Wednesday up and downs in Bird World

Wednesday started off with the sudden death of EE2 at the White-tail Eagle Nest in Estonia. The little one was up, bright and cheery at 4:04 and then gone. There has been a lot of speculation. A heat wave went through the area with temperatures doing from 1 to 26 degrees C in a day. Those dramatic changes can put stress on wildlife. Eve and Eerik had plenty of food and the eaglets were, as far as I could tell, growing and filling up the egg cup. Yes, there could have been a toxin and for sure, everyone has been watching EE1 closely. It could also have been a tragic accident of some sort. We won’t know because the body of the little one will not be taken – so I am going to stop speculating myself and hope that EE1 thrives and fledges. EE1 was fed five times between 13:22 and 19:14 and appears healthy.

The three eyases of Annie And Grinnell were banded today. The chick on the left has been banded. The one whose wings are back and looks totally frightened is just getting ready to be banded. It looks a little frightened.

The eyases receive two bands. One is metal and has a 9 digit aluminum band. There is a second coloured band with four digits that is unique to Peregrine Falcons in the SF Bay region. No gloves are used in the banding process so that the banders can handle the birds safely. Banding helps with studies in survival and movement. It does not hurt the birds.

The three are all males.

The banding was an on line event with two people from the centre answering questions as they discussed the process. You can see the whole procedure here and listen to the questions being answered:

Can you tell which of the two ospreys on the nest is Tiny Tot?

Oh, my, that bird has grown! Someone looking over my shoulder said, ‘The one with the beard!’ Well, if those feathers were smoothed down, it sure would be hard to pick Tiny out because Tiny isn’t Tiny anymore. Tiny Tot needs to grow some more feathers for flight. Look at sibling #2 at the back. See the length of the wing tip feathers? And the next layer? It would be really good if Tiny got all that feather growth before setting out on its own. Hopefully Tiny will hang around the nest, as #2 has done, to get some more flight training and to let the parents, Jack and Diane, feed it.

Sibling #2 is on the perch post eating a fish and Tiny Tot has just acquired the 3:47 pm fish delivery. No doubt s/he is going to be really full! Look at the size of that fish!

Big Red and Arthur’s little ones are doing fine. K3 really is a corker. Poor thing. I watched it yesterday when it got behind siblings 1 and 2 and wasn’t getting any bites. Oh, that little one – not scared at all – pecked at that big sib. I was rolling with laughter. It was like a comedy routine. Early this morning, for the first feeding, K3 was up front. It takes a few days to figure out the strategy but those little ones have spunk and drive. No one needs to worry about getting fed on Big Red’s nest!

This nest has a lot of different food items for the Ks. Believe it or not, at this age, they are already imprinting those birds and mammals so that when they are older, they will know that it is OK to eat them. The eyases have to pack a lot of knowledge into a few short months.

Big Red goes off for a break. It is a nice warm day. Arthur delivers a grey squirrel and then returns with a Starling! Everything is fine on the nest of the Ks.

I did a quick check on the little osplets on the Savannah nest. They had nice crops – both of them – around 13:30 – left over from the earlier feeding.

The second sibling is getting a nice feed from mom. That is nice to see. There remains some rivalry that can be unpleasant at times.

The image below was taken yesterday, 11 May. It is Iris and for those of you who do not know, Iris got her name from the specks in her right eye. You can see them clearly below. So, even without any band, everyone knows that this is Iris!

Iris did not incubate the eggs in the nest last night nor did she spend the night on the perch. In fact, she left her nest in good time to go and get herself a good fish dinner and did not return until this morning.

Iris had a nice fish breakfast before heading over to the nest nearby.

Iris returned to the nest at 6:42. She had been away at least twelve hours. Iris is taking care of herself.

As the graduate student at the UC Falcon Cam said today when asked if Annie and Grinnell would remember the banding every year. He said, “Birds have memories.” There is no doubt in my mind that Iris is chained to her hormones during the breeding season. She migrates to Montana and begins working on her nest. She lays eggs regardless or not of mating. She has some urge to incubate them BUT no doubt, over the past four or five years she remembers what has happened. Perhaps she remembers and isn’t caring so much this year? I cannot answer that. Perhaps she knows that both of those eggs are not fertile. ——- I just want to continue to enjoy seeing her. She is an amazing Osprey.

Legacy at the NE Florida Bald Eagle Cam in Jacksonville was waiting for a food drop this morning.

Isn’t ‘he’ gorgeous? He, you ask. The reasoning is in part because of the ‘flat’ head but more important the mandible – the yellow portion of the beak/mouth does not extend to 90% of the back of the eye. I hope that makes sense. Instead, the bright yellow area below stops almost level with the front of the eye. Take your finger to see – and then notice how much longer it would be if it extended to the back of the eye. Are you a boy, Legacy? Of course, there is never 100% certainty unless a DNA test is taken or you see Legacy lay an egg but, it is a good indicator.

Samson came in with a fish delivery at 2:11:32 and he got out of Legacy’s way fast!

Wow. By 2:31 – twenty minutes later – there is hardly anything left of that fish! Good work, Legacy. You are a pro at self-feeding.

I want to close with a look at a power couple in the Osprey world: Maya and Blue 33 (11). Blue 33 (11) has brought a fish to Maya so she can feed the two Bobs.

There was mention about Blue 33 (11) and this nest at Mantou Bay at Rutland. Tiger Mozone said something very ensightful: “Blue 33 (11) not only wanted the nest but Maya, too.” Right on. As Tiger pointed out, Maya had first been paired with 32 (05) who was shot. Then she was with 5R (04) but he didn’t return in 2014. In 2014, Maya paired with 28 (10) who Tiger calls Wonky Wing – Blue 33 (11) made short shift of him evicting him from the nest. Maya and Blue 33 (11) did not breed that year but they started in 2015 and have since had twenty-one chicks!!!!!!!! Blue 33 (11) knew a good female as well as a good nest.

Look at those healthy Bobs. I cannot think of a better way to end the day than seeing these two strong future ospreys.

Thank you for joining me today. It is nice to have you here with me.

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I get my screen shots: LRWT, NEFlorida Eagle cam and the AEF, Montana Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab, Skidaway Audubon, Achieva Credit Union, UC Falcons, and the Eagle Club of Estonia.

Saturday happenings in Bird World

Since Legacy fledged on 26 April, returned, and then left the nest at 9:53:51 on the 28th, I have worried – like so many others – about where she was and if she was alright. Was she injured? did she get chased from the territory by smaller birds? Samson and Gabby came to the nest tree with fish and called – they spent hours scanning the top of the trees for a sight of their Legacy. We just wanted to get one more glimpse of the most beautiful Bald Eagle who had survived Avian Pox and who had grown up just to be a magnificent eagle. Stunning. We wanted to know that she was alright – that nothing had happened to her! She was given the name ‘Legacy’ because she would carry on the lineage from Romeo and Juliet, her grandparents, who had hatched Samson in that very same nest in Jacksonville. How could she just be gone? poof!

Yesterday, I was certain that Legacy did a flyby at 9:35:15. In the 47 seconds it took for Samson to get to the nest tree, Legacy was gone. Has their timing just been bad?

One of my eagle experts tells me that the fledglings have to ‘imprint’ the way back to the natal nest.

This morning Legacy returned to her natal tree at 10:41:31. It is the first time in three days that one or both of her parents were not sitting on the Lookout Branch trying to locate her! Legacy spent the day calling. During this time individuals noticed that she had done a couple of crop drops and she also did a ‘ps’. There is some yellow – the ps should be white – indicating slight dehydration according to my eagle expert.

I thought her call sounded hoarse but I am a worrisome auntie of this beautiful bird. She waited on the nest all day long and is, as I write, looking out over the trees from the Lookout Branch. I hope she spends the night in her nest resting and that Samson and Gabrielle return in the morning with a nice big fish for Legacy’s breakfast.

And, of course, we are all now worrying where the parents are! If anyone told you Bird World was serene and peaceful, they were joking!

Sibling #2 at the Achieva Osprey nest fledged – and I should have been jumping up and down with joy but, I was consumed with Legacy. That fledge took place at 6:57:10. It was a really nice take off but 2 almost taloned Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot with a rather undignified return landing at 7:04:43.

Barbara Snyder put together an 8 minute video of the take off, the wait, and the landing. Here it is:

Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot the Raptor has eaten and grown and eaten and grown today. I will never forget this bird for the hilarious poses with its full crop. Today there were a few more of those to enjoy. Everyone can rest easy. Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot is full. Here is one of those funny crop shots.

The two little ones at the Estonia White-tailed Eagle nest of Eve and Eerik are growing and they love their feedings. Both of them really perk up when Eve gets up and announces it is meal time. So far there is nothing to worry about on this nest! Whew.

The two osplets on The Landings Skidaway Island Osprey nest were alright this morning. I am so used to the nests having food in the pantry that I get a little nervous checking on this nest. That lack of fish has caused the older sibling to have some food security issues. Things were peaceful when I checked in several times this morning and right after lunch. They were, however, hoping for a fish delivery when the image below was taken. You can see that the smaller one, at the back, does not have a crop.

Well, there are no food insecurities of any kind in San Francisco. The three eyasses of Annie and Grinnell have the ‘food thing’ all figured out. They are even grabbing at the prey when it is delivered breaking off chunks and eating them! These three are incredible. Self-feeding 101.

I so wanted to get a good image of Tiger and Lily Rose, the two owlets of Bonnie and Clyde, who took over the Bald Eagle nest on a farm near Newton, Kansas. They have thrived under the great care of their parents. Both have been introduced to eating mice, then snake, graduating to rabbit, and birds. There is a rumour floating around that they had a tug-o-war with a snake yesterday. I am so sorry I missed that – it would have been hilarious.

Images taken from a streaming cam are deceiving. Sometimes the angle makes a part of the owl’s body look larger than it actually is – or smaller. I remember viewers of the White-Bellied Sea Eagle cam horrified that the right foot of WBSE 26 was swollen to three or four times its normal size. It was, simply, the angle of the camera. Because Tiger and Lily Rose are in this huge nest – 2 metres wide – they appear small. Their round feathers that will allow them to fly in silence look so soft. Someone told me today that they really just wanted to pick one of them up and cuddle it. What do you think? wise idea?

Bonnie and Clyde will feed Tiger and Lily Rose in the nest and off. They will continue this even though Tiger and Lily are catching their own food and until such time as the two little ones leave the territory.

The trio at the Pittsburg Hayes Bald Eagle nest were having their afternoon siesta when a cute little red squirrel decided he would climb the nest tree and take a peek to see what was inside that big nest. Oh, my. Good thing he got away quick – he would have been a nice snack!

Harry spent a long time with the two eaglets that hatched on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Bald Eagle cam five weeks ago. This evening he came roaring in and, of course, the eaglets thought food delivery.

But there was nothing between those talons. So Harry went to check in the pantry and couldn’t find anything either.

It’s 8:20 pm. It is wonderful that the daylight lasts so much longer now than it did in the winter. Harry might just have time to grab a fish or maybe that is what Nancy is doing right now – hunting.

Things on the nest calmed down. If you look at the eaglet on the far left you will notice that it has a crop. These kiddos can wait til morning if nothing arrives now. They are fine. The parents are a super team and this is not a nest that I worry about. They had a nice big feed of fish earlier. You can see that big crop on the little one sitting by Nancy (below).

Big Red is still incubating three eggs. When you want something to happen, time just seems to drag. Simply cannot wait for the hatch of these little ones. You talk about amazing avian parents – Big Red and Arthur are it! Hands down.

Arthur has spoiled me. I am used to seeing an egg cup lined with prey just ready for Big Red to grab it and feed the the eyasses. I cannot even imagine an empty pantry.

In closing, I want to brag a little. The Newfoundland Power Company set up a number of Osprey nests. One is called the Snow Lane Nest and I will leave the link so you can check on that nest. The resident male Osprey, Beaumont, just returned to Canada on 30 April.

The camera was launched on 29 May 2019 but the story began three years earlier when Newfoundland Power was contacted by Rob Bierregaard of Drexel University in Pennsylvania. Drexel had an interest in tagging some of the osprey hatchlings from Newfoundland so their migratory journey to and from South America could be plotted. The Newfoundland Osprey are believed to winter at the border of Columbia and Venezula. One of those Ospreys was Shanawdithit. That name was bestowed on the Osprey as a memorial to the last known living member of the Beothuk people. The Beothuk are the original inhabitants of Newfoundland. Shanawdithit is a female and she was tagged. Shanawdithit had an unnamed partner so the power company held a competition for the name. A grade 5 student, Aurora Hickey, picked the name Beaumont. That name is a tribute to the Newfoundland regiment that was almost completely wiped out on 1 July 1916, in France during Word War I, the Beaumont-Hamel. Sadly, Shanawdithit did not return in 2018 but it was too late for Beaumont to find another mate. In 2019, Beaumont bonded with Hope. They raised one chick in 2019 and two in 2020. Beaumont is waiting to welcome Hope back to Newfoundland now.

And that is a wrap. It has been a day of waiting. So instead of worrying about Legacy, we will all begin to worry about Samson and why there is no fish on the nest for his beautiful fledgling. I promise – we will worry til he flies up and surprises Legacy. I hope their timing is good tomorrow!

Thank you so much for joining me. Stay safe. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Thank you to the following you supplied the streaming cams where I took my screen shots: NEFlorida Bald Eagle and the AEF, Achieva Credit Union, Eagle Club of Estonia, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, UC Falcon Cam, Farmer Derek, Hays Pittsburg Bald Eagle Cam, MN DNR, Cornell Bird Lab, and Newfoundland Power Company.

“Biggie’ Tot and more in ‘As the Nest Turns’

One of the individuals watching the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida said that the worry over Tiny Tot caused them to age ten years. There are so many people that probably feel the same way. We ached when Tiny Tot did not have food for one, two, and even three days and cried with joy when its crop was full. We had visions of helicopters dropping fish from the sky or setting up a food table. There were times when I went to sleep and thought that I would wake up and Tiny Tot would be dead. How could this little one survive on so little in that exhausting Florida heat?

Tiny Tot is a survivor. He is clever, determined, and willing to eat scraps and chew on catfish bones if it means he lives another day. Tiny Tot watches and listens. So often he was the first to grab the fish on arrival, mantling -only to have the parent take it to feed the two older siblings and, if there was anything left, he was fed. If I heard the phrase ‘natural selection’ or ‘survival of the fittest’ one more time I was going to blow up. What appeared to be happening was the survival of the not so clever bully bird. And then something happened.

Precisely when did mum decide that her third chick was going to survive despite everything it had been through? Diane observes those three chicks of hers. She monitors the time they spend self-feeding and when she sees they have had about 1/3 to a 1/2 of the fish – depending on who is in the nest – she takes the fish and shares it with the other one. What was it that turned this nest around? We might never know. For the past 3 or 4 nights I have slept well with the knowledge that Tiny was alright.

The problem is ‘the’ name now. #3 has been called 3, Tumbles, Braveheart, Lionheart, etc. I gave it the moniker, Tiny Tot. Tiny isn’t actually ‘tiny’ anymore. If he continues to eat and grow like he is doing then by Monday he could be twice as big as he is now. So, moving forward, no more Tiny Tot for me. #3 is now Biggie Tot the Raptor.

Indeed, every time I checked on the nest today, Biggie Tot was eating exactly like he is in the image below. Every time! How is that possible? As long as nothing bizarre happens – and in Bird World anything can change in a blink – Diane and Jack will be celebrating the fledging of not two but three ospreys this year. Well done you two. Jack, you surprised me and came through with 5 or 6 fish sometimes.

Good night Biggie Tot! Sleep well on your full tummy.

29 April 2021

I kept a close watch on the NEFlorida Bald Eagle Nest of Samson and Gabrielle and their fledgling, Legacy today. I briefly stopped in to see a couple of others but my energy and focus was on Legacy.

The last official sighting of Legacy was at 9:53:51 EDT on 28 April.

Legacy and Gabby. They spent the morning together before Legacy flew off. 28 April 2021

What a beauty!

Some think that there could have been a possible flyby at 8:41:16 on the morning of 29 April. It was caught on the tree cam.

Is it Legacy? 29 April 2021

On Thursday, the 29th of April, Samson brought a fish to the nest to try and entice Legacy to come to the nest tree. That didn’t work and Samson wound up eating it. Earlier yesterday, Gabby was with Samson at 11:37:35.

Today, Samson spent the majority of the day – more than eight hours – on the branch looking and listening for Legacy.

29 April 2021

I am not an expert on Bald Eagles but I have trusted acquaintances who are and they shared their knowledge with me today as I searched for some answers. I will share with you everything that I learned as I try to make sense out of what is happening.

First, Bald Eagles do not directly teach the young to hunt prey. I am used to falcons and hawks literally taking their clutch after they have fledged and having ‘hunting parties’ with them. It was not unusual to have Big Red and Arthur showing their juveniles how to catch a squirrel by taking them out and doing just that! A fledgling eagle might make its way to the river and observe their parents catching fish just as WBSE 23 did with Lady and Dad according to one of my trusted sources. The parents and other eagles taught by example.

Secondly, what is typical for a fledgling Bald Eagle is what is happening on the nest of Harriet and M15 in Fort Myers. There E17 and E18 are becoming stronger fliers – going for a flight and then returning to the nest. The parents bring food to the nest for each of them. It is more normal for the fledgling Bald Eagles to stay at the nest for 4-6 weeks doing precisely what E17 and E18 are doing. My trusted sources, who have more than 35 years experience with Bald Eagles together, say it is definitely not typical for a Bald Eagle to fledge one day, take a couple of flights the next, and then leave – poof. I will never sugarcoat anything and neither do the individuals who advised me today. Bald Eagle fledglings are not capable of taking care of themselves in such circumstances. They are still not strong fliers and they do not have the hunting skills required. ‘It normally does not end well’ is what one of them said and that stuck in my head.

So what might have happened? To return to the example of the Sea Eagles, WBSE 26 was chased out of the parent’s territory in the forest of the Sydney Olympic Park by several Pied Currawong. Perhaps Legacy got too far away to return at night. That is a possibility. Legacy might be ‘downed’ and is unable to get up and fly to the nest. That could be a huge problem depending on what other wildlife is in the area. The other possibility, as one of the experts noted, is that Legacy is a single child and it is easier for the parent to feed them off nest. So Gabby could be feeding Legacy while Samson is trying to coax her back to the nest. The other possibilities for this situation are more dire. Many fly into power lines while others get their wings caught up in branches. Fighting to get free they rip their wings. She could have tried to get carrion off the highway and gotten hit by a car. Those are just some of the many possibilities. There could be people out looking for Legacy during the daylight hours – something that we might not ever know. Still, I hope like I did for Tiny now Biggie Tot that everything turns around for the best and we see Legacy or have a positive sighting of her soon and that she is well.

It was a miserable rainy day for Big Red and Arthur at the Cornell Fernow light tower. Everyone is getting excited for a possible hatch watch. It would appear that the oldest egg is 34 days and Big Red’s statistics indicate hatches between 38 and 41 days, longer than normal for other RTHs. So I am not going to start getting excited until next week. Knowing Big Red she will surprise all of us!

A rather soggy Big Red. 29 April 2021

Lunch ‘looks’ reasonably peaceful at ‘The Landings’ Skidaway Island Osprey nest. I use the term ‘looks’ because we all know that looks can be deceiving. The eldest still asserts its dominance but, so far, the younger one is alright. Dad just brought in a fish and already both of the little ones have crops. Their plumage is really changing. It looks like the one to the top has a mask on today.

Lunch is on. 29 April 2021
Playing nice. 29 April 2021

Isn’t this just a cute little cuddle puddle? It is hard to believe that before the next academic term begins at Berkeley, these three will be flying at stealth speeds and catching prey in mid-air.

Such sweeties. Cuddled together in the shade to avoid the hot sunlight. 29 April 2021

It is clearly easier to get dirty when eating if you are white. The falcon parents have a particular call they make when they arrive with the food and it is time to eat. The little ones stand in a group and grab or the parent hangs the food above their beak. They want the chicks to stretch their necks so that they become strong. When there are no more chirping eyasses and no more wide open mouths, feeding is over. No bonking. Just nice full crops and food comas.

Feed me, feed me! 29 April 2021

The nest cup in the White-tailed Eagle nest in Estonia is very deep. It really protects the little one from the cold winds. The temperature at the nest continues to be about 1 degree C. This picture was taken after 5pm in the evening. Look at that wonderful sunshine and blue sky – what a change from the frosty morning they had. You can just see the little bobble head reaching up to get its evening meal. There is another egg in this nest and if it is viable, it should be hatching tomorrow.

Eve feeding her first hatch. 29 April 2021

Louis continues to be attentive to Iris at the Hellgate Osprey Nest – visiting and mating more often since the banded intruder showed up in Louis’s territory. So far there are no eggs in Iris’s nest!

One of several reasons cited for the female raptors being 33-50% larger than the males (dimorphism) can be seen below. The male osprey flies in and lands on the female. If the weight distribution were the opposite, the female could be crushed.

Louis landing on Iris for a mating attempt. 29 April 2021
29 April 2021. Louis and Iris mating (or not?)

I want to leave you with a bit of a smile or maybe a horrible nightmare. I simply cannot imagine Osprey chicks wandering around in all of the stuff that Jack brings to this nest. The stuffed shark and a brown teddy bear are still there along with some hats and sweaters and other toys. Harriet has to be so patient! I just want to go out there and tidy it up for her before the babies hatch at this nest near King George, Virginia. Don’t you?

The hoarde of objects that Jack brings to Harriet as gifts at the Dahlgren Osprey Nest. 29 April 2021

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care of yourselves, stay safe. I will continue to monitor the Bald Eagle nest in Jacksonville for any news of Legacy along with the Big Sur California Condor nest for hatch. Thank you to those who have taken the time to send me a note or ask a question. I am glad you are enjoying my blog. It is so nice to hear from other bird lovers!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams – that is where I grab my screen shots: Dahlgren Osprey Nest, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Achieva Credit Union, UC Falcon Cam, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF, Eagle Club Estonia, and Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey Project.