Late night Thursday edition of ‘As the Nest Turns’

The White-tail Eagle nest in the Matsula National Park in Estonia – one of the oldest known breeding territories in the country, has been fledging eaglets since the nineteenth century, if not before. Archives go back to 1870 with modern records from 1996-2020 indicating that no less than 29 eaglets fledged from the nest that Eve and Eerik currently call their own. So what has happened this year?

For two days now, Eve and Eerik have been mourning the loss of their two babies, EE1 and EE2. Long before the little ones stopped breathing, the couple knew. A parent was always there with them witnessing their last breath. It is a scene that many of us have observed at other nests this year. I remember too clearly the Captiva Bald Eagle Nest in Florida – on Santibel Island – when Hope and Peace both died of secondary rodenticide poisoning. Joe, the father was devastated, and I have often wondered if it wasn’t the death of his two eaglets that made him vulnerable and, eventually, evicted from the nest by Martin. Several years ago, stories of the injuries to Juliet at the NE Florida Bald Eagle nest and then the death of his eaglet, made Romeo abandon the Bald Eagle Nest in Jacksonville where his son, Samson, has now fledged his third-eaglet, Legacy (the two previous were Romy and Jules last year). Birds have memories and emotions, they mourn the dead, and understand. Laura Culley would challenge anyone who begged to differ, “And why wouldn’t they?” she was ask.

Eve and Eerik completely covered the babies, each spending time at the nest. Imagine that you have two seemingly healthy children and within a day they are both dead and you don’t know what happened. I use the term ‘seemingly healthy’, as the two eaglets were somewhat lethargic for several days before they died. It was extremely hot – one of those blasts of extreme heat that my friend ‘T’ from Strasbourg warned me about. I thought it was the heat that caused them to be less hungry and alert.

The experts in Estonia have mentioned that a sizeable number of large birds have been found dead along the coastline. Below is a Google Map showing that coast line and the area of Matsula.

Google Map showing the area of Matsalu and its proximity to the coast line of Estonia.

The eagles eat carrion (dead animals). Is it possible that a disease was transmitted to the nest? Was it Avian Flu? or was the cause rodenticide? It will be good to have the speculation stopped and have factual evidence – then the wildlife authorities can begin to figure out how to make sure this doesn’t happen again (if they can). The bodies of the babies will be removed on the 14th of May for an autopsy if the eagles allow them to take them. Meanwhile, Eerik is at the nest looking down at his baby, EE1, now covered by straw.

Wildlife employees in Estonia have just released this statement: “If we manage to collect the dead chicks (hope the parents let us do that), the tests will be done in Estonian University of Life Sciences or sent abroad if needed. We’ve talked with Dr. Madis Leivits about it. We’ll post the findings on the forum, if we get new information. The camera will stay online and I really hope that next year we can follow this nest again.” Thank you ‘T’ for sending this to me!

It is hard to transition from what is happening in Estonia to the rest of Bird World. I hope that the issues at this beautiful nest in Estonia are resolved and that Eve and Eerik return to raise another family next year.

When the anxiety and tensions on one nest get too high and I need a break, I head to a nest that appears stable – at that moment. As we all know, everything can change in an instant. One of those ‘safe’ nests is the Manton Bay Osprey nest at Rutland, home of Maya and Blue 33 (11). Just look at those Two Bobs! Blue 33 (11) has been busy bringing in fish today. It was a whopper at 11:47. Maya is busy filling the two up before the rains come. Look at how strong their necks are! Oh, I love this Osprey nest and those baby blues of the little ones. They will turn an amber or yellow-orange shortly and when they are adults, their eyes will be a piercing bright yellow like their dad and mum. Oh, those little dinosaurs are adorable.

Birds are often better at telling what the weather will be than our local forecaster. Maya fed the babies as much as they could hold before the skies opened in the late afternoon. Look at how she is hunkered down so the Bobs are warm and dry. Their down is of no protection to them.

By 18:22 it is dry enough that Maya can safely stop her brooding and feed those spunky osplets! There is not any nonsense. Maya and Blue 33 (11) are amazing parents who keep those kiddos full. The Bobs know that there is plenty of fish – no food insecurities here. How refreshing. I could watch these two little ones all day. You can see how they stand erect for Maya and how their crops are just beginning to get full.

There is no shortage of pigeons for the three male eyases of Annie and Grinnell. The parents had a banquet for them after the banding yesterday. If you look carefully you can see the red band on the right leg of the chick at bottom left. Each eyas has two bands – an aluminum one and a coloured one.

One of the questions that someone asked yesterday during the Q & A was about the ‘ps’ all over the walls. The answer was this: if something happened to Annie and Grinnell a pair of falcons checking out this box would know that the territory was a good one, full of prey, because of all the ps. Isn’t that interesting? One of the other questions was about parasites. Peregrine falcons evolved to lay their eggs and raise their eyases in a scrape box. This helps avoid mites and parasites that happen on stick nests.

Big Red and Arthur’s little ones are also full of spunk and vinegar! K3 got its head caught under the wing of one of the sibs and it stood up like a big prize fighter giving that sib the what for. Look at that crop! That little one is really telling that other one. It is not the first time this little one has been ready to take one of the older ones on. This nest is going to get really interesting.

Samson brought Legacy a nice fish. Legacy started squealing and mantling before he was even in sight – that was 4:50:28 if you are watching the streaming cam. There she is mantling and Samson is just arriving.

I love Samson’s skinny legs! It looks like he is wearing tights. He is getting out of there quick – saving those talons for sure!

Legacy will not stop mantling the fish til Samson is not a threat.

Legacy is really learning how to keep her fish for herself. Great lessons by Samson and Gabby.

Legacy made quick work of that fish!

Oh, Legacy, you are gorgeous. We are so lucky you returned to the nest and have stayed around longer so we can enjoy seeing you learn and grow more confident.

I have done a quick run through of the other nests and everything seems to be going smoothly. There will be hatch watch for some of the Osprey nests in the UK this weekend. Iris has two eggs in the nest but she appears to not be taking their presence seriously. She left at 13:55 and at 20:25 she had not returned. I am glad to see that Iris is taking care of herself. No doubt she is enjoying the nice day and has caught herself several good fish.

Tiny Tot, who is no longer tiny, has been eating a lot of fish today. #2 sibling got the first fish of the morning. Tiny Tot showed the remarkable patience she has gained. She waited knowing full well that Diane would let #2 work on the fish for so long and then she would take it and they would enjoy the rest of it together. That has repeated itself throughout the day.

And can you see them with all the things in the nest? The two at the Dahlgren Osprey Nest are doing well. The first hatch has really taken off in terms of size. I bet everyone is sitting around saying that ‘it’ is going to be a ‘big girl’. Time will tell. It is too late for the third egg to hatch and it will be absorbed into the nest. No worries. Harriet keeps the two chicks warm and well fed. Jack is an excellent provider. Two nice healthy chicks is great!

Tomorrow I want to check on some of the Red-tail hawk nests in New York City – yes, right in the heart of the city. In fact, it was one of these nests that keened my interest on urban hawks – the one on the ledge of New York City University. There should also be some news on the retrieval attempt of EE1 and EE2 for their post-mortems. Right now, Eerik is on the left hand branch of the nest tree in Estonia. He has moved the bodies of the babies and him and Eve have eaten off the prey in the nest. They need to consume it so that intruders do not come. So fingers crossed!

Thank you for joining me. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: The Eagle Club of Estonia, the Dahlgren Osprey Cam, Cornell Bird Lab, UC Falcon Cam, NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam, LRWT Rutland Osprey Project, Achieva Credit Union, and the Montana Osprey Project.

Double Sadness in Estonia White-tail Eagles Nest

When EE2 died yesterday at the Estonia White-tailed Eagle nest in Matsula National Park, I thought it was a one off. Yet, the notion that a prey item had been poisoned and that EE2 suffered from secondary rodenticide poisoning lingered in my mind all day.

At 21:00 when EE 1 had a nice crop and was getting ready to go to sleep for the night, I put that thought aside. Sadly, while EE1 is, as I write this, still trying to ‘get up’ but can’t, it is all too clear that these two eaglets died from poison. EE1 took a day longer because it was bigger. What a tragedy for this eagle family. [The alternative is some kind of Avian Flu].

The first two images below were taken at 21:00. EE1 has no trouble sitting up. It has eaten well all day and has a nice crop.

Eve was looking down at EE2. She had moved the little one from the nest cup to the side of the nest and was covering it up when Eerik came in with part of a large prey (some kind of bird with very long black legs – a stork?). That action uncovered the little one.

Over and over again, Eve looked down at that little body. She has to be wondering what happened to these babies so quickly when both were so healthy.

The eagles had a rabbit for prey a few days ago. That might have been the poisoned animal but we will really never know.

While it might be a rodenticide – the cause is not the rodents. The deaths have been caused by humans using designer poisons. They need to be outlawed. If there are rodents, bring in owls and hawks. They can kill more than the costly chemicals who take the lives of birds and domestic pets as well.

EE1 is still trying to get up and live. It is extremely sad for these very devoted parents who will not ever know what happened to their babies. They food they bring to the nest is what they find. Years ago, they used to bring in lots of fish. The prey they catch or the carrion they find doesn’t wear a sign that says poison or filled with lead shot.

I wonder if it would not be prudent to build a pond and stock it with fish by this historic nest in Matsula National Park. White-tail eagles have been breeding here since 1870. And, while I am mentioning it, maybe put in artificial ponds near to the nest of Spilve and another one near Milda. I am certain that funds could be raised – people would support such efforts internationally. I would be more than happy to lead a fund raising campaign if it were possible. The loss of habitat, climate change bringing these heat waves of 26 or more degrees in Estonia when it was only 1 degree C a few days ago are caused by humans, and the list continues. We know that eagles will take fish from fish farms so maybe let’s build some! If the eagles would get the prey there, it would be safe.

Thank you for joining me. It is, unfortunately a very, very sad day and I think I am going to take Thursday off. I will be back on Friday with news from all the nests. Stay safe. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the Eagle Club of Estonia for their streaming cam. That is where I obtained my screen shots.

Tuesday edition, ‘As the Nest Turns’

Sometimes I just sit and stare at the birds. They are incredibly beautiful. The nestlings, fledglings, or soon-to-be fledglings seem to change over night.

Take Tiny Tot, for example. Three weeks ago many wondered if s/he would even live to fledge. Today, I kept pinching myself making squealing sounds like Legacy because Tiny Tot really has grown into a magnificent Osprey.

Tiny Tot has a broad brown-black band running from in front of the eye, through the eye connecting with another band and going down to the shoulder.

10 May 2021
10May 2021

Just stop for a moment and look at that piercing amber coloured eye and that perfect strongly hooked black beak.

10 May 2021

Tiny Tot’s crest is variegated with more brown than white. If the wind would blow more that crest would stand up.

10 May 2021

The plumage helps to camouflage the nestlings before the permanently leave the nest.

The image below stopped me in my tracks – Tiny Tot standing next to Diane looking out to the traffic. I noticed today, for the first time, that Tiny hesitated when food arrived preferring at that second to continue to look at the moving objects below the nest. S/he has been working its wings more and more and sadly, our dear little one that no one believed would make it, will fledge. Maybe Tiny Tot you can hang around the nest for a month getting those flight muscles strong and letting Mom Diane feed you! That would be simply grand.

Wonder if Diane was giving Tiny any advice?

10 May 2021

Both Eve and Eerik were on the nest today. Look at Even looking down at that little one. Eve’s beak is sooooo big and the eaglets so tiny and yet, Eve can take the tiniest piece of prey and place it directly so the little one can grab it with its beak.

10 May 2021

Oh, that one is full! It is that gentle look, staring at the little one – from a big wooly White-tail Eagle mom.

10 May 2021

It is going to be a nice day for Big Red and Arthur and the Ks in Ithaca, NY. There is only a slight chance of rain in the middle of the night for an hour and maybe that will disappear. Full sun tomorrow and it will be around 12 degrees C.

At least two of the Ks were awake early in the morning when Big Red got up, stretched, and took a break. You can still see the white dot, the egg tooth that helped them pound their way out of their shell, at hatch, on the end of their beak. Soon that egg tooth will disappear as the beak and the toes are two areas that really develop during the eyasses first two weeks of life.

Cute little Ks. 11 May 2021

Arthur comes in early to give Big Red her breakfast, to watch the Ks, and to check on their pantry. The chipmunk is still there for last evening.

Arthur’s early morning check in. 11 May 2021

Looks like K1 is getting a little warm from the brooding and restless, too.

11 May 2021

Big Red is ready for another break. Look at how her apron of beautiful red feathers covers those little Ks while she broods them.

11 May 2021

Being every so gentle, Big Red backs up so that she does not injure a K or two. Notice how the nest bowl is indented. This allows Big Red to straddle the chicks so that they can move about under her.

Big Red’s beautiful striped feather apron. 11 May 2021
Ever so careful getting off the nest cup. 11 May 2021

Bye Mom! What a difference 24 hours makes. Big Red can leave the Ks in the sunshine for a few minutes without fear of them getting wet or too cold.

At last some sun for the Ks. 11 May 2021

For all of those who were disappointed that Louis moved to a different nest with his new female, today there is exciting news at Loch Arkaig. A blue banded female, 152 (left side) and an unringed male are on the nest. The female is calling loudly for a fish! Wonder if they will stay? They sure would have prime real estate!

New occupants for Loch Arkaig? 11 May 2021

And while I cannot show you, I understand from folks in the area that Louis and his new mate now have at least one egg on their nest! Great news for this wonderful Osprey dad.

The two little Bobs at the Manton Bay Osprey Nest at Rutland, have fantastic parents – May and Blue 33 (11). Generally, the males fledge and return to raise their own families near to their natal nest. That is true for Blue 33 (11) who hatched at nest B at Manton Bay. He is the son of a mega-super star Osprey 03 (97) who was translocated from Scotland to Rutland to restore the Osprey population there. 03 (97) you might recall was known as Mr Rutland. Mr Rutland had three mates and hatched and fledged 32. He failed to return from his migration in 2016 when he was 18 years old. In the image below are two of his grandchildren. They definitely have amazing Osprey DNA!

Since 2015, Maya and Blue 33 (11) have raised 21 chicks to fledge with – if this third egg hatches – eleven osplets in just three seasons. Blue 33 (11) might be working to get that megastar status, too, or better his dad.

Fish dinner. 11 May 2021

Look how strong those Bobs are holding their heads up straight. My goodness the little one is hardly a day old!

The Two Bobs being fed some fish. 11 May 2021

At the beginning of the season, it was not clear whether Laddie would be able to attract and keep NC0 at his nest at Loch of the Lowes. Laddie wasn’t even sure that he wanted to share his fish with her! Well, fast forward and we will be on hatch watch starting Sunday 16 May for this pair of Scottish Ospreys.

NC0 incubating her three eggs. 11 May 2021

There has been a lot of kerfuffle over at the Glaslyn Nest the past few days. Mrs G has been trying to incubate her three eggs in the midst of intrusions by another female. Mrs G is the oldest breeding female in Wales. She has been fledging ospreys – 41 of them -since 2004! Talk about a mega-star on the Osprey breeding chart! Of those 41, her and Aran haver raised 15 fledglings to date. Mrs G is just returning to the nest after eating her fish and Aran is getting off. You can see their three eggs. I have hatch watch down for them starting this upcoming weekend, too. Oh, it is going to get busy!

Thank you for joining me today. It is a gorgeous spring day on the Canadian prairies. The leaves are just wanting to burst forth. It is still too early to put in the annual plantings as it will drop down to 1 degree C during the night this week. Fingers crossed for next week on that front. Tomorrow the two eaglets at Duke Farms will get their satellite trackers. Fantastic. Wish Tiny Tot had one. Take care all!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I capture my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, The Eagle Club of Estonia, the Cornell Bird Lab, LRWT, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust and People Postcode Lottery,

Bird Mothers of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big Red is even wetter. 8 May 2021

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

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

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

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

A soaked Big Red. 7 May 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eve feeding her two growing eaglets. 7 May 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Late news in Bird World

Around the beginning of May, people in Manitoba get ‘itchy’ to get out in the garden. The garden centre catalogues have been sitting since December, the days are getting warmer, and that urge to get out and plant starts taking over our thoughts. Today was a quick trip to a garden centre just outside of the city near the river. On the way there I was delighted by the hawks soaring. One Red Tailed Hawk (RTH) was being chased by a couple of crows while a Broad-winged Hawk was flying above the banks of the river. I did not stop and take photographs. By the time I would have pulled over they would have been gone. But, thank heavens, for a book that I got at Christmas. The RTH I recognized immediately but not the second raptor. That book is Hawks from Every Angle. How to Identify raptors in flight by Jerry Liguori. I wish the images were bigger but, other than that, it has been a great help in identification.

Speaking of identification, the two eaglets on the Minnesota DNR nest were banded on 4 May. I tried to catch a good image of their legs but those two are not giving one thing away!

Here is a close up of their young father, Harry. No, he isn’t dirty! He hasn’t completely ‘matured’ (someone might have to adjust that) as he is not believed to be five years old yet! Well, Harry, you are a great dad. You stepped up to the plate and incubated your babies, learned how to feed them, and brought in prey. It took you a bit to catch on – but, you did!

The cameras at the MN DNR Bald Eagle nest were turned off during the process of banding. They also did a health check and took blood samples. Soon we will know the genders of the two eaglets! Here is a video from 2015 at the same nest showing the process:

Many were very sad when California Condor’s Redwood Queen and Phoenix’s egg was deemed non-viable. Those two will try again next year. But congratulations go out to California Condors Condor 589 and Phoebe (569) known as the Pinnacle Power Couple. Their baby hatched on 12 April and is #1078. #1078 will need to survive for six months in the nest being fed by 589 and 569. #1078 will be learning to fly in mid-October. The couple have been together for five years and this is the third chick – hence the designation ‘power couple’. Most California Condors only breed every two years.

#1078 one week old. Phoebe is feeding the baby. Taken from video feed Pinnacles National Park Cam. 19 April 2021

Over in Hellgate Canyon in Missoula, Montana, the oldest Osprey in the world, Iris, landed a whopper!

Just look at the size of that fish and the perfect form Iris has. I am impressed.

Iris got to enjoy some of that magnificent catch and then Louis must have heard about that great catch and thought she might share. In the end, he did steal part of that fish and took it to the pole to eat. Darn that Louis. Iris doesn’t fish for him! He is supposed to be taking care of her.

Gabby has been with Legacy all day at the NE Florida Bald Eagle nest in Jacksonville, Florida. It seems that Samson and Gabby are keeping a close eye on Legacy so she doesn’t get lost again! Well, was she lost? She sure might have been. She has stayed at the nest. It is another hot and very windy day but, if Samson continues his regular food drop, Legacy will have some dinner around 5:30 nest time.

Legacy is sure watching for Samson to appear with her dinner! It is nearing 5pm nest time. Good training for Legacy once she gets the confidence to fly about more.

Arthur has made several prey drops trying to encourage Big Red to let him incubate the Ks but Big Red is steadfast. It is raining and she still doesn’t trust Arthur enough to let him take over when the rain is pitching down! K1 and K2 got a quick feed. Meanwhile, K3 is hatching. The progress is unclear – cannot see the egg!

It’s dinner time at the Achieva Osprey nest and Diane brought in a catfish for #2 and Tiny Tot. It has not been that long since Tiny polished off an entire fish so he is not rushing to get in line. In addition, Tiny might have figured out that the best meat on the catfish comes a little later. Mom has to fight with the head to get it all open. Diane doesn’t like a flake of fish to be wasted! No doubt. She is a good fisher, like Iris, and takes great care of her kids.

Oh, Tiny Tot is so smart. See. He waited. If you look carefully there is really good fish left – nice big chunks of flaky catfish! Sometimes it is good to not rush. Diane is happy to feed that back half of that fish to Tiny and have some bites herself. So Tiny had at least one entire fish to itself and half of another big catfish. He’s set for the night!

There were alarms in the Matsalu National Park in Estonia. Eerik stayed on the White-tailed Eagle nest tree with Eve in order to protect the family. If he wasn’t on the nest, he was on a close branch in case there was an intruder.

Oh, everyone is eating!!!!!!

It is Happy Hatch Day for Izzi, the Peregrine falcon eyass of Xavier and Diamond. Their scrape box is on the water tower on the grounds of the Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia. Izzi has not left home. Will Izzi ever leave home? Many are probably asking the same question. For me, it is a joy to see him grow into a healthy capable falcon!

@ Charles Sturt University Orange Australia. 5 May 2021

And it wouldn’t be fair to check on Izzi and not on the trio at the UC Berkeley Campus. Oh, my how they have changed from the marshmallows last week with the pink beaks and legs. So imagine these three growing up and looking like Izzi in a few months. They will, I promise. They are already charging Annie and Grinnell and trying to self feed. Oh, they are adorable!

It is Day 36 for Maya and Blue 33 (11)’s first egg. Eggs have been rolled and Maya has been enjoying the nice weather. That one egg looks terribly suspicious but no word of a pip or a hatch yet!

Thanks everyone for joining me. I hope where ever you are that your Wednesday has been a good one. Take care. See you soon in Bird World.

Remember: 8 May is Bird Count Day. Get all the information on how you can participate here:

https://ebird.org/news/global-big-day-8-may-2021

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: LRWT Rutland Osprey Project, UC Falcon Cam, Achieva Credit Union, Eagle Club of Estonia, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Cornell Bird Lab RTH Cam, Cornell Bird Lab and the Montana Osprey Project, MN DNR, Ventana Wildlife, and Pinnacle Wildlife.

Friday Happenings in Bird World

Congratulations to Eve and Eerik on the hatch of White-tailed Eaglet #2 at the Matsalu National Park in Estonia. It looks like this little one joined its older sib around 10:47 am on 30 April (but I stand to be corrected). At that time, there is the most gentle look into the nest cup. The eggshell is clearly visible inside the cup.

This last image (below) was taken at 16:44 during a feeding. You will notice that the eggshell has been moved over to the edge of the nest now. What a beautiful image – the gentleness of these large eagles with their enormous beaks feeding their little ones. Two little bobble heads. How sweet.

You can watch this nest here:

Just as Eve and Eerik are welcoming their little ones, Samson and Gabby continue to call out and search the skies for Legacy. The last ‘for sure’ sighting of Legacy was at 9:53:51 on the 28th. Gabby was on the nest calling loudly for Legacy this morning at dawn, the 30th, along with Samson.

There is an individual, Gretchen Butler (apologies if this is spelled incorrectly), who monitors this nest and has done so for many years. It is my understanding that there are now ‘boots on the ground’ looking for Legacy. We all hope she is found and there is nothing seriously the matter. Hearts go out to Gabby and Samson today. They must be really missing their beautiful Legacy.

At 2:04 EDT, Gabby is still there on the branch scanning the horizon hoping that her Legacy will appear. It is heart wrenching.

30 April 2021. Gabby stares off over the tree tops hoping to see her beautiful Legacy.

There were two fish deliveries at the Achieva Osprey nest this morning. The first one came at 7:48.

The second fish arrived at 10:18. Look who has a crop left from the first fish and who is right up at the dinner table ready for more – it’s ‘Biggie’ Tot. And I am not surprised. S/he is growing leaps and bounds – just look at the size of those wings now. ‘Biggie’ Tot is catching up!

It is calm on the nest and my mind and heart are finally at ease. This little one is going to make it and fledge! And because s/he learned to be a scavenger to live, I am certain s/he has more than a best chance to survive out in the wild.

Some do not even recognize #3 or Biggie Tot but there s/he is standing looking out from the nest with sibling #2 who has the most copper at the back of their head just now.

Big Red and Arthur are not giving any secrets away. The weather has switched and it is windy in Ithaca, New York and this beautiful couple are dried out from the soggy weather on Thursday.

The eggs were laid on 26 and 29 March and 1 April. Big Red averages 38-41 days between the date the egg was laid and hatch. If she were to stay consistent, the first egg would hatch in 3-6 days. However, if we took 35 days which appears to be a general average for all hawks, then today would be the day. Oh, Big Red I wish you would give us some hints! You were talking to those Ks the other day!!!

At eighteen, Big Red is in incredible shape. She is simply an amazing mother and raising hawks is so different to watching the eagles especially when the clutch fledges. Big Red will make sure they learn to hunt while they are building up flight muscles.

Arthur is five years old. He is an amazing mate for Big Red. You will be shocked when you see the amount of prey he brings to her and the eyasses. What a hunter!

You can join the fun and watch this nest here:

The solar camera has just come on the California Condor nest at Big Sur. Eyes remain on that egg of Redwood Queen and Phoenix.

It is 1 degree C in Estonia on the White-tail Eagle nest but it is 31 degrees C on the Skidaway Island Osprey nest and the two little ones are hot. They are under Mom hoping to stay cool! Can you see them?

For those of you that watched the Loch Arkaig Osprey Nest last year along with the 400,000 others, sadness now surrounds that empty nest. Last year Louis and Aila raised three osplets to fledge. Their daily lives brought hope and joy to everyone. This year Louis fixed up the nest and waited for Aila’s arrival from Africa. She has yet to return. No one knows if she is injured and being cared for in a rehab clinic or if she perished during her migration. Poems and tributes are starting to come in and this one by Sue Wallbanks appeared on The Friends of Loch Arkaig FB today. I hope that Sue does not mind my sharing it with you.

Thank you to everyone for joining me today in Bird World. Congratulations to the people of Estonia on the hatch of the second White-tailed Eaglet. I will continue to monitor and post any news of Legacy and we will watch for hatch at both Big Red and Arthur’s nest and Redwood Queen and Phoenix’s nest.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: Ventana Wildlife Society and explore.org, Cornell Bird Lab RTH Cam, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, Achieva Credit Union, NE Florida Bald Eagle Nest and the AEF, and the Eagle Club of Estonia. Thank you also to the Friends of Loch Arkaig FB group and Sue Wallbank for the tribute to Alia.

Oh, pretty baby

The three eaglets at the Pittsburg Hays Bald Eagle Nest are doing fantastic. They are well fed, no one gets left out and, at times, they are so full they look like those blown up Michelin men that fly above some of the tire stores.

Annie and Grinnell decided that the fourth egg was a dud and moved it out of the way yesterday. The three little ones are growing like crazy and you can easily see they are getting their pin feathers. Like Pittsburg Hays eaglets, these three peregrine falcons are well looked after.

Annie and Grinnell have a great source of pigeon for the little eyasses.

This morning the oldest is exercising its wings!

Dennis Becht takes amazing photos of the Trio and their three eaglets on the Mississippi River nest near Fulton, Illinois. He shared the image below on the FB page of The Love Trio group and I hope it is alright to show it to you. Dennis takes wonderful photographs of the eagles on the river and of the trio and their life and sells them on his website. If you are interested, please Google his name and have a look.

The image below is Valor II on the left and Starr, the mum, on the right. Valor I is not in the photo. Both of the males help Starr with the kids – incubating which seems to be a favourite pastime and, of course, hunting. Babies are too big to brood! Just look at how happy they are. Everyone is smiling and playing.

Early in the morning the first egg of Eerik and Eve hatched. The first egg was laid on 20 March at 18:58. The second was laid on 24 March. Oh, that little one is so tiny. The parents will move the empty egg out of the nest. It is a very cold morning in Estonia, 1 degree C, and it was the father, Eerik who was on the nest when the little one hatched.

Oh, precious little baby. It was much warmer later in the day and the old egg is now gone. The nest of this pair of White Tail Eagles is in Matsalu National Park. It is recognized as the oldest breeding territory for the eagles in Estonia dating from 1870. This nest was established in the forest in 1996. Between 1996-2020, 29 eaglets have fledged. Let’s hope that number changes to 31 for 2021!

Congratulations Eerik and Eve!

The last time I checked there was no obvious pip on Big Red and Arthur’s eggs. I stared and stared at that middle egg almost thinking I was seeing a bit of a crack. Wishful thinking on my part it seems.

Arthur is on incubation duty on the Fernow light tower nest on the Cornell Campus in Ithaca, New York.

Yesterday Big Red was listening to the eyasses cheeping inside the eggs. Hatch is getting close when she can hear them. You might remember if you watched Annie and Grinnell’s falcon nest that both Annie and Grinnell listened to and talked to their babies so they will recognize the parents when they hatch. The Royal Albatross were actively listening this year to their egg as hatch approached also.

While I keep one eye on all nests, the other one is looking straight at the Achieva Osprey nest. #1 hatch fledged this morning at 7:38:34. It was a perfect take off.

The first fish of the morning came in at 8:55:51. #2 got the fish but Diane took it away at 9:23:13 and Tiny Tot pulled it away from her and did a magnificent job self feeding.

Tiny Tot is getting more confident and is less afraid of #2 now. Of course, there has been regular fish deliveries and this really helps to give the little ones a sense of security.

The fish changes hands a few times. By 10:45, in the image below, the fish is consumed and Tiny Tot has a bit of a crop. Both Tiny and #2 are busy watching something. Is it #1 flying?

A second fish was brought in by Diane at 11:48. #2 took charge and Tiny is staring at the fish letting mum and #2 know that it expects to get some of that yummy catch.

There are no worries. Diane is very good to make sure that Tiny Tot gets fed. He is enjoying his fish in the image below.

And then….something happens to disrupt that! At 12:13:09 #1 returns from her maiden flight. Is she right in time for a bit of fish?

Oh, dear. It is a bit of a tangle.

When everything calms down, Diane makes sure that #1 gets some fish along with Tiny Tot.

Well done #1. You deserve a whole fish to yourself! That was a brilliant fledge.

And last, but not least, there has been some concern about the food deliveries on the GHOW nest on the farm near Newton, Kansas. I do not know what Tiger and Lily had to eat during the night but, a bunny was delivered to the nest for them at 5:33am this morning, the 28th.

Check out the size of the owlet in the nest and the parent on the branch. You can clearly see the bunny that Clyde left just before dawn now. That bunny will not last long!

It is a great day in Bird World. Looking for more hatches in the next few days. Right now, all is well.

Thank you for joining me!

Thank you to the following streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Farmer Derek, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH at Ithaca, Achieva Credit Union, UC Falcon Cam, Pittsburg Hays Bald Eagle Cam, the provider for the Merikotkas: Haliaeetus albicilla solar cam, the Eagle Club of Estonia. Thank you also to The Trio FB page and Dennis Becht for the still image of Valor II, Starr, and the three eaglets.