears. Here they are, Tiger and Lily, looking like they are standing and having a chat. Some will think that they are ‘so cute’ but these owls are deadly. In Europe, there are more incidents of GHOWs killing entire raptor families than I want to think about. We have seen them hurling Harriet and M15 off their Bald Eagle nest in Fort Myers, Florida or the much smaller Boo Book Owl in Australia knocking WBSE Lady and injuring her eye. They travel at night while the other birds are sleeping and they fly silently with the help of their soft rounded feathers. The increase in their numbers, the loss of habitat and stated another way, the loss of large trees for nests is causing problems. These two should be branching and fledgling shortly.

15 April 2021

Over at the UC Berkeley campus, Grinnell is having a very difficult time trying to get Annie to get off the eggs. Hatch watch starts on Saturday and Annie is always reluctant not to be right there when it starts!

While the Peregrine Falcons are on the verge of hatching, fledge watches are also going on around the globe. In Taiwan, the Black Kites ‘Pudding’ and ‘Brulee’ were born on 3 and 5 March, respectively. They were banded on 2 April – Orange K2 and K3. The average amount of time for Black Kites from hatch to fledge is 42-50 days. Pudding is 44 days old and Brulee is 42 days old.

Both are getting their wings stronger by flapping and flapping. And look at that magnificent tail. The fledglings generally stay in the nest perfecting their flying and hunting skills for another 42-56 days until they are self-reliant. The parents supplement their food.

Once the nestlings are older, they will sleep with their head tucked on their back. It is not under their wing although their beak might be. Did you know that sleeping this way allows the bird to relax its neck?

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

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I get my screen shots: the Taiwan Black Kite Cam, Achieva Credit Union, Farmer Derek, UC Berkeley Cal Falcons, Latvijas Dabas, Latvian Fund for Nature, Cornell Bird Lab, and Woodland Trust and Post Code Lottery.

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.